Automate Report 3: Inductive Automation and Opto 22

While at Automate 2024 I saw Travis Cox of Inductive Automation and Benson Hougland of Opto 22. It was tough seeing them since their booth was always packed. I wound up walking through the show and out into the corridor with them.

These two companies plus Cirrus Link (MQTT and Sparkplug) are perhaps the best partnership combination I’ve seen in my years reporting in this market. Ignition running on Opto’s Groov Epic platform with MQTT and Sparkplug as the communications architecture solve many customer problems.

Hougland told me that they are continuing to build out the Groov platform. And to watch for cool things coming.

Cox told me that the big thing to pay attention to right now from Inductive Automation is the integration with Snowflake (more below). He says the integration keeps improving.

Here is Cox describing the integration at the last Ignition Community Conference:

And well, we got all the community to participate, where they’re basically leveraging Ignition or Ignition Edge or potentially have a smart device that speaks MQTT Sparkplug and they’re gonna build a data model, publish that up to a Chariot broker that’s in the cloud. Real simple. Then we can use the IoT bridge for Snowflake by Cirrus Link and all that data from Sparkplug goes directly into the Snowflake database. We’re showing it on a dashboard within Ignition, but it’s going to Snowflake database as well. And we can easily go and query that data. And we went one step further and we’re actually showing the anomaly detection within the Data Dash. So we’ll do a demonstration of this in just a moment, but wanna show you just how easy it is for this solution. And it’s all something we could do right now. It’s very, very simple to get started with this whole thing. 

What is Snowflake, you may ask. Here is Pugal Janakiraman from Snowflake speaking at ICC 2024:

Snowflake is a globally connected cloud vendor agnostic data platform. It’s one single managed service from Snowflake. We take care of security, we take care of governance, we take care of scalability. And after that, much more cool, your API of choice is still SQL. You don’t have to learn hundreds of new services. You continue to use SQL as a mechanism to leverage data which is present in Snowflake, whether it is around building dashboards or you want to build an AI and ML model or build inference around those models, you still use SQL as an API for doing that.

Snowflake is a cloud-native database. Data can still reside on-premise or it can reside in whatever is your cloud vendor of choice. You can run analytics without the data movement out there. So we provide that kind of collaboration mechanisms. We provide AI and ML-based analytics. This is how the journey started for us. Ignition on Edge with zero coding using Snowpipe Streaming API, send the data to Snowflake. 

Automate Report 2: Robots and More

The second of I don’t know how many reports from the Automate show in Chicago. This section is a five-part tour conducted with a PR person who works with someone I’ve known and respected for many years. The main theme of Automate derives from its genesis of the Robot Show, Vision Show, and Motion Show. So mostly we see the evolution of robotics.

The companies I’m reporting are:

MiR

Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) featured the company’s latest innovations in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), including the first U.S. showing of its new artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled MiR1200 Pallet Jack and a preview of a generative AI-powered version of its MiR Insights analytics software. MiR will also showcase a mobile collaborative robot (cobot) that integrates a MiR250 AMRs with a cobot from sister company Universal Robots, a complete solution that enables the cobots to automatically and safely perform different tasks at different workstations. 

With advanced AI pallet detection powered by NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin, MiR1200 Pallet Jack uses 3D vision to identify pallets and then pick up and deliver pallets with unprecedented precision.

The new AI-focused advancements to MiR Insights will enable fleet owners to not only track and analyze the operations of their robots and obtain actionable insights they can use to improve the robots’ performance but more easily find and engage with the data.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki Robotics offered a first look at its new family of collaborative robots (cobots) at Automate 2024. Powered with partner NEURA Robotics’ robotic assistant platform, the CL Series combines the safety and intuitiveness that standard cobots are known for with a solid, robust design that unlocks the speed and productivity of industrial robotics to offer limitless user flexibility.

Kawasaki Robotics will also feature new applications using the Kawasaki R Series and BX Series of reliable, precise and Ai-enabled industrial robots, all created in close collaboration with partners such as Mech Mind, CRG Automation, AMT Precision Parts and Olis Robotics. The CL Series and these applications—including welding, finishing, multi-SKU palletizing and depalletizing and an automated corner board solution—demonstrate Kawasaki Robotics’ commitment to continually optimizing its product offerings, aided by its technology-agnostic stance and expanding network of partners.

