There are few things I find as exciting as exploring revitalizing manufacturing or production facility. When people and technology come together to make useful products in a clean and safe manner is art to me.
Therefore, I was happy that my Siemens contacts talked me into driving up to Detroit earlier than I planned to tour the Ford Livonia Transmission plant on March 19. I planned to come up for the noon tour at FlexNGate, but the changed plans worked wonderfully.
Ford Powertrain was a customer of mine in the 80s when I worked for a company that designed and built automated machines and then through the 90s when I was a sales engineer solving problems and selling automation and electrical equipment. So, I witnessed the beginnings of the evolution of these manufacturing plants from dark, dirty, smelly, oily, dangerous, loud environments to today’s clean, efficient, professional facilities.
Mike Bastian, Advanced Engineering Manager Ford Powertrain, explained Ford’s journey from 2000 to present to increase use of digital in manufacturing—The Digital Manufacturing Strategy. He told me that since beginning the present system journey in 2008, they were doing IIoT before there was an IIoT.
Bob Groden, plant manager, described the journey that began with removing several obsolete lines, gutting the facility, painting and cleaning, and preparing for additional transmission assembly lines. This plant is huge. And he walks it three times a day greeting people and asking how things are going. As he told me, “I get my steps in.”
The three themes include people working together, safety, and quality. An important note: The plant continuously added people over the rebuild time all the while increasing automation. three themes; added people continuously all the while automating the plant. Groden and UAW Local President Keith Miller talk to every new employee class and then follow up with each later on the line.
Jon Guske, manufacturing engineering manager-feasibility, described a system the team built beyond the computer-aided engineering system—discrete event throughput simulation. It can connect to VR to help OEMs understand the process and product before beginning machine design. It even models chip removal in machining processes to improve manufacturing process.
Following are pieces of the Digital Manufacturing Strategy as bullet points:
Standard Hardware Architecture
IP65–removed all the large enclosures in the plant (aside, using Siemens because it could do it; one company went to management and flat out told them that Bastian was wrong, management said don’t ever say he’s wrong; another company gets to the spec via a work-around he didn’t like)
Common configuration and programming software
Obsolescence management (upgrade path)
Ethernet, specifically Profinet—called Control Production Network
I had an opportunity during the tour to talk with Scott King, IT Lead, Advanced Manufacturing Powertrain, Solutions Development. I asked about the mythic IT/OT split and convergence. He basically said, “What split?” He sits with engineering advanced manufacturing lead and they discuss projects and problems daily. Plant projects teams include these roles—IT Solutions, Engineering, Product Lead, Operations. They’ve been working together for six years.
FlexNGate is a Tier One supplier of stamped metal and injection molded plastic parts. The company has $6.5 B sales, 70 plants, and presence in many countries. It just built a 454,000 sq. ft. plant in burned-out Detroit neighborhood manufacturing parts for Ford Ranger. It is the largest investment in the city of Detroit in 20 years.
There were a couple of determining factors in the plant location. Ford wanted supplier to be local. The city wanted plants to locate in distressed areas that would also hire locally to provide jobs and hope to the area. They pledged 250 jobs, have 350 full time and 250 temporary and the plant is just a year old and still stabilizing processes after the significant production ramp up.
They run the new hires through training from such things as showing up on time every day, following work instructions, safety, and quality.
Two impressive facilities in one day. That’s a pretty good day.
The world is in Barcelona at the Mobile World Conference (except for me). But that’s OK, I’m seeing plenty of news. Much of it relates to the Edge. And as 5G heats up, expect that to emphasize compute at the edge even further. (Talk of 6G is best left for politicians who by and large are not technical…)
This news comes from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) where VP and GM Tom Bradicich has been using Twitter to tease this week’s announcement. HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System designed to help communication service providers (CSP) capitalize on data-intensive, low-latency services for media delivery, connected mobility, and smart cities. The system enables CSPs to process vast amounts of data in real time directly at the edge, based on open standards to boost flexibility and reduce costs. HPE also announced collaborations with Samsung and Tech Mahindra to accelerate CSPs 5G adoption, leveraging the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System to deploy the next generation of edge-centric virtual 5G applications.
