Crossbar.io and Mindsphere - At the Show

, Alexander Goedde

As part of our cooperation with Siemens MindSphere (Siemens' IIoT platform, we're a gold partner), we joined them at the SPS IPC Drives trade show this year. Three exciting days of presenting Crossbar.io, connecting with people and sounding the waters with industrial users.

The presentation was met with very positive feedback - including from Klaus Helmrich, member of the Siemens board and responsible for factory automation within the company.

photo of Klaus Helmrich, member of the Siemens board, visiting the booth
Klaus Helmrich, member of the Siemens board (third from left) visiting our booth

MindSphere - German Industry Goes IIoT

Siemens is omnipresent brand and company in Germany, and they are a core supplier of industrial equipment here and across much of the world. In particular they are market leader in industrial automation technology.

MindSphere, Siemens' industrial IoT development platform, reflects their expertise and deep roots in the manufacturing and industrial sector. Their deep roots in the manufacturing and industrial sector give them a great basis to get a wide range of users on board, especially the huge amount of companies beyond the large enterprises and eager early adopters.

mindsphere key visual - lots of dots and lines with 'mindsphere' written in the middle

We at Crossbar.io have been in close contact with Siemens over the past few months, both about pilot projects using Crossbar.io with industrial customers, and for using Crossbar.io as part of the MindSphere platform. As a result, the first projects are about to start, and we are now also a Siemens MindSphere gold partner.

The Meeting Point for Industrial Automation

The SPS IPC Drives is the core trade show for Siemens, and is the central show world-wide, for industrial automation technology. Besides the traditional halls filled with cables, connectors, motors, sensors and controllers the focus in recent years has increasingly shifted to industrial IoT solutions.

Siemens has its own large hall at this trade show, and the the MindSphere lounge in the upper floor is a central part of their presentation.

photo of the Siemens hall at the SPS IPC Drives 2018 trade show
There's a lot of Siemens to show

While a pure digital world often lacks a magic "hands on" aspect we were lucky to present our technology in connection with an impressive use case - the ambos.io smart logistics tower. This allows the compact storage of small parts at assembly workplaces. Using Crossbar.io for connectivity, it integrates fully with assembly support systems and allows live stocktaking. This supports quality control, as well as improved refill strategies and purchasing.

photo of the smart logistics tower with Markus from Crossbar.io next to it
What a nice product to present!

It was great to have something physical, concrete (and moving) to start the conversations. Middleware such as Crossbar.io is always tough to explain, and the tower as a use case provided a practical framing and good basis for further information and deeper dives. This allowed us to present the advantages of Crossbar.io for the industrial IoT:

  • The Web Application Messaging Protocol (WAMP) whose development we support offers a control channel in addition to the omnipresent collection of information via PubSub. Reacting to data does not have to occur via reports and dashboards, but can be fully automated.
  • Crossbar.io allows the seamless integration of WAMP, MQTT and REST APIs, enabling integration into the brownfield deployments out there in industry.
  • Crossbar.io passed a rigorous black box penetration testing by the Continental security team (Continental is the world's second biggest automotive supplier)
  • Crossbar.io offers a platform for IoT application development in addition to the core routing functionality.
photo of the ambos.io booth
Our booth

We presented both a dashboard to visualize data from different stakeholders (in contrast to the multitude of single-vendor solutions for a specific brand of hardware) and the commercial administration UI and backend for Crossbar.io. The latter is under intense development, and offers a whole slew of features, from live monitoring of connected Crossbar.io nodes to the remote management of Docker containers using Crossbar.io. This includes live shell access into those containers via the UI.

The latter is especially interesting for edge device management. Edge seems to have replaced data collection as the new buzzword in the industrial area, as the challenges inherent with transmitting live machine data into the cloud become more and more obvious.

photo of the dashboard being displayed in our booth
Information at your fingertips

It was very interesting to talk to a broad range of stakeholders - from software developers to machine builders, production engineers to sales and marketing. The overall take-away was that there is widespread awareness of the coming changes linked to the industrial IoT. All parties involved are now starting to explore what precisely to do not to be left behind - or even actively drive this change. Things are moving forward, and we are excited to be part of this movement!

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