Automate Report 3: Inductive Automation and Opto 22

While at Automate 2024 I saw Travis Cox of Inductive Automation and Benson Hougland of Opto 22. It was tough seeing them since their booth was always packed. I wound up walking through the show and out into the corridor with them.

These two companies plus Cirrus Link (MQTT and Sparkplug) are perhaps the best partnership combination I’ve seen in my years reporting in this market. Ignition running on Opto’s Groov Epic platform with MQTT and Sparkplug as the communications architecture solve many customer problems.

Hougland told me that they are continuing to build out the Groov platform. And to watch for cool things coming.

Cox told me that the big thing to pay attention to right now from Inductive Automation is the integration with Snowflake (more below). He says the integration keeps improving.

Here is Cox describing the integration at the last Ignition Community Conference:

And well, we got all the community to participate, where they’re basically leveraging Ignition or Ignition Edge or potentially have a smart device that speaks MQTT Sparkplug and they’re gonna build a data model, publish that up to a Chariot broker that’s in the cloud. Real simple. Then we can use the IoT bridge for Snowflake by Cirrus Link and all that data from Sparkplug goes directly into the Snowflake database. We’re showing it on a dashboard within Ignition, but it’s going to Snowflake database as well. And we can easily go and query that data. And we went one step further and we’re actually showing the anomaly detection within the Data Dash. So we’ll do a demonstration of this in just a moment, but wanna show you just how easy it is for this solution. And it’s all something we could do right now. It’s very, very simple to get started with this whole thing. 

What is Snowflake, you may ask. Here is Pugal Janakiraman from Snowflake speaking at ICC 2024:

Snowflake is a globally connected cloud vendor agnostic data platform. It’s one single managed service from Snowflake. We take care of security, we take care of governance, we take care of scalability. And after that, much more cool, your API of choice is still SQL. You don’t have to learn hundreds of new services. You continue to use SQL as a mechanism to leverage data which is present in Snowflake, whether it is around building dashboards or you want to build an AI and ML model or build inference around those models, you still use SQL as an API for doing that.

Snowflake is a cloud-native database. Data can still reside on-premise or it can reside in whatever is your cloud vendor of choice. You can run analytics without the data movement out there. So we provide that kind of collaboration mechanisms. We provide AI and ML-based analytics. This is how the journey started for us. Ignition on Edge with zero coding using Snowpipe Streaming API, send the data to Snowflake. 

Automate Report 2: Robots and More

The second of I don’t know how many reports from the Automate show in Chicago. This section is a five-part tour conducted with a PR person who works with someone I’ve known and respected for many years. The main theme of Automate derives from its genesis of the Robot Show, Vision Show, and Motion Show. So mostly we see the evolution of robotics.

The companies I’m reporting are:

MiR

Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) featured the company’s latest innovations in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), including the first U.S. showing of its new artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled MiR1200 Pallet Jack and a preview of a generative AI-powered version of its MiR Insights analytics software. MiR will also showcase a mobile collaborative robot (cobot) that integrates a MiR250 AMRs with a cobot from sister company Universal Robots, a complete solution that enables the cobots to automatically and safely perform different tasks at different workstations. 

With advanced AI pallet detection powered by NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin, MiR1200 Pallet Jack uses 3D vision to identify pallets and then pick up and deliver pallets with unprecedented precision.

The new AI-focused advancements to MiR Insights will enable fleet owners to not only track and analyze the operations of their robots and obtain actionable insights they can use to improve the robots’ performance but more easily find and engage with the data.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki Robotics offered a first look at its new family of collaborative robots (cobots) at Automate 2024. Powered with partner NEURA Robotics’ robotic assistant platform, the CL Series combines the safety and intuitiveness that standard cobots are known for with a solid, robust design that unlocks the speed and productivity of industrial robotics to offer limitless user flexibility.

Kawasaki Robotics will also feature new applications using the Kawasaki R Series and BX Series of reliable, precise and Ai-enabled industrial robots, all created in close collaboration with partners such as Mech Mind, CRG Automation, AMT Precision Parts and Olis Robotics. The CL Series and these applications—including welding, finishing, multi-SKU palletizing and depalletizing and an automated corner board solution—demonstrate Kawasaki Robotics’ commitment to continually optimizing its product offerings, aided by its technology-agnostic stance and expanding network of partners.

Designed and built in Germany, and powered with NEURA Robotics’ robot assistance technology, the CL Series combines industry-leading speed of 200°/s and repeatability of ± 0.02 mm with payloads and reaches of 3kg/590mm, 5kg/800mm, 8kg/1300mm, and 10 kg/1000mm, free mounting orientations, extremely small footprints, and IP66 classification.

