I have an iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air. I could not have accomplished all the soccer referee administrative work I’ve done without these digital devices and the internet. I began with the digital world in manufacturing in 1976. It became a career. I’ve earned a lot of money due to digital.
An early adopter of Twitter, I’ve all but quit using it–long before the current controversies. Facebook was a way to connect to cousins and other family I never got to see. But the message streams became so toxic that I only check it to wish people I know a happy birthday.
The “real” world is analog. This usually relates to getting signals (electrical) from the real world. There is no intermediary transformation of analog to digital.
David Sax reflected upon his experiences during the lockdown phases of the pandemic. If you recall, digital became a lifeline. Zoom for meetings or school. FaceTime for communication. Email, Facebook, Twitter, messaging. It all became digital. And digital became toxic.
Sax published his reflections in The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World. Were I an editor or book reviewer, I’d pick at his style or writing. But as someone interested in spiritual formation, I recommend the book. It should open your eyes to the digital desert we’ve wandered into. It shows a way out.
Remember baking sourdough bread? Walks in the park? Playing games? Talking with people outside socially spaced to limit the spread of germs?
I still use digital as a tool without which I could not do many of the things I want to do.
And unfortunately, I’ve moved and no longer have communities of Yoga, soccer, and church. But I get outside. See a few people at the fitness center. Meditate. Read real books. Get away from digital.
Honeywell has been an enigma to me for several years. I haven’t been confident in product direction, where different elements of process automation would fit, and would it make a transition to software. Then came Honeywell Forge. Where did that fit with Process Solutions and UOP? Then we had the pandemic and I couldn’t make the User Group this year due to many conflicts.
This is mostly my deficiency, but also I had lost track of contacts. All that is remedied, and the picture is beginning to focus. I was also able to catch some virtual conferences to gain insight from CTO Jason Urso.
Honeywell Forge is coalescing into a viable software division. Process Solutions is cranking out some interesting new products and services. Sustainability is a key strategy. Cybersecurity remains strong within the portfolio.
I’m quite late with this update. Following are major points from recent announcements. Check out the various links for more.
Manufacturing Excellence Platform
Manufacturing Excellence platform provides real-time end-to-end production visualization and dashboards for multiple user roles from operators to management, process unit timelines, detailed equipment status, and trends of critical process parameters. The Manufacturing Excellence platform, built for Life Sciences applications, puts actionable information in context in one interface. The solution digitizes paper-based batch records, work instructions, and logbooks to ensure consistent compliance with standard operating procedures.
Honeywell Forge Performance+
As part of the new Honeywell Forge Performance+ for Industrials suite, Asset Performance helps deliver asset reliability and energy efficiency through real-time monitoring of assets using predictive models embedded with deep-domain expertise. Asset Performance can help to both detect potential asset health issues and predict possible time to failure in order to proactively improve plant availability.
Enhancements to Existing Honeywell Software Solutions
- Honeywell Plantwide Optimizer – End-to-end solution that integrates planning, operations and blending in near real time.
- Honeywell Operations Management – Enhancements to the user experience designed to help industrial operations managers to better proactively monitor, document and operate their industrial processes to reduce downtime, increase throughput and yields, and standardize shift reporting.
- Honeywell Workforce Competency – Enhancements to the simulation-based experiential learning solution to develop and enhance the competency of today’s industrial workforce include persona-based dashboards and a new soft Safety Manager direct link.
Honeywell’s AMIR managed service brings increased cybersecurity capabilities to an organization’s existing Security Operation Centers (SOCs) to strengthen OT cybersecurity across the enterprise.
Cyber App Control, previously known as Application Whitelisting, is a vendor-agnostic cybersecurity solution suitable for both Honeywell and non-Honeywell control systems designed to provide an additional layer of security that allows only known and trusted applications to run on ICS assets and increases a customer’s ability to prevent known malware and zero-day attacks on OT environments that often rely on more vulnerable legacy systems with challenging maintenance schedules.
Honeywell Forge Sustainability+
• An enterprise solution that measures fugitive and process GHG emission leaks, continuously monitors sites for new or remediated emissions, reports on emissions’ status and drives emission reduction strategies and solutions.