IDC forecasts that more than 150 billion devices will be connected across the globe by 2025, most of which will be creating data in real time. As a result, IDC predicts real-time data to represent nearly 30 percent of the Global Datasphere by 2025. Estimated to be 33 zettabytes in 2018, IDC forecasts the Global Datasphere to grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025.
To deliver new services that tap into this massive growth of real-time data, CSPs must transform their telecommunications network edge towards standard IT systems and software-defined architectures, such as virtual radio access networks (vRAN) and virtual cable modem termination systems (vCMTS). The open-standards-based HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System was therefore developed as a cost effective replacement for CSPs’ current proprietary edge systems, with enhanced performance and versatility for data-intensive real-time digital services. Additionally, the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System’s unique design delivers high performance and ultra-low latency for the most demanding use cases, including media streaming, IoT, artificial intelligence, and video analytics, in a compact and ruggedized form factor, equipped with edge-optimized serviceability and remote systems management.
“CSPs have come a long way in virtualizing their networks. As this continues, the distribution of converged communications and compute capacity throughout the network will accelerate lower costs and improve service”, said Dr. Tom Bradicich, Vice President and General Manager, Converged Servers, Edge and IoT Systems, HPE. “The HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System delivers the capabilities of closed proprietary systems and more, but on an open-standards platform, combined with proven data-center class IT.”
The EL8000 delivers the capabilities of closed proprietary systems but on an open-standards platform
Designed for the real-life challenges
The massive growth of data volumes requires that CSPs deploy high-performance edge systems in their cell sites, often in remote and harsh environments. Moreover, this infrastructure must support many workload and quality-of-service requirements for which tailored slices of the network are employed. The HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System delivers an combination of capabilities to meet these challenges, including:
Compact and ruggedized design optimized for harsh cell-site locations – Exceeding the requirements of industry standards NEBS and ASHRAE class 3 and 4, the system is resistant against hazardous environmental influences like heat, shock and vibration, as well as failover, supporting continuous operation between 0 and 55 degrees Celsius. The system can run rack mounted or stand-alone in any space available, with either a front-to-back and back-to-front cooling design.
Low-latency, high-performance system design powers data-intensive applications at the edge – The single-socket design, equipped with high-end Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, reduces latency and energy consumption. System components can be combined, scaled and hot-swapped to meet changing demands, supporting, among others, NVIDIA® Tesla® GPUs, FPGAs from Intel and Xilinx, NICs from Intel or Mellanox, up to 1.5TB of memory and 16TB of storage.
Modular blade and chassis options for use-case flexibility – With a range of depth and width options for blades and chassis, the system can be flexibly configured and scaled to meet new or changing use-case requirements. The flexible design allows CSPs to extend small- and micro-cell deployments, ensuring that cellular coverage can keep pace with increasing numbers of connected devices.
One-click provisioning and remote systems management ensures continuous availability and performance in far-flung cell-sites – HPE’s proven HPE iLO 5 technology and the newly developed chassis manager software enable remote provisioning, ongoing system health monitoring, updates, and management of HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge Systems across thousands of cell sites, from cell towers to oil rigs, without needing IT expertise on site.
“Collaboration between HPE and Intel has resulted in this versatile platform for network transformation at the edge,” said Sandra L. Rivera, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Network Platforms Group, Intel. “Powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors and based on open standards, the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System will enable high performance, flexible and intelligent networks that are required to deliver high bandwidth and low latency for edge and 5G services.”
HPE and Samsung Electronics Corporation (SEC) are collaborating to provide a joint edge-to-core vRAN commercial solution based on Samsung’s radio network technologies and system integration services and the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System.
“Samsung and HPE combine their strengths in radio networks, edge systems, and telecommunications infrastructure to drive the change towards a standard-IT based and software-defined network edge,” said Wonil Roh, Vice President, Head of Technology Strategy at Samsung Network Business. “The HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System will play a key role in Samsung’s challenge to evolve our customers’ networks with 5G vRAN demanding intense low-latency.”
While some CSPs aim to deploy 5G from 2020 onwards, others may not be able to do so for a few years, potentially leaving entire regions without 5G coverage. As part of this interim process CSPs are turning to multi-access edge computing (MEC) software, which delivers many of the benefits of 5G, but using 4G LTE infrastructure. For this reason, HPE is collaborating with Tech Mahindra, a global leader in MEC software, to deliver MEC solutions based on the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System.
