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Alleantia revolution: the beginnings

Dec 14, 2020 12:08:41 PM / by Alexander Vannas




Electronics are the undisputed backbone and are becoming the DNA of data and information collecting, sharing and processing. IIIoT&S is a fundamental, yet intangible component of “everything”, the "everything connected" Industry 4.0 chart being one corollary. The innovative plug & play strategy discussed hereafter underpins the necessary consumer-oriented implementation required to fulfil the 4.0 mandate – digital twin, monitored /controlled / assisted / autonomous ships – and effortlessly prepares the field for the 5.0 effort – full monitoring & control. Importantly, the Unique Business Values of the plug & play strategy reviewed herein benefit the industry overall: design, construction, repair, maintenance, operation refit, commercial and Navy.

From a mechanical standpoint, HIPERformance is inherently reliant on the performance of all components of a given system. The fastest hull will not make speed if propulsion components are not performing as intended in the various conditions they are meant to deliver the prescribed power in and if ship resistance is not quantified, all of that as accurately and exactly as possible.

Manufacturing of the ship, a moving object, must be executed "to a T" down to its smallest component if it is to stand a chance of delivering the prescribed performance. And, once afloat and loaded, it must operate as a perfectly tuned orchestra led by the Captain. The human's role is to make decisions supported by automation, decision which are to ensure the success of automation itself in achieving the required performance. It goes without saying that neither automation nor Captain can do much without accuracy and precision in both the monitoring and control of devices.


IIoT is the solution of the problem from the root up proposed by Industry 4.0. IIoT is more present in other industries than ours: it is once again time to be inspired, forward looking and implement proven technologies. This paper explores the Industry 4.0-type solution offered by Alleantia, Italy, in its ground-breaking approach to supplying a ubiquitous IIoT solution and how this already provides a bridge to Industry 5.0.


It all started with electricity

Alessandro Volta built the first battery in 1800, in 1882 the Edison Electric Illuminating Company brought electric light to parts of Manhattan but only in 1925 did half of all urban homes in the U.S. have electric power. The first electric refrigerator to be commercialized was Red Wolf's DOMestic ELectric Refrigerator in 1913.

Exploitation of electricity at the industrial level started in earnest at some point during the last quarter of the XIX Century. At that time, humanity crossed a no-way-back threshold and, with no idea of what was awaiting, pushed the fast forward button on the technological evolution console. As is custom, large industrial conglomerates gobbled up the commercial opportunity and, save for the stifled genial bursts of a few visionaries, electricity and all its consequences were soon corralled by Big Business - in fairness, the financial burden of development could not have been supported by any lesser players. Consumerism and Military became the inexhaustible source of innovation fuel and today, hardly one hundred years later, video is streamed from Mars (well, just about). In this paper we will explore how, in the age of GAFAM's electronic dominance, a small start-up has become the Gartner-acclaimed Erquy of the electronics industry.


From Industry 2.0 to Industry 3.0

The second industrial revolution is identified with the industrial use of electricity to create mass production. In more ways than one this was the start of modern capitalism. From a technological standpoint, the defining threshold is that of the advent of truly portable energy. Gas was already portable and widely used, but required a significant infrastructure compared to that sufficient for electricity. The ability to move energy to the location where power is required transformed not only industrial production but also, and profoundly so, society. For example, the appearance of electrical lights made it possible to consume goods and services later into the day, in places without natural light, etc. Soon after that, the appearance of refrigeration created choice in the consumption of food and other perishable goods. This profound social transformation sealed the immortality of consumerisms and the exponential growth of waste. Consumerism and waste became at this point symbiotic and will reach critical mass at the time of Industry 4.0.


Industry 3.0 was sort of a hybrid stage, during which miniaturization revolutionized the use of electricity thereby allowing somewhat reliable communications and, as a corollary, automation. Communications, intended as the transmission of electrical (or other energy) signals, has existed since radio was invented, but the very nature of radio would preclude the support of automation until the quantum leaps in signal technology that took place over a century later. Development in communications lagged behind miniaturization for a while but was eventually slowed down for a while by the lesser progress of mechanical machines' performance.


