System Integration & Control Systems Design

Network management software essential for smart manufacturing

August 2019 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Visibility of network devices and infrastructure is just as important as production machinery for maintaining reliable and efficient factory operations. For example, an unrecoverable fault in a network switch or damaged cable could cause production to come to a halt. When a technician is called to fix the issue, the process can take hours if network management software (NMS) is not available. It is common for smart factory applications to have anywhere from hundreds to thousands of connected devices, making it nearly impossible to find the source of the problem without extensive manual effort. In this scenario, the ability to identify the error and pinpoint its exact location on the network is crucial to bring operations back online in the shortest amount of time. For many businesses, these types of downtime situations could easily become costly in terms of lost revenue. This is where NMS plays a crucial role to ensure operational reliability.

Basic scada software limited to monitoring production equipment will eventually become inadequate for manufacturers. As smart manufacturing is adopted, or extended, the need for a robust NMS will become a requirement. So, what are some of the key capabilities the NMS should have?

Scalability: Moxa’s MXview is an integrated management platform that can discover networking devices and SNMP/IP devices installed on subnets.

Remote accessibility: similar to how Google Glasses are being adopted by factory workers, mobile apps offer network engineers a better way to remotely view and manage facilities and devices. For large deployments with interconnected smart manufacturing sites across multiple locations, mobile apps are becoming a requirement when implementing NMS.

Whether designing a small or large scale IIoT deployment for smart manufacturing, planning for future growth is good practice. Therefore, designers need to create a networked infrastructure that can evolve as the business grows.


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