Prepare Your Automation Systems for the Industrial Internet

If you’re still of the train of thought that automation systems will stay as they have been in the past—with control systems isolated from the outside world and not touched for 10 years—think again, because that world is going away very quickly.

One thing is certain: if you’re not making plans to have your automation systems Industrial Internet ready, you had better start now. Because if you don’t, you will get left behind.

One of the big drivers for the adoption of the Industrial Internet is the benefit gained from the ease of system upgradability, scalability and increased productivity that can be achieved. And the truth is, being prepared for that is not as hard or expensive as it may seem.

The Industrial Internet is an industrialized version of the Internet of Things (IOT) technology you use every day for upgrading your smart phone or tablet. This involves cloud-based pushes of firmware and software upgrades to add new functionally, capability, efficiency, and basically longevity into your device—or in our world, your control system.

The big risk to all this is downtime, but not from the hardware that’s pretty well indestructible in our industry. It’s the risk from the firmware or software changes causing you to lose production due to unforeseen circumstances (and sleep when it happens at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning  - yes, I have been there).

So what is the first step that you can do today to get yourself ready? Simple, add a redundant controller. Now back in the day redundant controllers were all about failure mitigation, but as I say with today’s electronics, that’s not usually an issue.

pac systemsIn the Industrial Internet world, a redundant controller is all about maintaining productivity and risk reduction for your systems. With our PACSystems RX3i controller, you can run two different programs at the same time when you have a redundant pair. So when you push the firmware or software change to one controller, you can keep the original version in the sister controller and flip flop between them as needed to prove out any changes. When you’re happy, upgrade the second unit. Learn more at

With the low cost of redundant systems today, you can easily prepare your automation control system for when you’re ready to adopt the capabilities of the Industrial Internet. Because it’s here today, and it’s being adopted as a competitive advantage by many companies.

And for those that don’t adopt, well, we all know what happened to the dinosaurs, don’t we?

Barry Lynch

Barry, Global Marketing Director – Automation Hardware at GE's Automation & Controls business, passionately believes that connected machines, mobile data analytics and workforce enablement don’t have to be hurdles in business today. He leads the strategic direction of the company’s automation and information systems programs to help customers apply the power of the Industrial Internet to their businesses. By connecting machines, data, insights and people, our technology solutions deliver critical insight for greater operational efficiency, effectiveness and optimization. Learn more about how Barry works at GE on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @BarryLynchGE.

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