Aruba Expands Roster of Easy-to-Deploy Workplace Safety Solutions

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, announced an expanded set of integrated, easy-to-deploy Edge and IoT solutions designed to enable organizations to bring employees back to physical workplaces safely. I am beginning to compile a number of solutions to returning to work or working with Covid. A doctor from Cornell University Medical Center talked with me about a solution he developed that is in queue for posting. I also heard about a solution used by a chemical plant during a turnaround with 900 contractors on site with almost no Covid cases experienced. This one uses already  installed access points (or you can add a system).

Developed using Aruba Wi-Fi access points (AP’s), EnOcean 800/900MHz radios that insert into the AP’s, and compatible IoT devices from Aruba Technology Partners, these solutions monitor hoteling spaces, room occupancy, air quality, and cleaning/disinfection scheduling. By operating on customers’ existing Aruba infrastructure and leveraging cloud-based applications, the solutions can be rapidly deployed and eliminate the need for expensive IoT overlay networks.

As the world continues to adapt to new business realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are considering a myriad of return-to-work scenarios, including re-opening offices and safely bringing employees back in-person. Since IT infrastructure spans across the entire enterprise, it’s the ideal platform on which to build cross-organizational systems and processes encompassing social distancing, contact tracing, infection control, and space management. Flexible, cloud-native applications targeting these use cases can be quickly spun up – at minimal cost – as return-to-work initiatives are rolled out.

Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) provides the unified, secure, cloud-native network infrastructure that underpins EnOcean’s integration with Aruba. Plugging an EnOcean 800/900MHz USB adapter into a compatible Aruba AP enables communication with wireless IoT air quality monitors, presence detectors, light level sensors, and other devices that use EnOcean-developed protocols, wireless radios, and energy harvesting power sources. IoT data is streamed from the AP to the target return-to-work application over secure tunnels. Aruba ESP applies consistent security policies and provides unified management from a single point of control. Customers have the freedom to implement return-to-work solutions at any time, in both new and existing deployments, without ripping and replacing IT infrastructure.

Return-to-work applications and technology partners include:

  • Hoteling space management: Wireless sensors are ideal for managing the availability, occupancy, air quality, and cleaning requirements of hoteling spaces. DEUTA Controls’ EnoPuck visually identifies if a space is reserved, occupied, available, or vacated, while simultaneously monitoring air quality and light levels. Departure of an occupant can automatically trigger a request for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Occupancy management: To ensure compliance with social distancing and sanitation protocols, IAconnects’ Mobius Flow application manages people-counter and occupancy sensors to monitor the status of communal areas, e.g., washrooms, kitchens, and meeting areas. A “cleaning threshold” feature alerts maintenance when an area requires attention.
  • Smart restroom: The smart restroom solution from Nanjing Winshine checks traffic flow and occupancy of restrooms in real-time. Employees are alerted when the restrooms are unavailable, and the application can automatically generate work orders for cleaning and disinfection services.
  • Demand-oriented ventilation: Typically used in classrooms, public buildings and offices, Thermokon’s CO2 sensor solution contributes to demand-oriented ventilation to reduce the risk of infection. The solution currently measures CO2 within a particular area and activates the ventilation system to meet defined air quality standards. Temperature, relative humidity, and volatile organic compound (VOC) sensing will be available later this year.
  • Building management: The building management application from Titanium Intelligent Solutions manages lighting, energy, and space efficiency during shelter-in-place mandates and when curfews are enforced. Building functions are securely and remotely controlled via a simple, web-based application.

“The simplest, most automated, and cost-effective way to implement return-to-work safety initiatives is by deploying data-driven smart solutions on top of existing IT infrastructure,” said Michael Tennefoss, vice president of IoT and Strategic Partnerships at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “Because of their ubiquitous deployment throughout enterprises, in locations that are ideal for wireless sensor communications, Aruba AP’s are ideal on-ramps for return-to-work IoT devices. As monitoring and safety requirements change over time, additional IoT devices can be added by tapping into the EnOcean Alliance, a vast ecosystem of vendors that have developed interoperable, self-powered wireless sensor solutions. Armed with this technology, organizations can re-open with confidence today using a future-proof platform that is ready for what lies ahead.”

 www.arubanetworks.com

ABB Launches Next Generation Cobots, Touts Energy Saving Motors and Drives

ABB has undergone significant divesting but retains a broad portfolio of industrial technologies. I have two pieces of news that fit today’s trends. The exciting things right now in robotics is collaborative robots, called cobots. ABB has upgraded its products. I remember trying to sell drives for energy savings in the 90s, and no one cared that much. Now under the guise of sustainability, energy savings is hot.

