This topic is slightly outside my usual area of expertise but shows extension of digital technologies (should we say even digital transformation?) into the machine shop market. I attended the Hexagon user conference last summer gaining an appreciation for the breadth as well as depth of their technology.
Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division announced the release of HxGN Production Machining, a new suite of software developed to empower machine shops to achieve operational excellence in the manufacturing of discrete parts, tools, and components with machine tools at any scale, from one-off prototypes to volume production, and across industries ranging from medical to aerospace and beyond.
Capabilities of the suite include CAD (computer-aided design) for manufacturing and design review, CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) for CNC (computer numerical control) machine-tool programming, process simulation and G-code verification and optimisation, shop-floor production intelligence, and automation and collaboration powered by Nexus, Hexagon’s digital-reality platform. Central to the company’s Machine Shop Excellence solutions, the suite includes significant automation and innovative technologies that help manufacturers achieve highly efficient utilisation of material, cutting tools, and CNC equipment, and capture and consistently apply a shop’s best practices.
The HxGN Production Machining suite will integrate common workflows to help teams reduce error and eliminate redundant tasks at every stage, from job quotation and design review through production, quality assurance, and product delivery. By offering a suite of connected products from the Hexagon ecosystem, manufacturers benefit from simplified procurement, implementation, and support. The suite’s flexibility makes it suitable for shops of any size, all types of CNC machinery, and any discrete part and material from one-off prototype to high-volume production runs.
Preparing jobs for CNC programming is easier with tailored design-for-manufacturing tools developed to accelerate the transition from planning to production. Hexagon’s DESIGNER software accepts CAD data from any vendor, and helps manufacturers easily visualise and analyse part model geometry. The software also helps utilise product manufacturing information (PMI), such as tolerance, surface finish, and material data. The suite is designed to preserve this valuable information across the digital thread to streamline production.
Interoperable with DESIGNER, Hexagon’s trio of CAM systems for production machining can program any machine tool, including multi-axis, mill-turn, multi-tasking, Swiss-type, and wire EDM machinery. The software applications, including the widely used EDGECAM and ESPRIT, and the new ESPRIT EDGE, provide a broad spectrum of machining cycles, programming for on-machine measurement, robust automation tools, machine-optimised G-code, and the use of AI to automatically generate collision-free positioning between cutting zones.
Hexagon offers extensive CNC program simulation and verification capabilities to avoid collisions and optimise code for more advanced machinery and complex operations. From the CAM system, machine-specific G-code programs are sent to its NCSIMUL software, which incorporates the entire machining environment to generate a digital twin of the machinery, part, and processes for cycle-time optimisation, set-up revision, and program certification.
New production-intelligence tools connect with machine tools to provide real-time insights and asset condition monitoring, as well as to support data-driven planning, quoting, and continuous improvement. Created by Hexagon partner Datanomix, Automated Production Intelligence software automatically captures data on machine performance and offers mobile machine-tool status alerts that enable lights-out machining and a high level of automation. By collecting job data, shops of any size can generate more accurate quotes using information about the past performance of machinery for identical or similar jobs.
High volume and precision manufacturing operations can implement closed-loop quality capabilities from the suite, applying series metrology data to predict when parts will begin to fall out of tolerance and automatically perform tooling offsets due to normal tool wear and tear. Hexagon’s Intelligent Machine Control (IMC) software uses statistical process control to update the CNC controller directly, eliminating guesswork and ensuring that manufacturers won’t need to rely upon staff to manually calculate offsets and enable lights-out production.
HxGN Production Machining is available now globally from Hexagon and approved partners. A webinar series detailing how manufacturing challenges are solved with HxGN Production Machining can be accessed at go.mi.hexagon.com/2023/IntroToPS/WebinarSeries. Learn more about Hexagon machining technologies at hexagon.com/products/product-groups/computer-aided-manufacturing-cad-cam-software.
