Podcast Engineering Response To Covid 19

Years ago machine and process safety were first ignored and then addressed as an add-on. Then engineers began evaluating the problem and engineered safety from the beginning design. Not only was safety enhanced, but also reliability and productivity improved as well.

We are seeing the same thing already in response to solving problems due to Covid-19. I take a look at a variety of responses just in the first couple of months of the crisis.

This podcast is sponsored by Inductive Automation and its flagship Ignition 8.

Honeywell Expedites Development and Production of Vaccines

There is nothing like a crisis to spur innovation. The Covid-19 pandemic is not an exception. My Inbox runneth over with announcements—all good. Many are safety related, but this innovation reminds us that the controls and automation sector—both suppliers and manufacturers—plays a vital role in bringing vaccines and new therapies to market.

Honeywell announced Fast Track Automation, a combination of proprietary technology innovations for the life sciences industry that enables vital vaccines, treatments and therapies to move from regulatory approval to full production in as little as two months depending on process requirements. The solution incorporates process automation elements that can be configured in a virtual environment, then implemented rapidly once a therapy is approved and ready to be produced for public distribution.

By the way, this reflects a trend in the industry toward packaging products and solutions to make implementation easier and bette for the user.

Fast Track Automation is a response to the global COVID-19 outbreak, which has highlighted the need to accelerate delivery of medical solutions and devices to patients by focusing on ensuring more efficient production and testing capabilities along with facilitating strengthened supply chain. Life sciences manufacturers are leading the race against time to overcome the pandemic through innovative science. At the point in time when clinical trials are nearing completion, the ability to rapidly pivot and scale up to meet production demand will severely test existing technology infrastructures.

The most efficient way to ramp up the production of potential therapies is to facilitate development of commercial-scale manufacturing earlier, while treatments and prevention therapies are still in clinical trials. Fast Track Automation has been designed to be used in development applications in as little as two months, and then to help manufacturers scale up to full production immediately after the appropriate regulatory approvals are granted.

“Honeywell has provided the life sciences industry with consistently innovative advancements in automation technologies, systems and services for over 30 years, and Fast Track Automation offering is one of our most valuable offerings to date,” said Cynthia Pussinen, vice president and general manager, Life Sciences, Honeywell Process Solutions. “Our solution allows for end-to-end manufacturing process and data visualization, providing real-time visibility and predictive insights while offering benefits like enhanced audit-readiness and data integrity, minimized regulatory risk, increased operational efficiencies and reduced rejects and waste.”

Fast Track Automation leverages the power of the cloud, virtualization, batch software running in the controller, flexible assignment of computing power, remote asset management from a data center, and efficient, fast-track lean project implementation.

The technology prepares manufacturing automation designs in parallel with clinical trials to ensure production is ready to go once a medical therapy is approved. Manufacturers can even use the system to digitize manual steps during clinical trials to better consolidate and analyze data and more seamlessly prepare electronic submissions for regulatory body review and approval. Manufacturers can then use that data to prepare the final production automation design. Additionally, the system can be quickly scaled up or down depending on needed changes and demand.

Fast Track Automation is available now.

LiveWorx My First Virtual Conference of the Pandemic

I never thought I’d sit at home in front of a screen for most of a day (7 am CDT until 3:45 pm CDT) although part of the time I was on my iPhone driving to an errand still watching. In fact, I answered a survey from my friends at Rockwell marketing with a neutral-to-negative view of these virtual conferences. I was actually hoping for the trip to Boston. My wife and I celebrate one of those landmark anniversaries Friday, and I thought Boston would be a good place to celebrate. <sigh>

However, PTC assembled a great group of speakers. The internal speakers were professional quality presenters. Even the weakest presenter of the day was superior to many I see live. Of course product enhancements were emphasized, but thought leadership about where both PTC and Rockwell Automation were heading (Rockwell is an investor and CEO Blake Moret got the unenviable final speech slot) formed the backdrop.

PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann interwove his vision of the company and industry with a variety of product roadmaps and use case examples. To speak “PTC” one had best learn to spell “SaaS”. He enumerated four skills enhanced by cloud-based, or SaaS, applications. Mobility and resiliency; Flexibility–supply chain and production; Bringing digital technology to front-line workers; and, Remote Monitoring (something I’ve been talking to many people about lately).

Going forward, Heppelmann discussed adding AR to IoT and AI leading to “Spatial Computing” and “Spatial Analytics”. PTC has products and applications going in that direction. Listening to him, I immediately saw possibilities.

