Moxa provides a full spectrum of products for industrial networking, computing, and automation, and maintains a distribution and service network that reaches customers in more than 70 countries.
Its products have connected over 50 million devices worldwide in a wide range of applications, including factory automation, smart rail, smart grid, intelligent transportation, oil & gas, marine, and mining. Here, Robin Duke-Woolley (RDW), CEO of IoT industry analyst firm Beecham Research, interviews Stefan Palm (SP), business development manager – Embedded Computing at Moxa.
RDW: The convergence between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) has meant a significant change for industrial environments. What is Moxa’s approach to bridge the gap between these two worlds?
SP: Actually, it is a change for the people in the IT environment, too, because both worlds are moving closer together – and OT as well as IT people have to leave their comfort zones as they are being confronted with the reality that has developed outside of their scope.
For both kinds of experts it can be compared with starting to learn a new foreign language. OT people are used to Fieldbus protocols that are often based on serial communication principles. They have developed efficient ways to pass the information gathered by sensors on to the management level, for example via SCADA systems. Yet, they are not very familiar with systems in an enterprise environment that use TCP/IP based protocols to efficiently transfer information over the Internet, store it in datacenters and manage the big data in a way that enables them to retrieve information through the visibility of a much bigger database.
This is the expertise and domain of the IT people who are usually unaware how the data from a single sensor finds its way into the enterprise world. As an expert in acquiring data in the field, converting it from one protocol to another and then transferring it securely and reliably, Moxa bridges the gap and makes the data available in a format that IT people are used to and can deal with.
The same happens in the other direction when it comes to giving commands towards devices in the field as a result of complex analyses done in data centers. These commands, of course, also need to be converted into a format OT people can understand and manage.
Moxa´s core business is to build the foundation for successful IIoT and Industry 4.0 implementations by connecting even legacy devices and making the data available and understandable for people in both worlds.