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Smitha Rao

Director & Co-founder

Utthunga Technologies

2 Ratings

DIGITALISATION Enhancing interoperability between devices, software and systems

Dec 13, 2018

Smitha Rao, Director & Co-founder, Utthunga Technologies, in this interview with Suchi Adhikari, shares her insights on the vision of Industry 4.0 and the significance of an information exchange and data connectivity platform Excerpts…

What are the latest trends and developments of shop floor to top floor integration?

There has been a great transformation in the way the industry works now—thanks to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The shop floor to top floor integration through the IoT ecosystem is beneficial for both manufacturers and the end users in multiple ways. With its robust network architecture, IIoT has played a pivotal role in providing valuable information across the enterprise and enabling data-driven decision making. Remote asset monitoring and predictive maintenance are the widely adopted IIoT use cases in the manufacturing industry. Global end-to-end supply chain visibility has resulted in optimised asset performance and operational excellence.

The growth of IIoT and Industry 4.0 is driving the need for open and secure connectivity
amidst machines and enterprises. What is the scope of OPC UA in this regard?

OPC UA is critical and a widely recognised communication technology for the Industry 4.0 initiative. The core of Industry 4.0, IIoT or smart manufacturing lies in the need for openness and interoperability between devices, software and systems. Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 (RAMI 4.0) recommends IEC standard 62541 OPC UA as the core connectivity standard for connecting hardware, software and other systems. Any product marketed as ‘Industry 4.0-enabled’ must be ‘OPC UA-capable’, as published by the Industry 4.0 platform. NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) specifies OPC UA as the standard interface to access the device information over heterogeneous network, bringing legacy and new devices together. The vision of IIoT and Industry 4.0 can only be realised to its full extent with OPC UA as its information exchange and data connectivity platform.

How can Indian manufacturing enterprises adjust their current business to new Industry 4.0 strategies through OPC UA?

OPC technology is well-known and adopted standard in the Indian manufacturing industry. This standard fulfills the key requirements of Industry 4.0, like interoperability, scalability, secure information exchange, integration into engineering and semantic extension. Hence, OPC UA has been treated as the pioneer of Industry 4.0. The technology has evolved over the years by providing backward compatibility to the huge existing OPC Classic installed base, enabling both OPC UA and OPC Classic along with futuristic Pub/Sub communication pattern to co-exist. In this way, million installations of OPC Classic can continue to be used with new OPC UA products, bringing huge benefits for costsensitive Indian manufacturing industries.

With the rapid pace of technological advancements, how is digitalisation affecting your company?

Utthunga is well-aligned with the vision of smart manufacturing, cloud-connected enterprise and actively participates in leading industrial standard consortiums, such as, OPC Foundation, ODVA, PROFIBUS and PROFINET International, etc. With an innovation-driven mindset and committed team, Utthunga has collaborated with many organisations in driving their digital transformation journey. The fast-paced technological environment has helped us to accelerate our growth and position us as the key player in the industrial automation domain.

Can you give us a roadmap for controlled, predictable and monitored manufacturing process?

The first step is the most difficult step of any journey and it applies to manufacturing process as well. So, the digital transformation journey for manufacturing process begins with asset monitoring, that can be achieved by integrating an asset with the OPC, without disturbing the existing process. It is amazing to see OPC UA being embedded in a tiny temperature sensor as well. The next step would be to analyse the data collected from these assets to get the meaningful insights, with application of Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to achieve predictive maintenance of these assets. A critical step would be to control the assets remotely with safety and security as the main concerns.

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