How IOTA is enabling Industry 4.0

Quite recently, one of the world’s biggest industrial fairs (Hannover Messe, Germany) ended and it was centered around one big topic:

http://www.hannovermesse.de/home

Industry 4.0 plus the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT, which links the trends mentioned above) with Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) being the driving force. Why is that? In a nutshell, it makes production a lot faster, cheaper and more secure. This is common sense among all the big (and small) players of the industrial sector and is also the reason for putting a lot of money into development in this regard.

However, the topic of DLT is still unknown territory to many business men and women. Moreover, it has not been decided yet which technology will succeed as the new “http” of the industry (meaning a common protocol for all of the future transactions and applications); nobody (!) is interested in having a Google system next to an Apple blockchain next to an Amazon approach and so on.

So what we have is an obvious trend in the industry which still needs a base layer in order to connect the different industries.

The only technology which is 1) aimed at this whole IIoT-market and 2) already has partnerships which have resulted in 3) working products is IOTA. There is simply no other DLT which has the built-in features to enable fast transactions and scalability without any fees or mining (1000 transactions per second is the goal for 2018; VISA/Mastercard have about 2000…).

Cryptocurrencies — with Bitcoin leading the field- have always had the problem of lacking real-world use cases; with IOTA, it is different and in the following I want to show you, why.

1. Fujitsu

1.1. Smart factories

Fujitsu, whose Head-of-Central Europe Dr. Rolf Werner is part of the IOTA Foundation, presented at the Hannover Fair a small version of how they envision a future smart factory:

IOTA is being used here as the underlying ledger for any sort of information which is transferred during the production process. Data is collected, stored (in a tamper-proof fashion) and visualized using IOTA technology and thus enables a full audit-trail which renders manipulation impossible and thus a thing of the past.

It is noteworthy to listen to what the people at Fujitsu think about the technology as such:

“Fujitsu is having a stake in this game”

Now you might say that this is a nice little demo; however, Fujitsu is already preparing the next step: while talking about what IOTA actually is, he mentioned the following:

And, of course, we are here those who feel really at home in this context. Because we are not only one of the largest IT providers worldwide but we are also the ones that are the only manufacturer in this country. And so we have a location in Augsburg [Germany] that already has all that is needed for the smart factory. Source

Another Fujitsu official told the media that the supply chain management has already been integrated at the Augsburg factory (although he does not mention IOTA specifically, but you can do the math yourself).

1.2. How it is realized

Fujitsu does not simply use IOTA out-of-the-box, but they have implemented it into their product portfolio. Back in February it became evident that Fujitsu is integrating IOTA into its IoT-Suite IntelliEdge:

As can be seen from the following picture, the Full Node is connected to Fujitsu’s own cloud system called K5:

So for an interested customer it is now easy to make use of this whole infrastructure: the audit trail is tamper-proof, production data is accessible and ready to be used for improving the overall-structure plus the technology itself is fast, scalable and does not cost any fees whatsoever.

But this is not the only way in which Fujitsu wants to makes use of IOTA’s ledger called the Tangle.

1.2. Biometrical Authentication

Fujitsu has developed a technology called PalmSecure:

PalmSecure by Fujitsu is an authentication system that utilizes the latest in biometric security technology. Answering a worldwide need from governments to the private sector, PalmSecure is a contactless, palm-vein device offers an easy-to use, hygienic solution for verifying identity.
The palm vein device works by capturing a person’s vein pattern image while radiating it with near-infrared rays. The deoxidized haemoglobin in the palm vein absorbs these rays, thereby reducing the reflection rate and causing the veins to appear as a black pattern. This vein pattern is then verified against a pre-registered pattern to authenticate the individual. Source

At the Hannover Messe, some more details came to light of how this will be used in a real-world scenario by a startup called I AM PASS:

iampass.io

As far as security is concerned, there is one decisive advantage of using the palm of the hand instead of a fingerprint:

If you are interested in what kind of data can be stored, you can have a look at a sample transaction here:

Moreover, at least one concrete area of application is now clear:

So the idea is obviously to put such a vein scanner into a car (Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh is CEO of a startup called E.GO which is already building electrical vehicles. He was also co-founder in 2010 of the company called Streetscooter who has equipped the German Post with electrical vehicles which are are being used nation-wide in Germany).

