Opto 22 partners with IBM Watson IoT, could lead to more profitable wind farms

The drawing provides one outline for an IIoT adoption.

Industrial automation manufacturer and Internet of Things application toolset provider Opto 22 announces acceptance into the IBM Watson IoT Partner Ecosystem. This partnership provides developers with a full stack toolset for building applications that connect real-world signals and data from industrial “things” to the digital world of information technology, mobile, and cloud computing.

A $6 trillion opportunity

A Business Insider report forecasts there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021. Billions of sensors, machines, and devices already exist in industrial infrastructure but are currently unable to connect to the Internet of things and cloud-based applications, like the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

This legacy equipment holds valuable untapped data that is needed to improve business processes and decisions in almost every enterprise and every industry. The partnership between IBM and Opto 22 lets developers rapidly design, prototype, and deploy applications to connect existing industrial assets to the IBM Watson IoT platform and share their data, capabilities, and resources with other connected systems and assets, to build the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Building IIoT applications has historically been complex, requiring multiple layers of expensive middleware and significant developer manpower. IIoT applications built from the ground up can take months or even years, and require expertise in both the operations technology (OT) domain, where industrial assets live, and the information technology (IT) domain, where digital and cloud computing assets exist. These long development cycles increase cost, slow time to market, and increase risk of IIoT project failure for customers. Together these problems delay and reduce the return on investment for implementing IIoT applications.

Streamlining and simplifying IIoT application development

Through this new partnership between IBM and Opto 22, developers and systems integrators have a concise toolset for connecting the OT and IT domains. The partnership combines over 40 years of OT domain expertise and innovation from Opto 22 with over 100 years of IT domain expertise and innovation from IBM. Combining open technologies like RESTful APIs and Node-RED with powerful and proven computing platforms like the IBM Watson IoT platform decreases development time, eliminates the need for expensive middleware, reduces risk for customers, and gets solutions to market faster.

According to Evans Data Corporation, 79% of Internet of Things app developers spend at least 25% of their time on developing analytics tools. The Watson IoT Platform reduces the need to focus on developing analytics systems and provides everything needed to harness the full potential of the Internet of Things. Rather than reinventing the wheel, developers can tap into the already built toolset provided by the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

Developers can connect, set up, and manage edge processing devices like programmable automation controllers from Opto 22 and apply real-time analytics, cognitive services, and blockchain technology to the data generated by these devices. Cognitive APIs deliver natural-language processing, machine-learning capabilities, text analytics, and image analytics to help developers realize the potential of the cognitive era with the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

An open industrial platform

Connecting existing industrial assets to IT systems requires translating the electrical signals (voltage and current) in the physical world to the bits and bytes of the digital world. Opto 22, respected worldwide for its 42-year history of product quality and innovation, manufactures the I/O and controllers that translate signals at the network edge from industrial assets into the language cloud computing systems like the Watson IoT Platform understand.

With a history in industrial automation, process control, building automation, industrial refrigeration, remote monitoring, and data acquisition applications, Opto 22 products provide industrial automation protocol support, including Modbus/TCP, EtherNet/IP, and OPC UA. These industrial products also communicate and support well-known Internet technologies to support IIoT applications.

Where edge computing, decision making, autonomous control, data collection, and logic solving need to occur, Opto 22 products fuse together a rugged industrial control platform with open technologies like a built-in HTTP/HTTPS server, RESTful API, and Node-RED nodes to easily collect data from the edge and move it into the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

“The industrial automation and control industry is in transition right now,” says Benson Hougland, Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy. “A product development strategy based on proprietary and closed technologies is outdated. The future of industrial automation and process control lies in the rising API and data economies made possible through open standards-based technologies. Our objective in partnering with IBM is to enable IIoT developers to build their applications faster using well-known and proven Internet tools and technology like Node-RED, RESTful APIs, and the IBM Watson IoT Platform.”

Designed on open standards and built for harsh industrial environments, Opto 22’s SNAP PAC System integrates hardware and software to simplify the typically complex process of understanding, selecting, and applying an automation system. The SNAP PAC System consists of these integrated components:

  • SNAP I/O — analog, digital, and serial I/O modules for wiring directly to field devices, machines, and sensors. Wide variety of signal types; 1 to 32 I/O points per module; most I/O modules are guaranteed for life.
  • SNAP PAC brains — intelligent I/O processors for distributed control on Ethernet and serial networks
  • SNAP PAC controllers — standalone or rack-mounted industrial controllers with networking options and a RESTful API, or a software-based controller
  • PAC Project Software Suite – easy-to-use flowchart-based control programming, HMI (human-machine interface) development and runtime, plus optional OPC server, database connectivity software, and software-based controller for PC-based control
  • groov — an easy-to-use tool for building and using custom mobile operator interfaces and system dashboards to monitor and control systems and equipment from any web-enabled device

To get started

Opto 22 has provided a recipe for developers to get started in connecting industrial systems to the Watson IoT Platform, as well as a video walking developers through the steps. Developers can access a trial version of the Watson IoT Platform on the IBM website.

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