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.”

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).

Migrating to FDT UE 3.0

FDT Group Managing Director Steve Biegacki joined Utthunga on a LinkedIn Live session this morning (7 am CDT) to discuss migrating FDT DTMs to the latest version FDT 3.0 UE.

He discussed the benefits of the new FDT Hub which contains a central repository of DTMs such that users need not search other files to find the latest versions. FDT is also no longer tied to Microsoft Windows. Developers and users can have Linux or MacOS platforms. Better still, the latest versions are not tied to a single PC allowing use in the cloud or another server supporting multiple users.

FDT Group enables more efficient migrating to the latest standard through a set of tool kits developed by the organization and also by vendors. FDT Group also provides a Style Guide to help developers through the migration process.

Even so, FDT 3.0 is backward compatible with DTMs already in the field.

Embedded OPC UA server enables communication with other devices allowing the sensor-to-cloud strategy.

Single Common Conformance Test for TSN

Standards may not help you that much if you purchase products to the standard only to discover that they do not play well together. Therefore the importance of organizations creating conformance tests. This news from Hannover concerns organizations coming together to devise a single common conformance test for Time Sensitive Networking.

The Avnu Alliance, CC-Link Partner Association, ODVA, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International jointly announce that they are collaborating to develop a single conformance test plan for the IEEE/IEC 60802 Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) profile for Industrial Automation. The test plan will be used as a base test by all the participating organizations and made available to the broader Industrial Automation ecosystem. This collaboration contributes towards end user confidence that 60802 conformant devices from different manufacturers which support different automation protocols will coexist reliably at the TSN level on shared networks, including with devices using TSN for applications other than automation.

The focus of the collaboration is to work together towards a jointly agreed and owned test plan for the industrial automation market. This formal collaboration provides value by creating a structure in which all these organizations can work together and exchange ideas towards the end goal of interoperability and coexistence on open, standard networks for all protocols, without needing to establish a separate, formal organization. For convenience, the collaboration activities will be referred to as “TIACC” (TSN Industrial Automation Conformance Collaboration). 

The TIACC marks a commitment by these organizations to develop an interoperable ecosystem of devices from different manufacturers to comply with the IEC/IEEE Standards Association 60802 profile and enable end-users to confidently deploy these devices on open, standard networks. The goal is to have the final version of the single, shared test plan available soon after the IEC/IEEE 60802 profile is published.

“Avnu’s purpose and mission is to transform standard networks to enable support for many time sensitive applications and protocols in an open, interoperable manner. This collaboration among organizations will be critically important to facilitating coexistence of multiple workloads and protocols according to IEEE 60802 on a network, while leveraging foundational network interoperability that is used across industries,” said Greg Schlechter, Avnu Alliance President. “We are committed to working with the industries to enable an interoperable ecosystem of devices that allow end users to confidently deploy on open, standard, and converged networks.”

“The creation of the Connected Industries of the future requires different systems and devices to communicate in order to deliver the necessary process transparency required. This is a core principle for the CLPA and is at the root of why the organization was founded. This is why we are delighted to be part of the TIACC and look forward to supporting the creation of a unified, common test plan for TSN-compatible products. By doing so, we can help further boost the adoption of futureproof technologies for smart manufacturing,” said Manabu Hamaguchi, Global Director at CLPA.

“EtherNet/IP users will be able to take advantage of the benefits afforded by 60802 TSN of enhanced network performance, higher utilization, and guaranteed network access for multiple time-critical applications with different priorities. ODVA’s participation in TIACC will ensure that the full potential of 60802 TSN coexistence is realized by end users to help make Industry 4.0 and IIoT a reality,” said Dr. Al Beydoun, President and Executive Director at ODVA.

“OPC UA is a secure, vendor-independent communication solution that fully scales from the field to the cloud and offers semantic interoperability. Other underlying IT infrastructure such as Ethernet TSN and the IEC/IEEE 60802 TSN Profile for Industrial Automation open up further applications for the market. We believe this conformance collaboration is an important contribution to preparing and delivering streamlined and effective conformance testing and certification to the industry in collaboration with other SDOs,” said Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation.

