By BECKY GILLETTE
LEC Inc. has been involved in industrial automation for nearly 30 years in the Jackson area. Recently the company introduced iQ2, a major innovation in the next generation Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is the use of the Internet to communicate with and operate electronics, software, hardware, sensors and other devices used in manufacturing, said Justin Hogue, vice president for business development at LEC Inc.
Hogue said iQ2 was designed from an industrial automation engineering perspective to address individual needs.
“Working in partnership with top national network carriers and the best hardware providers, LEC’s iQ2 enables cutting-edge IIoT platform technology on the plant floor, for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and any industrial remote assets,” Hogue said.
During its years in business, LEC has worked with customers that include companies involved with food and beverage, power generation, chemical processing, automotive, oil and gas, and municipal water and wastewater.
“We have worked with customers in just about any industry you could imagine,” Hogue said. “Around 2010 we started to work with more projects that covered a wider geographic area and tended to have remote sites as an integral part of this system like with oil and gas, wastewater and water, and even industrial machine monitoring. With those applications specifically, we found ourselves in need of a reliable means for communications with, those remote assets.”
They evaluated just about any type of communication you can imagine including radio equipment, the Internet, satellite and cellular. Hogue said it turns out that cellular is the best solution for the applications they deal with.
“That started us down the road of developing a relationship with the major cellular carriers in the U.S, and we built out a multi-carrier private cellular network that allows us to communicate with remote sites without those customers exposing themselves to the Internet,” Hogue said. “The network is ideal for the security, speed and efficiency needed to deploy equipment in the field. It allowed us to create a very efficient process for doing that.”
Initially iQ2 was developed to solve the company’s own problems six or eight years ago. In solving their own problems, they realized there was value to other companies.
“So that started us off into the communication’s side offering those services to other companies like ours,” Hogue said. “Once we became established on the communications side of things, as well as in addition to automation, it became evident we needed a similar solution for visualizing that data, being able to see what the data values were in a cloud based platform. That is what led to the development of IQ2, which is our cloud based program that is currently in launch. We still do industrial automation and we also provide complete solutions for IIot, an effort to connect remote assets and plant floor applications, as well.”
Brian Rosema, LEC’s director of IIoT Strategy, said iQ2 is the most advanced, useable, and efficient automation and control engineering system, IIoT enablement, and cloud platform service.
“iQ2 leverages industry standard communication protocols and enables secure plant floor and remote asset data collection anytime from anywhere,” Rosema said.
Rosema said there is a lot of great technology today for consumers such as smart phones, smart refrigerators, GPS devices, home alarms and even smart coffee makers. But for industries, it is more complex.
“Our differentiator is the fact we have the software, the technology and the human resources to actually take that technology and make it real for our customer,” Rosema said. “Few organization can take the technology to create an end result that is much simpler and more cost effective leveraging industry standard communication protocols to enable secure plant floor and remote asset data collection anytime from anywhere.”
And he said the benefits to customers include not just getting access to data, but changing business models. An example he gives is one company that was previously selling air compressors is now placing them in a customer’s facility and charging for the amount of air used.
Hogue said IIoT applications are not unique to LEC, but their approach to IIoT is definitely unique to LEC.
“iQ2 was developed from an industrial automation perspective, not from a software developer’s perspective,” Hogue said. “And it is intended to make the integration of IIoT into new and existing automation systems simple.”
Hogue said iQ2 exceeds all automation needs with a contemporary, mobile-responsive interface, a flexible and adaptable backend architecture, customizable graphics and widgets, and on-demand automatic data file transfer.
“iQ2 includes unlimited mapping, multiple device site support, active/passive GPS location, and custom dashboards and pages,” he said. “iQ2 also offers a detailed event log and audit trail for configuration, as well as full API integration capability for video, detailed/specialized data analytics, and 3rd party web service implementation.”
Rosema said the value of iQ2 for OEMs, and other remote asset clients comes down to design.
“iQ2 is not propriety to specific hardware,” Rosema said. “It quickly and easily integrates with exiting industrial automation and control systems, allows flexibility in integration, and requires low Non-Reoccurring Engineering (NRE) and ongoing costs.”
LEC Inc. does business not just throughout the U.S., but also does international work including in Canada, South America and Europe. For more information, see lecinc.com.
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