The next wave of innovation in the Industrial Internet of Things may not come directly from a major name in the industry space. The next big thing may actually be a small thing from the dozens of start-up software and solutions companies that are all aiming at delivering on IIoT’s promise of a digital factory.
Many of those small companies have had a large presence at the fifth IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona. These companies are building on the long-standing tools in manufacturing systems, such as sensors and PLCs and databases, to generate a new age of digital information. Two of their challenges are to be heard above the steady noise of their competitors and to find partnerships who can click their open-source solution to others and form a more robust software offering.
“One of the key benefits of open-source systems is that developers can test the software first,” said Paul Dix, founder and chief technology officer of San Francisco-based InfluxData. “With open source, people at the ground floor of an organization can test things out. From there, you can talk to the vendor and start to build a commercial relationship to manage or run the system.”
InfluxData’s software collects, stores, analyzes and enriches the data from industrial systems, then works with existing programs to create visualization of the data for the workforce. The company works with partners such as PTC Thingworx to take its software offering and pair it with other compatible solutions.
“Users today are getting more and more ability to slice and dice data in more ways,” Dix said.
“There are different ways to visualize data—scatter plots, bar charts –but that doesn’t change the analysis. You have to know what you want to visualize. You’re actually collecting more data than you want to visualize.
“What happens next is that you start building automated systems to look for anomalies in the data and predictive machine failure,” Dix continued. “Future system won’t be all-cloud or all-edge. It will be more like the distributed structure of the internet itself. Future systems will collect and process data at the edge with high precision, and then there also will be centralized cloud data storage for later analysis, and those systems will interact with each other.”
That idea is at the center of the IOT Solutions World Congress and its growth, said Roger Bou, technology business director of Fira de Barcelona, which stages the Congress. “In the IoT industry, no one can have solutions end-to-end,” Bou noted. “We’ve been able to build high-level content to help build IoT solutions for the industry.”
Fira de Barcelona works in conjunction with the Industrial Internet Consortium to bring the event each year to Spain. “IIC builds the Congress,” said the organization president, William Hoffman. “Start each year with a clean sheet of paper on how to build the program. We’ve tied the solutions for the real world.”