Government led coalitions from around the globe are focused on manufacturing leadership. Whether it’s the US with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0, Germany with Industrie 4.0, Manufacturing Innovation 3.0 in Korea, or the China Manufacturing 2025 initiative, they all share a common vision, to increase manufacturing efficiency. As I read through my favorite industry news sources, I am finding more and more references to activities in-progress that are positioned to contribute to this world-wide goal. One activity which will no doubt be part of the solution was described in a recent ARC Advisory Group Strategies Report. In Planning for the Industrial Internet of Things, (IIoT) the path forward for the Industrial Internet of Things is described as, “providing remote access to connected machines and devices to enable transformative operational and process performance improvements”. Today, the industrial automation industry is enabling users to put the right infrastructure in place to progressively reap the benefits from a higher degree of remote access and connectedness.
The IIoT has increased requirements and technical complexities beyond the Internet of Things to handle the real-time nature of the industrial data that allows intelligent devices to analyze data to predict impending failures, or interact with other devices to create smarter sub-systems. As the IIoT evolves and we apply similar concepts to global manufacturing, we need to recognize the opportunities for improvement that still exist with the broader implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether it is a smart thermostat, baby camera, home networking router, or refrigerator, the awareness of the important role of network segmentation, defense in depth and general awareness of internal and external security threats is growing. So while someone tapping into a baby monitor is scary, someone gaining real-time access to critical infrastructure could have more severe implications.
For manufacturing efficiency to improve we all need to enter the conversation – automation users, IT, equipment providers, and implementers to define the key resources for a secure industrial infrastructure. Together, we will focus on using existing proven elements and fill the gaps to strengthen the solution. The FDT Group’s mission centers on developing a standardized, open, but secure integration approach for devices and networks for manufacturers. As a result, we expect to play a crucial role in the IIoT with our applicability across industrial communication networks, automation systems, and device suppliers. Industry leaders, including FDT Group leadership, are engaging with technical experts from a diverse mix of suppliers, foundations and service providers in order to better understand the needs to fully enable safe, secure industrial networks. We will be taking what we know today along with technical solutions currently available and connect that to opportunities that still lie “over the horizon”. We see additional opportunity to build bridges between established technologies to strengthen the IIoT; for example, FDT is working with other standards bodies to find a method to universally enable and abstract device connectivity. Moving forward, the FDT Group is actively pursuing enhancements that will help improve manufacturing with a more agile, more productive environment.
As we experience the transformative operational and performance improvements delivered with IIoT, we will begin to interact with our manufacturing assets in new ways. Although, I believe the personal computer will be part of the landscape for many years, we cannot ignore the influence of mobile platforms such as smart phones and tablets. Two numbers that I am looking at, indicate we will be able to increase our level of interaction with manufacturing assets. 1.) The number of mobile devices in use has surpassed the installed base of PCs. 2.) Mobile device shipments will outpace traditional PCs in 2015. Fortunately, the FDT Group is already working towards understanding the requirements and use cases for mobile device connectivity to the industrial shop floor. Later this year we will be mapping mobility requirements into the FDT standard to enable device management ‘on-the-go’. I invite you to share your thoughts on how you and your staff want to interact with industrial field devices on mobile platforms. Visit our mobility survey at mobilitysurvey.fdtgroup.org. We want to hear from you!
The quest for increased productivity will take us down many new paths, parts that could challenge some of us for years to come. I am energized by our shared ambition to increase manufacturing efficiency. At our recent FDT General Assembly held on the grounds of Hannover Messe on April 15, 2015, FDT member companies joined together to hear about additional initiatives and changes to the FDT Group organization and technology including; board leadership transitions, announcement of a life cycle policy, an emphasis on security, inclusion of support for mobile platforms, FDT2 certification, and FDI Device Package integration into FDT host applications. To learn more about these evolving ventures, please review my short General Assembly video presentation that outlines these topics. FDT Technology is a leader in device and network integration. Supported by leading suppliers and end users in the process and discrete industries, the FDT Group remains committed to providing open standards and tools that enable the future of industrial automation. Having enhanced and evolved the FDT standard since the late 1990’s, we are continuously listening to the industry. We encourage you to be heard and take an active role in the FDT Group. Consider your impact! Learn about FDT Group membership and the benefits that allow you to help direct the technology by visiting http://www.fdtgroup.org/membership-benefits.
- Lee Lane
Chairman of the FDT Board of Directors