OPC Foundation’s continuous improvement program extended with the addition of new Chair for its Board of Directors. I haven’t had an OPC Foundation conversation since April. Based on conversations with numerous leaders in Hannover, I think this is a great step forward by the Foundation’s board of directors. I’m not sure what precipitated the addition, but I’ve met Schmid-Lutz and she’ll do an excellent job of bringing cohesiveness and direction to the organization.
OPC UA is solid technology used by most automation and IoT companies. These moves to strengthen the organization can only be positive.
This from the original press release—In this key position, the Chair manages the strategic and tactical directives of the Board of Directors and ensures the marketing, technical, and overall business activities of the OPC Foundation consistently align with its vision and objectives. In addition, the Chair organizes and calls the Board of Directors meetings and engages directly with the organization’s infrastructure. The Chair position requires a dynamic leader who can navigate the political, business, and technical challenges associated with a standard setting organization.
Veronika Schmid-Lutz was honored by the trust and confidence placed in her by her fellow board members and noted that “being elected as the Chair of the OPC Foundation’s board is a great honor for me. My focus will be to strengthen and pursuing all aspects that make interoperability between devices, machines, and business systems as simple and as secure as possible.”
Thomas J. Burke, President of the OPC Foundation commented on the importance of the Chair position and why Ms. Schmid-Lutz was the right person to fill it, “Veronika clearly demonstrated her excellent leadership and business skills as a member of the OPC Foundation Board of Directors. Based on this I believe she is well suited to now serve as the Board’s Chair. With Veronika at the helm of the business, I look forward to see her facilitate and successfully drive the OPC Foundation vision into the next era.” Mr. Burke concluded saying “It’s a great honor to have Veronika accept this important leadership role. We look forward to see her oversee communicating the importance of OPC UA into the IT world.”
Recognizing the value of both the organization and its deliverables, Veronika Schmid-Lutz emphasized the importance of OPC UA by noting: “Easy interoperability is an important enabler for intelligent systems leveraging new technologies in software and hardware. SAP strongly supports OPC UA as it simplifies and accelerates information exchange between heterogeneous systems and devices which is why Platform Industrie 4.0 has made OPC-UA a key component of its RAMI architecture. The board looks forward to continue enhancing the value of both the organization and its deliverables.”
I went from Germany to Las Vegas and the time change screwed with my posting schedule. So…I am finally finishing up my Hannover Messe reporting before I begin with my recent trip.
My last post detailed the first round of briefings with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Today I’ll finish up.
But first, a digression.
Misinformation about what exactly OPC UA is continues to circulate within the industry. I had at least three conversations where people referred to OPC as proprietary. Plus OPC and MQTT are mistakenly considered competitive rather than complementary. OPC Foundation still has some evangelizing to accomplish.
A few years ago it appeared that major automation vendors were ignoring OPC and its interoperability tending toward self-encased solutions. In fact, I got dissed by some dude on YouTube for a report I did on that subject.
Time has passed. More and more people and companies recognize the value of interoperability and OPC UA. No doubt the PubSub helps in some cases. And without a doubt the combination of OPC UA and TSN is enticing to many.
HPE has devised an application dubbed “Remote Visual Guidance.” It began with an eLearning application HPE MyRoom. Integrated with a hard hat, a camera, and glasses that project an image to the user, the system enables remote support from an expert who may not be able to fly to the site. Imagine working in a remote location such as an offshore oil rig where flying in an expert is both dangerous and expensive, for example. The system comes in three versions—wearable say integrated with a hard hat, smart phone app, or tablet app. Therefore, the three versions are No hands, 1 hand, and 2 hands). Try this for a potential use case for a value add from an OEM. The OEM bundles the app with its machine. This gives the customer direct contact with remote expert for the cost of perhaps a service contract.
I had a good conversation with HPE’s Christian Reichenbach on Blockchain technology. I believe this technology is quickly moving past hype into something we can use. The concepts of trusted transaction and ledger have immediate appeal for industries such as pharma manufacturing. We can think of many more.
Reichenbach identifies three waves of blockchain.
Wave One is personal exemplified by crypto currency—the Bitcoin that garners most of the press
Wave Two came with Enterprise to Enterprise transactions. For example, he pointed to the vision system QA demo at the HPE stand. It uses blockchain to send QA report as a secure, trusted transaction that includes a record.
