Smart Factory Transition

Smart Factory Transition

The short take: ADVICS and Macnica Networks, Inc. deploy FogHorn Edge Computing Software in Smart Factory Transition. We talk endlessly about IoT, digital transformation, and now Smart Factory Transition. Do these terms mean anything? I think we are seeing people do actual work by using digital technologies that they mostly already have pieces of. Then marketers come along and christen it with a name. We are witnessing real progress improving manufacturing and production with modern thinking and tech.

In this case according to the press release, a $5B automotive brake system manufacturer deploys FogHorn Lightning Edge Computing Software Platform for real-time data processing, machine learning and AI. Note: machine learning is usually considered a subset of AI.

ADVICS Co. Ltd., working with Macnica Networks Inc., has deployed FogHorn Lightning Edge Computing Software to provide onsite data processing, real-time analytics, and ultimately machine learning AI in its smart factory transition.

ADVICS supplies advanced, high-quality automotive brake systems and components globally. ADVICS partnered with Macnica Networks to digitize its manufacturing sites and integrate varied equipment data to enable edge-based real-time visualization and analytics of its manufacturing. The digital transformation has allowed ADVICS to identify production issues immediately and quickly determine the root cause therefore improving manufacturing efficiencies. Manual workloads surrounding data acquisition have also been significantly reduced, enabling operation leaders to spend more time on managing production.

“ADVICS digital transformation to a smart factory reflects their mission to contribute to the reliability of society by pursuing a better safety, environment and comfort through products that delight customers,” said Yuta Endo, vice president, general manager of business development and head of APAC operations at FogHorn. “We are excited to work with our partner, Macnica Networks, to help ADVICS enhance manufacturing efficiency. FogHorn Lightning is uniquely positioned to help companies transform streaming data into actionable, predictive insights right at the edge, providing real-time monitoring and diagnostics, streaming analytics, machine learning and operations optimization.”

FogHorn’s Lightning product portfolio embeds edge computing software locally, as close to the source of streaming sensor data as possible. FogHorn Lightning Edge platform delivers low latency for onsite data processing and real-time analytics in addition to its machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

ADVICS is one of the 13 major Aisin Group companies. The main business is the development, production and sales of automotive brake systems and parts that make up these systems.

Macnica Networks is a member of the Macnica Group, a growing global technology distributor. The company has over 20 years of experience in product localization, sales, and technical support of computer network equipment. It supplies a full line of leading-edge network appliances, software, telecom solutions to its customers, and consistently brings innovative new products to their portfolio.

FogHorn is a developer of edge computing software for industrial and commercial IoT application solutions.

Tales from the Tech Unknown

Mergers and Acquisitions Measure Industry Health

Here is a little bit of merger and acquisition activity of interest. One involving industrial cybersecurity; the other IT-oriented. Owl Cyber Defense and Tresys are coming together. I have been anticipating some consolidation in that space. Lots of startups. Can’t be that much business. In the other Dell Technologies appears to be rationalizing its organizational and investing complexity.

Tresys and Owl Cyber Defense to merge

Tresys Technology was recently acquired by DC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and placed in a common holding company with Owl Cyber Defense. “The intention is to merge the two companies in the coming months, creating what we believe is the number one boundary security product and services company in the world. To both of us, nothing makes more strategic sense than this combination, and with DC Capital’s support we will be exploring additional strategic acquisitions to broaden our investment in innovation, geographies, and vertical markets. While we will continue to operate as separate businesses in the short term, over the coming months we will work on merging all operations and we will keep you fully apprised of those changes.”

Further from the message I received, “What does this mean for you? Both companies are fully committed to customer service excellence. You will continue to have access to our industry leading expertise in technology services and support; to help you select, configure, customize, maintain, and accredit solutions for any network separation issue. With our new ownership, there is a commitment to grow our international presence and resources, while markedly increasing the investment in R&D and integration services. You can expect to see an acceleration in the development and availability of new technologies, with deeper absorption of specific business use cases.”

