AVEVA World Conference All About Digital

AVEVA World Conference All About Digital

I’m at the airport with my brain shot from all the (non-digital) information I picked up during the past two days of the AVEVA World conference in Orlando.

To be sure, this is the “New” AVEVA. It was formed when the existing engineering and design software company accepted an investment from Schneider Electric whereupon Schneider gained a 51% share and AVEVA gained the Schneider software businesses which included Wonderware, Avantis, InduSoft, and more. These latter companies were buffeted from one corporate brain fart to another for a while.

So, people now ask me, “How’s it going?”

These integrated companies seldom really work out to the extent that corporate PR would have you believe.

In this case, the integration probably exceeded expectations. The conference was well attended and buzzing with energy. I did not meet a customer attendee who wasn’t pleased with the conference and what they were getting out of it. Unlike many conferences, the breakout sessions were packed.

Overall, I am positive that I was seeing the fruition of visions I had heard from a variety of Wonderware executives as well as visionaries like Peter Martin and Chris Lyden from Foxboro (once a part of Invensys and combined–sort of–with Wonderware).

When my brain can wrap around all that I learned, I’ll post many details of the various parts–Engineering, Monitoring and Control, Planning and Operations, and Asset Performance.

My last interview was with Patrick Pando, VP of Cloud sales, who left me with one last tidbit, “Artificial Intelligence isn’t a thing. It’s what we have before we have solved the problem, at which time it is merely the solution.”

Like my last podcast where I pondered AI, which, I said, is neither artificial or intelligence.

You can see pictures and some comments on my Twitter stream @garymintchell and #AVEVAWorld.

AVEVA World Conference All About Digital

Taking a Digital Journey

Keynoters have a tough time with originality these Digital Days with everyone emphasizing Digital Transformation. Steve Lomholt-Thomson, chief revenue officer of AVEVA, took us on a Digital Journey this morning. Setting the tone of the three days of AVEVA World Congress (North America edition).

Three technology trends to watch: an IoT boom; cloud/empowered edge; and, AI / ML. The theme is digital. The Digital Organization discovers its Digital DNA, figures out how to build that Digital DNA through people who challenge the status quo; and then figures out how to track talent flow.

Which all starts us on our Digital Journey. On this journey, we unify end-to-end data, connect data silos taking an wholistic view of the business, and then visualize our assets and supply chain. I believe implied in all this is the company’s product AVEVA System Platform. The company touted six customer stories with at least five of them (and probably the sixth) all leveraging System Platform.

Oh, and the only time the “W” word was used referred to past tense.

Other areas of the company were highlighted:

Focus on assets–asset performance management including how to use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive analytics (predictive maintenance.

How to combine it all into a Digital Twin–bringing the design lifecycle and physical lifecycle into congruence.

Recently hired head of North America business, Christine Harding, interviewed customers from Campbell’s (soup/snacks), Quantum Solutions (integration project at St. Louis/Lambert airport), and Suncor (Canadian oil sands).

I have the rest of today and then tomorrow to take deeper dives into many of these topics. If there is anything you want me to ask, send a note.

AVEVA World Conference All About Digital

Vision Inspection Powered by AI

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is not necessarily the dystopian technology portrayed in books and movies. Although neither artificial or intelligent, AI can be a powerful tool in the engineer’s kit.

Recently Carl Palme of Neurala chatted with me introducing the company and what it means by AI in its vision systems. We both have some sheet metal work in our backgrounds, so we found common cause with one of the powerful applications—finding small surface anomalies.

There is also company news. In short:

  • IHI Corporation Selects Neurala to Enable Industrial Visual Inspection and Analysis Powered by AI
  • One of the Largest Global Heavy-Industry Manufacturers Partners With Leader in Automated Visual Inspections to Build Vision AI-Powered Industrial Solutions

AI-powered visual inspection pioneer Neurala announced a partnership with IHI, one of the largest manufacturers in the world.

IHI is a leading producer of aircraft engines and turbochargers for vehicles and industrial machines, along with additional transport-related machinery and more. Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform will be deployed as a key component of IHI’s workflow, improving manufacturing optimization and enabling more efficient industrial inspections.

