Long Delayed Beckhoff Automation News from SPS

Long Delayed Beckhoff Automation News from SPS

I’m finally catching up on news from past trips. I stopped by the Beckhoff Automation booth at SPS in Nuremberg last November and chatted for about an hour over all the displays. Here is a sampling.

TwinSAFE: modular, scalable and distributed safety applications

The ability to distribute the intelligence of an entire safety application across multiple TwinSAFE Logic-capable I/O modules enables the flexible implementation of increasingly modular architectures that can be adapted to given system requirements even more effectively than before.

It is possible to adapt the TwinSAFE system even more specifically to the individual requirements of a machine concept as well as to a broader spectrum of safety applications. The new I/O components include:

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Terminal EL1918: digital terminal with eight safe inputs

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Terminal EL2911: safe potential supply terminal with four safe inputs and one safe output

– TwinSAFE EtherCAT Box EP1957-0022: IP 67-protected digital combi module with eight safe inputs and four safe outputs

System-integrated and inexpensive precision measurement technology for efficient machines and test benches

ELM314x economy line of the EtherCAT measurement modules supplements the established ELM3x0x line with a lower cost 1 ksps class. This simplifies the use of the system-integrated precision measurement technology, which taps significant optimisation and efficiency potentials both in production machines and in inline test benches.

The new ELM314x measurement modules are available in 2, 4, 6 and 8-channel versions. High-precision measurements with an accuracy of 100 ppm are possible – and in a wide temperature range from 10 to 40 °C at that. Each channel of the measurement modules can be set to current or voltage measurements with a sampling rate of up to 1 ksps per channel. Analog signals in the ranges from ±1.25 to ±10 V, 0 to10 V, ±20 mA or 0/4 to 20 mA can be processed.

Typical application examples include part geometry measurement on the fly, as well as fast, but highly precise weighing procedures, e.g. in bottling plants. In general, the ELM314x EtherCAT measurement modules are ideal for recording data from 10 V/20 mA sensors and forfeeding real-time information directly back into the process.

CX7000 Embedded PC

The CX7000 Embedded PC opens up the convenience and efficiency of the TwinCAT 3 software environment to compact controllers. This enhances the scalability of PC-based control technology from Beckhoff – ranging from mini-PLCs to many-core Industrial PCs. An advanced 400 MHz processor and built-in configurable I/Os mean the Embedded PC delivers an optimum price/performance ratio.

Equipped with an ARM Cortex-M7 processor (32 bit, 400 MHz), the CX7000 Embedded PC makes considerably higher processing power available in the low-cost, compact controller segment. Furthermore, all the advantages of the TwinCAT 3 software generation can be utilised, while an extremely compact design with dimensions of just 49 x 100 x 72 mm ensures optimum scalability of PC-based control for small controller applications that typically require minimum footprint.

With multi-functional I/O channels directly integrated, the CX7000 assures excellent value for money:

  • 8 digital inputs, 24 V DC, 3 ms filter, type 3
  • 4 digital outputs, 24 V DC, 0.5 A, 1-wire technology

These integrated multi-functional I/Os can be configured for other operating modes via TwinCAT 3, enabling the option to use fast counting or processing of analog values:

  • counter mode: 1 x 100 kHz digital counter input, 1 x digital input as up/down counter, 2 x digital counter outputs
  • incremental encoder mode: 2 x digital inputs for 100 kHz encoder signal, 2 x digital encoder outputs
  • analog signal mode: 2 x digital inputs configured as analog inputs 0…10 V, 12 bit
  • PWM signal mode: 2 x digital outputs configured for PWM signal

EtherCAT G

The technology expansion EtherCAT G takes the high EtherCAT performance to the next level by delivering the Gigabit Ethernet speeds needed to support highly data-intensive applications. The latest technology expansion is not only compatible with the globally established 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT standard, but also provides the same familiar ease of use. In addition, the new branch controller model for EtherCAT G enables efficient operation of multiple network segments in parallel.

EtherCAT G supports standard Ethernet transmission rates of 1 Gbit/s; its EtherCAT G10 counterpart, already introduced as a proof-of-concept technology study, is even faster with data rates of 10 Gbit/s. The sharp increase in transmission rates beyond the standard 100 Mbit/s provided by EtherCAT significantly increases the possible data throughput. With propagation delay times through devices as a limiting factor on the one hand, but boosted by the newly introduced branch model on the other, EtherCAT G can deliver a two-to-sevenfold performance increase, depending on the application.

