IOT in manufacturing and Industry 4.0 – the connection
IOT in manufacturing is increasingly becoming common. IOT is short for Internet of Things. The internet (a global network of computers that talk to each other using a standard protocol) over the past 30-odd years has only been used by humans to communicate with each other or to get information. This is the IOP – Internet of People, used for sending emails, browsing the web, communicating on social media, etc. Over the past few years, however, Things (devices and machines) have started using the internet. Things like cars, manufacturing machines, sensors, actuators, devices in buildings, etc. E.g., as you are going home, when you are a certain distance away, software on your phone (based on your GPS coordinates) can switch on the air conditioners and coffee making machine in your home, all communication happening over the internet.
IOT in Manufacturing is called IIOT – Industrial Internet of Things. It is an integral part of Industry 4.0. In an Industry 4.0 system, a sensor detects the status or condition of the machine (completion of a part, whether the machine is running or idle, air pressure, etc.). The machine and the sensor are together called the ‘Cyber Physical System’. The sensor sends data to the Cloud over the internet, through the mobile phone network or through a broadband connection. There is software on the cloud that analyzes and stores the data. The data is then used in a variety of ways: sent to people in the organization for information or action; used to control the machine or other machines; sent to scheduling software; sent ERP software for further action like material ordering, logistics, etc.
Data flow can be both ways, from the machine or to the machine. The IOT here is the same old internet that is used by people. Industry 4.0 is all about data being collected direct from machines, and as you can see, IOT is a crucial part of Industry 4.0.
Spider web gyan in a park
An evening walk in a park suddenly became a spider web education class for me, when I came across a whole lot of spider webs, of different shapes and sizes. It was like some spider hangout place – funnel webs, sheet webs, tangle webs.
A web allows a spider to catch prey without spending energy chasing it down. It spins a web and hangs around next to it, waiting for some poor insect to get snagged. It’s like pizza home delivery, but the spider does not have to call up and order – the pizza arrives on its own. Only thing is the spider can’t predict what flavour of pizza it’s going to get, and when it’s going to get it. The spider spends a good amount of protein in making making the silk required for the web. After a time the silk loses its stickiness and becomes useless, so spiders often eat their own web to get back some of the energy used in spinning. I was wondering how come spiders don’t get stuck in their own webs. It turns out that they can spin both sticky and non-sticky types of silk, and are careful to travel across only non-sticky portions of the web.
Spider web silk has a greater tensile strength than steel, and it and has much greater elasticity. Spider and silk worm silk are similar, but with these key differences: Spider silk is twice as strong as silk worm silk; spider silk is 5 microns in diameter, while silk worm silk is 50 microns; spiders make different types of silk for different parts of the web (up to 8 different types), while silk worm silk is of a single uniform diameter. The different types of silk are for various uses like making the web, for lining the burrow where the spider lives, or for making the guide lines that a spider trails behind it to so it can find its way home again.
Who would imagine that a small simple organism like a spider would have so much engineering gyan embedded in that tiny brain ?