Yokogawa Looks to Collaboration to Develop IIoT Architecture

Feb. 3, 2017
As industry takes advantage of Internet of Things capabilities to improve manufacturing operations, it is highly unlikely that anybody will be able to go it alone.

Embracing what have become two key mechanisms in the successful development of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategies, Yokogawa Electric has announced its collaboration with four industry players throughout the IIoT ecosystem along with the development of a dedicated IIoT architecture.

We have seen several efforts from automation suppliers over the past year or so geared toward bringing their IIoT work into one umbrella strategy or architecture. There has also been much more emphasis on the need to work together with industry partners and even competitors to develop the necessary integrated know-how needed to implement full solutions.

Yokogawa set up the Architecture Development Division California in November to focus on developing a dedicated IIoT architecture. Now, according to its latest announcement, Yokogawa will work together with Microsoft, FogHorn Systems, Bayshore Networks and Telit IoT Platforms to integrate their technology into an IIoT architecture.

Though spurred on by advances in network technology, cloud computing and the availability of low-cost, large-capacity data communications, the use of IIoT technology presents technical and cost challenges. Yokogawa plans to bring its expertise in fields ranging from sensor technology to control logic and applications technology to bear to provide end-to-end solutions that incorporate sensing, control and cloud-based processing.

Technologies from Yokogawa’s four partners will also be instrumental in enabling the IIoT architecture, providing the ability to configure business process applications that enable plug-and-play sensors, sensing clouds with automatic provisioning, database clouds, historian (data storage) clouds and application development environments to work together.

Yokogawa’s Architecture Development Division California will lead the development of the architecture, which will integrate the cloud-based Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, FogHorn’s fog computing software, Bayshore’s security technology for the application layer, and Telit’s communication modules, sensor onboarding and device management.

“The IIoT architecture that Yokogawa will develop under this agreement will revolutionize the way in which value is delivered in sensing and plant information management,” said Tsuyoshi Abe, a Yokogawa vice president and head of marketing headquarters. “By working with these four companies, Yokogawa will rapidly establish its IIoT architecture.”

Software giant Microsoft has made a prominent name for itself in manufacturing lately as its Azure cloud platform becomes prevalent through many IIoT circles. The Microsoft Azure IoT Suite will enable Yokogawa to connect its devices, analyze previously untapped data and integrate business systems. The suite provides the functions required for the construction and use of Yokogawa’s IIoT architecture.

Yokogawa invested in Silicon Valley-based startup FogHorn Systems in July, helping to boost its development of core software for fog computing, which is expected to lead to new IoT applications. Fog computing is an architectural concept designed to avoid communication congestion by establishing a distributed computing layer between the cloud and devices in the field. It eliminates communication delays by processing certain data near the field devices and sending only essential information to the cloud.

With increased connectivity, of course, come increased cybersecurity concerns. Bayshore Networks—in which Yokogawa invested in November—develops industrial cybersecurity solutions offering visibility, control and protection for operational technology infrastructure and applications. Bayshore has several strategic partners in the IT sector.

Telit enables end-to-end IoT solutions, offering a broad portfolio of integrated IoT products and services, including cellular communication modules, IoT connectivity plans and IoT platform services. As a pure-play IoT company for more than 15 years, Telit helps reduce risk, time to market, complexity and costs for asset tracking, remote monitoring and control, telematics, industrial automation and predictive maintenance across many industries and vertical markets.

Under its co-innovation efforts, Yokogawa will also seek to expand more such partnerships throughout industry, Abe added.