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Issue 108

Digitalization in Engineering Manufacturing and Industrial IoT

Bogdan Bindea
Software Engineer @ Bosch Engineering Center Cluj
PROGRAMMING

We live in a world of constant development and change. But, how can we adapt to all of these changes? The answer is quite simple, we must bring Digitalization in Engineering, Manufacturing and Industrial IoT. In this paper, we would aim to dive-in in a solution that could help us reach the desired level of digitalization, by changing the way we see the "world" and by changing the way the computers understand the data that they are manipulating.

Digital transformation

What does Digital Transformation refer to? In order to understand the meaning of this complex process, we have to understand the blocks that are building up the process, we have to understand what Digitization, Digitalization and Digital transformation refers to. At the first look, those concepts seem to be quite similar, right? In reality, they have a distinct meaning, it is not only a semantic exercise.

When talking about digitization, we talk about the process of converting the analog data into digital data. For example, let's suppose that a person, John, comes to us and ask to manipulate some data that he will provides in a hard paper format. In order to create an easy to maintain and efficient program, we have to digitize the data. In other words, we have to convert the data from an analog format into a digital one, that is machine readable - basically containing 0s and 1s - data that can be processed, stored and manipulated by a computer.

Digitalization refers to the way in which many domains are restructured around communication and media infrastructures, changing the way people interact, by moving away from an analog communication system to the digitalized ones, by employing the process of digital technologies and information to transform the business operation. Strictly speaking, digitization is the use of digital technologies and digitized data to change a business model an provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities.

At least, but not last, the digital transformation represents the top level, being beyond digitalization. It is based on the digital technologies and the cultural change, that basically highlight a customer-driven strategic business transformation that requires cross-cutting organizational change, as well as the implementation of digital technologies.

To sum up, if we want to bring Digitalization in our day-to-day life, we have to create the linkage between the data and the customers that will use the applications in order to support their daily lives, by achieving the desired digital transformation level focusing on people, processes, methods and tools.

Semantic Web

Since we have clarified what is the Digitalization process, we can look at a possible way of bringing digitalization in the engineering field based on the Web Development process. During this part we are going to see how can we reach a high digitalization level using a Web Application.

One of the main pillars from the digitalization process is the Semantic Web. What does Semantic Web mean? In order to understand what this term means we have to understand what WWW refers to. WWW is the World Wie Web which apparently is based on an interesting paradox - it is made with computers for humans. All the websites that we browse every day, use natural language, images and basically HTML and CSS to present information in a way that is easy for us, as humans, to understand. Even though they are central to creating and maintaining the web, the computers themselves cannot see relationships between data, cannot make sense of all the data that they use, cannot read the data nor to make decision like we can do. Now, we can answer the question. Semantic web is an extension of the World Wide Web, where the information has well defined meaning, being tagged in such a way that it can be manipulated by the computers. In other words, Semantic Web, enables the machines and people to work in cooperation to achieve the same goal.

How does the Semantic Web work? In order to understand better the process that runs behind the scenes, in our story behind the monitors, let's supposed that we would like to buy a car. What do we normally do first? We have to know exactly what we want. Let's say that we want to buy a SUV. Secondly, we want it to be as affordable as possible, but we do not want a second hand one. Thirdly, we want to have the smallest manipulation fee as possible (like transport and handling), but we do not want to wait a long time for it. What do humans normally do? The first thing that came into our minds is to go on the web and browse different websites until we find the best deal that fits our needs, by comparing the products against our criteria or set of rules, or use different comparing tools. In other words, the customer needs to do most of the "virtual" hard work. But, thanks to Semantic web, we have another option. We, as customers, can enters our preferences, the so-called set of rules, into a computerized agent which will do the search for us, and retrieve the best option that matches our requirements. That agent can be so powerful in a way that it can learn our habits and preferences such that, if we had a bad experience with a retailer partner, he will not order from the respective retailer agency again. How does the agent to this? The difference between the agent and the humans is that the humans looks at pictures and the description that is provided by the retailer, while the agent looks at the metadata - machine readable data that describes other data invisible to humans but visible to computers - that clearly identify and define what does the agent needs to know by using technologies such as RDF (Resource Description Framework) and WOL (web ontology language).

Let's take an example: "John works at Bosch". We suppose that the text is from a website that will be annotated, connecting a person with the place where they work. In the next images, we will see how an agent sees the example above mentioned in a web page.

<div vocab = “ https://schema.org/ ” 
     typeof = “Person”>

     <span property = “name”> John </span> works at
     <span property = “worksFor” 
      typeOf = “Corporation” 
      href= “https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q234021 ”>
        <span property = “name”> Bosch </span>
     </span>

As we can noticed, we as humans can see some plain text "John works at Bosch" but the agent is so powerful that it can create all the relationships between the entities, and make the correlations between different entities.

Conclusion

Berners Lee once said: "I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web - the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A "Semantic Web", which makes this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The "intelligent agents" people have touted for ages will finally materialize.".

The world is changing; hence, we must adapt ourselves and to change the way we see and interact with the data by bringing the digitalization breeze in the engineering area. Semantic web is one of the most powerful tools available on the market that are just there, waiting for us to go and use them. Are we up for the challenge?

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