bp and Microsoft Form Strategic Energy Innovation Partnership

This is one of a steady stream of announcements coming my way about companies joining one or another of the cloud services. That is still big business.

bp and Microsoft Corp. have announced that they have agreed to collaborate as strategic partners to further digital transformation in energy systems and advance the net zero carbon goals of both companies. This includes a co-innovation effort focused on digital solutions, the continued use of Microsoft Azure as a cloud-based solution for bp infrastructure, and bp supplying renewable energy to help Microsoft meet its 2025 renewable energy goals.

“bp is determined to get to net zero and to help the world do the same. No one can do it alone – partnerships with leading companies like Microsoft, with aligned ambitions, is going to be key to achieving this,” said William Lin, bp executive vice president for regions, cities and solutions. “By bringing our complementary skills and experience together, we are not only helping each other achieve our decarbonization ambitions but also creating opportunities to support others on their journey towards reducing carbon emissions.”

“bp shares our vision for a net zero carbon future, and we are committed to working together to drive reductions in carbon emissions and fulfil demand with new renewable energy sources,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business. “A strategic partnership such as this enables each organization to bring its unique expertise for industry-leading change and the potential to positively impact billions of lives around the world.”

Earlier this year, bp announced its ambition to become a net zero emissions company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world reach net zero. By the end of the decade, it aims to have developed around 50 gigawatts of net renewable generating capacity – a 20-fold increase on what it has previously developed, increased annual low carbon investment 10-fold to around $5 billion and cut oil and gas production by 40%. In January 2020, Microsoft announced its goal to be carbon negative by 2030 and remove more carbon from the environment than it has emitted since its founding by 2050. Today’s announcements build on the potential that both companies see in working together to help deliver a net zero carbon future.

Co-innovation

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by bp and Microsoft recognizes the capabilities that each company can provide to accelerate progress towards their sustainability goals and help the world decarbonize. Their co-innovation effort will initially be focused on four areas that combine Microsoft’s digital expertise with bp’s deep understanding of energy markets:

Smart and clean cities – identifying synergies between Microsoft’s ‘Smart Cities’ initiative and bp’s ‘Clean Cities’ vision, with a goal of identifying areas for strategic collaboration to help cities achieve their sustainability aims.

Clean energy parks – co-development of innovative, clean energy parks with an ecosystem of low carbon technologies such as carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) to prevent or reduce emissions.

Consumer energy – exploring innovative ways to harness the power of data-driven, personalized, actionable insights to empower energy consumers to manage their home energy use and reduce carbon emissions.

Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions – delivering an ‘intelligent edge’ of capabilities to bp production and operations facilities.

For both bp and Microsoft, low carbon is part of a wider sustainability agenda and they aim to deepen collaboration in this area over time.

Microsoft to bring bp further into the cloud

As part of bp’s cloud-first IT approach, the company has extended its agreement to use Microsoft Azure cloud services as a strategic platform. This expands on bp’s existing relationship with Microsoft, which helped accelerate the digitization of bp infrastructure and operations, while Microsoft 365 enabled greater collaboration and remote working productivity during the COVID-19 response.

Utilizing Microsoft Azure cloud enables bp to access a broad and deep portfolio of cloud services, including machine learning with Azure Digital Twins, data analytics, security and more, to gain greater insights, drive significant optimization opportunities and transform business processes.

bp to supply renewable energy to help power the Microsoft cloud

Microsoft and bp have signed a framework agreement for renewable energy projects that aims to provide renewable energy to help power Microsoft’s datacenters. bp will supply renewable energy to Microsoft across multiple countries and regions including the US, Europe and Latin America. The agreement contributes to Microsoft’s 100% renewable energy goal by 2025.

This partnership reflects the environmental and economic benefits of companies like bp and Microsoft working together to carve out a more sustainable future.

Podcast 213 Bright Ideas Beyond Automation

Did you ever get a bright idea for a new product or service? You might have even sketched it and written a product outline. Then you filed it. One day you noticed someone else had taken that same idea and created a billion-dollar company? Bright ideas and doing the work.

