Hilscher bridges OT/IT divide, joins IBM Bluemix

March 9, 2016
These solutions merge operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT) in enterprise architectures, supporting the next step in how plants will use IIoT.

In what industrial connectivity leader Hilscher is calling one of the most significant steps in its 30-year history, it's introducing IIoT products and services called netIOT Industrial Cloud Communications, which extract data from plant networks in parallel with existing control data flows, so legacy systems and equipment aren't impacted.

These solutions merge operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT) in enterprise architectures, supporting the next step in how plants will use IIoT. Hilscher also kicked off its IIoT strategy by becoming a member of the IBM Bluemix partnership program.

"When researching the IIoT market's needs, we quickly realized that IoT gateways by themselves are not the full answer, so we chose to deliver products and services that can be easily deployed at low risk to current working methods," says Hans-Jürgen Hilscher, CEO at Hilscher.

"Hilscher built its reputation on supplying protocol-interfacing products that support all popular automation networks. We also have our own netX chip family of protocol converters, and we're very familiar with real-time operating systems. In addition, our partnership with IBM will help customers leverage IBM Bluemix solutions. Our strategy facilitates deployment of the IIoT by connecting device data from the plant floor to the industrial cloud for better data-driven decision-making."

Hilscher's netIOT solutions consist of three segments:

  • netIOT Interface Modules for embedding IoT connectivity in low-level devices such as sensors, enabling direct connection of sensor data to the cloud, and bringing IIoT to the plant floor.
  • netIOT Edge-Gateways include three products for connecting data from industrial Ethernet networks to the cloud, and offer various levels of security, speed and capacity. Protocols such as MQTT and OPC UA are already embedded, and wireless connectivity allows smart mobile devices such as tablets and phones to access field devices for configuration and diagnostics. netIOT Edge-Gateways are already configured to work with IBM's Bluemix solutions.
  • netIOT Service give users ways to enter the IoT market and gain experience. For example, netIOT Studio supports data selection and IoT configuration.  Modules covering diagnostics and predictive maintenance are being developed, and a series of partnerships with cloud-based suppliers is being established. Several other partnerships with cloud-based suppliers are expected to be announced during 2016.

"Our netIOT Edge-Gateways connect field data with Bluemix platforms and applications supplied as-a-service by IBM," adds Armin Pühringer, Hilscher's business development manager. "Customers can buy these services on an as-needed basis today. Our migration paths ensure existing systems and equipment are not obsoleted. Importantly, our edge-gateways also offer Bluemix system integrators immediate access to manufacturing data, extending our normal market coverage. We're proud to be one of the first companies to launch a significant product range in what is predicted to become a massive market."