ABB is expanding its collaborative robot (cobot) portfolio with the new GoFa and SWIFTI cobot families, offering higher payloads and speeds, to complement YuMi and Single Arm YuMi in ABB’s cobot line-up. These stronger, faster and more capable cobots will accelerate the company’s expansion in high-growth segments including electronics, healthcare, consumer goods, logistics and food and beverage, among others, meeting the growing demand for automation across multiple industries.  

GoFa and SWIFTI are intuitively designed so customers need not rely on in-house programming specialists. This will unlock industries that have low levels of automation, with customers able to operate their cobot within minutes of installation, straight out of the box, with no specialized training. 

“Our new cobot portfolio is the most diverse on the market, offering the potential to transform workplaces and help our customers achieve new levels of operational performance and growth.” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation Business Area.  “They are easy to use and configure and backed by our global network of on-call, on-line service experts to ensure that businesses of all sizes and new sectors of the economy, far beyond manufacturing, can embrace robots for the first time.” 

ABB’s cobot portfolio expansion is engineered to help existing and new robot users accelerate automation amid four key megatrends including individualized consumers, labor shortages, digitalization and uncertainty that are transforming business and driving automation into new sectors of the economy.  The expansion follows the Business Area’s focus on high-growth segments through portfolio innovation, helping to drive profitable growth.   

Cobots are designed to operate in the presence of workers without the need for physical safety measures such as fences and to be very easy to use and install. In 2019, more than 22,000 new collaborative robots were deployed globally, up 19 percent compared to the previous year. The demand for collaborative robots is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17 percent between 2020 and 2025 while the value of global cobot sales is expected to increase from an estimated ~$0.7 billion in 2019 to ~$1.4bn by 2025. The global market for all industrial robots is projected to grow from ~$45 billion in 2020 to ~$58 billion by 2023 (CAGR of 9 percent).

GoFa and SWIFTI are engineered to help businesses automate processes to assist workers with tasks including material handling, machine tending​, component assembly​ and packaging in manufacturing, medical laboratories, logistics hubs and warehouses, workshops, and small production facilities.

Users comfortable with operating a tablet or smartphone will be able to program and re-program the new cobots with ease, using ABB’s fast set-up tools. Customers will also benefit from ABB’s global industry and application expertise, which has been developed from installing more than 500,000 robot solutions since 1974 and supported by ABB’s network of over 1,000 global partners.

ABB urges greater adoption of high-efficiency motors and drives to combat climate change – global electricity consumption to be reduced by 10%

In a new whitepaper published this week, ABB reveals potential for significant energy efficiency improvements in industry and infrastructure enabled by the latest and most high-efficiency motors and variable speed drives. ABB calls on governments and industry to accelerate adoption of the technology to help combat climate change.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), industry accounts for 37% of global energy use and some 30% of global energy is consumed in buildings.

While mostly hidden from public view, electric motors – and the variable speed drives which optimize their operation – are embedded in almost every built environment. They power a vast range of applications fundamental to our modern way of life, from industrial pumps, fans and conveyors for manufacturing and propulsion systems for transportation to compressors for electrical appliances and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings.

Motor and drive technologies have seen exceptionally rapid advancement in the past decade, with today’s innovative designs delivering remarkable energy efficiencies. However, a significant number of industrial electric motor-driven systems in operation today – in the region of 300 million globally – are inefficient or consume much more power than required, resulting in monumental energy wastage.

Independent research estimates that if these systems were replaced with optimized, high-efficiency equipment, the gains to be realized could reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%. In turn, this would account for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 climate goals established by the Paris Agreement.

“Industrial energy efficiency, more than any other challenge, has the single greatest capacity for combatting the climate emergency.  It is essentially the world’s invisible climate solution.”, said Morten Wierod, President ABB Motion. “For ABB, sustainability is a key part of our company Purpose and of the value that we create for all of our stakeholders. By far the biggest impact we can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is through our leading technologies, which reduce energy use in industry, buildings and transport.

