Another IoT Platform This One With Machine Learning

Another IoT Platform This One With Machine Learning

When it comes to the Internet of Things, it is becoming all about the platform. Every week is a new one. Most are built by suppliers in an attempt to either bring in everyone’s data to their systems, e.g. Microsoft, SAP, Exosite, Cisco, Siemens, GE, etc.

One platform is designed to be essentially built only with standards. As far as I know, I’m the only one writing about it–and have been the only one for at least 10 years as it has developed. That is the Open Industrial Interoperability Ecosystem (OIIE) promulgated by MIMOSA.

Another platform assembled with the leadership of Dell EMC’s IoT team is open source dubbed EdgeX Foundry.

This announcement from FogHorn Systems adds the nuance of machine learning to its platform.

FogHorn Systems today announced the availability of Lightning ML, the newest version of its Lightning edge intelligence software platform for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Lightning ML is now the industry’s first IIoT software platform with integrated machine learning capabilities and universal compatibility across all major IIoT edge systems.

Accenture predicts that IIoT can add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030. However, industrial environments present a challenge to status quo methods for data collection and analysis.

“The money and time required to move massive amounts of machine data to the cloud for
analysis, only to send the results back to the edge, often makes little sense,” said Mike
Guilfoyle, Director of Research and Senior Analyst at ARC Advisory Group. “In many instances
cloud computing won’t be practical, necessary, or desirable. The reality is that edge intelligence is critical to a successful overall analytics strategy.”

“FogHorn is accelerating the pace of innovation in edge computing by not just democratizing analytics but by making machine learning accessible to industrial operators,” said FogHorn CEO David C. King. “The addition of FogHorn Lightning ML is a monumental leap forward indelivering on the promise of actionable insights for our IIoT customers. In the initial launch of FogHorn’s Lightning platform, we successfully miniaturized the massive computing capabilities previously available only in the cloud. This allows customers to run powerful big data analytics directly on operations technology (OT) and IIoT devices right at the edge through our complex event processing (CEP) analytics engine. With the introduction of Lightning ML, we now offer customers the game changing combination of real-time streaming analytics and advanced machine learning capabilities powered by our high-performance CEP engine.”

Machine Learning at the Edge

Lightning ML brings the power of machine learning at the edge in three groundbreaking ways:

1. Leverages existing models and algorithms: Industrial customers can seamlessly plug in and execute proprietary algorithms and machine learning models on live data streams produced by their physical assets and industrial control systems.

2. Makes machine learning OT-accessible: Non-technical personnel can use FogHorn’s tools to generate powerful machine learning insights without the need to constantly rely on in-house or third party data scientists.

3. Runs in tiny software footprint: Lightning ML enables complex machine learning models to run on highly-constrained compute devices such as PLCs, Raspberry Pi systems, tiny ruggedized IIoT gateways, as well as more powerful Industrial PCs and servers. Even with the addition of advanced machine learning capabilities, the complete Micro edition of the Lightning ML platform requires less than 256MB of memory footprint.

“FogHorn’s breakthrough edge computing technology brings the power of big data analytics and machine learning to the OT (operations technology) world,” said Casey Taniguchi, General Manager and Head of Business Development Center at Yokogawa Electric Corporation, a global leader in process and industrial automation systems. “The introduction of support for ARM32 processors, advanced data pre-processing capabilities and streaming analytics accomplished in a tiny footprint, along with seamless on-prem/cloud integration represents a major step forward in speeding the adoption of FogHorn’s technology in a wide variety of IIoT markets and industrial use cases. We look forward to working closely with FogHorn to incorporate all of these groundbreaking technologies into Yokogawa’s family of advanced industrial automation solutions.”

Comprehensive Support for IIoT Hardware

While the first Lightning release supported all x86-based IIoT gateways and OT systems, Lightning ML also supports ARM32 — one of the most widely used processors in OT control systems (like PLCs and DCSs) and the newest generation of small footprint Raspberry Pi derivative IIoT gateways.

“Fog computing requires a variety of different compute performance levels, all of which can be enabled by the flexible, low-power ARM architecture,” said Rhonda Dirvin, director of IoT and embedded, Business Segments Group, ARM. “FogHorn Systems’ Lightning platform supports and validates ARM-based solutions in OpenFog applications, and will enable new efficiencies and applications in the industrial edge computing space.”

On-Premise Centric and Cloud Agnostic

The FogHorn Lightning ML software platform can run entirely on premise or connect to any private cloud or public cloud environment. This gives customers maximum flexibility in selecting the best deployment model in terms of IT infrastructure, security policy and cost.

