Integrating Legacy & IoT: Start Small, Scale Fast

Written by: Cam Dufty

Start Small and Scale Fast: Optimizing Legacy Data Today and Tomorrow

Bridging generational technology gaps to create an integrated Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem that uses both legacy and modern tools is a huge challenge for most manufacturers. But this integration is vital to optimizing productivity, maintenance and efficiency across the plant floor.

In this second post of our “Integrating Legacy & IoT” series, we’ll look at ways that manufacturers are using new technology to create a future-forward plant floor that is flexible and scalable—even with inflexible, decades-old equipment. 

Legacy Tools and Scalability

One common roadblock to updating legacy equipment for data-driven, IoT strategies is simple scalability. Many of today’s plant floor machines predate current IoT technology and include security safeguards that were specifically created to prevent the data access that IoT requires. Battling through these safeguards often leads to specific, custom workarounds for each machine—which in turn creates siloed datasets that can’t interact or integrate with each other.

ThingWorx—and similar best-of-breed third-party IoT platforms—were created specifically to create integration and scalability out-of-the-box, with no workarounds. They communicate seamlessly with third-party, IoT-ready connectivity solutions—such as OPC servers, IoT platforms, IoT Gateways and sensors—to extend the capabilities of legacy equipment and enable communication to legacy protocols such as PLCs, control applications and embedded sensors.

Start Small, Grow Fast

A simple way to start small with IoT and legacy integration is to add sensors that directly measure KPIs and make this data accessible to an IoT platform—then adjust, adapt and enhance different elements based on new insights from your existing equipment. With ThingWorx, you can take what would be isolated data collections and integrate the information, for full IoT visibility.

By adding third-party sensors to a legacy machine, users can target only the information they truly need—gaining role-based insights, without data overload. Similarly, connectivity solutions and IoT Gateways are generally modular, so you only pay for the functionality you need—and with ThingWorx, the data is aggregated for a bigger picture view and holistic decision-making. This customization makes data more accessible in the short-term and enhances long-term scalability, as sensors can be added and adjusted as needed. More and more IoT sensors come into the market as new industry needs and KPIs become more evident—and ThingWorx was built with the flexibility to handle data and connectivity from all of them, no matter the industry or need. ThingWorx makes rigid equipment more scalable and data-accessible, so siloed legacy tools can meet your changing plant floor needs today, and into the future.

PTC has helped countless manufacturers overcome legacy data integration challenges and create scalable industrial IoT ecosystems. For more information on overcoming roadblocks such as scalability, download the new “Merging Legacy Equipment with the Industrial Internet of Things: Three Approaches for Integrated Data” white paper. And be sure to check back for the third and final post in this series on integrating legacy equipment with IoT initiatives, coming soon.

Download the White Paper
Tags: CAD Industrial Internet of Things

About the Author

Cam Dufty

Cam Dufty has been writing about software and emerging technology for more than ten years. At PTC, she works closely with IoT, AR and CAD experts to help tell the story of how smart, connected operations are revolutionizing manufacturing around the world.