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SCADA or IIoT Platform

Beyond SCADA: Consolidating Your OT with an IIoT Platform

Along with MES, SCADA is today’s most widely used system in manufacturing facilities. Industrial enterprises use SCADA as a process control system to monitor data acquisition processes and oversee various related workflows. The data coming from OT devices is taken in by SCADA systems and integrated into the SCADA ecosystem as applications covering a range of use cases for the shop floor. So why does an industrial IoT platform still make sense here? 

One downside of SCADA is that these systems are not made for rapid scaling. They do not accommodate change so easily. Most of the time, the processes are slow and inflexible. Further, the data collection processes, though robust, have their limitations. They are usually only suited for monitoring, supervision, and sending out alerts at best. More sophisticated analytics or use cases based on machine learning are out of reach. 

Another challenge comes from the Operational Technology (OT) devices as such. OT stands for the hardware-and-software bundle within an organisation that takes care of monitoring and control. It encompasses devices, processes, and pre-defined key events on the shop floor. Each organisation has a wide range of industrial assets, most of them highly heterogeneous. So the greatest quandary is consolidating these and making them all work in concert. Preferably, this takes place from within a single venue that can serve as the organisation’s data hub and a single source of truth for insight delivery.

Discover the IIoT Platform by Record Evolution

The Record Evolution API

The Bottom Line

One answer to this is an overarching IIoT platform solution that gives companies a solid foundation for iterative processes and enables seamless scalability to thousands of devices. At Record Evolution, we make it a priority to ensure a smooth journey from connecting heterogeneous edge devices and systems, ingesting and processing the IoT data, all the way to building machine learning models and visualising complex insights in custom dashboards. 

This way, industrial enterprises are best positioned to collect IoT data from any asset. Further, they can reliably store that data. This approach safeguards organisation-wide data accessibility at all times and sets the ground for complex analytics. 

How Do You Consolidate All Your Industrial Assets? 

Consolidating industrial assets and safeguarding transparency across different OT units is the very foundation of streamlined operations on the shop floor. The industrial IoT platform by Record Evolution helps you get there. It abstracts all the complexity of the process and allows you to scale fast. Starting with connecting the OT assets, you benefit from a hardware-independent infrastructure. This allows you to reach any device, IPC, system, and piece of equipment thanks to container technology. 

Solving Typical OT Challenges

This way, the platform effectively overcomes the most typical challenges when it comes to tying up the loose ends within an organisation and unifying OT (and IT along the way):

  • Brownfield integration. Full inclusion of any brownfield assets including legacy devices, systems, and industrial equipment by different vendors.
  • Data collection from multiple heterogeneous sources. The ability to tap into IoT data coming from any data source and harmonise that data, effectively combating data silos. 
  • Edge data management capabilities. Processes in place to securely extract, load, and store the incoming IoT data, making it available where it is needed. 
  • Complete integration within the existing infrastructure. Eliminating the need for complex system integration scenarios. 
  • Full transparency and collaborative capabilities, allowing effective knowledge exchange within and across manufacturing sites. 

This makes for a fully consolidated OT layer, providing a solid basis for building applications and perfecting existing use cases. Once on the platform, the collected IoT data is readily available to various functions within the organisation. Data can be consumed immediately to serve different departments as their needs dictate.  

Record Evolution combines data democratisation with a hardware-agnostic, any-protocol, any-programming language approach to device connectivity. 

The data collected from edge devices is stored securely, with device logs ensuring a transparent audit trail at all times. Raw or processed, data can be stored in the cloud thanks to a comprehensive data studio with advanced visualisation capabilities. The platform’s RESTful API enables integration with a wealth of additional services and BI tools. This translates into even more sophisticated infographics, data transformation tasks, and algorithm building. 

The Next Step: Achieving Seamless Scalability

An effective IIoT platform can enhance existing OT capabilities. But it can also start from scratch, bringing together isolated assets and putting the high availability of enterprise data at the forefront. The first step towards scalability is connecting to each and every data-generating asset to the platform. 

From Data to Process

The data is then extracted, unified, and stored securely on the platform. This way, it can be immediately consumed and used for a variety of tasks. These may range from instant visualisations or performing queries on the data all the way to building IoT apps based on sophisticated machine learning models. The apps can be rolled out back to the IoT edge to serve a variety of functions. These may span from simple monitoring and control tasks, reporting on key parameters, overseeing that specific KPIs are met, and ultimately improving overall operational efficiency. 

Taking it from here, you build an iterative process where you continually improve on the existing cycle to realise more ROI faster. This is how you build a robust process starting with feeding the relevant IoT data into the IIoT platform engine.

 Expanding across Multiple Sites

Record Evolution makes it easy to not simply implement the established cycles within one manufacturing site but also expand across multiple locations, creating an even larger network of connected assets streaming IoT data. This level of transparency makes it possible for teams to glean insights and respond to outliers faster, bringing forth improvements and anticipating where change is needed. 

Thanks to its robust edge management capabilities, the IIoT platform by Record Evolution delivers device monitoring and control across manufacturing sites, app management with instant deployments and OTA updates, and a solid data management capability that allows enterprises to collect and unify data from multiple locations. 

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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

Beyond SCADA: Consolidating Your OT with an IIoT Platform Read More »

asset tracking IoT

Asset Tracking: How to Make Sure Your IoT Platform Got It All Covered?

Advances in asset tracking technologies are revolutionising industrial manufacturing, logistics, supply chain management, and many others. But how can you make sure that your organisation is investing in the right IoT platform? After all, you need an offering that can deliver the full spectrum of asset tracking capabilities and serve as the long-term foundation for your industrial use cases. We have looked into the details so that you can make the most of your IoT investment. 

The ability to locate your assets at any time and trace their movements can make all the difference in mission-critical situations that call for fast decision-making. Once a viable asset tracking system is in place, organisations can begin to reap the benefits of improved supply chain operations, better transparency on the shop floor, or a comprehensive overview of the flow of goods in storage facilities. 

To get there, however, the first step is to select an IoT platform that can cover all the critical capabilities that make a successful asset tracking solution. Further, to stay on top of changing technologies and the shifting demands of your own business, you will need a solution that is open-ended and allows you to build multiple use cases on top of the existing platform infrastructure

What to Look for When You Need Asset Tracking

So the goal is to explore carefully and weigh in all the risks and benefits before opting in. The ideal platform for asset tracking may not be the typical easy-to-use plug-and-play offering. The latter may lack the needed flexibility to allow for advanced customisation. Nor would it be the most affordable platform solution as you may find out you are missing some core features along the way or have ended up with an IoT platform that is not doing so well when it comes to scaling. 

Apart from needing a reliable, high-quality service, our recommendation is to also look for scope. 

This is not about solving a short-term problem now but creating a long-term basis for an expanding array of needs and application scenarios as you move forward. So in what follows, we give you an overview of the capabilities you may want to consider before diving into a fully-fledged asset tracking use case. 