One could also imagine Johann Jungwirth, CDO at Volkswagen and also member of the IOTA-Foundation, being very enthusiastic about implementing this at Volkswagen — however, this is speculation for the time being.

The tweet above leads us to another interesting project:

2. RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

RWTH is the largest technical university in Germany. By the way: Prof.Dr. Günther Schuh is the executive director at RWTH so he certainly knows the following project as well:

The tweet’s author is not only working for WZL (Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering at RWTH), but also a member of the IOTA Evangelist Network. He has promoted the project on several occasions and this is what it is about:

The Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of RWTH Aachen University is currently researching the “Internet of Production” — the core of the Industrial Internet of Things, which paves the way into a future era of production. […]
In this context, the suitability of current technologies for transferring and implementing the vision of the Internet of Production into industrial practice is evaluated. “The multidimensional Directed-Acyclic-Graph (DAG) technology developed by the non-profit IOTA Foundation based in Berlin represents a more promising component of a novel machine-to-machine communication whose suitability for an industrial application is to be independently developed and tested by our researchers,” said Dr.-Ing. Daniel Trauth, chief engineer at the Chair of Manufacturing Technology and Head of the Machine Learning in Production Engineering working group at the WZL.
Generated information is formed into the multilateral and high-volume digital shadow of production. Pattern recognition follows through precise and continuous data analysis. Pattern recognition enables predictive decision support as a second step on the way to controlled production. Systematic learning from the data creates the considerable additional benefit of the Internet of Production. Agile, highly iterative product development becomes just as possible as the fast, error-free implementation of a “change request” in series production. The competitive advantage of aggregated information in real time enables new dimensions of adaptation and agility in implementation.
Compared to blockchain-based systems, DAG (“Tangle”) technology offers the possibility of transporting and storing data points in a tamper-proof, manufacturer-independent and fast manner. In contrast to classic blockchain technologies, IOTA knows no transaction fees and thus enables business models that re-quire the exchange of nanopayments, i.e. the loss-free settlement of very small amounts.
Specifically, an industrial fineblanking system “Feintool XFT 2500speed“ at the Chair of Manufacturing Technology will be used as an example to investigate how individual process states, production steps and component properties can be mapped digitally in a distributed supply chain network. This will enable customers of fineblanking technology to trace the production history for the first time.
[…]
The project starts in April 2018. Source: Press release.

Having read this you might see the resemblance to what Fujitsu showed at the Hannover Messe: Companies can now make use of IOTA’s ledger (Tangle) to store their production-relevant data on:

In this context, a digital value chain, which is now being used with IOTA, is presented in such a way that process states, production steps and component properties are digitally mapped in a networked value chain for every component produced by the fineblanking machine. With the ability of DLTs to be unalterable, and the ability to pay for IOTA’s unique data streams / data sets, IOTA’s Tangle provides a promising basis for a digital connected value chain. Source.

If you want to know more about how this technically works, read the following article:

Considering the fact that this is the largest and among the most renowned technical universities of Germany, it will be more than interesting to see what results and consequences will follow from this research with regard to IOTA’s industry implementation.

But RWTH does not do this whole project on its own, but is supported by:

3. Grandcentrix

We are the leading system integrator and app agency for large-scale Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (“Industry 4.0”), and Smart Products solutions. Source.

In other words, this company is THE choice for IOTA to enter the field of IIoT in Germany and beyond.

GRANDCENTRIX IOT CORE PROTOCOLS AND COMPETENCIES

Notice that global players like Qualcomm as well as Apple’s HomeKit are mentioned as partners here.

