IT Vendors Show Off Industrial IoT Products, Services At Hannover Messe 2017

Hannover Messe IoT Announcements

Industrial Internet of Things services and products were the main focus of this year's Hannover Messe, an industrial automation conference held in Germany.

Vendors on the IT side were eager to show their new Internet of Things services for factory floors and manufacturing customers, as well as new partnerships with operational technology companies.

From predictive maintenance tools to "digital twins" – the digital companions of physical assets to represent objects' real-time status and working condition – the show also put the industrial market's top trends on the forefront.

Here's some of the biggest Industrial IoT news coming out of this year's Hannover Messe show.

SAP's New Distributed Manufacturing Platform

SAP launched a new application called Distributed Manufacturing at the show. Distributed Manufacturing, which will be offered as part of SAP's Leonardo IoT portfolio, integrates 3-D printing into the industrial floor so that design and procurement teams can collaborate with 3-D printing service providers to facilitate the adoption of 3-D printing applications.

"As 3-D printing technology advances beyond prototyping, more companies are rethinking their manufacturing and supply networks to take advantage of cost-effective local production, customization and rapid delivery to meet changing customer expectations," said Tanja Rueckert, executive vice president of IoT and digital supply chain at SAP, in a statement.

IBM Launches Cognitive Visual Inspection

IBM launched a new Watson IoT offering, Cognitive Visual Inspection, which the company said will help manufacturers reduce their inspection time by up to 80 percent.

This offering provides manufacturers with a "cognitive assistant" on the factory floor to minimize defects and ultimately increase product quality.

"By bringing cognition to the factory floor, IBM is helping usher in the fourth industrial revolution where entirely new levels of efficiency, flexibility and product excellence in manufacturing can become an everyday reality," said Harriet Green, general manager at IBM Watson IoT, in a statement.

Dell EdgeX Project

Dell and the Linux Foundation lifted the curtain on EdgeX Foundry, an open-source software initiative aimed at building a common framework for IoT edge computing. The companies said that EdgeX Foundry will drive interoperability between applications and connectivity standards through plug-and-play components that can be combined to rapidly secure easily scalable IoT solutions.

According to Dell, more than 40 companies have joined the new project, including systems integrators, OEMs and solution providers.

EdgeX Foundry, which is designed to be flexible, platform-independent and industrial-grade, is designed to run on edge hardware like routers, gateways and servers, according to Dell.

WiSeKey Public Key Infrastructure IoT Framework

Swiss security company WiSeKey unveiled WiSeKeyIoT, a scalable framework that offers digital Public Key Infrastructure certificates for connected devices.

This framework is protected in certified silicon chips and offers customers an outsourced – or on-premise – certificate management system with device life-cycle controls.

"We are the only company able to combine in-house expertise in certificate distribution and management with our certified tamper-resistant semiconductor technology, and offer a global security framework for IoT. This technology offers a really seamless solution for the most cost-effective integration of security in devices and back-end systems," said Bernard Vian, general manager of WISeKey Semiconductors, in a statement.

Microsoft IoT Central

Microsoft introduced a new fully managed Software-as-a-Service offering for partners, IoT Central, that the company said will "reduce the complexity of IoT solutions." IoT Central, which will be built on the Azure cloud and use Microsoft's existing Azure IoT suite, will be rolling out over the next few months, according to Microsoft.

"Microsoft is simplifying IoT so every business can digitally transform through IoT solutions that are more accessible and easier to implement," said Sam George, Microsoft’s director of Azure IoT, in a blog post.

Microsoft Connected Factory

Microsoft also lifted the curtain on a new pre-configured industrial IoT offering as part of its Azure IoT suite: connected factory.

The offering facilitates the connection of on-premise OPC unified architecture – the M2M communication protocol for industrial automation – and OPC Classic devices in the Microsoft cloud, helping customers easily get insight, securely browse and configure factory devices from the cloud.

Microsoft said that as part of its connected factory solution, it partnered with OPC unified architecture players that have built gateway solutions, including Unified Automation, Softing and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Microsoft Analytics Services

Microsoft also unveiled two services in the analytics space. The company launched Azure Time Series Insights, which is a fully managed analytics, storage and visualization service that offers customers better insight into their device activities.

Microsoft IoT Central and the Azure IoT Suite Connected factory pre-configured offering both leverage the new Azure Time Series Insights service, which the company said is now available in preview. In addition, Microsoft brought its Azure Stream Analytics capabilities from the cloud on to edge devices. The company launched a preview version of Azure Stream on edge devices for customers with time-sensitive or mission-critical IoT applications.

GE Digital And Huawei's Predictive Maintenance Platform

GE Digital paired up with Huawei to launch a cloud-based industrial predictive maintenance offering at Hannover Messe.

The offering integrates Huawei's Edge Computing IoT capabilities with GE's Industrial IoT cloud-based Predix platform. The combined offering allows customers to rapidly connect their industrial assets and cloud applications, as well as monitor their machines and analyze data.

"This new solution brings together the strengths of two great companies – Huawei and GE – and is already driving positive outcomes for innovation-driven customers like Schindler," said Harel Kodesh, CTO of GE Digital, in a statement. "These partnerships will help industrial companies take advantage of the Industrial Internet and drive unprecedented gains in productivity."

Cisco Connected Factory Solutions

Cisco introduced three new offerings in its Connected Factory portfolio, building out its Industrial IoT capabilities.

The company introduced a connected asset manager for IoT intelligence, which extracts data from a variety of sources and ties together multiple existing data threads on factory floors across legacy systems. Cisco also introduced the Industrial Network Director, designed to help operators take full control of the plant network. Finally, the company said its IE4000 switch family will support time-sensitive networking, protecting data and ensuring that mission-critical applications run smoothly on the network.

Cisco's New Connectivity Management Platform

Cisco rolled out a new platform, the Control Center for Mobile Enterprise, that the company said automates the management of enterprise mobile services and devices.

The offering is an extension of the Cisco Jasper Control Center IoT service platform, and provides enterprises with faster delivery of services, lower operational costs and predictable telecom bills.

"Management of any connected device consists of common challenges like unpredictable service costs and inefficient management processes, and this is especially true for business mobile phones and tablets," said Marc Austin, head of Mobile Enterprise Products at Cisco Jasper, in a statement. "Cisco Jasper has partnered with over 50 service providers worldwide to enable enterprises to automatically connect and manage their IoT services, and now we are extending the same proven capabilities to business mobile devices."