Advanced Physical Layer Project Successfully Completed

Advanced Physical Layer (APL) for Ethernet generated much hype for quite some time. Product may be coming your way before too long.

After almost 4 years of close and fruitful collaboration among the four leading standards development organizations, FieldComm Group, ODVA, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI), combined with significant support from 12 major industry project partners, the participants are pleased to announce a successful completion of the APL Project. The result is a completely available 10Mbit technology for a new two-wire, Intrinsically Safe Physical Layer called Ethernet-APL.

The main results of the APL Project are port profile specifications to create the Ethernet-APL solution for multiple power levels with and without explosion hazardous area protection, engineering guidelines and best practices for planning and installation, and conformance test specifications and test tools. As a single physical layer, Ethernet-APL supports EtherNet/IP, HART-IP, OPC UA, PROFINET, or any other higher-level network protocol.

The APL Project has also worked with semiconductor manufacturers to bring 10BASE-T1L Phy chipsets for Ethernet-APL to market. 

BASF and Procter & Gamble have demonstrated that Ethernet-APL has very good suitability for use in process applications through their internal testing.

IMTS / Hannover Messe Chicago Recap

I didn’t have time to finish this about IMTS/Hannover Messe when I found myself in rainy Folsom, CA at the Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference. More on that later.

Here is a quick recap of my tour around two of the four full halls that comprised the event. I heard that there were more than 100,000 people who also toured the trade show floors.

Robotics

OnRobot — OnRobot Previews D:PLOY for Machine Tending at IMTS. D:PLOY automatically discovers and configures all the components in a robotic cell – including any leading collaborative or light industrial robot arm and tools – while also integrating external I/O from sensors and machines. D:PLOY will be available for all common robotic applications, making deployment up to 80% faster. See more.

Universal Robots—The booth featured nine partners with vertical industry applications and a new 20 kg cobot.

The UR20, the first of next-generation high performance cobots, has been redesigned from the ground up to provide up to 30% more speed and torque, advanced motion control capabilities, and first-class user experience. Its 20 kg payload and 1750 mm reach make it a match for applications ranging from palletizing to machine loading.

These partners exhibited within the booth. Click for more information. Cobot Systems, Hirebotics, Kane Robotics, MidAtlantic Machinery, PCC Robotics, Robotiq, Schunk, Vectis Automation, VersaBuilt.

ABB—Highlights include versatile industrial and collaborative robots, software advancements that reduce programming complexity, and a selection of interactive robotic educational systems and training programs.

• ABB has developed over 30 new robot, software digital and educational products and educational tools in the last year, designed to help industrial manufacturers of all sizes increase their operational performance and gain better access to a well-trained workforce

• ABB helps businesses of all sizes embrace the flexibility afforded by robotics to efficiently adapt production to satisfy their customer’s most pressing needs, especially as reshoring becomes a prominent means to address ongoing supply chain backlogs

For more information.

CNC

Siemens—Accelerating the digital transformation of the machine tool industry with Siemens Xcelerator 

• Siemens Xcelerator includes selected portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware, software and digital offerings for the machine tool industry

• Software applications for cloud, edge and customer servers with numerous innovations for the machine tool business

• First partner applications based upon Industrial Edge for Machine Tools, the open ecosystem for IoT

New technology functions for the SINUMERIK ONE CNC simplify operation and increase productivity

• Y-turning and Advanced Rapid Movement for greater machine tool productivity, 

up to 10% faster machining

• Reduced Dynamic Mode reduces wear and increases availability

• End-to-end keyboard and machine control panel portfolio from 15 to 24 inches

The introduction of Mcenter, a new manufacturing and resource management platform, designed to enhance the preparation of tool scheduling, workflow supervision and NC program  management — plus Mcenter will smartly and seamlessly network the machine tools with the company’s IT / OT landscape.  

For more information.

Automation

MFA Alliance — You may have noticed several items about private 5G networks for manufacturing and industrial applications. Several companies have joined this private network alliance

Find out which features you need to implement for your 5G private network device with Uni5G Technology Blueprints. Discover available spectrum options (locally licensed, shared, unlicensed) around the world for your private network. Gain access to MFA’s shared global PLMN-ID which can uniquely identify your private network.

GE Digital — Announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. GE Digital is also expanding its offerings in the AWS Marketplace with new cloud-based operational intelligence and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software.

