Bringing Legacy Machines into the 21st Century

There’s no reason not to connect older machines into computer networks and make them part of the IIoT.

By the end of last year, there were an estimated 11.7 billion Industrial Internet of Things devices in the workplace, according to market research firm IIoT Analytics.

Turning these legacy, non-connected devices into IIoT-enabled machines could give factory managers safety and maintain several benefits.

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There’s no reason not to connect older machines into computer networks and make them part of the IIoT.

By the end of last year, there were an estimated 11.7 billion Industrial Internet of Things devices in the workplace, according to market research firm IIoT Analytics. This is a sure sign machine makers recognize the value of IIoT. But there are also lots of legacy devices still in the field, and companies could benefit by using data collected from these non-IIoT devices. 

Currently, much of the information available to industrial motors, centrifugal pumps, commercial kitchen equipment, motors, hospital equipment and furnaces just gets lost.

Turning these legacy, non-connected devices into IIoT-enabled machines could give factory managers safety and maintain several benefits. 

First, it would let managers and supervisors turn off machines or set them to turn off based on the facility’s operating hours. Another benefit would be determining what a machine’s normal power consumption looks like and comparing that to actual use. If it’s too high or too low, it might indicate the need for maintenance. Managers and supervisors who cannot predict outages or part failures can wind up losing several thousand dollars or more per day while technicians try to diagnose and fix the problem.

How can machine and equipment builders get actionable data from legacy machines? Among the tools required would be a data transfer protocol such as MQTT, CoAP or XMPP. Programmers designed these for machine-to-machine (M2M), applications.

With a protocol, an AC power connection to a machine and a local Wi-Fi access point, a machine designer could gather and record real-time voltage, current and power factors of the load. That connection could provide high-resolution profiles of the voltage and current wave forms that would let a machine manufacturer track customer use and, in some cases, sign of approaching failure. Engineers could use the on-off cycle counts and powered-on time for the attached load for checking warranty information and exploring preventive maintenance.