Considerable steps have already been taken to support the uptake of electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. ABB believes it is time to do the same for an industrial technology that will deliver even greater benefits for the environment and the global economy.

To take advantage of the tremendous opportunities afforded by energy efficient drives and motors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ABB says all stakeholders have a critical role to play:

  • Public decision makers and government regulators need to incentivize their rapid adoption,
  • Businesses, cities, and countries need to be aware of both the cost savings and environmental advantages and be willing to make the investment, and
  • Investors need to reallocate capital towards companies better prepared to address the climate risk.

“While our role at ABB is to always provide the most efficient technologies, products and services to our customers, and continue to innovate for ever greater efficiency, that in itself is not enough. All stakeholders need to work together to bring about a holistic transformation in how we use energy. By acting and innovating together, we can keep critical services up and running while saving energy and combatting climate change”, concludes Morten Wierod.

ABB’s white paper “Achieving the Paris Agreement: The Vital Role of High-Efficiency Motors and Drives in Reducing Energy Consumption” can be downloaded here.

NextGen Cyber Talent Announces First Pilot Cohort and Governing Board

Training people with skills necessary for the success of our industry and especially introducing young people to the types of high tech work available is key to our survival as an industry. I just learned about this new non-profit educator who launched operations seeking to close the cyber talent and diversity gap by training traditionally underprivileged and underserved segments.

NextGen Cyber Talent Inc. (“NextGen”), a nonprofit organization training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, announces its pilot cohort and its first Governing Board. NextGen seeks to provide an avenue into cybersecurity careers for women, minorities and other underprivileged segments through education and mentoring, while simultaneously attacking the skills shortage and lack of diversity in the cybersecurity industry today. The organization partnered with Bay Area community colleges to select its initial pilot cohort and selected a diverse group of 20 students that will begin its online curriculum starting January 19th.

The Herjavec Group estimates that the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs is expected to grow by 350%, from one million positions in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021. In addition, (ISC)2 estimates that women account for less than a quarter of the overall cybersecurity workforce.

NextGen has been working with veteran executives and industry leaders to attack these deficiencies via Chapter and Strategic Advisory Boards and has finalized members for its initial Governing Board.

“We are excited to introduce our board of distinguished executives who will bring diverse expertise and insight in support of our mission,” said Founder & Co-Chair Krishnan Chellakarai. “Our work will address the lack of awareness of cybersecurity in younger generations and encourage them to consider building a career in this highly fulfilling field. The organization benefits from its deep network to ensure that NextGen’s board and leadership represents a variety of experts from technology, banking, health care, life sciences, and nonprofit backgrounds.”

“I am thrilled to have Tony Blevins and Phil Cox join Krishnan and myself on the Board to help make the NextGen vision a reality. The program is seeded by the principle of connecting successful leaders from industry with tomorrow’s up and coming talent”, said Co-Chair and Board Member Gary Gauba. “We look forward to building a thriving network of alumni over the coming decade with the active participation and support of industry luminaries like Tony, Phil and our Chapter Board members.”

NextGen’s Governing Board members are:

● Krishnan Chellakarai , Chief Information Security Officer, Gilead Sciences

● Gary Gauba, Managing Director & Founder of The CXO Fund

● Tony Blevins, Vice President of Procurement, Apple

● Phil Cox, Chief Operating Officer, Silicon Valley Bank

About NextGen Cyber Talent

NextGen Cyber Talent Inc. is a non-profit providing a platform to increase diversity and inclusion in the cybersecurity industry. It brings together cybersecurity experts, solution providers and enterprises to make a difference in this community and address a mounting cyber skills shortage and talent gap. Our overall approach will focus on successfully attracting under-represented students and educating them in cybersecurity, privacy and compliance technology, as well as providing them mentorship and opportunities to jump start their careers in the industry. NextGen was founded by Krishnan Chellakarai (CISO, Gilead Sciences) and Gary Gauba (Founder & MD, The CXO Fund).

Save the Date Automation Webinar Moderated by Me

Join me on March 24 at 1 PM CDT as I moderate a discussion during an automation webinar of an application of Bosch Rexroth’s new ctrlX CORE controller by DWFritz Automation. Experts from both companies will come together to discuss how they implemented a concurrent design/build project for a complex, high speed “factory of the future” automated assembly line. During the webinar, attendees will learn how Bosch Rexroth can transform current manufacturing lines into the future. 

