The Industrial IoT World Conference offered an opportunity to learn about trends in industrial as well as consumer oriented IoT developments
Partnerships Dominate Collaborative IoT Industry
The Industrial IoT World conference in Atlanta, Georgia from October 31st to November 1st was an opportunity for industrial IoT brands to showcase their new products and to present their collaborative efforts. Industrial IoT is experiencing a high level of collaboration due to the advanced methodology and specialization needed for certain tasks.
TIBCO is a software production company that offers tools that allow developers to build integration services and analytic data, and also allows applications to talk to one another with the goal of making it easier for developers to go about complicated IoT problems.
TIBCO has teamed up with Jabil) to work together on delivering integrated IoT solutions so that Jabil can create the full solution for its customers with no interruptions to the product supply chain. With this pairing, Jabil is able to combine its solutions with TIBCO integrations to make it possible to handle the solution from end to end and have that end product be ready to send to the customer.
“I think it’s moving more toward the trend of collaboration between companies for two reasons. First, you see the rise of SAS applications in the IT world. There are more and more of these companies that will eventually take over IT departments, but the number of projects that require IT will only increase. So, you’ll see people leveraging consulting companies who may not have expertise in every sector, but can leverage contract manufacturers,” Shyam Patel, Solutions Consultant for TIBCO, said.
Crate Io is a database company that develops IoT scale applications for machines. The Austrian-originated company implements its database solutions to drive decision making for manufacturers like partner Alpla a bottle production company with over 180 plants worldwide.
Crate Io and Alpla have joined forces to map out what they call “the blue print for the factory of the future”. Through Crate Io’s Data Platform, Alpla receives machine generated data that predicts patterns that allow factory managers and supervisor to control and steer their machines. The duo hopes that through the data collected, employees of the factories will be able to respond more quickly to issue and improve the reduction of waste.
The nature of IoT requires experts from a variety of fields, but a market giant capable of developing all of these services in-house and doing so without aid has yet to be found, as all the major companies offering IoT related services have chosen to specialize.
“You’d have to be adaptable [to provide all IoT services to your customers without partners], ” Samuel Greber, Director of Crate IoT Data Platform, said. “If you develop it by yourself you have to maintain it, where if you have an external company who is [developing it] as a product and has experience with different use cases and different industries, it’s a win win situation in the end. They really focus on the product, they maintain the product and you as the customer know it’s working.”
With the need for collaboration driving the market, companies are noting how important these partnerships are in developing brand awareness and developing new innovations.
“Super important because manufacturing plants don’t have the resources or the attraction to young engineers to work from and maybe they don’t have a wide view of the market. The world of IoT is only possible with[collaborative] corporations like this,” Greber said.
With that importance in mind, brands are shifting their focus toward finding these partnerships.
“We are currently looking and really focusing on long term partnerships. Partnerships so that we are working together with our customers.” Greber said.
Brands Display Safety Efforts in Atlanta
A theme that took centerstage at the 2019 Industrial IoT World event was the role that IoT plays in safety for both industry workers and communities. With that theme in mind, many of the exhibitors came with safety related innovations on display.
Cimcon Lighting is using its Near Sky Detection platform to detect high noise levels that are often associated with violent crime and theft. The platform uses audio analytics to detect crime related noises like gunshots or broken glass. The company is hoping this platform can be used in the deterrence of gun violence in the United States.
“The platform's early adopters provided essential feedback that allowed us to develop [a] next generation solution that gives city leaders even more flexibility to adopt smart city services at their own pace,” Anil Agrawal, CEO of Cimcon said.
showcased how it used its fleet management systems to improve safety in Utah. Through a one-year pilot program with the Utah Division of Fleet Operations, Geotab was able to test its fleet safety objectives, such as reducing speed and aggressive driving likelihoods. They used strategies like driver alert systems to measure the effectiveness of this plan. Geotab also hopes to implement these safety measures into their Smart City programs.
Company Introduces Sensory Technology for Industrial Centers
Ricoh Innovations Corporation, a subsidiary of Ricoh Company, Ltd. , unveiled its new product, WorkPlace Solutions, at the Industrial IoT World Conference. WorkPlace Solutions is a monitoring service equipped with a notification system triggered by set events.
The sensory technology aims to convert videos, generated by on-demand computing, to data points that can be used to identify workplace actions. The visual data and the monitoring results can be implemented into industries like oil and gas, where one may need to see if there is an operator present at a refinery, or smart infrastructure, where one may need to see if a fire exit is obstructed.
Workplace Solutions is powered by Ricoh Innovation’s Monitoring of Things™ IoT platform, which Ricoh Innovations describes as the combination of monitoring and internet connectivity with use of sensors.