Designed for Operational Technology

FogHorn Lightning ML has been specifically designed to empower OT users through a simple drag-and-drop authoring tool that abstracts away the complexities of an underlying IIoT deployment, allowing operators to focus on translating their domain expertise into meaningful analytics and machine learning insights.

“OT staff are domain experts in their respective industrial environments, but not necessarily experts in edge computing and advanced IT,” said FogHorn CTO Sastry Malladi. “By giving them intuitive tools to automate, monitor and take action on their industrial data in real-time, operators can enhance situational awareness, prevent process failures and identify new efficiencies that lead to huge business benefits. This is a very different approach from other IT-centric solutions that fail to leverage the tribal knowledge of key OT experts.”

FogHorn develops “edge intelligence” software for industrial and commercial IoT application solutions.

Industry 4.0 Provides A Framework For Agile Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 Provides A Framework For Agile Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 provokes much discussion with little understanding. It began as a German government initiative ostensibly to support the German machine building industry. The idea was picked up in a variety of forms by other governments.

Exploring Industry 4.0 leads me to Tim Sowell’s latest blog post. Tim is a Schneider Electric Fellow and VP of System Strategy at Schneider Electric in the Common Architecture team in R&D. He is also the last remaining (that I can find) true blogger in the space. The company blogs have pivoted from blog format offering information and opinion to more of a press release format—where they use the Webpage to get out a company message directly to readers rather than going through the unreliable filter of the trade press. Sowell offers thoughtful discourse on important topics of the day.

If I thought I could meet with Tim and Stan DeVries at the upcoming Wonderware user conference, I’d make plans to get down there. As it is, the trip would lead to about five weeks of travel in a row. That is more expense and time away from home than a one-person entrepreneur can afford.

Sowell lists this set of viewpoints which are discussed in the white paper:
  • Industry 4.0 is about the transformation from controlling focusing on process to “controlling the product/ order” and the “product/ order being self aware”.
  • Industry 4.0 is about operations transformation, not about technology.
  • Industry 4.0 provides a practical strategic framework for “lean” and “agile” industrial operations.
  • Industry 4.0 addresses the needs of discrete and batch manufacturing, but it needs some adaptation for the heavy process and infrastructure industries.

He adds, “Cloud computing and IT/OT convergence are often linked to implementing Industry 4.0, but these need some adaptation to address “trustworthiness” of the architectures.  One emerging topic is Fog computing.”

He argues that automation and operation management technologies are more relevant than ever before. Also important are information standards such as “IEC 61850/ISO9506, ISA-95/ISO62264, PRODML etc.”

You need to go back and read his entire paper. He discusses benefits of adopting this way of thinking about manufacturing (discrete and process). He looks at use cases. And the foundation of Industry 4.0—it requires better information, not just more data.

Industrial News At 2016 Hannover Messe

Industrial News At 2016 Hannover Messe

Hannover Messe 2016 industrial trade fair was large, busy, cold and rainy, and exciting. Several news items are posted below including items from OPC Foundation, PI International, Beckhoff Automation, and a new-ish security company C-Labs.

Most of the news and analysis of Siemens was published on Thursday. The next post will document the highlights with analysis of the Dell Internet of Things Think Tank that I was privileged to moderate.

Panel discussion—Industrie 4.0 meets Internet of Things

One area of Halle 8 was set aside for a continuous stream of presentations mostly around “Industrie 4.0 Meets Internet of Things. I stopped by a few times. One of the first panels featured a couple of views.

The moderator posed the topic question as a Germany vs. US debate. The panelists refused to sink that low. They did offer a couple of interesting insights. Harel Kodesh of GE talked of the need to experiment. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is working on a test bed. He said to let industry learn how to build standards—there needs to be a global standard—then see about building platform.

Prof. Siegfried Russwurm of Siemens said, “This is not an either/or. The consumer Internet is big in the US due to scale of the US consumer market. For Industrial Internet, Middle Europe is used to making things so that emphasis on the Industrial Internet of Things is more natural.” In an insightful conclusion, Russwurm mentioned, “Customers don’t like monopolies. We will see competing platforms.”


OPC in the World

Monday at Hannover Messe 2016, Microsoft Corp. announced it is working with the OPC Foundation to enable virtually any industrial Internet of Things (IoT) scenario through interoperability between the millions of applications and industrial equipment compliant with the OPC UA standard. Microsoft will further enable its industrial IoT customers to connect a broad range of manufacturing equipment and software that can span decades of investment with extended support of the OPC UA open source software stack.

