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What Do Businesses Really Stand To Gain From Industrial IoT?

According to Paul Hingley, data services manager at Siemens UK and Ireland, governments are starting to come around to industrial IoT.

Conversations around the internet of things (IoT) typically discuss its applications in the home and other small networks, but much of its growth over the coming decades is believed to be linked to the industrial IoT (IIoT).

To get a sense of the numbers, a recent report predicted that the combined markets of IoT will be valued at somewhere in the region of $520bn by 2021, more than double what it was last year.

One strong advocate for IIoT is Paul Hingley, data services manager at Siemens UK and Ireland, who recently spoke at EU Cyber Summit 2018. Now, speaking with, he thinks that IIoT conversations among governments are starting to change.

What industries do you think stand to gain the most from IIoT?

Industry generally will gain from the digital explosion of which IIoT is an important part, but it is not the only part of this digital transformation that industry will have to face.

IIoT or ‘industry 4.0’ encompasses new and traditional engineering concepts, and it will be industry that will have to decide what is relevant and what is not to their business.

Data is key and IIoT allows the tentacles of data to be exposed within the operational technologies layer. By gaining access to this data, we can make more accurate decisions. By applying artificial intelligence, we can turn diagnostics into prognostics, and information into intelligence.

Business will be able to make more informed decisions using data from the actual process in real time. This new capability will allow all industry sectors to re-evaluate the efficiencies of their processes and revalidate their production in real time.

The industries we are currently working with are food and beverage, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, minerals, and utilities. Agriculture is another area of IIoT interest as more and more data is required from the supply chain with validation and verification of data.

From NB-IoT to LoRaWAN, there are a number of different LPWAN standards in IIoT. How do they collaborate?

It’s not really about cooperating at the protocol level as the product developers will make decisions on the protocol interface in relation to the product performance that is required. The ability to connect to all of these protocols is the key.

Having an agnostic platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is crucial for the growth of IIoT innovation. The customers wish to connect easily and without fear of the environment they are connecting to.

Security here is vital and standards for applying a good security strategy have to be implemented, not only within the product, but also in the policies. Every protocol should be connectable into the PaaS environment, allowing customers to make their choice. The selection of the infrastructure-as-a-service is also as critical.

The platform and operating systems should be as agnostic as possible, allowing connection north and south of the cloud if this is the chosen infrastructure. Remember also that in some industries, an on-premise solution will be required – a server capability for the operating PaaS to live within. Again, this has to be an option for the customers to capture and orchestrate their data.

Is it hard right now to convey trust in IIoT among corporate leaders in a post-Mirai world?

Mirai was a bot designed to be used within a botnet for a large-scale network attack primarily focused on consumer devices such as security IP cameras and home routers as a DDoS attack. This type of attack is actually not sophisticated, but it shows the vulnerabilities of such connected devices in this new IIoT world.

Within industry, there is a better understanding of ensuring availability of data for the automation cycle and, generally, there are some basic security measures that are taken to provide protection. However, there is certainly not the level of security applied that should be.

The ‘defence in depth’ approach in industry is critical to developing a security strategy. Trust comes from many quarters, and this needs to be established right at the beginning of every project. Trust in the delivery partners is crucial, ensuring they can demonstrate competency. So too is trust in the products to ensure they have the required standards – such as IEC62443 – and, finally, trust in the people to ensure they have adequate training in understanding how they interact with the control system, applying best practices at all times.

Siemens has entered into a corporate agreement with other global companies called the Charter of Trust. This is exactly what it is trying to achieve: a trust model that can be adopted by all participants for products, solutions and people.

What all companies realise is that this new world has arrived, and they must ensure there is a safe, secure environment in order for it to work and add value.

Do you think governments are knowledgeable enough about IoT to legislate for network standards and privacy?

It is changing. We see governments around the world are understanding the need for industry to utilise the new digital age if they are to be competitive on the global stage. We are seeing, for example, European governments adopting the Network and Information Systems Directive, which is aimed at providing the guidance and legislation in which critical national infrastructure companies will operate and develop secure solutions.

This will naturally drive the standards right across industry as solution suppliers and product manufacturers adopt security standards for products and solutions, while ensuring the training of personnel is sufficient and consistent to ensure a secure working system. Governments are aware of digitalisation, and there are numerous organisations lobbying governments around the world to become more active in defining and driving standards.

Governments need to embrace industry further to ensure that best practice is being applied from a technology and system life cycle perspective. Security considerations should be the norm and not an exception in every project. The new digital world will need this if it is to be the primary driver of technology going forward, and governments should be driving this message.

How is Siemens working to make IIoT networks more secure going forward?

Siemens has been developing a PaaS for more than four years called MindSphere. It’s a complete operating infrastructure. We have generated an ecosystem that our customers will trust and see as an extension to their existing automation layer.

MindSphere is, by design, agnostic, allowing the connection of the many standard industrial protocols while also being the connection of new communication protocols that are now being utilised within all types of industry.

The connection technology and the operating infrastructure is built with the IEC62443 security standard to ensure that the level of trust with our customers is maintained while also ensuring that a security strategy can be developed across the connection data stack.

Ease of connection is paramount if industry is to adopt this new technology. MindSphere provides this and uses open technologies to ensure optimum functionality and availability of data. Integration of this IIoT PaaS, with our traditional Telecoms Industry Association approach for automation, will provide our users the ability to engineer at the automation level while developing the added value from the data produced throughout the process and supply chain. This is a completely interactive experience developed in a secure environment. – Silicon Republic

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