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Boosting the adoption of Industry 4.0 through Internet of Things, industrial standards and software engineering

Markel Iglesias


  • DIRECTORS: Diego Casado and Aitor Urbieta
  • UNIVERSITY: Deusto


With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), everyday objects are getting interconnected. These electronic devices are not only microcontrollers or microprocessors, but also other kind of objects such as food or clothing. In this new technological wave, lightweight network protocols are needed to connect these objects to the IoT. The main features of these are low network, energy and resource requirements. Relevant examples are the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) or the Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT). When applying the IoT to the industrial domain, it appears the concept of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is one of the main enablers of the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. However, as industrial life cycles are longer than consumer ones, and the industry is more conservative, it is slower adopting new technologies, and the used systems for monitoring and actuating are usually siloed from other systems.

Taking this issue in mind, the work carried out during this thesis aims to alleviate this latter fact, helping to develop interoperable and reliable systems for industry in a faster and more efficient way, with the final goal of accelerating the adoption of Industry 4.0. To do that, first, MQTT and CoAP are surveyed and compared, aiming to select the most suitable to continue carrying on the work with one of them. This first iteration of the work resulted in selecting CoAP. From there, different open and available libraries of CoAP have been compared, including security features which are paramount for industry adoption. Then, the industrial standard IEC 61850 used for modelling, controlling and monitoring electrical substations, has been selected to add interoperability to the systems and avoid siloed deployments. It has been mapped to CoAP on a first stage, and then, the performance of the mapping was compared against other approaches from the body of literature that applied HTTP and SOAP. This mapping has sufficed some barriers because of the CoAP protocol limitations. More concretely, on its Observe extension which allows using CoAP following a publish-subscribe model. These limitations are focused on the subscription process. Hence, the next contribution of this thesis has been to propose and evaluate enhanced methods for subscribing to CoAP resources, to apply them to the IEC 61850 mapping. Finally, the last contribution of this thesis has been to apply software engineering techniques to improve the software development process for industrial devices, allowing faster and better software generation and reuse. To this end, two different specifications have been tested. On the one hand, the already mentioned IEC 61850. On the other hand, the more generic Web of Thing (WoT), which aims to use already existing standards to overcome the interoperability issues and transform the IoT on the WoT. That is, the same way the Internet was transformed on the World Wide Web (WWW) in the early nineties.

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