For more information.

Deacom (ECI Software)—With a deep awareness of the challenges faced by process manufacturers and distributors, Deacom has been developed as an ERP solution tailored to the needs of medium-sized enterprises within industries such as Food & Beverage, Chemical and Coatings, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, and Nutraceuticals to name a few. Hyper-Tight Process Control enables you to easily identify issues within your supply chain, production, and order-to-cash processes early and fix – or eliminate – them before they turn into costly mistakes.

For more information.

HighByte — I talked with two of the founders of this DataOps company. It has a new release coming, teaser about future releases. My takeaway, DataOps has found customer footing. Watch for growth. For more information.

Artek 3D scanning — Perhaps the coolest demos of the show—handheld 3D scanning, built-in screen so that you don’t have to move it around and juggle a computer at the same time. Quickly transform your object into 3D graphics. For more information.

ATT —  The takeaway from my conversation at the AT&T booth was that 5G private networks are really in use. Also, you can go to the AT&T Business LinkedIn page for a “chat” that I participated in about smart factory. For more information.

Beckhoff Automation—The XPlanar magnetic conveyor was the hot thing in this booth. The XPlanar planar motor system combines the advantages of conventional transport technologies with magnetic levitation. The levitating 2D product transport enables a wide range of new options for handling products within a machine and also between several machines.

Similar to automated guided vehicle systems, the user benefits from the freedom of movement of the object carriers: Individual goods can be transported to any location via any route. XPlanar combines this flexibility with the dynamics of conventional linear motors and offers added value through cycle-time-optimized linking of individual production steps. XPlanar significantly simplifies individual production steps because the degrees of freedom and accuracy familiar from robotics can be used for 6D product handling. The concept of product positioning during processing is applied to the transport system. The floating effect replaces all mechanical guide components and drastically reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.

For more information.

Syntax — As I walked through the AWS booth, a woman at one of the kiosks called out, want to learn about predictive maintenance? This enterprise software company touts a better UI difference—one dashboard, one interface, predict material usage. For more information.

Return of the Large Trade Show

IMTS / Hannover Messe invaded Chicago this week. I drove down a couple of days. It was huge. Booths populated all four halls. I did not see everything. Or even half.

Hannover Messe (in Chicago) has co-located for the past three or four events. As in the past, the automation / Hannover Messe part encompassed a few aisles in the East hall.

I’ll have more news items in the next post.

Best of what I saw:

Nokia. What?! I was approached for an appointment. I said yes figuring on a 5G private network discussion. I was partly right.

Let me back up for context.

  • Enterprises crave data to feed their information systems.
  • Data from industrial / manufacturing operations were bottled in isolated, siloed systems
  • Networking became robust
  • Interoperable protocols grew
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) became a thing
  • Suddenly data could go where and when needed

Solutions.

  • Automation vendors claimed connectivity to enterprise but that fell short
  • IT suppliers, supporters of the enterprise, tried to enter the market with gateways, networking, partnerships and ecosystems to get the data.
  • They couldn’t find the formula to sell to manufacturing (known as OT)
  • We have gateways, databases, networking, but still no enterprise solution

Nokia.

  • Builds off networking technology which has progressed to 5G Private Networks
  • Has added edge compute devices
  • Partnership with PTC (Kepware / Thingworx) for software connectivity
  • Attacking this open market from a new perspective–both the enterprise IT side and the operations OT side

I am not predicting success. I never do. What I love about trade shows is finding this nugget of original thinking cloaked in the mundane. They have the foundation. Can they sell?

Check out this page on the Nokia site.

Addressing Risks Introduced By Digital Manufacturing, A Conversation With BT

[Updated with correct name spelling.] Manufacturing companies began a digital journey decades ago. I began a digital project in 1978. Digital is one thing. Connectivity is another. My customer in 1994 told me he would never allow a wire from a PLC to anything else (other than I/O of course) as long as he was the controls leader. By 1999 he was retired and the plant had some connected controllers.

He was right, though. The concern was risk. And that was before anyone knew anything about cybersecurity. But there was risk of someone breaking in and messing with the program and settings. 

And risk was a key word as I was introduced to BT, a networking and IT company, through an interview with global manufacturing lead Jose Gastey. He told me connected boxes leads to risks and liability. There is a constant tension between efficient services and risk. This was my introduction to BT. I had not interviewed anyone from there before.