“Our collaboration with HPE and the introduction of the HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System is a major step for driving a fast and smooth transformation towards open standards at the edge in the Telco and Comms marketplace,” said Karthikeyan Natarajan, Global Head, Engineering, IoT & Enterprise Mobility, Tech Mahindra. “As a leader in Telco and Comms software and services, Tech Mahindra sees HPE as ideally positioned to help us deliver significantly improved user experiences, particularly through the often-uneven transformation from 4G to 5G.”
The HPE Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System will be available worldwide from June 2019.
I will only be at SPS for a few hours this year to check in with old friends and see some of the latest automation goodies. But I’m glad to be there at all. Thank you to Siemens who is sponsoring a press tour that includes a couple of days of intense cybersecurity briefings and workshops.
Oh, and a trip to Allianz Stadium to see the technology and a Bayern Munchen football match.
Some early SPS news:
Avnu Alliance Demonstrates New Conformance Test Reference Tool
OPC Foundation promises much news plus addition of Rockwell Automation
OPC Foundation has sent a couple of emails inviting us to a press briefing at SPS promising much news. I won’t be in Nuremberg on Tuesday, but I’ll catch up with Stefan and Tom for sure on Wednesday.
The mating dance has ended after a few months. Rockwell Automation has rejoined the OPC Foundation and gained a board seat. OPC Foundation has elected Juergen Weinhofer, vice president of common architecture and technology for Rockwell Automation, to its board of directors. Note that Weinhofer is also the Rockwell delegate to the ODVA board.
Weinhofer’s election to the board extends Rockwell Automation’s engagement in the technical work of the OPC Foundation and its technical advisory council.
“OPC UA has become the dominant open protocol for machine-to-software and machine-to-cloud solutions, and it is becoming critical for companies deploying a Connected Enterprise,” Weinhofer said. “I look forward to helping the OPC Foundation become a leader in machine-to-machine applications and helping OPC UA users unlock more value from their production systems.”
This quote is from the OPC news release. We should note that “Connected Enterprise” (capitalized) is the Rockwell Automation theme. I also note while parsing the comment that Rockwell is still firmly fixed in the factory floor area where Weinhofer specifically states “become a leader in machine-to-machine applications.”
“Rockwell Automation is a proven leader in industry standardization and open information technologies,” said Stefan Hoppe, president of the OPC Foundation. “I welcome not just Juergen’s business and political skills on the board but also the increased technical and commercial contribution that the wider Rockwell Automation team will also bring to the foundation.”
Avnu Alliance, an industry consortium enabling open, standards-based deterministic networking, will exhibit at SPS IPC Drives in the University Stuttgart ISW booth. Avnu Alliance, alongside ISW and Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), will showcase the role of conformance test plans, testbeds and test reference tools in ensuring an interoperable ecosystem of Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) devices.
“We are in cooperation with IIC, IEEE, IEC and others in creating an interoperable ecosystem through a common network foundation that stems from industry open standards and testing,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair. “The market will continue to require multiple application layer protocols for networked industrial systems. The Avnu Alliance charter is to enable interoperability at the network layer, to ensure ‘One TSN.’ We are the organization focused on providing TSN test plans and reference test architectures to anyone in the industry that wants to test for TSN compatibility.”
As such, Avnu serves to support Fieldbus organizations by providing its TSN conformance tests and procedures to ensure those organizations’ interoperability in the wider Ethernet system.
Leveraging the industry-defined requirements for TSN network interoperability, Avnu ensures there is a universal set of test plans for conformance to guarantee interoperability at the network layer. Avnu has developed a baseline test plan in the industrial market that ensures industrial devices, whether end device, infrastructure component or silicon, conform to the relevant IEEE standards, as well as the industrial automation profile being defined by IEC/IEEE 60802 Joint Project working group.
Starting with Time Synchronization, or 802.1AS as the foundation for all TSN devices, Avnu released the first set of test plans at SPS IPC Drives in 2017. Avnu will soon publish additional conformance test plans for end devices, such as enhancements for scheduled traffic.