You can follow my Twitter thread (@garymintchell) for other thoughts of the day. Aside from PTC executives laying out product and application roadmaps, presentations relevant to the day and well done were from Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Afectiva and author of Girl Decoded (excellent story told on Tim Ferriss blog) who discussed emotional intelligence for technology; Kimberly Bryant told the story of Black Girls CODE–powerful; Nir Eyal discussed ideas on product development from his book Hooked (but I preferred his book Indistractable); and Stacey Higgenbotham, who is the IoT journalist. I think I saw seven of the eight presentations. I think I need an adult beverage!

Moret talked of the many benefits Rockwell Automation has provided to customers through its partnership with PTC and acquisitions of PTC partners. Many years ago, I saw some demos of Rockwell working with CAD/PLM supplier trying to bring that technology and automation together. Siemens did it by acquiring UGS quite a few years ago. That integration seems to have succeeded, but it was rough going for a while. Meanwhile, aside from the important benefits of ThingWorx from PTC, OnShape, the CAD SaaS application, combined with Vuforia products, ThingWorx, and acquisitions in the simulation area potentially make Rockwell extremely competitive in that market.

I think we are seeing PTC and Rockwell Automation breaking out in a new way that is exciting.

[Note: I am an independent writer and thinker, not an analyst who it paid by the companies.]

Software as a Service (SaaS) will revolutionize predictive maintenance in motor driven systems

Interact Analysis’s new report on the market for predictive maintenance highlights the potential for a new relationship between component manufacturers, OEM machine builders, and end users.

  • By 2024, the market for predictive maintenance in motor driven systems is forecast to reach a valuation of $906.1 million
  • Enhanced demand for remote monitoring as a result of COVID-19 means there will be no slowdown in market growth
  • SaaS is likely to be the main business model for provision of predictive maintenance, and also eases concerns over data ownership

Interact Analysis, my new favorite market research firm, has announced an in-depth examination of the predictive maintenance market. It forecasts a boom in the sector, propelled by the emergence of smart sensors able to monitor crucial parts of a motor-driven system that are not covered by legacy maintenance devices and methods. Advanced smart sensors will allow delivery of viable cloud-based predictive maintenance service packages using a SaaS business model.

One reason I like Interact Analysis right now is methodology. In addition to 40+ hours of primary research interviews, Interact Analysis has utilized data from national manufacturing surveys, as well as data developed for other research areas. This data, combined with the information gathered from interviews, is the base at which estimates are developed.

The report shows that the market for predictive maintenance in 2019 was $117.5 million, largely made up from legacy predictive maintenance products such as portable monitoring devices. Many of these devices will maintain strong growth in the coming decade but will be used in tandem with new technologies such as smart sensors, the latter fueling an expected boom in market value of predictive maintenance technology, up to almost $1 billion in 2024. The significant fall in price of the capacitive based microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) found in Smart Sensors will be one of the drivers of this market.

I like their methodology and analysis—except for forecasting. Predicting future sales is so fraught with uncertainty that I take it as an interesting guide. Evidently sensor manufacturers reported doubling of sales over the two previous years. Look at the numbers and you can see that Interact assumed that doubling to continue through 2024.

When I read through the report synopsis, I was struck by the reliance on smart sensing as a foundation to the market growth for predictive maintenance. I missed a point. They have detected the beginnings of a trend that I have not yet seen. Software-as-a-Service applied to these intelligent devices. Selling the data, not the sensor, so to speak. I’m interested in your feedback on this development. And whether it can drive this market to a billion dollars.

Back to the report:

Smart sensors, which typically monitor sound, temperature, and vibration, may not provide the depth of data offered by some legacy devices, but they have significant advantages. Whereas most legacy devices are attached to motors, IA predicts that only 53% of smart sensors will be attached to motors by 2024. The rest will be attached to other machine components which are also subject to the wear and tear of daily use. This means that the application of predictive maintenance will be far more widespread in the factories of the future.

Blake Griffin, lead analyst on predictive maintenance at Interact Analysis, says: “Smart sensor technology coupled with IIoT capabilities give component manufacturers and OEM machine builders the scope to offer end users an anticipatory service package. For most providers of predictive maintenance, the logical business model will be software as a service. A side benefit of SaaS is that it ties all technologies together under a single solution – thereby eliminating concerns regarding data ownership. Additionally, advancements in embedded machine learning will improve the ability for predictive maintenance to be installed in new or non-standard applications that are less well understood, further fueling growth.”

