Is the IoT In Danger of Splintering?

Is the IoT In Danger of Splintering?

I picked this news item up from The Economist Espresso app.

For years, technologists have gushed about the promise of the “Internet of Things”, enabling ordinary objects—from kettles to cargo ships—to communicate autonomously with each other. The two essential technologies speeding the IOT’s arrival, inexpensive sensors and super-fast networking kit, are advancing rapidly. Gartner, a research group, predicts that the global number of devices embedded with sensors will leap from 8.4bn in 2017 to 20.4bn in 2020. So is 5G, a telecoms-networking technology superior to today’s 4G mobile networks. But the world’s 5G system could split into two different and potentially incompatible entities. One has been developed by Huawei, a Chinese telecoms-equipment giant, at a cost of $46bn. But some are worried about the company’s links to the Chinese Communist Party. Several countries, led by America, have banned the use of Huawei’s gear in their systems for security reasons. The year 2020 could herald the arrival of the Splinternet of Things.

I daresay that most likely many countries in the world are concerned about the ability of the US government to monitor internet traffic through the technology of American companies. These swords always cut two ways when you take the larger view.

More relevant to this topic, though, could a potential splintering into two 5G systems globally impact IoT?

In the short term from what I can gather interviewing technologists, benefits from 5G will accrue from the ability for private, plant-wide broadband rather than from some global linking of sensors.

Perhaps we are a bit early for journalists’ raising fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Listening to people actually building out the technology, I think we are going to experience much benefit from 5G in the not-to-distant future.

Is the IoT In Danger of Splintering?

First Private Stand-alone Industrial 5G Network

Sander Rotmensen of Siemens automotive test center in Nuremberg, Germany and Yongbin Wei of Qualcomm recently discussed the birth of 5G networks for industrial applications. The occasion concerned the press release announcing implementation of a 5G private industrial network.

We’ve all heard about 5G and worries from a variety of national governments about whether another country is embedding spy firmware in its local company’s products. Personally, I think the worry is both silly and well-founded. Every country that houses a company in the market most likely has intelligence agents trying to do the same thing. (I could go into my university education and acquaintance with a professor with “former” CIA ties, but that goes too far afield.) And all companies will deny any tie.

And…we are going to use 5G because the benefits are great. A benefit everyone mentions is the ability to build private networks for a local facility. The network has very low latency and built-in 5-9s (99.999%) uptime.

And what are some of the use cases we can anticipate? Rotmensen and Wei provided a list of ideas:

  • Mobile equipment (tablets, etc.)
  • Assisted Workers (remote video/audio to experts, etc.)
  • Backhaul depending upon geography
  • Autonomous machines–robots, cobots with communication and low latency
  • Autonomous logistics
  • Edge computing, larger amounts of data with low latency

With the final release of IEEE Time Sensitive Networking still years away, 5G is looking very good. We are on release 15 presently. Release 16 is anticipated in June, 2020. With release 17, the increased capacity would easily handle pretty dense machine-to-machine and IoT applications.

First Private Standalone Industrial 5G Network

Showing the benefits of today’s trend toward cooperation and partnerships, this joint proof-of-concept network will explore the capabilities of 5G standalone networks for industrial applications.

The private 5G standalone (SA) network in a real industrial environment uses the 3.7-3.8GHz band. Both companies have joined forces in this project: Siemens is providing the actual industrial test conditions and end devices such as Simatic control systems and IO devices and Qualcomm is supplying the 5G test network and the relevant test equipment.

The 5G network was installed in Siemens’ Automotive Showroom and Test Center in Nuremberg. Automated guided vehicles are (AGV) displayed here which are primarily used in the automotive industry. New manufacturing options and methods are also developed, tested and presented before they are put into action on customer sites. This allows Siemens’ customers, such as automated guided vehicle manufacturers, to see the products interact live.

The Automotive Showroom and Test Center enables Siemens and Qualcomm to test all the different technologies in a standalone 5G network under actual operating conditions and to come up with solutions for the industrial applications of the future. Qualcomm Technologies installed the 5G test system comprising infrastructure and end devices in less than three weeks. Siemens provided the actual industrial setup including Simatic control systems and IO devices.

“Industrial 5G is the gateway to an all-encompassing, wireless network for production, maintenance, and logistics. High data rates, ultra-reliable transmission, and extremely low latencies will allow significant increases in efficiency and flexibility in industrial added value,” says Eckard Eberle, CEO Process Automation at Siemens. “We are therefore extremely pleased to have this collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies so that we can drive forward the development and technical implementation of private 5G networks in the industrial sector. Our decades of experience in industrial communication and our industry expertise combined with Qualcomm Technologies’ know-how are paving the way for wireless networks in the factory of the future.”

“This project will provide invaluable real-world learnings that both companies can apply to future deployments and marks an important key milestone as 5G moves into industrial automation,” said Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President & President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA. “Combining our 5G connectivity capabilities with Siemens’ deep industry know-how will help us deploy technologies, refine solutions, and work to make the smart industrial future a reality.”