• Innovative gas detection technologies with Honeywell Versatilis Signal Scout gas detector and Gas Cloud Imaging, interfaces with Emissions Management for continuous measuring and monitoring of emissions, enabling customers to better manage GHG emissions proactively in near real-time.
• Reporting of process emissions with site- and enterprise-level trending and visualization that allows organizations to locate methane leaks that may cause production loss or impact worker safety, as well as gain access to metrics and alarms associated with gas leaks.
• Enterprise-wide accounting, visualization and reporting that eliminates periodic manual reporting and provides a holistic, near real-time view of Scope 1 emissions for HSE professionals and executive teams.
Honeywell and Aramco JV for Business Process Software
Honeywell and Aramco have announced the signing of a joint venture (JV) agreement to provide a set of end-to-end business process automation solutions, under the Aramco Namaat Industrial Investments Program. The technology solutions can be offered to a wide range of industrial sectors to help maximize profitability, improve productivity, sustainability and operational excellence, on a global scale. The new JV offerings will leverage Aramco’s Plant.Digital platform (formerly Integrated Manufacturing Operations Management System – iMOMS) as well as Honeywell Connected Enterprise’s technology development and industrial digital solutions implementation experience.
The JV aims to equip industrial companies with the tools, processes and practices they need to run plant operations more effectively and accelerate sustainable digital transformation and operational excellence initiatives. It will emphasize the development, integration, and deployment of Operations Technology (OT) solutions and Digital Transformation consulting.
The new JV is expected to create more than 300 jobs in Saudi Arabia within five years, supporting the Aramco Namaat Industrial Investments Program, which is designed to boost Saudi economic and workforce development.
Partnership for Track and Trace Solutions
Honeywell announced that Imperial Brands, a British multinational tobacco company, has chosen Honeywell to provide the Honeywell Track & Trace solution (“Honeywell Track & Trace”) to digitalize and transform the monitoring and tracking of their supply chain operations.
In addition to the cloud-based Honeywell Track & Trace solution, Honeywell will provide a comprehensive and integrated system of support, professional services, and governance to help Imperial’s business meet critical requirements for compliance and executing its global supply chain.
I missed a day here yesterday. I had an outpatient procedure that necessitated leaving home about 5:30 am. I blamed the condition on past workplace stress. More likely it was hereditary.
Glad to report that the operation was successful. By the time I got home yesterday early afternoon, my LiveWell app had been updated with all the blood test results, the results of the procedure, and the surgeon’s notes and commentary. Crazy good. This sort of technology and follow up would be fantastic for service calls in my other job relative to manufacturing. Or even the service person who comes to your house. There’s the good side of technology when it’s a servant. Then there’s the bad side (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
This morning at 5:30 felt good. Back in the saddle.
I read many thinkers and writers. Never stop learning. This thought came from Paul Graham’s monthly newsletter.
You can’t think well without writing well, and you can’t write well without reading well. And I mean that last “well” in both senses. You have to be good at reading, and read good things. By “good at reading” I don’t mean good at the mechanics of reading. You don’t have to be good at extracting words from the page so much as extracting meaning from the words.
Most people I read consider writing as part of thinking. To me, it’s core to education. They need to do more of it at least from middle school through grad school. I often begin with an idea that came from observation or reading then begin to write. Bless computers—it’s easier to backspace and begin again than cross out and re-write.
Writing’s a practice. Read, observe, think. Begin to write. As you sort out your thoughts, you’ll find new wisdom percolating. You might even change your mind on some things through thinking rather than reacting. I know I have. Even (especially?) through somewhat critical comments.
There was Automation Fair and then meetings and then Thanksgiving. Plenty of time to digest everything I learned and experienced at Rockwell Automation’s event. They skipped 2020, of course. The 2021 event in Houston was abbreviated. This one held at Chicago’s McCormick Place resembled all the pre-Covid events. More than 15,000 attendees, lots of presentations and learning opportunities, and many Rockwell and partner exhibits.
I wrote a quick update with the themes I picked up. Here is a recap.
