In smart factories, components automatically report their status to production systems and initiate repairs as necessary, and production machines autonomously coordinate the assembly process.
M2M solutions have become routine in factories and are now preparing the way for Industry 4.0. Industrial systems can be automatically monitored, maintained and analyzed, and individual systems can be linked to form integrated production systems that communicate with each other and with the administrative systems behind them. Such systems provide current, real-time data, on an ongoing basis, that can be used to optimize production, identify problem areas and streamline processes.
Best practice: the Cloud of Things
According to a study by Crisp Research, only 58% of all German companies have been seriously considering digitialzing their own business. But where should companies begin in undertaking such a venture? One good point of entry is the "Cloud of Things", a Deutsche Telekom platform, which is designed to simplify the development and implementation of M2M solutions - activities which to date have often been dauntingly complex. The development of M2M solutions is facilitated by the platform’s application programming interfaces (APIs), which contain predefined functions and data models for devices and measurements. This means that developers can work from proven sets of libraries and don't have to begin from scratch for each application. In addition, costs remain under control: in the Cloud of Things, they are calculated on the basis of numbers of connected devices. As a result, even small and medium-sized companies can test M2M solutions with minimal investment andrisk.
How does the Cloud of Things work in practice? Dürkopp Adler, a maker of sewing machines, provides a good example: The company offers its customers the option of allowing remote access to their machines for purposes of maintenance and troubleshooting. To make this possible, the sewing machines are linked to Deutsche Telekom's Cloud of Things platform via wireless modems. The company's technicians set up these modems by first installing control software updates and then connecting the modem's input and output systems with those of the sewing machine. In a next step, the technician registers the modem in the web portal of the Cloud of Things. After the registration, the device can transmit operational parameters via the wireless network to the Cloud of Things and in turn receive control commands.
Best practice: networked car washes
Another M2M solution that automates industrial processes is being used by IMO CarWash. By networking its car washes, the company, which operates internationally, can see the systems' technical status and capacity utilization at various different times of day. Each car wash has a communication unit in its switchboard equipped with a radio module and an M2M SIM card, which continually collects data from the car wash's control systems and sends it to IMO's headquarters via Deutsche Telekom's wireless network. With this M2M solution, which Deutsche Telekom provides in cooperation with its partner LUCOM, IMO can optimize the planning of its resources and supplies. The company can also remotely identify errors that, in a worst-case scenario, could lead to unwanted downtime of its car washes.