APEX 2018 – The Industrial IoT Event Of The Decade


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

If you are one of the few remaining people who has not heard about the event of the decade coming up at the APEX tradeshow at the end of this month, you really need to read on. APEX is set to rock the manufacturing world in a way that has not been seen for many years. This is not just a tech-fest, it is the introduction of some serious business growth opportunities for manufacturers, machines vendors and solution providers based on the successful implementation of their Industry 4.0 solutions and enhancements.

The Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) IoT standard will have its first live demo at APEX 2018, and not in a quiet way. More than 25 of the most significant companies in the industry have stepped up to create the world’s first conversion of a show-floor into a digital factory shop-floor. As a visitor, when you arrive at the show, you will see a QR code (a 2-D barcode, called “Quick Response”) which you can read using your phone. The latest iOS and Android devices now have QR code reading ability built into the standard camera app, or, any free QR code reading app can be used. A quick “beep” and you are now looking at the home-page of the CFX show-wide demo. You will see IoT data being exchanged in real time from all participating vendors, as well as cloud-based analytics – right there on your phone. There is no special connection needed – you can use either your regular data service or the APEX show Wi-Fi. There is no software to install, no middleware to configure, no license fees to pay, no hardware interfaces to deploy. You are simply looking at high quality data coming from machines of all types, from all vendors, in a way that is consistent, detailed, accurate and timely. These machines all connect into the cloud seamlessly, a true plug and play environment. Though the ability to perform actual production on the show-floor is obviously very limited, you should visit each participating vendor’s booth, and witness the triggers at the machine itself that create and send CFX messages into the cloud, that you can then see updated on your mobile device in real time.

This is your induction to what the difference is with a true Industrial IoT standard. Rather than being constrained by legacy data formats and content that machine engineering teams  created many years ago, which were all OK in their day - before the modern digital needs of Customer was conceived, IoT data is now available that can support the most ambitious of  Industry 4.0 projects. With a clearly defined secure protocol, standard data encoding method, and defined, detailed, modern messaging content, CFX has been created through consensus with hundreds of companies across the industry, all with the same goals and targets.  The promised revolution in the industry can now be seen to be taking place. Through this demo, more than 25 vendors have already embedded the CFX SDK software toolkit into their machines. The toolkit was built by Aegis, and has been fully donated to the IPC and the industry without cost or license. Now, as result of this demo, the infrastructure to rapidly implement the rest of CFX messaging is already present and proven natively on the machines, without the requirement to convert legacy information using external hardware interfaces or conversion middleware.

The companies taking part in this demo are those who are making a commitment to the leadership and evolution of Industry 4.0 and associated technologies around factory digitalization in general. You can expect to see these companies leading the market with their Industry 4.0 solutions, in areas that include automated process utilization and efficiency optimization, active quality control, digitalized new product introduction, and a step-change improvement in the way that machines are able to cope with extreme product mix situations.

Aegis Software is proud to be a key member of the IPC Connected Factory Initiative committee, which includes machine vendors of all types, solution providers and manufacturing companies. All members of this committee share the common interest of making the digital revolution happen in this industry, now. Aegis have developed demo support software and are providing the use of the Microsoft Azure cloud server and analytics for this demonstration, free to the industry as our commitment toward driving the right way in which IoT should be done.

I anticipate that in the future, we will look back on this APEX show and ask each other where we were when the IoT revolution in the electronics assembly industry actually started.

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