Podcast 196 Engineering Ethics

RSS and Information and Blogs

I get much of my news through RSS feed. That may sound archaic, but it works. Originally I used Google Reader some 20 years ago or so. But that was detracting from Google’s business model, so they killed it. And I went with NetNewsWire. It was great. They sold it. Like almost all cool little startups now part of big companies, the product languished. I switched to Feedly, which I am still using.

The cool thing about RSS is that you get the news feed with just an option of going to the Website. With some feeds, you can see the entire article. With others, you scan and then go to the Website if you want more. I have a few subscriptions, such as The New York Times, where I have access. Many of my feeds are blogs that have no paywall.

The thriving blogosphere of the early 2000s (my blog began in 2003, I’m approaching 16 years) has lost some fervor, but it’s still around.

I started first in the control and automation space. Walt Boyes followed, but soon took it under the cover of Putman Media. The way all the blogs grew in the early years was through linking with each other. I would see a post and link to it with my take. They would link back. But when companies got involved, they didn’t want links to “competitors”. So much for growth for either of us.

Jim Cahill was next with his Emerson Process Experts blog. In the early days we would also cross link, but like everything that faded with marketing. His blog is still going and is still the best example of a corporate blog building a community. I tell people about it on all my trips.

The Apple computer community supports many independent bloggers and podcasters. They cross link and even appear on each other’s podcasts. The net result is that the entire community grows and thrives. So far, I have not found another independent blogger / influencer / analyst to interact with.

I bring this up while listening to The Talk Show with John Gruber of the Daring Fireball blog. He and his guest Brent Simmons (developer of NetNewsWire) are discussing the state of RSS, blogging, podcasting, and media. Brent worked at Userland and its blogging platform Radio which I used from 2003 to about 2007 when I switched to SquareSpace. In 2013 I switched to WordPress.

While commiserating about the state of trying to read articles on the Web, they miss the point of the business. Media is run by sales people. Salespeople think that long term thinking is 60 days out. They really don’t care about user experience. They look for one more idea that will sell one more piece of screen real estate and that maybe is obnoxious and the reader mistakenly clicks the ad instead of the close button and they sell a click. I’m not being cynical about that. It is the natural order of things when sales people (and I was one once) are scrambling to increase income through any non-illegal method they can find.

I still like RSS feeds. I no longer trust Google to uncover the Websites I want. And I’ve never liked the idea of having a list of Websites to methodically go visit just in case something new was added.

Podcast 196 Engineering Ethics

Industrial Internet of Things to the Production Floor

Major IT companies have been scrambling to compete in the Industrial Internet of Things market. The control, instrumentation, and automation companies all talk about how this is all stuff they’ve been doing for years, or even decades, this is really quite new.

The first IT company people I talked with talked about selling boxes—gateways or edge computing. I’m thinking that there’s not enough money in that market. And, I was right. As the companies flesh out their strategies, the IoT group leadership keeps moving higher up the corporate ladder. And the vision broadens to include much of the portfolio of the companies enabling them to progressively enhance their competitive positions within their major customers.

Hitachi Vantara has recently been talking with me about their approach to the problem. I learned about Vantara and its focus initially through people I knew who landed new positions there. Life is always about serendipity. In the past, I’ve reported on the Lumada platform and the way the company is building modularly atop it. There was Maintenance Insights and then Video Insights. Now unveiled is Manufacturing Insights. I will get a deeper dive and talk to customers the second week of October when I attend its customer conference.

Note that these applications have more in common with MES than what you might think of as simply connecting devices with IIoT. In other words, the value proposition and integration into the customer grows.

Let’s discuss the latest addition to the Hitachi Lumada platform, Manufacturing Insights, which the company describes as a suite of industrial internet-of-things (IoT) solutions that empower the manufacturing industry to achieve transformative outcomes from data-driven insights. Using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and DataOps, Lumada Manufacturing Insights optimizes machine, production, and quality outcomes.

“Data and analytics have the power to modernize and transform manufacturing operations. But for too many manufacturers today, legacy infrastructure and disconnected software and processes slow innovation and impact competitive advantage,” said Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With Lumada Manufacturing Insights, customers can lay a foundation for digital innovation that works with the systems and software they have already to operationalize immediate gains in uptime, efficiency and quality and transform for the future.”

Accelerate Manufacturing Transformations

Lumada Manufacturing Insights applies data science rigor to drive continuous improvement opportunities based on predictive and prescriptive analytics. The solution integrates with existing applications and delivers actionable insights without the need for a rip-and-replace change of costly manufacturing equipment or applications. Lumada Manufacturing Insights supports a variety of deployment options and can run on-premises or in the cloud.