- Emphasis on partners working together—specifically Festo, Zededa, Stratus
- Connected Enterprise is still central, connectivity is everywhere
- Cloud is everywhere
- Use technology the right way
- Enable humans to make better decisions
The big three things Rockwell spokespeople referenced were FactoryTalk Design Hub, FactoryTalk Edge, and cloud. The cloud discussion involved Design Hub, Plex, and Fiix. Plex, the cloud-based MES software replaced PTC as the focus of software discussion. PTC’s stand, though, with ThingWorx and Vuforia, was constantly busy—so much so that I never squeezed in for a talk. Fiix is the cloud-based CMMS package. I think these were meaningful acquisitions that will add value now and in the future.
Specifics — Rockwell Automation Products
FactoryTalk Design Hub
Transform automation design capabilities with a more simplified, productive way to work powered by the cloud. There are five core applications.
- FactoryTalk Design Studio—cloud-native software product built from the ground up to improve system design efficiency. Teams can collaborate with automated tools to share and merge changes, and project sizes can scale dynamically with support for multiple controllers in a single project.
- FactoryTalk Optix—addition to the visualization portfolio, the first cloud-enabled HMI product to be launched within FactoryTalk Design Hub.
- FactoryTalk Twin Studio—end-to-end automation design solution where users can design, program, simulate, emulate, and virtually commission in one cloud environment.
- FactoryTalk Vault—secure, cloud-native centralized storage for manufacturing design teams.
- FactoryTalk Remote Access—enables secure connections to equipment.
An intelligent edge management and orchestration SaaS platform with an edge application ecosystem – based on zero trust security and open industry standards – accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.
FactoryTalk Edge Gateway (FTEG)
Connects operational technology to informational technology. FTEG tools scan the EtherNet/IP network to discover devices.
FactoryTalk Smart Object (FTSO)
A simplified way to organize data for easy collection by the controller and subsequent transfer to IIoT systems. The FTSO Config Tool creates the base code for the tags the user selects to be included in data models.
On Machine Products
- ArmorKinetix distributed servo drives provide the Kinetix 5700 platform in a compact, On-Machine form factor.
- ArmorBlock 5000 I/O—Distributed I/O blocks with IO-Link technology
- Armor PowerFlex—A new generation of On-Machine VFD motor control solutions that provide an integrated, near-motor solution where reducing installation time and cost are most critical.
Specifics — Partners
- With the Festo CPX-FB36 bus node now recognized by FTEG, basic diagnostic information from smart pneumatic devices such as Festo valve terminals and energy saving pneumatic devices are easily accessible.
- Add-on instructions can be used by FTSO that access timestamp values for the extension and retraction of pneumatic cylinders. This information is accessible to FTEG.
- Data collected by FTEG can be shared with Festo AX software, the new AI solution from Festo that can improve machine utilization and quality, lower waste, and ensure energy optimization. Festo AX provides a bridge between advanced analytics arising from operational technology, such as that collected by FTEG, and IT-based business intelligence. Festo AX can run directly on the system (on-edge), on servers (on-premises), or in the cloud.
Zededa announced a supply agreement with Rockwell Automation to provide distributed edge management and orchestration capabilities—incorporated as part of FactoryTalk edge management offering.
PTC to Acquire SaaS Field Service Management Provider ServiceMax
PTC continually enlarges its footprint in the digital enterprise domain. There was its expansion a few years ago into Internet of Things with acquisition of ThingWorx and Kepware. Those brought a relationship with Rockwell Automation—and I noticed its stand at Automation Fair this month was continually busy. Now an extension into field service management related to its product lifecycle management (PLM) portfolio.
This is an interesting acquisition. Management believes it can bring all these acquisitions together to get the jigsaw puzzle pieces to interlock.