Asset Tracking Capabilities: The Basics

A viable asset tracking solution will have to be able to monitor the whereabouts of machines, equipment, or goods at all times and do so reliably, continually delivering status updates and reporting on key parameters. But geolocation and movement are just one tiny aspect of asset tracking. AI-powered IoT technologies are making it possible to have a fully-rounded overview of your asset’s environments and can deliver fast insight into the state of your asset:  

  • location 
  • speed 
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • sound
  • vibration
  • voltage
  • weather conditions
  • road conditions, where applicable

But how do you combine asset tracking and more advanced capabilities? The answer is: IoT apps. 

Enhancing your basic asset tracking solution with IoT apps to track vibration, voltage, or weather conditions, to name a few, can give you a fuller picture. So it is not just that you know the whereabouts of your assets. You want to be informed about the conditions under which they are being transported, the environmental variables, and, in the case of sensitive equipment, the asset’s current state. 

Check out asset-tracking IoT apps.

By installing IoT apps on strategically positioned edge devices such as IoT cameras or AR equipment, you are on the way to improving asset-related decision-making, implementing critical changes where needed, enhancing supply chain efficiency, and speeding up processes within your organisation. 

Asset Tracking Should be Open-ended and Fully Customisable

High levels of customisation are the key to a viable, flexible, and long-term asset tracking solution. So you need an IoT platform that allows you to do just that. You cover the basics while providing a variety of services and ongoing support for use case customisation. Here is a list of what you need to look out for when considering which IoT platform can best serve you: 

Geolocation

This is really one of the basics. Geolocation mapping will allow you to track asset location in real-time and trace the asset’s movements on the map.

Logging of Asset Location Histories

Another basic requirement is the ability to check the device logs at any time. You get an overview of the devices’ historic locations, and inspect the IoT apps running on the device. This way, you can not only set the foundation for an auditable iterative process within your organisation but can also increase ROI by coming up with optimised routes for mobile assets or better asset allocation. 

Grouping and Labeling Mechanisms for Assets

Getting on top of edge device management is tricky. Your solution needs to come with strategies for grouping devices, tagging, labeling, and distributing user privileges on different levels with different grades of granularity. Added to this should be the ability to roll out software or grant privileges on the group level. This will allow you to perform bulk deployments and facilitate scalability across manufacturing sites. 

OTA Updates

Updating IoT apps over the air, remote bug fixing, and testing new features on live devices are indispensable additions to asset tracking. They allow you to set the ground for new use cases faster than before. Being able to push instant OTA updates to individual edge devices or device groups can give you the necessary edge when it comes to implementing and maintaining large-scale deployments. 

Test the IoT studio and build your first swarm.

IoT Apps for Asset Monitoring and Condition Tracking

To expand on existing use cases or add extra capabilities to your industrial assets, you may need even more IoT apps on your devices. This way, you can monitor different variables across device fleets or customize the way data is being extracted from assets. To get there, your asset tracking solution has to come with IoT app building and support services. 

Hardware-independence

Make sure that your asset tracking solution can work with any device and standard protocol. Also, it should allow you to adapt or modify existing hardware to suit your use case. 

Scalability

This one cannot be emphasised enough. It is essential to opt for an asset tracking solution that is scalable and allows for seamless growth. You do not want to have to change systems midway through building your use case. Nor do you want to run into difficulties the moment you start adding more devices to your fleet. 

Integrations

IoT integrations are a must so you will need an IoT platform that comes with API access. This is how you can accommodate ever newer technologies and business demands. Allowing your asset tracking solution to remain open-ended in this way is a prerequisite for future readiness. 

Platform Support

And finally, you need a solution that comes with solid after-sales support. So it is best to work with a vendor that offers hands-on guidance on how to build your use case. Plus, you will need ongoing developer support and extensive buyer’s resources. 

Once these are in place, you are well on your way to building a viable and future-ready asset tracking solution. This is how you increase transparency on the shop floor, align with business objectives, and deliver a high ROI yield.

Record Evolution Logo

About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

Asset Tracking: How to Make Sure Your IoT Platform Got It All Covered? Read More »

IIoT Platform Trends in Manufacturing to Watch in 2022

The global IIoT platform landscape continues to expand and is projected to considerably grow between 2022 and 2027, according to a Forrester study. In 2021, we saw steady growth and diversification of adoption strategies. Moving forward, this year’s trends show that industrial software will continue to be the go-to place when it comes to an accelerated journey from prototype to deployment or business outcomes related to speed and scale. Industrial solutions combining IoT & AI, specifically, are on the rise. They hold the promise for more visibility and profitability across the value chain.

Using an IIoT platform to consolidate and tackle data challenges has become common practice, with data democratisation and a clear focus on user experience being the norm. These bundles of hardware and software capabilities are increasingly utilised to connect devices and industrial machines over the internet with the ultimate goal of shaping business strategies and outcomes. 

Whitepaper: Utilising IoT & AI in Industrial Manufacturing

Let’s have a look at the main drivers behind industrial IoT adoption in manufacturing for 2022:

Developing AI at the IIoT Edge

Storing, managing, and analysing the massive volumes of data generated by industrial equipment remains a key challenge for manufacturers. Many use cases require that data be streamed continuously. Yet the IoT technology to manage these massive amounts is often lacking. Specifically, mission-critical use cases such as condition monitoring or asset tracking require a steady inflow of edge data. But there is simply not enough time to move that data to the cloud or a data center for analyses. Also, to achieve maximum accuracy and transparency, industrial systems need to respond within highly precise control loops and latency requirements.

The recent shift towards edge computing is making it necessary for IIoT platforms to focus more on enabling solutions for the intelligent edge. Creating a robust data strategy and data management workflows are part of this development. And industrial IoT platforms are changing to accommodate these processes. Further, there is a need to approach IoT architectures differently. AI capabilities need to become available as close to the data source as possible. Once these are covered, industrial manufacturers are well-positioned to manage real-time events.

Industrial manufacturers will increasingly turn to IIoT platform vendors who can oversee their IIoT use cases and manage their edge infrastructure. 

What we can glean from these developments is the fact that industrial manufacturers are pressed to seek solutions that extend beyond their core competencies. This calls for platform vendors who are providing extensive support and know-how. At times, this is coupled with offerings such as hardware components. It is becoming clear that solely putting a software platform on the market and expecting self-service is not enough. Vendors are increasingly asked to consult on integrated solutions as well. 

A Shift towards Persona-based IIoT

To support industrial specialists in their different roles, persona-based IIoT has now entered the world of industrial IoT platforms. More and more platforms are offering workflows and dashboards that can be customised depending on the user type and level of know-how. At times, persona-based IIoT even means that the UI itself is different depending on whether the user is an IoT engineer, a business analyst, a data scientist, or an app developer. Each of these provides the necessary tools to perform the tasks critical to the role and generate insight. 

Find out more about our project in persona-based industrial UI

Industrial UI project

The shift towards persona-based IIoT is also impacting employee metrics. There are clearly defined KPIs for roles at different levels of seniority and expertise. This adds extra transparency to the mix. Now everyone from maintenance technicians to plant managers have access to the same metrics and data. Such levels of visibility also improve the situation with remote collaboration and skill siloes. There is no knowledge hoarding in one department and know-how shortage in another but a continuous flow of information. 

The greatest advantage of persona-based IoT is the shift towards greater autonomy and a democratisation of operations. While processes run autonomously and are transparent to all, the skilled workforce can invest time in prediction and optimisation. 