Among the customers of Grandcentrix are the following companies:

  • IoT platform for Viessmann ($2.37bn in sales & 12,000 employees in 2017; mainly heating, ventilating and air conditioning
  • IoT platform and Product Design for Miele ($4.37bn revenue & 19,500 employees in 2017; German manufacturer of high-end domestic appliances)
  • iOS app for Migros (CHF 27.41bn revenue & 100,000 employees in 2017, Switzerland’s largest retail company, its largest supermarket chain and largest employer)
  • myOBI (customer loyalty software) for OBI (€6.7bn revenue & 42,000 employes in 2015; largest DIY retailer in Europe, and the third largest in the world, behind The Home Depot and Lowe’s)
  • Apps + OnDemand-solutions for RTL (one of Germany’s most famous TV channels)

Again, IOTA has not only managed to establish a partnership with the company as such, but its CEO Ralf Rottmann has recently joined the IOTA-Foundation. What this means with regard to IOTA’s business connections is obvious.

4. DXC

The following news reached most people without any “warning”:

The world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company ($25bn revenue & 170,000 employees) has released a separate press release regarding the IOTA partnership:

NEWS RELEASE — APRIL 19, 2018
[…] The live demo by DXC Technology, together with Berlin-based IOTA, will present practical solutions using blockchain technology integral for secure digital transformation services. Martin Rainer, manufacturing industry leader, DXC Technology North and Central Europe, noted that this presentation will show that digital security has become a reality and is no longer a future vision from the research library.
“According to survey results of the DXC study on digital transformation in Germany, 67 percent of industrial managers in Germany expect smart factory networks to create new security risks that they cannot manage with their own expertise,” said Rainer. “At the same time, preventing digital security risks ranks as top priority for three-quarters of companies. Yet, most companies don’t know how to professionally secure the new Industry 4.0 networks.”
DXC Technology’s partner IOTA, with its distributed ledger technology, provides a security technology for mass data processing. This secure technology enables advanced Industry 4.0 networking with sensors and allows for the outcome of big data streams to be safely handled. Such a security solution is applicable to M2M communication, which is part of the new digital partner networks.
DXC’s expertise in information technology and know-how of production facilities makes it an ideal integration partner for IOTA’s blockchain technology.[…]
Blockchain technology offers great possibilities that are key for companies to overcome one of the main obstacles on their path to transformation: making the digital world safe and secure. Source.

The working product could be seen at the Hannover Industrial Fair showing IOTA-based automation:

Again, a huge company has found IOTA to be reasonable choice for realizing their goals. Let’s wait for more real world applications which will result from this partnership. Yet the list of interesting projects continues.

5. Innoenergy

Among the most recent announcements of the IOTA Foundation is the following partnership.

It is about a Memorandum of Understanding (similar to the MoU with Taipei) between the IOTA Foundation and InnoEnergy Scandinavia (InnoEnergy). The latter has partnered with ÖrebroBostäder (ÖBO), one of Sweden’s largest public building owners, to implement a series of pilot testbed facilities including EVe which is being delivered as part of the E-REGIO project.

As part of this partnership, the IOTA Foundation will streamline access to its Tangle technology to strengthen InnoEnergy and ÖBO’s capabilities in order to implement pilots and explore smart community business models. The IOTA Foundation will also bridge its growing global ecosystem of established corporations and startups to the possibility of testing smart IOTA enabled products on the testbeds. Source.

One of these testbeds bas become famous for being the world’s first IOTA charging station (by ElaadNL):

InnoEnergy has a lot of partners, which in case of a successful undertaking with IOTA will certainly get in contact with the technology (among the partners are companies such as Vattenfall, many European universities, Fraunhofer Institute, EnBW and Schneider Electric).

So looking at all of these examples one can certainly say that IOTA has managed to find its way into the heart of big companies which are willing to integrate it due to its technical superiority. Of course, this is all still in beta stage, but considering the speed with which people are added to the IOTA Foundation (almost 60 people employed so far), making IOTA the standard protocol for IIoT and IoT could happen sooner than most people think: the demand is there and there are not many real competitors around.

You may also read my other articles.

IOTA donations are always welcome:

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