Designed and built in Germany, and powered with NEURA Robotics’ robot assistance technology, the CL Series combines industry-leading speed of 200°/s and repeatability of ± 0.02 mm with payloads and reaches of 3kg/590mm, 5kg/800mm, 8kg/1300mm, and 10 kg/1000mm, free mounting orientations, extremely small footprints, and IP66 classification.

Mujin

Mujin featured its vision for robotics and latest enhancements to the MujinController, which utilizes machine intelligence to give robotic systems real-time decision-making ability that enables truly autonomous, reliable, and production-capable robot applications.

Attendees will discover user-friendly interfaces and intuitive tools that enable them to design, customize and deploy robotic automation solutions tailored to their specific requirements. Through real-world case studies and live demonstrations, Cloer will showcase the tangible benefits of no-code programming, including increased productivity, reduced downtime, and enhanced adaptability to changing production demands.

Micropsi

AI software company Micropsi Industries announced MIRAI 2, the latest generation of its AI-vision software for robotic automation. MIRAI 2 comes with five new features that enhance manufacturers’ ability to reliably solve automation tasks with variance in position, shape, color, lighting or background. Available immediately, the latest release offers users even greater reliability, easier and faster deployment, and robot-fleet scalability. 

MIRAI is an advanced AI-vision software system that enables robots to dynamically respond to varying conditions within their factory environment, including variance in position, shape, color, lighting and background. What sets MIRAI apart from traditional vision solutions is the ability to operate with real factory data without the need for CAD data, controlled light, visual-feature predefinition or extensive knowledge of computer vision. 

MIRAI 2 offers customers improved reliability thanks to the ability to detect unexpected workspace situations; a new, automated way to collect training data, and the option to run the software on the highest industry-standard PCs, resulting in higher dependability in rough factory conditions. The new feature, which assists in recording the required data for training the robot, also means that training and deploying MIRAI 2 is easier and faster. In addition, with MIRAI 2 a force-torque sensor is no longer required for most applications, which means lower cost and more robust performance. 

The five new features that will be available to MIRAI 2 users are:

  • Robot skill-sharing: This new feature allows users to share skills between multiple robots, at the same site or elsewhere. If conditions are identical (lighting, background, etc.), very little or no additional training is required in additional installations. MIRAI can also handle small differences in conditions by recording data from multiple installations into a single, robust skill.  
  • Semi-automatic data recording: Semi-automatic training allows users to record episodes (of data) for skills without having to hand-guide the robot, reducing the workload on users and increasing the quality of the recorded data. MIRAI can now automatically record all the relevant data—users only need to prepare the training situations and corresponding robot target poses.
  • No F/T sensor: Training and running skills is now possible without ever connecting a Force/Torque sensor. This reduces cost, simplifies tool geometry and cabling setup, and overall makes skill applications more robust and easier to train. 
  • Abnormal condition detection: MIRAI can now be configured to stop skills when unexpected conditions are encountered, allowing users to handle these exceptions in their robot program or alert a human operator. 
  • Industrial PC: The MIRAI software can now be run on a selection of industrial-grade hardware for higher dependability in rough factory conditions.

Roboworx

I met up with Dale Walsh, vp strategy and innovation for Roboworx. This is a new company established to set up and service robotics to help customers “get all the value they expect from their robotic investment.”

Roboworx is dedicated to revolutionizing the service, support, and customer success of robots. With an increasing number of industries integrating robots into their operations, the need for specialized maintenance and support services has never been more critical.

Roboworx offers a comprehensive range of services, including routine preventative maintenance, break/fix support, implementations and activations, and customer success programs designed to keep customers happy and engaged with their robotic fleet. These services cater to a wide array of robots, ranging from industrial automation, supply chain, service, hospitality, restaurant, kitchen automation, drones, drone boxes, and cleaning.

Automate Report 1: Otto Motors, A Rockwell Automation Company

My first stop on May 7 at Automate was at one of Rockwell Automation’s newest acquisitions—Otto Motors. They manufacture autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). These mechanisms are used for material handling logistics within a manufacturing plant. My experience in manufacturing plants for my entire career consisted of staying within the proper painted lines so that the constant towmotor (forklift) traffic didn’t run over me.