Interoperability between devices and assets is critical for today’s factories, which are increasingly bringing new and legacy systems online and modernizing their plants and facilities. OPC UA provides a standardized communi­cation, security, and metadata and semantics abstraction for the majority of industrial equipment. It also serves as a gateway to cloud-enabled industrial equipment, including data and device management, insights, and machine learning capabilities for equipment that was not de­signed with these capabilities built in.

Microsoft’s extended support for the OPC UA open source software stack spans its IoT offerings, from local connectivity with Windows devices to cloud connectivity via the Microsoft Azure platform. Integration with Azure IoT allows customers to easily send OPC UA telemetry data to the Azure cloud, as well as to command and control their OPC UA devices remotely from the Azure cloud. In addition, Windows 10 devices running the Universal Windows Platform can connect and openly communicate with other IoT devices via OPC UA.

“As Industry 4.0 reaches a tipping point, we believe that openness and interoperability between hardware, software and services will help manufacturers transform how they operate and create solutions that benefit employees’ productivity,” said Sam George, director, Azure Internet of Things at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s support of OPC UA in Azure IoT and Windows IoT will reduce barriers to industrial IoT adoption and help deliver immediate value.”

Meanwhile OPC Foundation announced more organizational collaboration ventures.


Beckhoff Automation Reports Results

Beckhoff Automation posted global annual revenue of 620 million euros in 2015, an increase of 22 percent. This follows a similarly successful 2014 financial year in which sales rose by 17 percent. Managing Director Hans Beckhoff was very satisfied with the company’s development: “We won market share and grew much faster compared to the market as a whole. Our PC Control technology is increasingly the acknowledged market standard, and we are winning new customers worldwide with this extremely powerful technology.”

Beckhoff explained that the favorable euro exchange rate naturally helped increase growth, as with all German manufacturers who export a large share of what they make, but added that, even after revising the figure to compensate for exchange rate influences, the resulting growth rate is still an impressive 17 percent.
Beckhoff is well-represented in more than 75 countries with 34 subsidiary companies and distributors. Exports in 2015 accounted for 65 percent of total sales. “Asia is contributing strongly to our growth,” said Hans Beckhoff. “However, subsidiaries in southern Europe and North America are also performing quite well.”

Hans Beckhoff maintains an optimistic outlook on 2016 and anticipates continued double-digit sales growth: “We have strong and growing levels of incoming orders.” In order to prepare the company for this expected growth, the campus at the company headquarters in Verl will be expanded by a further 27,000 sq meters in 2016. Existing neighboring industrial buildings have already been leased for this purpose and, after being renovated, will provide additional storage and production space in the second half of the year. “This appropriately prepares us for two further years of strong growth in terms of production output,” says a confident Hans Beckhoff.

Beckhoff North America contributed to these results with an increase in revenue of 6.5 percent which followed a 16.2 percent revenue increase at the end of 2014. These positive business developments from Beckhoff North America were reported at a press conference held at Hannover Messe 2016 – the first year ever that the USA has been highlighted as the official partner country at the world’s largest industrial trade show. The intense growth in revenue was fueled by a number of factors in the North American market, including robust automation and controls purchasing from the existing customer base and several significant new customer contracts, including dramatic increases on the part of major consumer products manufacturers. “Beckhoff North America also drove double digit growth in terms of order in-flow in 2014 and 2015,” reports Aurelio Banda, CEO and President of Beckhoff North America. “We expect this encouraging trend to continue throughout the 2016 financial year, resulting in further strong results.”


OMG statement with OPC

One of the many organizational collaborations for OPC Foundation is the Object Management Group (OMG). This collaboration brings together two protocols previously thought to be competitive. Stan Schneider, CEO of RTI and spokesperson for OMG, talked with me about the situation of DDS and OPC UA. He told me there is no competition between the two. With the new OPC UA publish/subscribe specification, OPC  UA can use DDS in the same manner of UDP. The collaboration is in active development.


PI News

At the end of last year, PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) established a new “I4.0” working group with the goal of preparing use cases relevant for Industrie 4.0 from the perspective of industrial communication. On this basis, existing and new technologies will be assessed from the standpoint of use in Industrie 4.0 production systems and the standardization environment will be analyzed. The working group will identify requirements for communication that are important in the Industrie 4.0 environment and bring them to standardization consistently as further development of PI technologies.

