Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

Yesterday was the media/analyst kick-off for the 28th Automation Fair event sponsored by Rockwell Automation. Piecing together information from my 1:1 interviews and presentations to the group, major themes for the week seem to be importance of partnerships, open connectivity, and historical OT expertise. Although Rockwell has made a few acquisitions, executives all emphasized the importance of partnerships for filling out the portfolio.

Rockwell Automation continues to show good growth in sales and profits. This week will set an attendance record with almost 20,000 attendees expected.

News releases

Rockwell and Accenture

Rockwell Automation and Accenture’s Industry X.0 announced plans to team up to develop a digital offering to help industrial clients move beyond existing manufacturing solutions to transform their entire connected enterprise.

The engagement is designed to capitalize on the expertise of both companies to deliver new capabilities for greater industrial supply chain optimization. By providing customers with a single, trusted provider of digital solutions, the collaboration will enable clients to more effectively leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and ultimately drive measurable growth outcomes.

To date, the collaboration has yielded, among other early-stage successes, a prototype for supply chain management designed to deliver supplier cost optimization and an improved ability to track the exact movements of products – two particularly important areas of investment for industrial companies seeking growth.

“Our customers are looking for measurable business outcomes when they invest in our software, products, and solutions. Together with Accenture, we will be able to help industrial companies quantify the financial benefits of their investment and to capture this value at speed and scale,” said Blake Moret, Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO. “By teaming up, we reduce complexity, reduce risk, and achieve better results with comprehensive enterprise-wide expertise.”

Rockwell Automation will provide industrial automation technology and domain expertise, including FactoryTalk InnovationSuite IIoT software, and analytics solutions. It will also bring network services, operational technology security, and application development, installation, integration and support.

Accenture will provide enterprise business and technical capabilities, including consulting, analytics, application development, systems integration, change management and support.

Rockwell Automation and ANSYS

Industrial companies now have access to a streamlined, holistic, end-to-end solution for design, automation, production and lifecycle management, thanks to a new strategic partnership between Rockwell Automation and ANSYS, a leader in simulation software.

ANSYS and Rockwell Automation will help customers design simulation-based digital twins of products, processes, or manufacturing. Historically manufacturers would dedicate time and money to develop and test physical product prototypes. Now customers can design and test through simulation to accelerate development and analysis, improving product quality, and reducing testing time across their organization.

Virtual simulation on the front-end of production is just one way customers save time and money. Co-innovation between Rockwell Automation and ANSYS allows customers to benefit through the entire digital thread. Once a machine or production line is running, manufacturers can create a digital twin of their full manufacturing process to create and test virtual “what-if” scenarios. This is crucial in the industrial space, where manufacturers need to change line configurations quickly to adjust to market demands. Now customers can understand an outcome without disrupting physical assets, resulting in faster time-to-market and large cost savings.

The partners believe in what these joint solutions can deliver. In fact, Rockwell Automation will accelerate its own internal new product and process development using ANSYS’ engineering simulation software. Rockwell Automation expects improved product quality and reduced testing time across the organization.

Digital Partner Program

Businesses that are digitally transforming their operations need an ecosystem of partners that can help them simplify technology deployments and quickly achieve goals like higher productivity. The new Rockwell Automation Digital Partner Program connects companies to expertise and solutions from market leaders like Accenture, Microsoft, PTC, ANSYS, and EPLAN to streamline the implementation and enhance the quality of digital initiatives.

Through the Digital Partner Program, businesses can consult with industry advisors to create roadmaps for their digital initiatives and learn how industrial IoT concepts like digital twin, the factory of the future and a connected workforce can improve their uptime and efficiency. During implementation, businesses will have access to integrated hardware, software and turnkey systems from industry leaders that improve business performance leveraging their existing assets.

Upcoming PlantPAx DCS System Release

From the control room to the board room, process system users face persistent challenges. Traditional and proprietary DCS systems are limited in their ability to modernize, which introduces risks and costs. Keeping equipment online can be difficult with limited system capabilities. Driving business improvements can be complicated and costly without access to key information.

The latest release of the PlantPAx distributed control system (DCS) was announced at the Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) event emphasizing each phase of the plant lifecycle. The release is planned for the summer of 2020.

This release introduces state-of-the-art process controllers that improve scalability and skid integration as well as provide a simplified, low-cost architecture due to higher controller performance. Embedded native process objects help reduce engineering costs and drive consistency in projects. New cybersecurity capabilities and system certifications help ensure safer and more secure operation.