“With Hitachi Vantara, our customers benefit from our deep operational technology expertise and distinctive approach to co-creating with them to accelerate their digital journey,” said Bobby Soni, chief solutions and services officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With our proven methodologies and advanced tools, we can tailor solutions for our customers that enhance productivity, increase the speed of delivery, and ultimately deliver greater business outcomes.”

Providing machine, production and quality analytics, Lumada Manufacturing Insights drives transformational business outcomes by enabling customers to:

• Build on the intelligent manufacturing maturity model and empower the digital innovation foundation for continuous process improvement.

• Integrate data silos and stranded assets and augment data from video, lidar, and other advanced sensors to drive innovative new use cases for competitive advantage.

• Drive 4M (machine, man, material and methods) correlations for root-cause analysis at scale.

• Evaluate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and enhancement recommendations based on advanced AI and ML techniques.

• Evaluate scheduling efficiency and optimize for varying workloads, rates of production and workorder backlogs.

• Monitor and guide product quality with predictive and prescriptive insights.

• Improve precision of demand forecast and adherence to production plans and output.

Customer Comments

I hope to get more depth while I’m at the Next 2019 user conference Oct. 9-10. Here are some supplied quotes.

“Significant short-lead products have to be designed, prototyped and delivered to meet the demands of our customers and partners as we accelerate the product supply for 5G. Ericsson and Hitachi Vantara have collaborated to test Lumada Manufacturing Insights to gear up for an anticipated increase in new product introductions, establishing a digital innovation foundation for sustained gains,” said Shannon Lucas, head of customer unit emerging business for Ericsson North America. “We are leveraging the same solution that we will take to our joint customers in partnership with Hitachi Vantara, and will further expand IIoT use cases based on our 5G technologies.”

“As a progressive manufacturer, our focus was to accelerate transformative change, eliminate data silos and build a foundation for digital innovation that would accelerate our journey toward Manufacturing 4.0. “We leveraged the IIoT workshop to align our use cases with our business transformation priorities and have a roadmap for success with Lumada Manufacturing Insights,” said Vijay Kamineni, business transformation leader at Logan Aluminum. “The collaboration with Hitachi Vantara enables us to define business goals for each stage of our transformation, with clear outcomes that we believe will accelerate gains in productivity, quality, safety and sustainable manufacturing. “Hitachi Vantara brings a unique IT/OT advantage that will help us in the long run.”

“Humans and machines working together to deliver the vision of ‘digital drilling’ is driven by our ambition to achieve transformative outcomes, drilling our best wells every time and consistently achieving Target Zero for accidents. With Hitachi Vantara, we are realizing time to value with industrial analytics and the powerful Lumada platform to process more than 20,000 data streams per second per rig, providing actionable information to the right people at the right time and helping make optimal decisions. This drives our operational excellence and consequently our competitive advantage,” said Shuja Goraya, CTO at Precision Drilling Corporation. “We’re leveraging insights from video and lidar, integrating it with Lumada Manufacturing Insights to deliver business outcomes. It’s driving process optimization through effectively identifying improvement opportunities and shortening well delivery times for our customers. It’s all about effective use of data to make better decisions and then being able to consistently execute on these learnings. We are excited about our strategic partnership with Hitachi Vantara.”

Availability

Lumada Manufacturing Insights will be available worldwide Sept. 30, 2019.

Podcast 196 Engineering Ethics

Industrial Manufacturers Are Behind the Industrial IoT Innovation Curve

Sean Riley, Global Director of Manufacturing and Transportation at Software AG, discussed Industrial IoT (IIoT) implementation in industry with me a couple of weeks ago. Now, a survey sponsored by Software AG has been released revealing that manufacturers are not scaling IIoT across the enterprise due to failure to invest in predictive analytics and innovative integration strategies.

The shocking thing to me about the survey is that it mirrors survey results over the past three or four years. Executives and managers recognize a problem further even acknowledging that this is something that could cost them competitively against the market even putting them out of business. Yet, they cannot figure out how to do it right. They whine about how tough it is.

Sounds to me like a new crop of leadership is needed.

There are good practices taught some 40 years ago when I took a deep dive while implementing my first IT project. Things like understanding the system first. Bringing all the departments in on the plans, work to be done, and benefits we all would get. Some recommendations from Software AG sound that familiar—breaking silos, bringing IT and OT organizations closer together (a management problem, not a technical one), transparency in the project roll out.

The survey of over 125 North American manufacturers primarily in the heavy industry and automotive sectors revealed inability to scale IIoT investments across their enterprises results in losing millions of dollars in potential profits.

The survey also revealed that the vast majority of manufacturers queried report that their IIoT investments are limited – locked in one small department or sector of their company – preventing these organizations from sharing the power of IIoT across their enterprises.