DWFritz Automation
designs and manufactures custom automation systems for advanced manufacturing in the medical device, aerospace, consumer electronics, energy storage, automotive, semiconductor, and other industries. 

The discussion will explore the challenges as well as the engineering and technology solutions used to successfully speed up the process for getting a high-precision consumer electronics assembly line to market.

In addition to engineering support, Bosch Rexroth provided a multi-technology offering from its Automation and Electrification, Linear Motion and Assembly Technology business units.

The automation platform included the new ctrlX CORE controller from Bosch Rexroth’s recently introduced ctrlX AUTOMATION system. With its open and flexible architecture, ctrlX CORE removes the boundaries between IPC, embedded system and drive-based technology platforms.

Relevant to anyone responsible for managing complex machine automation projects, the panel of experts will cover several areas, including:

  • Simplifying a complex design/build process to shorten lead times and accelerate time to market
  • Successful collaboration for engineering, logistics and fulfillment
  • Realization of advanced automation, linear motion and assembly technology and components

In addition, this free, one-hour webinar will open up for attendee Q&A.

For more information and to register for “Rexroth ON LOCATION — The Future of Factory Automation.”

ThruWave recruits Pieter Krynauw as new CEO

I’ve recently heard about millimeter waves in relation to 5G cellular. Here is a different use from a company I just heard about. What’s it been, 10 or 15 years ago, when RFID was all the rage for logistics. Wal-mart was going to require it on packages. Journalists wrote about it like it was the neatest thing since sliced bread—when I kept reminding them it was old technology, even then, One problem was that you couldn’t scan a whole pallet of boxes down to the individual item. I have not seen this in operation, but it sounds like a step in the right direction.

ThruWave, the pioneer of 3D millimeter wave (mmWave) imaging for logistics and supply chain automation, welcomes Pieter Krynauw as Chief Executive Officer effective March 1, 2021. Krynauw joins ThruWave from Honeywell where he served in multiple roles in the US, China and the Middle East in the Performance Material & Technologies (PMT) and Safety & Productivity Solutions (SPS) groups. Most recently he served as President of Honeywell Intelligrated, a world leader in supply chain automation.

Unlike existing X-ray inspection systems, ThruWave’s sensors use human-safe millimeter waves to enable safe operation alongside human workers in busy warehouses and fulfillment centers and beyond. ThruWave’s analytics layer automatically interprets images to identify objects, measure cube utilization, count items, and detect missing or damaged items, all at high speed.  ThruWave systems can automatically image and analyze up to 20,000 boxes or totes per hour.

“Consumer expectations are constantly changing, resulting in increasing pressure on supply chains and business operations. Over a career of nearly twenty years spanning multiple industries, I’ve seen and felt the challenges this creates for our customers and the role technology can play to lead the way in solving problems in a new and better way. ThruWave’s outstanding team is developing innovative products that solve key challenges for critical infrastructure security and supply chain visibility,” said Krynauw. “I look forward to leading the team as our solutions deliver compelling value for customers seeking unprecedented visibility and efficiency in their operations. Today, ThruWave lets our customers see through physical barriers, to the items inside, enabling the measurement of cube utilization, item counts and anomaly detection, all without opening sealed packages. Tomorrow, this level of perception will yield a new way for machines to see the world and help people make decisions ultimately reducing operating costs, improving safety and security as well as reducing carbon footprint.” 

“We look forward to Pieter’s leadership and experience across multiple verticals in sensing and automation, as ThruWave delivers our ground-breaking 3D millimeter wave (mmWave) sensing and analytics solutions”, said ThruWave founder and Chief Scientist Matt Reynolds, adding “Pieter brings an outstanding global business perspective to ThruWave, and his leadership of high-growth, customer success-focused technology organizations will be an incredible asset as we serve our global customer base.”

Calvin Chin, Director and Managing Partner of ThruWave’s lead investor E14 Fund added, “Pieter shares our vision for ThruWave as he’s been on the front lines of serving the world’s largest and most demanding customers. ThruWave is transforming the way supply chain decisions are made by replacing sampling and guesswork with actionable intelligence that customers just could not get before. This will be another exciting chapter in ThruWave’s deployment of innovative supply chain solutions that enable customers to maximize accuracy and efficiency while minimizing their environmental impact and carbon footprint.” 

