OPC Foundation Welcomes Emerson to Its Board of Directors

Emerson also joins the OPC Foundation Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative to drive a holistic approach to sensor and device level communications across process and factory automation industries.

This news could be a big win for the OPC Foundation. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that big companies join standards efforts in order to delay adoption. Sometimes, though, big companies see benefits for themselves from standards developments. It saves them a ton of internal development time and money. The news that Emerson is increasing its commitment to OPC and working with the field Level communications development can give a needed boost to the effort. We can hope.

The OPC Foundation is proud to announce Emerson has joined its Board of Directors and sincerely welcomes Peter Zornio, Chief Technology Officer for Emerson Automation Solutions, as Emerson’s representative on the Board of Directors. Emerson is one of the world’s largest automation suppliers, providing engineering services and automation technologies to process and discrete manufacturing industries.

Emerson has a long history with the OPC Foundation. As one of its founding members, Emerson played an important role in the development and adoption of the first OPC data connectivity standard and contributed to the development of OPC UA, today’s open data interoperability standard. Emerson supports OPC UA initiatives by participating in OPC Foundation working groups and by adopting OPC UA in a wide variety of its family of products.

Peter Zornio says: “OPC technology is well established in the automation space as the de facto standard for application-level communications.  It also provides integration between operations technology (OT) and the IT world, including cloud-based environments.  We look forward to growing that role, as well as working with the OPC FLC initiative on expanding OPC technology into real-time communications between control and field-connected devices.  OPC is the best candidate to have a single communication standard cover the entire scope of automation architecture from intelligent field devices to the cloud.”

Peter Lutz, Director FLC Initiative: “Currently, the OPC Foundation is extending use of OPC UA down to the level of sensors and devices on the shop floor via its Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative. The value that a major player like Emerson brings to this initiative is important from both technical and market messaging perspectives. First, OPC Foundation Working Groups benefit from extensive Emerson field level expertise. Second, with its strong support for ongoing OPC UA standard development for use in both process and discrete industries, Emerson helps send a clear message to the market: OPC UA plays an equally important role in both verticals.

Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director, OPC Foundation commented “It is gratifying to welcome a company of Emerson’s stature to the OPC Foundation Board of Directors. Working together with Emerson and our other valued board members, the OPC Foundation is now better positioned to deliver on its directive to provide the world with the best single data connectivity and interoperability standard for use throughout the enterprise, regardless of the industry sector.” 

AI Solutions to Accelerate the Journey to the Self-Optimizing Plant

Before Artificial Intelligence (AI) became such a marketing hype-word, process automation suppliers had versions of it in a variety of guises. I always felt that Aspen Technology, aka AspenTech, was at the engineering forefront if not quite there financially and in the market. The company has turned around over the past few years. It seems to be back on track. 

This announcement discusses the latest release of its flagship aspenONE V12. Before diving in, I digress to look at the AspenTech definition of hybrid as it applies to this announcement.

Hybrid Modeling uniquely combines the first principles of engineering and mathematics and the built-in industry experience (as encapsulated in Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS) with empirical relationships derived from plant data, employing the latest advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. This combination enables the best of both worlds (rigorous and first principles) to provide effective modeling of complex units that cannot be easily modeled today. It also speeds up model construction, applies AI to plant data to streamline data cleansing and model calibration, and can substitute for engineering experience in developing predictive insight into process units and complex assets.

Then on to the meat of the release:

Aspen Technology announced the general availability of the aspenONE V12 software release, which embeds artificial intelligence (AI) across the portfolio and uses the cloud for delivery of enterprise-wide analytics and insights for increased safety, sustainability, and improved margins. AspenTech’s Industrial AI solutions democratize the application of AI where it can deliver most value and is a vital step towards the Self-Optimizing Plant.

“Aspen Hybrid Models are a major advance in the field of chemical engineering. Hybrid models are a major step forward in bringing together AspenTech’s process models and machine learning and are a game changer in process engineering and plant improvement,” said Dr. Karuna Potdar, Vice President, Technology Centre of Excellence, Reliance Industries Limited.

aspenONE V12 solutions have the first Industrial AI hybrid model capability that is purpose-built for the process industries and other capital-intensive industries. Aspen Hybrid Models capture data from assets across the enterprise, and then apply AI, engineering first principles and AspenTech’s domain expertise to deliver comprehensive, more accurate models at enterprise speed and scale. With AspenTech’s four decades of knowledge about the unique challenges of building solutions for process industries and other capital-intensive industries, aspenONE V12 enables customers to apply AI to critical processes without additional data science expertise and offers better support for new users without deep process knowledge or experience.