The German Federal Network Agency has reserved a total bandwidth of 100 MHz from 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz for use on local industrial sites. German companies are thus able to rent part of this bandwidth on an annual basis and to make exclusive use of it on their own operating sites in a private 5G network whilst also providing optimum data protection. Siemens is using this principle to evaluate and test industrial protocols such as OPC UA and Profinet in its Automotive Showroom and Test Center together with wireless communication via 5G.

Honeywell Wireless To Support Next-Gen Cisco Access Points

Honeywell Wireless To Support Next-Gen Cisco Access Points

Suddenly the wireless networking side of IoT connectivity is hitting my radar. Since the culmination of the “wireless wars” of 10 years ago, this technology/market area has settled into supplying usable products. This information came from Honeywell—In short, by supplying ISA100 Wireless and WirelessHART connectivity to Cisco’s next-generation Wi-Fi Access Point, Honeywell’s OneWireless IoT Module can help users increase industrial plant productivity, worker safety, and digital transformation readiness.

Honeywell is developing a OneWireless IoT Module for the next-generation of Cisco’s industrial access points, the Cisco Catalyst IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Point. The Honeywell and Cisco technologies will form the backbone of Honeywell’s OneWireless Network.

The joint wireless solution enables Honeywell customers to quickly and easily deploy wireless technologies as an extension of their Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS). Combining the leading IT network technology by from Cisco and the leading Honeywell OneWireless multi-protocol technology provides customers with a single infrastructure that meets all their industrial wireless needs.

“For the past decade, Cisco and Honeywell have worked together to deliver secure, wireless solutions to connect mobile workers and field instrumentation in the most challenging process manufacturing environments,” said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco IoT. “We’ve had great success in bringing IT and operational teams together to reduce complexity and improve efficiency. Now, we are building on that foundation to extend the power of intent-based networking to the IoT edge.”

When combined with the Honeywell OneWireless IoT Module, the Cisco Catalyst IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Point offers the security, speed, and network performance needed to allow the seamless extension of the process control network into the field.

“The OneWireless IoT Module is Honeywell’s latest innovation as a leader in wireless technology,” said Diederik Mols, business director Industrial Wireless, Honeywell Process Solutions. “Our customers will benefit from OneWireless functioning as a seamless extension of Experion PKS and simplified deployment made possible by integrating the IoT module and aerials into a single unit.”

Is the IoT In Danger of Splintering?

Have Fieldbuses Peaked?

I have watched the activity of growth and maturity of fieldbuses for many years. The promise of interoperability and many other benefits with Profibus, Foundation Fieldbus, DeviceNet, and the like were written and discussed in all the journals and conferences.

But Ethernet became widely adopted more than 10 years ago. Profibus developed Profinet. ODVA moved its protocol to Ethernet dubbed EtherNet/IP just to confuse everyone in the market and (I suppose) hoped to pick up a few unsuspecting customers. Many companies were interested in the benefits of Ethernet without the protocols and/or firmware of the majors. It really seemed to take over the world.

I spotted a press release from HMS Industrial Networks citing a study that charts industrial network market shares for 2019. I lost the release in my inbox, but I picked it up in Control Global after seeing a newsletter.

This is essentially the HMS press release as found at Control Global.

Industrial networks are linking more equipment than ever, which is why newly connected nodes are expected to increase by 10% this year, according to a recent study, “Market shares 2019—fieldbus, industrial Ethernet and wireless,” by HMS Industrial Networks. The annual study also found that industrial Ethernet and wireless will continue to grow quickly in 2019, but it will also be the first year that fieldbuses decrease.

In 2018, HMS reported that industrial Ethernet had surpassed traditional fieldbuses for the first time, and this trend continues in 2019. With a steady growth rate of 20%, industrial Ethernet makes up 59% of the global market in 2019, compared to 52% in 2018. EtherNet/IP is the largest industrial Ethernet network with 15% of the market, while Profinet has almost closed the gap and is now at 14%. Ethernet runners-up globally are EtherCAT at 7%, Ethernet Powerlink at 5%, and Modbus-TCP at 4%, all of which are showing stable growth.

Meanwhile, for the first time ever, fieldbuses are declining by -5% in 2019, compared to 6% growth last year, and now account for 35% of new installed nodes. The dominant fieldbus is still Profibus with 10% of the total world market, followed by CC-Link at 6% and Modbus-RTU at 5%.

The transition to industrial Ethernet continues and is driven by the need for high performance and the need for integration between factory installations and IT-systems/IIoT applications,” says Anders Hansson, chief marketing officer at HMS. “For the first time, we’re seeing traditional fieldbuses are declining in new installed nodes. When it comes to industrial Ethernet, we see good growth for many networks. For the established Ethernet/IP, Profinet, EtherCAT, Powerlink and Modbus-TCP, as well as for the networks grouped in the ‘other Ethernet’ category. This fragmented Ethernet picture is very interesting, and it goes to prove that industrial Ethernet never standardized on one network as many predicted when the Ethernet-based networks first evolved in the 1990s. Just like the fieldbuses, the various Ethernet networks serve different purposes depending on industrial application.”

