The Internet of Things (IoT) is generating a lot of buzz. Basically, the IoT concept is to add ‘smarts’ to a device for the purpose of getting it connected to the internet. Once connected the benefit is the ability to monitor or control it.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a more specific application of the concept, most often thought of in a factory setting. Factory automation has been advancing for decades, dramatically in recent years. IIoT is enabled by adding sensors generously throughout a facility to directly measure and communicate information that may previously have been estimated, calculated, or not measured at all. The goal of course is to do (whatever it is) better, faster, and more efficiently.
Factories use a lot of motors, and motors are often paired with a ‘drive’ – AC or DC depending on the motor. Big motors use big drives – often priced in the five and even six figure range. These big drives often have a lot of ‘smarts’ just to control the motor – the incumbent ‘smarts’ also enable the ability to connect to a network and thus offer communication via the Internet.
But what about a small drive that costs under $100, controlling a fractional horsepower motor? What are the opportunities (and roadblocks) to including these devices in an IIoT environment? We will explore this issue, and current expectations for the future.