Will Data Confidence Fabrics Unlock Smart Factories?

In this article I give a brief introduction to the Data Confidence Fabric idea, which is based on the Distributed Ledger Technology IOTA. I will then show how they could solve a big challenge in the ongoing push towards Smart Factories.

Data Confidence Fabric

The term Data Confidence Fabric borrows from the definition of Data Fabrics, an architecture that uses overarching functionality to simplify data management in hybrid cloud environments.

The name comes from Project Alvarium, a collaboration between the IOTA Foundation, Dell and Intel.

Data Confidence Fabric, IOTA

As the name suggests, DCFs are about creating trust across distributed systems. Which are, as we will see later, common in Smart Factories.

Basically, the goal is to have a backbone of trustworthy data.

Recent news announced the integration of project Alvarium into the Linux Foundation driven open source edge framework ‘LF Edge’.

The Challenge with Smart Factories

Smart Factories were first mentioned in Germany’s hightech strategy Industrie 4.0. The idea wraps around the next level of manufacturing that organizes its production and logistic processes automatically.

This ambitious vision will likely take many years if not decades to see a wide adoption. Nevertheless, digital transformation is also happening in factories.

From a technological point of view, one of the biggest challenges here is shopfloor data management. More precisely, the data management around assets such as machines, tools or sensors.

Today, there is a vast landscape of protocols, software and services. Basically a distributed system with high integration costs.

Machine builders sit on the closed interfaces of their machines and charge high prices for access. This also hinders flexibility.

However, this is the past. My vision of the future for Smart Factory data management is based on the Industrial Data Marketplace. In a few words, I believe in a marketplace of data-driven services that enables SaaS business models right at the edge.

Data Confidence Fabrics + Smart Factories

So, as I outlined above, looking at factories today, we basically have distributed systems with low integration and flexibility.

How do we get from this starting point to the vision of the Industrial Data Marketplace?

The basis for everything is trust, because that’s the only way new business models can emerge directly at the edge. The next step is to create incentives for machine builders, sensor manufacturers and the like to open up.

Imagine an innovation ecosystem with an Apple-like App Store but with connected data based on smart contracts.

In this context, it could be that machines are bought today, leased tomorrow and an all-inclusive service such as “automated placement” is obtained as a service the day after tomorrow.

This makes sense not only with regard to a possible circular economy, in which manufacturers retain their goods as a holistic life cycle.

This could be another step towards Smart Factories. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter.

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Image Source: Pixabay, Pixabay License

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