Manufacturers have made a huge investment in embedded Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). PLCs are small computers that monitor inputs and outputs, making logic-based decisions for automated processes and/or machines, particularly valuable in manufacturing environments.

PLCs are robust, reliable – and if implemented correctly – are easily understood by employees, allowing manufacturing operations to be monitored with incredible precision.

PLC-based automation allows for increased output, healthier systems and optimized revenue for manufacturers. Because of this, PLCs will be an integral part of any manufacturing environment in the foreseeable future and must be factored into the design of any Industrial IoT solution.

Factoring the True Cost of PLCs

What comes as a surprise to manufacturers, when implementing IoT for manufacturing environments and activating PLC solutions, are the true costs of the program.

Some manufacturers continue to run PLCs in an old, “captive” manner, instead of enabling the PLC for a modern data-driven environment (analytics, big data and machine learning). With this approach, there can be little ROI.

Many times, data is only stored for a select period of days or hours before it is rewritten over. Caravela IoT’s PLC solutions are all cloud-based, secure and nearly limitless in data storage.

With many providers, there is a surprisingly high monthly cost of the on-site database license, plus the cost for proprietary software for historical data.

Other pain points, and a source of added costs, is data lost due to vulnerable points of failure and “batchy” data collection. With both, the data is prone to misinterpretation, because an accurate story is not being told of the manufacturing environment.

Caravela IoT guides and enables customers to capture actionable, real-time PLC data for real-time operational changes, ensuring ROI on their IoT and PLC implementations.

Insights and Improvements

PLCs provide the data. What manufacturers do with it can make or break a business.

Some manufacturers don’t do anything with the data, which is problematic in and of itself. Others find that the PLC data is indecipherable to anyone outside the organization, and thus has limited use.

In a world where only innovators survive, these are signs of a business with problems. It amounts to saying that there’s nothing to learn from available data regarding a manufacturing operation, and even if data is being captured there’s no way to create customer-facing tools that can create new revenue opportunities or improve the customer relationship.

Data Insights

Sometimes, we find that PLC data hasn’t been harvested and analyzed because connecting a PLC to the cloud is hard, and often outside the comfort zone of many IT managers and engineers. (Hint: it’s what we do every day.)

It takes a broad skill set to be successful, because there are so many variables that need to be accounted for when connecting a complicated embedded device to the Internet. Ensuring connectivity and security top the list. Boxed solutions can be cumbersome, expensive and intimidating.

Machines can be crippled by malicious software. (The Stuxnet virus caused a lot of headaches a few years ago.)

Ensuring that the data the PLCs collect is not only being collected – but analyzed – is a key factor in measuring ROI. (Hint: it’s what we do every day.)

Caravela designs custom dashboards for clients to ensure that real-time data isn’t just captured – it’s delivered in a way that is decipherable and actionable.

The Caravela IoT Difference

Caravela IoT adopts a service provider approach, with embedded system expertise to overcome the challenge of IoT enabling the installed base of PLCs. Data is securely streamed to our private cloud with robust infrastructure or to the cloud and database of choice. Our knowledge and experience allows our clients to bridge the gap between the old factory and the new world of data analysis.

The journey into 21st century manufacturing begins with understanding how data analytics can impact your business –  and designing a secure, efficient and cost-effective method to capture that data.

While there are many writers of software that offer analytics tools or an attractive dashboard interface, the actual work of obtaining the data in the first place is a more exact science.

Caravela engineers any and all aspects of an Industrial IoT project to carry the shop floor bullishly into the 21st Century.

Ready to add or upgrade PLC solutions? Reach out to us for a free consultation.

No obligations. No hard sales. No lie! We’ll simply talk a bit about your pain points, your needs and discuss possible solutions.