For many years, companies developed, produced, and sold products to serve specific roles and address a particular range of needs. There have also been product lines with numerous models to enable users to deal with their issues in a slightly more specific way, but no two users experience precisely the same difficulties. Today, the traditional “one-size-fits-all” model is undergoing a sea change to a new paradigm. Developers are working in close cooperation with users and other parties involved to create holistic solutions that address each individual user’s issues, thereby delivering the maximum possible value.

The Future of Communications Begins to Take Shape
— Meteoric growth in internet use and increasing sophistication in communications technology gives rise to instantaneous information sharing

The concept of “ubiquitous computing” made its way from research facilities to general business companies in the early 1990s, and it didn’t stop there. Use of the Internet, which opened the door to just about every kind of information imaginable, grew from 16 million (0.4% of the world’s population) in December 1995 to over 360 million (5.8%) by the close of the decade. With this expansion of internet access and browsers as our interface, we became able to access data anywhere in the world with ease. This effected an epic change in people’s daily lives, and represented a tangible incarnation of ubiquitous computing and the origin of what would become the Internet of Things (IoT).

The concept of ubiquitous computing continued its development and evolution toward practical application. As a technological means of bringing the concept to fruition, sensor networks began to attract attention, and around the world people were looking closely at the most feasible applications for sensor networks, and at the optimal uses for the data acquired.

In the late 1990s, work began on a new network communication standard, leading to the formation of an alliance of users and service providers several years later. The new protocol, ZigBee, enabled communication among low-power devices deployed across a wider area. The release of the ZigBee standard, and products based on it, was the first concrete result of intense competition in wireless sensor network technologies.

Around the time of the release of the ZigBee wireless communication protocol, work was proceeding on an even more advanced wireless sensor network standard for industrial automation. In 2005, a committee comprising vendors, users, companies, government and others was established to develop and cultivate “ISA100 Wireless.” Officially released by the ISA100 Committee in 2009, the ISA100 Wireless standard spread from the United States to attain global-scale acceptance, earning approval from the Switzerland-based International Electrotechnical Commission in 2014.

Featuring superior reliability and security, ISA100 Wireless presented an appealing new option in an ever-more competitive environment from the standpoint of industrial automation. And while it incorporated the latest telecommunications technologies, it was also designed to be amenable to the adoption of newly emerging technologies.

Giving True Meaning to Technological Advancement
— Yokogawa’s presence as a technology leader and its dedication to co-creation accelerate the evolution of wireless technology for industrial applications

To satisfy the growing demand for higher reliability, security, and energy management efficacy in industrial communications networks, in 2010 Yokogawa introduced the world’s first products based on the ISA100 Wireless standard, which was developed to reflect user feedback gleaned through extensive communication and to directly address those needs. These products constituted a momentous accomplishment in the evolution of not only the standard, but the co-innovative approach to resolving user problems. This approach ensured a high degree of customer satisfaction and the products were highly evaluated and used on a widespread basis. It contributed to Yokogawa’s entrenchment as a technology leader through its nurturing and refinement of the new wireless standard as a key member of the ISA100 Committee. And the release of these unprecedented products represented a remarkable contribution to the advancement of operational technology (OT), which demands high-reliability, robust solutions to serve mission-critical applications.

Preceding the release of ISA100, and the advent of IoT, Yokogawa had already created its own compact wireless sensor. Originally conceived in the mid-2000s, the “Sushi Sensor”* was small, lightweight, and was designed to be easy to use, in contrast to the more powerful, highly reliable sensors of the day. Its compactness made it easy to install in outdoor facilities or on devices to monitor vibration and equipment surface temperature. The commercialized version, which emerged later, featured compatibility with near-field radio communications (NFC) which made possible setup of the interface via smartphone. This development resulted directly from discussions with users, and is a testament to the power of collaborative development. It is also representative of Yokogawa’s involvement in the evolution from IoT to Industrial IoT (IIoT).

*The Sushi Sensor will be released outside of Japan in the near future. For details, please visit the Yokogawa website.

Capitalizing on its strengths and adopting the latest IT technology enabled Yokogawa to develop this sensor, and its commitment to close cooperation with users facilitated the unearthing of new potential and possibilities for the sensor in line with the coalescence of technology and networks.

Today, the traditional “one-size-fits-all” model is undergoing a sea change to a new paradigm.

The increasing degree of sophistication achieved with sensor, network, and related technologies has gradually facilitated their incorporation in industrial automation applications, and this is serving to drive the evolution of IoT into IIoT. A prerequisite, however, in realizing this epochal transition is the integration of OT and information technology (IT)—the amalgamation of maintenance and operations, and data analysis utilizing artificial intelligence (AI)—a challenge long regarded as insurmountable.

As needs can differ—minutely or exceedingly—from one user to the next, companies cannot realistically continue the tradition of unilateral product development. A collaborative approach involving users, vendors, and other related entities enables the accurate ascertainment of specific user requirements; this, in turn, allows the full power of the technology to manifest itself and deliver maximum value to users to support the achievement of their goals.

Yokogawa announced the new comprehensive brand encompassing Yokogawa’s industrial automation and control business, OpreX™ in June 2018. The new brand represents the excellence of the technologies and solutions Yokogawa has developed through the co-creation of value with its customers. Based on its accumulated experience and proven track record, Yokogawa combines its products, services, and solutions to assist customers as they attempt to accelerate their pace of innovation while also supporting their growth and digital transformation in an era of tumultuous change.

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