Hans Beckhoff, the company’s Managing Director comments: “EtherCAT G and G10 raise performance to entirely new levels that will enable our customers to build the best, highest-performing machinery in the world! EtherCAT G and G10 are not meant to replace the highly successful EtherCAT standard based on 100 Mbit/s Ethernet. The new performance levels are intended as system-compatible expansions.”

XPlanar: Flying Motion

Beckhoff is opening up new avenues in machine design with XPlanar. This is made possible by planar movers that float freely above arbitrarily arranged planar tiles and enable extremely flexible, precise and highly dynamic positioning. For machine builders this results in maximum flexibility and simplification in the design of machines and plants.

The XPlanar system combines the individual arrangement of planar tiles with the multi-dimensional positioning capability of the planar movers floating above them. The movers can be moved jerk-freeand contact-free in two dimensions at up to 4 m/s with 2 g acceleration and 50 µm positioning repeatability – and noiselessly and without abrasion.

The planar motor system is highly scalable to suit individual needs and considerably simplifies the design of machines and plants. Due to the maximum flexibility in mover positioning and the very high dynamics it is possible, for example, to divide product flows very simply and individually, so that previously necessary robots or inflexible mechanical devices can be efficiently replaced. The contact-free mover travel also eliminates wear, emissions and the carryover of contaminations.

The collision-free and synchronised movement of several movers with automatic path optimisation are further features provided by the TwinCAT automation software. The movement of several movers together in a group, for example, allows the maximum payload to be increased.

Roll Your Own SCADA or Control Device?

Roll Your Own SCADA or Control Device?

One of the most popular posts on my Website every month for years (written in January 2016) is about Raspberry Pi and Linux for HMI/SCADA.

One of my important news sources is The Information. It is a subscription-based news source—mostly technology news. I saw this item last month:

By Kevin McLaughlin · Thursday Dec 13, 2018
Juniper Networks, which makes high-end devices that route traffic around the internet, looked to be making headway in a key growth market a few years ago when it started selling its routers to Amazon Web Services. AWS is the biggest of the public cloud providers that handle an increasing share of big companies’ computing work.

But hopes that AWS could jumpstart Juniper’s stagnant growth may have been premature. Over the past few quarters, AWS has been replacing some of its Juniper routers and switches with its own custom-designed hardware, said two people with direct knowledge of the change. The move, which hasn’t previously been reported, appears to be part of a broader move by AWS to gradually replace networking hardware made by other companies with homegrown alternatives, said one of the people.

So, I’m wondering. How many of you are rolling your own HMI/SCADA or control hardware using devices like Raspberry Pi? If Amazon is building their own routers and switches, what’s stopping you from doing it?

Or, are you already? Just curious about how many are starting to reduce hardware costs this way? Where? How?

Automobile Plants Closings

Automobile Plants Closings

Capturing headlines and attention while I was in Germany was GM’s announcement about restructuring its manufacturing, closing plants, and terminating thousands of people.

This becomes a huge political football, of course.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve been laid off and have done the terminating. There are no winners.

The foundation of manufacturing consists of having customers who will buy the product we are making. No customers, no production needed.

This puts an enormous burden on executives to make the correct product decisions and scale plants appropriately. Sometimes the problems are tied to the general economy. Sometimes (often) the fault lies with bad management and/or wrong decisions.

Automotive markets have been whipped to and fro for years. First, we have plenty of oil, build bigger and bigger cars, and everyone in the industry is making big incomes. Then the economy changes and the scramble to build small, fuel-efficient cars. Then the economy changes and people are demanding big vehicles again.

But I’ve seen far too many workers (salaried or hourly) who get into the mindset that they’ll always keep doing the same job, making the same product. But then customers stop buying. No demand, no jobs.

Of course they are angry. I was angry the times in my life where I’ve experienced that dislocation. Then it’s just, oh, well, here we go again. Gotta look for something new to do.

It takes years of engineering and billions of dollars of investment to make a new car line. A manufacturing facility can’t be changed over in the space of a two-week shutdown.

Our challenge as leaders and engineers in manufacturing becomes designing more flexible production capabilities that allow management to make a wider variety of products. This would help maintain employment to a better degree and stabilize companies, communities, and families.

Charter of Trust Boosts Cyber Security Awareness

Charter of Trust Boosts Cyber Security Awareness

Industrial Control Systems Cyber Security Through Trusted Systems

The week following Thanksgiving, I participated in a press tour with Siemens visiting a number of locations in Munich, Germany and following into Nuremberg for a day at SPS/IPC/Drives. I have posted a few things already and you can check out my Twitter stream.