“We have listened to a wide range of customers, including members of our customer advisory board, who identified the key issues driving their lifecycle costs,” said Jim Winter, director, Global Process Business, Rockwell Automation. “With PlantPAx 5.0, we extended the capability of our modern DCS approach and added innovative capabilities to deliver a smarter, higher performance, more cost effective, future-proofed system.”

Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

Vision Inspection Powered by AI

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is not necessarily the dystopian technology portrayed in books and movies. Although neither artificial or intelligent, AI can be a powerful tool in the engineer’s kit.

Recently Carl Palme of Neurala chatted with me introducing the company and what it means by AI in its vision systems. We both have some sheet metal work in our backgrounds, so we found common cause with one of the powerful applications—finding small surface anomalies.

There is also company news. In short:

  • IHI Corporation Selects Neurala to Enable Industrial Visual Inspection and Analysis Powered by AI
  • One of the Largest Global Heavy-Industry Manufacturers Partners With Leader in Automated Visual Inspections to Build Vision AI-Powered Industrial Solutions

AI-powered visual inspection pioneer Neurala announced a partnership with IHI, one of the largest manufacturers in the world.

IHI is a leading producer of aircraft engines and turbochargers for vehicles and industrial machines, along with additional transport-related machinery and more. Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform will be deployed as a key component of IHI’s workflow, improving manufacturing optimization and enabling more efficient industrial inspections.

“Automation is an area of critical focus as we further strengthen our reputation as the leading manufacturer of transport-related machinery worldwide,” said Ms. Nobuko Mizumoto, Director of IHI Corporation. “Today, we are collecting data on our workflow that needs to be carefully analyzed. AI-assisted data analysis is the future of manufacturing processes, and Neurala has the industrial and manufacturing inspection expertise we require in an AI solution. As we lead IHI into Industry 4.0, we are proud to partner with Neurala to deploy a reliable AI that can function in settings that are subjective and change rapidly, without requiring any downtime on our production lines.”

IHI will leverage Neurala’s automated visual inspection platform to review product and workflow processes, cementing its reputation as a leader in safety and efficiency. AI-powered inspections allow manufacturers to accelerate new initiatives without sacrificing a gold standard of quality workmanship. IHI will use Neurala’s Brain Builder, the first cost-effective AI tool that allows users to build, deploy and analyze custom vision AI solutions with instant feedback on performance. Brain Builder simplifies the process and reduces the time to deployment in subjective settings, using on-the-fly learning to increase accuracy as the user adds data.

“We are thrilled to partner with IHI as we illustrate the critical role AI will play in manufacturing, improving efficiency in a field in which optimization is essential,” said Massimiliano Versace, co-founder and CEO of Neurala. “We look forward to building upon our strong presence in the APAC region through an industry leader like IHI. IHI selected Neurala to bolster its offerings as the industrial sector continues to evolve; our partnership will demonstrate the value of implementing AI to solve challenges of visual inspection on factory floors and to improve automation.”

Neurala is the company behind Brain Builder: a SaaS platform that dramatically reduces the time, cost and skills required to build and maintain production-quality custom vision AI solutions. Founded in 2006, Neurala’s research team invented Lifelong-DNN (L-DNN) technology, which reduces the data requirements for AI model development and enables continuous learning in the cloud or at the edge. Now, with customers in the industrial, drone, robotics, and smart devices verticals, Neurala’s technology has been deployed on 53 million devices globally.

IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

Internet of Things installations along with industrial control systems constitute well known cybersecurity vulnerabilities within industrial plants and operations. CyberX, the IoT and industrial control system (ICS) security company, announced the availability of its “2020 Global IoT/ICS Risk Report” designed to sharpen awareness and knowledge of this critical area.

The data illustrates that IoT/ICS networks and unmanaged devices are soft targets for adversaries, increasing the risk of costly downtime, catastrophic safety and environmental incidents, and theft of sensitive intellectual property.

Some of the top findings noted that these networks have outdated operating systems (71 percent of sites), use unencrypted passwords (64 percent) and lack automatic antivirus updates (66 percent).

Energy utilities and oil and gas firms, which are generally subject to stricter regulations, fared better than other sectors such as manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, mining, transportation and building management systems (CCTV, HVAC, etc.).

Now in its third year, CyberX’s “Global IoT/ICS Risk Report” is based on analyzing real-world traffic from more than 1,800 production IoT/ICS networks across a range of sectors worldwide, making it a more accurate snapshot of the current state of IoT/ICS security than survey-based studies.