Paul Simon wrote that it’s all happening at the zoo. Today, it’s all happening at the edge. ATT Cybersecurity has released its 2023 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Edge Ecosystem focusing on manufacturing companies worldwide. It explains how edge computing is changing manufacturing to solve operational issues and reduce costs. This report reveals what your peers are planning and doing to embrace edge computing.
The lead and author of the report, Head of Cybersecurity Evangelism at AT&T Business Theresa Lanowitz, states, “In the past, IT typically made technology decisions based on business and computing requirements they understood. Thanks to ongoing advances in computing, things are changing.”
She contends Edge computing is a transformative technology that brings together various stakeholders and aligns their interests to drive integrated business outcomes. The emergence of edge computing has been fueled by a generation of visionaries who grew up in the era of smartphones and limitless possibilities. In this paradigm, the role of IT has shifted from being the sole leader to a collaborative partner in delivering innovative edge computing solutions. In addition, we found that leaders in manufacturing are budgeting differently for edge use cases. These two things, along with an expanded approach to securing edge computing, were prioritized by the respondents in the 2023 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Edge Ecosystem.
Topline research findings
In 2023, the manufacturing respondents’ primary edge use case is smart warehousing, which involves deploying computing resources close to or on the warehouse floor. The enhanced productivity of warehouse employees, flexible logistics, and better optimization of warehouse space are some benefits of edge computing. This represents a shift from the primary use case in the 2022 AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report: Securing the Edge, which focused on video-based quality inspection as the primary manufacturing edge computing use case.
Press releases concerning warehousing and logistics up and downstream constituted the majority of my inbox for the past few years. Looks like this is reflected in the research.
As manufacturing has evolved, the need for efficiency and speed is focused on moving goods out of warehouses and onto the next stop of either consumption or integration. The rising cost of labor and customer expectations for next-day or same-day deliveries drive the need for greater investments in rapidly understanding which products are most likely needed to fulfill a sales pipeline or supply chain.
This is AT&T Cybersecurity, after all, so it cites following cybersecurity challenges with the edge:
- Potentially more vulnerable data – especially when such devices are at risk of being stolen, lost or damaged.
- Legacy 4G threats, when the increased use of sensors and cameras on a production line can benefit from 5G capabilities and its enhanced encryption.
- Concerns regarding regulatory compliance, specifically when personally identifiable information (PII) is being transferred from the edge site to a different location.
- State-affiliated Groups Responsible for nearly 60%
- 60% of incidents result in operational disruption, driving the need for proactive OT defenses and incident response
The topics of this time are Cybersecurity, Sustainability, and Workforce with the impact of AI playing on all three. This news from Rockwell Automation focuses on Cybersecurity. It has released a report on an in-depth study of the topic by Cyentia Institute. The report is comprehensive deserving of a thorough read.
Rockwell Automation announced the findings of its report “Anatomy of 100+ Cybersecurity Incidents in Industrial Operations.” The global study conducted by Cyentia Institute analyzed 122 cybersecurity events that included a direct compromise of operational technology (OT) and/or industrial control system (ICS) operations, collecting and reviewing nearly 100 data points for each incident.
Don’t think you are immune from global politics. Unfortunately.
The first edition of the report finds nearly 60% of cyberattacks against the industrial sector are led by state-affiliated actors and often unintentionally enabled by internal personnel (about 33% of the time). This corroborates other industry research showing OT/ICS security incidents are increasing in volume and frequency, and are targeting critical infrastructure, such as energy producers.
“Energy, critical manufacturing, water treatment and nuclear facilities are among the types of critical infrastructure industries under attack in the majority of reported incidents,” said Mark Cristiano, commercial director of Global Cybersecurity Services at Rockwell Automation. “Anticipating that stricter regulations and standards for reporting cybersecurity attacks will become commonplace, the market can expect to gain invaluable insights regarding the nature and severity of attacks and the defenses necessary to prevent them in the future.”
- OT/ICS cybersecurity incidents in the last three years have already exceeded the total number reported between 1991-2000.
- Threat actors are most intensely focused on the energy sector (39% of attacks) – over three times more than the next most frequently attacked verticals, critical manufacturing (11%) and transportation (10%).
