Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Interconnectivity is one of the most crucial elements of Maintenance 4.0, the backbone to the system that allows everything to interact and cooperate. If Information Transparency was the “eyes” of Maintenance 4.0, Interconnectivity would be the ‘’nerves’’ connecting everything.
There are three core elements of Interconnectivity that allow it to reach its full potential under Maintenance 4.0 (as illustrated in the image above):
Collaboration (machine-to-machine, machine-to-human, human-to-human).
One of the key strengths of the ecosystem created by Maintenance 4.0 is the interoperability and ability to coordinate between discrete systems. By connecting previously detached parts, greater synergy and control of the system as a whole can be achieved.
These new connections are not solely between systems. It is also desirable to form a closer interface between man and machine, and further between all the users of the system. This is Collaboration, and the more this is encouraged the better the results, so as to avoid a situation where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.
Forming solid Standards for communication is also a key component of the ability to interconnect a system. These standards allow efficient and accurate understanding between all the various moving parts that make up these complex systems, from the computers running them, to the users operating them and the technicians maintaining them. If standards are not formed or they are inadequate, confusion and errors can be introduced to the system over time as a result.
Finally, Security is a core concern under the banner of Interconnectivity. When forming stronger connections and dependencies between discrete systems, an unintended consequence can be the introduction of new vulnerabilities by increasing access to these systems. As Industrie 4.0 and Maintenance 4.0 are increasingly adopted and participants increase, these systems are more likely to come under harmful attacks. Under Maintenance 4.0 design philosophies, security of the system is a priority at every stage to ensure the overall integrity of the system is maintained, if not strengthened.
These three elements combine to form the core of Interconnectivity in Maintenance 4.0, the backbone linking and strengthening the other components of M4.0 as a whole. When the benefits of Interconnectivity are fully realised, real world examples of uses are things such as; planes communicating data and possible fault information to one another, factories with independent machines working together modularly, and much more.