The Industry of Things World USA conference in San Diego in its third year is becoming a premier Internet of Things (IoT) event in the US. Organized by weConnect in Berlin, Germany, it attracts a few hundred attendees, excellent speakers, and me (of course). The organizers leverage worldwide contacts–organizing similar events in Berlin and Singapore. They also have similar events in other technology areas.
Topics cover a range of IT and OT subjects. I make sure to get to the OT people who are here. This is a quick recap of what I’ve seen so far.
Charlie Gifford spoke at a breakout session on ISA95. He updated us on the latest changes proposed to the standard. His other focus was to promote event-driven architecture. He suggested that we build a library of operations events such that when an event occurs information about the change with the updated data is broadcast to subscribers. This is a great bandwidth saving over continuous point-to-point connections. He is also concerned with how to interconnect the many existing databases within a plant or production location.
Jagannath Rao, SVP of IoT and MindSphere for Siemens, discussed the evolution of MindSphere and its latest incarnation. Key point–Siemens has committed to openness–providing for open APIs especially in its MindSphere platform and adoption of open technologies such as OPC UA.
MindSphere v 2 enabled people to go out and do Proof of Concept (PoC) projects. From these Siemens could determine what customers were interested in and what the problems were that they were trying to solve. This all fed back into the product development process leading to the recent release of v 3.
V3, now a product, builds on open technologies–open being the key word. The platform moved from SAP Leonardo to Amazon Web Services (AWS) providing a more robust cloud experience. AWS is a Infrastructure as a Service, while MindSphere is Platform as a Service containing open APIs and data models. The next step on the journey is for Siemens to build out an ecosystem of 3rd party applications.
When asked about TSN, Rao also brought up 5G, both of which point out the importance of the Edge for initial processing of IoT data. Siemens is preparing for this next step, for example its Sinumeric Edge contains much analytics power, then ability to communicate information not just vast streams of data.
One key potential misunderstanding…Hoppe’s presentation made OPC appear to be German-centric and tied to the German Industrie 4.0. We need to keep in mind that the OPC Foundation Board is only 33% German, and that OPC UA lends itself to the digitalization efforts of any of the countries developing standards. It has become the official communication technology for many standardization efforts including the Open Process Automation Forum. It is truly global.
Lin Nease, IoT technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, chatted with me at a one-on-one meeting about the edge and the power of Xeon server technology in its edge devices as well as software-defined control. I think I’ll be seeing more from HPE as it builds out its IoT infrastructure.
Turning a giant organization that has the great inertia can be likened to turning a large ship at sea. It takes great force and a lot of space. Such is the task of remaking Microsoft.
Satya Nadella has been CEO of Microsoft replacing the combative Steve Ballmer more than three years ago. I’ve seen him speak at conferences at least three times. I’ve talked to many Microsoft people. He truly has turned that big mass toward the future.
Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone tells Nadella’s personal story, as well as his business and leadership.
He begins personally. The key takeaway is his discovery of empathy. I imagine that that value was in short supply in Redmond during Ballmer’s tenure. Nadella talks about a mentor, but also the birth of a handicapped child and what the family learned while caring for him introducing him to the emotion and value of empathy.
Like most people with an MBA, he was steeped in strategy theories. As he thought about his task as the new leader of Microsoft, naturally he thought about strategy.
His early three-pronged message was
1. Reinvent productivity and business processes
2. Build an intelligent cloud platform
3. Move people needing Windows to wanting Windows
Remembering Peter Drucker’s dictum, “Culture eats strategy,” he also move quickly to change the corporate culture. He includes a few stories revealing how he went about that gigantic task.
His view of what leaders tasks are:
1. Bring clarity
2. Generate energy
3. Find a way to deliver success
He has given much thought to values. These are similar thoughts to what we hear at National Instruments’ gatherings—engineers solving the world’s biggest problems. He urges policy makers, mayors, and others not to try to replicate Silicon Valley but instead to develop plans to make the best technologies available to local entrepreneurs so that they can organically grow more jobs at home—not just in high tech industries but in every economic sector.
While at the Dell IQT kick off event in New York last month, I learned more about the breadth of Dell’s thinking about the Internet of Things.