“Automation is an area of critical focus as we further strengthen our reputation as the leading manufacturer of transport-related machinery worldwide,” said Ms. Nobuko Mizumoto, Director of IHI Corporation. “Today, we are collecting data on our workflow that needs to be carefully analyzed. AI-assisted data analysis is the future of manufacturing processes, and Neurala has the industrial and manufacturing inspection expertise we require in an AI solution. As we lead IHI into Industry 4.0, we are proud to partner with Neurala to deploy a reliable AI that can function in settings that are subjective and change rapidly, without requiring any downtime on our production lines.”

IHI will leverage Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform to review product and workflow processes, cementing its reputation as a leader in safety and efficiency. AI-powered inspections allow manufacturers to accelerate new initiatives without sacrificing a gold standard of quality workmanship. IHI will use Neurala’s Brain Builder, the first cost-effective AI tool that allows users to build, deploy and analyze custom vision AI solutions with instant feedback on performance. Brain Builder simplifies the process and reduces the time to deployment in subjective settings, using on-the-fly learning to increase accuracy as the user adds data.

“We are thrilled to partner with IHI as we illustrate the critical role AI will play in manufacturing, improving efficiency in a field in which optimization is essential,” said Massimiliano Versace, co-founder and CEO of Neurala. “We look forward to building upon our strong presence in the APAC region through an industry leader like IHI. IHI selected Neurala to bolster its offerings as the industrial sector continues to evolve; our partnership will demonstrate the value of implementing AI to solve challenges of visual inspection on factory floors and to improve automation.”

Neurala is the company behind Brain Builder: a SaaS platform that dramatically reduces the time, cost and skills required to build and maintain production-quality custom vision AI solutions. Founded in 2006, Neurala’s research team invented Lifelong-DNN (L-DNN) technology, which reduces the data requirements for AI model development and enables continuous learning in the cloud or at the edge. Now, with customers in the industrial, drone, robotics, and smart devices verticals, Neurala’s technology has been deployed on 53 million devices globally.

Bloomberg Global Economic Index

Bloomberg Global Economic Index

Several companies send a variety of economic research data. I appreciate a broad view of what’s happening in the world even though we are in a period where many think nations can survive alone (note: check your history; hard to find a time that didn’t exist without international trade).

The Bloomberg New Economy Forum launched a first-of-its-kind index, covering 114 economies accounting for 98% of global GDP. The New Economy Drivers and Disrupters Report introduces a new benchmark that for the first time measures competitiveness against the new disruptive forces sweeping the global economy: automation, digitization, climate change, protectionism, and populism.

“In the New Economy, traditional ways of measuring competitiveness no longer tell the whole story. From protectionism to climate change, new disruptive forces are upending assumptions about how economies grow, and reshuffling the pattern of winners and losers. This report brings transparency to the obstacles economies face, showing who is positioned for success, and who is not,” said Tom Orlik, Chief Economist, Bloomberg Economics.

Bloomberg defines the New Economy as the shift in global economic power, from the traditional seats of power in Europe and North America to emerging economies spanning Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The New Economy Drivers and Disrupters Report highlights the complex challenges that come with this shift in power, and concludes that the new economies are poorly positioned for the new disruptive forces. The ‘catch up’ process – which has defined the global economy for the last 50 years, with low-income economies narrowing the gap with high-income – isn’t over. It will become more complicated.

Key findings from the report include:

●       The next stage of China’s development will be harder than the last: On the traditional drivers of development, China outperforms most economies. With rapid modernization of infrastructure, advances in education, and investment in research and development, it’s the fourth ranked overall and the highest ranked emerging market. On the disruptive forces reshaping the world economy, from protectionism to climate change, it’s much less well positioned, ranking 50th.

●       In terms of economic opportunity, India today looks similar to China at the beginning of its boom: Favorable demographics and a far reaching reform agenda have the potential to super-charge growth. However, there is a barrier to rapid development – the country is even more exposed to disruptive forces than China, as it is ranked 80th. In an age of disruption, late developers will have a more difficult time in catching up.