The process industries have embraced digital transformation to drive operational excellence and innovation as they respond to meet the needs of growing populations and expectations for sustainability. The new solutions in aspenONE V12 address these unique challenges with better modeling accuracy, greater insights and improved total cost of ownership that can support evolving business needs and take advantage of the new digital native workforce.

“The process industries and other capital-intensive industries are experiencing new levels of volatility in supply and demand, and the need to be agile in response to all market conditions requires a new approach to asset optimization,” said Antonio Pietri, President and CEO, Aspen Technology. “In addition, they face higher expectations for efficiency and profitability, and increasing pressure to meet sustainability targets. This next generation of Industrial AI solutions will change how process industries work. The Self-Optimizing Plant represents the future of operational excellence, and we continue our commitment to innovate and deliver solutions that can accelerate our customers’ journey toward it.”

Francesco Mura, Digital Platform Manager, Process and Technology for Saras, sees the advantage for updating planning models. “Aspen Hybrid Models provide very efficient nonlinear planning model generation, taking information from Aspen HYSYS rigorous refining reactor models and offering a great deal of promise as a new approach for updating planning models.”

New Features of aspenONE V12 software include:

  • Aspen Maestro – new capability for Aspen DMC3and Aspen Mtell which automates the development of better models faster by guiding a less experienced user on how to build a particular model or agent.
  • Aspen Deep-Learning IQ – enables the building of more accurate models and predictions.
  • Aspen Verify for Planning – uses AI to capture knowledge and check against plan to prevent costly mistakes.
  • Aspen Multi-Case – easily runs thousands of simulations cases concurrently, on-premise or in the cloud, allowing a more complete analysis so results can be used to navigate operational complexity and make more accurate decisions faster.
  • Aspen Event Analytics – provides rapid insight into production events. Fast, easy investigation of unexpected production events accelerates corrective action decision-making. Monitors and detects real-time events to enable rapid early intervention.
  • Aspen MES Collaborative – delivers the connected enterprise. Aggregates data with an enterprise-level historian and connects small sites to eliminate stranded data.
  • Aspen Cloud Connect – provides flexible connectivity with high performance and security to transfer data from edge to cloud.
  • Aspen Capital Cost Estimator Insights (ACCE) – streamlines the user experience with out-of-the-box integration with ACCE and Aspen Enterprise Insights to provide visualization and collaborative workflow within a hybrid cloud environment.

Free Training on Open and Secure Automation

Automation suppliers without a solid training program miss a great opportunity to serve customers and also generate good-will and long-term relationships. Hearing that call, Bedrock Automation has announced that the School of Bedrock is now open for free technical training in Open Secure Automation (OSA).  The School of Bedrock provides online virtual training in the essentials of implementing open standard 61131 engineering tools as well as all the Bedrock high-performance hardware and software products. 

“In our constant pursuit to radically reduce lifecycle costs, Bedrock is transitioning training to a zero-cost virtual service.  This will provide a great benefit to all users of Bedrock by eliminating a significant upfront cost of automation,” said Albert Rooyakkers, Bedrock Founder, CEO.  

The core curriculum today is focused on the content that Bedrock Automation requires for certification in its technology, which had previously been delivered primarily through live workshops supplemented by email, video links and PDF exchanges. It is now significantly more automated and available on-demand.

“Trainees can now interact with all program elements through a single portal. They can work toward the certificate at their own pace. They can track their progress easily, pick up where they left off, and see the history of all their interactions. The whole process is very user-friendly visually pleasing and free,” said Bedrock Customer Service and Technical Support Manager Craig Allen. 

The opening module includes a general introduction to Bedrock Automation and its Open Secure Automation offerings, including the Bedrock OSA, OSA Remote, as well as OSA Power products. It also covers the free IEC 61131-compliant integrated application development environment (IDE) and the Bedrock Device Management Tool which can be used to update all controllers and modules to the latest firmware with a single click.

The hardware portion of the curriculum focuses on the I/O and analog and digital Fieldbus management. The software curriculum covers working with variables and data types, ladder logic, sequential function charts, structured text, functions and user-defined types, a demonstrated understanding of which is necessary for certification.

Inductive Automation Announces 2020 Ignition Firebrand Awards

One of the things I miss about attending conferences is the Moleskin-type 5.5 x 8.5-inch notebooks the organizers hand out. I have not purchased a notebook for years. I take notes with a pen (Uniball Signo Micro 207) in a journal-type notebook. I can make sketches, mindmaps, draw arrows from thought to thought, and so forth. By the way, studies continue to show that writing enhances memory.

