Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Advantech, Behr, Hitachi and Microsoft collaborate on IoT connectivity

Steve Rogerson
July 19, 2018
 
Advantech, Behr Technologies (BTI), Hitachi and Microsoft are collaborating to deliver wireless communications with scalability, reliability and security for private commercial and industrial IoT networks.
 
Since no single technology provider can enable the IoT alone, this joint effort aims to provide the first mass-market, end-to-end wireless gateway to ensure connectivity with sensors for production-level industrial and commercial applications. It should deliver scalability, deep building penetration, integration and interoperability with legacy systems, and long battery life for nodes.
 
This collaboration aims to meet growing demand in the marketplace for robust out-of-the-box wireless IoT communications to connect the various sensors used by industrial and commercial users in their business intelligence efforts.
 
The foundation for the joint effort is BTI Mioty low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) communications that uses the Etsi standard telegram-splitting ultra-narrow band (TS-UNB) technical specification for low throughput networks, enabling organisations to deploy private IoT sensor networks with more capacity, high quality of service and low total cost of ownership.
 
“The BTI Mioty contribution to the overall, end-to-end ecosystem with Microsoft, Hitachi and Advantech gives customers out-of-the-box IIoT that provides critical machine data and telemetry in areas they cannot currently access,” said Albert Behr, chief executive officer of Canada-based Behr Technologies. “BTI Mioty has been specifically developed for massive and lowest-cost LPWAN communications and is poised to be the commercial standard for wireless IIoT connectivity. The use cases are endless and it will deliver wireless IIoT that is unparalleled in the market.”
 
Using Taiwan-based Advantech’s gateways, BTI Mioty will transmit up to 1.5 million messages per day within a radius of five to 15km, with no carrier requirements. Layered atop this infrastructure, Japan-based Hitachi’s IoT service hub will let organisations connect and monitor devices and analyse the data in real time to improve operational efficiencies.
 
“Through this collaboration with Microsoft, Hitachi and BTI, we are working to deliver integrated IIoT,” said Stephen Huang, associate vice president of Advantech’s embedded IoT group. “Our edge intelligence server provides a device-to-cloud solution at the edge. With Wise-PaaS EdgeSense IoT software built into the gateway, we can provide connectivity and manageability at the edge to simplify IIoT applications.”
 
The first application from this collaboration is a different approach to workforce safety using BTI Mioty LPWAN wireless on a standard gateway. Using a wearable device to monitor the heart rate of workers in industrial high-risk environments, data on the health of hundreds of workers are transmitted over unlicensed, sub-gigahertz frequencies via BTI Mioty to a single Advantech base station. From there, they are communicated to the Microsoft cloud, where Hitachi’s service hub can provide actionable insights on workers’ health and send alerts when workers are in danger. Employers, such as mining site operators, can deploy this to protect their workforce with responsiveness at a claimed fraction of the cost of previously available technologies.
 
“Through this collaboration, we can add our unique and advanced analytics-based business value,” said Craig Burbidge, senior vice president of Hitachi in America. “With our IoT service hub as the platform, customers will be able to aggregate and analyse equipment telemetry data in real time. The actionable insights provided will allow them to be more predictive and proactive, ensuring a safer and more productive environment with more efficient and cost-effective operations.”
 
Rashmi Misra, general manager for IoT at Microsoft, added: “With Azure services and BTI Mioty, customers can implement cost-effective and highly scalable solutions to facilitate the last mile of communications for messages delivered from sensors to the cloud. Working with our broad partner ecosystem, we are ushering in a new era of IoT communications that will enable organisations around the world to realise the promise of industrial automation in ways that were not previously possible.”
 
Founded this year, Toronto-based Behr Technologies is the worldwide licensee of Mioty. The company is focused on commercialising, licensing and supporting the BTI Mioty LPWAN communications technology through partnerships with technology providers and the development of Mioty-based products and applications. BTI’s first commercial product using this Etsi standard is the BTI Mioty 1.0 starter kit with Microsoft Azure, which was launched in April at Hannover Messe in Germany.
 
Mioty uses the Fraunhofer-patented telegram-splitting technology to provide robustness against interferences and to increase overall system capacity through short on-air times. Telegram splitting is at the core of the technology and enables multiple performance benefits such as high system scalability through frequency and time multiplexed telegrams, interference robustness, and deep-building penetration through very short sub-packets and channel coding.

Advantech has co-created IoT service ready packages (SRPs). Thirty sets of SRPs will be released this year, and Advantech will host the 6000-participant IoT Co-Creation Summit in November in Suzhou, China. 

KC Liu, chairman of Advantech, pointed out that industrial IoT applications are about to become widely implemented in various industries. However, the key to success lies within platform technology suppliers working closely with industry professionals to integrate and form standardised and easily duplicated SRPs based on a combination of software and hardware products.

These SRPs can then be installed by system integrators at the client site. Eventually, IIoT industry chains will be formed as SRPs become established. Therefore, the IoT industry chain must include sensors, edge computing, communications, PaaS (platform as a service), industry SRPs and cloud services. For the next five years, this type of industry chain, Liu said, was projected to mature at an accelerated pace.