Amanda Lowe, director of product marketing at independent infrastructure software company Wind River, talks to Internet of Business about the opportunities and challenges that the IoT brings to the manufacturing and industrial sectors.
An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.
Infrastructure software company Wind River’s technology helps to run manufacturing plants, medical devices, aircraft, railways, automobiles, and communications networks. Its products enable engineers, developers, manufacturers, and system integrators to build intelligent connected devices, sensors, gateways, and networks that unlock machine data and connect it to cloud and IT environments.
On 3 April 2018, Wind River announced that it was being acquired from Intel by alternative asset firm TPG, leaving a newly independent company run by the existing management team.
“This acquisition will establish Wind River as a leading independent software provider uniquely positioned to advance digital transformation within critical infrastructure segments with our comprehensive edge to cloud portfolio,” said Jim Douglas, Wind River president.
“At the same time, TPG will provide Wind River with the flexibility and financial resources to fuel our many growth opportunities as a standalone software company that enables the deployment of safe, secure, and reliable intelligent systems.”
Internet of Business spoke to Amanda Lowe, director of product marketing at Wind River, to get the company’s views on how the Internet of Things will impact on manufacturing and other sectors, and how organisations should position themselves for the connected future.
Internet of Business: Wind River says its technology is on two billion devices. What devices in the main, and how many more will it be on as the IoT expands?
Amanda Lowe, Wind River: “Building safe and secure systems is the touchstone for Wind River. For close to 40 years, we’ve been focused on ensuring that safety-critical systems, from industrial plants and electrical substations to jet airliners and commuter trains, work without fail.
“If you look at analyst estimates for the number of devices that are expected to be connected in the next few years, the estimates are wide-ranging, yet all signify exponential growth in a short period of time. We feel we are well positioned to continue to capture a large percentage of that market based on our heritage and the needs of the market.”
How do you believe IoT will impact on the manufacturing sector, and how can connected technology help organisations make these processes smarter, more efficient, greener, and more cost effective?
The IoT is driving automation and operational improvements across the manufacturing sector, but the real promise of IoT is in how it can radically redesign business models and spur competitive advantage.
“It is fuelling digital transformation, creating data-enabled, intelligent systems that empower manufacturing companies to adjust quickly to evolving market demands and competitive challenges by being connected, automated, and data driven. We have deep experience implementing embedded IoT technologies with safety, security, and reliability built in for the manufacturing market.
“We provide the tools necessary for customers to gather precise data and, through analytics, turn it into actionable information that drives smarter decisions about business strategy, operational efficiency, and resource allocation, resulting in smarter, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly processes.”
Do manufacturers generally understand the potential impact of the IoT? And what message do you have for those that don’t?
“Many manufacturers do understand its value for their business. And I think they are exploring and innovating in IoT due to that expected impact. Facing increased pressure to be agile and innovative, manufacturers must be able to adjust quickly to changing market demands and competitive challenges. But legacy systems make innovation difficult, if not impossible, and replacing existing infrastructure is daunting.
Factories depend on highly reliable, always available systems that are safe and secure and operate in real time, even as cybersecurity threats rear their heads seemingly every day. With so many moving parts – literally! – applications must be able to seamlessly address device deployments, updates, failovers, and security issues.
“For those that don’t understand the impact of IoT, we recommend that they do some introspection and think about where they see their business in the years ahead.
“By optimising the operation of legacy and new systems, a new era of flexibility and innovation is within reach. We have a team in our Professional Services organisation that is deployed to customer sites to run through digital transformation workshops. Manufacturers can now lean on their vendor’s expertise to help them achieve the expected business impact of IoT.”
Some sectors, such as automotive, semiconductors, and so on, are far ahead in the automation and connected things race. What others are ahead of the curve, and can you share some examples?
“You can find IoT innovation across many critical infrastructure sectors. Among those that are particularly exciting is GE. The company is taking physical devices – such as a gas turbine, locomotive, or jet engine – and adding new digital services on top, allowing the connected system to run safely, securely, and efficiently.
“GE’s product is called IICS, the Industrial Internet Control System, and it’s a platform for the edge where they bring together traditional, hard, real-time, safety-critical applications and add in a new set of predix functionality. Wind River Titanium Control enables GE to host a lot of applications distributed across a power-plant floor. Now, they can consolidate these applications into a software-defined function that can be centrally managed, upgraded, and controlled.
“Another example is Parkeon. They’re a global leader in urban mobility technology, and are developing a next-generation parking terminal. By moving the main intelligence out of the pay station and into the cloud, Parkeon has been able turn a simple parking meter into a useful, on-street, IoT-networked kiosk.
“Now, parking infrastructure can give residents an enhanced user experience by offering WiFi, and integration with other city systems, such as transit ticketing, bike rental, mapping, emergency alerts, and more. Parkeon is transforming the urban experience.
“Another example is Waterous. This leading manufacturer of water pumps and fire suppression equipment for firefighters has developed a digital touchscreen control panel for its advanced water and foam pumps. Waterous has radically simplified and sped up setup times for firefighters, so that they can quickly get to work on saving lives and protecting property.”
The security of the IoT is a growing challenge. A number of recent reports have suggested that the IoT makes cyber and data security a lot more complex. In what new ways should organisations start to consider these challenges?
“Yes, along with the new opportunities from increased connectivity come unprecedented risks. With more devices than ever connected, new vulnerabilities are growing at an alarming rate.
“I read in a Corero Network Security report late last year, that in Q3 2017, organisations experienced an average of 237 DDoS attack attempts per month – or eight a day. And even worse, attacks are now being outsourced to DDoS-for-hire services.
“These attacks disrupt businesses, compromise intellectual property, and wreak financial and reputational damage. In the case of critical infrastructure, such as defence, energy, industrial automation, medical, and transportation applications, they can compromise national security or even result in life-threatening consequences.
“But security is embedded in our DNA. We have extensive history in mission-critical systems in markets such as aerospace and defence, making security paramount in all the technologies we deliver, so our customers can develop trusted and reliable solutions.
Security issues must now be carefully considered at every phase of product development – from design and testing to delivery and maintenance – to combat complex and rapidly growing threats.”
How important is the dynamic edge environment now to the IoT? And how can organisations build edge solutions that are smart, fast, intelligent, and scalable?
Every IoT deployment requires an analytics component to transform data into actionable insights. Initially, this function was performed in a centralised cloud-based system or data centre that would receive and analyse data from edge devices.
“But for IIoT devices in bandwidth-constrained situations, sending edge data to a centralised system isn’t efficient or cost-effective. With computing power at the edge, devices can more quickly process, analyse, and act upon the data they are generating in real time.
“Wind River and its partners help embed edge intelligence directly into small-footprint IoT devices combined with secure, enterprise-grade device lifecycle management, in order to provision, monitor, and maintain a high volume and variety of edge devices.”
Coming soon: Our Internet of Supply Chain conference.