Distributed control systems for manufacturing are currently evolving towards Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) systems. Sensors and actuators get equipped with internet connectivity, which allows them to interface with cloud platforms. This potentially enables a number of application cases. However, industrial “things” may be much more complex and more resource-constrained than typical consumer space “things”. This talk provides an overview of Industrial IoT application cases and sketches various challenges for researchers and practitioners using the example of turning a level sensor for industrial tanks into an IoT device.
I had a talk on Hannover Fair 2018 in the Forum “Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet”. The slides are published on Slideshare:
I gave a guest lecture at University of Heidelberg on “Software Architecture in Process Automation” for Prof. Barbara Paech’s software engineering students:
The Plattform Industrie 4.0 has released a new paper on a standards-based Plug&Produce approach for industrial devices, which was mostly written by me. The paper is a contribution to the current working groups on Industrie 4.0 and focuses on a specific application scenario, where devices connect to each other with limited human interaction. Its purpose is to point to existing standards and reveal standardization gaps. Although a good fundament of standards exists, there is still the need to create more semantically standardized information models to realized this application scenario in a vendor-neutral way.
The annual meeting of the special interest group on “software architecture” of the German Computer Science Society called “Architekturen 2014” was held at ABB Ladenburg. The meeting’s main theme was “Architectures for Industry 4.0“. The fourth industrial revolution is expected from a reorganization of industrial production processes to exploit the capabilities of cyber-physical systems. A dozen of invited talks from researchers and practitioners gave various perspectives on the topic and how it will affect software architectures.
The latest issue of the magazine “IEEE Software” features our article on architecture sustainability: “At ABB, we’re measuring and tracking the architecture sustainability of a large-scale, distributed industrial control system currently under development that’s based on Microsoft technologies and includes a layered architecture. A former version of the system grew to several million LOC and suffered from architecture erosion and high maintenance costs. We adopted a multiperspective approach called Morphosis to avoid such a situation from occurring again. Morphosis focuses on requirements, architecture design, and source code. It includes evolution scenario analysis, scoring of technology choices, architecture compliance checks, and tracking of architecture-level code metrics. This article reports our experiences with tracking selected sustainability measurements over the course of two years.”
A couple of recent studies assessed the state of model-driven engineering (MDE) and the UML in practice. Hutchinson et al. (ICSE2011) noticed for example that a lot of MDE success is actually hidden and that MDE adoption is often rather driven by evangelists than hard business considerations. Petre (ICSE2013) focused on the UML and found for 50 software professionals that 70 percent do not use the UML. Unfortunately, most of the studies known to me have some methodical flaws, such as improper selection of the sample population. Maybe it is time for a systematic review and comparison of all the available empirical studies and approaches in industry?
ABB uses model-driven approaches in various areas, e.g., architecture documentation, code generation for PLC software, simulation, and even testing. Also, ABB Corporate Research has quite some history of experimenting with model-driven techniques:
- platform-independent model and code generation with ArcStyler, based on the MDA initiative (Interactive Objects success story, 2002)
- UML models to describe higher-level design for safety critical embedded systems (Empirical Software Engineering Journal, 2006)
- work on the OPC UA information model (Springer Book, 2009)
- model-based testing of embedded systems (EU-Project D-MINT, 2010)
- program transformation with srcML (ICSM, 2011)
- reliability prediction based on Markov Models (ISSRE, 2010)
- performance prediction for an industrial control system, based on the Eclipse modeling framework (ICSE, EU-Project Q-ImPrESS, 2011)
- DSL for constructing OPC UA Queries and Event Filters (ECMFA, 2012)
- model transformations for analytical purposes (MASCOTS 2012, ICPE 2013)
- model-based design space exploration for distributed systems (ICPE, 2012)
ABB is currently investigating cloud computing and big data technologies in the context of power and automation. Cloud computing is already common for customer relationship management systems or human resource management systems, but industrial automation is still in the process of moving to the cloud. As an early example, ABB’s SCADA system for oil&gas applications, SCADAvantage, can now be purchased as hosted version in a GlobaLogix data center.
Big data processing amongst other things involves crossing structured and unstructured data to create new insights for customers. Unstructured data can for example be video streams or social media output. ABB’s Asset Health Center is one of the first solutions for processing big data for smart grids. ABB is executing several research projects on cloud computing and big data, providing great opportunities for scientific and industrial research beyond the buzzwords. We are hiring PhD-level professionals!
We got a paper accepted at the Industry Track of the 17th International Software Product Line Conference (SPLC2013) to be held August 26th-30th in Tokyo, Japan: In the paper, we describe how we applied existing domain analysis approaches for software product line engineering and tailored them to include a feature analysis as well as architecture evaluation. We report our experiences from applying the approach in two subdomains of industrial automation.
ABB’s breakthrough developing an HVDC circuit breaker now led to an inclusion to MIT Technology Review’s list of 50 disruptive companies 2013 along with companies such as Apple, SpaceX, and Facebook. The HVDC breaker enables building direct current grids, whereas before only point-to-point lines were possible. This may lead to widespread use of renewable energy.