Industry IoT Consortium and Digital Twin Consortium Merge

Two major sources of technology buzz from around 2015 to 2020 or so found homes in industry consortia within The Object Management Group. I talked often with people from the IIC, aka Industry IoT Consortium, and with the Digital Twin Consortium. These were most likely too much overhead for the supporting suppliers and industry. They have merged under The Object Management Group.

  • Object Management Group Announces Integration of Industry IoT Consortium with Digital Twin Consortium
  • Alignment to increase collaboration for a more holistic view across industries and technologies

Object Management Group (OMG) announced the integration of two of its consortia: the Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) and the Digital Twin Consortium (DTC). This integration will further expand OMG’s collaboration with industry, academia, and government, leading to increased adoption of digital twins and digital transformation.

“During the past several years, we have seen opportunities for increased collaboration and alignment between the IIC and DTC,” said Bill Hoffman, CEO and Chairman of OMG. “Integrating IIC within DTC ensures we have the best minds from both, working together to solve increasingly complex problems and providing a more holistic view across industries and technologies.”

OMG will retain IIC’s essential contributions to IoT and digital transformation on the IIC website. Combined IIC/DTC thought leadership will reside on the DTC website.

IIoT Systems Implementation up Year over Year, Set to Reach 75% Deployment Rate in 2023

All God’s children are doing surveys. They want to know what you think. This report, “Building Industrial IoT Systems in 2024,” presents data from a survey by HiveMQ, an MQTT solution provider, and my friends at IIoT World. 

IIoT no longer generates the buzz it did in the mid-10s of the century. Regardless, the use cases still abound for the technology.

350 professionals were surveyed across Automotive Manufacturing, Power and Utilities, Renewable Energy, Transportation and Logistics, Smart Cities, and more to share feedback on building IIoT systems. The results demonstrate that industries are embracing IIoT technologies and moving towards full implementation and deployment of IIoT solutions. Implementations are up from 67% in 2022 to 75% in 2023.

Getting funding is a never-ending problem for engineers seeking new projects.

With 6 out of ten executives saying it is difficult to quantify investment in technology, more and more professionals are stuck in proof-of-concept purgatory. Industrial automation is no different — over a third of survey respondents said a key challenge for implementing IIoT systems is a lack of budget and uncertain ROI.

Additional insights from the survey include:

  • Increased productivity (29%) and improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) (23%) are the top benefits companies expect to gain from implementing IIoT systems.
  • Leadership support (38%) and cybersecurity (35%) are the key challenges companies cite in implementing a new IIoT system.
  • A quarter of survey respondents believed that executive leadership (25%) should own the project while nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) believe that a project team combining both OT and IT expertise should spearhead the IIoT strategy.
  • MQTT (57%) and HTTP (58%) are considered to be essential data movement tools for fulfilling IIoT strategies.
  • Sparkplug is still in its infancy but 25% of companies say they have deployed or are looking at using Sparkplug, while 35% say they need to learn more about it.
  • Microsoft Azure (18%) is the leading cloud provider for IIoT systems, followed by Amazon Web Services (17%), and multi-cloud (14%).

Telit Cinterion and Alif Semiconductor Unveil the Vision AppKit: A Postage Stamp-Sized, Intelligent Connected Camera Platform

I began working with vision applications in the 1980s and sold and installed a few in the 1990s before the technology went bananas and prices dropped precipitously. Companies have begun investing in vision systems again with new technologies now available. This new app kit from Telit Cinterion is interesting.

  • Vision AppKit utilizes the Alif Semiconductor Ensemble® MCU family of industry-leading Edge ML MCUs and Telit Cinterion’s power-efficient LTE-M and low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology modules
  • Ultra-compact camera design can perform on-device AI use cases like face and object detection, image classification, and more at a significantly lower power consumption than previously possible for these use cases

Telit Cinterion, an end-to-end IoT solutions enabler, and Alif Semiconductor, a supplier of the most secure, power-efficient Edge AI-enabled MCUs and fusion processors in the market, have announced the Vision AppKit — the world’s smartest and most efficient connected camera reference design. The Vision AppKit combines Telit Cinterion’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology or LTE-M communication modules in an ultra-compact camera design together with Alif Semiconductor’s Ensemble E3 series MCU, capable of performing on-device AI use-cases like face and object detection, image classification, and more at significantly lower power consumption than previously possible.

The Vision AppKit is a reference design for ultra-low power, small form factor AI-enabled camera that can capture images and/or video, perform AI-based processing in real-time on captured data, and deliver the results wirelessly to a display or other external system. Alif’s E3 Series MCU — known for its EdgeAI capabilities in battery-operated IoT devices — powers this groundbreaking design. Telit Cinterion supports communication in the Vision AppKit with the ME310 LTE Cat-M and WE310 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0 modules.