Based in Seattle, Washington, ThruWave makes the invisible visible with human-safe, 3D millimeter wave imaging. ThruWave sensors and software analytics are an easy retrofit for existing conveyor and robotic material handling systems, enabling supply chain and logistics customers to measure and improve their inbound and outbound item handling.

About E14 Fund

E14 Fund is the early-stage venture capital firm for the MIT Media Lab community. E14 Fund invests in deep tech startups that are transforming traditional industries across a broad array of market-ready, scalable innovation such as sensors, AI/ML, robotics, health, synthetic biology and more. Officially affiliated with MIT, E14 Fund builds and supports a vibrant community of founders and companies with resources from across the MIT ecosystem.

OPC Foundation Extends Work To Field Layer Specifications

Whatever happened to Time Sensitive Networking (TSN)? I had been pondering the relative disappearance of several technologies creating buzz in 2020—TSN, Arduino, Raspberry Pi. Then came buried within the OPC Foundation discussion with us at the 25th ARC Industry Forum this month word of TSN.

This appears to be the last of the updates I received at ARC this year. OPCF president Stefan Hoppe began with a photo of the unusual amount of snow around his house in Germany (as I was contemplating my yard in my new house in the Chicago suburbs with about 2 feet of snow blanketing the area. Meaning—none of us were in Florida this year).

I wrote last month about the Field Level Communications standard work. In this, 300 experts from 60 major companies published a Technical Paper and completed Initial Release Candidate. OPCF continues work on the networking side with this FLC specification along with work on the “Advanced Physical Layer”, which is a new Ethernet cabling standard. Hoppe stated the mission, “…in order to drive industrial interoperability from field to cloud (and vice versa) and to support IT/OT convergence.”

Work has also started on identifying and creating facets and profiles that define the mandatory feature sets for the various types of automation components which is essential to reach a high level of cross-vendor interoperability.

Hoppe continued, “Ethernet APL and TSN are important enablers, which allow OPC UA to further penetrate new application areas in process and factory automation. The OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications Initiative bundles these activities and acts as a global center of gravity for a unified OPC UA-based industrial interoperability solution harmonized between the process industry and factory automation.”

Peter Lutz, Director of the FLC Initiative, said, “The initial release candidate, which was completed in November 2020, is a major achievement because it facilitates the long-awaited standardization of Controller-to-Controller (C2C) connectivity. The specifications are used not only to build prototypes, they are also used to create test specifications that will be converted to corresponding test cases for the OPC UA certification tool (CTT). Furthermore, it lays the foundation for specification enhancements, covering the Controller-to-Device (C2D) and Device-to-Device (D2D) use cases in the next step.”

The initial release candidate (RC1), which focuses on Controller-to-Controller (C2C), consists of four parts (Parts 80-83) that specify how automation controllers exchange process data and configuration data using OPC UA Client/Server and PubSub extensions in combination with peer-to-peer connections and basic diagnostics.

These parts are extensions to the OPC UA framework and are labelled with OPC UA FX (Field eXchange):

  • Part 80 (OPC UA FX 10000-80) provides an overview and introduces the basic concepts of using OPC UA for Field eXchange.
  • Part 81 (OPC UA FX 10000-81) specifies the base information model and the communication concepts to meet the various use cases and requirements of Factory and Process Automation. 
  • Part 82 (OPC UA FX 10000-82) describes networking services, such as topology discovery and time synchronization.
  • Part 83 (OPC UA FX 10000-83) describes the data structures for sharing information required for Offline Engineering using descriptors and descriptor packages.

In addition, a 40-page technical paper was published that explains the overall vision and the technical approach.

Since the Advanced Physical Layer (APL) and Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) are key technologies for the OPC Foundation’s strategy to bring OPC UA down to the field in discrete and process industries, different cooperation strategies have been established:

  • The OPC Foundation has joined the Advanced Physical Layer Project Group (APL) to support the development and promotion of the Advanced Physical Layer (APL) for Industrial Ethernet, suitable for use in demanding applications and hazardous locations in the process industry.
  • The OPC Foundation has established liaisons with IEC SC65C as well as IEEE 802.1 in order to support and align with the IEC/IEEE 60802 TSN Profile for Industrial Automation, which is essential in building converged industrial automation networks in which multiple IT and OT protocols share a common network infrastructure.