As one of the first results, a new sub-project is now being started for specific measures for the merging of IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operations Technology). IT networks and production networks are increasingly growing together. In the past, however, they were always identified by different characteristics. For example, IT networks mainly handle large bandwidths and connect different locations, while production networks mainly feature high performance and short latencies. With TSN (Time Sensitive Networking), technologies are now being developed in the IEEE that will connect the bandwidth of IT networks with the latency of OT networks.

A distinction of PROFINET is that it relies on standard IT technology while satisfying stringent real-time requirements. PI sees a large opportunity to combine the strengths of PROFINET and TSN and to generate further added value from this for customers, thereby setting PROFINET on a future-oriented foundation for Industrie 4.0. The combination will also yield versatile use of new TSN-capable standard Ethernet blocks for manufacturers of PROFINET devices. Proven PROFINET services, profiles, and user interfaces, such as diagnostics, alarms, PROFIsafe, and PROFIdrive remain unchanged for the user. PROFINET already provides a very good starting position for the use of TSN mechanisms. The convergence of real-time-capable traffic with IP-based traffic, which will increase significantly in Industrie 4.0 applications, is already firmly anchored in the PROFINET architecture today. In addition, new ideas discussed in the IEEE, such as establishment of real-time-capable dynamic ad-hoc connections, can be integrated. PROFINET is thus a consistent participant in the further development in the IEEE.

For this reason, PI will actively advance the further development of TSN and point out ways this technology can be used in PROFINET networks. In doing so, special attention will obviously be given to a seamless transition for today’s installations so that users have an easy path to TSN-based networks. First results of the working group can be expected at SPS/IPC/Drives 2016.

Other topics such as the use of OPC UA and expanded access to asset management data are also needed for implementation of Industrie 4.0 applications and are being actively advanced by the I4.0 working group.

The annual determination of the installed base of the portfolio of PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) continues to show a growing acceptance in the market. The numbers for PROFINET and PROFIsafe are still very pleasing. IO-Link is exhibiting a strongly accelerated growth. The somewhat leveling-off growth of PROFIBUS and simultaneous surge of PROFINET is evidence that Ethernet-based communication is starting to replace conventional fieldbus technology in production automation. The positive trend of PROFIBUS in process automation continues, in contrast.

Three million PROFINET devices were brought into the market in 2015. The total number at the end of 2015 was 12.8 million devices, which represents a 30% increase in the installed base over the previous year. In the case of PROFIsafe, 1.3 million nodes were brought into the market in 2015, increasing the installed base by more than 30% to a total of 5.5 million PROFIsafe nodes. The growth trend is thus continuing at a high level. IO-Link experienced the greatest increase this year with 63%. The total number of installed IO-Link devices is now more than 3.6 million. A total of 2.8 million PROFIBUS devices were brought into the market in 2015.

Karsten Schneider, Chairman of PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) , views the latest projection of node counts very positively. “For the first time in the history of PROFINET, its numbers exceed those for PROFIBUS. This demonstrates the positive trend for the PI technologies, not least because Industrie 4.0 means that the future belongs to Ethernet systems. With its total number of well over 50 million, PROFIBUS is the absolute world market leader. Beating a world market leader is an art. And the fact that this was done – for the first time over this past year – by PROFIBUS’s in-house competitor PROFINET is an unmistakable sign that the future belongs to our technologies.”


C-Labs Security Solution Gains Acceptance

C-Labs, an industrial Internet of Things (IoT) software developer, today announced that its Factory-Relay software was selected by AXOOM for use in industrial automation products. C-Labs also announced that its Factory-Relay software was selected by Nebbiolo Technologies for use in its Fog Computing System for process automation.

“We’re thrilled that AXOOM and Nebbiolo selected C-Labs to advance their industrial IoT solutions,” said Chris Muench, C-Labs CEO. “These customer and partnership wins underscore industry demand for secure, simple and integrated IoT solutions that work right out of the box.”

Industrial IoT is estimated to become a $151 billion market by 2020 but security and complexity are slowing adoption. A Cisco survey of more than 7,000 global executives shows that the leading obstacles to adopting industrial IoT are threats to data or physical security; followed closely by inability of IT systems to keep up with change. C-Labs was founded to deliver the most secure and simplest to deploy factory automation software.

“We selected C-Labs software for its multilayered security and simplified deployment and operations,” said Florian Weigmann, Managing Director, AXOOM. “IoT is one of the greatest opportunities for our customers and C-Labs helps us deliver it securely and easily.”

