by Gary Mintchell | Mar 25, 2023 | Automation, Technology
This is from my last newsletter which you can find at world.hey.com/garymintchell. I continue to spin a few of my brain cycles around the concept of open systems. Automation suppliers continue to pay a little lip service to open but also continue to try to keep as much proprietary as possible in order to make switching suppliers difficult for customers. Until customers push back even more, little will change. Will the Open Process Automation initiative change things?
Curiosity of the week—why have open systems worked so well in the IT market but failed to gain traction in the “OT” market? Thoughts? Send me a message at [email protected].
One of the meetings I look forward to these days at the ARC Forum in Orlando concerns updates from The Open Process Automation Forum, a working group of The Open Group.
This year I met with OPAF leaders Mohan Kalyanaraman and Ryan Smeltzer for a private briefing and then attended one of the OPAF sessions in the general forum. Widespread interest in their work was evidenced by the turnout of more than 200 people.
The OPAS 2.1 version of the standard is considered to be stable and suppliers can build products to it. Conformance requirements and testing are in process and due this year. Security guidelines and adoption guides are due to be completed this year.
Test beds and a pilot project have been completed. A few companies have scheduled test beds to their requirements. ExxonMobil is proceeding with a field trial that includes DCS/PLC that are commercially available compliant with OPAS 2.1. The project includes a single operator, single console, 2,500 I/O, and 100 control loops.
Further, OPAF is working with OPC Foundation for joint standard for Field Exchange and is also working with NAMUR ZVEI in Europe.
A little history and context
This work was instigated by ExxonMobil made public in 2016. That company faced upgrading its automation platforms at considerable expense. Other end user companies faced the same challenge. Schneider Electric, Yokogawa, and ABB were early boosters from the technology provider side of the equation.
I have followed a few of these initiatives. I can see the value of open systems. They have worked well in the IT market. However, gaining adoption is exceedingly difficult. Many suppliers may talk open systems, but in the end they want to keep everything tied together in house. To the outside world, they’ll say that they can assure all the parts will work together better because they are all designed by the same company. On the other hand, they really want to establish a long-term relationship with a large customer that is difficult to break. Lots of conflicting desires and business needs.
This project is gaining traction. It will only work in the end if enough end users specify the products and enforce procurement and application. Another project I once followed stumbled at this stage. One corporate engineering staff approved the open standard, but they could not enforce procurement at the plant level. We’ll see where this one goes.
Check out my manufacturing writing at https://TheManufacturingConnection.com
Check out my podcasts at https://automation.libsyn.com
I also write on personal development at https://faith-venture.com
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 23, 2023 | News, Organizations
MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) recently held its members meeting online. I was able to sit in as a long-time member. The association made it through the difficult times of the pandemic and losing most of its platinum supporting members. I’m sad about the companies I worked with over 20 years who have dropped away from the organization. But that only reflects the major shifts in this manufacturing technology market.
Congratulations to Khris Kammer, the new chair of the international board. I worked with him for many years on the technical (now Knowledge) committee. He should do well leading the organization in these changing times.
MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) International announces new Board leadership to help steer the future of MESA. The results of this term’s Board elections include an exceptional group of industry professionals who generously contribute their time and expertise.
Chair: Khris Kammer, AVEVA
Vice Chair: Uwe Küppers, Rockwell Automation
Treasurer: Corey Vodvarka, Parsec Automation Corp
Board Members at Large – click here for the full listing (13 total)
Executive Director Brandy Richardson stated about MESA’s new International Board Chair, Khris Kammer, “Khris is a veteran member of MESA, having served in various volunteer capacities throughout the years. We’re looking forward to what he will bring to the organization as both a long-time member of our organization as well as a respected industry luminary.”
Kammer said about the new role, “I am honored to accept the role of International Chair. MESA has been very important to my professional development for more than two decades. I value the relationships offered to me by MESA, and I’m excited about the future of the organization. New leaders are emerging that will propel the organization to the next level on the foundation of the MESA Model for Smarter Manufacturing. My goal is to provide a past, present, and future perspective, as well as an organizational structure that will help the entire organization thrive in the coming decades.”
Additionally, the change in top leadership elevates additional seasoned members of the organization. For instance, Chris Monchinski of Automation Control Systems has assumed Khris’ prior role of Knowledge Committee Chair, overseeing educational content development at MESA. Uwe Küppers of Rockwell has also stepped into the role of International Board Vice Chair.
MESA will also elect leaders for its Americas, Asia-Pacific, and EMEA Board of Directors in the coming weeks.
About MESA International
MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) International is a global, not-for-profit community of manufacturers, producers, industry leaders and solution providers who are focused on improving Operations Management capabilities through the effective application of Information Technologies, IT-based solutions, and best practices. To accomplish this, we:
Enable members to connect, contribute, cultivate understanding, and exchange strategies to drive operations excellence.
Collect, share, and publish best practices and guidance to drive greater productivity and the overall profitability of the manufacturing enterprise.
