Industrial Internet Consortium Technical Report Defines Framework for Distributed Edge Computing

The trend du jour no doubt includes computing at the edge to enhance the Industrial Internet. This news from the Industrial Internet Consortium shows how companies working together can develop a common set of standard frameworks to assure interoperability.

Moving computing from the cloud to the edge increases the performance, trustworthiness, and efficiency of industrial IoT applications

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) announced the publication of the Industrial Internet of Things Distributed Computing in the Edge Technical Report. Designed for IoT system architects and implementers, the report describes a distributed computing framework that moves the capabilities of data center-based cloud computing closer to intelligent IoT devices at the edge.

“In edge computing, data, networking, storage, and computing are distributed throughout layers of edge computing nodes from IoT devices to the data center – distributing the economies of scale of cloud capabilities throughout the system,” said Chuck Byers, Co-Chair, IIC Distributed Computing Task Group, and Associate CTO of IIC. “The migration of cloud capabilities into the edge allows data, storage, and computation to gravitate to where it can be handled most efficiently, whether in a data center or the edge.” 

The technical report includes: 

  • A structural and functional framework for distributing computing in the edge
  • Definitions of key architectural concepts employed in distributed edge computing 
  • Essential capabilities of an edge system’s elements 
  • Security and management functions 
  • Essential interfaces for these elements 

System architects can use the framework as a template to derive a concrete distributed computing architecture. Operations technologists, information technologists, network and business managers can use the report to learn more about the essential elements and advantages of distributed computing in the edge.

“Distributed computing, and the nodes and edge systems that form its key components are essential to the success of organization’s critical IoT systems and digital transformation plans,” said John Zao, Co-Chair, IIC Distributed Computing Task Group. “By moving to a distributed edge computing architecture, organizations across industries can reduce costs and meet critical performance, trustworthiness, and efficiency requirements for their IoT applications.”

The Industrial Internet of Things Distributed Computing in the Edge Technical Report is free of charge. The technical report and a list of authors who contributed to it can be found on the IIC website

The Industrial Internet Consortium has the goal of accelerating adoption of a trustworthy internet of things. The Industrial Internet Consortium is a program of the Object Management Group (OMG).

Agility is the Key in IIoT

KC Liu, founder and CEO of Advantech, the Taiwan-based electronics company, has always been a sort of philosopher/businessperson. Over the 20 years or so that I’ve followed the company several books have added to my library thanks to him. The company continues to build on its base of Adam I/O modules and industrial computers. But Liu continues to conceive new strategies and technology directions to keep the company fresh and interesting.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, yes, the first day of autumn, I sat in on a global press conference at 6 am my time followed by a few hours of presentations. And, once again, the companies that provide the infrastructure for virtual conferences and the companies that use them deserve commendation for well-planned and executed events.

Data, cloud, app marketplace, ecosystem, partners, Platform-as-a-Service were key concepts as executives explained where Advantech plays in the IoT market—industrial, smart cities, and more.

“Agile innovation in the area of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will be the key in driving forward digital transformation in industrial applications into 2021 and beyond,” said Advantech IIoT President, Linda Tsai, to more than 2,000 delegates at the company’s first ever global IIoT Virtual Summit, entitled ‘Connecting Industrial IoT Innovation’.

Ms. Tsai explained: “Figures from IDC suggest that by 2025, there will be 41.6 billion IoT devices in use worldwide, generating 79.4 zettabytes of data. Connected devices will pervade every aspect of our personal and business lives, and a complex mix of technology and infrastructure will be more crucial than ever to harnessing the power of the data generated by these devices. 

“As a leader in embedded computer systems for industrial applications, Advantech is leading the way in developing more powerful edge computing solutions which are compatible with all types of IIoT devices as well as data centers and cloud providers and can aggregate these vast quantities of data, allowing users to optimize operational effectiveness in their facilities.”