●       Vietnam and Asia’s fourth wave: In Asia, exporting has been the path to prosperity. First Japan, then Korea, then China grew by leveraging their low labor costs to claim global market share. Vietnam has the potential to be part of the fourth wave of development. With a global tilt toward protectionism, however, the export path to prosperity is becoming more difficult to follow. Vietnam ranks 73rd on disrupters.

●       Loose BRICS: For more than a decade, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have embodied hopes for emerging market economies. Bloomberg’s Index shows that, with the exception of China, they have yet to deliver on their potential. With work still left to do on optimizing traditional drivers of development, the BRICS will have additional difficulty managing the coming disruptive forces of the new economy.

●       Disrupting the Advanced Economies: For major advanced economies, the right policy response to disruptive forces will make the difference between extending prosperity and slumping growth. In the U.K., breaking ties with the world’s biggest trade zone could cost 7% of GDP over the next ten years. In the U.S., an immigrant-enhanced workforce and trade-boosted gains in productivity could support annual GDP growth at 2.7% in the next decade. Without them, growth could slump to 1.4%. Germany and Singapore showcase the capacity of high-income countries to manage disruptive forces. Singapore tops our rankings on the digital economy. Germany’s strong institutions and highly educated workforce provide a bulwark against risk.

About New Economy Drivers and Disruptors Report

The New Economy Drivers and Disrupters Report evaluates 114 economies on two sets of metrics. One captures the traditional drivers of development, while the other captures exposure to the disruptive forces creating new risks and opportunities in the new economy. The drivers consist of a composite gauge of productivity, projected growth in the labor force, the scale and quality of investment, and a measure of distance from the development frontier. The disrupters gauge economies’ positions in relation to populism, protectionism, automation, digitization and climate change.

The indices were developed by Tom Orlik, Scott Johnson, and Alex Tanzi of Bloomberg Economics, drawing on data from official, academic, and market sources. Michael Spence, Nobel laureate in economics, advised on the report.

The report includes a series of interactive data visualization graphics that show how economies are positioned relative to their peers, along with the rankings based on the drivers and disrupter metrics. Case studies include:

·        “A Rare Trade-War Winner, Vietnam Struggles to Keep its Gains”

·        “Chinese Micro Loans Open Window for Small Firms – And More Debt”

·        “Climate Change Leaves Zambia Struggling to Keep the Lights On”

·        “Poland’s Struggle to Find Workers Leaves Businesses in a Bind”

A series of subsequent case studies will launch weekly leading up to the New Economy Forum.

The New Economy Drivers and Disrupters Report is a proprietary report created by Bloomberg Economics for the New Economy Forum. The forum, co-hosted by Bloomberg and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges is being held in Beijing on November 20-22, 2019, bringing together the world’s most influential business leaders and government officials from more than 60 countries to drive public-private partnerships and action. New economy leaders will convene in China to address the forces of disruption challenging the new economy and catalyze solutions that impact change.

AVEVA World Conference All About Digital

PwC’s Q3 M&A Analysis of the Manufacturing Sector

I have received news of PwC’s Industrial Manufacturing Deals Outlook. I guess you have your good news and your bad news.

From the report’s summary: While disruptive factors are prevailing and point to an economic downturn, many of the positive factors we have highlighted in our previous publications are still relevant in Q3 2019. As stated in PwC’s publication “Winning through M&A in the next recession,” the M&A environment is cyclical and has historically followed economic downturns, as capital available for deals typically decreases; however, the next recession will be different. We believe the downturn will be unlike historical downturns as disruptive economic factors are partially offset by a few positive factors, leading buyers to continue to pursue M&A activity.

Positive factors impacting the deal-making landscape in 2019:

  • Record levels of dry powder from private equity funds and healthy corporate balance sheets coupled with the repatriation of cash for US-based multinationals indicate sufficient levels of capital to pursue acquisitions, which will prevent deal activity from dropping too low.
  • High valuations have been a factor for the decline in deal volume from YTD 2018 to YTD 2019. However, as the economic outlook declines, valuations will likely fall, which will provide opportunities for buyers with high levels of capital. If buyers are aggressive during the downturn, M&A demand should be higher than historical downturns.
  • The prominence of megadeals is reflecting a decoupling of the megadeals segment of the M&A market from the lower-growth global economic environment.