Among other things, persona-based IIoT helps companies save resources spent in supervision and control. At the same time, this approach allows manufacturers to free up resources for optimisation and strategising. Avoiding bottlenecks in knowledge management, making sure that expert allocation pays off, and predicting shortages in the skilled workforce are additional advantages of this novel trend.

More Service Instead of Technology

It is often the case that the debates surrounding Industry 4.0 and digital transformation place an emphasis on IoT technology. There is much talk about the most effective tools, the most impressive AI solutions in predictive maintenance, and the most reliable condition monitoring or asset tracking app. These are often brought up in connection with strategies for achieving true innovation and remaining competitive in a volatile business landscape. 

Attitudes are changing, however. This year, we will be seeing more focus on actual application scenarios and fully-fledged solutions that extend beyond selling tech. IoT technology, for all the excitement and promise it brings along, cannot be the starting point when it comes to solving real and complex problems on the shop floor. Rather, the tech has to be supplemented with a thorough understanding of the challenges a manufacturer is facing and a strategy to overcome these challenges.

IIoT platform providers will be focusing more on offering comprehensive support and not simply a self-service solution. 

A major focus for IIoT platforms will be providing excellent support and consultancy services to clients. Platform providers will be expected to do better than only selling the tech. So we will be seeing an increasing shift from tech to solutions. The services that come with an IIoT platform will come to the forefront of efforts in the industry. This will include anything from app development support to vendor assistance with device configuration and connectivity. Platform vendors may begin to extend their offerings all the way to more comprehensive consultancy services. The bottom line: less focus on putting the tech together and more thought into how to provide true value to the customer.

Record Evolution logo

About Record Evolution

We are a Data Science & IoT team based in Frankfurt am Main, committed to helping companies of all sizes to innovate at scale. So we’ve built an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform allowing for rapid development cycles and enabling everyone to benefit from the powers of IoT and AI.

IIoT Platform Trends in Manufacturing to Watch in 2022 Read More »

IoT system integrators banner image

System Integrators or an All-in-one IoT Platform?

System integrators play a unique role in the world of IoT. They bring disparate cross-vendor solutions together to create distinctive IoT ecosystems. System integrators consolidate offerings by sensor and gateway vendors, data storage providers, and IoT platforms with different functionalities to create a seamless solution to be delivered to the end customer. And many industrial enterprises take the assembly approach. That is, they leverage IoT system integration expertise to put together their use cases. At the same time, IoT platform vendors are picking up pace. In making IoT platform offerings more and more comprehensive, platform providers are now able to produce an end-to-end infrastructure for different industrial IoT application scenarios.

IoT professional services are in high demand. Most companies do not have the needed in-house expertise to integrate systems from scratch. That’s why, as building IoT architectures is becoming complex and the required know-how more specialized, the deployment of IoT technology often falls in the hands of external IoT system integration providers.

System integrators can consolidate knowledge coming from many disparate areas. This includes connectivity, embedded design, data analytics and data science, engineering, cloud and IT architectures, app development, and deployment. An IoT system integrator provides the glue that brings all these diverse skills together into a unified IoT solution that can scale. 

Common Challenges to System Integration 

When it comes to design and implementation, solution providers are there to create holistic strategies that will serve a company in the long term. While working on these, there are several areas that pose significant challenges:

Use Case Selection

System integration starts at the level of the connected IoT device. But where do we take it from there? Use case selection and defining the right priorities is becoming increasingly difficult in scenarios where a PoC takes months and companies may realize they are on the wrong track only after they have initiated deployment. A company may start with asset tracking and launch an elaborate pilot only to discover, half a year along the way, that the project generates no ROI and they actually need predictive maintenance.

In the crowded IoT space, IoT system integrators are now also expected to be strategic minds. They not only provide an assembly solution but also advise on use case priorities, project design, and implementation. 

Design and Implementation

Most industrial enterprises do not have the in-house expertise to map out, design, and implement a fully-fledged IoT solution. So it is often the case that this task falls in the hands of system integrators. At this point, designing and, at times, implementing custom IoT solutions has become the daily bread of system integration providers.

This is a challenge on both fronts. Integrators, on the one hand, are pressed to significantly expand their levels of expertise. And companies, on the other hand, are becoming fully reliant on external expertise for their IoT projects to run smoothly. 

Optimizing Processes and Bringing IoT Solutions to Market

System integrators are continuously expanding the scope of their activities. Companies are now expecting them to also advise on process optimization and go-to-market strategies. That is, manufacturing companies are now hiring system integrators as consultants.

They advice on projects to potentially help streamline shop floor activity and improve overall operational efficiency. Further, system integrators are now expected to advise on bringing smart connected solutions to market. This often takes place in a setting where solutions are offered as a service to third parties. 

Scaling Digital Capabilities 

Another pain point for system integrators involves not only adopting a holistic view but also creating a strategy for the long term to help organizations scale seamlessly where needed. This involves putting all pieces together in such a way that the end-to-end solution allows for scaling as a whole while making it possible for the individual components to scale as well.

For example, this involves scalable hybrid or cloud architectures. These should be able to accommodate increasing volumes of IoT data coming towards the cloud. But even more so, IoT system integrators are expected to be able to design systems where disparate assets and technologies, starting at the level of the connected device, can scale as well. 

Capturing and Retaining Talent 

When building up strategies for the IoT value chain, it becomes necessary to tap into the resources of different departments. These often entail highly specialized levels of know-how. At times, it is difficult to obtain a bird-eye view of all processes and see how different roles hang together.

Companies need to realise that once a solution is there, they will need to sustainably train diverse sets of specialists. At times, this means accommodating very different mindsets and making them work together. It is frequently the case that reskilling the existing talent is not enough. And retaining that talent is even more challenging in a volatile field.

The End-to-End IoT Platform 

The tasks of connecting disparate solutions by different vendors, consolidating the asset landscape, harmonizing applications, and combining platforms require a holistic mindset that can guide a company all the way from initial infrastructure design to massive scale-out IoT deployment. And as setups within organizations are becoming increasingly interconnected, end-to-end integration has been established as the norm in delivering strong outcomes.

Still, IoT platform vendors are picking up pace. So it may no longer be necessary to build IoT architectures from scratch to only serve a limited number of solutions or rely on third-party talent to help you scale. End-to-end industrial IoT platforms today come with easily accessible user interfaces and the necessary infrastructure to see a project through from PoC to large-scale deployments. 

This involves connecting disparate industrial assets to a single platform, collecting and storing device data, plus developing AI in the cloud and deploying back to the edge of the network. The current developments in IoT place an emphasis on knowledge related to edge-to-cloud scenarios and harmonizing the edge-to-cloud setup. And the end-to-end IoT platform can deliver just that. 

The Record Evolution platform is a trusted ally in consolidating all industrial assets within an organization. The platform provides a single source of truth for all data-driven activities around industrial equipment. And it offers a seamless edge-to-cloud development cycle to meet shifting digital demands. 

