The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It’s impossible to attend
a conference or check your email without seeing the term. Though the
IIoT generates a lot of buzz, it’s really a term that describes
getting connected to the web.
IIoT-ready Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) allow companies to take
data from the manufacturing floor and share it with a local or
cloud-based server, where it can be used company-wide, regardless of
the user’s location. The translation of machine data to actionable
information allows companies to make cost-saving decisions and
allocate resources more appropriately.
But many companies are hesitating to implement, not taking advantage
of the available technology. Even if customers are not ready to
integrate their systems right away, they will want to implement an
IIoT strategy to keep up with their competition. When customers
decide to implement the IIoT concept, your machine should be ready
without the need for downtime and replacements.
Despite the benefits, companies may not recognize the full value of
starting implementation early. Too often, they have fears about how
difficult or costly the process is. Here are some of the most common
things to remember,
Truth 1: Implementation can be cost effective.
There are ways of becoming IIoT-ready without major capital
investments. By adding an IIoT-enabled model to new equipment,
companies allow customers the flexibility to add the capability now
or later without major upgrades or downtime. Companies can implement
the IIoT at any time by utilizing the features already built into
the hardware. Without purchasing airfare or sending products by mail
to update. This keeps the costs down, in addition to the keeping
your customer's costs down.
Truth 2: Low-cost flexible IIoT is available today.
Maple Systems offers IIoT enabled hardware that offer you
flexibility by supporting a variety of communication protocols.
MQTT, in particular, is a versatile tool; it is a “lightweight”
messaging protocol with cloud compatibility. Paired with Maple
Systems' IIoT-ready HMI, MQTT enables secure communication with a
wide array of PLCs, sensors, and more, regardless of the device’s
protocol. Maple Systems HMIs support many common protocols, so you
(and your machine) can remain flexible.
Truth 3: The value of the IIoT measures up to expectations.
The IIoT concept is to use connectivity to get more out of your
machines and make better business decisions. With IIoT-ready HMIs,
there are numerous benefits for both the OEM and customer:
The customer gets a view of how their systems are actually
performing, so they can optimize their production (and use of
machinery) and automatically track maintenance or operations
A secure connection safely allows for advanced remote
functionality such as email alarms, remote access, remote
monitoring, and remote programming. Plant managers can monitor
machines from the palm of their hand, while email alarms alert
staff immediately for expedited action.
Offsite troubleshooting and configuration reduce travel expenses
and costly downtime, saving money for both the OEM and customer.
The OEM can track how their machines are performing. They can
also use data to schedule predictive maintenance.
The customer can take a more proactive sales stance with data on
trends, users, and orders. This may help them to predict
inventory needs more accurately and be better prepared.
Some HMIs can store data using a SQL format if access to the
Internet is interrupted, to prevent data loss.
Beyond the immediate benefits, OEMs gain insight, and can design
future machines according to data collected on how each feature is
used, where the machine shines, and where it struggles. Knowing how
customers actually use their machines allows them to better
understand their customer and highlight popular features in
Truth 4: Adding a Maple Systems IIoT-ready HMI will be easy.
Forward-thinking HMI developers understand where to start, and
everyone at Maple Systems is taking steps to make IIoT
implementation easier for customers through software systems that
are simplified and condensed, making them easy to execute at many
For example, we offer EasyAccess 2.0, an affordable software service
that enables the remote monitoring and support of our HMIs in the
field. The software offers the functionality of an IIoT system with
an easy-to-use, simplified interface. With EasyAccess 2.0, an OEM
can update the functionality of the customer’s HMIs remotely,
eliminating the need for onsite visits when the customer is ready to
adopt IIoT capabilities. For more information on EasyAccess 2.0
Truth 5: It’s better to be ready for your customers' requests and
With any type of technology, the old adage is true: The early bird
gets the worm. When an OEM adopts IIoT-ready technology, they can
start marketing the machine to potential customers as being
IIoT-ready. Though customers might not be taking advantage of these
features just yet, the functionality is there. When customers decide
they want to start reaping the benefits, it’s as easy as downloading
an application. They don't have to order new hardware, make a
service call or spend a lot of money to make changes. If you have
systems that are upgradable in the field, then you have the peace of
mind knowing that when you're ready, you can keep up with the
competition. It’s important that OEMs stay ahead of the curve now so
that they can be competitive when the time is right.
Choosing the Right Solution
With the far-reaching benefits of IIoT-ready HMIs, it makes sense to
implement sooner than later, but there are considerable variations
across the market. How do you choose a system that will allow you
flexibility to work with a range of devices and best meet your
needs? OEMs should keep the following key features in mind:
- Supports multiple communication protocols, including MQTT
- Remote functionality (alerts, monitoring, programming)
- Available in a range of sizes
- Ability to perform IIoT implementation remotely
- SQL data storage during Internet access interruption
- Dual-Ethernet capability
IIoT-Ready HMIs from Maple Systems
Maple Systems has been a leading manufacturer of HMIs since 1983,
specializing in affordable, versatile HMIs that integrate with
devices from a diverse set of manufacturers. Maple HMIs, Headless
HMIs, , and Communication Gateways support more than 350 different
communication protocols, including MQTT for secure communication.
They also support Profinet, Ethernet IP, and other protocols that
have potential to become the common IIoT communication protocol.
With IIoT-ready HMIs in a range of size and features, Maple Systems
has the flexibility to meet a variety of needs. Additionally, our
solutions are capable of protecting you and your customers during
interruptions in Internet access, storing data until connectivity is
In real terms, the IIoT is just a fancy way of saying you’re
connected. Connected to machines, connected to data, and connected
to the web—worldwide, instantaneously. Our products can ensure an
OEM’s machines will be IIoT-ready today, when customers request this
functionality today, tomorrow, and well into the future.
For more information on the IIoT, visit
our IIoT section.
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