Other key findings include:

  • 80% of all survey respondents agree that processes around IIoT platforms need to be optimized or they will face a competitive disadvantage but very few are doing this
  • IT-OT integration is considered one of the most difficult tasks – with 57% of automotive manufacturers stating that this has prevented them from realizing full ROI from their IIoT investments
  • 84% of automotive and heavy industry manufacturers agree that the most important area of IIoT is “monetization of product-as-a-service-revenue.” However, optimizing production is still important with 58% of heavy industry and 50% of automotive manufacturers agreeing with that statement
  • Curiously, defining threshold-based rules is considered almost as difficult as leveraging predictive analytics to scale IIoT. More than 60% of respondents stated that defining threshold-based rules was as difficult as integrating IT systems and IoT sensors into existing control systems.

“Manufacturers place a high value on IIoT, but they are encountering serious difficulties in unlocking the complete intended value to unleash their innovation across their organizations,” said Riley. “Fortunately, there is a way for them to quickly and easily resolve this problem. By investing in the right IT-OT integration strategy that leverages sensors, predictive analytics, machine learning, control applications, and product quality control, manufacturers can fix this problem in less than 6-12 months while realizing other key benefits, namely extended equipment lifetime, reduced equipment maintenance costs and accessing more accurate data for production-quality improvements.”

Riley outlined five best practices for manufacturers to follow when looking to scale their IIoT investments across their enterprises and realize immediate profits and competitive advantage. Those best practices are:

1. Ensure clear collaboration between IT and the business by leveraging a step by step approach that starts focused and has clear near term and long- term objectives to scale

2. Create a transparent roll out process and don’t let other plants or departments move ahead outside of it

3. Give IT the ability to connect at speed with a digital production platform that is proven to be successful

4. Leverage a GUI driven, consistent platform to enable an ecosystem of IT associates, business users and partners around the platform

5. Enable the plant or field service workers to work autonomously without continual support from IT through GUI driven analytics, centralized management and easy, batch device connectivity and management

Riley also stated that it is critically important for manufacturers to select the best possible IIoT integration platform supported by key enabling technologies like streaming analytics, machine learning, predictive analytics and a larger ecosystem. Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform recently received the highest use case scores from Gartner Group in the brand new “Critical Capabilities for Industrial IoT Platforms” report which included Monitoring Use Case, Predictive Analytics for Equipment Use and Connected Industrial Assets Use Case for its IoT.

The Software AG IIoT Implementation survey was completed in Q2 2019 by Software AG and an independent third-party research house. The survey queried nearly 200 respondents at large manufacturing companies across automotive, heavy industry, high-technology, electronics, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The respondents were primarily senior executives leading Manufacturing or Information Technology with the breakdown of 50% Managers, 38% Directors and 13% Vice Presidents or higher.

Software AG product

The press release contained some information about the company’s IoT platform—Cumulocity.

Being device and protocol agnostic allows it to connect, manage, and control any “thing” over any network. Cumulocity IoT is open and independent, letting customers connect to millions of devices without being locked into one single vendor.

Podcast 196 Engineering Ethics

Google Ad Shakedown

Google and Other Misdemeanors

I have noticed that over the past few months, the number of people coming to my site via search engines, principally Google, has dropped by something like 40%. Curious, last weekend I took a little time and searched on about a dozen keywords that would be used in the industry.

Media sites just don’t come up in the searches. But what does come up are a ton of ads. The bulk of the rest of the links are suppliers. This is a big change over this time period.

Then I came across a tweet from Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp. He noticed that when he searched for his company, Basecamp, he came up number 4. The first three were ads from competitors who had worked the words base camp into their URLs or name in some ingenious way. And they had purchased the adwords that placed their ad above the real organic result. He explains all this in a podcast on Rework.

Back to my observation. I appeared seldom, except for my own domain name, and I never saw the major trade journals in the industry. Even ones named IIoT in a search of IIoT. Automation got three hits a couple of pages back on the keyword automation. But it should have had a bunch.

But suppliers are the most prone to buy adwords from Google.

If you think that searches are not biased and show you the most relevant to you, then you are years behind times.

I have noticed a similar effect in Facebook. Of course, its ad strategy came from Google in the person of Sheryl Sandberg. I did marketing for a small retail startup coffee house in Sidney, Ohio. Being local, I went to Facebook. I also spent a few dollars a month on ads.

When I ended the ad campaign, I was pestered with several notices per day about boosting a post for only $10, then for only $5. And our reach started dropping. Suddenly not everyone saw all the posts. The algorithm ensured that. When you’re in a small town with only about 1,000 person reach, you get pretty quick feedback.

Once upon a time, I mostly trusted Google search results. I use it for research constantly. Now, I’m not so sure about where to go for better results. Everyone is in such a rush to maximize ad dollars that they manipulate anything, including us, in the quest for eyes on ads.