Including the data presented in previous reports, CyberX has now analyzed over 3,000 IoT/ICS networks worldwide using its patented M2M-aware behavioral analytics and non-invasive agentless monitoring technology.

Recommendations Focus on Prioritization and Compensating Controls

The report concludes with a practical seven step process for mitigating IoT/ICS cyber risk based on recommendations developed by NIST and Idaho National Labs (INL), a global authority on critical infrastructure and ICS security.

Experts agree that organizations can’t fully prevent determined attackers from compromising their networks. As a result, they recommend prioritizing vulnerability remediation for “crown jewel” assets — critical assets whose compromise would cause a major revenue or safety impact — while implementing compensating controls such as continuous monitoring and behavioral anomaly detection (BAD) to quickly spot intruders before they can cause real damage to operations.

“Our goal is to bring board-level awareness of the risk posed by easily-exploited vulnerabilities in IoT/ICS networks and unmanaged devices — along with practical recommendations about how to reduce it,” said Omer Schneider, CyberX CEO and co-founder.

“Today’s adversaries — ranging from nation-states to cybercriminals and hacktivists — are highly motivated and capable of compromising our most critical operational systems,” said Nir Giller, CyberX GM, CTO and co-founder. “It’s now incumbent on boards and management teams to recognize the risk and ensure appropriate security and governance processes are in place across all their facilities to address it.”

Summary of Key Findings

  • Broken Windows: Outdated Operating Systems. 62 percent of sites have unsupported Microsoft Windows boxes such as Windows XP and Windows 2000 that no longer receive regular security patches from Microsoft, making them especially vulnerable to ransomware and destructive malware. The figure rises to 71 percent with Windows 7 included, which reaches end-of-support status in January 2020.
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Unencrypted Passwords. 64 percent of sites have unencrypted passwords traversing their networks, making it easy for adversaries to compromise additional systems simply by sniffing the network traffic.
  • Excessive Access: Remotely Accessible Devices. 54 percent of sites have devices that can be remotely accessed using standard management protocols such as RDP, SSH and VNC, enabling attackers to pivot undetected from initial footholds to other critical assets. For example, during the TRITON attack on the safety systems in a petrochemical facility, the adversary leveraged RDP to pivot from the IT network to the OT network in order to deploy its targeted zero-day malware.
  • Clear and Present Danger: Indicators of Threats. 22 percent of sites exhibited indicators of threats, including suspicious activity such as scan traffic, malicious DNS queries, abnormal HTTP headers, excessive number of connections between devices and malware such as LockerGoga and EternalBlue.
  • Not Minding the Gap: Direct Internet Connections. 27 percent of sites analyzed have a direct connection to the internet. Security professionals and bad actors alike know that it takes only one internet-connected device to provide a gateway into IoT/ICS networks for malware and targeted attacks, enabling the subsequent compromise of many more systems across the enterprise.
  • Stale Signatures: No Automatic Antivirus Updates: 66 percent of sites are not automatically updating Windows systems with the latest antivirus definitions. Antivirus is the very first layer of defense against known malware — and the lack of antivirus is one reason why CyberX routinely finds older malware such as WannaCry and Conficker in IoT/ICS networks.
Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

Camera-Based Quality Control System for Flat Sheet Industries

Years ago I dabbled in machine vision integration. It was fun and creative. My customers and I did some pretty cool quality control applications. So I maintain a liking for the technology even though the price of the hardware plummeted and ease-of-use skyrocketed. So, I bring you this interesting news.

Honeywell is collaborating with Papertech to develop and market TotalVision, a connected, camera-based detection system for the flat sheet industries. The system enables customers to identify and resolve defects on the production line, improving quality and efficiency. The fully integrated total quality control solution is designed for flat sheet and film processes in which surface detection and production break monitoring capabilities are critical for competitive success. This new solution is designed for paper, pulp, tissue, board, extruded film, calendaring, lithium-ion battery, copper and aluminium foil producers.

Combining Honeywell’s ExperionMX technology with market-leading Papertech’s TotalVision defect detection and event capturing capabilities, the solution provides a single-window operating environment for all aspects of process and quality control. Customers benefit from faster root cause determination of runnability and quality problems, thereby saving significant time in lost or downgraded production. When integrated with connected offerings such as Honeywell QCS 4.0, system data and analytics can be accessed anytime, anywhere, from any device.