Much of Advantech’s pioneering work in this area centers on its strategy of co-creation: collaborating closely with systems integrators and developers to create edge solution-ready platforms (Edge SRP’s) or IApps (Industrial Applications) to make digital transformation as rapid and simple as possible. Advantech can support optimization in areas from iFactory to industrial equipment manufacturing (IEM), industrial AI, smart automation, transportation, energy & environment and iLogistics.

Ms Tsai went on to identify six key technology trends for 2021: digital transformation, 5G, decoupling, device-to-cloud digitalisation, empowered edge and artificial intelligence (AI).

“According to the GSMA Mobile Economy 2019 Report, 5G will contribute more than US$2 trillion to the global economy up to 2035, of which 35 per cent will go to the manufacturing and utilities sectors. Meanwhile, research from MarketsandMarkets estimates the value of AI in the manufacturing at US$17.2 billion by 2025.

“Advantech has developed an extensive portfolio of AI platforms including edge AI systems, sensors and inference servers, as well as deep learning training servers, to assist customers in exploiting the potential of AI. Meanwhile, in the area of device-to-cloud, we are again at the forefront of innovation, with solutions including private cloud solutions, industrial APP, edge intelligence software and cross-platform middleware – all specifically developed to combining optimised computing with robust and reliable performance in even the most demanding environments.”

“There is no getting away from the fact that digital transformation will impact every manufacturer in the world in the years to come, and harnessing the power of data will be critical to competitiveness as we move from Industry 4.0 and towards Industry 5.0. Our global Summit has brought together partners from across the world to find the best ways to collaborate and exploit the power of new and emerging technologies, to optimise efficiency, performance and commercial success.”

Jash Bansidhar, managing director of Advantech Europe, added: ““The macro strategy of driving Industrial IoT development through the adoption of AI, 5G and edge computing is central to the further adoption and exploitation of IoT technologies. Our mission continues to be to work with ecosystem partners to deliver sustainable success in the post-pandemic era.”

Another Well Done Virtual Conference—Ignition Community Conference

Just to keep my perspective in balance, I attended a national soccer referee instructor virtual training. It was terrible. The presenters were not familiar with the technology and the presentation was incoherent.

Therefore, what a joy to attend another well done industrial technology conference. The Ignition Community Conference sponsored by Inductive Automation was Tuesday Sept. 15, but you can click the link and see the presentations for a while. I attended two other conferences (unfortunately not the Apple one) and therefore ran out of time to watch more today. But, I’ll be back to catch other presentations.

Chief Marketing Officer Don Pearson always has a relevant quote to serve as a theme for the conference. “Let’s stop trying to predict the future; let’s build it!” Stop and ponder.

The Ignition platform has greatly expanded over the years without losing the core ideas founder Steve Hechtman first explained to me in 2003. Built upon IT-friendly technology with a core strategy of unlimited licensing, the result is a robust HMI/SCADA offering that is affordable. [Note: Inductive Automation is a sponsor, but I’ve been a fan since long before that happened.]

They call it a “community conference” because they consider themselves, their customers, and their partners as a community. And when they gather physically (and even virtually), the people all act like a community. I always enjoy the conference feeling.

Hechtman discussed how the executive team met at the very beginning of hearing about the pandemic to begin preparing for remote work. Among other things they bought a lot of laptop computers. As things went along, they discovered that overall everyone was more productive working remotely. This will become a new way of life for most at the company. 

Preparing for business in the Covid environment, they improved the support function and added more people. They improved remote training–and a significant number of customers would prefer to continue remote training although many still wish to return to in-person classes when it’s possible. 

Speakers extolled the stories returning about how people are using the Maker edition unveiled in June. Ignition Perspective is another key new product that serves as a base for the main product Ignition 8.1. 

Key themes included filling out the promise of IoT broached back in 2016, mobility, remote control, large enterprise solutions, and working with AWS and Azure. Inductive has come a long way.

Ignition 8.1 is a release that will be supported five years. Its development them was refining version 8.0 released last year. It’s vision is based on Perspective. They worked to make it the best visualization platform. Perspective makes it easier to create in a variety of platforms–including the new Workstation edition. It’s now not only Web-based, but also has this Workstation edition to enhance speed. They have developed an easier-to-use and improved symbol library. They’ve added first-party Docker support. Plus a Quick Start application to help people new to the platform to get configured and ready to use.