Disruptive factors likely to create a pause in deal making in 2019:

  • The Chinese and US economies are pointing to economic slowdowns. Chinese GDP growth in 2019 is expected to be between 6.2%–6.4%, a decrease from approx. 6.7%–6.8% in 2018. The US GDP annualized growth in 2019 is expected to be between 1.8%–2.3%, a decrease from approx. 3%–3.5% in 2018.
  • Uncertainties as it relates to length of economic slowdowns around the globe, Brexit, and the continued struggles to negotiate trade agreements and tariff concessions between the US and China, remain on the minds of deal makers.
  • The PMI index has dropped to 47.8 at the end of Q3 2019, which is the lowest it has been since 2009.

PwC also captured some quick highlights below:

  • Scale Transactions will Continue to be the Focus for the Industrial Manufacturing Sector
  • Macroeconomic factors – the trade war, slow GDP growth and high valuations – continue to affect the M&A environment across the industrial manufacturing industry.  The latest September numbers from the Institute for Supply Management also showcase the struggle the sector is experiencing with the U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index coming in at 47.8%, marking the second consecutive month of contraction and was the lowest reading in more than 10 years.
  • So far in 2019, M&A activity in the industrial manufacturing industry has been driven by scale transactions, which is primarily focused on product, customer and geographic expansion. We believe this trend will continue into next quarter and 2020. Here’s a breakdown of Q3 2019 M&A analysis of the industrial manufacturing sector:
  • Total deal value declined by 32% to $18.1 billion when compared to Q2 2019. For YTD 2019, the deal value also declined by 16% to $64.5 billion vis-à-vis YTD 2018.
  • Deal volume in Q3 2019 and YTD 2019 declined by 10% and 11% over Q2 2019 and YTD 2018, respectively.
  • There was no megadeal in Q3 2019.
  • All the categories within the sector saw a decline in deal value during the third quarter except the Electronic and Electrical Equipment and Rubber and Plastic Products. However, the Industrial Machinery drove M&A activity with 40% and 35% in value and volume respectively.
  • North America’s deal value significantly declined by 55% in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter, but the region was the most active acquirer with 36% of deal volume, followed by Asia and Oceania.
  • Although there are factors that point to an economic downturn in the near future, we believe the next recession will be different as it pertains to the M&A environment and could potentially lead buyers to continue to pursue deals.

Executive summary

Worldwide cross-sector deal value decreased 13% from YTD 2018 to YTD 2019, while deal volume remained flat at a 1% increase during the same period. Consistent with cross-sector worldwide, Industrial Manufacturing value has decreased 16% from YTD 2018 to YTD 2019. The primary driver of value decline is related to the 11% decrease in deal volume during this period, which is reflective of some of the lowest quarterly activity since Q1 2014.

Consistent with the trend noted in our Q2 2019 publication, year-to-date activity has been driven by scale transactions, which are primarily focused on product, customer, and geographic expansion. The decrease in deal volume is a result of macroeconomic factors such as the lingering trade war, anemic GDP growth around the world, and high valuations. While overall deal value has seen a decline, the aggregate value of the top ten deals year-to-date has remained stable at $30.3 billion YTD 2018 and $31.4 billion YTD 2019. As such, these macroeconomic factors have not deterred deal makers from turning to M&A to meet their strategic objectives.

Trends and highlights

  • In Q3 2019, the total deal value declined by 32% to $18.1 billion when compared to Q2 2019. For YTD 2019, the deal value also declined by 16% to $64.5 billion vis-à-vis YTD 2018.
  • Similar trend can be seen in terms of total deal volume. Deal volume in Q3 2019 and YTD 2019 declined by 10% and 11% over Q2 2019 and YTD 2018, respectively.
  • Average deal size declined by 15% to $83.6 million in Q3 2019 compared to Q2 2019. The average deal size also declined by a mere 2% to $93.7 million in YTD 2019 vs. YTD 2018.
  • Out of the top ten deals in YTD 2019, four deals took place in Q3 2019. These four totaled up to ~$9.3 billion, and accounted for more than 50% of the total deal value for the quarter.

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