Industrial Operations X Brings Cutting-edge IT and AI Into Industrial Automation

Moving past Mindsphere (now integrated into this platform), Siemens has integrated a new platform for industrial automation and business. The have launched Xcelerator and now add Industrial Operations X. I see this as part of a trend where established control and automation suppliers are scrambling to show financial markets that they are cool, hip software developers. We have seen many platforms touted over the past 5-7 years. We’ll have to wait and see how this one performs in the market.

In brief:

  • Siemens expands Siemens Xcelerator open digital business platform with launch of Industrial Operations X
  • Uniquely combining the real and digital worlds
  • Production processes to become more efficient and highly adaptive
  • Includes launch of first fully virtual controller

Industrial Operations X is the solution for production engineering, execution, and optimization. It focuses on integrating cutting-edge IT capabilities and proven methods from software operations in the world of automation: low code, edge, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are combined with industry-leading automation technology and digital services.

Industrial Operations X solutions make data actionable by leveraging AI analysis capabilities. Independent studies suggest that a digitally enabled factory delivers production increases of up to 30 percent.

Based on the SIMATIC S7-1500, the virtual programmable logic controller (PLC) is hardware-independent, allowing applications to be centrally managed and flexibly modified to meet changing customer needs. PLC projects can be scaled with virtual control and easily integrated into other IT offerings through open data interfaces.

Making automation programmable with IT code: Simatic AX 

Simatic AX provides IT professionals with a familiar development environment based on Visual Studio Code and version control via GIT and others. Simatic AX is cloud-based and is available as a service.

Visualization for the Industrial Edge environment: WinCC Unified for Industrial Edge 

With Industrial Edge, administering software in machines is easier, more flexible, and more secure. A variety of apps is already available, focused on acquisition, preprocessing and analysis of machine or plant data.

Insights Hub: Turning Industrial IoT into actionable insights

Siemens will integrate MindSphere in the core of our operations software portfolio with an even stronger focus on delivering business value from IoT data. To emphasize our commitment to application value from industrial IoT, Siemens is evolving MindSphere (including partners and developers worldwide) into Insights Hub as part of Industrial Operations X and the Siemens Xcelerator ecosystem. 

Insights Hub highlights the focus on empowering smart manufacturing to generate actionable insights from asset and operations data, by analyzing data locally or in the cloud, and transforming it into value. With Insights Hub, Siemens gives its customers proven industrial IoT solutions that include a variety of applications, like Insights Hub Quality Prediction for improving quality inspection and rework processes. 

Nokia Expands Industrial Edge Offerings

The first time edge compute and edge applications came my way was through IT companies—Dell in 2015 and HPE in 2017. They both still have edge devices and “edge-to-cloud” strategies. Neither comes to me with information or invitations to user groups anymore. Even though you might expect the natural “edge” in manufacturing would lie with the automation vendors, such is not the case. They don’t talk to me about edge, either.

You might think of this as a little out of the ordinary, but Nokia while transitioning from mobile handset supplier has become an edge device developer and supplier. This news relates to some new initiatives and products from that company from Finland.

  • Four new digital enablers expand OT edge applications offered on Nokia MX Industrial Edge.
  • Industrial IoT platforms connect, collect and analyze data from disparate sources –including video cameras – unlocking its value.
  • New security function protects from advanced threats in OT environment, improves security, which is essential for data exchange.

Nokia today launched four third-party applications for MX Industrial Edge (MXIE), which help enterprises connect, collect and analyze data from operational technology (OT) assets on a robust and secure on-premises edge. Asset-heavy industries can accelerate their digital transformation and benefit most from Nokia’s OT edge ecosystem-neutral approach, which taps into innovation from many top digitalization enablers. The new applications also leverage the GPU capability recently announced on Nokia MXIE, a powerful on-premises OT edge solution that helps process data closest to the source in real time while retaining data sovereignty.

Today’s news builds on Nokia’s partnership with Kyndryl, the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, which has a focus on designing, deploying, and managing industry-leading LTE and 5G private wireless networks and Industry 4.0 solutions to enterprises worldwide. By combining Kyndryl’s network and edge advisory and integration services with Nokia’s private wireless networks, industrial customers can achieve high-performance wireless connectivity in mission-critical environments. As a converged compute platform, Nokia MXIE supports the core operation of private wireless networks and hosts a multitude of OT edge computing applications. By leveraging Nokia MXIE, Kyndryl is helping customers implement end-to-end industrial use cases with a single orchestrated on-premises edge for both private wireless and digitalization enablers. The automation and digitalization benefits, from predictive maintenance, better worker safety, to quality assurance enables smarter, leaner factory operations and improves sustainability across industrial verticals – from manufacturing, energy and gas, to mining.