Three weeks of travel plus my wife’s surgery (elective, she’s doing well with Nurse/Cook Gary sort of looking after her) took a toll on catching up with writing and email. Excuses aside, following are some additional thoughts from the trip.

If company executives and engineers cannot trust data coming from the IoT system, then digitalization and its many benefits will not be implemented. It’s in this spirit that Siemens launched the Charter of Trust earlier this year at the at the Munich Security Conference. Since then, several more global companies saw the value of the Charter of Trust, and signed on.

The Charter of Trust then begins with these three goals:

  • protecting the data and assets of individuals and businesses;
  • preventing damage to people, businesses, and infrastructures;
  • building a reliable basis for trust in a connected and digital world.

We were introduced to several companies who have joined the Charter of Trust, visiting their sites, and discussing various aspects of cyber security.

Harry Brian, Business Development Manager, Industry Security Services, Siemens, gave us a Siemens background. “As we see attacks in the wild that are specifically crafted for PLCs and safety systems, no one can ignore the relevance and the urgency,” he told us. In addition, companies also must comply with numerous industrial security regulations and standards all over the world. “Help lies in a concept called defense in depth and is to be found in the IEC 62443 – the standard for IT security for Industrial Automation and Control Systems. Siemens has been addressing the cyber challenge for decades and is employing innovation and technology for anomaly detection and vulnerability monitoring and reporting with MindSphere.”

We stopped at NXP’s office in Munich. NXP has signed on to the Charter of Trust. The first discussion dove into autonomous driving, the convergence of AI and IoT, with Lars Reger, Automotive Chief Technology Officer and Wolfgang Steinbauer, VP, Head of the NXP Innovation Center Crypto and Security.

“The paradigm shift that comes with the convergence of AI and the IoT, will be even greater than the one we have witnessed with the introduction of the personal computer or the mobile phone,” they told us. “Effective security, based on the guiding principles of security and privacy by design, will be crucial to mitigate against the risks that come with it. Cybersecurity and data privacy aspects are paramount to generate trust, particularly so in critical future applications in smart traffic and autonomous driving. People, organizations and entire societies will support this transformation only if the security of their data and networked systems can be ensured.”

The Charter of Trust, they noted, defines what it means to trust along with security levels.

We stopped next in our tour of Munich at TÜV Süd, and a discussion with Andy Schweiger, Cybersecurity section Chief Executive Officer. For Americans not familiar with the organization, it is somewhat analogous to UL.

The news here is that TÜV Süd is developing a cyber security consulting practice and has been on a hiring spree adding to its staff.

The next stop was a tour of the IBM Watson IoT Center. Here IBM brings together developers, consultants, researchers and designers to drive state-of-the-art collaborative innovation with SMEs and start-ups, government, schools and universities and investors.

Speakers stressed the importance of involving governments in industrial cyber security work. Supply chains require careful consideration establishing risk-based rule for protection across all IIoT layers with clearly defined and mandatory requirements. There are many avenues for intrusions. They brought up the case of a hacker getting into a system through a smart lightbulb.

Finally came a tour of Allianz Stadium, home of the Bayern Munich Football Club where Siemens has a strong technology partnership.

The partnership includes energy, building infrastructure, mobility and security.

Fire prevention: Allianz Arena has a maximum protection against fire. Numerous fire detectors and sprinkler heads are located throughout the stadium: 4,600 fire detectors, 1 sprinkler head per 4 visitors (about 140 times more than fire-fighters per inhabitant in a German city), 3 water reservoirs with a total volume of 1,200 m3 in each sprinkler and hydrant centre.

Energy Management: Energy supply (introduction via screen inside the stadium) – new video wall quadruples the energy consumption in comparison to previous video wall. Supply through two transformer stations of the Stadtwerke Munich (municipal utilities) (capacity about 12 MW), peek-capacity on a match-day is about6 MW, which equals the consumption of a smaller town. Plans include a complete microgrid solution by Siemens, from power generation and storage through distribution, including monitoring.

Traffic Control: Siemens solutions (camera-system for the surveillance of traffic routes) around suburban traffic vehicles and traffic telematics ensure that all fans reach the stadium safely and on-time. Siemens traffic management systems regulate the flow of traffic on the motorways near the stadium. Video surveillance: Siemens security concepts and technologies are optimally adapted to the large visitor flow in the Arena. A video system with 90 cameras, records images that can be used by law enforcement.