It began with morphing embedded computer as a gateway (with memory and processing power and multiple connections).,
Added platform (EdgeX Foundry).
But that hardly seemed like something that warranted Michael Dell’s time during his past three Dell World / Dell EMC World keynotes.
Revealing the coming together of the various divisions of Dell Technologies, I learned about VMware Pulse IoT Center, an enterprise-grade Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure management solution that will enable IT and operational technology (OT) teams to have complete control of their IoT infrastructure and things.
Interestingly, the Internet of Things group has been promoted to division stature led by the VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell.
Here are a few details on the Pulse Center.
Solving the problems
Customers have challenges scaling from IoT proof-of-concept to production.
• on-board and manage of thousands to hundreds of thousands of connected devices;
• make sure those devices are working as they are supposed to; and
• keep the devices and data secure.
Dell cites core strengths of device and application management, infrastructure analytics, and security give us the IP and expertise to address these issues with an easy to use, single-pane-of-glass solution to help customers to more efficiently manage, operate, scale and protect their IoT projects from the edge to the cloud.
VMware Pulse IoT Key Features
• Edge Device Management – Support for heterogeneous things and gateways with different hardware, operating systems, and communication protocols
• Real-Time Infrastructure Analytics – Ability to identify anomalies with real-time monitoring and infrastructure analytics
• Sophisticated & Flexible Rules Engine- Ability to granularly define what, where and when things are updated
• Single point console- A single point of monitoring and management for the IoT infrastructure (across private networks comprising of edge systems and connected devices) for both IT and OT users
• OTA updates – Ability to provide over-the-air, real-time updates to all things/gateways no matter how remote the location
• Smart Data Orchestration- Delivery of relevant data where and when it is needed across the edge and in the cloud by integrating into enterprise systems
• Security Across IoT Value Chain- Provides security at thing, network and user level with software updates and NSX and VMware Identity Manager integration
• Visualize thing – gateway relationships- Provides pictorial representation of the topology of the IoT infrastructure – 2 tier or 3 tier – in a parent child relationship diagram
• Highly scalable – Supports hundreds of thousands of edge systems and IoT connected devices such as sensors and actuators.
• On Prem support– Offered as an on-prem solution for deployment flexibility and security. Future versions will also be offered as cloud-hosted.
• Enterprise Integrations- Quick and easy integration with existing server systems through a comprehensive API abstraction layer
Chief Customer Officer
I also met with Jim Ganthier, a Vice President who works in the office of the Chief Customer Officer. OK, there are lots of “Chiefs” running around corporations today. Since I am most interested in technologies and their uses in manufacturing and industrial, I didn’t have lots of questions. It was interesting to see that there is a “voice of the customer” at the executive level of a major corporation. We talked a lot about whether it was difficult for a global technology company to meet the varying privacy requirements found from nation to nation. He assured us that they had the technology to comply.
Chief Marketing Officer
A comment stood out in our conversation with Jeremy Burton, the corporation Chief Marketing Officer. “The last 20 years has seen technology used for efficiency. Now technology is a differentiator.”
Hmm, sounds like what I heard at Emerson. Maybe it’s a meme.
Disclaimer: Dell pays my expenses to its events and an occasional fee for posts. The views are always mine, and they never review before publication.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has been incredibly active over the past month. While I’ve been traveling, news releases and interview opportunities have been pouring in.
- IIC and Avnu Alliance Liaison
- IIC and the EdgeX Foundry Announce Liaison
- IIC Develops Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed
- IIC Publishes Edge Computing Edition of Journal of Innovation
See my white paper on OPC UA and TSN. I wrote this following interviews at Hannover for the OPC Foundation and subsequent travels to see people. I think this is a powerful combination for the future.
Why it’s important:
These news items when viewed collectively show momentum for what is happening with the Industrial Internet—or as some say the Industrial Internet of Things. These technologies are soon to be powerful business drivers for a new age of manufacturing.
Liaison with Avnu Alliance
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and Avnu Alliance (Avnu) have agreed to a liaison to work together to advance deployment and interoperability of devices with Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) open standards.