Adrian Lloyd, CEO of Interact Analysis, adds: “Modern predictive maintenance technology is currently at the beginning of an exponential growth trajectory. Now is a more important time than ever for suppliers to understand key trends at play so they may work at carving out their share of this market – forecast to be worth nearly $1 billion by 2024.”

Griffin further explained the background in a Blog Post. Following are some excerpts.

What are Smart Sensors?

Smart sensors are a fairly new technology that are placed on equipment to gather various data points, most commonly vibration and temperature measurements. Smart sensors then transmit this information wirelessly to a data collector or gateway. When analyzed, this data is particularly useful for assessing the health of equipment as usually the level of vibration and temperature increases as equipment becomes faulty.

How is this Different from Condition Monitoring?

In a traditional condition monitoring system, very little effort is made to determine when equipment will fail, instead relying on set parameters to determine when an asset is at risk of failing. The problem with this approach is that it limits the number of applications which can be monitored. If parameters must be set for an alarm to be triggered, those parameters must be well understood. This decreases the reliability of these systems in applications that are not well understood.

For predictive maintenance to be performed, a level of intelligence must exist somewhere in the plant infrastructure, whether in the form of software, hardware or even application expertise by an experienced operator. A historical log of how the equipment being measured has performed must be utilized to assess if it is trending towards a failure. Increasingly, machine learning algorithms are being utilized to enhance the understanding of the application being measured. This technology utilizes the historical data produced by the smart sensor to better understand and recognize patterns. Having an automated solution for pattern recognition allows for quicker and more reliable detection of anomalies within the data. This not only expands the number of applications able to be monitored beyond just well understood ones, it also increases the amount of time operation managers have to resolve a piece of equipment that is trending towards failure.

Key Driver: A Push for the Realization of Digitalization and IIOT

The most important trend impacting industrial automation is the digitalization of these systems and the equipment within. Over the last 6-7 years, remarkable breakthroughs in technologies that help improve plant efficiency, productivity and reliability have been developed, although uptake so far has been challenging due to the cautious nature of end users when it comes to adopting new technologies.

While these vendors have released software and services aimed at harnessing the benefits of IIoT, it is clear that in order to make use of these solutions, a substantial increase in the number of connected devices is needed. Smart sensors represent an important piece of this puzzle. Since the advent of smart sensors, major automation vendors like ABB, Siemens, WEG, and Nidec have all released their own versions, presumably recognizing the enabling behavior of this technology. We expect this trend to continue as the product is desperately needed in order for manufacturers to begin generating tangible benefits from IIoT technology.

Hitachi Vantara Expands Digital Manufacturing Portfolio

Many companies emphasize their response to the current Covid-19 pandemic and some leave behind the core announcements or benefits. This announcement (and a interview and webinar) from Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., is an example. The company has brought in another company group, Hitachi Consulting, and has organized expanded offerings specifically relating to manufacturing.

The new consulting and software group within Hitachi Vantara help manufacturers accelerate Manufacturing 4.0 (or Industrie 4.0, or Smart Manufacturing, or name your brand) initiatives. One other strategy I’ve briefly touched on is the difficulty of safely restarting production in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will not be easy and will require thought, planning, and changes to policies, procedures, layouts, and workflow.

Hitachi Vantara’s new manufacturing practice and its expanded portfolio of digital manufacturing solutions, services and consulting services aims to help manufacturers adapt to these immediate challenges. It also promises to help manufacturers lay the foundations for the digitalization of health, safety and environment (HS&E), asset insights, predictive quality, and operations optimization.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing a litany of challenges for manufacturers that highlight how important unlocking data and digital industrial innovation is to the industry’s future,” said James Destro, general manager, Manufacturing Practice, Hitachi Vantara. “With our powerful IT and OT experience, Hitachi Vantara can uniquely inspire, envision, architect and accelerate digital transformation that solves today’s challenges and prepares manufacturers for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Lumada Video Analytics for Smart Spaces Address a Safe Return to Production

Worker health and safety are primary concerns for manufacturers restarting their operations. The expanded portfolio of digital solutions for manufacturing from Hitachi Vantara includes health, safety and environment solutions leveraging Lumada Video Insights technologies which can be configured for safety applications such as elevated body temperature identification and hand washing detection.

Thermal cameras and Lidar technology can detect the temperature of a person from a distance, so that workers can non-intrusively be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and workspaces can be monitored for compliance with distancing recommendations.