Wave Three includes Things to Things. This means systems around products leading to systems of systems thinking. Things become autonomous actors. They contract with each other with no middle man. It includes ledger systems. Let’s take the example of an HPE Edge Gateway plus Etherium (an HPE partner). Perhaps it’s the same concept as loyalty card scanning and giving you value for using it. Let’s look at a car. Currently there are lots of sensors but no marketplace to exploit all that data. Say we take Edgeline device connected to CANbus of the car. Then, say, connect to the rain sensor or a sensor in the shock absorber. Previously the end user gave data away for free, but now maybe the car makes a smart contract with weather channel or Waze and sells the data.
One last item I gleaned from the Microsoft booth. HPE has a starter kit to help users easily connect devices to the cloud using HPE Edgeline, Softing (OPC UA kit), and Microsoft Azure.
Overall analysis from HPE visit at Hannover was that IoT has matured in a sense from a department with a product to infusing into the entire manufacturing product and service portfolio.
The OPC Foundation was active during the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando as a Platinum Sponsor and presenting a press conference. With OPC UA released and in use and the publish/subscribe about to be release, OPC Foundation’s emphasis has been on companion specifications. It had a joint press conference with the FieldComm group to discuss its joint working group and then released news of a released companion specification with Ethernet Powerlink. The last release, something I was able to work on pre-release review, concerns a study with ARC Advisory Group on adoption of the UA specification.
Below are some details. More at the Foundation website.
OPC and FieldComm
The OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group announced an alliance to advance process automation system multi-vendor interoperability and simplified integration by developing a standardized process automation device information model.
A joint working group between OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group, tasked with developing a protocol independent companion specification for process automation devices, was formed in late 2017. The goal of the working group is to leverage the extensive experience of FieldComm Group with the HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus communication protocols to standardize data, information, and methods for all process automation devices through FDI using OPC UA. The OPC UA base information model and companion Device Information (DI) specification will be extended to include the generic definition and information associated with process automation devices.
The OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group have worked together for over a decade, initially working on the development of the EDDL specification and most recently on the creation of FDI technology.
“FDI provides the new standard for device integration to deliver a protocol independent path to configuration, diagnostics and runtime operation for process devices,” states Ted Masters, President and CEO of FieldComm Group. “The partnership between OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group further builds upon the common information model of both to deliver process automation data in context which is the key to enabling value from enterprise systems and analytics. The 350+ suppliers of devices and applications that are members of FieldComm Group have an opportunity to benefit from the key initiative to develop a standard process automation information model by their adoption of FDI and OPC UA technologies.”
“I’m excited that the OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group are working together on this important initiative, and will be partnering with other organizations, end-users and suppliers to make the dream of a standardized process automation device information model a reality. This is truly a breakthrough in our industry that will provide significant operational benefits across all points of the value chain,” states Thomas J. Burke, OPC Foundation President and Executive Director.
“This important collaboration will provide a solid foundation for standardization of devices that will serve as the base infrastructure for the numerous other collaborations that the OPC Foundation is doing across international boundaries,” says Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation Global Vice President.
The joint working group plans to release an extensible, future-proof process automation information model specification during the first quarter of 2019.
OPC and Powerlink
An OPC UA companion specification is now available for POWERLINK according to a joint announcement by the OPC Foundation and the Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG). The companion specification describes how payload data is exchanged between POWERLINK and any OPC UA platform. The result is integrated communication from the sensor to the cloud.
“As technologies, OPC UA and POWERLINK complement each other perfectly,” emphasized Thomas Burke, President of the OPC Foundation, in his announcement. “POWERLINK is among the leading real-time bus systems used in plants and machinery. Together with OPC UA, POWERLINK networks can now communicate seamlessly and securely with the IT environment and into the cloud.”
“This specification allows OPC UA and POWERLINK to fuse into a single network,” added Stefan Schönegger, Managing Director of the EPSG. “We’re then able to join devices from different manufacturers and across different levels of the automation pyramid into a single, cohesive system.”
A joint working group between the OPC Foundation and the EPSG had been working on the specification since 2016. The document can be downloaded from the OPC Foundation website.
OPC UA Adoption
OPC Foundation announced today the release of an in-depth ARC Advisory Group report on the important role the OPC data connectivity standards play in control automation today and in future IIoT and Industrie4.0 based solutions.
Key ARC report findings confirmed that with an estimated global install base of over 45 million units, OPC is the de facto standard for open data connectivity and that OPC UA is well positioned to serve as the next data connectivity foundation for control automation applications in traditional industrial settings and new ones like building automation, transportation, and others. Key contributing factors to the continued success of OPC UA included the scalability, performance, and robustness of the technology and the large community of end-users, vendors, and other standards bodies actively working with the OPC Foundation to best utilize OPC UA in their applications.