Educate the marketplace on manufacturing operations best practices through the MESA Global Education Program.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 22, 2023 | Automation, Sensors
Innovation has not died even at the sensor level of automation. This news from Zebra Technologies features a new line of environmental sensors including the new ZS300 sensor, ZB200 Bridge and Android Sensor Discovery app.
Using these sensors, manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation and logistics operators in the food, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries now have cloud-based visibility into a range of environmental factors, including temperature monitoring and moisture detection. This will enable them to know if products have been maintained within appropriate conditions across the supply chain. The sensors help improve profitability by allowing users to take corrective action in real time and maximize their productivity with a more efficient data logger.
The new ZS300 electronic sensor addresses the current challenges faced with heightened consumer concerns about medications or food being compromised in transit with a secure cloud platform that makes it easy to integrate temperature logging into a wide variety of applications and systems of record. They are available in multipacks and include minimal biodegradable packaging and a no-cost recycling program to help reduce the impact on the environment.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 20, 2023 | Automation, Technology
Here is my second piece of news from the foundation level of the enterprise pyramid. I lien’t think I’d write about motor control again. This news from Rockwell Automation announces a complete revision to its Allen-Bradley Branch Motor Control & Protection Solutions.
The recent overhaul of its motor control components within its Branch Motor Control & Protection Solution was brought on by the need for updating full systems where components are used to turn on and off motors of all sizes while helping protect the motors from overloading during operation. Basic across-the-line motor starters remain ubiquitous in industrial applications despite the proliferation of solid-state motor starting technologies. These components comprise motor starting contactors, motor-specific circuit breakers and motor-overload relays, where depending on the application, the motor overload functionality can be incorporated in the circuit breaker or applied as a separate component.
One of the significant advantages of the system is the availability of the wide-range, energy-saving coils for Bulletin 100-E architecture-class contactors. These coils use much less energy in operation, and cover AC and DC control circuits from 24 to 240 volts, making selection much easier. Safety versions of the contactors are available, as well as NEMA-rated options. Bulletin E100 Electronic Overload Relays are now also compatible with Bulletin 100-E and 100-C Contactors to enhance systems.
The recently launched Bulletin 140MT line of Motor Protection Circuit Breakers and Motor Circuit Protectors provides higher short-circuit ratings than the products they replace. And the range of E100/200/300 electronic overload relays includes options for EtherNet/IP integration that enables comprehensive diagnostics and Logix integration.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 17, 2023 | Process Control, Sensors, Wireless
A couple of news items recently pushed my way from the foundation layer of the famous Purdue Pyramid. This one comes from Honeywell, a company that usually talks to me about software and sustainability. This release concerns transmitters for condition-based monitoring of rotating equipment. This is an important layer of data generation for the famous Industrial Internet of Things.
Honeywell March 8, 2023 introduced Versatilis Transmitters for condition-based monitoring of rotating equipment such as pumps, motors, compressors, fans, blowers, and gearboxes that provide relevant measurements of rotating equipment, delivering intelligence that can improve safety, availability, and reliability across industries.
These are a multi-variant instrument based on the low power, long range LoRaWAN protocol known for low power consumption and easy installation. Easy configuration is achieved through a mobile application over Bluetooth.
They can seamlessly integrate with Honeywell’s Experion HS and other SCADA or asset management platforms. When used with Honeywell’s analytics software, this technology can predict equipment failures such as asset imbalance, misalignment, and bearing-related issues before they happen, helping to reduce unplanned downtime.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 16, 2023 | Automation, Business, Embedded Control, News, Robots
Rockwell Automation invests strategically in a number of ways. It made an investment in PTC mostly to have access to ThingWorx and input into other technologies. It also acquired outright Plex and FiiX that gave it inhouse cloud capabilities. This investment is in READY Robotics in order to better integrate the various control technologies—something ongoing for many years that still requires development.
This investment and technology development should help machine builders and users if all that integration lives up to the promise (as a former machine builder and user, I can’t help the mild skepticism, we always hoped it would work).
Rockwell Automation Announces Strategic Investment in READY Robotics and Collaboration to Streamline Robot Implementation
Rockwell Automation announced March 2, 2023 a strategic investment in READY Robotics, a pioneering company in software-defined automation and a Rockwell Technology Partner.
READY Robotics’ ForgeOS platform enables operators to control and program the most popular brands of robots from a single user-friendly interface with minimal training. Using Task Canvas, one of many useful ForgeOS Productivity Apps included with the platform, operators can quickly create new automation tasks with a powerful, no-code, flowchart-based interface.
Rockwell and READY Robotics have collaborated to integrate ForgeOS with Rockwell’s line of Logix controllers and design and simulation software. The combination will simplify robot integration and accelerate time-to-market of industrial automation deployments. Rockwell’s investment will foster continued development of the ForgeOS platform, support its integration with Logix, and accelerate adoption across the Rockwell ecosystem of system integrators and technology and channel partners.
“We are excited to work with READY Robotics to help further simplify the use of diverse robotic systems in automation solutions for our customers. Linking the intuitive ForgeOS software suite with Logix control, design, and emulation capabilities allows a broader range of businesses to implement these powerful tools and spend less time getting their systems up and running,” said Matheus Bulho, vice president and general manager, Production Automation at Rockwell.
