7 IIC Testbeds Offer a Look at the Future of the Industrial IoT

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For the past two years, the Industrial Internet Consortium has been assembling testbeds to demonstrate the value of IIoT. Here are the latest use cases

The Internet of Things – and in particular, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – offers a compelling value proposition to companies seeking to increase their value to customers in today’s connected age. However, building an IIoT capability requires a substantial investment of people, time and money, making it risky if an effort doesn’t work out, or goes down the wrong track.

That’s why, for two years, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has been assembling testbeds to refine and demonstrate the value of IIoT across a broad range of functions and use cases. Recently, the IIC released a detailed overview of its groundbreaking testbed efforts, which involve IIoT leaders from across the globe.

RTInsights has been providing coverage of IIC’s testbed developments, along with in-depth interviews with participants. The testbed seeks answers to questions such as: “Will tools interoperate? Will they report their positions correctly and precisely? Do standards meet the needs of new applications? Do standards provide the capabilities needed for the tools to perform as expected?”

[ Related: More coverage of IIC Testbeds ]

The IIC report progress with the following testbeds:

The Track and Trace IIC Testbed

The IIC’s first testbed, focuses on optimizing several key performance indicators for industrial use cases. The testbed first focused on tracing process tools, deploying specialized sensors that provided information about the location of tools and assets in use.

“The testbed team expanded from process tools to logistics equipment, specifically to forklifts,” IIC reports. This resulted in two use cases: the Tracing Process Tools Use Case deployed by Bosch in its industrial tools sector, and the Tracking Forklift Use Case deployed in Traunreut,

The Track and Trace Testbed enabled the team to identify standardization opportunities “in localization-technology interfaces, tightening-tool interfaces, enterprise-system interfaces, data models, data communications and device management,” IIC reports.

Time-Sensitive Networking IIC Testbed

Run by National Instruments and Bosch, this testbed focuses on bringing more deterministic capabilities to IIoT networks, including time synchronization, sending scheduled traffic flows, and central, automated system configuration.

“By vetting technical standards and the interoperability required in smart manufacturing, the testbed team has advanced its goal of achieving real-time control and synchronization of high-performance machines over a single, standard Ethernet network, supporting multi-vendor interoperability and integration,” according to IIC.

The Communication and Control for Microgrid Applications IIC Testbed

This testbed simulates a smart grid, “demonstrating many technologies and protocols: Data Distribution Service (DDS), Open Field Message Bus (OFMB) and how they can be combined and deployed in the field,” says IIC. The resulting Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA) “informs the construction of IIoT systems including testbeds. During conception, the business viewpoint helps to sharpen the business purpose of the system; at implementation time, patterns help developers to get started. It is quicker to start with a pattern and then modify it than it is to start with the proverbial ‘blank sheet.’”

[ More IIC Testbed Coverage: Making the Smart Microgrid Even Smarter ]

The INFINITE IIC Testbed

Designed to accelerate the development of industrial internet products and services,the testbed is constructed to support multiple virtual instances on a single physical network. Within this project, IIC-affiliated teams have been able to identify “business benefits, new business models and organizational transformations aiding IIoT adoption” in a number of use cases: For example, IIC says, Bluelight is built for ambulance services, enabling “intelligent route planning for ambulances to improve response times, leading to better pre-hospital emergency care experiences and outcomes for patients.” Another INFINITE-based service, First Responder, “improves the safety and effectiveness of first responders when involved in an emergency situation, especially those in harsh environments. Data is analyzed to monitor worker health and enable a fast response to ensure their safety.”

[ More IIC Testbed Coverage: Testing Edge Processing for the Industrial IoT ]

The Condition Monitoring for Predictive Maintenance IIC Testbed

IIC reports that this “demonstrates the value of continuously monitoring industrial equipment to detect early signs of performance degradation or failure.” The CM/PM Testbed leverages advanced sensors that not only provide vibration analysis (motor current signature analysis and thermography), but also “automatically predicts equipment failure and notifies a person or system so that pro-active steps can be taken to avoid equipment damage and unscheduled downtime.”

[ More IIC Testbed Coverage: Preventing Downtime With Predictive Analytics ]

The Manufacturing Quality Management Testbed

This testbed is designed to retrofit “existing manufacturing facilities with modern technologies by leveraging the IoT and sensory network technologies for data collection, transmission and intelligent storage to support an effective data processing scheme,” according to IIC. It supports a “repeatable process, with manufacturing quality as the measure, to retrofit outdated factories applying modern sensory networks and analytic technologies.”

The Smart Factory Web IIC Testbed

The IIC testbed ties together a network of smart factories, intended to “to improve order fulfillment by aligning capacity across production sites with flexible adaptation of production capabilities and sharing of resources, assets and inventory,” ICC says. “Factories and their assets can be registered and searched for in the SFW portal.” The effort employs a common markup language, AutomationML which is applied with data communication “over OPC UA to achieve semantic interoperability and is applied to exchange information between engineering tools, to model assets, to describe the capabilities of assets and to describe the information model of an asset.”

[  More IIC Testbed: Factory Testbed Focuses on Visualization ]

About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTINsights' Industry Insights Editor in charge of contributed case studies. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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