Just a few years ago, there was some question as to whether the IoT revolution would impact the industrial sector. Today, of course, we know the answer as the benefits for factory productivity and automation inherent in Industry 4.0 were simply too great to be ignored. The next industrial revolution is well underway. Now the question is how much will the impact of the industrial IoT be?
According to a McKinsey study, using IoT connectivity to optimize oil rigs, power grids, factory floors, and thousands of other industrial applications add up to trillions of dollars in economic impact. They estimate that IIoT for factories alone could generate more than $3.7 trillion in economic value by 2025.
One of the key paradigm changes driven by the IIoT is the shift in focus from hardware to software. The integration of embedded software in Internet-connected manufacturing devices, systems, and complete factories has created an environment where features and functionality of smart devices can be adjusted and manipulated by simply controlling the software. This also means functions and features can be readily monetized, which in turn opens up new business opportunities and revenue streams.
In a recent report, Gartner analysts noted that “Technology strategic planners will find next-generation software monetization is not about protection, limited to IP licensing, but about growth from enabling new models with repeatable revenue streams.”
So how are companies coping with the transformation of their longstanding business practices to deliver on the promises of Industry 4.0? In our experiences helping customers navigate this digital transformation, two areas stand out as key enablers: IP protection and licensing and entitlement management.
With the shift towards software enabled technologies, IP protection is paramount in the IIoT, since much of the IP will reside in the software. Thus, it behooves ISVs and embedded system designers to integrate software protection mechanisms to prevent software theft, reverse engineering, and device tampering.
The ease and efficiency in which manufactures can manage software licensing and entitlements in the best interests of their customers is another key. Creative license strategies will enable companies to differentiate themselves and to monetize their software features and functionality in ways that will create new business opportunities.
Let’s take a quick look at how one of our customers used our CodeMeter licensing and protection platform to protect their IP and help them refine their business strategy to take advantage of new licensing models.
ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH, based in Karlsruhe, Germany, is a pioneer in flexible, sensor-based automation solutions, specializing in the development and sales of software to standardize the workflow for robot powered automation. Industrial robots have been a ubiquitous feature of factories and production sites since they first hit the shop floor in the 1970’s. Each next generation has seen the technology evolve to new levels of accuracy, versatility, and efficiency. The IIoT and the arrival of smart factories represent another leap in robotic capabilities. ArtiMinds was well aware of the challenges ahead as well as the potential rewards offered by the IIoT.
ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite (RPS) combines online and offline programming with a unique approach to create complex robot programs without manually writing a single line of source code. ArtiMinds RPS relies on a template-based programming concept which enables users to choose from more than 60 integrated templates to build the program structure simply via drag & drop. The key element in their proprietary technology lies in the translation of a template sequence into complex robot specific source code.
In order to protect their Intellectual Property, ArtiMinds has implemented CodeMeter from Wibu-Systems, featuring a combination of hardware (CmDongles) and software (AxProtector) tools designed to protect digital assets against piracy, reverse engineering, and tampering. AxProtector fully encrypts executables and libraries for native languages as well as .NET environments and Java. Through a post-build process, it injects best-of-breed anti-debugging and anti-disassembly methods into the compiled code. Its engine remains constantly on guard for security threats, immediately interrupting software execution when hazards are detected.
Furthermore, the integrated tools inherent with Wibu-Systems CmDongles enable easy and comprehensive license and entitlement management. ArtiMinds uses the built-in unit-counters and maintenance period counters, for example, to restrict automated software updates to a valid time-bound update license. The hidden data feature of CmDongles, safe from manipulation or mishandling by the customer or third parties, is an invaluable resource to register robot IDs for robot-bound licenses.
Sven Schmidt-Rohr, CEO of ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH commented: “CodeMeter provides a comprehensive security platform for our industrial robot software suite. It delivers not just protection for our own IP as a vendor and license enforcement capabilities, but a cryptographic framework that allows our customers to protect the automation process IP they build on top of our software suite. This empowers our users to secure their production know-how against threats of all kinds, while still being able to apply this same know-how flexibly in their production. With its many deployment options, CodeMeter supports our software on shop floors with and without connectivity. Its 360° set of security functionalities has convinced us to include CodeMeter as the only commercial 3rd party element in our software suite.”
With the licensing and security features Wibu-Systems has brought to the table, ArtiMinds is in perfect position to roll out and monetize their unique robot programming competencies, helping manufacturers and robot operators around the globe to leverage the promise of Industry 4.0.