By now, many of us have heard the term Industry 4.0. The promises of using technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) to create a more interconnected, automated, and intelligent operational environment are inspiring and exciting. With this in mind, connectivity is the foundation layer and first step to digital transformation.

Connectivity plays a vital role in supporting and improving industrial and operational environments today, and more importantly, underpins long-term digital transformation strategies. In the short term, connectivity can help provide local and remote visibility across your entire network, allowing you to monitor operations.

The immediate value of connectivity

Once connected to a network, an asset providing field and control data suddenly gives new operational insights to the asset operators.

This new flow of data enables real-time decision making and can reduce response time to potential asset issues, minimising downtime.

Companies can monitor various productivity and heath parameters of an asset, or its deployed environment, with multiple diagnostic features. Possible data points include temperature, pressure, level, and many other discrete and analogue field signals. Crucially, connectivity provides the infrastructure necessary to enable this flow of data.

What makes up the connectivity layer?

Every operating environment is unique, and the connectivity layer designed for the specific requirements of an industrial environment could include the following:

  • Wired communication networks, or wireless communications
  • Network routing, switching, segmentation and traffic management
  • Redundant or mesh networks where high availability and reliability in critical applications is required
  • Private and mobile network communications to enable connectivity in remote and difficult to reach areas

Connectivity challenges

Of course, there are challenges associated with creating a successful connectivity layer. Some key considerations are ensuring the reliability, security, and scalability of your network. We suggest:

  • Defining your requirements early, including what data needs to be generated (and why), the amount of data, the number of devices, the required bandwidth, and the expected growth over time. This will help you determine the necessary capacity and scalability for the network
  • Designing a resilient network architecture that minimises single points of failure and maximises redundancy. Redundancy will also help ensure that the network can handle increased traffic and data loads as it grows
  • Using network hardware components that are specifically designed for industrial environments, have a proven track record of reliability, and are specifically built to meet IEC 62443 or ISA-95 cybersecurity standards

There are many more considerations in addition to the above, which is why we suggest working with an operational technology specialist who understands critical operating environments and industrial networking. They can provide the prescription and the recommendation of the steps required to achieve a robust and future-proofed connectivity infrastructure.

Long-term benefits

A layer of robust and reliable connectivity now provides the foundation for the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of an operation. Asset data can also be used to develop predictive maintenance models and asset anomaly detection.

With data points pulled from across operations, predicting your overall performance becomes much easier, meaning that you can manage your business with more confidence.

A clearer understanding of downtime and rate losses from accurate and accessible data gives greater confidence that you can meet future production targets, business efficiency and profitability.

Connectivity is the key to unlocking the full potential of Industry 4.0. It enables the seamless integration of advanced technologies, the collection and analysis of data, and the creation of more dynamic and responsive operations.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Madison Technologies. If you need help building, optimising, or scaling connectivity, book a discovery session with Madison Technologies’ technical team. For further information, please visit or phone 1800 72 79 79.

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?