14. Bluetooth - smart choice for smart factories

Bluetooth has become a widespread technology that many people hardly even think about, even though they use it every day. Bluetooth allows us to stay connected to a variety of devices such as smart phones, headphones, smart speakers and cars. Originally driven by the consumer market, Bluetooth technology also delivers valuable benefits in the industrial environment to create the smart factory and to build up an autonomous production. What these benefits are, what challenges can be solved by it, and how the topic of Bluetooth in the smart factory will continue to evolve, this is what we will talk about with our guest, Dilli Sharma, Director for Product Marketing at Infineon.  

Transcript

Guest: Dilli Sharma, Director of Product Marketing, Infineon
Date of publication: 22 September 2022

Moderator:

The potential of the Internet of Things is well known. But how do we actually implement it? How can people and companies benefit from it? In this podcast, we meet experts from infineon, partners and customers who tell us how it can work and what it takes to Make IoT work. My name is Thomas Reinhardt, I am your host, and I am excited to have this great opportunity sharing this podcast with all of you.

Bluetooth has become a widespread technology that many people hardly even think about, even though they use it every day. Bluetooth allows us to stay connected to a variety of devices such as smart phones, headphones, smart speakers and cars. Originally driven by the consumer market, Bluetooth technology also delivers valuable benefits in the industrial environment. What these benefits are, what challenges can be solved by it, and how the topic of Bluetooth in the smart factory will continue to evolve, this is what I will talk about with my guest today, Dilli Sharma.

Dilli works as Director for Product Marketing at Infineon. Welcome. It’s great to have you as our guest today!

Sharma:

The pleasure is mine. Thanks for inviting me.

Moderator:

Some time ago we made a poll at LinkedIn and asked our followers, what comes into their minds at first when they think about smart factory. And 36% of the just over 1.000 participants chose the answer “reliable, secure connectivity”. Dilli, what makes a factory really smart – in your opinion.

Sharma:

To be honest, I can think of a number of things right away - only one is difficult. But if I were to reduce it to a common denominator, it would be connectivity. It forms the backbone of the IoT. Why?

First: Smart usage of data
While production is running at full speed, huge amounts of data are collected. It is essential to collect, to analyze, to understand, and then to deploy this massive amount of data effectively and securely. Therefore, reliable connectivity is needed.

Second: Ubiquitous, reliable connections
The reliable and secured connectivity of people, machines and "things" in physical and virtual domains via wired and wireless technologies is the heartbeat of every smart factory, allowing high-speed communication for complex automation.

Third: Autonomous production
To create autonomous production, people, machines, systems and products need to communicate with each other independently and to react accordingly. Along artificial intelligence and machine learning, automation helps to reduce human intervention e.g. once manufacturing conditions deviate.

Fourth point is transparent and flexible supply chains
Real-time and end-to-end visibility, shared via reliable connectivity with all participants of the supply chain – customers and suppliers – enable smart and resilient supply chains. Issues can be anticipated at an early stage and therefore prevented before they occur.

You see: Connectivity is the prerequisite of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). To exploit the full potential of digitization, processes must be networked and optimized - the key to this is the flow of data and information in real time.

Moderator:

So at the beginning of your response you talked about massive amounts of data. Can you maybe elaborate a little bit on that?.

Sharma:

Connected devices and sensors at a single smart factory can gather up to 1.44 billion data points per day, even from legacy equipment. This raw data is extremely valuable in making business decisions once it is collected, secured and analyzed. One such benefit of this collected data is the reduction of equipment failure and downtime. Research by Deloitte has shown that poor maintenance can reduce a plant’s productivity by 5 to 20 percent and cost manufacturers worldwide an estimated $50 billion annually.

Moderator:

To focus on the topic of connectivity: How important are wireless technologies in a smart factory?

Sharma:

Wireless technologies like Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® technology for content streaming and Bluetooth Low Energy technology for ultra-low-power connectivity form the backbone of the IoT and are also shaping Industry 4.0. If we take a closer look at Bluetooth, there are some very good reasons why it is also suitable for IIoT:

Why it is also suitable for the Industrial IoT is that Bluetooth is highly resistant to interference: Bluetooth is a good choice for noisier environments and is well suited for applications with lower data rates and setting data at periodic intervals. And adaptive frequency hopping helps ensure data successfully makes its way through the noise clutter. Individual messages are broken into small data packets, which are sent securely over different channels in a predefined sequence, known only to the transmitting and receiving devices. As many as 1,600 channel-switches can take place every second.

Bluetooth can operate many wireless devices in the same space: So Bluetooth technology allows for the operation of large numbers of devices in close proximity, perfect for the smart factory environment. Short data packages, which are ideal for industrial measurement and control applications, only need to be briefly transmitted over the air. Bluetooth’s automatic power control features ensure that data is broadcast at only the required strength, saving on power and reducing noise. These factors help free up airwaves for other devices to share.