Practice Helps Manufacturers Lay Foundations for Digital Transformation

COVID-19 has revealed many manufacturers’ overreliance on manual processes and operations, and the lack of visibility that many manufacturing line managers and executives have into their supply chains. Modernizing and digitalizing such capabilities will be essential for manufacturers to recover from the pandemic quickly, and to creating the more agile and resilient manufacturing operations needed in the future. This is another focus of Hitachi Vantara’s new manufacturing practice.

Hitachi’s manufacturing innovations, enterprise-class information technology, and intellectual property – coupled with deep, industry-specific consulting expertise and proven methods to accelerate time to value– enable customers to operationalize digital innovation in a secure, deployment-agnostic, and end-to-end approach. Hitachi Vantara’s outcome-focused consulting process breaks down barriers between OT and IT teams to craft comprehensive solutions that deliver transformative outcomes.

Hitachi Vantara Expands Lumada Manufacturing Insights Portfolio

Hitachi Vantara further announced the expansion of Lumada Manufacturing Insights solutions with new domains that help manufacturers address health, safety and environment, supply chain optimization, asset insights, predictive quality, and operations optimization.

Lumada Manufacturing Insights is a portfolio of industrial internet-of-things (IoT) solutions that empowers manufacturers to achieve operational improvements through data-driven insights. The portfolio delivers benefits such as improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), superior operations efficiency, and product quality optimization through predictive and prescriptive insights.

The new solutions introduced today, coupled to Hitachi Vantara’s advisory and consulting services, enable manufacturers to connect production floor Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to create a ‘digital thread’ that provides complete visibility into the data of the organization.

A Different Take on Industrial Cybersecurity

Not too long ago, I received an email from noted cybersecurity guru Eric Byres who told me he was back in the industry after a brief hiatus as an advisor to Verve Industrial. The company didn’t register with me, and I went on to other things.

This week I received a message from an old PR contact who just picked up a new client–you guessed it, Verve Industrial. I agreed to an introductory call to find out more. I didn’t expect to be talking to anyone I knew, so the name didn’t register with me. Should have. I found myself talking with Rick Kaun this week. Now VP Solutions with Verve Industrial, turns out I knew him from previous stints with Matrikon and Honeywell.

The company began life as a SCADA and PLC integrator. The owner progressively noticed security situations and evolved a cybersecurity practice. Considering a way to grow, he took in funding and a new CEO (former McKinsey, but evidently not a bad guy–have to note that, I once worked for a couple of ex-McKinsey guys) and a new CTO. And a new VP Solutions.

The company takes a different strategy for its offering from others. Kaun notes the original solution was to white list devices on the network. To improve on that, many companies went to passive detection solutions.

Verve has an agent-based platform that allows for remote changes to the PLC or SCADA only with a trusted person at the console in the plant. It is compliant with OT topologies yet can talk the security talk with CISO types.

Not only for intrusion prevention, clients who use the system are currently getting 10x production.

I’m not a security expert. It’s just that cybersecurity is a crucial element of good IIoT design. So, here are some bullets to whet your appetite if you are looking for an interesting alternative to your current solution.

Verve Security Center

Benefits:

  • Faster & Lower Cost Deployment
  • Faster Time to Remediation
  • More Efficient Analysis, Reporting, and Audit with Integrated UI
  • Improved Approach to OT Business Risk Management
  • Lower Cost Security Management
  • NO Risk to OT Operations
  • Ability to Leverage Prior Tool Investment

Features:

  • Deeper & more comprehensive asset inventory
  • Faster time to remediation with closed loop vulnerability management
  • Better risk rating with view of vulnerabilities, process criticality plus all user accounts, risky software, network connections in a single risk score
  • Lower security management costs with scaled analysis and playbook development with local OT control over remediation – in same platform
  • Better detection with open-platform data ingestion from multiple OT and IT tool sets

Current solutions do not enable limited OT resources the rapid visibility and response to vulnerabilities and threats they need:

  • Traditional IT tools cannot protect IOT/OT embedded devices with proprietary firmware
  • IT vulnerability scanning tools can damage sensitive IOT/OT systems
  • Tools are siloed by function increasing necessary labor and specialized skills
  • Most OT-specific tools are passive detection only and offer limited remediation capabilities
  • Available solutions are expensive to deploy and manage

A fundamentally different approach to IT/OT security management:

  • Deploy across all IT/OT/IOT systems in minutes with no expensive hardware requirements
  • “Closed-loop” solution from assessment to remediation
  • Faster time to discovery and remediation
  • OT-safe agent/agentless solution for real time vulnerability assessment and end point management
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • No silos: integrate NIST CSF and other compliance requirements in single platform

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