Be sure to visit the ICC website and examine all the use cases and partners.

An IIoT Solution for Smart Manufacturing

I doubt that there exists a useful pure Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) solution. Simply putting a number of devices on an IP network solves little. However, combining IIoT with data analytics and visualization offers useful solutions to managers and engineers. Even better is the current trend toward making these solutions easier to install. This solution says it has all that.

Litmus, the Intelligent Edge Computing company, announced a partnership with Oden Technologies, a company helping manufacturers make faster and better decisions through machine learning and advanced analytics. Together, Litmus and Oden offer a turnkey solution for Smart Manufacturing including out-of-the-box data acquisition from any machine, advanced analytics, and machine learning to drive greater production efficiency.

Litmus Edge data intelligence platform collects, normalizes, and analyzes high volumes of live data from industrial assets making it available to OT and IT systems via edge-to-enterprise integration.  Oden provides big data compute engine and machine learning, real-time, and predictive process metrics.

“We can get customers up and running by connecting to any machine and collecting data in minutes, then integrate that data with Oden so customers can see proven predictive and prescriptive applications to deliver value in under 30 days,” said John Younes, co-founder and COO of Litmus. “Litmus provides intelligence at the edge, and Oden provides the cloud-based analytics and machine learning necessary to predict and prevent problems, then prescribe actions that lead to better business decisions.”

Litmus Edge is deployed at the Edge with more than 250 pre-built drivers to connect to any PLC, CNC, sensor, robotic system, or SCADA/MES/Historian with no programming, then processes and normalizes the data automatically. Litmus feeds clean data to the Oden Industrial AI Platform, which offers real-time metrics and reporting along with predictive quality, performance optimization and other automated insights. Litmus Edge then runs those machine learning models back at the assets for continuous improvement and closed loop control back to the assets.

“With Litmus + Oden, customers can create a complete source of truth for all production data,” said Willem Sundblad, Cofounder and CEO of Oden Technologies. “We are excited to partner with Litmus to deliver increased operational visibility and automated insights that help customers reduce waste, optimize performance and maximize profitability across the factory floor.”

Pricing for Litmus + Oden is based on the number of manufacturing processes and the number of sites deployed.

Development Platform for Real-time Events

In a normal summer, I am wondering where my next topic for something to write about will come from. This, of course, is anything but a normal summer. On the other hand, despite travel restrictions and office restrictions and the like I have been flooded with information. Meaning, I’m catching up on news from June. My bad…

I first heard of the real-time agile developer platform from VANTIQ three years ago when I was at Hannover exploring the beginnings of the EdgeX Foundry from Linux Foundation. Then in June I was pitched a news release from it where it had partnered with RoviSys to create Covid safety apps for such facilities as manufacturing, healthcare, and more. As the PR account executive told me, “Real-time tech enables these facilities to detect and respond to, say, an infected worker or an accident – in seconds, not minutes or hours.” The partnership applications detect and contain Covid-19.

Beyond this application (detailed below), I talked with CEO and founder Marty Sprinzen about the company and the technology. I didn’t get a deep dive, but they essentially blend IoT and AI (how about that for buzz words in one sentence) to achieve an abstraction above the IoT such that others can develop cool apps. Such as this work with RoviSys. A company to watch, for sure.

RoviSys is an independent, global provider of comprehensive process automation, systems integration, and building automation solutions. Together, the companies will build applications—based on VANTIQ’s real-time, event-driven architecture—to track people’s movements and body temperatures to monitor environmental health. By pinpointing potentially infected individuals in real time, response teams can rapidly isolate people and execute critical mitigation protocols, from disinfecting contaminated areas to facilitating hospitalization for infected persons.