The development platform covers a wide array of the necessary tech stack, provides the possibility to oversee an entire project lifecycle within a single venue, and delivers key platform capabilities across the IoT value chain. Also, the entire project know-how remains within the company and is easily accessible from the platform. This gives organizations the possibility to create custom workflows for different scenarios and facilitate collaboration across departments.

Record Evolution Logo

About Record Evolution

We are a Data Science & IoT team based in Frankfurt am Main, committed to helping companies of all sizes to innovate at scale. So we’ve built an easy-to-use development platform enabling everyone to benefit from the powers of IoT and AI.

System Integrators or an All-in-one IoT Platform? Read More »

build or buy an IoT platform

Build or Buy an IoT Platform? What Enterprises Should Consider Before Diving In

Once your company has decided to use an IoT platform, the next question you usually face is: build or buy? This is a short overview of the strategic decisions to make prior to settling on an approach for your enterprise platform. Both building a custom platform from scratch and investing in new technology have their advantages. Ultimately, however, it is business goals, in-house expertise, and cost that will play a role in making that decision.

Typically, enterprises decide in favour of building an in-house platform that can be tailored to their specific situation and requirements. It is a common belief that building offers more flexibility and lessens the risk of losing assets or know-how once you decide to jump platforms. The question of interoperability is looming large too. Many enterprises are concerned about opting for a vendor that locks them into just one way of doing IoT. 

So why do so many enterprises turn to the IoT platform market? For one thing, while in-house teams may be able to build an IoT platform, many enterprises simply do not have the luxury of time to invest in such a large-scale project. Building a mature IoT platform can consume several years and while building, the existing IoT solution may become obsolete.

Keeping current with new IoT technology and remaining on top of user expectations is an additional effort. Then again, this is a significant investment in human resources that is better spent elsewhere. 

Build or Buy an IoT Platform: The Factors 

Ultimately, the decision to build a platform on your own or to turn to one of the many IoT platform vendors is a very individual one. It is tightly related to each company’s business ecosystem and current growth trajectory. Your enterprise may have unique challenges that cannot simply be addressed with a ready-made solution, no matter how customizable. So here are the major factors that play a role in the decision to build or buy:

Scoping up 

First, scope up the technical issues and the various unexpected dependencies that prop up when you build a complex IoT product. No technical challenge is entirely unique. It may be the case that what you struggle with is easily solved with standard IoT software. A standard IoT platform is how you handle complexity on a variety of levels. It may cover anything from security to regulatory concerns across different geographies, saving you a lot of time and hassle. 

But then again, you may encounter issues that have not been addressed with existing IoT platforms. And you may be confident that you can address data governance problems using your in-house resources. In such cases, you may want to build your own platform.

Level of control & customization

One of the greatest advantages of an in-house IoT platform is the unparalleled level of control that you get. You do not depend on external know-how and have access to the code at all times. You can tailor the platform to deal with your organization’s specific challenges right away.

This means, however, that you will also heavily rely on the support of your developer team. At times, losing your developer talent means being left with thousands of lines of unusable code. That may have to be rewritten or rebuilt from scratch if you lose your experts. 

With a commercial IoT platform, you may not have the same level of access. But you will be able to work closely with your vendor toward customization that meets your goals. 

What level of customization you need is another question to ask within the build or buy context: IoT platform vendors can adapt their offering to customer needs quicker than others, and if nothing else works, the remaining option will be to build. 

Cost considerations

Cost, together with an unclear implementation timeline, remains a top concern for organizations seeking IoT enablement. Purely depending on local know-how naturally seems cost-efficient. It gives companies the leverage to devise their processes from the ground up and decide where to spend. But in-house IoT development may turn out to cost much more than expected because of unforeseen dependencies, tackling regulatory issues, or technical complexities.

Using an external IoT product, on the other hand, is known to come with installation fees, annual subscriptions paid in advance, or other forms of upfront investment that may make a third-party IoT platform seem unattractive at first.

The bottom line: delays are the major reason for projects going way over their allocated budgets. After considering the costs associated with the initial setup and build, bug fixing, updates, support costs, and the cost of staying on top of the competition, most in-house IoT projects end up with significant spending and schedule overrun. 

Time to market

If you have a projected launch date for your IoT product, you will need to prioritize time to market over building a highly customized IoT offering. And this applies even more if you are looking at a tight roadmap and your organization is placing high importance on the speed of development. A third-party IoT platform will speak to your organization’s immediate needs and will allow you to progress fast. 

Hardware and connectivity 

The existing assets have to be compatible with the new solution. As different data packages come from different sources, you need to make sure you have a centralised place where the data is collected, consolidated, and transformed into something your teams can work with. 

Building your own IoT platform will guarantee that these requirements are met. But you will be put in the position of patching up together multiple disparate solutions to make things work.  

Most state-of-the-art IoT platforms today are equipped to work with any hardware. Vendor lock-in is becoming less of an issue. Now, a platform can consolidate and even serve as an extension of your ecosystem. You won’t have to perform deep structural changes to your existing architecture to accommodate the IoT platform. Rather, the platform will adapt to you.  

In-house know-how

Sounds quite intuitive. But you need to make sure that you are aware of the level of know-how you have in your organisation and the people you will need to make your platform work. Then you weigh in the time invested in building the platform vs. the time to be spent on other projects. And ultimately, there is a need to be clear on whether your team actually has the expertise to develop an IoT platform. 

Regulatory compliance & data governance

The build or buy an IoT platform decision depends on the regulatory and security requirements that you have to meet. And if you intend to run the platform in different geographies, see what kind of certifications you will require. If you decide to build, you will be fully responsible for certifying your product and meeting regulatory compliance demands that may extend all the way to the hardware. 

If you buy, you may have to work with your IoT platform provider and their regulatory teams to solve these compliance issues. You will have to consider ISO certification, security, and data privacy among others. And if you are in healthcare or military applications, the costs may go up even more. 

Maintenance & overall tech support

And then again, we get to the question of who is going to maintain the IoT platform. If you buy, you have the vendor’s support teams to deal with your technical issues or build additional features. Updates will be rolled out by the third-party vendor and you may have little influence on that. 

If you build, you need to have the people to maintain, release updates, and build new features as your IoT initiative evolves. This means a significant impact on internal resources. Especially if dealing with an enterprise-grade IoT platform deployed at multiple geographies worldwide. Plus you need to ensure the availability of expertise at all times. 

Start with the Record Evolution Platform

The Record Evolution Platform is your trusted ally in building and deploying market-ready connected products. Offering an accelerated timeline from PoC through implementation all the way to massive scale-out deployment, the platform consolidates your IoT assets to serve as a single source of truth for all your IoT operations. The shortened time-to-market allows you to build IoT solutions faster. Also, you offer new services to customers at a greater pace, all the while scaling comfortably as your needs increase.

The platform extends beyond the typical device management and connectivity solution. It offers a comprehensive all-in-one suite for IoT data extraction, IoT application development, IoT analytics, and various IoT services covering the entire ecosystem. Record Evolution offers a reliable infrastructure for IoT product development allowing different IoT experts to collaborate right on the platform. It gives enterprises a competitive advantage by making it possible to connect to any IoT device or piece of legacy equipment.

