Newsletter item 2_Arrowhead
  • Published on 11 May 2016
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Arrowhead: breaking down the barriers to collaborative automation

With new dynamic interactions occurring between energy producers and energy consumers, between machines, between systems, between people and systems, and so on, cooperative automation is the key for these dynamic interactions and is enabled by the technology developed around the Internet of Things and Service Oriented Architectures. Arrowhead addresses these issues by focusing on collaborative automation and digitisation for production, smart buildings and infrastructures, electro-mobility and the virtual market of energy.  The project provides n local automation cloud  approach to support this collaborative automation and digitisation.  The local clouds are supported by a number of core services enabling real time control, automation security and system engineering and administration. With the project entering its final twelve months, what has been achieved, where does the project now stand and what are the recent developments – technology, dissemination and business – that should excite the senses?

Wiki – lowering the threshold, raising the profile

And how better to inform stakeholders, interested parties and the wider public about the developments, trends and results than through a wiki page, or the Arrowhead Framework Wiki, the main entry point to documentation and code for the Arrowhead Framework, which addresses IoT based automation based on the notion of local automation clouds. A local Arrowhead Framework cloud is comparable with a global cloud that provides improvements and guarantees regarding real-time data handling, data and system security, and automation system engineering.

The Arrowhead Framework builds on one of the fundamental principles of Service-Oriented Architecture, loose coupling. A service-consuming system has little or even no knowledge of other systems that provides the services it is interested in consuming. Systems can be deployed in networks without being initially bound to other systems, where service bindings (establishing a service instance provision-consumption binding) can be established, broken up or changed in runtime. Which is precisely what the Arrowhead Framework supports.

The wiki page contains links to architecture, code examples, working code and working systems plus documentation on how to use the Arrowhead Framework and how to implement your own IoT automation services and systems. The wiki aims to support the wider use of the Arrowhead Framework among the (potential) user community and act as a kind of meeting place where ideas can be shared and where organic growth and change can be facilitated .

A European project with widespread, global appeal

Of course, collaborative automation, driven by software and distributed through the Internet of Things, knows no borders. Over the past few months Arrowhead has scheduled the second generation of demonstrators and has been invited to give keynote speeches at a number of interesting and important conferences, which provided a real opportunity to spread the message about what the Arrowhead project is doing and accomplishing. Invited keynote speeches have been made at IEEE ETFA Sept. 2015, Luxemburg, DATASYS, Brussels June 2015, Swedish embassy, Tokyo Nov. 2015.  As an outcome  USA companies are voicing requests for the active standardisation of Arrowhead Framework. Good news spreads fast in our interconnected world, and with some companies already claiming that results of the Arrowhead project already enabling savings on engineering costs by a factor of five, it should be no surprise that the results of Arrowhead have filtered as far afield as Japan, where real tangible interest is being shown in the project. Project leader Jerker Delsing was recently invited to give a keynote presentation at the Japanese embassy in Stockholm, and a number of the Japanese company representatives present were keen to continue discussions. Furthermore, the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, has expressed interest in finding out more, with talks planned with representatives visiting Europe this year. 

Speaking of mining, a good example of how the Arrowhead results have transferred into real technology is the Smart Rockbolt developed by Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and Eistec AB, winner of the IPSO (Internet Protocol for Smart Objects) challenge. Using results from the Arrowhead project, a low-power IoT device has been produced for industrial and mining applications. This device, a standard rock bolt with embedded electronics capable of a multi-year battery lifetime, aims to provide a safer working environment for people working in mines by providing online, real-time monitoring so that hazardous levels of seismicity or load will automatically generate optical alarms using multi-coloured high power LEDs, as well as wireless alarms in mine control systems. The design team employed 6LoWPAN for IP-based wireless communication, IPv6 and IPsec for secure communication, NTP for time synchronisation, CoAP for data transfer, OMA LWM2M for device management and metadata, and IPSO Smart Objects as the object model for sensors and actuators, among other technologies. Although the Smart Rockbolt is targeted at the mining industry, it could be applied to bridges, tunnels, quake infrastructure or any other domain that could benefit from vibration or load measurements.

It is very clear that the Arrowhead project has captivated not only the imagination but is also gaining growing support and demand for the Arrowhead Framework. The community is increasing in size and strength, demand is tangible and the foundation has been laid for collaborative automation to have widespread real business impact.