At SPS IPC Drives 2018, Avnu Alliance will show a new proof-of-concept (POC) Conformance Test Reference Design that offers a single, streamlined way for vendors to test TSN interoperability. The POC Conformance Test Reference Design is designed to automatically test TSN devices for compliance to 802.1AS. The demonstration features a Linux open-source test tool created by ISW in partnership with Avnu. This tool would also allow other protocol organizations to test application stacks on top of a TSN network in a streamlined way enabling one-stop certification at any test house.
The ODVA held its Industry Conference and 19th Annual meeting this week in Atlanta. Perhaps more than the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), the topic of conversation was Michael—the hurricane. We started getting rain from its outer bands in the late afternoon Wednesday. By the time I awoke at 5:30 am to get ready to catch my flight out, it was all over. Not so fortunate were the millions directly impacted. My prayers go out to them.
I have missed the last two or three of these. It was good to get an update. There was no announcement while I was there, but there were some people from Honeywell Process Solutions present who talked about using EtherNet/IP for process automation applications. These switching industry alignments are fascinating to watch. Foundation Fieldbus seems to have lost momentum recently. Will EtherNet/IP, the CIP network, absorb some of the market share?
A well organized series of speakers started Wednesday morning tech sessions with a quick update from all of the SIGs. There are many volunteers putting out an incredible amount of hours developing and updating the various specifications. I can‘t report on them all here—it would be too deep into the weeds anyway. But let‘s just say that ODVA is alive and well.
As even casual readers here know, I am a fan of Time Sensitive Networking (TSN). Yes, I know that it‘s not ready for prime time, yet. Products are beginning to appear in the market, and interest is building across the industry.
I sat in two sessions focused on TSN and CIP. There is technical work going on. The sessions and ensuing questions laid bare the engineering challenges involved in developing CIP over TSN. It‘s non-trivial, but doable. Some may still question TSN, but I‘m even more bullish.
On another front, work has begun on updating the ODVA product data sheet specifications. This work will eventually provide for more and better information to users.
Wireless mesh networking has been the source of technology and market battles for years in industrial applications. There is one that’s seldom discussed among engineers in this sector, though—Bluetooth. There exists a Bluetooth mesh standard. It’s been out a year. At this point there are more than 65 Qualified Bluetooth Mesh Products.
The dominant application to date is smart lighting systems. Smart home applications are coming along. The Bluetooth SIG talks of other industrial applications. We’ll have to see what develops. If I were an active engineer, I think I would take a look at possibilities. Bluetooth has some longevity and stability. We all use it with our smart devices. Interesting possibilities.
Following is news from the press release. Bluetooth mesh plays a role in the development of emerging markets such as Smart Building, Smart Industry, Smart Cities, and Smart Home. In the year since the release of Bluetooth mesh, more than 65 products with mesh networking capability have been qualified from leading silicon, stack, component, and end product vendors.
Bluetooth mesh networking enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. Designed to meet the scalability, reliability, and security requirements of commercial and industrial environments, Bluetooth mesh is powering smart building and smart industry implementations where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with one another effectively. From factories to hospitals, airports, retail stores, and the home, Bluetooth mesh supports building services that bring real value to owners, operators, and occupants.
“Bluetooth mesh is one of a number of fundamental enablers of future IoT markets, allowing for robust, secure and scalable connectivity across the smart home, commercial building automation, industrial environments, and beyond,” said Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer, ABI Research. “Bluetooth mesh, in conjunction with Bluetooth beacons, can propel these environments towards greater automation, increased sensorization, and enable valuable RTLS services. Nearly 360 million annual Bluetooth Smart Building device shipments are forecasted by 2022.”
Lighting control systems have served as a key use case driving the increase in Bluetooth mesh implementations. A building’s lighting system provides a natural grid through which all devices in a Bluetooth mesh network can pass messages and establish whole-building control, monitoring, and automation systems within a facility. This wireless lighting solution can also function as a platform to enable indoor positioning and location services – including point-of-interest solutions, indoor navigation, asset tracking, and improved space utilization.
“Bluetooth mesh has fundamentally altered the conversation around connected lighting by providing a complete, high-performing solution that allows lighting to serve a greater purpose in industrial and commercial spaces,” Mark Needham, Vice President, European Sales at Fulham Co, Inc. “A lighting system that can both help visitors find their way and allow building operators to pinpoint the location of assets within a building or collect a vast range of data from various building sensors for analysis and utilization is only the beginning of what is possible.”
