Industry IoT Consortium Publishes Artificial Intelligence Framework, Updates Networking Framework

I missed the notes of an interview when I transferred to a new notebook a couple of months ago. It concerns a new Framework published by the Industry IoT Consortium (you may remember them as the Industrial Internet Consortium, still known as IIC). These Frameworks are blueprints targeted at decision makers providing a variety of perspectives on a topic along with practical advice according to Wael William Diab, Chair IIC Industrial AI Task Group and Secretary IIC Steering Committee, and Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President IGnPower Inc. and the Chief Editor of the IIAIF.

They told me the work approaches the topic from different perspectives—business, usage, functional, and future.

Artificial Intelligence Framework

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) announced the Industrial IoT Artificial Intelligence Framework (IIAIF). The framework highlights the value proposition AI can enable in next-generation industrial IoT (IIoT) systems and addresses the emerging requirements and implementation challenges.

“The rapid growth and innovation in the field of AI have unlocked applications that a few years ago were infeasible. These advances are fueling digital transformation across industry sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, finance, and retail,” said Wael William Diab, Chair IIC Industrial AI Task Group and Secretary IIC Steering Committee. “By taking a holistic approach to the emerging requirements and challenges, the framework aims to accelerate responsible adoption of AI-enabled IIoT systems and ultimately bring the benefits of digital transformation to more use cases and sectors.”

The IIAIF brings together both the IT and OT perspectives and their convergence by considering the various aspects of next-generation AI-enabled IIoT systems. For instance, the framework addresses the value proposition, implementation challenges, and architectural decisions and provides exemplary usage scenarios.

“AI-enabled IIoT systems enable better insights, faster decision making, and more effective operations, and empower organizations to deliver higher value to the market,” said Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President IGnPower Inc. and the Chief Editor of the IIAIF. “The framework is unique in terms of positioning, scope, and real-world use cases. It addresses the practical business, trustworthiness, ethical, and technical considerations of AI with other digital transformation enabling technologies.”

“The IIC is focused on creating transformative business value by accelerating the adoption of industrial IoT systems,” said Stephen Mellor, IIC CTO and Exec. VP of OMG. “The IIAIF is a prime example of how IIC is facilitating the adoption of emerging technology by helping organizations understand and address the unique requirements of AI in IIoT environments.”

Update to Industrial Internet Networking Framework

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) published an update to its Industrial Internet Networking Framework (IINF) that includes new guidance on deploying satellite communications technologies in place of terrestrial networks, which can be technically and economically unfeasible. Today, developers can deploy satellites to connect IIoT devices spread over vast areas or for connectivity in remote, underpopulated land areas, or over the seas and oceans.

“The main advantage of satellites over terrestrial networks is their wide coverage on a regional and continental scale,” said David Lou P.hD., Co-Chair, IIC Networking Task Group and Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Huawei. “Even though closing the link budget for IIoT devices is challenging, satellite technology can support IIoT devices as a direct radio access network. They can also serve as a backhaul technology for wireless or wired networks at any altitude.”

Connecting OEMs With Their Installed Base

The people who introduced me to the M2M concept, or machine-to-machine (later called IIoT), extolled a prime use case—OEMs could connect with their installed base of machines. This would enable service contracts as they monitored performance and components. They could also monitor components to grade suppliers.

This turned out to be difficult to implement. IT departments placed roadblocks to outside connectivity. Concerns about leaking proprietary information posed another roadblock.

Best practices and improving technology have overcome many of the roadblocks. Enough so, that a major technology provider such as Honeywell can introduce an “Industry 4.0 solution helps increase end user equipment uptime and satisfaction while reducing OEM service and maintenance costs.”

Honeywell introduced on June 28, 2022 its Connected OEM (original equipment manufacturer) offering, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that allows OEMs and skid manufacturers to remotely monitor the health and condition of their installed base. Equipment such as compressors, furnaces, pumping stations, analyzer houses and skids at end-user locations around the world can be monitored through the offering.

Through a cloud-based central asset management system securely connected to equipment assets, OEMs can obtain a consolidated view of their global installed base through a customizable key performance indicator dashboard. Users can apply data analytics and tools to troubleshoot and fix equipment, predict failures, plan maintenance and make informed business decisions in areas such as R&D.

I’ve written recently on LinkedIn and Twitter about a major social media company who blatantly proclaims that all its recent changes were in service to its own benefit with no mention of benefit to users or customers. Here, Honeywell notes specific user benefits to the new solution.

