Imagine two worlds. In one world, people communicate by using abstract mathematical symbols. In the other world, people communicate by punching each other in the arm. Now imagine people from those two worlds meeting up and trying to communicate.
A similar kind of meet-up is occurring today, as the information technology (IT) world attempts to merge with the operational technology (OT) world. The goal of that merger is the Industrial Internet, variously known as the Industrial Internet of Things, Internet 4.0, Internet +, and other monikers.
Arranging a marriage between the Internet and traditional industry isn’t like slapping together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s more like trying to engineer a new and highly complex life form, using pre-existing parts that weren’t designed to work together.
Computers—of course!—are at the heart of the problem. We use symbols to communicate with our computers, but we use levers, switches, and knobs to communicate with our machines. We often communicate with our computational resources from far away, but we tend to be standing right next to our machines and devices when we flip the switch to turn them on.
Computers don’t care where we are, but machines typically require our physical presence. As a result, we almost never encounter latency issues with our machines. I turn a knob on the stove and it begins heating up. I touch the switch on the air conditioner and the room gets cooler. ...