The first is connectivity (which is why you'll often hear Rockwell Automation employees talking about The Connected Enterprise®).
Smart devices must integrate easily and "speak" a common language. Devices must connect to machines, machines to control systems, control systems to one another, and everything to the IT system.
The second is intelligence – and this happens at the manufacturing execution system (MES) level in real-time. Intelligence, in this sense, is about understanding the meaning and capability of the data. It's about turning that data into usable information to provide decision-making criteria – intelligence.
So data must be connected and then analysed in order to become information, information needs to collated and visualised to become intelligence.
In the age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) this level of connectivity leads to much better decisions. Monitoring means that maintenance can be better planned and downtime can be reduced.
Software and the use of stored historical information means that best practices can be identified and replicated; tweaks can be made; productivity can be improved; and more can be achieved with existing assets.
Through software modelling it's possible to accurately predict the effects of changes before they are made – it's possible to pre-programme the same line to do things differently. Batch changes can become much more efficient; enterprises can become more flexible – more agile.
And that visibility means that more factors can be considered and more informed decisions can be made – such as cross-referencing the effect of changes to production on the amount of power used, with quantifiable costs that can drive decisions about when power-hungry processes are run according to the cost of energy.
Through the course of a week, a month, or a year, and measured across a machine, a line, a factory or multiple factories, apparently small but properly informed decisions and improvements of this nature quickly add up to huge margins on the bottom line.