Another aspect of a conference I miss are hearing application stories from people who apply the technology. It’s a chance to go beyond technology to human factors, decision making, management, and the like. This press release is from the Inductive Automation Ignition Community Conference where they hand out awards—this year virtually—to the best applications. You should get an idea or twol

Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2020. The announcements were made at the virtual Ignition Community Conference (ICC), which took place online on September 15.

The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation® is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The Ignition Firebrand Awards are presented every September at ICC. The award-winning projects are selected from the ICC Discover Gallery, which features the best 18 Ignition projects submitted by integrators and industrial organizations.

“This year’s Firebrand Award projects all made a big impression on us,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “The engineers came up with custom solutions featuring mobility, edge computing, MQTT, stronger remote connections, interfaces with ERP, and much more. The results included significant cost savings, greater efficiency, and enterprise-wide data sharing. Terrific projects!” 

The 2020 Ignition Firebrand Award winners:

  • Brock Solutions replaced seven SCADA systems with one for Toronto Pearson International Airport’s baggage handling system. The new system has more than 280,000 tags, enables greater efficiency and data-sharing, and is the ideal platform for future expansion. See the video.
  • Controtek Solutions leveraged Ignition to connect 93 sites to a central SCADA system for Manila Water Company in the Philippines. The new system provides remote data gathering, operations monitoring, and enterprise integration. The solution makes extensive use of maps and data-rich dashboards. See the video.
  • Flexware Innovation implemented a new SCADA/MES system at a California production facility for Veoneer, a leading global supplier to the automotive industry. Veoneer makes advanced safety systems for vehicles. The new SCADA/MES system provides more data and gives Veoneer the ability to quickly make changes itself. See the video.
  • The Integration Group of Americas (TIGA) created a SCADA system that’s saving more than $500,000 per year for WaterBridge, a water-management company serving the oil & gas industry. TIGA’s solution included greater mobility, edge computing, and MQTT for 65 saltwater disposal facilities. See the video.
  • Vertech provided the SCADA/MES system for a large greenfield plant in New Jersey for AriZona Beverages. Six distinct Ignition projects were created, including ISA-88 batch control, interfacing with SAP via Sepasoft, downtime analysis, and dashboards. See the video.
  • Waste Management, North America’s leading provider of integrated environmental solutions with more than 20 million customers, used Ignition Perspective to create a mobile-first SCADA system for its landfills. The new solution provides a significant improvement in day-to-day operations. See the video.

Information on all 18 Discover Gallery projects can be seen here

The ICC 2020 Keynote and other conference videos can be seen here.

Industrial Readers—Watch Where IT Is Going

The manufacturing market is finally discovering the cloud in a big way. This reminds me of similar technologies such as Ethernet in 2003 when the market suddenly moved from “we don’t trust it” to “get me more”. Professionals in the industrial market are also testing out “edge-to-cloud” calling it Industrial Internet of Things. OPC Foundation has climbed aboard that train. We’ll see more.

But here is news that HPE has finalized its acquisition of Silver Peak, bolstering its vision of “edge-to-cloud transformation.” This vision goes far deeper and broader than IIoT, although it encompasses that…and more.

HPE announced the acquisition of Silver Peak in July. The deal totaled $925 million and brought Silver Peak into the Aruba business unit. Executives said Silver Peak’s SD-WAN [software-defined wide area network] capabilities would pair well with Aruba’s wired and wireless capabilities.

HPE president and CEO Antonio Neri called WAN transformation a crucial element of his company’s Intelligent Edge and edge-to-cloud strategy.

“Armed with a comprehensive SD-WAN portfolio with the addition of Silver Peak, we will accelerate the delivery of a true distributed cloud model and cloud experience for all apps and data wherever they live,” Neri said.

Keerti Melkote, Aruba founder and HPE’s president of Intelligent Edge, said customers want to increase branch connectivity and secure remote workers. As a result, Aruba launched a software-defined branch (SD-branch) solution in 2018 and revamped it earlier this year.

“By combining Silver Peak’s advanced SD-WAN technology with Aruba’s SD-branch and remote worker solutions, customers can simplify branch office and WAN deployments to empower remote workforces, enable cloud-connected distributed enterprises, and transform business operations without compromise,” Melkote said.

New WAN Business

Silver Peak founder and CEO David Hughes now serves as senior vice president Aruba’s WAN business. He said he looks forward to accelerating “edge-to-cloud transformation initiatives.”

“Digital transformation, cloud-first IT architectures, and the need to support a mobile work-from-anywhere workforce are driving enterprises to rethink the network edge,” Hughes said. “The combination of Silver Peak and Aruba will uniquely enable customers to realize the full transformational promise of these IT megatrends.”