C-Labs Tackles IoT Security, Connectivity Challenges

Frame-Relay is an industrial-grade IoT software platform from C-Labs that simplifies the connection of different types of industrial equipment and devices.

Frame-Relay lets engineers and plant floor personnel securely access live IoT data on mobile devices. Image Courtesy of C-Labs


One of the promises of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is to provide a mechanism for plant managers and designers of shop floor equipment to collect lots of data and mine it for insights. The data cold be used to determine the health of machines for preventive maintenance, for example, or sent back into engineering to guide future product development.

As part of this vision, that active intelligence gleaned from mining the deluge of data coming off of sensored plant floor equipment and enterprise systems, would be accessible to plant floor operators, engineers and maintenance personnel on their device of choice, be it a PC, tablet, or smartphone. While the potential benefits are huge, the hurdles to creating this closed loop IIoT vision are many given that previously standalone operational systems need to be integrated with mainstream enterprise IT platforms. The complexity of doing this raises a host of issues, from security requirements to the need to address compatibility with myriad industrial protocols.

Frame-Relay lets engineers and plant floor personnel securely access live IoT data on mobile devices. Image Courtesy of C-Labs Factory-Relay lets engineers and plant floor personnel securely access live IoT data on mobile devices. Image Courtesy of C-Labs

Enter C-Labs, a company offering Factory-Relay, an industrial-grade IoT software platform that simplifies the connection of different types of industrial equipment and devices. The software connects enterprise and industrial systems, delivering live access to equipment and IoT data in any location, in compliance with IT security and access policies. It also automatically provisions a user interface that replicates the factory floor Human Machine Interface (HMI) on mobile devices, which according to C-Labs provides access to critical insights gleaned from IIoT data anywhere shop floor personnel or engineers happen to be working.

C-Labs Factory-Relay securely connects OT and IT networks by avoiding unsafe communication paths. Image Courtesy of C-Labs C-Labs Factory-Relay securely connects OT and IT networks by avoiding unsafe communication paths. Image Courtesy of C-Labs

“Our software delivers live access to industrial equipment and IoT data without sidestepping enterprise security,” said John Traynor, the company’s chief operating officer. While market estimates for the IIoT are expected to hit $151 billion by 2020, security concerns and the complexity of adoption are huge stumbling blocks, according to C-Labs. BI Intelligence found that 82% of companies expect to deploy an IoT solution by 2017, but 42% are holding back due to concerns surrounding physical security with 38% stalled due to the inability of their IT systems to keep up with change.

C-Labs’ Factory-Relay problem solves those issues, Traynor said, helping organizations get value from all the data being collected to improve plant floor performance and evolve product design strategies based on in-field product usage not just anecdotal feedback. “Instead of guessing at what the causes of failure are in the field with a particular product, you can get feedback into the state of equipment before it’s failed and as to how it’s being used,” he explained.

Most recently, AXOOM announced plans to include Factory-Relay in its industrial automation products because of its breadth of security functionality, according to a press release. Nebbiolo Technologies is implementing the technology as part of its process automation platform in part because it simplifies integration with a broad range of industrial equipment and protocols, officials in the company said in the release.

To see a demonstration of Factory-Relay, check out this video.

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About the Author

Beth Stackpole's avatar
Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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