These AMRs typically go under a pallet or container, lift, and move them. Otto’s fleet of vehicles includes five models that lift from 650 kg to 1,900 kg. They even have an “AMR” forklift.

Integrating their software with Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Optix. Integrating new acquisitions is always a challenge—both personnel and technology. But as Rockwell’s strategy takes it deeper into the manufacturing sphere, this type of material handling solution will enable even more of an end-to-end solution for its customers.

Averroes.ai Brings Apple Vision Pro to Manufacturing for Inspection

Someone else is going to transform the industry. OK, I have worn many Augmented Reality glasses in demos at trade shows. They are cool, but it still looked like a solution searching for a problem. Meanwhile, the Apple Vision Pro supports both AR and Virtual Reality (VR). Everyone is talking about how cool the VR part is for immersive movies. No one has been talking about the AR capabilities.

Until, now.

Averroes.ai has introduced an what they call an “innovative approach to manufacturing that is set to transform the industry.” They are combining the ability to talk to machines sucking in data and visualizing it in real time using the Apple Vision Pro in AR mode.

  • Averroes.ai uses machine learning and AI to detect, classify, and segment defects, and carry out predictive maintenance.
  • Manufacturers can even spot defects along production lines without direct observation, all without the need to be seated in a back office.
  • This integration facilitates instant access to production data and charts, empowering on-the-spot monitoring, defect analysis, statistical insights, and yield optimization, all with unparalleled ease and accuracy, right on the factory floor.

Averroes.ai’s innovative approach is rooted in being data agnostic, a concept that ensures seamless integration of various data types. Whether it’s images, tabular data, or time series, their system effortlessly accommodates them all.

Business reasons. According to recent reports, the global AI Industrial Vision Inspection Service market is valued at US$ 332 million in 2022. What’s more staggering is its projected growth trajectory. By 2029, this market is expected to skyrocket to a value of US$ 1156.2 million, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 19.7%.

Tareq, CEO of Averroes.ai, told me when I asked about walking through a manufacturing plant wearing one of these things, “The Apple Vision Pro uses augmented reality (AR) to enhance, not hinder, your interaction with the environment. Its AR display is designed to subtly complement your real-world view. Whether it’s showing data labels, instructions, or visual enhancements, everything is carefully designed to be unobtrusive, blending seamlessly into your surroundings.”

Second, when will it actually be available? “Averroes is an AI platform that now allows manufacturers to automatically generate visual inspection APIs from models, including anomaly detection, using a no-code approach. With minimal data and no need for extensive support, manufacturers can develop these models efficiently, utilizing the Apple Vision Pro as their imaging system. The platform is not open to the public and is available exclusively to enterprise clients with a subscription.”

Why? There are other, cheaper solutions. “There has always been a demand for inspecting products in environments where items vary and do not conform to a uniform production line. The Apple Vision Pro and Averroes platform are well-suited to address this need. The Apple Vision Pro offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional fixed-installation industrial cameras and delivers superior image quality and resolution, which is crucial for inspecting products in varying lighting conditions.”

“Although Averroes can also integrate with other, less expensive AR sets, the development kit that comes with the Apple Vision Pro is among the best available, making it an excellent choice for manufacturers tasked with inspecting diverse products in non-standard settings.”

Automated Robotic Inspection Cells for 3D Measurement

This news brings together things I’m interested in (robotic, automated) with things on my peripheral (3D measurement). It should be interested to all of you within the discrete manufacturing market. Note: they use the term “revolutionalising” (British English), I am more cautious using that term.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has announced the launch of PRESTO System – an innovative modular suite of automated robotic inspection cells revolutionising the landscape of 3D measurement for automotive and aerospace manufacturing. PRESTO System builds on the foundation of its turnkey PRESTO quality inspection cell to provide manufacturers a future-proof system that sets a new standard for scalable, versatile, and seamlessly integrated automated quality inspection.

