Open Technologies Part Two from ARC Forum with Schneider Electric

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. Here is the open technology news from Schneider Electric this year.

In brief:

  • Schneider Electric delivers next-generation, open automation infrastructure in collaboration with Intel and Red Hat 
  • New Distributed Control Node (DCN) software framework to help drive open automation 
  • Solution helps replace vendor-specific hardware with plug-and-produce offer 
  • Interoperability and portability support industrial innovation, reduce obsolescence 

An extension of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert, this new framework enables industrial companies to move to a software-defined, plug-and-produce solution, allowing them to enhance their operations, ensure quality, reduce complexity, and optimize costs. 

“This project is the culmination of two years of co-innovation to create efficient, future-proof distributed control systems,” said Nathalie Marcotte, Senior Vice President of Process Automation at Schneider Electric. “The DCN framework is key to fostering an open automation approach, enabling industrial businesses to grow and innovate for the future. Its interoperability and portability help our customers enjoy the freedom of shaping technology around their business needs – and not the other way around.” 

Red Hat, in collaboration with Intel, recently announced the creation of a new industrial edge platform that helps provide a modern approach to building and operating industrial controls. Since implementing this platform, Schneider Electric has now deployed Red Hat Device Edge in the new DCN software, in addition to Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat OpenShift at the compute layer for DCN deployments, combined with a control infrastructure from Schneider Electric and reference architecture from Intel. 

The framework consists of two main components: an advanced computer platform (ACP), which supervises the control workload by providing the content control and automation capabilities needed to deploy workloads securely and programmatically, along with virtualization and monitoring functionalities; and the DCN, which are low-power, industrial systems using Intel Atom x6400E series processors, dedicated to running controls and designed for workloads f mixed-criticality.

Rockwell Automation Touts Open Technologies at ARC Forum

I am not attending the annual ARC Forum this year due to some travel conflicts. News does travel, though.

The first Forum I attended way back in 1998 contained a strong presence of open automation from a group called OMAC (Open Modular Architecture Controller). This movement achieved a standardized HMI, especially for packaging machines and now resides within PMMI.

For the past several years the open initiative has been led by a forum within The Open Group called the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF). Schneider Electric has held a strong presence there along with ABB and Yokogawa. It has really been an industry-led initiative begun by leaders from ExxonMobil. More on Schneider Electric in my next post. One of two ‘Open’ press releases from this year’s Forum.

This news is from Rockwell Automation. It evidently has decided to get involved with OPAF this year. You may wonder why. This statement from SVP software and control Brian Shepherd provides a clue. “We appreciate and understand our users need for products and systems that integrate well together and allow for collaboration of edge and cloud data sources. Through working with organizations like OPAF and OPC, we will continue to invest in our systems, products and services for market-leading interoperability, longevity and performance.” 

I imagine at some point we may see an open edge device or even controller from Rockwell Automation. For now, the company touts OPC-UA integration into some products along with supporting MQTT and REST. This is a good start.

Here are four examples Rockwell provided of its new emphasis on openness:

  • PlantPAx’s control platform, based on the company’s Logix Controllers, now natively supports OPC-UA, facilitating direct data sharing with edge and cloud applications. Additional connectivity options are available with MQTT and REST.
  • Embedded Edge Compute Module, which provides a compute surface within the Logix environment, enhances plant-wide connectivity through OPC-UA, MQTT, and REST API communication.
  • FactoryTalk Optix, a scalable platform that can be used in PlantPAx to provide native support for OPC-UA to allow operations, maintenance, and plant personnel to visualize various information originating across the enterprise.
  • The combination of PlantPAx and FactoryTalk DataMosaix provides a leading industrial Data Ops platform that supports OPC-UA, provides contextualization of data from multiple sources. The data models can be used to support pre-built Energy, Batch and Asset optimization solutions from Rockwell Automation or to accelerate development of custom solutions.

ABB Acquires Sevensense AI-enabled Mobile Robotics

• Swiss start-up Sevensense, a leader in AI-based navigation, enables the highest levels of speed, accuracy and autonomy of mobile robots, one of the fastest growing robotics markets

• Acquisition underlines ABB’s strategic investment focus on innovative AI solutions transforming industries, such as logistics and manufacturing

• ABB becomes leader in next-generation AMRs, integrating Visual SLAM technology with leading hardware and software portfolio

This is the significant trend of 2024 for major automation companies—acquisitions for innovation and market expansion. ABB already has a strong robotic presence. This should be good for them. Expanding the idea of automation assisting humans, here is a statement from the ABB Robotics President.

“This marks a significant step towards our vision of a workplace where AI-enabled robots assist people, addressing our customers’ needs for greater flexibility and intelligence amidst critical skilled labor shortages,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation. “Each mobile robot, equipped with vision and AI, scans a unique part of the building; collectively these robots complement each other’s view to form a complete map, enabling them to work autonomously in a rapidly changing environment.”

Sevensense’s pioneering navigation technology combines AI and 3D vision, enabling AMRs to make intelligent decisions, differentiating between fixed and mobile objects in dynamic environments. Once manually guided, mobile robots with Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visual SLAM) technology create a map that is used to operate independently, reducing commissioning time from weeks to days and enabling the AMRs to navigate in highly complex, dynamic environments alongside people. Maps are constantly updated and shared across the fleet, offering instant scalability without interrupting operations and greater flexibility compared to other navigation technologies. 

FieldComm Group Announces 2023 Plant of the Year

I’m catching up on December news. This is a company whose engineers incorporated much new technology for a project.

FieldComm Group announced that the Daikin Industries Ltd. Plant in Kashima, Japan, has been selected the 2023 Plant of the Year. This is the 21st annual awarding of this unique international honor, presented to end user companies in the process automation industry to recognize the exceptional and valuable application of FOUNDATION Fieldbus, FDI and/or HART Communication technologies.