“Honeywell represents an ideal collaborator for Papertech as our industry-leading WebInspector WIS and our WebVision web monitoring system (WMS) single platform TotalVision camera system seamlessly integrate with Honeywell’s quality control systems for a range of industries,” said Kari Hilden, CEO of Papertech Inc. “We look forward to working with the global Honeywell team and their customers.”

Honeywell will continue to support existing camera system users with parts and services, while offering an easy migration path to the new solution. Given the collaborative nature of the agreement, customers can choose to take a single party, single-window approach or to engage with Honeywell and Papertech separately.

“As the world moves from plastic to biomaterial-based packaging, and from hydrocarbon-based transportation to electric vehicles, flat sheet producers are under increased pressure to ensure output consistently meets a variety of performance and safety requirements,” said Michael Kennelly, global business leader for sheet, film and foil industries, Honeywell Process Solutions. “By bringing together Honeywell’s core strengths of measurement, control, connected applications and services in flat sheet production with Papertech’s leadership in web monitoring and inspection systems, we uniquely provide customers with that capability along with industry-beating lifecycle costs.”

Papertech is the global industry-leading machine vision system supplier for a range of web-based production lines with more than 1200 TotalVision installations in 42 countries. It is part of the IBS Paper Performance Group, a company with a more than 50-year history in delivering papermakers a full range of proven machine efficiency and product quality optimization solutions.

For more information visit Honeywell Quality Control Systems and Papertech TotalVision solutions.

Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

The Salesforce Economy Bolsters Manufacturing Cloud

Salesforce recently began reaching out to me. I found a (to me) surprising connection to industrial / manufacturing applications beyond CRM and the like. In general, more and more applications are moving to the cloud. In Brief: New research finds The Salesforce Economy will create more than $1 trillion in new business revenues and 4.2 million jobs between 2019 and 2024. Salesforce ecosystem is on track to become nearly six times larger than Salesforce itself by 2024, earning $5.80 for every dollar Salesforce makes.

Financial services, manufacturing and retail industries will lead the way, creating $224 billion, $212 billion and $134 billion in new business revenue respectively by 2024.

Salesforce announced new research from IDC that finds Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners will create 4.2 million new jobs and $1.2 trillion in new business revenues worldwide between 2019 and 2024. The research also finds Salesforce is driving massive gains for its partner ecosystem, which will see $5.80 in gains for every $1 Salesforce makes by 2024.

Cloud computing is driving this growth and giving rise to a host of new technologies, including mobile, social, IoT and AI, that are creating new revenue streams and jobs that further fuel the growth of the cloud — creating an ongoing virtuous cycle of innovation and growth. According to IDC, by 2024 nearly 50 percent of cloud computing software spend will be tied to digital transformation and will account for nearly half of all software sales. Worldwide spending on cloud computing between now and 2024 will grow 19 percent annually, from $179 billion in 2019 to $418 billion in 2024.

“The Salesforce ecosystem is made possible by the amazing work of our customers and partners around the world, and because of our collaboration we’re able to generate the business and job growth that we see today,” said Tyler Prince, EVP, Industries and Partners at Salesforce. “Whether it’s through industry-specific extensions or business-aligned apps, the Salesforce Customer 360 platform helps accelerate the growth of our partner ecosystem, and most importantly, the growth of our customers.”

Because organizations that spend on cloud computing subscriptions also spend on ancillary products and services, the Salesforce ecosystem in 2019 is more than four times larger than Salesforce itself and will grow to almost six times larger by 2024. IDC estimates that from 2019 through 2024, Salesforce will drive the creation of 6.6 million indirect jobs, which are created from spending in the general economy by those people filling the 4.2 million jobs previously mentioned.

“The tech skills gap will become a major roadblock for economic growth if we don’t empower everyone – regardless of class, race or gender – to skill up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM of Platform, Developers and Trailhead at Salesforce. “With Trailhead, our free online learning platform, people don’t need to carry six figures in debt to land a top job; instead, anyone with an Internet connection can now have an equal pathway to landing a job in the Salesforce Economy.”

Industry Economic Benefits of the Salesforce Economy

Specifically, Manufacturing industry will gain $211.7 billion in new revenues and 765,800 new jobs will be created by 2024.

