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Interoperability is key to boosting Industry 4.0

IoT is helping to unleash a new age of digitalization across industries. From manufacturing to the home, the potential to increase connectivity and productivity across a range of sectors is massive and set to bring about new ways in which businesses operate and engage with their products and customers. All this is driving the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.

The word “smart,” from smart cities to smart factories, derives from this very revolution. These smart environments encompass a variety of devices and technologies, and we’re already seeing them today. Even in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, where automation and computerized control systems have been commonplace for many years, digitalization is driving massive levels of change. The challenge of integrating these legacy, mostly proprietary, systems that were not designed to communicate across production lines and functional areas means the journey toward Industry 4.0 should not be underestimated.

While digitalization is already well advanced in industrial environments, it is constrained by a lack of standards.

To make the most of this digital revolution, harness the full power of Industry 4.0 and capitalize on potential savings that automation will bring, companies need to federate IoT platforms and operating systems across multiple production lines and subsystems.

Interworking and interoperability

Many companies are still trying to gain a better understanding of how blending robotics, interconnected devices/systems and convergent hybrid infrastructure, together with edge and cloud/data center compute, can improve productivity and reduce costs in the long run. Add different vendors’ technology to the mix and a very complicated picture is painted.

Working to reduce this complexity is oneM2M, a global standard which hides technology complexities for IoT application developers through an abstraction layer and wide area network perspective. Its areas of expertise extend to the industrial sector, with a number of completed Technical Reports (TRs) and works in progress dedicated to this area. TR-0018 Industrial Domain Enablement, for example, maps out a number of use cases relating to Industry 4.0 development and the potential requirements which need to be addressed to ensure M2M communications truly enhance operations. Based on industrial domain research carried out, the document highlights the need to develop a common strategy for the implementation of Industry 4.0 as a means of accelerating the update of manufacturing systems that many global organizations have started to invest in.

Other completed projects dedicated to tackling the challenges of Industry 4.0 include TR-0027 Data Distribution Services usage in oneM2M and TR-0043 Modbus Interworking. Meanwhile, work is continuing on TR-0049 Industrial Domain Information Mapping & Semantics Support around proximal-distal interworking. Further support for industrial IoT applications is also expected to come when oneM2M publishes Release 3 later this year.

Industry collaboration

OneM2M also collaborates on a wider scale with other industry bodies on a wide range of projects. In its TR-0018 Industrial Domain Enablement report, oneM2M referenced several organizations and industry bodies with relevant activities in the area, including the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and Plattform Industrie 4.0 and their respective reference architectures including IIRS and RAMI 4.0. Cooperation with the IIC is already advancing through joint workshops and a oneM2M testbed. Cooperation with Plattform Industrie 4.0, the central alliance for the coordination of the digital structural transition in Germany, which includes stakeholders from businesses, associations, trade unions and academia, is another important alignment of technologies and concepts in the industrial domain, especially as the PI4.0 concept of an Asset Administration Shell and the oneM2M CSE are so complementary. OneM2M has incorporated results from Plattform Industrie 4.0’s Reference Architecture Model, Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0), into the TR-0018 Industrial Domain Enablement report. RAMI 4.0 provides a conceptual superstructure for organizational aspects of Industry 4.0, emphasizing collaboration infrastructures and communication structures. It also introduces the concept of an asset administration shell that incorporates detailed questions on key topics such as semantic standards, technical integration and security challenges.

Creating consistency and certainty

OneM2M’s joint work with key transformative actors to develop and deliver workshops, testbeds and reports, along with its own unique asset — the concept of a service layer on top of a connectivity layer — contributes significantly to the overall Industry 4.0 framework and industrial internet as a whole, ushering in a new wave of digitalization which will mark the beginning of Industry 4.0.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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