The current plan with our investors is for Robert Stalick, CEO of Tresys, to lead the merged company. Michael Timan, CEO of Owl Cyber Defense, will continue to actively work alongside Bob in developing the vision, applying diligent process focus, and maintaining the sales and services engagement excellence for which we strive. “Our shared goal is nothing less than defining the future of network boundary security technology for the coming decades.”

VMware To Acquire all outstanding shares of Pivotal

I saw this story on Launch Ticker newsletter from CNBC.

Pivotal Software surges after VMware says it’s in talks to acquire the company.

Highlights:

  • VMware contributed to the formation of Pivotal in 2013.
  • Pivotal stock has fallen 66% in the past year.

Pivotal shares rose as much as 72% premarket Thursday August 15 after VMware said Wednesday it’s proceeding with an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Pivotal’s class A stock at $15 per share in cash, an 80.7% premium on Pivotal’s $8.30 closing price.

VMware also said in a regulatory filing that it has requested that Dell exchange all outstanding shares of Pivotal’s class B stock, other than class B Pivotal shares owned by VMware, for Class A VMware stock. Dell controlled almost 81% of VMware’s outstanding common stock and more than 97% of the combined voting power of VMware’s outstanding stock as of May 3. Dell and Pivotal are negotiating an exchange ratio for the shares.

The transaction could contribute to the further diversification of VMware, which has moved to collaborate with cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon in order to enable existing customers to run their computing workloads in whatever environment they like.

Shares of Pivotal have declined 66% in the past year. On June 5 Pivotal stock declined 41% after the company issued guidance that was below what analysts were expecting.

Pivotal went public in April 2018. VMware and DellEMC both contributed assets when Pivotal was established in 2013.

As a result of an agreement with Dell, VMware is the selling agent for certain Pivotal products, such that VMware collects cash that is then remitted to Pivotal, net of a contractual agency fee. As of May 3, VMware had a 16% financial interest in Pivotal and a 24% voting interest in the company.

In a statement of its own, Pivotal said on Wednesday that although it is in talks with VMware about a “potential business combination,” an agreement has not been made.

Smart Factory Transition

OSIsoft Discusses Digital Twin

The concept of digital twins was born from the marriage known as cyber-physical systems. The cyber representation of a product or process was often held digitally within CAD/CAM or PLM systems. These became linked to the physical object through a feedback loop that kept the two in sync.

Digital Twin has moved from the esoteric to mainstream within industrial culture. And digital no longer is consigned to drawing databases, as my recent conversation with Michael Kanellos and Perry Zalvesey of OSIsoft reveals.

They described the process this way, “From devices all the way to buildings and factories, we’re now living in a world where everything is connected. And as these operations become more connected, it’s increasingly important to identify the strongest solution to monitor them. With the introduction of IoT, sensor and even AI technology to industrial operators, there’s been a surge of unfamiliar digital strategies – the latest being digital twins.”

OSIsoft prefers to consider digital twin as a loose term, as it can be either a complete network doppelganger or just a copy of key data streams to narrow in on specific issues. Everyone has their own preference and iteration.

OSIsoft named its digital twin technology the Asset Framework, which allows companies to take a project-by-project approach, creating solutions for each need on a rolling basis.

When one of its customers, DCP Midstream, began deploying OSIsoft’s AF tool it rolled out 12 AF based applications in two months, experiencing a $20-$25 million one-year return.

Application of OSIsoft’s Asset Framework has been strong in the water industry. Zalvesey says that his first work in the area was with modeling processes that were only static models. Today’s digital twins are dynamic. Designers can model the facility and objects within it. Each object has attributes that data are then associated with. Where originally there was a pump object—say we define “Pump 12” and associate data such as temperature and pressure and more. Now with Asset Framework, designers can create a template class “pump” and be able to replicate for as many pumps as a facility contains.

1. Asset Framework is the core digital twin offering. It’s as a relational layer on top of PI that combines all the data streams (temp, pressure, vibration) of an asset into one screen. A lot of people get fancy with the digital twin term but to us it’s a simulation combined with live data.