Salesforce’s multi-faceted ecosystem is the driving force behind the Salesforce Economy’s massive growth:

  • The global ecosystem includes multiple stakeholders, all of which play an integral part in the Salesforce Economy. This includes the world’s top five consulting firms, all of whom have prominent Salesforce digital transformation practices; independent software vendors (ISVs) that build their businesses on the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform and bring Salesforce into new industries; more than 1,200 Community Groups, with different areas of focus and expertise; and more than 200 Salesforce MVPs, product experts and brand advocates.
  • Launched in 2006, Salesforce AppExchange is the world’s largest enterprise cloud marketplace, and hosts more than 4,000 solutions including apps, templates, bots and components that have been downloaded more than 7 million times. Ninety-five percent of the Fortune 100, 81 percent of the Fortune 500, and 86 percent of Salesforce customers are using AppExchange apps.
  • Trailhead is Salesforce’s free online learning platform that empowers anyone to skill up for the future, learn in-demand skills and land a top job in the Salesforce Economy. Since Trailhead launched in 2014, more than 1.7 million Trailblazers have earned over 17.5 million badges; a quarter of all learners on Trailhead have leveraged their newfound skills to jump-start their careers with new jobs. Indeed, the world’s #1 job site, included Salesforce Developer in its list of best jobs in the US for 2019, noting that the number of job postings for that position had increased 129 percent year-over-year.
Partnerships, Open Connectivity, OT Expertise Highlight Rockwell Automation Perspectives Day

Supercomputing for the Exascale Era

Cray, an HPE company, held a panel discussion webinar on October 18 to discuss Exascale (10^18, get it?) supercomputing. This is definitely not in my area of expertise, but it is certainly interesting.

Following is information I gleaned from links they sent to me. Basically, it is Why Supercomputing. And not only computers, but also networking to support them.

Today’s science, technology, and big data questions are bigger, more complex, and more urgent than ever. Answering them demands an entirely new approach to computing. Meet the next era of supercomputing. Code-named Shasta, this system is our most significant technology advancement in decades. With it, we’re introducing revolutionary capabilities for revolutionary questions. Shasta is the next era of supercomputing for your next era of science, discovery, and achievement.

WHY SUPERCOMPUTING IS CHANGING

The kinds of questions being asked today have created a sea-change in supercomputing. Increasingly, high-performance computing systems need to be able to handle massive converged modeling, simulation, AI, and analytics workloads.

With these needs driving science and technology, the next generation of supercomputing will be characterized by exascale performance, data-centric workloads and diversification of processor architectures.

SUPERCOMPUTING REDESIGNED

Shasta is that entirely new design. We’ve created it from the ground up to address today’s diversifying needs.

Built to be data-centric, it runs diverse workloads all at the same time. Hardware and software innovations tackle system bottlenecks, manageability, and job completion issues that emerge or grow when core counts increase, compute node architectures proliferate, and workflows expand to incorporate AI at scale.

It eliminates the distinction between clusters and supercomputers with a single new system architecture, enabling a choice of computational infrastructure without tradeoffs. And it allows for mixing and matching multiple processor and accelerator architectures with support for our
new Cray-designed and developed interconnect we call Slingshot.

EXASCALE-ERA NETWORKING

Slingshot is our new high-speed, purpose-built supercomputing interconnect. It’s our eighth generation of scalable HPC network. In earlier Cray designs, we pioneered the use of adaptive routing, pioneered the design of high-radix switch architectures, and invented a new low-diameter system topology, the dragonfly.

Slingshot breaks new ground again. It features Ethernet capability, advanced adaptive routing, first-of-a-kind congestion control, and sophisticated quality-of-service capabilities. Support for both IP-routed and remote memory operations broadens the range of applications beyond traditional modeling and simulation.

Quality-of-service and novel congestion management features limit the impact to critical workloads from other applications, system services, I/O traffic, or co-tenant workloads. Reduction in the network diameter from five hops (in the current Cray XCTM generation) to three reduces cost, latency, and power while improving sustained bandwidth and reliability.

FLEXIBILITY AND TCO

As your workloads rapidly evolve, the ability to choose your architecture becomes critical. With Shasta, you can incorporate any silicon processing choice — or a heterogenous mix — with a single management and application development infrastructure. Flex from single to multi-socket nodes, GPUs, FPGAs, and other processing options that may emerge, such as AI-specialized accelerators.

Designed for a decade or more of work, Shasta also eliminates the need for frequent, expensive upgrades, giving you exceptionally low total
cost of ownership. With its software architecture you can deploy a workflow and management environment in a single system, regardless of packaging.

Shasta packaging comes in two options: a 19” air- or liquid-cooled, standard datacenter rack and a high-density, liquid-cooled rack designed to take 64 compute blades with multiple processors per blade.

Additionally, Shasta supports processors well over 500 watts, eliminating the need to do forklift upgrades of system infrastructure to accommodate higher-power processors.

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