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Microsoft – OPC Foundation partnership

Microsoft Corporation announced it is working with the OPC Foundation to enable industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) scenarios through interoperability between millions of applications and industrial equipment, compliant with the OPC UA standard. Microsoft will further enable its IIoT customers to connect a range of manufacturing equipment and software that can span decades of investment with extended support of the OPC UA open source software stack.

Interoperability between devices and assets is critical for today’s factories, which are increasingly bringing new and legacy systems online and modernizing their plants and facilities. OPC UA provides a standardized communication, security, and metadata and semantics abstraction for the majority of industrial equipment. It is also a gateway to cloud-enabled industrial equipment, including data and device management, insights, and machine learning capabilities for equipment that was not designed with these capabilities.

Microsoft’s support for the OPC UA open source software stack spans its IoT offerings, from local connectivity with Windows devices to cloud connectivity via the Microsoft Azure platform. Integration with Azure IoT allows customers to easily send OPC UA telemetry data to the Azure cloud, as well as to command and control their OPC UA devices remotely from the Azure cloud. In addition, Windows 10 devices running the Universal Windows Platform can connect and openly communicate with other IoT devices via OPC UA.

Harting wins Hermes Award

The Harting Technology Group was the recipient of this year’s Hermes Award—one of the world’s most prestigious industrial innovation prizes. Harting received the award for its modular industry computing architecture (MICA) product—an open platform consisting of embedded hardware and software that serves as a central component in the Industry 4.0 environment. Because of its combination of established Linux technologies, the product allows users to virtualize field devices and add customizable hardware components that communicate via USB. MICA can be operated using Power over Ethernet. Each MICA unit contains a TPM chip and supports both SSL and VPN, allowing secure authentication and communication between the various MICA modules.

The jury, chaired by Wolfgang Wahlster, PhD, director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), was impressed by the concept of lightweight virtualization using Linux-based containers. MICA implements these on compact field devices and makes it possible to add intelligence to existing machines and equipment.

“By installing numerous integrated MICA modules, which essentially represent the nervous system of a digitized factory, an existing plant can be gradually migrated over to Industry 4.0, shortening the time needed for product changeovers along the way,” commented Wahlster.

The award was presented at the HANNOVER MESSE opening ceremony on 24 April.

The other companies nominated for the award were BLOCK Transformatoren-Elektronik GmbH (Verden, Germany), DDM Systems (Atlanta, Ga.), ITM Power (South Yorkshire, U.K.), and J. Schmalz GmbH (Glatten, Germany).

Common industrial cloud interface standards

ODVA will develop standards for the gateway and interface technology needed to transport data between the cloud and CIP-enabled industrial control systems (ICSs) populated with EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet devices. Ultimately, this work will result in the Common Industrial Cloud Interface Specification.

ODVA’s scope of work for developing the Common Industrial Cloud Interface will encompass two elements in the ecosystem for the industrial cloud: a cloud gateway appliance (gateway) and an application program interface for the transport of data from the gateway to the cloud and from the cloud back to the ICS and its devices. Based on open and interoperable standards supported by multiple vendors, the interface will accelerate an architectural transformation inclusive of cloud computing to support device management, process analytics, notifications, remote access, virtualization, visualization, and, in the future, control. ODVA has an agnostic view of its cloud ecosystem with respect to the deployment of cloud computing resources in off-premise, on-premise, public, private, or hybrid models. The organization’s scope of work for the interface excludes services and applications within the cloud itself.

Cybersecurity operation centers

Siemens opened cybersecurity operation centers in Lisbon, Munich, and Milford, Ohio, for the protection of industrial facilities. Industrial security specialists at these sites monitor industrial facilities all around the world for cyberthreats, warn companies of security incidents, and coordinate proactive countermeasures. These protective measures are part of Siemens’ plant security services.

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