2. A simple AF template for a pump probably takes a half an hour to build. It can then be replicated ad inifinitum. It’s a drag and drop process. AF is part of PI Server (it was a separate product years ago but combined into it.) Complex ones can take months. Element, a company that OSIsoft helped incubate (and has since culled investment from Kleiner Perkins, GE and others) has built a service called AF accelerator. Basically, they parachute a team of data scientists to study your large assets and then develop automated ways to build AF templates for complete mines or offshore oil platforms. It still takes two months or so but they can streamline a lot of the coding tasks. BP used them.

3. Examples:

  • DCP. In 2017, the company launched an effort to digitize operations. One of the first steps was using PI to collect the data and use AF to create simple and complex digital twins. DCP has 61 gas plants for instance. Each one has been modeled with AF. Plant managers are show a live feed of current production, idealized production, and the differential in terms of gas produced and revenue. DCP discovered that it could increase production per plant on average $2000-$5000 per day, or millions a year, by giving the plant managers better visibility into current production and market pricing. In year one, it saved $20=$25 million, paying off the entire project (including the cost of building a centralized control center in Colorado and staffing it.) The next year (2018) it saved another $20 million.
  • MOL. One of the largest uses of AF. MOL tracks 400,000 data streams and has 21,000+ AF instances based on 300 templates (a single template can be replicated several times.) MOL says that it has added $1 billion EBITDA since 2010 by using its data better. With AF, for instance, they figured out why hydrogen corrosion was exceeding the norm. In some instances, they’ve used advanced analytics—an experiment to see if it could use high sulfur crudes required deep analytics—but most of the time MOL has made its improvements by creating AF templates, studying the phenomena and taking action.
  • Colorado Springs. Complete opposite end of big. It’s a small, regional utility.
  • Heineken uses AF to model its plants to reduce energy. Aurelian Metals used it to boost gold extraction from ore from 75% to 89%. Michelin saved $4 million because AF let them recover more quickly from a previous outage. Deschutes Brewery meanwhile boosted production by $450K and delayed a plant (per our 2018 meeting.
Smart Factory Transition

ABB Names Another CEO–Björn Rosengren Assumes Leadership in 2020

Senior leadership among leading automation companies has been regularly shifting during the past few years. ABB, Emerson Automation, GE Digital, Honeywell Process, Rockwell Automation have all experienced changes. Sometimes a few.

ABB’s board evidently didn’t like the direction former GE executive Joe Hogan was taking the company and looked closer to home to bring in Ulrich Spiesshofer. He accomplished some massive restructuring, but apparently his results did not match the expectations of the board, so he was replaced by Board Chair Peter Voser.

In today’s announcement, the Board of ABB has unanimously appointed Björn Rosengren, as Chief Executive Officer. He will join ABB on February 1, 2020 and succeed CEO, Peter Voser, in this role on March 1, 2020. At that time Peter Voser will revert to his position at ABB solely as Chairman of the Board.

Björn Rosengren (60), a Swedish citizen, is a highly experienced, international executive and leader of industrial businesses. He has been the CEO of Sandvik, a high-tech global engineering group, since 2015. During this time, he has overseen the successful implementation of a decentralized structure and improved both the profitability and financial strength of Sandvik. Prior to that, he was CEO of Wärtsilä Corporation, which manufactures and services power sources and other equipment for the marine and energy markets (2011-2015) and spent some thirteen years (1998-2011) in a variety of management roles at Atlas Copco, a world leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions.

“The Board is pleased that Björn Rosengren will be taking the lead at ABB, bringing with him a proven track record of value creation and exactly the managerial skills ABB needs during the next stage of its transformation,” said ABB Chairman and current CEO, Peter Voser. “After undertaking a thorough search, the Board is convinced that Björn Rosengren is the best candidate for the role. He understands how to establish successful decentralized organizations, empower people and demonstrates the culture of cooperation and high performance. Together with our strong management team, he will drive ABB’s strategy and deliver long-term value to all our stakeholders.”

CEO-designate, Björn Rosengren, said: “I am honored to have the opportunity to join ABB, a truly global technology leader, after I have completed my current commitments. At such a pivotal time for manufacturing industries, ABB must continue to best serve the needs of global customers with a unique technology and digital solutions portfolio to help enhance their productivity. I look forward to working with my new colleagues around the globe to enhance value through the delivery of the group strategy and fully empowering our businesses and people.”