APEX 2018 – The Industrial IoT Event Of The Decade – Part 2


Michael Ford, Sr. Director Emerging Industry Strategy, Aegis Software

Well, if after my last blog about the IPC APEX show, there was excitement and expectation, people who then went to the show, or joined in from all over the world to see the CFX data being collected live, were not disappointed.

The world’s first live demo of the IPC CFX standard (Connected Factory Exchange) turned the APEX show-floor into something resembling the shop-floor of a digital factory, where 42 machines from 22 different vendors all created live CFX messages throughout the show. An open-source software development kit (SDK) was made available by the IPC to all participating machine vendors  completely free and without license. Using the SDK, machine vendors were able to integrate the message generating software into their machines in just a couple of days, and were able to send CFX messages into the cloud. As well as work done by all of the machine vendors, Aegis provided the cloud-based demo software, which took all the CFX messages and created web pages of content that included key performance metrics, as well as message logs. Visitors to the show were able to see machine data from all vendors, in a single, standard format, for the very first time.

As well as being the first time for many to see the CFX standard in action, this was the first time for the world to see a true IIoT, multi-vendor, middleware-free cloud-based solution for manufacturing at play in any market vertical, much less electronics. There were 245,000 page views of the CFX website, 701,200 CFX messages transmitted by machine vendors, 664.5 million bytes of data exchanged. In terms of bandwidth requirements, only an average of 0.04 Mbps of network bandwidth were consumed collectively by all endpoints throughout the show, illustrating the efficiency that is built into the CFX standard. CFX is intended to be used with site-based systems as well as cloud-based systems, and can even support both at the same time!

The CFX standard is intended to be complete by the end of September this year, with actual manufacturing trials planned throughout the Spring and Summer - we are now looking for volunteers! This show-wide demo is expected to be repeated at other upcoming trade shows. The success of the demo led to several vendors who did not integrate CFX for the demonstration expressing interest in doing so going forward. Further, more tier-one manufacturers have joined the CFX project.

Aegis is very much at the forefront of new digital manufacturing technology. As result of building the analytics and cloud server that powered the cloud-side of the APEX demo, Aegis now has the knowledge of how massive CFX networks can be managed. Further, CFX is being integrated seamlessly into FactoryLogix and will be available once the standard has been published. With FactoryLogix, the ability to take full and immediate advantage of innovations such as CFX is built into the core concept of the platform, such that FactoryLogix will continue to be the leader in the revolution for true manufacturing digitalization, bringing maximum value opportunities to customers. Without this approach, the journey for manufacturing towards Industry 4.0 factories of the future will not be practically or cost-effectively achievable.

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