- Acquisition expected to strengthen service capabilities of PTC’s closed-loop PLM portfolio
- PTC’s manufacturing customers rely on field service management for product performance, customer satisfaction, and profitability expansion
- Strong synergies between PTC and ServiceMax’s manufacturing customers and product portfolios
- Transaction expected to be accretive to PTC’s SaaS ARR and cash flow in FY’23
PTC announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ServiceMax for approximately $1.46 billion in cash on a debt-free, cash-free basis from an entity majority owned by Silver Lake. ServiceMax is a recognized leader in cloud-native, product-centric field service management (FSM) software. The acquisition is expected to strengthen PTC’s closed-loop product lifecycle management (PLM) offerings by extending the digital thread of product information into downstream enterprise asset management (EAM) and FSM capabilities. Subject to the satisfaction of regulatory approval and other applicable closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in early January 2023.
Partners since 2015, PTC and ServiceMax both support manufacturers of complex, highly configured products for the medical device, industrial products, aerospace, and related verticals. These manufacturers view field service as a strategic part of their businesses to maintain product performance, extend their products’ lifecycles, increase customer satisfaction, drive revenue growth, and expand profitability.
- The purchase price will be funded in two stages, with $808 million paid at closing and $650 million paid in October 2023. The transaction will be funded with cash on hand, borrowings under PTC’s existing credit facility, and a new $500 million committed term loan.
- ServiceMax is expected to contribute approximately $160 million in ARR for PTC’s Q2’23.
- The transaction is expected to be accretive to PTC’s FY’23 cash flow from operations, free cash flow, and adjusted free cash flow targets.
Tilo Merlin holds the role of instrumentation platform manager at ABB in Frankfurt, Germany. We connected on Microsoft Teams because I was curious about the latest ABB take on what’s happening on the foundation side of the Industrial Internet of Things—networks and instrumentation.
Coming from the instrumentation world, he often referred to RS-485, that ubiquitous serial networking standard. He told me that Modbus and Modbus TCP remain popular for instrumentation networks. As is the HART serial protocol. It takes a long time to make changes in the process world, I guess.
Speaking of HART, I’ve been curious about the growth of use of the digital side of the protocol. Engineers can use just the analog side as a serial network. I’ve often heard that the digital side is seldom used. Merlin noted the digital side of HART is used mostly for commissioning and diagnostics.
Ethernet Advanced Physical Layer (APL) has gathered much publicity lately. I just wrote about ODVA releasing a conformance test meaning that developers must be getting close to releasing product.
Merlin pointed to the beauty of Ethernet that you can just add protocols to the physical layer. APL bests Ethernet POE (power over Ethernet) by requiring just two wires for power to the device as well as signal. Often the two wires already exist in the plant. This little factor reduces labor to install the new network. The network is low power, therefore intrinsically safe. ABB makes a couple of instruments that utilize power from the network. I foresee a growth in that area.
ABB finds customers wishing to separate asset management from the control system. Energy management is currently the important function of asset management. Companies don’t wish to pay for extensive engineering hours to do the programming through the control system.
I walked into a marketing topic mentioning I had talked with a customer engineering manager who pleaded with technology providers to simplify their systems. They don’t have people with time or often skills to deal with network complexity.
ABB has a marketing slogan, Measurement Made Easy. True to his engineering heritage, Merlin said at first he thought it was just marketing (don’t we all sometimes think that?). He has come to experience the truth of the vision. They are working to make things simple as the app on your smart phone.
Just over a year ago, Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined a vision for the future of the social media giant—the metaverse. “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are,” he said. He bet a huge amount of money. In November, he laid off thousands of employees working on the project.
I recently moderated a panel discussion on the Web discussing the Industrial Metaverse. I wanted to establish a definition. I failed. Perhaps the best short description of the Metaverse is that point where the physical and digital worlds come together.
English technology analyst Benedict Evans wrote, “Sometimes it seems like every big company CEO has read the same article about the same tech trend, and sent the same email to their team, asking “What’s our strategy for this?!” A couple of years ago there were a lot of emails asking for a 5G strategy, and now there are a lot of emails asking about metaverse.”
Yes, it seems like only yesterday I was swamped with press releases and requests for interviews about 5G. But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone (to quote singers Chad and Jeremy). Evans continues.
Evans continued, “Answering the 5G email was actually pretty easy, partly because almost no-one needs a 5G strategy at all, but also because we knew what 5G meant. We probably don’t know what ‘metaverse’ means. More precisely, we don’t know what someone else means. This word has become so vague and broad that you cannot really know for sure what the speaker has in mind when they say it, since they might be thinking of a lot of different things.”