Every professional soccer stadium has an experienced greenkeeper who cares for the sacred turf. And now, for the first time, the greenkeeper at the Allianz Arena will be assisted by an application. It’s being made possible by MindSphere, the open IoT operating system, and software developers at evosoft. The FC Bayern Greenkeeper App will now assist the greenkeeper and give the grass a voice. Sensors gather data and send it to MindSphere. The MindSphere application then evaluates the data and converts it into action recommendations. Water more. Expose the grass to stronger or longer light. Start the lawn heating or turn it down.These kinds of recommendations require a huge amount of data: light, temperature, humidity, the lawn’s salt content, wind, the chlorophyll content of the blades of grass. All this data is supplied by sensors installed on the field by the Dutch stadium lighting expert SGL, allowing its customers to monitor the lighting of their lawn. Current weather data and forecasts are also fed into the system. The data from the playing field is delivered to the collector box once per minute. MindSphere evaluates the data, formulates action recommendations, and converts both into clear diagrams. The greenkeeper keeps an eye on the turf via a smartphone – and he’s immediately provided with specific action recommendations.

HPE Unveils Converged Edge Systems To Bridge OT and IT

HPE Unveils Converged Edge Systems To Bridge OT and IT

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced new HPE Edgeline Converged Edge System solutions that speed the deployment and simplify the management of edge applications, enabling customers to act on the vast amounts of data generated by machines, assets and sensors from edge to cloud.

I think this is another significant advance reflecting the utility of enterprise compute capability brought ever closer to the plant itself. If you are looking to be disruptive in your industry or are on a corporate engineering staff looking for OT alternatives, I’d suggest taking a long look at these technologies and then letting your imagination do its work.

The new solutions include:

  • HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform, an open platform that automates the interplay between diverse operational technologies (OT) and standard IT-based applications at the edge to enable intelligent and autonomous decision making;
  • HPE Edgeline systems management, the industry’s first systems management solutions designed specifically for the edge to ensure enterprise-grade reliability, connectivity and security;
  • HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System featuring OT link and HPE Edgeline systems management, providing superior resilience against harsh edge environments for a broad range of industrial deployments; and
  • HPE Edgeline Field Application Engineering Services are available from HPE Pointnext to help customers plan, build, and customize OT link-based Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems.

To turn edge data into insight for real-time action, it must be processed close to its source to avoid the latency, bandwidth, and cost issues of sending the data to a remote data center. However, this opportunity comes with a set of unique challenges, including management of remote infrastructure, and the necessity to seamlessly connect sensors and industrial assets with IT applications at the edge.

“Deploying IoT, edge, and cyber-physical systems is a challenge requiring a fresh look at uniting the physical and digital worlds,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, Vice President and General Manager, Converged Servers, Edge and IoT Systems, HPE. “With today’s announcements, we enable our customers to accelerate the delivery of applications that capitalize on edge data, safeguarded by enterprise-class management. And we lay the groundwork for a new ecosystem of intelligent edge solutions to drive innovation and growth across industries.”

Simplifying deployment of edge-to-cloud IoT and cyber-physical systems

Today, setting up an IoT or cyber-physical system is a laborious undertaking. It requires custom coding to orchestrate OT networks, control systems, and data flows with drivers, middleware, and applications running on IT systems. HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform is an open platform that significantly simplifies this process, reducing cost and time to market.

The solution includes:

HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform software, an open workflow engine and application catalogue, allowing customers to orchestrate components, data, and applications via a graphical drag-and-drop user interface. The HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform integrates an ecosystem of third-party applications running from edge to cloud – including AWS, Google, Microsoft, SAP, PTC, GE, and more – to make insights from the edge available across the enterprise and supply chain.

HPE Edgeline OT Link certified modules, HPE-developed adapters that connect to a broad range of OT systems, enabling bi-directional, time-sensitive, and deterministic control and communication, including high-speed digital input/output, CAN bus, Modbus, or Profinet. APIs and SDKs for these adapters are made available to the industry to facilitate third-party designs of OT link modules. OT link will also integrate FPGA modules to give customers maximal flexibility to connect to any industrial input/output device.

Enterprise-grade manageability and security at the edge

HPE also announced the industry’s first systems management solutions specifically designed to simplify the provisioning and management of edge infrastructure and applications, providing enterprise-grade manageability and security for remote systems with limited connectivity and IT expertise.

HPE Edgeline Integrated System Manager is embedded into HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems and features one-click provisioning, ongoing system health management, remote updates, and management even with intermittent wired and wireless connections. It also supports advanced security functions like preventing system boot file changes and remote system disablement during a security event. HPE Edgeline Infrastructure Manager software can remotely manage thousands of Edgeline Converged Edge Systems.