Another Well Done Virtual Conference—Ignition Community Conference

Just to keep my perspective in balance, I attended a national soccer referee instructor virtual training. It was terrible. The presenters were not familiar with the technology and the presentation was incoherent.

Therefore, what a joy to attend another well done industrial technology conference. The Ignition Community Conference sponsored by Inductive Automation was Tuesday Sept. 15, but you can click the link and see the presentations for a while. I attended two other conferences (unfortunately not the Apple one) and therefore ran out of time to watch more today. But, I’ll be back to catch other presentations.

Chief Marketing Officer Don Pearson always has a relevant quote to serve as a theme for the conference. “Let’s stop trying to predict the future; let’s build it!” Stop and ponder.

The Ignition platform has greatly expanded over the years without losing the core ideas founder Steve Hechtman first explained to me in 2003. Built upon IT-friendly technology with a core strategy of unlimited licensing, the result is a robust HMI/SCADA offering that is affordable. [Note: Inductive Automation is a sponsor, but I’ve been a fan since long before that happened.]

They call it a “community conference” because they consider themselves, their customers, and their partners as a community. And when they gather physically (and even virtually), the people all act like a community. I always enjoy the conference feeling.

Hechtman discussed how the executive team met at the very beginning of hearing about the pandemic to begin preparing for remote work. Among other things they bought a lot of laptop computers. As things went along, they discovered that overall everyone was more productive working remotely. This will become a new way of life for most at the company. 

Preparing for business in the Covid environment, they improved the support function and added more people. They improved remote training–and a significant number of customers would prefer to continue remote training although many still wish to return to in-person classes when it’s possible. 

Speakers extolled the stories returning about how people are using the Maker edition unveiled in June. Ignition Perspective is another key new product that serves as a base for the main product Ignition 8.1. 

Key themes included filling out the promise of IoT broached back in 2016, mobility, remote control, large enterprise solutions, and working with AWS and Azure. Inductive has come a long way.

Ignition 8.1 is a release that will be supported five years. Its development them was refining version 8.0 released last year. It’s vision is based on Perspective. They worked to make it the best visualization platform. Perspective makes it easier to create in a variety of platforms–including the new Workstation edition. It’s now not only Web-based, but also has this Workstation edition to enhance speed. They have developed an easier-to-use and improved symbol library. They’ve added first-party Docker support. Plus a Quick Start application to help people new to the platform to get configured and ready to use.

Be sure to visit the ICC website and examine all the use cases and partners.

An IIoT Solution for Smart Manufacturing

I doubt that there exists a useful pure Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) solution. Simply putting a number of devices on an IP network solves little. However, combining IIoT with data analytics and visualization offers useful solutions to managers and engineers. Even better is the current trend toward making these solutions easier to install. This solution says it has all that.

Litmus, the Intelligent Edge Computing company, announced a partnership with Oden Technologies, a company helping manufacturers make faster and better decisions through machine learning and advanced analytics. Together, Litmus and Oden offer a turnkey solution for Smart Manufacturing including out-of-the-box data acquisition from any machine, advanced analytics, and machine learning to drive greater production efficiency.

Litmus Edge data intelligence platform collects, normalizes, and analyzes high volumes of live data from industrial assets making it available to OT and IT systems via edge-to-enterprise integration.  Oden provides big data compute engine and machine learning, real-time, and predictive process metrics.

“We can get customers up and running by connecting to any machine and collecting data in minutes, then integrate that data with Oden so customers can see proven predictive and prescriptive applications to deliver value in under 30 days,” said John Younes, co-founder and COO of Litmus. “Litmus provides intelligence at the edge, and Oden provides the cloud-based analytics and machine learning necessary to predict and prevent problems, then prescribe actions that lead to better business decisions.”

Litmus Edge is deployed at the Edge with more than 250 pre-built drivers to connect to any PLC, CNC, sensor, robotic system, or SCADA/MES/Historian with no programming, then processes and normalizes the data automatically. Litmus feeds clean data to the Oden Industrial AI Platform, which offers real-time metrics and reporting along with predictive quality, performance optimization and other automated insights. Litmus Edge then runs those machine learning models back at the assets for continuous improvement and closed loop control back to the assets.