The metaverse needs a digital twin. This is the digital representation of physical reality. It also needs sensory input. There must be visualization of the digital output—perhaps AR glasses or VR headsets. Oh, and application sense must form part of the mix or else why do it.
The word metaverse occurred first during the recent Rockwell Automation event Automation Fair on my third day. Even then, it was stated ironically. Rockwell did have an exhibit with a virtual reality headset. The application about to be released, however, was on flat screens accessible by all.
The metaverse experience that Siemens showcased at its Web Summit builds on the company’s digital twin technology—physics-based, real-time and photorealistic digital twins. By offering a completely digital model of the underwater farm, this technology enables the Nemo’s Garden team to develop, adapt, and control its underwater biospheres at scale. The photo-realistic metaverse experience at Web Summit is implemented with Unity, a cross-platform game engine.
With VR glasses on, visitors experience underwater farming with four senses: They can see and smell the vegetables and fruits, they can hear the sound of the underwater environment, and they can even feel the vegetables and fruits through full-feedback gloves. Visitors not wearing VR glasses can follow the action on a big screen and influence what is seen in the metaverse.
Molex and Arrow Electronics conducted market research and returned an optimistic look at the value of the metaverse in industrial applications. They see manufacturers among first to benefit from convergence of physical and virtual processes to improve product-design cycles and factory of the future initiatives.
Some of the technologies commonly thought of as part of the metaverse include AR/VR, digital twins, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics.
Reza Eltejaein from Marvell Technology explained how deterministic Ethernet is displacing special purpose networks in several applications also describing the company’s new Ethernet switches for harsh environments and PHYs targeted to the industrial and critical infrastructure markets. This solution finally brings Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) to reality.
Ethernet is still too expensive for the sensor and other physical device layer. Achieving deterministic Ethernet for critical applications above that layer has been a target for engineering for years. Marvell Technology now offers a solution.
Marvell’s Secure Deterministic Ethernet solution, comprised of Prestera switches and Alaska PHYs, is designed for switch appliances used in often-harsh environments. By enabling the more widespread use of Ethernet in the OT environment, the new solution facilitates the adoption of modern IT tools and security methods in OT networks, enabling a common management and automation approach from the cloud to the OT network edge.
The new solution addresses deterministic networking requirements with a set of Ethernet standards known as time-sensitive networking (TSN). With TSN, virtually any kind of Ethernet traffic can share a network, allowing siloed IT and OT networks to converge, thus reducing costs and facilitating in OT networks the analytics, automation and intelligence that are transforming IT networks.
To better protect these networks, the new Prestera industrial-grade switches with TSN offer industry-first device- and link-level security, in the form of Secure Boot and MACsec.
- Integrated switching, CPU and Ethernet PHY—reduces power and footprint versus separate components.
- Time-Sensitive Networking: 802.1AS, 802.1CB, 802.1Qav, 802.1Qbv, 802.1Qbu, 802.1Qci, 802.1Qat—supports reliable, low-latency Ethernet performance.
- IEC/IEEE 60802 TSN profile for Industrial Automation—enables real-time end-to-end communications with guaranteed reliable performance and data delivery.
- 802.1AE MACsec—provides Layer-2 security for data integrity and confidentiality.
- Secure Boot—allows only trusted software to execute on the system.
- Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) and Highly-available Seamless Redundancy (HSR)—provide no-loss failover in case of failure of any single network element.
- TrackIQ—provides rich telemetry data for use in network analytics and observability tools.
- Ruggedized -40°C to +85°C system operation—enables reliable operation in harsh environments and an expected lifetime of at least 10 years.
The Prestera DX1500 and Alaska E1781 product families are sampling now.
Ethernet APL, advanced physical layer, moves closer to reality with this ODVA announcement of the availability of conformance testing for EtherNet/IP network-enabled devices that communicate over the Ethernet-APL physical layer.