Three Key Words, Connectivity, Collaboration, Cybersecurity

Gastey told me, “BT as a company had to change. The question was how to provide security around data that customers expect us to transmit for them. Last year BT invested in Safe Security. We can talk about financial risk alongside risk of data loss and hacking.”

Manufacturing has made tremendous investments in digital technologies and connectivity. That come with a risk. According to the 2021 NTT Global Threat Intelligence Report, threat actors have made manufacturing one of the five most targeted industries seven times over the last nine years. Cyber-espionage, data theft and other types of digital attacks have become the norm rather than the exception.

BT industry sales representatives have an additional security tool in their toolbox of solutions for their clients. The Safe Security SAFE (‘Security Assessment Framework for Enterprises’) platform allows organisations to take a health check of their existing defences and understand their likelihood of suffering a major cyber attack.

SAFE is unique in calculating a financial cost to customers’ risks and giving actionable insight on the steps that can be taken to address them. The platform ultimately enables organisations to surgically target gaps in their defences, and already protects multiple Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world.

Sustainability, 5G and Ecosystem

Before leaving the briefing, Gastey told me about two other BT emphases of interest to manufacturing—sustainability and 5G/WiFi6 networks.

“Sustainability adds another layer,” said Gastey. BT has joined with Cisco and Global Data to compile data about global sustainability. In this context, the focus here is reduction of energy consumption.

BT works with private 5G and WiFi6. Gastey says scaling is crucial element. “Engineers install 5G in a plant,” he says, “and business managers say, this is great. Now, roll out to 200 plants. But that is hard. There are too many differences from plant to plant. Solving scaling is a big problem.”

Single Common Conformance Test for TSN

Standards may not help you that much if you purchase products to the standard only to discover that they do not play well together. Therefore the importance of organizations creating conformance tests. This news from Hannover concerns organizations coming together to devise a single common conformance test for Time Sensitive Networking.

The Avnu Alliance, CC-Link Partner Association, ODVA, OPC Foundation, and PROFIBUS & PROFINET International jointly announce that they are collaborating to develop a single conformance test plan for the IEEE/IEC 60802 Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) profile for Industrial Automation. The test plan will be used as a base test by all the participating organizations and made available to the broader Industrial Automation ecosystem. This collaboration contributes towards end user confidence that 60802 conformant devices from different manufacturers which support different automation protocols will coexist reliably at the TSN level on shared networks, including with devices using TSN for applications other than automation.

The focus of the collaboration is to work together towards a jointly agreed and owned test plan for the industrial automation market. This formal collaboration provides value by creating a structure in which all these organizations can work together and exchange ideas towards the end goal of interoperability and coexistence on open, standard networks for all protocols, without needing to establish a separate, formal organization. For convenience, the collaboration activities will be referred to as “TIACC” (TSN Industrial Automation Conformance Collaboration). 

The TIACC marks a commitment by these organizations to develop an interoperable ecosystem of devices from different manufacturers to comply with the IEC/IEEE Standards Association 60802 profile and enable end-users to confidently deploy these devices on open, standard networks. The goal is to have the final version of the single, shared test plan available soon after the IEC/IEEE 60802 profile is published.

“Avnu’s purpose and mission is to transform standard networks to enable support for many time sensitive applications and protocols in an open, interoperable manner. This collaboration among organizations will be critically important to facilitating coexistence of multiple workloads and protocols according to IEEE 60802 on a network, while leveraging foundational network interoperability that is used across industries,” said Greg Schlechter, Avnu Alliance President. “We are committed to working with the industries to enable an interoperable ecosystem of devices that allow end users to confidently deploy on open, standard, and converged networks.”

“The creation of the Connected Industries of the future requires different systems and devices to communicate in order to deliver the necessary process transparency required. This is a core principle for the CLPA and is at the root of why the organization was founded. This is why we are delighted to be part of the TIACC and look forward to supporting the creation of a unified, common test plan for TSN-compatible products. By doing so, we can help further boost the adoption of futureproof technologies for smart manufacturing,” said Manabu Hamaguchi, Global Director at CLPA.