Under the agreement, the IIC and Avnu will work together to align efforts to maximize interoperability, portability, security and privacy for the industrial Internet. Joint activities between the IIC and the Avnu will include:
- Identifying and sharing IIoT best practices
- Realizing interoperability by harmonizing architecture and other elements
- Collaborating on standardization
“Both Avnu and the IIC are well aligned to pursue the advancement of the IIoT. An example of this is Avnu’s participation in the IIC TSN testbed where members have an opportunity to try their equipment and software on the testbed infrastructure. This provides the participants with the ability to discover what’s working and what is not and provide feedback that helps speed market adoption,” said Gary Stuebing, IIC liaison to Avnu. “The lessons learned in our TSN testbed fuel the ability of both of our organizations. TSN could open up critical control applications such as robot control, drive control and vision systems.”
“Our liaison agreement and work with the IIC TSN Testbed demonstrates real-world applications and solutions with TSN and helps to accelerate readiness for the market. The testbed stands as a showcase for the value that TSN standards and ecosystem of manufacturing applications and products bring to the market, including the ability for IIoT to incorporate high-performance and latency-sensitive applications,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair. “Our collaboration with IIC and the work coming out of the TSN Testbed is already having a direct impact on suppliers and manufacturers who see the technology as a value add for their system structure.”
Avnu and IIC are meeting for a TSN Testbed plugfest later this month to evaluate and trial TSN device conformance tests that are being developed as a baseline certification in the industrial market.
Avnu creates comprehensive certification tests and programs to ensure interoperability of networked devices. The foundational technology enables deterministic synchronized networking based on IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) / Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) base standards. The Alliance, in conjunction with other complementary standards bodies and alliances, provides a united network foundation for use in professional AV, automotive, industrial control and consumer segments.
Agreement with EdgeX Foundry
The Industrial Internet Consortium and EdgeX Foundry, an open-source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for IoT edge computing, announced they have agreed to a liaison.
Under the agreement, the IIC and the EdgeX Foundry will work together to align efforts to maximize interoperability, portability, security and privacy for the industrial Internet.
Joint activities between the IIC and the EdgeX Foundry will include:
- Identifying and sharing best practices
- Collaborating on test beds and experimental projects
- Working toward interoperability by harmonizing architecture and other elements
- Collaborating on common elements
- Periodically hosting joint seminars
“We are excited about working with EdgeX Foundry,” James Clardy, IIC liaison to EdgeX Foundry. “And we look forward to leveraging the experiences of the IIC to help further accelerate the adoption of the industrial Internet.”
“EdgeX Foundry’s primary goal is to simplify and accelerate Industrial IoT by delivering a unified edge computing platform supported by an ecosystem of solutions providers,” said Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT for The Linux Foundation. “Formalizing this liaison relationship with the IIC is fundamental to unlocking business value at scale. Together, we will provide better best practices that will drive the unification of the industrial IoT.”
Hosted by The Linux Foundation, EdgeX Foundry has an ecosystem of more than 60 vendors and offers all interested developers or companies the opportunity to collaborate on IoT solutions built using existing connectivity standards combined with their own proprietary innovations. For more information, visit
Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed
The Industrial Internet Consortium announced the Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed. The testbed is led by two companies, Plethora IIoT, a company, designing and developing cutting-edge answers for Industry 4.0, and Xilinx, the leading provider of All Programmable technology.
This innovative testbed explores machine-learning techniques and evaluates algorithmic approaches for time-critical predictive maintenance. This knowledge leads to actionable insight enabling companies to move away from traditional preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance, which minimizes unplanned downtime and optimizes system operation. This would ultimately help manufacturers increase availability, improve energy efficiency and extend the lifespan of high-volume CNC manufacturing production systems.
“Testbeds are the major focus and activity of the IIC and its members. We provide the opportunity for both small and large companies to collaborate and help solve problems that will drive the adoption of IoT applications in many industries”, said IIC Executive Director Dr. Richard Mark Soley. “The smart factory of the future will require advanced analytics, like those this testbed aims to provide, to identify system degradation before system failure. This type of machine learning and predictive maintenance could extend beyond the manufacturing floor to have a broader impact to other industrial applications.”