“With Litmus + Oden, customers can create a complete source of truth for all production data,” said Willem Sundblad, Cofounder and CEO of Oden Technologies. “We are excited to partner with Litmus to deliver increased operational visibility and automated insights that help customers reduce waste, optimize performance and maximize profitability across the factory floor.”

Pricing for Litmus + Oden is based on the number of manufacturing processes and the number of sites deployed.

Emerson Invests As Software Eats The Industrial World

Marc Andreessen the famed technologist and investor famously said almost 10 years ago that “software is eating the world.” The industrial market, famously slow to move, has been resembling that remark over the past year. In this episode, Emerson has announced an acquisition and an investment in software. Yes, the valves and DeltaV Emerson. Or, the big guys get bigger.

Emerson announced August 27 that it has agreed to acquire Open Systems International, Inc. (OSI Inc.) for $1.6 billion in an all cash transaction. 

OSI Inc. is a leading operations technology software provider that broadens and complements Emerson’s robust software portfolio and ability to help customers in the global power industry, as well as other end markets, in their quest to transform and digitize operations to more seamlessly incorporate renewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency and reliability.

Digitization is critical for the power industry to modernize and improve the reliability of the electric grid. Incorporating clean and renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, requires balancing the variable nature of renewable energy with the often bi-directional demands of the grid. By combining Emerson’s domain expertise and leading technology in power generation with OSI Inc.’s complementary software and reach within the power transmission and distribution sectors, the acquisition will equip customers with the end-to-end ability to monitor, control and optimize real-time operations across the power enterprise through scalable, software-enabled automation and data management.

“An enormous change is underway as utilities globally are investing to digitize the grid and adapt to rapidly evolving energy sources and new technologies that increase consumer choices,” said Lal Karsanbhai, executive president of Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “This acquisition will help the power industry maximize the remarkable opportunity to harness renewable energy sources and to accelerate the transformation to the smart power grid. Emerson now has the opportunity to be a leader in this large, rapidly growing market with a compelling and complete software and technology offering.”

Karsanbhai continued, “Our $1 billion standalone software and associated engineering implementation services portfolio is quickly growing to meet customer needs and support operational performance, analytics and digital transformation. OSI Inc. is a great business with a track record of high growth, strong profitability and long-term customer loyalty. This acquisition builds on Emerson’s software footprint and supports customers in providing comprehensive end-to-end solutions to help the power industry continue transforming to meet the needs of tomorrow.” 

OSI Inc. is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN and has approximately 1,000 employees globally.

The acquisition is expected to close in early fiscal 2021, subject to various regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

In additional news, Emerson announced it has made an equity investment in inmation Software GmbH, a global software platform developer that further deepens Emerson’s data management and integration capabilities. The investment will increase data visibility and provide unified, actionable information to empower fast decision-making and optimized operations.

inmation aggregates global operational data from across the enterprise into the Plantweb digital ecosystem to create an OT data lake – a centralized storage repository – that serves as the foundation for business intelligence and analytics.

“Emerson and inmation are committed to advancing our customers’ digital transformation initiatives, bringing disparate data together with advanced analytics to provide the comprehensive insights needed to drive business results,” said Stuart Harris, group president for Emerson’s digital transformation business. “Our joint solutions unlock vital information in legacy systems, aggregate data from diverse sources and securely connect to the cloud – enabling plant and enterprise-wide operational improvement.”

The investment will complement Emerson’s effort to build an innovative software platform that provides data aggregation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and workflow management. The platform, coupled with the expertise of the two companies, will further enable customers to realize a measurable return on their digital transformation efforts.

“Emerson’s longtime leadership in digital transformation, global execution and customer service capabilities made them a natural partner,” said Timo Klingenmeier, CEO of inmation. “We see widespread industry benefits as we pair Emerson’s award-winning Plantweb digital ecosystem with inmation’s data management software platform to offer customers end-to-end solutions.”

inmation Software GmbH is based in Cologne, Germany.

The terms of the investment were not disclosed.