Now that connected no longer means wired, communication between OT and IT has become unbound!

Technology touches every aspect of our life today, including the industrial one. But the different types of technology don’t always advance in step. On one hand, Information technology (IT) has raced ahead in communication technologies, first adopting wireless protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular, followed by 5G and IoT. But on the other hand, Operation Technology (OT) has moved forward more slowly, remaining largely dependent on wired communication infrastructure.

The good news is that recent developments in the industrial world are bridging the gap. Smart machines and processes are driving the convergence of IT and OT, supported by new protocols for wireless industrial communication. This convergence, known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), enables manufacturers to have total visibility of all operations – IT and OT alike. The expanded dataset enables strategic decision-making at the enterprise level and provides accessible, data-based, actionable insights at the production floor level.

Industrial-standard wireless communication opens new opportunities

Merging IT and OT into an optimized system requires a seamless flow of communication throughout all levels of the factory, without information silos. But production floors are harsh environments, with high levels of interference, vibration, and noise that make machine communication difficult. They often include many devices that need to be controlled and monitored in real-time—in some cases hundreds of sensors and/or actuators in a single machine area.

Conventional wireless solutions can’t meet the requirements for machine communication – leaving wired as the only option. But, because cabled communication can be complex to deploy, factories were often reluctant to add cabling for additional communication of data from the factory floor. Add that to the impracticality of using cabled communication on machines with high-speed or rotating components, and it’s easy to see why data largely stayed on the manufacturing floor.

Today, industrial-grade wireless protocols like IO-Link Wireless are changing the equation. They make it possible to retrofit existing machines and expand production lines without deploying additional wired infrastructure or purchasing new machinery. They enable a full and real-time flow of information between IT and OT, leading to a new generation of smart applications on previously unconnected, dynamic machines.

Optimizing performance, maximizing profits

IO-Link Wireless was designed as a global standard specifically for factory automation applications. It enables access at the lowest level of automation, on the machine, with seamless, vendor-agnostic, cable-free communication.

By enabling communication at the machine level, OT and IT can now be converged in a reliable, resilient, high-performance, cost-effective and scalable manner. Both OT and IT benefit from complexity reduction, increased flexibility, and reduced machine footprint.

Now managers at all levels can get a real-time view of processes, make informed decisions quickly, and better adapt to new situations as they occur. Leveraging this data for analytics, they can predict problems before they occur and solve them proactively, minimizing machine downtime, improving efficiency and quality, and maximizing profit.

Gabi Daniely is CoreTigo’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. With over 20 years in the hi-tech industry and wireless technologies, he brings global experience in enterprise solutions from a variety of companies ranging from large corporates such as Intel and Stanley Black & Decker, in addition to start-up companies at various stages.