AsianScientist (Feb. 4, 2020) – The convergence of the digital and physical worlds—a hallmark of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—requires a ‘glue’ to hold the many moving parts together. That ‘glue’ can take the form of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices that essentially record events in the physical realm and convert them into a stream of data uploaded to the web. IoT therefore bridges IRL (in real life) and URL to create new ways of working and opportunities for business growth.
The industrial applications of IoT run the gamut from predictive maintenance of factory machinery to environmental sensing. Each use case is differentiated by the type of sensors used, the data collected, and the way that data is analyzed for insights.
To get the most value out of IoT deployments, Dr. Guido Jouret, chief digital officer at ABB, highlighted the importance of IoT platforms that use common software technologies and services to host a variety of data sources.
“Platforms help facilitate data flow, management and automation for all IoT applications using only one system, making IoT integration simpler and more cost-effective for businesses.”
However, 75 percent of industrial IoT (IIoT) platforms available today provide little more beyond connectivity and data collection, he added. The deep analytics and insights portion is often missing, and this is a critical gap that the ABB Ability™ suite of digital solutions and services can fill.
“Unlike our competitors’ offerings, after data collection, ABB Ability™ analyzes the data and then takes the appropriate action,” said Dr Jouret.
More than the sum of its parts
With more than 70 million connected devices and 70,000 control systems installed across the globe, ABB has, over the course of a century, built up strong expertise in the field of IIoT. The ABB Ability™ suite of solutions is a manifestation of this know-how and consists of four layers: devices and sensors, automation systems, plant/enterprise solutions and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
The devices and sensors layer allows for continuous monitoring of the status of complex technical systems. The data collected is then analyzed to reveal whether the systems are performing to expectations.
Outcomes of the analyses are displayed to operators who, together with ABB experts, will be able to identify operational parameters that are deviating from expected values and therefore be empowered to address disturbances in a timely manner. Subsequent layers—automation systems and plant/enterprise solutions—facilitate corrective actions, closing the sense-analyze-act loop, while access to the Azure cloud platform makes it possible to perform off-site analytics and increases the versatility of ABB Ability™ to meet clients’ unique needs.
“With IoT, a solution is not always one particular product, but rather a collaboration of offerings. It sounds simple, but this could be one of the most disruptive changes in the IoT platform market,” Dr. Jouret explained
Keeping operations secure
In addition to functionality and optimization of operations, the security of IIoT systems weighs heavily on the minds of enterprise owners in the digital-industrial space. According to internet security firm F-Secure’s Attack Landscape H1 2019 report, the number of cyberattacks that took place in the first half of 2019 was twelve times higher than the same period in 2018, with the surge largely driven by IoT-related attacks.
“Cybersecurity is critical across industries, and many underestimate IoT as an important part of the solution,” said Dr. Jouret, adding that “ABB specifically sees opportunity to lead industry-wide correction of operational technology threat mitigation and response [which include guidelines to protect IIoT infrastructure].”
ABB thus co-founded the Operational Technology CyberSecurity Alliance (OTCSA) in October 2019 with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Check Point Software and BlackBerry Cylance.
“While other alliances focus on cybersecurity education and standards, OTCSA gives operators actual resources to lessen cyber risk, as well as protection if an attack does occur,” Dr. Jouret noted.
ABB Ability™, for example, affords enterprises secure connections for IIoT deployments and multi-layered protections for their data.
A bespoke solution
While technology stacks and secure IT infrastructure are among ABB’s strengths, its approach towards unlocking business value with IIoT is arguably what makes it stand out from other platform providers.
“ABB takes a different stance on IoT business value compared to some of our competitors—we recognize that direct platform sales aren’t as financially viable or useful as having a differentiated solutions-first approach,” said Dr. Jouret. “We need to first ask customers and partners about their current challenges, and then find a way to reach a solution.”
Hence ABB focuses on differentiation in key areas like scale, availability, deployment flexibility, diverse resource support and interoperability to provide clients with technology that is fit-for-purpose. With this strategy, Dr. Jouret is confident that ABB—with its ABB Ability™ platform—will be able to help its clients and partners thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“It is inevitable that IoT platforms will be the underlying engine for innovation. It is the simplest, most cost-effective offering for businesses adapting to increased digitalization,” he said.
Asian Scientist Magazine is a media partner of ABB.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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