Conformance testing verifies the Ethernet-APL physical layer functionality by checking that the different port types properly adhere to the relevant specifications. The EtherNet/IP communication network functionality is also confirmed as a part of this process. Together, both tests ensure maximum interoperability between vendors as well as different types of instruments and infrastructure components.
Ethernet-APL is the new intrinsically safe, two-wire, Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) solution, based on an extension of 10BASE-T1L (IEEE 802.3cg2019), that meets the requirements of the process industries. The advantages of Ethernet-APL include significantly faster communication speeds of up to 10 Mbit/s, hazardous area protection, power to field instrumentation, and long cable runs of up to 1,000 meters (IEC 61158). Ethernet-APL devices adhere to IEC TS 60079-47 (2-Wire Intrinsically Safe Ethernet) in order to ensure “intrinsically safe” ignition protection.
Is “Metaverse” a flash-in-the-pan? An ephemeral vision soon to succumb to reality? This news from Hexagon from a couple of weeks ago is about the last I’ve heard. There was one comment about metaverse at the trade show I visited this week, but I think the person spoke ironically.
At any rate, the technologies (if not use cases) are real and under development. Hexagon has announced previously a startup incubator called Sixth Sense—an “accelerator-style” program to fast-track their solutions to commercial success.
Hexagon has announced eight startups that will join its fold under its Sixth Sense. These start-ups have been identified by Sixth Sense as the next big thing for digital reality solutions in the manufacturing sector (digital reality, AR, VR Metaverse).
Examples of the start-ups’ innovations include:
- A ‘handheld lab’ gel scanner that replicates human skin tactility to autonomously test materials
- An algorithm that can analyse an entire car or plane, and in seconds recommend which elements would be stronger, cheaper or lighter if 3D-printed
- An app that takes product data and turns it into a 3D virtual and interactive model, using any smartphone
- An AR overlay to remote customer service, enabling technicians to literally show how it’s done
Eight ‘best of the best’ startups have won out in a competitive pitch process and will join a rigorous ten-week programme to inform and refine their offering with Hexagon’s market insights to global brands like Audi, Boeing, and Microsoft. It will conclude in showcase in February, where two winners will be offered a unique opportunity to scale with Hexagon’s portfolio and bring their digital reality solution directly to customers.
The eight start-ups are:
- 3YOURMIND, Berlin, Germany—enables more agile manufacturing with a software suite that standardises, optimises and automates the entire process chain to enable on-demand part production. Software is designed to efficiently schedule and track manufacturing processes – from the initial order to the finished part.
- Augmentir, Horsham, USA—provides companies with smart insights to the workforce and processes, from “hire to retire”. The collected data helps to reduce time to productivity, enables targeted reskilling and upskilling, and provides individualised guidance and support at the point of work.
- Threedy, Darmstadt, Germany—provides the visual computing technologies to translate the ever-growing web of 3D, business and process data into highly responsive and interactive 3D applications. Its instant3Dhub technology translates existing 3D data entities into highly interactive experiences while minimising device and infrastructure costs.
- oculavis, Aachen, Germany—develops Visual Assistance software which connects machinery and equipment with experts, technicians and customers worldwide. Intuitive Augmented Reality (AR) annotations in video calls facilitate focused collaboration between technicians and clients.
- CASTOR, Tel Aviv, Israel—provides automated 3D printing software which analyses thousands of parts simultaneously and offers deep technical analysis of a complete machine design. It enables manufacturers to identify cost reduction opportunities, suggests geometry changes to the part’s design, estimates the cost and lead time and connects the manufacturer to a printing service bureau.
- GelSight, Waltham, USA—develops human skin-like tactile sensing technology that provides detailed and rapid surface characterisation, enabling several surface measurement applications and robotic sensing capabilities.
- JITbase, Montreal, Canada—builds smart manufacturing software that uses machine data and information from CNC programmes to calculate the optimal sequence of machinist activities on the shop floor. The Optimal Path System (OPS) is based on algorithms that calculate in real-time what should happen in production to maximise the availability rate of the fleet of machines.
- Teratonics, Orsay, France—offers highly automated non-destructive testing, imaging systems and analysis services through the use of ultrashort Terahertz pulses. Users can look into every produced part to uncover internal defects and measure dimensions.