In addition, wireless technologies are also growing steadily by 30% in 2019, and account for 6% of the total market. Within the wireless category, wireless local area networks (WLAN) are the most popular technology, followed by Bluetooth. “Wireless is increasingly being used by machine builders and system integrators to realize new, innovative automation architectures. Users can reduce cabling and create new solutions for connectivity and control,” adds Hansson. “We also see increased activities globally around cellular technologies, such as private LTE/5G networks, as enablers for smart and flexible manufacturing in factories.”

Finally, HMS reports that in Europe and the Middle East, EtherNet/IP and Profinet are leading and Profinet is still widely used, while other popular networks are EtherCAT and Ethernet Powerlink. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is dominated by the CIP-based networks with a clear movement towards EtherNet/IP, while EtherCAT continues to gain market share. In Asia, no individual network stands out as market-leading, but Profinet, EtherNet/IP, Profibus, EtherCAT, Modbus and CC-Link are widely used, with the Ethernet version of CC-Link, CC-Link IE Field, also gaining ground.

Profinet Specification Now Includes Time Sensitive Networking TSN

Profinet Specification Now Includes Time Sensitive Networking TSN

I thought Time Sensitive Networks (TSN), an addition to the IEEE Ethernet specification, was a technology that held great promise. Some technologists I respected were working on it. Then it appeared the hype was about over. I haven’t heard anything for months. Suddenly arrives news that the Profinet specification now includes TSN support.

Profinet specification 2.4 has been completed and can be downloaded by all PI members. The specification includes TSN capabilities, and according to the organization, it is the first TSN version of an open industrial communication standard.

Gunnar Lessmann, Master Specialist Profinet at Phoenix Contact andLeader Profinet IO Working Group (CB/PG6) writes:

The Profinet technical working group CB/PG6, which has been responsible for creating and coordinating the technical specifications, has been part of PI since 2003. The members of this working group include more than 25 representatives of device and system manufacturers, technology providers, and chip manufacturers who cooperate in a very open and constructive way. I’ve had the pleasure of leading this working group since April of 2019 after having been a permanent member. The working group would also like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to my predecessor Reiner Wamßer, who performed this “volunteer” work with great success and commitment.

Using the corresponding IEEE standards in such a way that the fundamental properties of Profinet are retained has always been important here. TSN now offers additional capabilities, such as guaranteed latency and quality of service, high-precision time synchronization, and seamless media redundancy – all using standard Ethernet hardware.

For this reason, I am pleased that the publication of the first “TSN version” of an open industrial communication standard was possible alongside the approval of Profinet specification 2.4. Naturally, specification 2.4 also includes all the details on Profinet which are separate from TSN – as usual, Profinet will remain fully compatible with all previous versions.

As with all other topics, we are continuously working on improving the standard. With regard to TSN for example, experience gained from the use of Profinet in the field and standardization from the joint activity from IEC/IEEE 60802 still have to be incorporated. There are also new topics, like the integration of 10 Mbit/s, APL, and cybersecurity, which also affect the basic specification.

Profinet Specification Now Includes Time Sensitive Networking TSN

New Take On Edge Embedded Computing

I’ve been writing about how IT companies are taking their powerful compute platforms to the edge. Here is a balance view from an industrial network switch company combining LTE with Ethernet and embedding HMI/SCADA. Interestingly, it includes Node-RED and MQTT support.

ORing has released a new industrial dual 4G LTE M2M IoT gateway that includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. The industrial-grade design is compliant with requirements of IEC 61850-3.

The new gateway has built-in 8-port Gigabit Ethernet with 4×10/100/1000Base-T(X) and 4xGigabit SFP Combo ports. It also includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard, for easy use of the powerful, web-based Ignition platform for human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Node-RED is also onboard, along with support for MQTT and other protocols. The Gateway is AT&T-certified and can be purchased with a bundled SIM card and LTE data plan.

The company has extensive experience in switch and wireless product design. ORing’s products have been deployed in surveillance, rail transport, industrial automation, power substations, renewable energy, and marine applications.

Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with numerous tools for building solutions in HMI, SCADA, and IIoT.

“We’re very pleased to see Ignition and Ignition Edge as part of this new product from ORing,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Digital transformation is a big undertaking, and end users will certainly appreciate ORing making things easier for them.”

“We at ORing are very excited about the release of the innovative IGMG-P83244GC+-D4G IoT Gateway,” said Angus Shih, president of ORing Industrial Networking Corp. “This impressive technology includes the Ignition SCADA features and AT&T LTE cellular technology. This all-in-one gateway can provide powerful VPN cellular routing capabilities with database storage, Ignition, and Node-RED functions in one box to make IoT and SCADA applications deployment easier than ever before. It can also connect with Ignition servers and the most popular cloud platforms, including AT&T Dataflow, to build flexible edge-to-cloud IoT systems.”

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