- Phishing remains the most popular attack technique (34%), underscoring the importance of cybersecurity tactics such as segmentation, air gapping, Zero Trust and security awareness training to mitigate risks.
- In more than half of OT/ICS incidents, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are targeted (53%), with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) as the next-most-common target (22%).
- More than 80% of threat actors come from outside organizations, yet insiders play an unintentional role in opening the door for threat actors in approximately one-third of incidents.
In the OT/ICS incidents studied, 60% resulted in operational disruption and 40% resulted in unauthorized access or data exposure. However, the damage of cyberattacks extends beyond the impacted enterprise, as broader supply chains were also impacted 65% of the time.
The research indicates strengthening the security of IT systems is crucial to combatting cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and manufacturing facilities. More than 80% of the OT/ICS incidents analyzed started with an IT system compromise, attributed to increasing interconnectivity across IT and OT systems and applications. The IT network enables communication between OT networks and the outside world and acts as an entryway for OT threat actors. Deploying proper network architecture is critical to strengthening an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. It is no longer enough to simply implement a firewall between IT and OT environments. Because networks and devices are connected daily into OT/ICS environments, this exposes equipment in most industrial environments to sophisticated adversaries. Having a strong, modern OT/ICS security program must be a part of every industrial organization’s responsibility to maintain safe, secure operations and availability.
For this report, Rockwell Automation commissioned the Cyentia Institute to analyze data from 122 cybersecurity events across the globe, which occurred from 1982-2022. The Cyentia Institute’s team collected and analyzed nearly 100 data points surrounding individual incidents involving the direct compromise or disruption of OT/ICS systems. The resulting report was developed to share instructive insights about actual OT/ICS cybersecurity attack activity.
The Cyentia Institute is a research and data science firm dedicated to the mission of advancing knowledge in the cybersecurity industry. We accomplish this by partnering with a variety of organizations to perform comprehensive data analysis and publish high-quality, data-driven research.
While politicians blather about various aspects of sustainability and climate, businesses have discovered it’s simply good business. The world searches for better, more plentiful, and safer fuels. Hydrogen is a good bet. Generating hydrogen turns out not to be so simple. However, process automation companies have focused engineering teams on viable ways to produce green hydrogen (hydrogen produced without negative inputs).
In this news, Yokogawa Electric Corp. announces that its subsidiary Yokogawa Australia has received an order from Monford Group Pty Ltd. to supply an energy management system (EMS) for the initial phase (“phase 0”) of the Yuri Green Hydrogen Project (hereafter, Yuri), which is constructing an industrial-scale renewable hydrogen production complex in Australia.
The Yuri project is being undertaken in the Pilbara region of Western Australia by Yuri Operations Pty Ltd, a joint venture between ENGIE Renewables Australia Pty Ltd and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. A consortium consisting of the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) companies Technip Energies and Monford Group Pty Ltd. is constructing these facilities, which will consist of an 18-megawatt solar power plant, an 8-megawatt battery energy storage system (BESS), and a 10-megawatt electrolyzer. Using carbon-free solar energy, this facility will be able to produce up to 640 tons of green hydrogen per year. The hydrogen will be used as a feedstock to produce green ammonia at an adjacent ammonia plant operated by Yara Pilbara Fertiliser Pty Ltd (YPF). YPF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yara International ASA, which is one of the world’s largest producers of nitrogen-based mineral fertilizers.
For the control of the solar power plant, BESS, and electrolyzer, Yokogawa Australia will supply an EMS that is developed by Yokogawa Group company PXiSE Energy Solutions LLC. This EMS will be combined with an integrated control system (ICS) centering on the Collaborative Information Server solution that Yokogawa will also be providing for phase 0 of this project, under a separate contract*1. Once these systems are installed and integrated, the Yuri facility’s renewable energy production will be autonomously managed to ensure consistent stability and power quality based on the operating requirements of the adjacent ammonia plant, the weather, and other factors.
