Building Disruptive Services with Analytics

22.11.2016

There’s no doubt - many in the manufacturing industries believe IoT and Industrie 4.0 are essentially stuck at the concept level and there is no standard available for tools and solutions today in the automation market. However, this is only perception; reality is a completely different story. How prepared are you to leverage ALL data of 50 million connected devices from automation suppliers?

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There is no longer an excuse or source of blame for missing out on standardized connectivity: The challenge to establish secure connectivity based on an international standard that is platform independent, reliable and vendor-neutral has an answer today. The transport of raw data and pre-processed information from the manufacturing level up to production planning, ERP systems and the cloud is solved by using globally recognized OPC UA technology. This technology has already been named the recommended communication technology in Germany’s Industrie 4.0 initiative and it earned added relevance from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which thoroughly analyzed OPC UA data security and published a highly positive review during Hannover Messe 2016. Providing security mechanisms that are built-in by design enables machine builders to configure which data and interfaces are available to which authorized clients – and which data will receive protection and encryption. 

IT companies such as Microsoft and SAP realized the power of OPC UA technology at an early stage and integrated it deeply into their platform and gateways – Microsoft is even sharing part of their code as open source. At Hannover Messe 2016, attendees crowded the Microsoft booth to see live demos with different kinds of devices from many vendors that all connected to Azure. Some devices pushed telemetry data directly into Azure. However, interaction back from the cloud to the device was just as available with quickly-established connections and no extra software implementation required – all in a BSI-validated and Industrie 4.0 proven security mechanism. 

On same trade show at SAP booth their MES solution showed the future of manufacturing: Open the factory door, move in a new machine – and if this machine is able to support OPC UA within just half a day this machine is integrated into the production flow: No longer is the PLC controlling all assets on the shop floor instead SAP-MES is orchestrating the assets directly. 

OPC UA is by no means limited to SAP or Microsoft technologies. For legacy devices, OPC UA gateways are available and enable connectivity to machines in field because OPC UA guarantees not only vertical connectivity, but also horizontal interoperability amongst devices. In combination with gateways, about 50 million devices in the automation market that have the potential to share 100 percent of their data today are addressable immediately. As OPC UA is a market-independent technology that is growing rapidly into other domains, the result is a truly massive and rapidly expanding ecosystem. 

Consider secure connectivity in automation to be solved - did you start building your disruptive services with analytics to get most value out of the data?  

Stefan_Hoppe

Stefan Hoppe,
Global Vice President OPC Foundation,
stefan.hoppe(at)opcfoundation.org

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