According to Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation president, “the [ARC report] findings accurately reflect what we [OPC Foundation] have been seeing from an adoption and collaboration point of view. I highly recommend reading this ARC report for a high level perspective of what OPC UA is doing in the market and the future of data connectivity”
Commenting on the popularity of the OPC UA standard, Mr.Burke explained “OPC UA has something to offer for everyone from end-users and product vendors to other standards bodies. After people look at what is really out there as far as a single standard that has the scalability, performance, and flexibility to meet the challenges of modern data connectivity and interoperability and has the reputation and a large enough adoption base needed to make it a safe investment – they come to realize OPC UA is the real deal.”
“OPC technology has become a de facto global standard for moving data from industrial controls to visualization up to MES/ERP and IT cloud levels”, according to Craig Resnick, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group. “The rapid expansion of OPC UA in automation, IIoT, and into new, non-industrial markets suggests that OPC will remain an important technology for multivendor secured interoperability, plant floor-to-enterprise information integration, and a host of other applications yet to be envisioned.”
I’m all about IoT and digitalization anymore. This is the next movement following the automation trend I championed some 15 years ago.
Last month, I started receiving emails about predictions for 2018. Not my favorite topic, but I started saving them. Really only received a couple good ones. Here they are—one from Cisco and one from FogHorn Systems.
From Cisco blog written by Cisco’s SVP of Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications Division, Rowan Trollope, comes several looks at IoT from a variety of angles. There is more at the blog. I encourage you to visit for more details.
Until now, the Internet-of-Things revolution has been, with notable outlier examples, largely theoretical and experimental. In 2018, we expect that many existing projects will show measurable returns, and more projects get launched to capitalize on data produced by billions of new connected things.
With increased adoption there will be challenges: Our networks were not built to support the volumes and types of traffic that IoT generates. Security systems were not originally designed to protect connected infrastructure against IoT attacks. And managing industrial equipment that is connected to traditional IT requires new partnerships.
I asked the leaders of some of the IoT-focused teams at Cisco to describe their predictions for the coming year, to showcase some of these changes. Here they are.
IoT Data Becomes a Bankable Asset
In 2018, winning with IoT will mean taking control of the overwhelming flood of new data coming from the millions of things already connected, and the billions more to come. Simply consolidating that data isn’t the solution, neither is giving data away with the vague hope of achieving business benefits down the line. Data owners need to take control of their IoT data to drive towards business growth. The Economist this year said, “Data is the new oil,” and we agree.
This level of data control will help businesses deliver new services that drive top-line results.
– Jahangir Mohammed, VP & GM of IoT, Cisco
AI Revolutionizes Data Analytics
In 2018, we will see a growing convergence between the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. AI+IoT will lead to a shift away from batch analytics based on static datasets, to dynamic analytics that leverages streaming data.
Typically, AI learns from patterns. It can predict future trends and recommend business-critical actions. AI plus IoT can recommend, say, when to service a part before it fails or how to route transit vehicles based on constantly-changing data.
– Maciej Kranz, VP, Strategic Innovation at Cisco, and author of New York Times bestseller, Building the Internet of Things
Interoperable IoT Becomes the Norm
The growth of devices and the business need for links between them has made for a wild west of communications in IoT. In 2018, a semblance of order will come to the space.
With the release of the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) 1.3 specification, consumer goods manufacturers can now choose a secure, standards-based approach to device-to-device interactions and device-to-cloud services in a common format, without having to rely on, or settle for, a proprietary device-to-cloud ecosystem.
Enterprise IoT providers will also begin to leverage OCF for device-to-device communications in workplace and warehouse applications, and Open Mobile Alliance’s Lightweight Machine-to-Machine (LwM2M) standard will take hold as the clear choice for remote management of IoT devices.
In Industrial IoT, Open Process Communication’s Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) has emerged as the clear standard for interoperability, seeing record growth in adoption with over 120 million installs expected as 2017 draws to an end. It will continue to grow into new industrial areas in 2018 driven by support for Time Sensitive Networking.
– Chris Steck, Head of Standardization, IoT & Industries, Cisco
IoT Enables Next-Gen Manufacturing
Manufacturing is buzzing about Industrie 4.0, the term for a collection of new capabilities for smart factories, that is driving what is literally the next industrial revolution. IoT technologies are connecting new devices, sensors, machines, and other assets together, while Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement methodologies are harvesting value from new IoT data. Early adopters are already seeing big reductions in equipment downtime (from 15 to 95%), process waste and energy consumption in factories.
– Bryan Tantzen, Senior Director, Industry Products, Cisco
Connected Roadways Lay the Groundwork for Connected Cars
Intelligent roadways that sense conditions and traffic will adjust speed limits, synchronize street lights, and issue driver warnings, leading to faster and safer trips for drivers and pedestrians sharing the roadways. As these technologies are deployed, they become a bridge to the connected vehicles of tomorrow. The roadside data infrastructure gives connected cars a head start.