A point of interest during this time was the eventual compounding of advances in technology, miniaturization included, and communications. But a perhaps less-"industrial" factor also played a role in feeding that compounding: object oriented programming (OOP), first "invented" at MIT in the late.


It is worth to indulge in a bit of semantics: the Greek auto prefix means self but the modern word automation indicates a "machine which performs a range of functions according to a predetermined set of coded instructions" – The Oxford Dictionary. Therefore, it is perhaps when Artificial Intelligence will be applied in a truly autonomous fashion, one that includes learning and creativity, that auto will be used correctly.

1950s. It is easy to make a parallel between OOP and the Ensemble Theory fathered by Ludwig Boltzmann in 1871, who did not see the appearance of the first OOP language, SIMULA, in 1963. By the way, Artificial Intelligence as we know it today dates back to 1956.

In the end, changes in technology started being driven by very new, ground-breaking evolution in human thought and in how humans thought of the world around them.

The closing stages of Industry 3.0 saw, ironically, a somewhat contradictory situation where the acceleration in the development of ever more powerful computers coupled with the need to be first to market caused inefficiencies and performance losses. Perhaps not a truly-scientifically proven example, but many may recall the 15 floppy disc installation set of a well-known word processor becoming a crammed 600Mb CD one version to the next and not working as well as its predecessor.

And, not an inefficiency but an inescapable performance damper, heat generation became the nemesis of miniaturization, electronics and communications.


Here comes Industry 4.0

 Vaibhav Rajkarne notes what Industry 4.0 should be: "The fourth era of industry is the era of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

CPS comprises of smart machines, storage systems and production facilities capable of autonomously exchange information, triggering actions and control each other independently. This exchange of information is done by the Industrial Internet of things (IIOT) in which thousands of sensors work real time and transfer the data to a local server or a cloud server. Here the analysis of the data is carried out by developing predictive models . . . Predictive Maintenance . . . This data is very huge and termed as Big Data. The data analysis helps the industries not only to maintain the processes but also to improve manufacturing processes, material usage, supply chain and life cycle management of the product". The absence of humans is prominent in his take.


Perhaps a little cynically, this author will argue that of the above we have today a lot of official BigData (on the unofficial front, ever wander how privacy-violating, pre-digital recordings of telephone conversations from the 1980s resurface from time to time ?), a lot of cloud computing (favouring Advertising Big Brother with Priority 1), and a lot of military high-tech (some of which admittedly derived from the commercial world).


Still a little cynically, perhaps, one might say that Industry 4.0 has not quite yet fulfilled the promise of smart machines, storage systems and production facilities capable of autonomously exchange information, triggering actions and control each other independently. If some factories and machines are becoming smarter as time goes, most remain in a barely Industry 3.0 state, if not even less developed.

This is due to many factors, one being the longevity of many machines that were designed and built to last, the cost of replacing them, a very scarce communication infrastructure in the industrial sector (incredible but true), the absence of adequate IT infrastructure at the local level and, the inevitable party spoiler, the human factor.

Another factor that deserves singling out is the attempt by large companies to achieve industrial domination by providing totally closed, monolithic systems aimed at forcing the user of their technology to remain umbilically connected to that one supplier. Not only is this uneconomical, but it actually damages the end-user by limiting or even forbidding the possibility of extending the reach of the installed Industry 4.0 ecosystem: that is the big contradiction, one may rightfully use a much stronger word, in the antinomic marketing and sales of locked, non-communicative, non-extensible "Industry 4.0" systems.

Before moving on it is relevant to mention what Industry 5.0 is deemed to be. As Master Control puts it: "The term Industry 5.0 refers to people working alongside robots and smart machines. It's about robots helping humans work better and faster by leveraging advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. It adds a personal human touch to the Industry 4.0 pillars of automation and efficiency."

It is in the in this time of the Song of Heat and Deceit that our story begins.





Alexander Vannas

Written by Alexander Vannas

With fifteen years of experience as Technical Director and General Manager of the division of SOF SpA, a company specializing in procurement and facility management, today Alex is Delivery & Service Manager for Alleantia.

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