PXiSE’s grid control solutions have already been highly evaluated at a Horizon Power project in Western Australia*2. Horizon Power serves the largest power supply area in the world, and following a successful rollout in Onslow, the solutions will be adopted in 34 additional Horizon Power microgrids. Also, the ability of Yokogawa Australia’s Technical Excellence Center in Perth, Western Australia, to provide technical support and engineering services backed by many years of experience in providing cutting-edge solutions to a wide range of industries in Australia was also evaluated.
Commenting on Yokogawa’s participation in this project, Koji Nakaoka, a Yokogawa senior vice president and head of the company’s Energy & Sustainability Business Headquarters and Global Sales Headquarters, said, “In a world in which systems are becoming closely integrated, based on the system of systems (SoS) concept, we will contribute to our customer’s ESG management by offering high value-added solutions, including the integration of plant control and energy management systems to enable the timely control of complex power systems.”
I told the Honeywell public relations person that the company was certainly keeping them busy. Before I could consider one release, here came another. Some of these news items are extensions from things I covered from the Honeywell User Group meeting in June. This is a company I heard little from for a few years that has suddenly shown great signs of life.
- • Honeywell testing and battery manufacturing
- Quantum Encrypted Meters
- Safety Watch and Real-time Location Systems
MXP Digitalization System
Honeywell’s MXP is an end-to-end digitalization solution designed specifically for the unique needs of battery manufacturing. When paired with Arbin’s systems, the MXP optimizes dynamic performance assessment and lithium-ion battery cell formation and finishing. Real-time data analytics enable fast performance feedback to predecessor operations for confirmations, refinements, and quality corrections.
“Honeywell’s advanced autonomous formation systems will enable lithium-ion battery manufacturers to accelerate the world’s transition to renewables and electrification by increasing yields of their facilities,” said Brian Reynolds, Chief Technology Officer of Honeywell Projects & Automation Systems. “Collaborating with Arbin allows Honeywell to provide an end-to-end approach for gigafactory operators in need of cost effective, quality battery production.”
Arbin Instruments is a global leader in manufacturing test equipment for batteries and other energy storage applications. They invest nearly half their profits back into R&D to set industry trends and stay ahead of the competition. Arbin Instruments has offices around the world in Germany, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan, along with their headquarters in College Station, TX.
Honeywell Supports New Battery Gigafactory
Honeywell announced that American Battery Factory (ABF), a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery cell manufacturer, is fully integrating Honeywell’s automation and process safety solutions in its new gigafactory located in Tucson, Ariz.
At approximately 2 million square feet, the facility will be the largest gigafactory to produce LFP battery cells in the United States upon completion. Energy storage systems made from ABF’s battery cell production will be available to households, businesses and utilities, allowing them to optimize their use of energy from the grid or from their own systems.
The Arizona gigafactory will integrate Honeywell’s Manufacturing Excellence Platform, Experion® Batch, and Integrated Remote operations to help ABF optimize its manufacturing process and workflow. Honeywell’s innovative solutions will allow ABF to visualize and control their battery production process in real-time — from mixing, coating and assembly to storage and distribution. Honeywell’s technologies will also streamline and improve the collection of operations data while gathering insights about upcoming tasks or potential delays for operators. The results: improved yields, reduced waste and the achievement of more energy-efficient and cost-effective battery production.
Quantum Computing Encryption for Meters
Honeywell announced that it is the first company to integrate quantum-computing-hardened encryption keys into smart utility meters, helping protect end-user data from advanced cybersecurity threats. Honeywell will utilize Quantinuum’s Quantum Origin technology to help increase reliability and trust in the digitally transforming utilities sector.
The enhanced security utility meters set a new benchmark protecting against data breaches and help ensure the uninterrupted operation of gas, water, and electricity utilities infrastructure for both residential and commercial applications.
Quantinuum’s Quantum Origin offers an advantage over traditional solutions by generating keys through quantum-computing-enhanced randomness, making them truly unpredictable and significantly enhancing data security for utilities’ end users.
National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month in the United States – a chance to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.
