The conferences I have attended over the past five or six years have changed since my early days as a customer or sales engineer of industrial technology. While the automation companies have been changing with the trends in technology and application, IT companies have generated much energy and thought with advances in compute platforms, storage, memory, virtual machines, and the like.

I’ve tried to stir up, maybe not controversy, but at least conversation regarding using these powerful compute platforms for both control and data. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity has progressed to a point where networked I/O is not a problem.

That leads me to what I learned from today’s sessions about implementing IIoT and digital transformation and Edge Control from Emerson Virtual Exchange. This was discrete and industrial automation day. 

Emerson’ Global User Exchange went virtual this year, and thinking outside the proverbial box, stretched it out over about six months. There are sessions January 5 (which you can see on demand) and January 7, as well as next week on January 12 and 14. These are well done as the platform companies continue to improve and provide better service. Emerson has always worked hard to present professionally done sessions. Virtual did not change things.

The opening “keynote” was introduced by Hakan Erdamar, Group President for Discrete & Industrial. Zach Gustafson, VP of Business Development for Machine Automation and Derek Thomas, VP of Strategy & Marketing for Machine Automation, discussed IIoT and digital transformation, and then introduced Warren Pruitt, VP of Global Engineering Services, Colgate-Palmolive, who related the recent digital transformation journey his company has been traveling.

The key messages include using IIoT connectivity for data, starting small with scalable components, and using local (on-prem) compute. Use cloud for longer term analysis.

The blurb you’ll see online goes like this: Zach and Derek  go beyond the obstacles of the  “new normal” that manufacturers face are the ongoing challenges of production pressure, operational efficiency, and sustainability measures. In this unique moment in industry the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the digital transformation it enables is poised to help unleash a new era of manufacturing that is more reliable, more efficient, more connected and more sustainable than ever before. Join Zach Gustafson and Derek Thomas to gain insight into how manufacturers are getting started with unlocking trapped data in individual machines and processes to identify quantifiable savings and benefit that can then quickly scale on global levels. 

Warren’s presentation promo goes, A global consumer products leader, Colgate Palmolive is leveraging the power of Digital Transformation to help meet its aggressive global sustainability and operational performance goals. Not waiting for a silver bullet solution, Colgate’s approach is to “get started” with a test an learn mindset and scale successful lessons learned across their global footprint. Warren Pruitt shares Colgate’s implementation approach and lessons learned from the Digital Transformation efforts the organization has made to achieve the company’s objectives.

Thomas took us through a data path in his presentation going through the start small and scale theme and then landing on the latest “PACSystems” edge controller. This is a compute device that runs Linux, is open, makes extended use of Node-RED, also runs PLC control in the same processor/box, has extended open connectivity, and utilizes most standard industrial protocols.

Edge control is redefining the traditional control model by bringing together OT and IT technology in a single solution capable of logic, data management and analytics. This incredible evolution and transformation of PLCs and Industrial PCs is creating new possibilities for tackling today’s IIoT and digital transformation challenges by enabling customers to start small at a machine, scale to plant-wide analytics, and make manageable investments with a single platform. Learn how Emerson’s PACSystems RX3i CPL410 Edge Controller can operate as either an IIoT-enabled PLC or an advanced supervisory controller for your manufacturing operations. This industry leading controller combines the powerful PACSystems runtime, PACEdge IoT platform and Movicon WebHMI to deliver unmatched capability and possibilities for customers. Derek Thomas, Vice President, Marketing & Strategy, Emerson.

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