The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has approved a testbed to study sensor-to-the-cloud connectivity.

The objective of such connectivity is to make sensor data available to information technology systems in near-real time, enabling advanced analytics. That ability could benefit manufacturing facilities by offering opportunities to increase efficiencies such as reducing energy consumption.

A testbed for connectivity will advance. A testbed for connectivity will advance. Unlike new deployments in which the appropriate connectivity can be designed in from the beginning, other approaches are required for "brownfield" installations.

The Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brownfield Sensors Testbed will introduce a retrofit hardware approach (called the Y-Gateway) that makes use of existing physical connectivity; extract sensor data from the automation system without impacting operations; deliver the sensor data to SAP's IT platform through a secure OT/IT communication based on IEC 62541 standards developed by OPC UA; and define and implement a common device model based on an available open standard to enable integration of an IO-Link sensor with IT, enabling the remote configuration of the sensor.

A testbed is a platform for conducting replicable tests of scientific theories, computational tools, and new technologies, and is often used in experimental research and new product development.

IIC executive director, Dr. Richard Soley, says that the consortium’s testbeds are where new technologies, applications, products, services, and processes of the industrial Internet can be initiated, thought through, and tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before coming to market.

The testbed will be led by IIC member TE Connectivity (TE), a maker of connectivity products and sensors. Also participating will be SAP, a maker of enterprise applications; IFM, a maker of sensors, controllers and systems for automation; and the OPC Foundation, a proponent of the industrial interoperability standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA).

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