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Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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ISA-95 and IIoT: Power is Nothing Without Control

The Internet, Internet of Things (IoT), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Many different terms have been attached to the word “internet” since the digital era was born, enhancing applications in different business and industrial environments. Indeed, don’t be surprised if this list of terms continues to increase over time.

The Origins

However fashionable the term IoT or IIoT is nowadays, the concept is far from new. In 1982, a soft drink vending machine situated at the Carnegie Mellon University of Pennsylvania was connected to a network. The idea came about when computing science students had to cross the whole campus to buy a soft drink, only to find the machine totally empty.

To solve this problem, they engineered a device able to count the number of remaining cans in the vending machine and connected it to the department´s computer through ARPANET, a network within the university. In 1983, ARPANET adopted the TCP/IP protocol and Arpanet Internet was created, later simplified as “Internet” (International Net).

It was not until 1999 that Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things” to refer to a system which connected the RFID sensors of the Protect & Gamble supply chain to the internet; the machines and their paths would always be trackable to apply further optimizations and improvements. Ashton described the term Internet of Things as, “a system where the internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors.”

In late 2012, General Electric first used the term “Industrial Internet of Things” to refer to the use of IoT in industrial applications and shortly created the GE Digital Division. Since then, the number of IoT devices installed has exponentially grown to reach one million devices connected per hour in 2021, a figure which implies 20 billion of IoT devices connected according to Gartner.

However, 70% of collected data is estimated not to have any use at the end of the day, but this data will certainly cause an important cost in data storage (cloud or on-premise), processing, and bandwidth consumption, among others. There is so much data collected per minute that it is generating an exponential growth in the necessary data centers needed to collect, process, and filter them, even though they might never be used. It has also represented an exponential growth in edge computing, cybersecurity, and the rest of the technologies associated with Industry 4.0.

Undoubtedly, IoT technologies offer many advantages, as long as they are seen as a set of “tools” or technological means to reach a goal (production optimization, cost reduction), and not as an end itself. Which is what tends to happen with trends. As portrayed in a tire advertisement in 1995, where an Olympic sprinter appeared in high heels, “Power is nothing without control.”

The ANSI/ISA-S95 Standard

In spite of the recommendations to identify the “what for” first and apply the new technologies after (following best practices), very often we find ourselves adopting the technologies first to then decide what can be obtained from them. For the application of best practices, the ANSI/ISA-S95 standard (internationally known as IEC 62264) has prevailed globally since its origins in 1990, and has been recognized as the reference model for plant control systems within business systems integration.

They are grouped as the following:

  • Part 1: Models and Terminology
  • Part 2: Object Model Attributes
  • Part 3: Activity Models of Manufacturing Operations Management
  • Part 4: Objects and Attributes for Manufacturing Operations Management Integration
  • Part 5: Business-to-Manufacturing Transactions
  • Part 6: Alias Service Model

The fast revolution of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things has forced a revision of the standard, so that it includes the integration in “real-time” of hundreds of different devices with a wide variety of protocols between the several layers.

Specifically, Parts 1, 2, and 4 have been and continue to be updated, while two new parts have also been included:

  • Part 8: Manufacturing Operations Management Information Exchange Profiles
  • Part 9: Common Operations Management Events


The ISA-S95 standard will therefore remain valid while it adapts to new and existing IIoT technologies. One of the objectives of the SM & IIoT Division is, among others, to spread the best-practices of applying the S95 standard to enterprise-control system integration.

David Jimenez
David Jimenez
David Jimenez holds a Bachelor's degree in Physics in the specialty of Industrial Automation, and a Master's degree at IESE Business School. During the last 20 years he has developed his career in some of the most innovative automation companies such as Rockwell Automation and General Electric. Since 2011, he held the position of Regional Sales Manager in the German group Rittal. He contributes to the leadership committee of the Smart Manufacturing & IIoT Division of ISA (International Society of Automation) as Division Liaison EMEA, and also as a member of the ISA Spanish Board.

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