The platform serves as the solid foundation for the development of multiple use cases. These span asset tracking, predictive maintenance, smart cities applications, consumer IoT and beyond. Thanks to dedicated workbooks to build machine learning models and a cloud IDE for custom IoT app development, enterprises are poised to make the best out of their IoT investment.

Record Evolution Logo

About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

Build or Buy an IoT Platform? What Enterprises Should Consider Before Diving In Read More »

OTA

Why IoT Platforms Need Over-the-air Updates?

The beginnings of the Internet of Things were not exactly glamorous. If you needed to run a firmware update on a remote device, you had to reckon with downtime, performance setbacks, and disruptions. Even the slightest changes required some sort of human intervention. In most cases, you needed to have people on-site. Manual workers had to oversee the operations and make sure the implemented changes are not disrupting the entire system. Now, OTA updates in IoT contexts are taking away much of that complexity.

First, you had to go to your remote location. You had to extract the device needing a software update, and even dismantle it if necessary. You had to plug it into your computer to do the reprogramming, and then install the device back where it belonged. And if you were running thousands of connected devices or had to roll out a device update only to a specific device group? You still had to do the manual thing and handle these devices one by one. Additional difficulties arise if you had to update devices at multiple sites or extremely remote locations. 

The Dilemma: Build or Buy?

Typically, enterprises have two options: to build their own system for deploying over-the-air updates or to buy a managed OTA solution. Each has its advantages. When you build, you do not depend on third-party vendors and have full control over your OTA system. But then again, you also need to invest significant resources in research and planning. Attracting the right experts may not always be straightforward either. Adding over-the-air functionalities to your existing hardware and software can face you with challenges at multiple levels, compatibility issues being just one example. 

On this occasion, IoT platforms can serve as your single source of truth when it comes to overseeing large fleets of connected devices and managing assets across all production and consumption stages. The IoT platform infrastructure is already handling multiple complex tasks in the background such as IoT data collection and is taking care of typical security issues. The platforms come with robust IoT device management suites. These serve as the middleware connecting local hardware and software landscapes. All the while, they take care of the code running on devices. Working in multi-tenancy environments, developers run updates and deployments more often than before while continually monitoring the outcomes and safeguarding quality.

While building a solution from scratch locally may be a drain of resources, making use of an existing IoT platform allows you to leverage and adapt the entire platform infrastructure while transparently managing the cost structure. 

OTA Updates with IoT Platforms: The Benefits

Today, over-the-air updates and even whole OTA deployments have become a common practice. Most IoT platforms come with at least some rudimentary functionality relating to OTA updates. The ability to perform an OTA firmware update over the air, test new software directly on the edge device, and monitor your processes remotely, from within a single venue, have become indispensable to rapid IoT development. In a way, if you want to be on the fast track to developing your IoT products, you need OTA update capability. 

Within this mature IoT platform landscape, the seamless remote monitoring and control of connected devices are getting more sophisticated. Just like remote testing, over-the-air updates allow you to adjust the code on an embedded device. Further, you can oversee the changes in near real-time. As most IoT platforms today are hardware-agnostic, the specific hardware you are using is becoming less relevant. You could connect almost any device and make any machine IoT-capable. 

But OTA updates do not stop at the level of building an IoT product. Once the finished product is in the hands of end-users, you can still continue to deliver a seamless product experience by running your regular OTA software update. This means that bug fixes, introducing a new feature, performing an update request, or perfecting product behaviour do not end once your IoT product reaches its end users. So your relationship with the end-users can be sustainably developed by remotely installing new functionalities and testing on multiple connected devices. 

OTA Updates with Record Evolution

The Record Evolution IoT Studio is an end-to-end service that comes with the entire infrastructure to connect, monitor, and update devices over the air. This device management suite allows enterprises to quickly come on top of their growing device fleets. You roll out new IoT apps on remote devices and perform OTA updates on multiple devices at once. The platform allows you to scale from one to hundreds of devices. And you roll out applications without encountering the typical deployment issues. If your internet connection is lost while rolling out an app from the IoT app store or performing an update, the process will continue just where you left off once the devices are online again.

The device group functionality allows you to arrange your devices in groups using tags. So you only roll out new firmware to a dedicated group. You assign separate user privileges for each group and let the platform take care of the complex authorisation mechanisms. Updates and app rollouts can only be performed by users that are authorised to do so. Multi-tenancy or working with multiple stakeholders is not an issue any longer. Each separate authorised user has access to the detailed release and update protocols. This way, everyone can keep track of the changes made with each release. 

Conclusion

In sum, the ability to run OTA updates through an IoT platform significantly speeds up the IoT development effort. It safeguards transparency and adds to the reliability of connected devices. So far, OTA functionality has been the most effective way to run remote updates on smart devices and manage releases. At the same time, the platform documents every step of the process. Listed below are just a few of the various areas of application where OTA updates can make a significant impact on process efficiency:

  • Predictive maintenance. You can equip any piece of machine or equipment with sensors and connect it to the platform. This way, you receive maintenance status notifications and alerts. 
  • Asset monitoring. You keep track of each and every connected device from a single location in real-time. Further, you enhance the visibility of your mobile assets and take care of security updates.
  • Supply chain management. You gain an overview of your supply chain operations, involve the right teams, and optimize where necessary.
  • Environmental monitoring. The IoT platform consolidates assets from multiple remote locations. You can use it in water management, agriculture, and various environmental applications. This way, you make sure that environmental resources are properly utilised. 
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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

Why IoT Platforms Need Over-the-air Updates? Read More »

Industrial IoT platform capabilities grid

The Industrial IoT Platform Buyer’s Guide: Capabilities Grid 2021

Industrial IoT platforms hold the promise of full factory visibility and a complete picture of all manufacturing data. Well within 2021, use cases are beginning to show even greater, more granular data-driven insights into operations on the shop floor, and industrial IoT platform adoption is becoming the norm for most enterprises. 

The industrial IoT platform consolidates a variety of strengths in providing a solid basis for data-driven decision-making. Bringing together IT, OT, and data science teams in one place, it greatly facilitates the path towards greater process efficiency. You start with connecting your industrial assets to reliably and consistently tracking, optimizing, and innovating within your evolving IoT landscape. 

And getting there starts with choosing right. In this week’s edition of the Industrial IoT Platform Buyer’s Guide, we are focusing on the critical capabilities of industrial IoT platforms and provide a blueprint for creating your own capabilities grid to guide you through the selection process. 

industrial IoT platform capabilities

Get the checklist and create a capabilities grid for your IIoT platform

Read this article to learn more about the latest trends and insights around industrial IoT platforms, covering Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Industrial IoT Platforms released in October 2020. 

Getting started with IIoT

IIoT begins with setting up connections with your data sources. And then, the crowning achievement of your IIoT initiative is a fully connected factory with a consolidated data strategy that extends from the edge to the cloud. 

Typical IIoT use cases include predictive and preventive maintenance, asset condition monitoring, asset tracking and quality management, traceability analyses and overall equipment effectiveness cases. Edge-to-cloud scenarios additionally unfold towards artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions with bi-directional data flows moving from the edge to the cloud and vice versa. 

To gain insights into the complete picture painted by data, you need a hardware-independent platform that allows you to connect almost anything and make any industrial asset available to the internet of things.

