Machines as an IoT service
IoT solutions for the industrial manufacturers will typically employ services such as remote management, OTA software updates, preventative and predictive maintenance as well as the ability to integrate operational information with the company’s enterprise systems.
However, as technology writer Bob Emmerson says, what happens when the company manufactures and markets machines that are deployed in the production environments of their customers? It clearly makes sense to extend their offer by including those services, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction, generating additional revenue streams, and enabling new business models like “machine as an IoT service”.
When this extended offer is deployed, technology decisions with regard to the machine manufacturer’s own IoT solution will be straightforward. OT data is acquired, processed, analysed and transmitted to an IoT cloud service. And technology for remote management of devices & machines, including the management of the embedded applications at the edge is available.
But the situation will be different on the customer’s side. Seamless integration with the customers’ enterprise systems is mandatory, but the architectures and infrastructures will be different. That’s inevitable. And customers’ clouds will also be different to that employed by the machine manufacturer. Interconnecting systems at a cloud or data centre level is one technology option, but it will not provide an optimum solution for many IoT projects.
An additional issue is the need for the IoT solution that is running on local machines to integrate with the customer’s own IoT solution, which will typically involve monitoring the quality and quantity of the manufactured product and tracking delivery to their customers.
Those solutions might be on premise or cloud-based and they will typically employ one or more offers from leading IT software players. For example, they might be leveraging the technology of companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, SAP, Amazon and others. Moreover, their offers will include IoT Cloud solutions that feed IoT data coming from the field into their world of big data, analytics and business applications.
Conclusion: A machine manufacturer can select an optimum IoT platform for their own data, device and embedded application management, but integration with their customers’ IT / IoT world will typically involve serious technical implementation challenges and they will be different every time.
The solution, according to Eurotech, is to support different IoT Cloud services, not only on an IoT Platform or at the data centre level, but also on the IoT Gateway or IoT software enabled asset in the field. Moreover, support should enable concurrent access, otherwise contention issues will arise between different clients.
This is enabled by IoT Gateways that employ open services middleware. Eurotech’s ESF (Everyware Software Framework) builds on Eclipse Kura, which is a Java/OSGi-based IoT Middleware that addresses the fundamental issues associated with integrating and supporting multiple IoT clients running side by side.
It addresses a series of problems experienced in many solutions where different manufacturers’ clients and other software components compete for the gateway’s resources and interfaces without an appropriate level of control and management.
Recently, Eurotech added the capability to include native IoT Cloud connectivity, beyond its own Everyware Cloud offer. This includes the addition of client software for Microsoft Azure. Support for several other leading IoT Cloud offers is set to follow.
The author of this blog is freelance IoT and communications writer and observer, Bob Emmerson
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