Third: Bluetooth can correct errors: As already mentioned, there are huge amounts of data collected in a smart factory. When this data is transmitted over long distances, in noisy environments or areas with physical interference the chance of errors entering the data stream increases. Bluetooth can automatically correct these by switching data channels or through Forward Error Correction (FEC) once data arrives at the receiver.

Many industrial devices still rely on serial ports, but these devices can still be adapted to Bluetooth through aserial port profile. Bluetooth LE provides for a separate UUID that identifies each device. The UUID is also used by the Bluetooth application to help link and create information coming into and from a specific Bluetooth device. In that way Bluetooth makes it really easy to integrate into existing industrial systems.

And finally security: Bluetooth has built-in security. In addition to secure programming and secure provisioning, three other security features make Bluetooth a great platform for sharing data wirelessly. The first is adaptive frequency hopping that transmits data on a random sequence of channels. The second is the LE Secure Connections feature in Bluetooth 4.2 and newer that prevents data from being intercepted in man-in-the-middle cyberattacks. The third is that Bluetooth devices can be made invisible, meaning hackers can’t discover them. Device connections are only permitted between devices that have been previously paired. Regardless of the path chosen for security, redundancy is strongly recommended.

Moderator:

So Bluetooth is not only a smart choice for customer applications where it already has received a lot of attention, but it is also incredibly well suited for applications in smart factories. Now, after all, Infineon has managed to ship more than a billion times its AIROC™ products for wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, Bluetooth® Low Energy and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® combinations. Why? What specific challenges can these products address?

Sharma:

In the industrial IoT there is a number of requirements. One is to have enough processing power for sensor interfaces and calculations to do things on the edge. Second is to do low power operations for sensor nodes and that a lot of systems can be battery powered and that is essential for extending the life. Extended range support: If you have got really large factory floors or systems, it is essential for everything being able to connect into the network. To have extended temperature support: If you look at lighting of other environments with higher temperatures it is important to be able to operate. And security is also key. As well as to have interfaces to different sensors and applications.

So how can we now help anyone with that? Our AIROC portfolio is a broad portfolio of devices that deliver powerful, reliable and low power connectivity for IoT applications. It includes our family of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo devices and Bluetooth multipart systems and chips. With more that a billion wireless devices in the field we have developed a great deal of system expertise with is fed back into our products to ensure the best interoperability and performance in really challenging system environments. The AIROC Bluetooth portfolio helps our customer bring great products to market faster with key attributes of reliability, low power and high-performance.

Moderator:

What are the concrete benefits for customers?

Sharma:

We have already mentioned that reliable connectivity is really foundational for the industrial IoT. So here we help by reduction of drop packets during transmission what is really improving the customer experience weather you are in a factory or using a wearable. The capability to do compute at the edge reduces a lot of the data latencies and the centralized compute costs.

Integration of analog and digital ICs into chipset allowing for easy interfacing with internal components. So this high degree of integration results in a reduced system BOM for IoT applications. So it gets cheaper to implement. Another step in terms of helping our customer to get their products to market quicker by leveraging AIROC Bluetooth modules is that these are certified with the global regulatory bodies. And finally we have a rich software ecosystem of best-in-class Bluetooth development experience provided in ModusToolbox. This helps our customers to reduce costs, it is built for robust connectivity, includes code examples to help you get to market faster, and to focus on production differentiation.

Moderator:

Dilli, at the end of each podcast episode, I like to ask my guests to look into the crystal ball: What do you think? How will the Industrial IoT evolve? What challenges will it have to overcome in the future? And how will manufacturers like us have to respond to them?

Sharma:

One of the things we see is that the pace of data is not sliding down. So to not only manage the different equipment that may be used in your factory and to leverage Artificial Intelligence to run algorithms to analyze all the data that is coming in to do things like predictive maintenance that we mentioned earlier, but to also be able to apply that with managing the flow of goods and services to understand how that is moving through the factory: that will change. Having technologies like high accuracy distance measurement will enable efficient tracking of those goods and services in addition to everything else that is happening within the factory floor with respect to applying more compute locally so that you have really low latency. So it is really about taking advantage of all the data that is being collected and making sense of it to really optimize not only the machinery but also the flow of goods and services within the factory.

Moderator:

Thank you very much for these insights, Dilli. And to our listeners: Thanks for listening to The MakeIoTwork Podcast episode with our Guest Dilli Sharma. We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the fascinating world of IoT and the role of communication technologies. If you’re keen to get more insights into the world of IoT, visit our website www.infineon.io! And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and leave a rating. We would be very happy about that. That’s all for this episode, see you next time!