Extreme weather is becoming more and more common across the world – heavy rains and flooding, wildfires and their resulting smoke, hurricanes, heat waves, and more can be found in the news daily. With extreme weather a guaranteed part of our future, companies must prioritize disaster preparedness and plans to key their employees safe.
Natural disasters have a direct impact on communities and their workers. According to a recent survey, 27% of respondents cited they, or someone they know, have experienced harm from severe weather events. With a direct opportunity for weather events to impact employee health and safety, companies must put a plan in place for impending natural disasters.
During emergency situations, Honeywell Safety Watch, a Real Time Location Solution (RTLS), offers an automated solution for faster mustering, reducing mustering time from hours to only minutes. Safety Watch enables tracking of non-mustered workers and location of key emergency support staff, enabling faster search and rescue during an emergency.
Are you using an Arduino anywhere? I keep it on my to do list that never gets done. I’ve had all these Halloween ideas that atrophy in my mind. I’ve believed for a long time that there must be many industrial uses for a good edge compute platform at low cost.
Here is news about Arduino joining the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) to further democratize embedded hardware for OEMs and Industrial Automation industries.
Arduino Cloud — built on AWS — hit a new milestone of 4 billion data messages per month and is mentioned in Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Infrastructure Platforms.
It has joined the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN) to deliver enterprise-grade Arduino PRO products that work with AWS for customers in commercial and industrial sectors. The APN is a global community of AWS Partners that leverage programs, expertise and resources to build, market and sell customer offerings.
In addition, the company’s device and data management service, Arduino Cloud, announced that it now processes 4 billion device messages every month from both individuals and businesses. This is a significant milestone from the 3-year-old service built on AWS.
Although companies recognize the immense potential of digital transformation at the edge, many feel the goal is beyond their reach because of a lack of solutions. Arduino Cloud offers both businesses and individuals an easy path to collect data, control the edge and gain insights from connected products without the need to build, deploy and maintain a custom IoT platform.
“Choosing Arduino Cloud for our business application slashed product development time by six months and saved us over $250,000 in engineering services,” said Adam Bishop, co-founder of ABM Vapor Monitoring. “Arduino PRO provides us with an end-to-end commercial platform. Using the Arduino Opta PLC connected to Arduino Cloud, we monitor commercial buildings across America to ensure regulated air quality standards are met. Arduino Cloud has been an instrumental partner in our journey to introduce new products to the market.”
Arduino joins a global network of over 100,000 AWS Partners from more than 150 countries, working with AWS to provide innovative solutions, solve technical challenges, win deals and deliver value to mutual customers. Customers will also experience streamlined support architecting edge-to-cloud integrated solutions, whether choosing Arduino Cloud, AWS cloud services or hybrid architectures.
“Today, industrial hardware and advanced cloud services exist in independent worlds with significant complexity,” said Guneet Bedi, Arduino’s SVP and GM. “By offering integration with the flexibility and scalability of AWS and pay-as-you-go pricing, businesses will be able to greatly reduce complexity and significantly accelerate their go-to-market with the scale of Arduino PRO.”
The open architecture at the core of every Arduino product provides a new preferred path to AWS for all microchips supported by Arduino. In addition, existing Arduino Cloud business customers now have an integration track for scaling to self-managed solutions on AWS, while existing AWS customers now have reference architectures to integrate Arduino products.
Arduino’s Investment to Enable Industrial Innovation
The Arduino PRO product line, introduced in 2020, meets the request from OEMs and industry integrators for a hardware ecosystem that lowers the barrier to entry and accelerates time to market. The Arduino PRO portfolio features 24 industrial-grade products, including the Portenta X8 Linux SOM and UL-certified Opta PLC. Currently, Arduino PRO technology is deployed by more than 2,000 businesses worldwide.
This announcement reinforces the commitment Arduino shared when announcing its Series B funding to chart a new strategic course that emphasized the expansion of its enterprise-scale offerings. More recently, the company named Bedi to head its U.S. operations, with two new offices focused on accelerating its B2B growth.