Full data visibility on the shop floor and beyond entails using both local and cloud analytics, enterprise and cloud systems, app development capabilities in the cloud, and ML running at the edge. 

Enabling organization-wide data availability

Next, the right data has to reach the right experts within the industrial enterprise without getting siloed in isolated departments. Once all machines are connected and the data has made its way to the right recipients, it is time to uncover the value of the data. Doing things with the collected data is what eventually leads to more transparency and efficiency. And doing things with data means making the data tangible and accessible to various experts at various levels of know-how. 

An increasingly sought after capability is the possibility to run on-premises use cases but also move the data to advanced cloud systems to build machine learning models. The Record Evolution Platform offers just that. It can be deployed on-premises only, within a closed-off enterprise environment, but it also allows for hybrid and cloud-only IoT deployment.

Further, you can integrate with most of the common cloud systems such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. The platform allows organizations of any size to connect their existing assets, analyze data at the IoT edge, and move the data along the value chain across both local and cloud systems. 

This is how organizations gain the upper hand in a crowded space as analytics at the edge means accelerating insight, which translates into faster decision-making. Edge computing enables organizations to take action instantly, and move quickly towards improving just about any aspect of their operations. 

Settling on a data strategy

After onboarding, the real challenge is selecting a data strategy that will best serve the organization. This means using the right kind of machine data where and when it matters. To address this challenge, the IIoT platform needs to be equipped with a predefined set of capabilities to achieve full transparency and efficiency, starting from the edge and all the way to the cloud. This way, organizations have full access to each stage of the process. You collect IoT data at the edge, use the data to optimize IoT apps in the cloud. Then you roll app updates out over the air under constant consideration of the incoming IoT edge data. 

In a fast-moving environment, industrial manufacturers are best served with an open IIoT platform. It ensures efficiency while remaining flexible and capable of change. Especially in the case of hardware-independent platforms, manufacturers can give their operations a lift without the necessity of replacing existing equipment. 

The ultimate achievement facilitated by this edge-to-cloud cycle is the ability to make better business decisions at a greater pace.

The ideal is a fully formed IoT development cycle that covers all functions at the IoT edge, handles multiple heterogeneous devices on the shop floor from within a single venue, performs both IoT edge analytics and data analytics in the cloud, and is able to seamlessly integrate with any other local platform as well as with the leading cloud players such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.

So here is our industrial IoT platform capabilities checklist:

Connecting to IoT data sources

  • Data collection from any connected device
  • Common data layer
  • Data accessibility and data storage

Data Integration

  • Built-in data source connectors
  • Multi-source raw data import
  • Big Data capabilities and implementation
  • Enables integrations with leading cloud providers

IoT analytics

  • Data pre-processing and transformation in data pipes
  • Custom visualizations in dashboards
  • Instant reporting with extraction of standard KPIs
  • Statistical and analytical queries
  • Building and running machine learning models at the IoT edge

IoT Application Development and Deployment

  • Full application management 
  • Container-based app development
  • Public and private IoT app store with app templates and custom industrial applications
  • Live IoT development in a cloud IDE 
  • OTA deployment to multiple connected devices
  • Any device and any protocol 

Device Management

  • IoT device setup and configuration with just a few clicks, no programming needed 
  • Location tracking with a unified map view of all connected devices
  • Device status monitoring and instant maintenance options, including lifecycle management
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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

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Buy IIoT Platform - Industrial IoT Platform Guide

The Industrial IoT Platform: Buyer’s Goal Analysis and Checklist 2021

Asset-intensive industrial IoT environments that deliver the full data picture consistently and reliably, perform instant analytics, utilize machine learning, and run IoT apps at the edge while stretching all the way to the cloud—to achieve all this, industrial companies can no longer afford to miss out on the possibilities opened up by IIoT platforms. But the path to full industrial automation, efficiency, and agility is not straightforward. From identifying the right data to selecting the right strategy, you first need to map out the road to your kind of IIoT platform and make the most of it. How do we get there? In our buyers’ guide, we start with a quick goal analysis. 

Setting transparent goals and being clear on what you want from the very outset can save you time later. And once you have drawn the trajectory of your manufacturing deployment and have identified the KPIs, the time comes to see what product will align best to those needs and will serve your purposes.

This is why we have compiled an IIoT platform buyers’ guide with a list of critical questions to ask at the start of your IoT deployment. These will help you scope up your current capacities and optimize budgeting. The aim is to create a deployment trajectory aligned to your future needs, with an eye towards mid-term goals. 

With these priorities in mind, you will be better suited to identify the product capabilities that matter to you. 

Buy IIoT Platform - Goal Analysis Checklist

Get the IIoT Platform Buyers’ Guide with a Goal Analysis and Checklist

What is your purpose? What exactly do you want to achieve?

Be as specific as possible. To be able to see how an IIoT platform will help you meet your targets, you first need to be extremely clear on these targets, set realistic goals, and assess the status quo with an eye towards measuring improvements over time.

  • What data do you want to collect from IoT devices? Where do you need more machine data? 
  • Which metrics do you want to monitor and improve? What would be a realistic target?
  • What processes do you need to digitize and what exactly are the projected benefits?
  • Where do you want to eliminate or minimize errors? 

What data do you need?

Now is the time to dig deeper into the question of what data you need. On the shop floor, just about any operation could be improved with larger volumes of better data. So you need to laser focus on the exact need with the highest ROI potential, be it for increased operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, less machine downtime, or better machine accessibility.

Putting your finger on the data that matters and fleshing out why you need it will make a huge difference when looking for the right product. 

Who will be working with that data?

When looking to buy, consider the people whose lives will become easier once you introduce a new IIoT platform. What are their needs? What do they want to see in a product? Would this be a tool geared towards upper management? Or would that rather be something for IoT engineers and data scientists? Would you like to have different levels of access? Does the product need to be tangible to non-tech staff?

At the end of the day, any piece of technology loses its value if there are no people to stand behind it and breathe life into its various functions. And you help your people create more value by knowing what is important to them.

How long until deployment?

When it comes to IoT implementation, especially in legacy-intensive environments, your timeline is nearly impossible to predict. However, you still need to make sure that things are as realistic as possible. Communicating clear goals and trajectories to your vendor and making sure that the IIoT platform can deliver is an essential part of this process. 

Your PoC will usually start with a small pilot deployment. After onboarding, you will get started by adding a number of machines or PLCs for a small-scale use case that involves IoT data collection from a number of endpoints, data transformation and analysis, plus tracking of the first KPIs and the preparation of initial data visualizations in dashboards. 

Moving on to a production-level deployment and scaling to multiple sites with thousands of endpoints is a completely different challenge. Here an IIoT platform can significantly speed up operations. It can show you results within months in areas where things took years to accomplish. 

How easy is it to monitor, update or opt out?

How about the distribution of your resources? Can you orchestrate everything within the platform, from device status monitoring to app updates? Or do you need to chase your colleagues down the hall every time you need to run an update or take a closer look into a critical asset? 

When selecting an IIoT platform, you need to make sure you do not end up with even more workload and raised tickets than before.