"WorkPlace Solutions uses IoT and sensors in a platform we call Monitoring of Things™," Toshinori Arita, CEO of Ricoh Innovations said. "WorkPlace Solutions originates from the Monitoring of Things™ AI-based technology, which allows more human-like decision making. Due to the machine learning salient algorithms, video-based triggers are created with less learning data than standard machine-learning processes."
The platform enables customers to have a multifaceted, real-time view of any area or process using the sensory engine residing on the edge, which uses machine learning salient algorithms to identify triggers that alert you if and when an event occurs, allowing the operation to consume less bandwidth and less computing power, and the second engine, the input engine, which allows for input from multiple areas that then produce a real-time video clip or notification.
Ricoh Innovation hopes the data gained from the video monitoring system can turn into actionable information, which then gets presented on the mobile application by Vantiq that accompanies WorkPlace Solutions. Both companies cite this partnership as important to ensuring that WorkPlace Solutions has a number of ways it can be implemented in the industry.
Ricoh Innovations is also looking to put a spotlight on safety with their WorkPlace Solutions monitoring system, which works to detect things like fuel levels, temperature levels, if machines are attended or not, and obstruction of safety equipment.
“Safety used to be one of the words that everyone worried about. When you say safety they think ‘what I have done wrong’, but in reality the first thing about safety is how do we make our employees safer,” Director of Business Development, Harry Raftopoulos said. “How do we make sure our friends and humans have nothing ever happen to them. IoT has enabled that and it’s enabled that in a very strong way. We mentioned the example of the obstruction of fire exit, but think about, in a workplace environment, how many areas need to be observed by humans. We have areas like chemical spills where people can hurt themselves, we have areas with machinery like fork lifts that should not be operating,” he added.
How to Create a Flexible IoT Security Environment
As industry players look to expand the uses of IoT within their businesses, it is imperative to think about security standards and how these standards impact industries.
Aaron Allsbrook, CTO of Clearblade ,reminds us that in this era of cloud versus edge-based security, there is no universal standard, but there are a few things that are critical in forming IoT security protocols.
First, Allsbrook says it’s important to know when you will need to use the data when deciding between the popular cloud computation system and edge-based data storage, which is known for assisting companies with managing data durability.
“[With] data that has an immediate need or use, you don’t have time to go the cloud. You want to keep track of that data and utilize it in the moment,” Allsbrook said.
He goes on to explain how important monitoring systems are to industry operations. Knowledge of wayside monitoring for measuring tracking, carry monitoring for refrigerated goods, sending alerts, saving processing time, and cutting down on the amount of processing needed, and well monitoring for ensuring that the right help is present on site are imperatives for maintaining data security in connected fleet delivery vehicles, connected factories for oil and gas, and connected power plants.
Another important aspect to flexible security is facilities automation, which Allsbrook tells us will aid in automating internal processes, building management, comparing data to energy use data, vessel security, cargo carrying, and motor monitoring.
Solutions for Processing, Sensing, and Communication
Vipin Borthra, Director of Industrial Market Development at STMicroelectronics (add website), detailed his company’s solutions for processing, sensing, and communication in industrial connectivity and monitoring at the recent Industrial IoT World conference. According to Borthra, solutions include predictive maintenance, edge processing improvisation with new technologies and solutions, minimizing your data throughput from the edge to the network, and implementing various end markets, and applying these technologies.
Borthra defines predictive maintenance as looking at a machine environment, sensing various data of the machine, and then computing the edge for any decision making that needs to be done at the machine level. At the same time, processing the data and sending it to the cloud via various decision-making technologies. Then, making the decision in the cloud and coming back to the edge and instructing the edge on the decision-making process.
“In the process you can improvise the system, predict the failures, replace inventory, you can do many different things with this process,” Borthra said.
Bortha says the kit of bulbs, offered by his company, that allow you to do nine different types of sensoring, including environmental, mechanical, optical, and audio, is the type of product that companies looking to expand their predictive maintenance capabilities will look for more and more in the future.
As we know Bluetooth is a ubiquitous wireless communication. You can find it in your phone, your home environment devices and industrial environment devices. And, Bluetooth is now advancing to the next generation.
STMicroelectronics has recently launched a Bluetooth mesh capability system dubbed BlueNRG 4.2 which will allow users to mesh different types of devices. According to Borthra, meshing can help you communicate across a very large distance as the devices can better talk to one another. So, you can create a network of devices that can talk to each other all of which have the capability to be integrated with note only sensing, which will allow devices to opt out of the mesh threading.
Cellular Connectivity Solutions
Cellular connectivity is a hot topic in both business-to business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales and tech markets, but Borthra says it is middleware that can change the industry. Middleware on microcontrollers that allow any non-smart machines to talk intelligently to cellular modems prevents users from needing to go to each cellular provider and have their modem certified. With middleware you have a device that is already certified, which allows you to get your product to market more quickly.