“Downtime costs some manufacturers as much as $22k per minute. Therefore, unexpected failures are one of the main players in maintenance costs because of their negative impact due to reactive and unplanned maintenance action. Being able to predict system degradation before failure has a strong positive impact on machine availability: increasing productivity and decreasing downtime, breakdowns and maintenance costs,” said Plethora IIoT Team Leader Javier Diaz. “We’re excited to lead this testbed with Xilinx and work alongside some of the leading players in IIoT technologies. This is a unique opportunity to test together machine learning technologies with those involved in the testbed at different development levels starting from the lab through production environments, where a real deployment solution is utilized. As a result, from these experiences, we can significantly reduce the time-to-market of Plethora IIoT solutions oriented to maximize smart factory competitiveness.”
”Xilinx is committed to providing the Industrial IoT industry with our latest All Programmable SoC and MPSoC platforms – ideal for sensor fusion, real-time, high-performance processing, and machine learning from the edge to the cloud,” stated Dan Isaacs, Director of Corporate Strategic Marketing and Market Development for IIoT and Machine Learning at Xilinx. “The combination of these highly configurable capabilities drives the intelligence of the smart factory.”
Additional IIC member companies participating in this testbed are: Bosch, Microsoft, National Instruments, RTI, System View, GlobalSign, Aicas, Thingswise, Titanium Industrial Security, and iVeia. They provide technologies to enable the Smart Factory Machine Learning testbed, including:
- Factory automation
- OT and IT security
- Edge to cloud machine learning and analytics
- Time-sensitive networking (TSN)
- Data acquisition
- Smart sensor technology
- Design implementation
- Embedded programmable SoC technology
- Secure authentication
Journal of Innovation
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has published the fifth edition of the Journal of Innovation with a focus on edge computing. The Journal of Innovation highlights the innovative ideas, approaches, products, and services emerging within the Industrial Internet, such as smart cities, artificial intelligence, the smart factory, and edge computing.
Edge computing promises to bring real-time intelligence to industrial machines at the edge of the network, where data can be processed closer to its source. Edge computing provides businesses with a cost-effective means to transmit and analyze large quantities of data in real-time, enabling them to reduce unplanned downtime, improve worker safety and enhance asset performance.
“The Journal of Innovation brings together innovators and thought leaders across the IoT spectrum. In this issue, our experts share their insights on edge computing as a key enabling technology poised to transform the IIoT,” said Mark Crawford, co-chair of the IIC Thought Leadership Task Group and Standards Strategist, SAP Strategic IP Initiatives. “Edge computing is not a new concept, but as IIoT transforms business processes, the need to use data closer to its source, whether that be from a wind turbine, a deep-water well’s blowout preventer, or an autonomous car, is paramount.”
The Edge Computing edition of the Journal of Innovation includes articles contributed by leaders at IIC member companies including:
- Where is the Edge of the Edge of Industrial IoT? · Pieter van Schalkwyk XMPro
- Device Ecosystem at the Edge – Manufacturing Scenario · Sujata Tilak, Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd.
- Edge Intelligence: The Central Cloud is Dead – Long Live the Edge Cloud · Yun Chao Hu, Huawei Technologies Duesseldorf GmbH
- Outcomes, Insights, and Best Practices from IIC Testbeds: Microgrid Testbed · Brett Burger, National Instruments · Joseph Fontaine, Industrial Internet Consortium
- A Knowledge Graph Driven Approach for Edge Analytics · Narendra Anand, Accenture Technology Labs · Colin Puri, Accenture Technology Labs
- Industrial IoT Edge Architecture for Machine and Deep Learning · Chanchal Chatterjee, Teradata Inc. · Salim AbiEzzi, VMWare Inc.
- A Practical and Theoretical Guide to Using the Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework · Stan Schneider, PhD. Real-Time Innovations, Inc. · Rajive Joshi, PhD. Real-Time Innovations, Inc.
I have recorded another in my series of occasional podcasts. This one begins with the Ignition Community Conference at Inductive Automation in Folsom, California last month.
What is SCADA? What is the Internet of Things. I keep puzzling out these things and the technologies that underlie them.