Multi-tenancy, platform collaboration, clear asset distribution with the possibility to create professional workflows are the features that make an IIoT platform stand out in today’s crowded space.

And when the time comes to add solutions or completely migrate to another platform, your existing tool will need to provide a seamless experience. To avoid any misunderstandings, ensure that you are looking at IIoT platforms that offer the necessary breadth of critical capabilities. They need to be able to address your needs for enhancement. So sustainability matters here as well. You need a platform that is flexible enough to serve you over the long term. 

Will it integrate with your existing systems?

And even the most flexible and elastic IIoT platforms may come to their limits when confronted with the complexities of brownfield environments, meaning loads of legacy industrial equipment and multiple heterogeneous assets. The typical IIoT platform you will buy may still not be able to cover every software and hardware requirement. As shown in the IIoT platform buyers’ guide, identifying the most critical assets you need to integrate, prioritising, and fully investigating the possibilities will set the ground for a successful and timely IIoT solution.

Once these critical questions are answered, you get a much clearer picture of your smart manufacturing efforts over the long term. This will allow you to better assess the credibility and timeline of IoT projects, plan for full industrial connectivity, create robust concepts for managing IoT endpoints, and accommodate a number of scenarios for your industrial applications, and ultimately gain a competitive advantage over other industrial enterprises. While the decision to buy an IIoT platform introduces new complexities into your operations at first, it paves the way towards a winning industrial IoT solution over the long term.

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About Record Evolution

We are a Data Science & IoT team based in Frankfurt am Main, committed to helping companies of all sizes to innovate at scale. So we’ve built an easy-to-use development platform enabling everyone to benefit from the powers of IoT and AI.

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image for platform openness

5 Open-Source IoT Platforms: Making Innovation Count

As the IoT platform model is attracting a larger following and is carving its way into large industrial corporations, building open-source IoT platforms is a logical step towards making the IoT platform movement available to as many users and contributors as possible. 

We at Record Evolution love open source and continuously strive to develop an IoT product that combines the benefits of open source and closed source. Open source technology reveals tremendous opportunities in terms of know-how democratization and the development of truly global collaborative intelligence. But at times, especially in critical and security-intensive production environments, the benefits of closed source may prevail. To address these complexities, users on the Record Evolution platform are given the opportunity to develop their projects both as open source and closed source.

The Open Source Way

Open-source is a decentralized software development model that puts open collaboration at the forefront. Peer production is the guiding principle of open-source development. So a key component of open-source is making items such as source code, blueprints, and documentation free and available to everyone. 

Here is a snapshot of the guiding principles behind the open source way:

  • Transparency. This involves continual and unlimited access to the information necessary to complete one’s work. This way, developers share ideas, build on each other’s insights, and make decisions more effectively.  
  • Collaboration. This involves free participation in different projects, the ability to modify the work of others, and so opening up to new possibilities. The ideal of open source is having people put their heads together to tackle problems that cannot be solved by isolated individuals. 
  • Release early and often. This entails rapid prototyping and establishing iterative approaches. The goal is to streamline the discovery process and come up with better solutions in an environment that encourages freedom to experiment and change perspectives.
  • Inclusive meritocracy. This is about including everyone in the decision-making process, trusting that good ideas and suggestions can come from anywhere and that every voice matters. 
  • Community. Building a group of like-minded individuals to join forces around a common goal, base their decision-making on shared values, and put overarching goals before personal agendas is at the core of the open-source mindset.

To learn more about the vision behind the open-source movement, the organization has prepared a guidebook containing best practices and tentative guidelines for creating an open-source community and maintaining it: The Open Source Way 2.0.

And here is our list of the top open source IoT platforms that are entirely free to use and allow you to collaborate in an open way:

OpenRemote

OpenRemote open source IoT platform logo

OpenRemote is a 100% free open source IoT platform. The user-friendly interface makes it possible for companies and individuals to integrate and manage their assets within one central location, design applications and workflows, and visualize data in dashboards. The platform also supports an array of data processing tools. 

Some of the key capabilities of OpenRemote are: 

  • integration of different asset types,
  • support of standard protocols such as HTTP or MQTT as well as specific protocols like KNX for connecting IoT devices, 
  • a customizable manager interface for the automation, monitoring, and control of processes, apps, and devices,
  • a mobile app so that you can connect to your phone services and push notifications,
  • Multi-tenancy with user roles and a full account management service.

Check them out on GitHub here.

ThingsBoard

ThingsBoard open-source IoT platform logo

ThingsBoard is an open-source IoT platform for the collection processing, analysis, and visualization of data. The platform also comes with a device management service and users can connect their devices using any standard protocol such as HTTP, MQTT, or CoAP. With ThingsBoard, users can build and manage their own workflows. 

ThingsBoard features include:

  • IoT device management with monitoring and control mechanisms, 
  • scalability with the capability to orchestrate multiple devices at the same time, across the entire IoT ecosystem
  • enables users to create and manage alerts for connected devices (e.g. in the event of a disconnect or inactivity), other assets, and customers with real-time alarm monitoring. 
  • extending default functionality with customizable rule chains, widgets, and transport implementations,
  • multi-tenancy

Check them out on GitHub here.

Thinger.io 

Thinger.io open source IoT platform logo

Thinger.io is a scalable IoT cloud platform for connecting devices. You have an easy-to-navigate ready-to-use cloud infrastructure that allows users to integrate, monitor, and control millions of IoT devices. The platform creators believe in the importance of a great developer experience. In their own words, the platform is “easy to use, and easy to understand. No more complex code for doing simple things.”

The platform is hardware-agnostic. You can connect any device, the most typical being Arduino, ESP8266, Raspberry Pi, and Intel Edison. You simply install the server in your own cloud and use the open-source libraries for integrating the IoT devices.

Check them out on GitHub here.

MainFlux

MainFlux logo

This is an open-source IoT platform that focuses on edge computing. Mainflux is patent-free and end-to-end, under an Apache 2.0 license, and covering most of the things needed for developing IoT solutions, applications, and products. 

Users can benefit from the platform’s full transparency, full user control over their own assets, as well as the possibility to do community testing, support, and bug fixes. As the platform was built as a set of containerized microservices orchestrated by Kubernetes, there is no vendor lock-in.

Mainflux provides the complete infrastructure and middleware to execute:

  • Device management
  • Data aggregation & data management
  • Connectivity & message routing
  • IoT application enablement
  • Analytics

Check them out on GitHub.

Arduino 

Arduino logo

Arduino is one of the best-known names in open-source IoT projects, encompassing both hardware and software. The Arduino Cloud IoT is a cloud solution to configure, program, and connect IoT devices using the Arduino IoT Cloud service. The Arduino software includes two types of integrated development environments (IDE1 and IDE2). A variety of boards, shields, and carriers make up the hardware palette. 

The blend of IoT hardware and software makes Arduino an easy-to-implement, easy-to-use IoT platform that needs no further introduction. 

Check them out on GitHub.

Open-Source at Record Evolution

Record Evolution logo open IoT platform

At Record Evolution, we have several projects that have been open-sourced for everyone to use, enjoy, and contribute. Here are two open-source projects related to the extraction and reading of IoT measurement data. These are relevant when it comes to IoT development scenarios where you need to extract and normalize IoT data and are dealing with device data in heterogeneous formats.

