The IIoT and HARTING MICA Explained

Learn how the MICA® makes connecting to the IIoT fast and easy. MICA®, a flexible edge computational appliance capable of enabling many different applications, allows you to easily connect legacy equipment to the Industrial Internet of Things and meaningfully organize, aggregate and analyze collected data. Watch the video to explore the features and capabilities of this dynamic solution. See the following video transcript to learn more.

The Industrial Internet of Things significantly changes the current practice in terms of data flow and data management in industrial applications. Currently, most of the data flow is unidirectional. It comes from a command level down to lower levels, for example, machine tools that may reside on a factory floor, and then these lower levels execute given tasks. They may collect a lot of data but very little of that data makes it back to higher levels where it could be effectively utilized for other applications such as machine health, machine monitoring, process monitoring, so on and so forth.

The Industrial Internet changes this model significantly in that it implements ubiquitous bidirectional data flow. The IIoT is structured predominantly in three different levels. The first level is the edge level. You can envision the edge level as being where the physical objects reside, for example, machine tools, power stations, railroads, locomotives, automobiles. These are all at the edge of the Industrial Internet. The next level up is a platform level.

The platform level is a level at which data analysis occurs across many different edge devices or edge objects, and so the platform level could, for example, be conducted in a cloud-based application, but it does not necessarily have to. The platform level is the level at which actionable knowledge is created from all this raw data coming up from the edge.

And the level beyond the platform level is the enterprise level. And at this level, data from lower levels is combined and integrated with other critical data such as financial and operational data to get a really complete picture and to allow effective decision making.

The MICA fits into the IioT architecture at the edge level. At the edge level, as we have discussed, there are many, many different devices, physical processes, machines, equipment, all of which are generating data, this data needs to be collected, aggregated, filtered, and even preprocessed so that it could be more useful when it gets passed along to platform level or higher levels of the Industrial Internet.

In order for the MICA to be really effective as an edge device, it has been designed to be modular both in hardware and in software. The modularity in hardware involves the ability to swap out hardware specifically for different tasks that the MICA could be asked to perform.

So for example, if the MICA were being used as an RFID reader, its hardware can be configured to very effectively communicate with antennas and with RFID tags and essentially to facilitate the gathering and processing of RFID tag data. Alternatively, if the MICA were configured or being used to get data off of PLCs or other devices at the edge of the IIoT, it would similarly be configured with that set of hardware.

From a hardware perspective, the MICA is very flexible and enables many different applications. On the software side, it's similarly modular, and it actually incorporates a major innovation in that it brings the concept of virtual computing and containerized applications to the industrial space.

Virtual computing and containerized software applications are widely used in IT, information technology, by companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. And this technology allows very rapid, efficient development of software. The MICA brings the same very successful concept into the industrial computing environment which is very exciting.

To summarize the MICA, the MICA is an edge computational appliance. It has modular hardware and software, which significantly reduces time to market, reduces development and deployment costs, and speeds the overall software and hardware development process. The MICA can collect, analyze, aggregate, filter, and then further communicate data from the edge of the IIoT to other areas. The MICA supports the containerized software approaches which have been very successful in the IT or information technology space and brings these into the industrial technology space. The MICA can therefore effectively allow legacy equipment to be connected to the Industrial Internet at a very affordable cost and with minimal development time.

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