This is interoperability news day at The Manufacturing Connection with this announcement of an Internet of Things sensor-to-cloud testbed. This announcement also includes SAP (see other news today), along with TE Connectivity, ifm, and the OPC Foundation.
The objective of sensor-to-the-cloud connectivity is to make sensor data available to information technology (IT) systems in near real time, enabling advanced analytics. This is of particular interest to operators of existing manufacturing facilities, as it provides them with opportunities to increase efficiencies, e.g. through reductions in energy consumption.
This type of connectivity and use case has been forming for many years. All the pieces are coming together for a better application.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has approved an IIC testbed on sensor-to-the-cloud connectivity called the “Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brownfield Sensors Testbed.” The testbed, led by IIC member TE Connectivity (TE), a world leader in connectivity and sensors, is being carried out with fellow IIC member SAP, the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue, ifm, a worldwide leader in sensors, controllers and systems for automation, and the OPC Foundation, the foundation of the industrial interoperability standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA). The idea for the testbed was publicly unveiled at the Hanover Fair in April of this year.
Unlike new deployments, where the appropriate connectivity may be designed in from the beginning, smart solutions are required for these “brownfield” installations in order to enable easy integration at both the operational technology (OT) and the IT level to reduce downtime and save costs.
The Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brownfield Sensors Testbed will:
- Introduce a retrofit hardware solution (the “Y-Gateway”) that makes use of existing physical connectivity
- Extract sensor data from the automation system without impacting operations
- Deliver the sensor data to SAP’s IT platform through a secure OT/IT communication based on OPC UA (IEC 62541)
- Define and implement a common device model based on an available open standard to allow for the easy integration of an IO-Link sensor with IT, enabling the remote configuration of the sensor
“Testbeds are a major focus and activity of the IIC and its members,” said IIC Executive Director, Dr. Richard Soley. “Our testbeds are where new technologies, applications, products, services and processes – the innovation and opportunities of the industrial Internet – can be initiated, thought through and rigorously tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before coming to market.”