RoviSys brings domain expertise and reach in the chemical, petrochemical, power and energy, data center, building management, water and wastewater, paper and wood, utilities, and oil and gas industries. “Our customers need tools that help get operations back up and running as soon as possible,” said Bryan DeBois, Director, Industrial AI at RoviSys. “But ensuring employee safety is crucial. Reliable solutions are going to require real-time monitoring systems that can safeguard everyone in the workplace. The relationship between RoviSys and VANTIQ to rapidly build these mission-critical applications and systems for the industrial space is important today and in the foreseeable future.” 

VANTIQ recently launched its Back-to-Work Accelerator product, which enables software developers to rapidly build real-time applications for safeguarding workplaces against the spread of COVID-19. 

“Getting people back to work during COVID-19 means that we have to track people in time and space, leveraging IoT sensors, thermal imaging and other applicable technologies,” said Sprinzen. “We’re excited to work with RoviSys to build customized applications for specific industrial needs, using the VANTIQ platform to enable lightning-fast development for real-time, real-world environments.”

VANTIQ enables customers to build next-generation applications that combine real-world data and real-time events. Their agile development environment allows complex applications to be created in weeks with minimal coding, taking full advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing. VANTIQ powers a broad array of applications for smart cities, smart buildings, oil and gas, telecom, healthcare and other industries. VANTIQ was founded in 2015 by technology veterans Marty Sprinzen and Paul Butterworth, co-founders of Forte Software. 

Founded in 1989, RoviSys is a leading independent provider of information management solutions, manufacturing automation solutions, control systems integration, building automation, and enterprise and industrial networks. The company is distinctly qualified to deliver solutions that drive productivity, improve product quality, increase asset utilization and integrate technology for the chemical, petrochemical, life science, consumer packaged goods, glass, metals, power and energy, data center, building management, water and wastewater, paper and wood, and oil and gas industries.

Here Is What You Can Do With Your Data

In the beginning were data. Increasing amounts of data. But what good is a storehouse filled with data? Especially when you have to build additional storehouses to hold more data?

We all know that this is just a hole to throw good money into unless we can reap benefits from the data.

John Burton, CEO of Ursa Leo, recently gave some time to me to explain what this new company is up to. And it’s pretty cool. It begins with data formed into a digital twin of the factory, oil rig, equipment, and the like. But they asked how can company managers and operators reap benefits from their data? The company began by focusing on visual representations of the data. It hired engineers from the gaming industry to show photo realistic reproductions of the plant, equipment, building, and so on. Think things like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality brought to life by the latest in gaming technology.

They develop on the Unity gaming engine that is designed to run on just about anything (derivative of gaming industry). So, for example, you can get a bird’s eye view of the factory. Show sensors perhaps as green dots. Zoom in to see sensors; zoom in again for ever greater levels of detail including sensor data. It is a  simple screen showing IoT data from sensors and asset data bases. It’s spatially related. The model resides in the cloud, so the same view and information is available to everyone making it great for remote maintenance support, for example, also training and remote control.

Visualization includes x-ray vision, rewind/replay events, “make pieces of equipment fly apart, visualize fluid flow, heat maps (like temperature of gas for example).

Recently, the company announced that it has closed its Seed Round B and raised $725K. The round was led by Keiretsu Forum and Bay Angels with additional private investors. As UrsaLeo continues to grow, the money will be used to expand operations into manufacturing and building management, further product development with collaboration and remote control modes, and enhance the company’s new social distancing technology.

With the closing of the Seed B, the company also announced the hiring of Michael Uribe and Alina Verdiyan as Senior Vice Presidents. Michael will lead the Building Information Management Division and work with developers and building operators to bring cutting edge 3D technology to public spaces. Alina will lead the Manufacturing Division and have worldwide responsibility for dedicated sales, marketing, and operations.

“The UrsaLeo team and traction they’ve achieved with early customers signals an opportunity for rapid growth in valuation,” said Chandika Mendis of Bay Angels. “With the adoption of social distancing technology and digital twinning, one of the hottest sectors at the moment, enterprise software that helps to simplify problem solving in challenging times is an attractive investment. We look forward to tracking their success.”