The HPE Edgeline Workload Orchestrator hosts a central repository for containerized analytics, AI, business, and IoT applications that can be pushed to HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems at the edge

Unparalleled convergence of OT and IT

The HPE Edgeline EL300 is a fan-less, low-energy system equipped with Intel Core i5 processors, up to 32GB of memory and 3TB of storage. It will also support Intel Movidius Myriad X vision processing units to enable video analytics and AI inference at the edge. The HPE Edgeline EL300 provides enhanced resiliency against shock, vibration, humidity, and dust, including IP50 and MIL-SPEC certifications, and can operate from -30 to +70 degrees Celsius. These features make the HPE Edgeline EL300 suitable to be deployed as an embedded system – for example, in production machines or in building infrastructure.

Expertise to accelerate deployment and create competitive advantage

To support these new offerings, HPE Pointnext, the services organization of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, provides HPE Edgeline Field Application Services, which help customers plan, design, build, and run IoT, edge and cyber-physical systems to accelerate deployment and ensure reliable and secure operation. These services include the evaluation of use cases, proof of value, solution deployment, and management of ongoing operations – helping customers get the most from OT/IT integrations.

Moreover, HPE Pointnext can help customers develop their own data acquisition, industrial network, and control components for HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform to create custom solutions and competitive advantage. HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform based solutions can be delivered on-premises with a turnkey deployment service, operated by HPE Pointnext.

Finally, HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System will be added to HPE GreenLake Flex Capacity, to deliver a consumption-based experience with usage-based payment, capacity metering, and tailored support, for customers who need a cloud-like experience for systems at the edge.

Gaining Trust In Your Data Systems

Gaining Trust In Your Data Systems

Digitalization breeds the need for data and connected devices. Trusted connections and data are required for success. Siemens invited a diverse group of press, analysts, podcasters, and bloggers to Munich this week (November 26-28) to discuss cybersecurity and the Charter of Trust.

I will use the words of Siemens below to discuss the rationale for the Charter of Trust. However the idea is that if users cannot trust their data and connections, they will never go further into digitalization and therefore not realize the anticipated benefits.

Some of the analysts and others in the conference had trouble understanding how something seemingly vague and not specifically standards-based would work. I think they missed the point. First, standards are good, but they take a long time to develop. What was needed was not another new standard. What is needed is for many companies to agree to a set of principles and then commonly work toward them for the mutual benefit of the industry, users, and society.

Eva Schulz-Kamm, Global Head of Government Affairs at Siemens AG, and Rainer Zahner, Global Head of Cybersecurity Governance at Siemens told us the digital world is changing everything. Billions of devices are connected by the Internet of things. That holds great potential for everyone, but also great risk. The risk of exposure to cyber-attacks. The risk of losing control over the systems that run our infrastructures. Cybersecurity is therefore crucial to the success of our digital economy – because only if the security of data and networked systems is guaranteed will people actively support the digital transformation. Then explained why Siemens has initiated the Charter of Trust.

Siemens’ 171 years of experience have also shown that the best way to make a lasting difference isn’t as one company, but as an industry – not only as one nation, but as part of a global community. In modern history, competitor businesses have forged standards together that have carried the world from one industrial revolution to the next – including the unfolding digital transformation of industry. Countries without clear-cut geopolitical alliances have come together to forge cross-border agreements that grow trade and advance peace.

It’s in this spirit that Siemens launched the Charter of Trust earlier this year at the at the Munich Security Conference, a longstanding forum for business and government leaders to discuss geopolitical issues. Since then, several more global companies saw the value of the Charter of Trust, and signed on. These companies committed to create the first-of-its-kind global alliance focused on answering a very important question: How do we secure critical infrastructure – from our factories to our power grids – in the digital age?

We also are carrying an important message together: that when we talk about security today, it isn’t just about diplomacy and resolving military conflicts – it is increasingly about cyber attacks that seek to undermine our democratic and economic values.

The Charter of Trust then begins with these three goals:

  • protecting the data and assets of individuals and businesses;
  • preventing damage to people, businesses, and infrastructures;
  • building a reliable basis for trust in a connected and digital world.

“We know at the outset that a one-size fits all approach won’t work. We have instead agreed to 10 principles – from ensuring the highest levels of responsibility for cybersecurity within every company, to securing supply chains, products, and working with governments. Together, we will develop and continuously improve coordinated strategies and shared standards to protect critical infrastructures, public facilities and private companies.”

Charter of Trust members: The AES Corporation, Airbus, Allianz, Atos, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Enel, IBM, Munich Security Conference, NXP Semiconductors, SGS,. Deutsche Telekom, Total and TÜV SÜD.

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