In one year alone, Bluetooth mesh has paved the way for wireless lighting control solutions and has been a driving force in realizing the concept of lighting as a platform. According to ABI Research, annual commercial smart lighting equipment shipments are expected to increase fivefold by 2022.
“We are really excited about the rapid progress our member companies have made using Bluetooth mesh in just one year,” said Mark Powell, Executive Director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. “The Bluetooth member community dove straight into developing with the new technology, creating a growing list of product innovations that will steer the evolution and direction of commercial and industrial markets for years to come.”
Hannover Messe continues to reflect the trend of companies joining alliances to develop and promote standards and interoperability. While I did not have an interview with the Avnu Alliance while I was in Hannover, I talked with some members and obtained other information. Avnu Alliance promotes adoption of the Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) extension to Ethernet.
Specifically, Avnu Alliance is a community creating an interoperable ecosystem of low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable networked devices using open standards. Avnu creates comprehensive certification programs to ensure interoperability of networked devices. The foundational technology enables deterministic synchronized networking based on IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) / Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) base standards. The Alliance, in conjunction with other complimentary standards bodies and alliances, provides a united network foundation for use in professional AV, automotive, industrial control and consumer segments.
The adoption pace of TSN from 2017 to 2018 was amazing.
I always drop by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) area at Hannover and check out the TSN Testbed for Flexible Manufacturing. The testbed was developed with two major goals – to show TSN’s readiness to accelerate the marketplace; and to show the business value of TSN in converged, deterministic IIoT networks. Momentum is increasing for the testbed, with the IIC hosting its 10th plugfest in an 18-month timeframe at the Bosch Rexroth facility in Frankfurt, Germany and its 9th plugfest, which was held in Austin, TX in February at National Instruments (NI) headquarters following a joint workshop on interoperability with Avnu Alliance. The TSN Testbed recently integrated test tools from Avnu Alliance members, Calnex, Ixia and Spirent into plugfest activities, and demonstrated interoperability of TSN devices from more than 25 companies performing real-time automation and control automation functions over TSN.
Any Avnu Alliance member is welcome to join the IIC TSN Testbed or to participate in a plugfest. Upcoming plugfests will be held in Austin, TX from June 26-29, 2018 and in Stuttgart from July 24-27, 2018.
The Edge Computing Consortium (ECC) along with members and Avnu Alliance, hosted a press conference to announce new developments surrounding the newly created OPC UA TSN testbed. The testbed demonstrates six major IIoT scenarios mimicking processes found in smart manufacturing settings and utilizing products across different TSN vendors. Avnu Alliance is a key partner supporting the development of the testbed with the ECC in the shared goal of enabling manufacturers to test their products for interoperability and conduct trials of real-world systems as an early check for problems.
Tom Weingartner, Avnu Alliance member and Analog Devices’ marketing director for Deterministic Ethernet Technology Group, represented the Alliance at an announcement ceremony.
Paul Didier, Avnu Alliance member and IoT solutions architect, Cisco delivered a talk at the Industrie 4.0 meet the Industrial Internet Forum, in a presentation titled “Time Sensitive Networks – Where does the technology stand and what to expect”. He will provide an update on TSN and how manufacturers, alliances and liaison groups are working together to advance the technology and its implementation in the IIoT.
Paul will present an additional lecture for the Forum on “Modernizing Your Industrial Manufacturing Network”. The presentation will follow the findings coming out of the IIC TSN Testbed and its capabilities, including information on how manufacturing automation and control infrastructure vendors and key decision-makers can leverage TSN for a variety of operational benefits, including increased connectivity between devices and the ability to extract and analyze valuable information through interconnectivity.
“HANNOVER continues to be a key industry event for both Avnu Alliance members and liaison groups that we work with to educate and increase awareness of TSN as a solution for the growing IIoT,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Leader and Chief Marketing Manager at NI. “Whether through the developments coming from the TSN testbeds, speaking engagements or product demonstrations, our members and partners are committed to creating an interoperable TSN network that gives all industrial devices a more streamlined path to participating in the TSN ecosystem.