IIoT is not only helping the Information Technologies (IT) and operations technologies (OT) worlds converge, it is bringing automation competitors from similar geographies to converge together for the development of new platforms. A recent example is Hitachi, Ltd. announcing that along with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Intel K.K. (Japan), it has proposed and received approval for a Factory Automation Platform as a Service (FA PaaS) Testbed at the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). The goal of this testbed is to test open IIoT platforms that integrate FA or OT in manufacturing with IT to best support management and plant-wide operations. In collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric and Intel. Hitachi will incorporate the results of these tests into the IIoT platform, known as “Lumada“, and create new solutions for its customers and
As ARC has been writing about often in recent years, amid increasingly global competition in the manufacturing industry, there has been a growing demand by manufacturers for more rapid product development and market introduction, quality improvements, and shorter lead times in order to more quickly respond to the rapidly changing market and management environments through the introduction of new technologies and collaborations between companies. Simultaneously, there has been a growing expectation for process optimization that uses data related to manufacturing in the increasingly global
supply chain to connect operations with management, suppliers, and customers. This in turn has given rise for a need for new IIoT platforms that provide secure connections between a variety of devices in the OT environment, and IT
services, such as Big Data and the cloud, for the accelerated development of applications focused on real-time analytics and business process improvements.
These new IIoT platforms include functionality to process Big Data, as well as edge devices, and gateways that connect the IIoT platforms to the OT environment. These edge devices provide functions that are unique to OT applications, and which also enable communications with other OT assets. In addition, the advantage of the IIoT platform operating in this testbed is that it can help accelerate application development by making available an integrated environment between the OT environment and the service platform layer.
Each company is assuming different roles and responsibilities as part of this collaboration. Hitachi is in charge of IT related products (IIoT data processing platforms, IIoT edge devices, etc.), software which connects each devices in this testbed, and system integration of the testbed. Mitsubishi Electric is in charge of the OT environment (OT edge devices, applications, PLC, and drive units), and Intel is in charge of IIoT gateways and supportive coordination with IIC. Hereafter, under collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric and Intel, Hitachi will complete tests of secure connections between the OT
environment and service platform layer, as well as documenting the results of the effectiveness of testbed functions and the flow of operational data from the perspective of the front lines of manufacturing, by June 2017. After that,
Hitachi will conduct “use case” tests with IIC member companies and customers. Hitachi will offers a lineup of solutions that comprise products, services, consulting, and enterprise systems, such as SCM and ERP, as well as production systems, such as MES and SCADA. These solutions are based on expertise in core operations cultivated through collaboration with customers in the manufacturing industry, along with security technologies, the Big Data analysis tool “Pentaho”, and “Hitachi AI Technology/H” solutions, which utilize artificial intelligence (AI).
In May 2016, Hitachi began to provide the “Lumada,” IIoT platform, which combines the IT with OT applications that have been developed over many years. Lumada is comprised of open and versatile systems so it can be linked with
other platforms and systems in the manufacturing industry, as well as a range of other applications and industries. Hitachi will incorporate the results of these tests into Lumada, and contribute the results to the manufacturing industry with partners, such as OT device vendors, and application providers by connecting data from manufacturing with management, suppliers, and customers. Hitachi will also work with a variety of partners in Japan and globally to submit joint proposals to proliferation agencies in addition to the IIC.
ARC is confident that this collaboration between Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, and Intel will accelerate the IIoT adoption timetable of those companies’ respective installed bases, bringing the benefits of IIoT months or years before they would have been realized otherwise. As ARC has written in the past, the adoption and traction of any emerging technology in the marketplace is directly proportional to the size and strength of the technology’s ecosystem, and often “takes a village” of companies coming together to collaborate. ARC is encouraged to see this level of collaboration, even among traditional
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