While roll-outs for 5G consumer networks have been slower than anticipated, mobile operators and 5G equipment suppliers are expanding into the potential 14-million-site private wireless market. These private LTE networks leverage localized micro towers and small cells, making them operate much like a scaled-down version of a public cellular network.

As a result, the manufacturing sector now accounts for a majority of private network installations, and we expect this trend to continue. …


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The transition into Industry 4.0 is going to take more than just an investment into innovative technologies like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning (ML). We’re going to need plenty of highly skilled talent to pull it all together and make it work. You may already have a great team of control engineers, but we can’t expect one person to have expertise across so many domains.

When it comes to tasks like big data analytics, training a machine learning model, or creating an in-depth strategy for developing a data pipeline, there’s no substitute for…


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Today’s industrial companies face a unique challenge: managing assets that are in remote parts of the world. These assets, which range from production equipment like offshore oil rigs to the industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices, such as sensors and communication hubs, are key components for 21st-century businesses. The remote and distributed nature of these assets present a serious challenge for technicians, engineers, and IT departments:

How do we collect data from, update, and protect these remote assets?

If a remote device goes offline or stops responding, how do we fix it without sending a technician on a repair journey…


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Location, location, location: it’s not just real estate anymore.

During the cloud boom over the past decade, we’ve seen organizations across the board migrate much of their on-premise infrastructure to remote data centers. While this new architecture has proved pivotal for applications spanning from collaboration tools to big data analytics, we’re now seeing a shift in the other direction: many companies, especially manufacturers, are bringing their computing power back into their in-house devices.

This time, however, it’s not servers or desktop PCs. It’s the industrial internet of things (IIoT), a collection of interconnected smart devices, equipped with sensors, actuators, and…


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During the cloud boom of the past decade, we’ve seen organizations across the board migrate much of their on-premise infrastructure to remote data centers. While this new architecture has proved pivotal for applications spanning from collaboration tools to big data analytics, we’re now seeing a shift in the other direction: many companies, especially manufacturers, are bringing their computing power back into their in-house devices.

While edge computing brings advantages that we cannot realize with cloud computing alone, we shouldn’t think of cloud and edge as opposed or even separate. …


One of the main challenges of Industry 4.0 is coordination. Between edge-powered machinery, such as sensors and robotics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gateways, and hybrid clouds, today’s smart factories feature a lot of moving parts — and they all need to talk to each other. To maximize efficiency, we need to take a big-picture approach that emphasizes harmonious functionality.

Enter Node-RED, a self-described “low-code programming for event-driven applications.” Developed by IBM and currently maintained by the open-source community via its GitHub page, Node-RED is built on top of a Node.js / JavaScript tech stack. It uses a browser-based editor…


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When we start the conversation about which programming languages to use for industrial automation use cases, we usually begin by talking about IEC 61131–3 languages for PLCs, such as the classic Ladder Diagram (LD) or Structured Text (ST). For applications like robotics, we often see compiled, low-level programming languages like those found in the C family.

Until very recently, nobody was talking about using Python on the factory floor. What’s changed to make an interpreted, high-level language become suddenly appealing? …


How are manufacturing companies like race cars? It’s all about quality! The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) requires heavy-duty equipment to stand up to the harsh conditions of factories and other industrial settings. Much like a race car driver needs a state-of-the-art engine for their vehicle to perform under grueling race conditions, a manufacturing company needs an industrial digital computer that can reliably control a workplace riddled with machine vibrations, heat, cold, and other adverse conditions. Such a computer has to be easy to program and quick to diagnose faulty processes.

These advanced computers are run by advanced programming languages…


PHOTO BY SAI KIRAN ANAGANI ON UNSPLASH

In the eyes of some computer users, Linux is a mysterious and misunderstood entity. For much of the time since its invention, Linux has lived on the fringes of mainstream computing. This mindset has shifted with the introduction of more user-friendly and robust implementations of Linux that are designed to be used by the general computing community, as well as experts.

The operating system has made impressive inroads in the consumer market and is a viable option for use in embedded devices employed in industrial settings. Increased deployment of equipment focused on Internet of Things (IoT) implementations has made it…


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Programmable logic controllers are one of the wizards behind the curtain of industrial automation. Until recently, these digital mainstays were almost exclusively in the domain of people working directly in the service and manufacturing industries. That, however; has changed as the maker movement, an offshoot of the DIY trend, has gained traction.

Not only have more affordable alternatives to traditional PLCs like Raspberry Pi and Arduino become available, there has been a rise of maker communities for novices and also a growing demand for experts in the robotic process automation market. …

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