“At PI we are taking conformance testing very seriously. It’s our belief, that thought-out testing ensures cross-vendor interoperability. That’s why we invested huge efforts in our test system in recent years. With this joint initiative we are taking the next step towards converged networks utilizing TSN, giving our users the confidence in the future-readiness of PROFINET. This collaboration is a huge milestone on the way of the digital transformation,” said Karsten Schneider, Chairperson of PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI).

Joint Consortium Standardizes Common Power Consumption Management

A new interface standard for the acquisition of energy consumption data in industrial manufacturing is being developed by ODVA, OPC Foundation, PI, and VDMA based on OPC UA as announced at Hannover 2022.

A key objective of the future mechanical and plant engineering sectors is to achieve climate-neutral production. This is backed up by the European Union’s “European Green Deal”, which aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. To achieve this goal, and to implement many other use cases, energy consumption data in production is an important prerequisite.

ODVA, OPC Foundation, PI, and VDMA founded the “Power Consumption Management” group in May 2022. In this group, the OPC UA interface standard for energy consumption data is being developed. Karsten Schneider, Chairman of PI, is looking forward to cooperation with the ODVA, the OPC Foundation, and VDMA: “The acquisition and analysis of energy consumption in machines and plants is an immensely important topic for the future.”

“The four organizations are working at full speed to harmonize and standardize energy consumption information on the shop floor,” says Andreas Faath, head of VDMA Machine Information Interoperability Department. “With this, a crucial building block, supporting the goal of global climate-neutral production in all sectors of the machinery and plant engineering industry, is under development.”

“Rapid transition to environmentally-sustainable energy use is the greatest challenge of our time and, as such, I am glad that we are proceeding together: PI and ODVA contributing their in-depth know-how on energy interfaces at the field level, with the internationally recognized OPC UA data modelling standard defining semantics and secure data transport, serving as the foundation of the Global Production Language developed by the VDMA”, says Stefan Hoppe, President OPC Foundation.

“ODVA is pleased to be an active contributor to this key initiative to optimize energy usage and thereby reduce the detrimental impact on the environment from waste,” said Dr. Al Beydoun, President and Executive Director of ODVA. “This Power Consumption Management collaboration will help ensure end users have a highly standardized and interoperable means to reach their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals.”

The results of the working group will be published as a new OPC UA specification. Future releases of the OPC UA for Machinery specification will leverage these results, ensuring that energy information from all machines and components on the shop floor can be provided in a standardized way as part of the Global Production Language.

“The activity is based, in particular, on the existing standards of the participating organizations; but also on other standards from the OPC Foundation, the VDMA, and external research,” says Heiko Herden, VDMA and elected chairperson of the new joint working group. “In combination with other OPC UA for Machinery use cases, such as status monitoring or job management, the calculation of the product and production-specific carbon footprint will be possible.”

Within the VDMA, over 600 member companies develop the Global Production Language. OPC UA Companion Specifications, for numerous sectors of the mechanical and plant engineering industry, are being created by an additional 40 working groups. The basic specification, “OPC UA for Machinery,” is a special case. Here, important building blocks are defined across all domains. Other specifications can be based on these building blocks.

Organizations Collaborate on Global Positioning Specification

This news is one of three emanating from Hannover last May concerning the OPC Foundation (and others).  Everything within manufacturing is mobile these days. That makes it important to know where things are.

There have been some starts at this. Some associations have already dedicated themselves to the aspects of “location and positioning” in the past. Some OPC UA Companion Specifications already contain data descriptions in this regard. Coming from the aspect of identification, the association AIM-D e.V. published an OPC UA Companion Specification AutoID. The location standard omlox from PROFIBUS&PROFINET International (PI) allows seamless and technology-independent provision of location data in production and logistics.

Here is the news:

The three associations have now joined forces to form a joint working group to develop a new OPC UA Companion Specification “Global Positioning”. The goal of the Companion Specification is to define geometric positions in space on a local and global level to ensure a seamless transition between production, intralogistics and logistics. It completes existing Companion Specifications with the aspect of positioning and allows location data from omlox systems to be easily further processed within the OPC world and refined with additional data.

“Interoperability is not only necessary between manufacturers, but also between standards,” says Dr. Matthias Jöst – Committee Leader for omlox – within PI. “In particular in the exchange between different communities, many synergies and new potentials arise.”