Cloud-Based Monitoring Software

Industry 4.0 essentially has these components:
1. Capture of data from the machine.
2. Transfer of the data to a computer that has monitoring software for analyzing the raw data.
3. Reporting the data to people, or sending it to other software, or controlling the machine based on logic conditions.

The computer on which the monitoring software is running can be on-premise, meaning within the organization itself physically, or it can be on the Cloud. Connection can be via a mobile phone network or via wired or WiFi LAN and broadband.

Cloud based monitoring software – what is ‘cloud based’ ?

The cloud is a network of remote server computers all interconnected on the on the internet to store, manage, and process data. An example is our bank accounts, that are just data on a cloud server. We have no idea where the server is, and neither do we need to know. Software on the server enables us to login to our bank accounts and perform various banking functions. The server has a large database where all account holders’ accounts are stored.

The cloud server is part of a collection of thousands of servers in a ‘server farm’, in a building called a data center. The data center has strict security and restricted access, regulated power supply with backups, temperature control, and very high speed internet, all working with very high reliability. All data is backed up automatically at intervals. The data is also on multiple servers at multiple locations in the world, called ‘mirror servers’. If one server fails, another one automatically takes over the job.

All these tasks – automatic data backups, mirroring of data, allocation of storage space as your needs change – are done automatically, without any intervention from you, saving you an enormous amount of work that you would otherwise have to do if you have an on-premise server.

The cloud based monitoring software resides on the cloud server, and your data has all the benefits of the cloud server.

Cloud based monitoring software vs. On-premise monitoring software

On-premise monitoring software
The sensors on machines send data to a server within your organization. The connection between sensors and the server can be wired or WiFi LAN. Users can see reports if they are on the same LAN, from within the shop floor. If they are outside the shop floor, they must connect to the shop floor LAN by some means like a VPN (virtual private network).

Cloud based monitoring software
The sensors on machines send data to a Cloud server.  The cloud based monitoring software resides on the cloud server. It collects the data, saves it, analyzes it, and then generates reports, alerts, etc. The server is physically outside your organization. The sensors on machines communicate with the cloud server via a mobile phone network, by wired LAN or WiFi LAN. Reports can be seen on the web from anywhere, any time, and on any device  – laptop, tablet, mobile phone. If data transfer from the machine to the cloud server is over the mobile phone network, no IT infrastructure is required on the shop floor. If data transfer is over wired or WiFi LAN, the LAN requires cabling, switches, access points, repeaters, etc.

On-premise monitoring software – infrastructure that you need

  • Server in your organization with mirror server, RAID hard disks
  • Room with physical protection, air-conditioning, 24/7 power
  • LAN cabling in shop floor
  • LAN switches, WiFi access points
  • IT personnel for server maintenance
  • IT personnel for LAN maintenance

All this results in high initial cost of setting up, high time to setup up, and high recurring costs.

Cloud based monitoring software – infrastructure that you need

If data transfer from machine is via mobile network

  • Cloud server
  • IoT sensor hardware connected to machine

If data transfer from machine is via LAN and broadband

  • Cloud server
  • LAN cabling in shop floor
  • LAN switches, WiFi access points
  • IT personnel for LAN maintenance

Cloud based monitoring software is obviously preferable, from the point of cost to deploy, time to deploy, and recurring cost of maintenance.