TDMtermite

The open-source project TDMtermite is for reading the proprietary file format TDM/TDX. 

TDMtermite is a  C++ based library that decodes the proprietary file format TDM/TDX for measurement data. This is how users can extract and read data from National Instruments LabVIEW TDX/TDM files and export them as .csv files. 

We use TDMtermite in conjunction with the Record Evolution Platform. TDMtermite is used to integrate measurement data into the platform’s ETL processes. On the platform, the TDMtermite library is available as a Python module and as a command-line tool. Thanks to the Python module of TDMtermite, data scientists can include TDM formats in their existing data pipelines by providing access to both raw data and metadata in terms of native Python objects.    

First introduced by National Instruments, the TDM format relies on the technical data management data model and is employed by LabVIEW, LabWindows™/CVI™, Measurement Studio, SignalExpress, and DIAdem

Check out TDMtermite on GitHub here.

IMCtermite

The open-source project IMCtermite is for reading the proprietary imc Bus Format with the file extension .raw.

IMCtermite makes it possible to extract measurement data from binary files with the extension .raw, first introduced and developed by imc Test & Measurement GmbH. On the Record Evolution Platform, we use the IMCtermite library both as a command-line tool and as a Python module to integrate the .raw format into any ETL workflow.

Thanks to the integrated Python module, the extracted data can be stored in any open-source file format accessible by Python, such as .csv, JSON, Parquet, or even HDF5.

Check out IMCtermite on GitHub here.

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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

5 Open-Source IoT Platforms: Making Innovation Count Read More »

open IoT platform

What Is an Open IoT Platform and Why Use One?

Many companies struggle with building IoT products using open source and parts from multiple different vendors. This is costly and drains internal resources. Others find they have an IoT platform vendor who locks them into one way of doing IoT—a cloud infrastructure, IoT deployment, proprietary standards, or hardware. So recently, there has been a lot of talk around the phenomenon of the open IoT platform.

Within the IoT platform market, there is no clear consensus on what openness means and what the ingredients of openness are. Not being clear on this can lead to misunderstandings and even wrong strategic decisions. This article gives you an overview of the various facets of platform openness.

What is an IoT platform?

An  IoT platform is the middleware and the infrastructure that enables end-users to interact with smart objects. They function as the software bridge between the hardware and application layers. The IoT platform orchestrates the movement of data between the IoT device and the IoT application. Further, it provides application-level capabilities for humans to interact with the IoT system. 

Essentially, an IoT platform has the purpose of unlocking the full potential of an IoT infrastructure. 

IoT platforms bind together all other IoT layers to streamline infrastructure and IoT device management and support security. They reduce the complexities in the deployment and implementation of IoT systems. 

IoT platforms are used to connect to, secure, and manage IoT devices, support data analysis, enable developers to create code and applications that interact with the IoT system, and integrate with larger enterprise systems. They offer connectivity, integrality, and interoperability to facilitate communication, an uninterrupted data flow, device management, as well as system and service customization.

Why are IoT platforms needed?

Managing a growing IoT ecosystem brings various challenges as organizations transition from small-scale pilots to fully-fledged IoT deployments. Thousands of IoT endpoints, the data they generate, the analyses of IoT data, integrations with the cloud as well as other systems have to be managed and maintained. 

Depending on the IoT application, the challenges may be different. Typical concerns include multiprotocol connectivity, interoperability, device discovery and device management, customization, scalability, data management, privacy and security concerns, and in some cases, the cloud service and automatic context detection. 

IoT platforms help in such scenarios as they abstract the hardware while simplifying deployment. Further, they improve resiliency, maximize scalability, increase reliability, reduce cost, and minimize latency.

The rise of the open IoT platform

Today, IoT involves vertically integrated systems that often are closed and fragmented in their applicability. Users often need to navigate through different brands and vendors across the entire value chain and understand which devices are compatible with their platforms.

Many commercial or proprietary IoT platforms promote vendor lock-in. Because the IoT landscape is constantly changing, IoT platform providers often fail to provide timely support of new protocols, tools, and data formats. 

diagram showing the aspects of an open IoT platform
Image 1. An open IoT platform can mean many different things

Openness, on the other hand, is one of the emerging trends in IoT. The open IoT platform has become a popular term that is synonymous with more independence and a better ecosystem. More and more IoT players are becoming motivated to use open systems. Some of the benefits are transparency, convenience, and fast development resulting in significant cost savings. 

But what does it mean for an IoT platform to be open? This is not a monolithic term but rather describes various types of openness. The most common openness types encountered in open IoT platforms is open-source, open standards, open APIs, open data, and open layers.

Further, the social requirements for IoT platforms—to be ready to use, to have collaborative features and an active user community—have gained momentum in recent years. They have become another key criterion for a platform to be identified as an open IoT platform.

Other important aspects of the open IoT platform are the access to information, the rules that allow the usage of a platform (social), and the fee (license fee). 

Here is an overview of the major openness types.

Open-Source

The Open-Source Initiative (OSI) provides a clear definition and requirements for open-source. This includes free redistribution and access to source code — anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance code by complying with some basic principles The open-source IoT platform is often preferred as it is more convenient for third-party developers to have full access to the source code. 

Open Standards

Where device compatibility is a concern, users should consider open standards. Open standards provide support for heterogeneous devices and enable better interoperability. They promote flexibility, change, transparency, and user-centricity.

The OpenStand organization lists five fundamental principles for open standards. These are cooperation, adherence to the fundamental principles of standards development (due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance, openness), collective empowerment, availability, and voluntary adoption. 

Open APIs

These are publicly available application programming interfaces. They provide developers with access to a software application or to a web service. Open APIs (REST API) are typically used by third-party developers.

Open Data 

This openness criterion rests on the assumption that data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they see fit. There are no restrictions from copyright, patents, or similar mechanisms.

Open Layer 

This is the platform’s software layer that is open for third-party software integration. This allows you to integrate different third-party software (a capability also provided by open APIs). There is no consensus in the terminology here as most open APIs can also be treated as an open layer.

More transparency for system integrators

System integrators usually deal with complex IoT offerings. These encompass elements across the entire value chain such as sensors, IoT devices, connectivity, platform solutions, business logic, end-user applications, and users. In this sense, system integrators have a unique role in the world of IoT. They consolidate different elements of the value chain, including IoT platforms, to provide end-to-end IoT solutions.

System integrators have to navigate between different vendors, choose between various devices, and select suitable technologies. Depending on the specific use case, e.g. when the primary concern is compatibility, the choice of open standards may take precedence over other considerations.

Open standards also allow system integrators to switch between offerings with less effort. From the implementation perspective and depending on their specific requirements, open layer, open APIs, and open-source would be of precedence. And if the system integrators plan to build their own IoT platform as a solution, open-source will be a likely choice. 

The Record Evolution platform is an open IoT platform for industrial enterprises, enabling IoT teams to easily connect and manage devices, collect advanced data analytics, and program customized applications.

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About Record Evolution

We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.

What Is an Open IoT Platform and Why Use One? Read More »