“Historically, automation has been hampered by software silos between robot vendors,” said Ben Gibbs, CEO and co-founder of READY Robotics. “READY’s interface alleviates this issue, eases deployment, and enables automation where it might have been prohibitive before, especially in high-mix operations. Our platform enables programming and control of over 3 million compatible robots deployed today.”
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 15, 2023 | Business, Commentary, News
So, the court system is now tied up by a law suit about what a chicken wing is. [Disclaimer: I have not eaten poultry since I was about five. I have no personal experience.] It seems a guy visited Buffalo Wild Wings. He ordered their “boneless chicken wings.” They were not wings, he exclaimed, they are nothing but chicken nuggets.
So, he sued.
Silicon Valley is filled with ultra-wealthy “libertarian tech bros.” They don’t need government. Just leave us alone with our money. One of these is Jason Calacanis. I used to listen to his podcasts years ago, but I grew tired. By the way, this same Jason is one of his friend Elon Musk’s advisors on how to fire most of the people at Twitter.
But then a big “oops” in Silicon Valley. The favored bank of these investors got itself into trouble and looked to be tanking. I read a post from that same Calacanis—the government must step in and save our bank.
So all the kids who were duped into over-priced university “educations” should pay back their debts to the very last dime. But we billionaires should be bailed out by the government.
Take your pick on your politics. I don’t care. Only that you don’t just knee-jerk someone else’s opinion. But, when things turn around to bite you in the butt, remember this old folk wisdom:
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 14, 2023 | Business, News, Operations Management, Software
Leaving politics behind (oh, how I wish we could!), carbon reduction is simply good business, good engineering, good for us all. And many leading industrial technology companies are working on solutions. This announcement on March 7, 2023 is from Aspen Technology (aka AspenTech).
Aspen Technology Inc. announced a new emissions management solution that gives asset-intensive organizations the ability to pinpoint and act on key operational areas with the biggest impact on their emissions reduction efforts. The new solution features AspenTech Operational Insights, a proven decision support capability that unites, correlates, analyzes and visualizes data from across an organization for fast, confident decision-making on those critical areas affecting emissions.
AspenTech’s new emissions management solution consolidates customer data and leverages operational technology (OT) applications in the plant, the enterprise and the entire value chain into a single, dynamic visual interface. As a result, customers can make decisions with the benefit of a “single pane of glass” view for carbon emissions, margin and abatement. In addition, the real-time nature of the solution eliminates the wait to review time-sensitive data.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 13, 2023 | Automation, News, Organizations, Technology
The entire scope of technology going under Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality (XR), Metasphere, and whatever comes next has been hyped beyond the Gartner Hype Cycle. That brings out the skeptic in me.
Many trade show demonstrators have fitted me with a variety of glasses, goggles, hoods, hard hats with goggles, and many I’ve no doubt forgotten. Cool demos, all. But real applications? Nothing has really caught on. This news from the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance included some use cases. What do you think? Do you see using them in your plant?
Well, maybe someday.
The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) published a new research report entitled 3D Mapping Solutions for Enterprise AR announced March 6, 2023. The new AREA research report reviews 3D mapping technologies and principles and defines parameters for choosing a 3D scanner for a specific use case.
3D models or point clouds can lower the cost, time, and developer training to view an object or environment with AR information such as instructions, warnings, or routes overlaid on the physical world. Despite its relatively young presence in the enterprise sector, AR technology has rapidly evolved into a powerful tool with broad versatility and a thriving community of experts.
AR technology is already being leveraged with 3D mapping data to provide strategic tools for site planning, instructional guidance, or real-time navigation. As AR technology advances, so will its capabilities to leverage 3D mapping data.
by Gary Mintchell | Mar 10, 2023 | Networking, News
More news from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, this one concerning working with telco networks.
- New network Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) will enable developers to build and innovate with telco network capabilities
- Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US address global use cases with joint platform and new network APIs
- First partner: Siemens Energy optimizes user experience for remote maintenance using a Quality-on-Demand (QoD) API
- Collaboration with Microsoft will make it easier for developers to access the network APIs via Microsoft Azure Programmable Connectivity
Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US have developed a platform with joint Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) – called T-DevEdge – to make it easy and simple for the global developer community to create new, connected solutions. These APIs will give developers a direct and simplified entryway to connectivity and other core network services on both sides of the Atlantic.
As one of the first, Siemens Energy is using one of the new APIs for Quality-on-Demand to optimize its remote maintenance. Microsoft is the first cloud provider to integrate the new set of network APIs into their cloud platform through the Microsoft Azure Programmable Connectivity Software Development Kit (SDK).
To ensure that global standards for APIs are defined and used, Deutsche Telekom, among others, founded the CAMARA Alliance. The CAMARA initiative consists of network operators, cloud providers, application developers and technology and operating system vendors. The alliance was announced during the MWC in 2022 and has grown up to eleven API families, more than 50 partners and more than 300 people working in the different groups of the community.