Security and IT policy integration were key factors in Nebbiolo’s selection of C-Labs Factory-Relay software. Factory-Relay automatically provisions a user interface that can replicate the factory equipment HMI on a smartphone, tablet or PC, removing an onerous integration step and making factory IoT automation simpler to deploy. “C-Labs extends our reach to a broader range of industrial equipment and protocols such as OPC UA, and simplifies the creation of industrial IoT solutions,” said Flavio Bonomi, CEO and Co-Founder of Nebbiolo Technologies. Security, IT policy and ease of deployment are the issues holding back industrial IoT according to industry analyst firm ARC Advisory Group.

“Industrial IoT has proven its value for factories and industrial infrastructure, but companies need solutions that are secure and easy to deploy; that bridge OT, IT, and mobile environments; and provide rapid application development,” said Greg Gorbach, vice president, ARC Advisory Group. “C-Labs solutions focus on all of these.” “Customers told us they needed to adapt and extend IoT deployments without sacrificing security or requiring significant training for either operations technology or information technology (IT) teams,” said Muench. “Our patent-pending approach provides a secure and IT compliant connection point among previously incompatible protocols.”

Open Fog Consortium to Help Enable Scenarios for the Internet of Things

Open Fog Consortium to Help Enable Scenarios for the Internet of Things

Internet of Things Dell

Dell, Fog IoT Alliance

A fable of the Internet of Things. When the cloud comes down to earth it is called fog. In IT terms, we have the “cloud” as in servers, but we also have distributed computing at the edge–the cloud coming to earth or fog. Thank you Cisco.

Now a coalition of companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, including ARM, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Microsoft Corp., and the Princeton University Edge Laboratory have come together to form the OpenFog Consortium. The goal of this consortium is to accelerate the deployment of Fog technologies through the development of an open architecture, core technologies including the capabilities of distributed computing, networking, and storage as well as the leadership needed to realize the full potential of IoT.

The OpenFog architecture brings seamless Intelligence from the Cloud to the IoT endpoints using an open standardized approach. The founding members will build initial frameworks and architectures that reduce the time required to deliver the end-to-end IoT scenarios.

Fog computing technology distributes the resources and services of computation, communication, control, and storage closer to devices and systems at or near the users. The OpenFog non-profit global consortium will drive industry and academic leadership in fog computing architectures with whitepapers, testbeds, and other deliverables that demonstrate best practices for interoperability and composability between cloud and edge architectures. By utilizing existing standards work and proven approaches, the consortium will reduce the time required to deliver the end-to-end IoT scenarios (technologies, architectures, testbeds, and business development) that the market is demanding.

Additional details on Fog

The Consortium intends to solve some common challenges, such as high latency on the network, support of end point mobility, loss of connectivity, unpredictable bandwidth bottlenecks and distributed coordination of systems and clients.

The Open Fog Consortium will promote an ecosystem to accelerate the adoption of open fog computing by bringing together companies, universities and individuals. It will define a common framework for distributed computing based on open standard technologies. The Open Fog Consortium will also identify best practices, liaise with standards organizations and hold industry events to foster interoperability.

The Open Fog Consortium will focus on the following activities:

  • Developing an architecture framework.
  • Facilitating an open forum to share ideas regarding open fog computing.
  • Creating educational material about fog research and development.
  • Branding and promoting open fog computing implementations.
  • Influencing standards development through strategic partnerships.
  • Setting up a technology test-bed at Princeton University.
  • Hosting “plugfests” with educational tracks to expand the open fog computing community and promote innovation.

Dell VP on Internet of Things

Meanwhile, Dell Vice President and Senior Fellow in the Office of the CTO Liam Quinn, says on his blog, “We’ve been deep in the trenches of working with customers to help enable IoT solutions in the past six months since we announced our new IoT division and gateway products. We are learning a great deal and one of the core lessons is pretty simple: we need to go faster. While the Internet of Things is fascinating and offers almost limitless opportunities to change the world, it is still an emerging set of technologies and projects can become highly customized and time-consuming very quickly. We are connecting things that have never been connected before and each industry, each process, each ‘thing’ comes with its own quirks. To help accelerate this time to deploy for our customers, Dell believes in standards and ‘better together’ approaches for our products. ”

He continues, “Whether you call it ‘fog’ or ‘edge’ or ‘distributed computing’ – the idea of pushing computing closer to the end devices makes sense for many use cases. This is why we announced our new Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series at Dell World last month. These systems are intelligent, industrial-grade devices that offer local analytics and other middleware to receive, aggregate, analyze and relay significant data to the cloud or datacenter for further analytics in a secure manner.”

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