Connected cities will begin using machine learning (ML) to strategically deploy emergency response and proactive maintenance vehicles like tow trucks, snow plows, and more.
– Bryan Tantzen, Senior Director, Industry Products, Cisco
Botnets Make More Trouble
Millions of new connected consumer devices make a nice attack surface for hackers, who will continue to probe the connections between low-power, somewhat dumb devices and critical infrastructure.
The biggest security challenge I see is the creation of Distributed Destruction of Service (DDeOS) attacks that employ swarms of poorly-protected consumer devices to attack public infrastructure through massively coordinated misuse of communication channels.
IoT botnets can direct enormous swarms of connected sensors like thermostats or sprinkler controllers to cause damaging and unpredictable spikes in infrastructure use, leading to things like power surges, destructive water hammer attacks, or reduced availability of critical infrastructure on a city or state-wide level.
– Shaun Cooley, VP and CTO, Cisco
Blockchain Adds Trust
Cities are uniquely complex connected systems that don’t work without one key shared resource: trust.
From governmental infrastructure to private resources, to financial networks, to residents and visitors, all of a city’s constituents have to trust, for example, that the roads are sound and that power systems and communication networks are reliable. Those working on city infrastructure itself can’t live up to this trust without knowing that they are getting accurate data. With the growth of IoT, the data from sensors, devices, people, and processes is getting increasingly decentralized—yet systems are more interdependent than ever.
As more cities adopt IoT technologies to become smart—thus relying more heavily on digital transactions to operate—we see blockchain technology being used more broadly to put trust into data exchanges of all kinds. A decentralized data structure that monitors and verifies digital transactions, blockchain technology can ensure that each transaction—whether a bit of data streaming from distributed air quality sensors, a transaction passing between customs agencies at an international port, or a connection to remote digital voting equipment—be intact and verifiable.
– Anil Menon, SVP & Global President, Smart+Connected Communities, Cisco
Sastry Malladi, CTO of FogHorn Systems, has shared his top five predictions for the IIoT in 2018.
1. Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018.
Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.
2. Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence.
Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence.
3. Business cases and ROI are critical for IIoT pilots and adoption in 2018
The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.
IIoT standards will be driven by customer successes and company partnerships
4. IT and OT teams will collaborate for successful IIoT deployments
IIoT deployments will start forcing closer engagement between IT and operations technology (OT) teams. Line of business leaders will get more serious around investing in digitization, and IT will become the cornerstone required for the success of these initiatives. What was considered a wide gap between the two sectors – IT and OT – will bridge thanks to the recognized collaboration needed to successfully deploy IIoT solutions and initiatives.
5. Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets.
While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:
a) Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns.
b) A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical.
This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.
Iconics has been a long-time supporter of OPC Foundation and an early adopter of OPC UA. President Russ Agrusa has seen the power and benefits of OPC as an information model for open interchange of data among industrial automation devices.
Thomas Burke, president of the OPC Foundation presented a keynote on the technology and benefits of OPC UA and the status of working with a variety of protocols such as Time Sensitive Networking, MQTT, AMQP, and others. I have written a white paper on TSN and OPC that you can download here.
The company provides advanced web-enabled OPC UA certified visualization, analytics, and mobile software solutions for any energy, manufacturing, industrial or building automation application. OPC is obviously a popular topic with Iconics developers as revealed by the packed session and probing questions.
“Connected Intelligence is our theme at this year’s customer summit and it all about connectivity to every “thing” in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is critical for today’s manufacturing, industrial, and building automation systems. The OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is the core standard for Industry 4.0 and IIoT. ICONICS works closely with the OPC Foundation and its technical committees to help create new standards that have applications in many industries.
“As a member of the OPC Board of Directors, I am proud to promote its many specifications and wide-reaching standards for manufacturing, industrial, and building automation,” says Russ Agrusa, President and CEO of ICONICS.
“I have presented at many ICONICS Worldwide Customer Summits over the years and I find meeting the wide variety of ICONICS customers, partners, and integrators from around the world to be rewarding. ICONICS early support and extensive commitment to OPC for over 20 years has helped propel OPC to where it is today,” says Thomas Burke, President of the OPC Foundation.
The ICONICS community of partners, system integrators and customers will learn from top industry experts how the OPC Foundation is driving the next wave of solutions for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things.
Takeaway: OPC UA has been recognized as an essential standard by Industie 4.0 in Germany and is a central technology for industrial data communication for software applications such as Iconics.