Mujin

Mujin featured its vision for robotics and latest enhancements to the MujinController, which utilizes machine intelligence to give robotic systems real-time decision-making ability that enables truly autonomous, reliable, and production-capable robot applications.

Attendees will discover user-friendly interfaces and intuitive tools that enable them to design, customize and deploy robotic automation solutions tailored to their specific requirements. Through real-world case studies and live demonstrations, Cloer will showcase the tangible benefits of no-code programming, including increased productivity, reduced downtime, and enhanced adaptability to changing production demands.

Micropsi

AI software company Micropsi Industries announced MIRAI 2, the latest generation of its AI-vision software for robotic automation. MIRAI 2 comes with five new features that enhance manufacturers’ ability to reliably solve automation tasks with variance in position, shape, color, lighting or background. Available immediately, the latest release offers users even greater reliability, easier and faster deployment, and robot-fleet scalability. 

MIRAI is an advanced AI-vision software system that enables robots to dynamically respond to varying conditions within their factory environment, including variance in position, shape, color, lighting and background. What sets MIRAI apart from traditional vision solutions is the ability to operate with real factory data without the need for CAD data, controlled light, visual-feature predefinition or extensive knowledge of computer vision. 

MIRAI 2 offers customers improved reliability thanks to the ability to detect unexpected workspace situations; a new, automated way to collect training data, and the option to run the software on the highest industry-standard PCs, resulting in higher dependability in rough factory conditions. The new feature, which assists in recording the required data for training the robot, also means that training and deploying MIRAI 2 is easier and faster. In addition, with MIRAI 2 a force-torque sensor is no longer required for most applications, which means lower cost and more robust performance. 

The five new features that will be available to MIRAI 2 users are:

  • Robot skill-sharing: This new feature allows users to share skills between multiple robots, at the same site or elsewhere. If conditions are identical (lighting, background, etc.), very little or no additional training is required in additional installations. MIRAI can also handle small differences in conditions by recording data from multiple installations into a single, robust skill.  
  • Semi-automatic data recording: Semi-automatic training allows users to record episodes (of data) for skills without having to hand-guide the robot, reducing the workload on users and increasing the quality of the recorded data. MIRAI can now automatically record all the relevant data—users only need to prepare the training situations and corresponding robot target poses.
  • No F/T sensor: Training and running skills is now possible without ever connecting a Force/Torque sensor. This reduces cost, simplifies tool geometry and cabling setup, and overall makes skill applications more robust and easier to train. 
  • Abnormal condition detection: MIRAI can now be configured to stop skills when unexpected conditions are encountered, allowing users to handle these exceptions in their robot program or alert a human operator. 
  • Industrial PC: The MIRAI software can now be run on a selection of industrial-grade hardware for higher dependability in rough factory conditions.

Roboworx

I met up with Dale Walsh, vp strategy and innovation for Roboworx. This is a new company established to set up and service robotics to help customers “get all the value they expect from their robotic investment.”

Roboworx is dedicated to revolutionizing the service, support, and customer success of robots. With an increasing number of industries integrating robots into their operations, the need for specialized maintenance and support services has never been more critical.

Roboworx offers a comprehensive range of services, including routine preventative maintenance, break/fix support, implementations and activations, and customer success programs designed to keep customers happy and engaged with their robotic fleet. These services cater to a wide array of robots, ranging from industrial automation, supply chain, service, hospitality, restaurant, kitchen automation, drones, drone boxes, and cleaning.

Automate Report 1: Otto Motors, A Rockwell Automation Company

My first stop on May 7 at Automate was at one of Rockwell Automation’s newest acquisitions—Otto Motors. They manufacture autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). These mechanisms are used for material handling logistics within a manufacturing plant. My experience in manufacturing plants for my entire career consisted of staying within the proper painted lines so that the constant towmotor (forklift) traffic didn’t run over me.

These AMRs typically go under a pallet or container, lift, and move them. Otto’s fleet of vehicles includes five models that lift from 650 kg to 1,900 kg. They even have an “AMR” forklift.

Integrating their software with Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Optix. Integrating new acquisitions is always a challenge—both personnel and technology. But as Rockwell’s strategy takes it deeper into the manufacturing sphere, this type of material handling solution will enable even more of an end-to-end solution for its customers.

AVEVA Launches New Hybrid Cloud Solution

I heard from Hannover Messe that AVEVA was launching a hybrid/cloud MES solution. Being curious, I was able to talk with Rob McGreevy, Chief Product Officer, AVEVA about this.