Honeywell Connected OEM was developed in response to a longstanding issue facing OEMs: the inability to monitor the performance of their installed assets. Prolonged sub-optimal asset operation results in high operating expenses for end users, and OEMs with performance contracts are unable to guarantee or justify assets’ operating outcomes. In addition, OEM service engineers must often rush to a site for unplanned maintenance and troubleshooting, incurring high travel costs if the assets are geographically dispersed. The net result is poor quality service and maintenance that can lead to the loss of repeat business for OEMs.

To Everything There Is A Season

What if the time has come to rethink all these specific silos and strategies that we build software solutions around?

Folk/rock group The Byrds popularized a Pete Seeger tune in the 1960s, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven.” 

The time has come to rethink all the departmental silos manufacturing executives constructed over the years with vendors targeting their applications to fit. This era of the Internet of Things (IoT), sensor-driven real-time data, innovative unstructured databases, powerful analytics engines, and visualization provide us with new ways of thinking about organizing manufacturing.

HMI/SCADA can become IoT enabling software expanding beyond the normal visualization role. Types of MES software break the bounds of traditional silos. Not just quality metrics, OEE calculators, or maintenance schedulers, what if we thought of MES as operational intelligence bringing disparate parts together? These can provide managers of all levels the kind of information needed for better, faster decision making.

I have worked with a number of maintenance and reliability media companies. They have all been embroiled in discussions of the comparative value of maintenance strategies: Reactive (run-to-failure), Preventive, Predictive, Reliability-centered. These are presented as a continuum progressing from the Stone Age to StarTrek. With them are always discussion about which is best.

The IT companies I have worked with fixated on predictive. They had powerful predictive analytics to combine with their database and compute capabilities and saw that as the Next Big Thing. They were wrong.

I was taught early in my career that Preventive was also known as scheduled maintenance. Management sends technicians out on rounds on a regular basis with lube equipment and meters to check out and lubricate and adjust. As often as not, these adjustments would disturb the Force and something would break down.

What if? What if we use all the sensor data from equipment sent to the cloud to a powerful database? What if we use that data to intelligently dispatch technicians to the  necessary equipment with the appropriate tools to fix before breaking and at an appropriate collaborative time?

A company called Matics recently was introduced to me via a long-time marketing contact. They wanted to talk about the second definition of preventive maintenance. Not just unscheduled rounds but using sensor-driven data, or IoT, to feed its Central Data Repository with the goal of providing Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) to its customers.

According to Matics, its RtOI system has provided customers with:

  • 25% increased machine availability
  • 30% decrease in rejects
  • 10% reduction in energy consumption

Smarter preventive maintenance leverages continuous condition monitoring targeting as-needed maintenance resulting in fewer unnecessary checks and less machine stoppage for repair.

I am not trying to write a marketing piece for Matics, although the company does compensate me for some content development. But their software provides me a way to riff into a new way of thinking.

Usually product engineers and marketing people will show me a new product. I’ll become enthused. “Wow, this is cool. Now if you could just do this and this…” I drive product people crazy in those meetings. I think the same here. I like the approach. Now, if customers can take the ball and run with it thinking about manufacturing in a a new way, that would be cool—and beneficial and profitable. I think innovative managers and engineers could find new ways to bring engineering, production, and maintenance together in a more collaborative way around real-time information.

Industry IoT Consortium Updates Industrial IoT Internet Connectivity Framework

The power of industry consortia lies in the number of companies and the market reach of the companies who gather to develop standards for technology and use. This guidance from the Industry IoT Consortium (IIC, formerly Industrial Internet Consortium) helps organizations drive better business outcomes using data from resource-constrained edge devices. That is digital transformation.

From the news:

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) announced updates to its Industrial IoT Internet Connectivity Framework (IICF), a foundation document that guides the building of an Industrial IoT (IIoT) connectivity architecture. The latest version of the IICF expands the connectivity guidance to include lightweight, resource-constrained machine-to-machine (M2M) devices often found at the edge of networks. The IICF defines an IIoT communications stack and a connectivity assessment template. It applies the assessment template to evaluate IIoT connectivity standards and provides guidance on selecting the right connectivity standard based on system requirements. The IICF connectivity reference architecture enables data sharing and interoperability across a diverse range of IIoT systems.

“Five years ago, the IICF laid the foundation for ubiquitous data sharing across the rich but often confusing landscape of IIoT applications. Today’s important updates and new assessments cater to the communication requirements of resource-constrained devices,” said Dr. Rajive Joshi, lead author, co-chair of the IIC Connectivity Task Group, and Principal Solutions Architect at Real-Time Innovations (RTI). “IIoT architects can use this document confidently to review up-to-date requirements, technologies, standards, and solutions that enable rapid, open information exchange across their systems.”