For this STMicroelectronics launched the LoRa IoT Tracker, which hopes to be the product to bring customers cellular connectivity in low band width areas while connecting to a wide data network, which can be utilized for fleet management as it can be set up to allow automotive wide area tracking and asset management in addition to condition monitoring.
“If you’re running a fleet and you want to monitor the conditions of that fleet, whether it’s the right environment, right temperature, whether the refrigeration system is running properly, or if the fuel is leaking, you can monitor all of things on top of tracking the system,” Borthra said.
Sensor Tag Solutions
Sensor tag solutions allow users to use a phone reader to power the tag wirelessly, read all the environmental data, and bring the data to the user’s phone. This could be used for information authentication and over-the-air programming, as it allows users the ability to connect devices and share network updates wirelessly for things like connected vehicles, but also has wide implications in the business-to-consumer market. STMicroelectronics offers the NFC sensor tag solutions, which Borthra hopes is a product that will improve data transfer and communication capabilities for industrial machines.
Microprocessing units (MPU) provide a high level of processing power on the edge compared to the typical MCU (microcontroller unit). With an MPU you can implement many different types of connectivity like analog, 3DGPU, modal control, and interfaces that run memory and display at the same time.
STMicroelectronics offers an MPU that interfaces with an open development environment for MCUs so all the tools, libraries, and references that STMicroelectronics develop for standard on core microcontrollers apply to this particular environment too.
“Customers can really easily design it as opposed to using a full fledged MPU from third parties which may require much more engineering time to get it up and running,” Borthra said.
Borthra tells us that low-power radio frequency (RF) Technology, which is for? communication for the most part, is evolving very, very fast and so brands will need to focus on developing this type of communication in the future. In addition to that, STMicroelectronics is planning to expand one of it’s key areas to meet market demand — sensors.
“I think that more types of sensors will come. I anticipate that we will have more types of sensors such as gas and pressure so the industrial focus is really important for us. Also, improving the performance of these sensors [is important]. We will see an expansion in the sensor line of products,” Borthra said.
How to Enhance a Project with Smart Data
With the push for smart data integration building in many industries, Anupam Singh, Investment Director at Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), Ed Sugay, Principal at Siemens IoT Services, and Evandro Silva, Manager of Connected Vehicle Services for Volvo , explained how to use this smart data to enhance industry projects at Industrial IoT World.
First, Singh advises that project teams use the smart data analytics they receive to increase visibility at every stage of operations.
“What makes analytics also very valuable for us is that we undergo the process variable to variable. For us having visibility of the operation and being able to collect data from many different parts of the system and being able to provide a subset of data dashboards where there’s visibility and stracing of key metrics,” Singh said.
Analytics can also benefit industry in replacing manual labor in certain places with skilled labor.
“The further you are from shore operations you are, the better off you are in terms of safety,” Sugay said.
Siemens cites analytics as being beneficial to the unmanned oil field, for example, where they developed a road map including POCs (Proof of Concepts) to get to both onshore and offshore operations. This also ensures safety of onsite personnel as they no longer have to man drilling stations and instead can remain further away from shore operations.
“Use analytics from this data to not just make sure that things are within specs, but also that there is no unsafe operation in any part of the system. And at the same time we want to make sure that we’re operating close to maximum efficiency or capacity that we can,” Singh said.
Silva warns that though these analytics are important, gaining that data is only half the battle.
“You don’t realize how much data a truck actually generates. All the data sources to that fault code and so, if you don’t insert analytics there where it can transform all that information into something actionable, it’s not useful. It has no value,” Silva said.
Seeking services that provide actionable information as opposed to unfiltered data can help a fleet maintain its vehicles, manage delivery time, and monitor driver activity.
An on-going debate in approaching IoT implementation is the use of digital twins vs. machine learning. Digital twins, as long as they are kept up-to-date, help you understand something in the field whether it is in front of you or remote. Machine learning is aimed more at collecting findings that couldn’t be gathered easily by a data scientist or an engineer, which can pose a more significant challenge.
“The expectation when you start talking about machine learning and AI is to bring something that [the engineers] don’t already know. That’s the part that’s difficult. You need to almost convert and create an OE (Organizational Engineering) area and then merge those two together where you can maybe open the eyes of some engineers on how to handle data and collect it in a different way,” Silva said.
Another challenge that smart data can present is the possibility of false positives and false negatives in predictive maintenance, which can significantly impact prediction ability and trust between the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and customer.
“False positives, and false negatives too, are big problem in predictive maintenance. The thing is there’s never going to be a general predictive maintenance solution, it has to be very equipment or use case based and so the predictive part could be used as a justification, you provide the data along with the recommendations, which builds that trust,” Singh said. “The other potential business model is offer [your own predictive maintenance software’ as a service.”