IT in Manufacturing

How IIoT solutions can help your plant go digital

July 2020 IT in Manufacturing

Are you struggling to operate your plant efficiently during the Covid19 surge? This pandemic will pass, but the world will never be the same. Digitalisation has accelerated globally due to this unforeseen event, and it is likely to remain and expand even more in the future.

Everyone is talking about the new normal, a shift that is forcing companies to adopt a digital strategy, one way or another, in order to remain relevant and competitive in these unprecedented times. Many plants are experiencing a reduction in production quality due to the difficulty of managing operations with fewer people on site, and no smart data from the field.

At Endress+Hauser we provide IIoT solutions to help customers operate their plants successfully and with ease, anywhere and at any time. To help you understand the concepts of the IIoT this article will take you through the basics of how it all fits into the world of automation.

What is cloud computing?

First of all, it is important to know what cloud computing is and why it is so topical. There are many cloud computing definitions, but they all boil down to the same thing.

According to Microsoft: “Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services – including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence – over the Internet (the cloud) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.”

A cloud solution offers more than just data storage and power. It can serve an application by providing or using the service models defined by NIST: SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service).

There is no turning back. Digitalisation is happening everywhere and it won’t stop at your field devices. Since it is so easy to implement an Industrial Internet of Things solution without making significant changes to your instrumentation or automation concept, you will want to do it too.

Netilion – a good example of cloud computing

Netilion is Endress+Hauser’s IIoT cloud which provides a variety of smart services for end users. Each service brings real benefits for an application or industrial branch. To connect your plant to the cloud you would require an edge device. Imagine having a HART communication network in your plant, and then ask yourself how you could access the data from outside. An edge device is the network component responsible for connecting your local area network to an external and wide area network, where you can collect data from everywhere. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if you have a proprietary or non-proprietary network; the edge device is responsible for providing the local information to an external network. If you have different protocols, it also translates this information, making the connection between both network boundaries.

For example, Netilion Analytics is responsible for connecting your assets to the Netilion analytics service. It organises them and brings clarity and transparency to your plant and provides powerful insights into your installed base. Netilion shows us how powerful cloud computing is and how it can provide different services using an IIoT cloud-based solution.

Cloud computing security

The issue of security is always a sore point when it comes to cloud computing. The Netilion ecosystem conforms to high-level standards such as ISO 27001 (Information Security Management), ISO 20000 (Service Management System) and ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) to ensure that your data is secure. In addition, all data security follows the requirements of GDPR. The servers are located in Frankfurt and Dublin, providing an additional level of cybersecurity.

Seven advantages of cloud computing

Cloud computing can save costs

In general, new solutions always raise questions with customers. One of the most common is what is the initial cost of implementation? Usually, a traditional solution in the automation world will be a high-cost investment and it takes several years to generate a return. When it comes to cloud computing, the investment is much lower than that of a traditional solution. In addition, the only connection you need between your assets and the cloud is an edge device. The edge device connects to your field devices via digital communication, e.g. Profibus or WirelessHART, and provides a safe, one-way connection between the field and the cloud.

Cloud computing increases team collaboration

All the information about your assets is in the cloud and your entire team can access it by working together on a collaborative platform. Traditional solutions are organised in silos, and don’t create a transparent environment for teams. In contrast, cloud computing creates transparency for everybody. An integrated solution with a collaborative platform and an excellent user interface can save time and create a more productive environment. Your team can see the same information and collaborate to solve problems and improve applications.

Cloud computing gives you access from wherever you are

Everything is in the cloud, meaning no matter where you are, independent of the type of device you are using, you have secure access to all the information and can receive notifications wherever you are.

This gives many advantages, for instance the ability to react to a situation faster than if you were using a traditional system.

Cloud computing provides better document control

Technical documentation can be a problem. Picture yourself in a situation where you have the wrong version of a document, or you can’t find it online. Cloud computing supports your team by having all documents in one place. Your team can share and create documents, facilitating access and saving time. A report, accessible to team members, can be generated and stored in the cloud for all interactions, such as calibration or maintenance.

Cloud computing has high-level security

We have already touched on the safety topic and how the cloud follows legislation and standards to provide high-level security for information. In addition to this, all messages exchanged between edge devices and the cloud are encrypted.

Cloud computing offers automatic software updates

When you have an IIoT cloud, the service provider will take care of all the updates. Your team need not worry about backing up the database or any problems regarding software, as everything is automatic. This situation is different to standard software solutions. Thanks to the IIoT, you can now avoid the pain of updating.

Cloud computing increases the power with knowledge

Cloud computing gives you access to critical information from your field devices, which your team can access. The knowledge and transparency created by the IIoT cloud will empower your team to avoid downtime, ultimately saving time and money.

A glance into Netilion cloud

The Netilion IIoT ecosystem allows intelligent and networked applications that provide a variety of services as listed below:

Netilion Analytics

Netilion Analytics gives you a transparent view of your plant through access to a simple overview of all devices installed. This view can also alert you if any device needs to be replaced. Furthermore, the insight page provides you with powerful information of your assets in the form of dashboards. You can register your devices by taking a picture and adding a few details to create a digital twin, or install an edge device automatically.

Netilion Health

Netilion Health gives you an overview of the health of your field devices. You can track all the health information of your assets with a graphic overview of when events occurred, as well as diagnostic information

Netilion Library

Netilion Library allows you to organise and save all your working files and documents in the cloud. It helps you find documentation, such as operation and maintenance files quicker. Moreover, the library is environmentally friendly as the information is online and available wherever you need it.

Netilion Smart Systems

Netilion Smart Systems are intelligent and compact systems for specific applications, such as surface water and aquaculture. These solutions are plug-and-play with remote access via a user interface.

Now that you are ready to digitalise your plant, visit for a free trial.

For more information contact Natlee Chetty, Endress+Hauser South Africa, +27 11 262 8000,,


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