“Sharing data is essential for organizations to create new value streams and unleash the potential of a global IIoT marketplace,” said Stephen Mellor, CTO, IIC. “The latest version of the IICF helps organizations use IoT connected M2M devices to drive better business outcomes.”

The IICF is a fact-based, consensus-developed document that provides a stable long-term foundation for IIoT interoperability. It offers helpful, practical, tangible guidance for requirements assessment, technology evaluation, and selection.

IICF authors include Rajive Joshi from RTI, Paul Didier from Cisco, Christer Holmberg and Jaime Jimenez from Ericsson, and Timothy Carey from Nokia. The Industry IoT Consortium is a program of the Object Management Group (OMG).

New Emerson Compact Controllers

Emerson’s acquisitions have moved it more firmly into discrete manufacturing operations. This news of a new programmable automation controller family of products manages to combine benefits of control, automation, industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), analytics while “minimizing the need for specialized software engineering talent.” Automation suppliers have been on a fervent journey toward providing products that are easier to use for talent-strapped customers. It also brings in current requirements for security and open protocols.

Emerson, a global software, technology and engineering leader, announced the release of its PACSystems RSTi-EP CPE 200 programmable automation controllers (PAC). CPE 200 controllers will deliver large programmable logic controller (PLC) capability in a small, cost-effective, IIoT-ready form factor so machine manufacturers do not need to sacrifice performance for price.

Providing features that help speed time to use, the CPE 200 series offers security-by-design, open programming, and open communications built in to simplify connectivity to external analytics software platforms while reducing cost and complexity for OEMs and end users.

“Gaining competitive edge in today’s marketplace means having the flexibility to connect to the wide array of equipment end users employ as part of their proprietary processes, and supporting secure, open connectivity to allow easy access to on-premises and cloud-hosted analytics platforms,” said Jeff Householder, president of Emerson’s machine automation solutions business. “The CPE 200 series controllers take advantage of Emerson’s cybersecure-by-design architecture, common programming capabilities, and IIoT readiness to provide options currently missing in legacy compact PLCs.”

The controllers offer open communications through native, pre-licensed support for OPC UA Secure and other common industrial protocols for flexible connectivity over high-speed Gigabit Ethernet. IEC 61131 programming languages and C, the world’s most popular and easiest-to-use programming language, help engineers write and run the high-performance algorithms that enable proprietary production strategies and advanced automation technologies.

HPE Blog Discusses Zero Trust on IoT Devices

I was invited into the HPE Influencer group through its development of an IoT group. I wrote a couple of times about the Texmark refinery in Houston that was a cool IoT application. The IoT thing cooled there like everywhere–morphing into “edge-to-cloud” technology and architecture. However, here is a new blog post regarding IoT and Zero-Trust security from HPE and writer David Rand.

LESSONS FOR LEADERS 

  • There are fewer zero trust approaches for IoT than desktops, but you can still make a strong zero trust defense.
  • As on other platforms, zero trust for IoT means IT must do extra work and take extra care. That’s just the world we live in.
  • Enterprise IoT devices are a juicy target for attackers looking for a toehold in your network.

And here, from the blog:

Last March, a 21-year-old Swiss hacker successfully accessed and seized control of 150,000 smart industrial cameras developed by Verkada, a little known security-as-a-service company in Silicon Valley.

As hackers often do, the antagonist, still on the run from authorities, attacked security cameras in hospitals, factories, police departments, prisons, gyms, schools, and offices just to prove he could. In doing so, he also demonstrated how hard it has become to fully trust the cyberdefenses of those millions of internet of things (IoT) devices attaching to corporate networks around the world.

“Organizations are slowly waking up to the reality that their IT environments are not limited to the data center, office, or laptops their employees use to work from home,” says Craig Robinson, program director for worldwide security services at IDC. “IoT devices are increasingly on corporate networks, and traditional IT cybersecurity methods alone aren’t up to the task of ensuring they do not turn into major vulnerabilities.”

I’m receiving more news regarding cybersecurity than any other topic presently. Obviously hackers have noticed the pervasive networking throughout industrial and manufacturing plants and can’t avoid the temptation to see what they can do. Especially given Russian attacks on Ukrainian power plants in the current war. We all need to tap into as many ideas as feasible.