PRESTO System empowers manufacturers to become more agile with automated robotic programming that enables a single quality control specialist to create, test and deploy robust robotic inspection in hours. The deployed cells are highly flexible and accessible to all levels of expertise – an operator can safely load and inspect one part then another simply by selecting the correct part to inspect from the control panel. At a time where skills shortages are impeding daily operations for many manufacturers, the integrated robotic system eliminates repetitive manual setup and calibration processes, enabling teams to work more effectively and focus on operational excellence and halving total inspection time compared other modern inspection technologies.

Some features:

  • Hexagon’s Absolute Scanner AS1 combined with absolute positioning from the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960.
  • Blue laser line technology – PRESTO is the first Hexagon turnkey inspection cell to utilise the most advanced and intuitive method for capturing a rich and complete digital representation of both the key features and surfaces.
  • SHINE technology that ensures effortless measurement of reflective surfaces, eliminating the need for part preparation.
  • Sophisticated robotic automation software that utilises a digital twin to simulate and programme complete inspection programmes offline, and to coordinate the real time execution of all processes for repeatable and uninterrupted operations.
  • Full integration and coordination of all systems, from robotic actuation to metrology scanning, enabling near-line inspection at higher speeds, in total safety.

The modularity of the PRESTO System provides flexible deployment, enabling manufacturers to rapidly scale their quality inspection capacity in alignment with their business needs. Once the first cell is deployed, additional modules can be added with short lead times and rapid installation. This scalability not only enhances operational agility – the standardised single-vendor solution also helps businesses to optimise their investment strategies by facilitating upgrades and enhancements rather than replacement.

Next DLP Announces First Security Solution to Automatically Map to MITRE’s Insider Threat Knowledge Base

Cybersecurity updates and news continue to fill my inbox. This one combines the trend toward working together for the common good.

Next DLP (“Next”), a leader in data loss prevention and insider threat solutions, announced that their Reveal Platform is the first Insider Risk Management solution to automatically map detection events to MITRE Engenuity Center for Threat-Informed Defense’s (“Center”) expanded Insider Threat Knowledge Base (ITKB 2.0). The ITKB 2.0 is the first of its kind to offer an evidence-based, multi-organizational, and publicly-available compendium of insider threat tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). This endeavor was developed in partnership between MITRE, Next DLP, CrowdStrike, HCA Healthcare, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft Corporation and Verizon Business. 

Digital transformation and hybrid workforces have significantly increased the complexity and volume of insider threats organizations face. Legacy solutions often require extensive manual effort to correlate detection events with specific threat behaviors, resulting in delayed responses, potential security breaches, and data leaks. Reveal addresses this challenge head-on by automatically including MITRE’s Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures (TTPs) in its detections, incidents, and analyst case reports. 

“The expansion and refinement of our data repository was made possible by new cases and insights from our dedicated data contributors,” said Suneel Sundar, Director R&D, of the Center. “We’re delighted that Next is leveraging our knowledge of adversary behaviors and capabilities to provide defenders with a better opportunity to detect malicious insiders.”

By incorporating MITRE’s TTPs Reveal delivers a comprehensive narrative of the entire incident lifecycle, from initial reconnaissance and data collection to defense evasion and exfiltration. For the chronically overstretched Security team—a persistent problem given the ongoing security talent shortage—this rich information view maximizes the efficiency of analyst resources, empowering security teams of all sizes to perform at heightened levels.

“With Reveal, and in partnership with MITRE CTID, we are setting a new standard for data protection and insider threat mitigation,” said John Stringer, Head of Product at Next DLP. “By automating the mapping of detections to MITRE’s Insider Threat TTPs, we enhance our clients’ security posture by demonstrating MITRE ATT@CK coverage and significantly reducing the time and resources required to identify, respond to and report on high-impact insider threat activity.”

The MITRE Engenuity Center for Threat-Informed Defense is a non-profit, privately funded research and development organization operated by MITRE Engenuity. The Center’s mission is to advance the state of the art and the state of the practice in threat-informed defense globally. Composed of participant organizations from around the globe with highly sophisticated security teams, the Center builds on MITRE ATT&CK, an important foundation for threat-informed defense used by security teams and vendors in their enterprise security operations. Because the Center operates for the public good, outputs of its research and development are available publicly and for the benefit of all. For more information, contact [email protected].  

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