Former Emerson Process Leader Publishes Book

John Berra, former chairman of Emerson Process and the leader who assembled that group, once told me in an interview that he wished someone would write a book about the early days and development of automated process control. If he wad hinting for me, I was the wrong person. More likely it would have been my colleague Walt Boyes. But instead, John has written a book that will be out March 5—Turning the Giant: Disrupting Your Business with Persistent Innovation. I’m glad he did.

I’ve not read the book, yet, but I have it on order. I enjoyed all my interviews with Berra over the years. He was always cerebral, knowledgeable, and visionary. And I discovered at one of my last Emerson events with him that he also played Bellomy (the father of the girl) in community theater production of The Fantasticks. I played that role in the early 70s in Sidney, Ohio. He also wrote a column for me when I was at Automation World after he retired.

My old friend Jim Cahill wrote about the book on his Emerson Process Experts blog—worth a read.

I was fortunate to get an advanced look at John Berra’s new book Turning the Giant: Disrupting Your Business with Persistent Innovation (slated for release on March 5, 2024). John is the Past Chairman of Emerson’s automation business and was President of the Systems business during the development of the DeltaV control system. I read it this past weekend and really enjoyed it because I got to live through many of the stories he shares throughout the book and better see the events from his perspective.

Open Technologies Part Two from ARC Forum with Schneider Electric

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. Here is the open technology news from Schneider Electric this year.

In brief:

  • Schneider Electric delivers next-generation, open automation infrastructure in collaboration with Intel and Red Hat 
  • New Distributed Control Node (DCN) software framework to help drive open automation 
  • Solution helps replace vendor-specific hardware with plug-and-produce offer 
  • Interoperability and portability support industrial innovation, reduce obsolescence 

An extension of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert, this new framework enables industrial companies to move to a software-defined, plug-and-produce solution, allowing them to enhance their operations, ensure quality, reduce complexity, and optimize costs. 

“This project is the culmination of two years of co-innovation to create efficient, future-proof distributed control systems,” said Nathalie Marcotte, Senior Vice President of Process Automation at Schneider Electric. “The DCN framework is key to fostering an open automation approach, enabling industrial businesses to grow and innovate for the future. Its interoperability and portability help our customers enjoy the freedom of shaping technology around their business needs – and not the other way around.” 

Red Hat, in collaboration with Intel, recently announced the creation of a new industrial edge platform that helps provide a modern approach to building and operating industrial controls. Since implementing this platform, Schneider Electric has now deployed Red Hat Device Edge in the new DCN software, in addition to Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat OpenShift at the compute layer for DCN deployments, combined with a control infrastructure from Schneider Electric and reference architecture from Intel. 

The framework consists of two main components: an advanced computer platform (ACP), which supervises the control workload by providing the content control and automation capabilities needed to deploy workloads securely and programmatically, along with virtualization and monitoring functionalities; and the DCN, which are low-power, industrial systems using Intel Atom x6400E series processors, dedicated to running controls and designed for workloads f mixed-criticality.

Rockwell Automation Touts Open Technologies at ARC Forum

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. More on Schneider Electric in my next post. One of two ‘Open’ press releases from this year’s Forum.

This news is from Rockwell Automation. It evidently has decided to get involved with OPAF this year. You may wonder why. This statement from SVP software and control Brian Shepherd provides a clue. “We appreciate and understand our users need for products and systems that integrate well together and allow for collaboration of edge and cloud data sources. Through working with organizations like OPAF and OPC, we will continue to invest in our systems, products and services for market-leading interoperability, longevity and performance.” 

I imagine at some point we may see an open edge device or even controller from Rockwell Automation. For now, the company touts OPC-UA integration into some products along with supporting MQTT and REST. This is a good start.

Here are four examples Rockwell provided of its new emphasis on openness:

  • PlantPAx’s control platform, based on the company’s Logix Controllers, now natively supports OPC-UA, facilitating direct data sharing with edge and cloud applications. Additional connectivity options are available with MQTT and REST.
  • Embedded Edge Compute Module, which provides a compute surface within the Logix environment, enhances plant-wide connectivity through OPC-UA, MQTT, and REST API communication.
  • FactoryTalk Optix, a scalable platform that can be used in PlantPAx to provide native support for OPC-UA to allow operations, maintenance, and plant personnel to visualize various information originating across the enterprise.
  • The combination of PlantPAx and FactoryTalk DataMosaix provides a leading industrial Data Ops platform that supports OPC-UA, provides contextualization of data from multiple sources. The data models can be used to support pre-built Energy, Batch and Asset optimization solutions from Rockwell Automation or to accelerate development of custom solutions.

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