Why hybrid cloud MES? Today’s manufacturing is high speed/high volume, need to get closer to the edge, closer to the critical control, the machines, yet we need to move data from edge to cloud. 

I get why edge, but why cloud? The reason for cloud is analytics, being able to use AI for process centerlining comparatives. We can get to predictive prescriptive quality based on hundreds of variables. Predictive usage of sustainable resources. All this becomes more feasible by connecting realtime data from the edge to the cloud.

This further information about the product comes from the press release. Software solution providers keep pushing the ball a bit further at a time.

AVEVA launches hybrid cloud

To mitigate barriers to industrial innovation, AVEVA is launching at Hannover Messe in April its new hybrid cloud Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solution that addresses the supply chain challenges by enabling manufacturing companies to fully visualize and optimize multi-site operations in the cloud.

AVEVA has expanded CONNECT, its industrial intelligence platform with data and visualization services for hybrid Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solutions.

AVEVA’s new hybrid MES solution enables manufacturing companies to manage production data in the cloud, to improve supply chain agility with enterprise-wide visibility into distributed plant operations. This enables companies to optimize their operational performance and sustainability with new insights and guidance provided by advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualization.

AVEVA’s hybrid MES solution combines advanced model-driven MES capabilities at the edge with cloud-based data, analytics and visualization services available on the CONNECT industrial intelligence platform. The ability to collect and securely store data from AVEVA Manufacturing Execution System and process data sources, such as AVEVA PI System and AVEVA’s Operations Control, in a single, secure location in the cloud, makes it easier to aggregate, contextualize and securely share operational data, eliminate organizational data silos, and foster greater collaboration. This unlocks new value from the combined data sets for optimal centerlining of production equipment, soft sensors and predictions that improve quality, throughput and energy use, as well as anomaly detection that gives early insight into production losses before they occur.

Averroes.ai Brings Apple Vision Pro to Manufacturing for Inspection

Someone else is going to transform the industry. OK, I have worn many Augmented Reality glasses in demos at trade shows. They are cool, but it still looked like a solution searching for a problem. Meanwhile, the Apple Vision Pro supports both AR and Virtual Reality (VR). Everyone is talking about how cool the VR part is for immersive movies. No one has been talking about the AR capabilities.

Until, now.

Averroes.ai has introduced an what they call an “innovative approach to manufacturing that is set to transform the industry.” They are combining the ability to talk to machines sucking in data and visualizing it in real time using the Apple Vision Pro in AR mode.

  • Averroes.ai uses machine learning and AI to detect, classify, and segment defects, and carry out predictive maintenance.
  • Manufacturers can even spot defects along production lines without direct observation, all without the need to be seated in a back office.
  • This integration facilitates instant access to production data and charts, empowering on-the-spot monitoring, defect analysis, statistical insights, and yield optimization, all with unparalleled ease and accuracy, right on the factory floor.

Averroes.ai’s innovative approach is rooted in being data agnostic, a concept that ensures seamless integration of various data types. Whether it’s images, tabular data, or time series, their system effortlessly accommodates them all.

Business reasons. According to recent reports, the global AI Industrial Vision Inspection Service market is valued at US$ 332 million in 2022. What’s more staggering is its projected growth trajectory. By 2029, this market is expected to skyrocket to a value of US$ 1156.2 million, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 19.7%.

Tareq, CEO of Averroes.ai, told me when I asked about walking through a manufacturing plant wearing one of these things, “The Apple Vision Pro uses augmented reality (AR) to enhance, not hinder, your interaction with the environment. Its AR display is designed to subtly complement your real-world view. Whether it’s showing data labels, instructions, or visual enhancements, everything is carefully designed to be unobtrusive, blending seamlessly into your surroundings.”

Second, when will it actually be available? “Averroes is an AI platform that now allows manufacturers to automatically generate visual inspection APIs from models, including anomaly detection, using a no-code approach. With minimal data and no need for extensive support, manufacturers can develop these models efficiently, utilizing the Apple Vision Pro as their imaging system. The platform is not open to the public and is available exclusively to enterprise clients with a subscription.”

Why? There are other, cheaper solutions. “There has always been a demand for inspecting products in environments where items vary and do not conform to a uniform production line. The Apple Vision Pro and Averroes platform are well-suited to address this need. The Apple Vision Pro offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional fixed-installation industrial cameras and delivers superior image quality and resolution, which is crucial for inspecting products in varying lighting conditions.”

“Although Averroes can also integrate with other, less expensive AR sets, the development kit that comes with the Apple Vision Pro is among the best available, making it an excellent choice for manufacturers tasked with inspecting diverse products in non-standard settings.”

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