“EtherNet/IP users will be able to take advantage of the benefits afforded by 60802 TSN of enhanced network performance, higher utilization, and guaranteed network access for multiple time-critical applications with different priorities. ODVA’s participation in TIACC will ensure that the full potential of 60802 TSN coexistence is realized by end users to help make Industry 4.0 and IIoT a reality,” said Dr. Al Beydoun, President and Executive Director at ODVA.

“OPC UA is a secure, vendor-independent communication solution that fully scales from the field to the cloud and offers semantic interoperability. Other underlying IT infrastructure such as Ethernet TSN and the IEC/IEEE 60802 TSN Profile for Industrial Automation open up further applications for the market. We believe this conformance collaboration is an important contribution to preparing and delivering streamlined and effective conformance testing and certification to the industry in collaboration with other SDOs,” said Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation.

“At PI we are taking conformance testing very seriously. It’s our belief, that thought-out testing ensures cross-vendor interoperability. That’s why we invested huge efforts in our test system in recent years. With this joint initiative we are taking the next step towards converged networks utilizing TSN, giving our users the confidence in the future-readiness of PROFINET. This collaboration is a huge milestone on the way of the digital transformation,” said Karsten Schneider, Chairperson of PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI).

Private Wireless Boosted

News from the Hannover Messe. Advanced wireless applications continue to make news. Here, Nokia released news about two private wireless applications you all should find intriguing, if not useful

Nokia launches MX Boost for private wireless to optimize reliability and performance for the most demanding industry use cases.

  • Nokia MX Boost for private wireless allows industries to combine available radio technologies and spectrum to meet performance needs of Industry 4.0 use cases that often operate in challenging RF conditions
  • Multiple connectivity paths can be aggregated at the Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) helping boost either throughput, by combining radio links, or determinism, by retaining capabilities of the strongest one
  • MX Boost helps unify disparate radio technologies, such as Wi-Fi and 4.9G/LTE for maximum gains and more advanced industry 4.0 use cases

Using MX Boost, organizations can aggregate radio technologies, such as Wi-Fi and 4.9G/LTE, as well as spectrum, to optimize throughput and improve determinism, which is the ability of the network to guarantee performance, even in challenging radio conditions for real-time applications.

Ah, 5G mentioned.

Adoption of private 4.9G/LTE and 5G is growing, allowing industries to gain new insights and capabilities from their operational data through reliable, secure low latency connectivity of assets. In parallel, legacy assets will continue to be in operation and enterprises need to retain existing wireless connectivity solutions like Wi-Fi. Industries also seek additional options in terms of spectrum use as they ramp-up asset connectivity and need more data capacity.

MX Boost functions at the IP layer, meaning it is very easy to aggregate very different connectivity technologies without complexity, such as combining terrestrial technologies with satellite connectivity, ultimately offering endless combination possibilities. For industrial sites, MX boost also functions with brownfield non-Nokia Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies, allowing enterprises to combine it with private 4.9G/LTE for increased determinism and increased capacity.

And a second announcement.

Nokia expands industrial-grade private wireless solution with Wi-Fi to provide more connectivity options for industries.

  • Nokia adds to its industrial connectivity edge-centric solution portfolio with the Digital Automation Cloud Wi-Fi Solution.
  • New solution unites Wi-Fi 6, 6E for connecting non-business critical use cases and private 4.9G/LTE and 5G to support critical Industry 4.0 applications.
  • Provides same easy-to-use single cloud management interface from which industries can seamlessly manage all their different wireless connectivity layers.
  • Leverages MX Industrial Edge for Wi-Fi management and authentication while Nokia MX Boost will allow companies to fully merge 3GPP and Wi-Fi connectivity to enhance connectivity performance.
  • Nokia DAC Wi-Fi Access Points comes free of charge as part of a competitive as-a- service pricing subscription model.

Nokia DAC Wi-Fi connectivity solution will be available in the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) end-to-end industrial-grade digitalization platform.

With the introduction of the Nokia DAC Wi-Fi solution, organizations can tap into license-free spectrum to augment their private networks and support non-business-critical Operational Technology (OT) workflows, such as deskless workforce instructions and non-critical connections used to access machine maintenance data. These organizations can now take advantage of the Nokia DAC single cloud-based operations and management interface for all connectivity technologies, add plug and play private wireless 4.9G/LTE and 5G for real-time reliable connectivity, or boost capacity with Wifi6 for other connectivity needs. This not only provides flexibility, but also cost efficiencies that come with single platform operations.