unternehmen & trends DIGITAL

As a current study [1] has shown, the major- ity of industrial enterprises is actively push- ing forward the implementation of IIoT initi- atives. Most enterprises recognize IIoT as an enabler of digital transformation. However, a number of the respondents is still strug- gling with the implementation. They often find it hard to get started with IIoT projects and subsequently realize them in a profita- ble way. Reasons include security concerns, high complexity and challenges in adhering to budgets. Nevertheless, enterprises are anything but discouraged by these challeng- es, as three quarters of the companies are planning to implement an IIoT project in the twelve months to come. To succeed, the or- ganizations should take current technological trends into account, as the developments in IoT platforms, edge computing, artificial in- telligence, machine learning and security are very dynamic and provide a variety of oppor- tunities to enterprises. In addition, the mobile providers operating in Germany have started the nationwide establishment of their 5G net- works. The IIoT-friendly application profiles of the new mobile communications standard will render some use cases for Industrial IoT more attractive. To enable meaningful analyses, the end devic- es have to be networked in a secure way, data from end devices and other sources have to be collected and merged into a joint data re- cord and subsequently be prepared for the analysis. These tasks are performed by IIoT platforms; they provide several advantages to manufacturing enterprises, which deploy a particular large variety of end devices and sensors using multiple standards and proto- cols. More and more enterprises realize that IIoT platforms simplify the management of IoT environments, as 30 percent of organizations are using them already and another 55 per- cent are planning to use them. A central IoT platform is not always the right place to process the data. Sometimes, the transaction time is too long for the intended purpose, in other enterprises, an unstable internet connection prevents external data processing or compliance provisions do not allow for data processing outside the en- terprise network. For these scenarios, edge computing provides a useful complementa- tion or alternative to core or cloud processing. For example, 12 percent of the respondent enterprises across all industries were using edge computing at the end of 2018, with the rate being considerably higher in Germany, amounting to 24 percent according to the current study. Thus, industry in Germany shows that “time to value“ is of considera- ble importance, which can be reduced by transferring the data analysis to the place where the data is originated. Thus, the sig- nificant acceleration in transactions or even real-time processing are the major drivers for more than one third of the enterprises. An- other benefit of edge computing is that the potentially large amounts of data do not have to leave the organization, reducing the costs compared to the analysis in the cloud and releasing capacities for other analysis in the company’s own data center. The German Edge Cloud, a newly estab- lished company as part of the Friedhelm Loh group, has installed an intelligent edge, the GEC Edge ITaaS platform, for several cus- tomers already. This platform is collecting the data points of all machines, PLCs and MES systems right on the shop floor, that means from various automatic welding ma- chines, conveyor belts, AGVs or other pro- duction equipment. Edge Cloud By Dr.-Ing. Olaf Sauer, Automation Division/Deputy of the Institute Director, Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB) and Dr. Sebastian Ritz, CEO German Edge Cloud GmbH & Co. KG The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provides added value to enterprises by collecting and processing data about machines, material flow systems or stocks, for example. This enables organizations to improve business processes or to develop new business models. The increasing interconnection between systems, equipment and sensors will result in a growing amount of data produced and exchanged inside and outside an enterprise in the future. IIoT applications will then process this data further, thus adding value. 32  Unternehmen & Trends Graphic: © Atelier Friedemann Bruns S H A R E