C# Support Added to MQTT Client

MQTT continues to prove its value as a lightweight data transport. HiveMQ had written a Java client some years ago. It has now released a C# client for those of you in the Microsoft world. The company notes that this should appeal to companies building IoT applications on the Microsoft .NET framework. These are said to work with any MQTT broker to fast-track application development cycles.

The HiveMQ MQTT C# client is available on GitHub under the liberal Apache 2 license, and community feedback and public contributions are welcome. Key features include:

• The ability to send an MQTT message in as little as 3 lines of code

• Compliant with the MQTT 5 specification

• Support for all MQTT Quality of Service (QoS) levels

• Security features including TLS and basic authentication

• Support for the latest Microsoft .NET Framework

• Available as a NuGet package on

Linux Foundation’s LF Edge and Open Grid Alliance Collaborate

More news released at the Mobile World Congress—this one a collaboration for Edge compute between the LF Edge group within the Linux Foundation and the Open Grid Alliance. They will  initially focus on functional specifications of the Grid Nodes.

I have followed and written about the Linux Foundation many times over the past 7-8 years. The Open Grid Alliance is a member-supported 501(c)(6) organization that produces collaborative, vendor-neutral strategies to re-architect the Internet with grid topologies needed to scale globally. It was founded in 2020 by over 30 global technology companies. It states it’s focused on evolving the Internet into a worldwide platform capable of running global services on shared infrastructure.

The two organizations announced at MWC the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for formal collaboration. Collaboration includes multiple foundations across the Linux Foundation with LF Edge being the primary.

Catalyzed by the emergence of edge infrastructure, 5G networks and billions of IoT devices, the grid is the next step in the evolution of the Internet. Globally distributed, the grid weaves together a public and private fabric of compute, data and intelligence to enable contextually aware, immersive applications at the edge, on demand.

Edge computing places applications and services close to the point of use, as the grid marries software-defined flexibility with edge infrastructure. LF Edge projects provide the required automation for edge infrastructure to be used to build autonomous grid infrastructure. These projects create new use cases and proof points that cover aspects of grid computing. The collaboration between LF Edge and OGA  is  aimed at creating synergies that will accelerate a full-scale, global and operational deployment of the Open Grid.

The agreement enables both organizations to formally support collaboration and work together in creating the open software defined and architected by OGA work groups. LF Edge projects and initiatives will work closely with the OGA workstreams to mutually develop the use cases and underlying technology of the Open Grid.

ZEDEDA Delivers Edge Infrastructure Solution for Switch Automation

This announcement relates more to IT than operations. ZEDEDA has established a spot in a technology called edge orchestration. As edge compute has become a hot thing finding ways to manage and orchestrate edge devices assumes importance.

This release concerns building automation, but the technology is more broadly applicable. ZEDEDA has delivered a scalable edge solution for Switch Automation, a global technology company for digitizing and decarbonizing buildings, enabling the company to provide innovative edge solutions for digital buildings.

Switch’s comprehensive smart building platform integrates with traditional building systems and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to analyze, automate and control assets in real time. During early deployments and without a fully formed management tool, Switch ran into scalability issues for hundreds of appliances.

ZEDEDA provided solutions and technical expertise for managing Switch’s edge devices – including the OS, the edge apps, and the network — and delivered a completely stable network device to allow Switch to achieve best-in-class uptime and a more robust support infrastructure.

Since leveraging ZEDEDA, Switch has reduced its overall maintenance hours typically consumed by OS and general software upgrades. That reduced downtime has translated into a more cost-effective operational management across all of its appliances.

Industry IoT Consortium Updates Industrial Internet Reference Architecture

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) announced it had updated its Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The IIRA Version 1.10 addresses the challenges of current industrial IoT systems and industry trends, such as the convergence of IT and OT, digital twins, systems comprised of independent systems, and the inclusion of “non-human” digital users.

The foundational views of the IIRA (Business, Usage, Functional, and Implementation) have not changed. Still, the IIC revised and extended the sections to address how organizations use the views. For example, the new IIRA includes mapping essential industrial IoT functions to system requirement categories. This helps organizations understand which functions will best meet their needs.

Another addition to the IIRA V1.10 is a new set of Architecture Patterns that system designers can use to tailor standard system features and implementations. The IIRA V1.10 also illustrates how system designers can overlay patterns with each other (or with different architecture patterns) to help them build new system implementations from a collection of well-understood models.

The Industry IoT Consortium delivers transformative business value to industry, organizations, and society by accelerating the adoption of a trustworthy internet of things. The Industry IoT Consortium is a program of the Object Management Group (OMG).

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