The Daikin Kashima plant produces a wide range of fluorochemical products used in air conditioning equipment, automobiles, semiconductor production, and other applications. Advanced digital technologies have been applied at this site as part of a digital transformation (DX) initiative. The team has implemented HART-enabled instrumentation, and associated digital diagnostic tools and predictive analytics, all combined with artificial intelligence (AI), so the facility can transition from traditional time-based maintenance to more effective condition-based maintenance.

By first learning normal plant behavior from historized big data, the AI system can then perform nonlinear regression analysis on live data using a neural network, enabling the anomaly detection and prediction needed to address potential problems and avoid unexpected shutdowns.

Many valve positioners, pressure transmitters, and Coriolis flowmeters were already HART-enabled, and the team used Fast Ethernet-based HART converters to access other equipment, along with various DCS/PLC systems. Daikin officials point out that success of AI depends on the accuracy of available data, and HART devices made a difference in this regard.

“The HART signals of each device are wonderful data packed with the know-how of each device manufacturer. By having AI learn this along with various process data in the plant, it’s more likely to be able to learn various signs of equipment anomalies,” said Masumi Yoshida of the Daikin Industries engineering department.

Condition-based maintenance at this plant over the past three years has reduced maintenance costs by an estimated US $400,000, and the team is looking to expand the technology to many more production sites around the world.

A complete list of recipients and their success stories are available.

Emerson Chosen as Automation Partner For Korea’s Largest EV Lithium-Ion Battery Recycler

I seldom report when an automation supplier gets a project “win.” In this case, I’m interested in the battery ecosystem as the owner of a new electric vehicle. Battery recycling is one of the few recycling programs that actually work. I pick up about 40 lbs. of used batteries a week from our community to take to the county recycling center. The large batteries in our EVs will need to be recycled with the crucial elements reclaimed in the near future. This is cool.

Emerson has been selected by Korea’s SungEel HiTech Co., Ltd., a specialist in lithium-ion battery recycling, to provide automation solutions in support of sustainable production and operational efficiency goals at the newest of three lithium-ion recycling plants located at SungEel’s Hydro Center complex in Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do.

Through the combination of Emerson’s process automation technology and SungEel HiTech’s unique battery recycling methods, the collaboration aims to establish a robust resource cycle that will help enable a more stable supply of battery materials for electric vehicles in pursuit of bolstering the world’s overall production capacity.

“Our automation portfolio and expertise are empowering our customers to optimize and scale the circular economy for critical battery components, a key step toward meeting global net-zero targets head-on,” said Mike Train, Emerson’s chief sustainability officer.

SungEel HiTech operates a comprehensive battery recycling ecosystem across nine global locations, including a recycling park for collection and pretreatment and a hydrometallurgical battery material production facility at the Gunsan Hydro Center. The upcoming third Hydro Center plant will be triple the size of the first two, contributing to increased production capacity that can supply raw materials for approximately 400,000 electric vehicles each year.

“As the battery recycling market continues to grow, the significance of automation solutions to improve productivity and process efficiency is increasingly apparent,” said ChenFai Chung, vice president and general manager for Emerson in North Asia. “We are proud to work with an innovative leader like SungEel HiTech to contribute to the advancement of battery recycling technology.”

Emerson will supply advanced instrumentation and valve solutions that provide the high levels of performance, accuracy and reliability required for the advanced proprietary hydrometallurgical processes that SungEel HiTech uses. The package will include a variety of flow, level, pressure, and pH sensors and transmitters, as well as robust control valves that are critical to safe and reliable operations.

Siemens and Intel to Collaborate on Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing

Semiconductor manufacturing resides in its own unique niche. I have seldom covered it in detail since it doesn’t translate well to other forms of discrete or process automation. This news is more general showing the potential good from companies collaborating. It’s one way that big companies can keep progressing. This is a Siemens and Intel collaboration on manufacturing.

  • Siemens and Intel to collaborate to advance semiconductor manufacturing production efficiency and sustainability across scopes 1-3 of the value chain
  • Semiconductors are crucial for the global economy and for lowering carbon footprints across economies by enabling sustainable solutions
  • Intel and Siemens will leverage their respective portfolios of cutting edge IoT solutions, along with Siemens automation solutions to enhance semiconductor manufacturing efficiency and sustainability

“Semiconductors are the lifeblood of our modern economies. Few things run without chips. Therefore, we’re proud to collaborate with Intel to quickly advance semiconductor production. Siemens will bring its entire cutting-edge portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware and software and electrical equipment to this collaboration,” said Cedrik Neike, CEO of Digital Industries and member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. “Our joint efforts will contribute to achieving global sustainability goals.”

The MoU identifies key areas of collaboration to explore a variety of initiatives, including optimizing energy management and addressing carbon footprints across the value chain. For instance, the collaboration will explore use of “digital twins” of complex, highly capital-intensive manufacturing facilities to standardize solutions where every percentage of efficiency gained is meaningful. 

The collaboration will also explore minimizing energy use through advanced modeling of natural resources and environmental footprints across the value chain. To gain more information on product-related emissions, Intel will explore product and supply chain related modeling solutions with Siemens that drive data-based insights and help the industry accelerate progress in reducing its collective footprint.

“The world needs a more globally balanced, sustainable and resilient semiconductor supply chain to meet the increasing demand for chips,” said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel Executive Vice President and Chief Global Operations Officer. “We are excited to build upon Intel’s advanced manufacturing capabilities by expanding our collaboration with Siemens to explore new areas where we can utilize Siemens’ portfolio of automation solutions to enhance efficiency and sustainability in semiconductor infrastructure, facilities, and factory operations. This MOU will benefit regional and global industry value chains.”

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