In what industrial connectivity leader Hilscher is calling one of the most significant steps in its 30-year history, the company is setting out to make it easy for users to access the much-vaunted benefits of the Industrial Internet. With the next “Industrial Revolution” firmly in its sights, the company also kicked off its Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy with the announcement that it has become a member of the IBM Bluemix partnership program.
The company is introducing a family of IIoT products and solutions dubbed “Industrial Cloud Communications,” delivering a full bottom-to-top solution that can be deployed without risk and at controllable cost. The strategy involves extracting data from plant networks in parallel with existing control data flows so legacy systems and equipment are not impacted. Industrial Cloud Communications products and services promote the true merging of operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT) within enterprise architectures supporting the next step in how plants work.
The netIOT Industrial Cloud Communications portfolio brings the Industrial Internet within reach of device vendors, OEMs, system integrators and end users, allowing them to take full advantage of the business-enhancing potential of IIoT.
Hilscher CEO Hans-Jürgen Hilscher said, “We are uniquely experienced to move into this exciting marketplace. Hilscher has built its reputation on supplying protocol interfacing products that support all popular automation networks. We have our own netX chip family of protocol converters and we are very familiar with real-time operating systems. When researching the IIoT market’s needs, we quickly realized that IoT gateways by themselves are not the full answer. We have therefore chosen to deliver a family of products and services that can be easily deployed at low risk to current working methods. Our partnership with IBM will help customers leverage IBM Bluemix solutions. Our strategy facilitates deployment of the Industrial Internet by connecting device data from the plant floor to the Industrial Cloud for better data-driven decision-making.”
The netIOT Solutions family encompasses three product segments:
- netIOT Interface Modules: For embedding IoT connectivity in low level devices such as sensors and enabling the direct connection of sensor data to the cloud. In effect this brings the Industrial Internet right down to the plant floor.
- netIOT Edge-Gateways: Three products for connecting data from popular Industrial Ethernet networks to the cloud, offering various levels of performance in terms of security, speed and capacity. Protocols such as MQTT and OPC UA are already embedded. Wireless connectivity means smart mobile devices such as tablets and phones can be used to access field devices for configuration and diagnostics.
- netIOT Service: A range of options providing IoT users with ways to enter the IoT market and gain experience. netIOT Studio supports data selection and IoT configuration. Modules covering diagnostics and predictive maintenance are being developed and a series of partnerships with major cloud-based suppliers is being established. netIOT Edge-Gateways are already configured to work with IBM’s Bluemix solutions. A number of other partnerships with cloud-based suppliers are expected to be announced during 2016.
Hilscher’s Business Development Manager Armin Pühringer said, “Our netIOT Edge-Gateways connect field data with Bluemix platforms and applications supplied “as-a-service” by IBM. Customers can buy these services on an as-needed basis today. Our migration paths ensure existing systems and equipment are not obsoleted. Importantly, our Edge-Gateways also offer Bluemix system integrators immediate access to manufacturing data, extending our normal market coverage. We are proud to be one of the first companies to launch a significant product range in what is predicted to become a massive market.
“The IIoT market is here and growing,” he added. “We urge users to start now and gain experience as the gap between production and IT gets ever smaller.”