Breaking Down Cyber Physical Systems

Cyber physical systems transform the world from physical to digital. Take the telephone for example. What was once a mechanical device has now transformed into a fully digital device with networking and computing capabilities — a cyber physical system.

When it comes to industrial use, a cyber physical system should follow the A4 Methodology. That is Acquisition, Aggregation, Analysis, and Action. Or in more simple words: collecting data, compiling it, interpreting it, and presenting insights.


Acquisition is all about collecting new data. CNRL is an excellent, real-world, example of data acquisition. The company deployed thousands of IoT devices across the equipment and assets at its oil well sites. The IoT devices enabled CNRL to collect temperature and pressure data 24/7 instead of manually taking readings each day. The company collects billions of data points for use in making decisions.


Acquiring data is only the first piece of the puzzle. The piles of data must also be aggregated. Typically the big data sets are transferred to a database in the cloud. Like in the CNRL example, those billions of data points need a place to go. So using cellular, WiFi, or Satellite, the data transmits to a cloud database where it is prepared for the next stage, which is analysis.


Analysis is the most intriguing step that everyone talks about. This is where all of the artificial intelligence and machine learning happens. Take Toyota for example, the company uses IoT devices to acquire and aggregate data from machines across its production line. Artificial intelligence then analyzes that data to find potential maintenance issues. The system is smart enough to predict issues ahead of time and present workers with actionable insights in the next stage.


Action only comes once the first three steps have been completed. Data has been acquired and aggregated. Analysis has found important insights in the data. The data is then presented to end users so that they can take action to correct an issue. For example, CNRL’s oil tank has a leak, or Toyota’s CNC machine requires immediate maintenance before it fails. Typically, these insights are sent to the user as an alert so they can prioritize their activities and respond immediately.

At A4 Systems, every cyber physical system we develop follows the A4 Methodology. We build the equipment to acquire the data, aggregate it, analyze it, and present our clients with valuable insights. We understand the importance of a full end-to-end system. It all starts with quality data and finishes with insights that are valuable to the end user.

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