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.

SPS Drives Trade Fair in Nuremberg Automation News

SPS Drives Trade Fair in Nuremberg Automation News

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

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

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.

Podcast 181 Industry of Things World East Talk About Data

Podcast 181 Industry of Things World East Talk About Data

Last week I gave a short presentation at a breakout session of the Industry of Things East World event in Orlando. This podcast is a recap of the talk done in a slightly different style. As the fourth speaker in the afternoon surveying the audience, I switched styles to one I hope kept everyone awake.

I wanted to talk about data. Why we collect it. How we can use it. And good management practices. All in fewer than 20 minutes. Allowing time for a decent discussion at the end.

Universal Robots Hires Former Rethink Robotics Employees

Universal Robots Hires Former Rethink Robotics Employees

This is good news for the collaborative robot market and for many people after the closing of pioneer company Rethink Robotics. And a home for Baxter and Sawyer.

Human-like Robot

Baxter the Robot

Universal Robots (UR) is hiring 20+ Rethink staff members, merging UR’s Boston office with Rethink’s former headquarters in the Seaport area in Boston, with immediate effect. These key personnel bring extensive collaborative robotics experience in engineering, product development, and customer applications, which will combine well with UR’s expertise to continue to drive new and innovative collaborative robotics solutions.

“Our new colleagues from Rethink have extensive expertise, knowledge and know-how not only about the technology but indeed also about the market conditions and what the customers’ pain-points are. All of this will benefit our customers and partners as we face an increase in competitors due to the huge market potential for collaborative robots,” says Universal Robots’ President Jürgen von Hollen. “Our ability to secure key members of the Rethink team will have a significant positive impact in meeting market needs and driving innovation.”

Collaborative robots, now the fastest-growing segment of industrial robotics, is forecasted to grow from USD 283 million last year to USD 3.26 billion in 2022 according to BIS Research. Universal Robots’ market-leading growth means continually adapting the company structure and processes to deliver its ambitious targets for 2019 and beyond. The addition of key Rethink Robotics personnel will help expedite UR’s strategic ambitions and actions.

“Rethink Robotics – along with Universal Robots – has been a pioneer in driving and developing the collaborative robotics market globally,” says Jürgen von Hollen. “The company was always a good competitor, which helped us drive cobot awareness worldwide, and we want to make sure its customers can continue to fulfill their collaborative automation initiatives. “

Universal Robots offers a future-proof roadmap for customers of Rethink’s Baxter and Sawyer models, and is ready to help those customers transition to UR cobots.

Universal is a part of Teradyne Inc., is headquartered in Odense, Denmark. In 2017, Universal Robots had a revenue of USD 170 million.

Exoskeleton Technology Makes Humans Almost Super

Exoskeleton Technology Makes Humans Almost Super

In the 1960s a new, state-of-the-art automobile engine factory was built. As production settled in, new hires were shuttled through an introductory job. They were assigned the task of depalletizing engine blocks. Yes, 50-lb. to 75-lb. hunks of cast steel. Lifting from the pallet to the production line.

If you survived, you could move on to another department.

Technology ethically should be developed and deployed to make humans better. In this case a series of technologies from robots to ergonomic hand tools has made that plant—and all similar plants—much safer and humane.

One new technology to watch is exoskeletons. These are devices that will be a great help to humans performing tasks beyond human capability. Beyond manufacturing, think of the possibilities for assisting elderly or disabled people.

Here is a report from ABI Research detailing the latest on the market for these devices.

The Exoskeleton market continues to beat previous forecasts and will continue to attract outside attention from large-scale end-users, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.

Though a technology that has been talked about since the sixties, exoskeletons are now beginning to demonstrate their practical value with worldwide shipments expected to reach 91,000 by 2023 and 301,000 by 2028. Global revenue for the suits will increase to US$5.8 billion in 2028, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies. Industry will be the largest single market for exoskeletons, with hardware revenue in this sector growing from US$104 million in 2018 to US$2.9 billion in 2028; a CAGR of 39.5%

In terms of market revenue, the distribution is tilted heavily towards industrial and commercial applications. The industrial market for exoskeletons (including manufacturing, construction, utilities etc.) is expected to reach revenues of almost US$3 billion by 2028, while by the same time, commercial use-cases (notably health and warehouse logistics) will be worth over US$2 billion.

“The market gets healthier with each passing month. The culmination of start-up activity, an increasingly permissive regulatory environment, improving drive and materials technology, and partnerships with larger corporations suggest the exo-market is in the best position it has been,” said Rian Whitton, Robotics Research Analyst at ABI Research. Companies such as Sarcos, German Bionic, and Indego (Parker Hannifin) are driving adoption across both the industrial and healthcare sectors.

Exoskeletons can be distinguished into two broad categories; those with active or powered suits with a power source, and passive suits that don’t help lift so much as help distribute weight and improve the user’s comfort. Of these two, powered suits are going to be the primary source of revenue for the wider industry going forward due to their lift capability and increased utility.

Lower-body exoskeletons- which have both applications in the Health and Industrial markets, are likely to be the most numerous systems as they have wide use-cases across differing markets. However, upper-body exoskeletons that help amplify human lifting performance and keeping heavy objects in place will be adopted at a faster pace in the industrial space. Already, companies like Ford are deploying upper-body powered devices from Ekso Bionics in their factories. Comau has teamed up with Ossur to build a passive upper-body exoskeleton for industrial use, while German medical giant Ottobock has leveraged its expertise in prosthetics to build passive industrial exoskeleton. German Bionic is offering a powered suit that provides lumbar support to workers in industrial and intralogistics environments and is building on the opportunities of Europe by targeting distributors in Japan- where the strategic drivers of exoskeleton demand, labor shortages, and aging workforces- are even more acute.

Full-body exoskeletons, particularly powered variants, are generally more expensive than their partial counterparts, yet their development holds the promise of more comprehensive solutions that significantly amplify human capability, both in terms of lifting heavy objects and preserving stamina in laborious occupations. Among the leaders in this field is Sarcos Robotics, who plan to launch to heavy-duty full-body suits next year under a service model. The technology is being anticipated by a wide range of vendors, including GM, Delta Airlines, Caterpillar, and construction giant Bechtel.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Robotic Exoskeletons Annual Update report. This report is part of the company’s Robotics, Automation & Intelligent Systems research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights.

Danish Robotics Firm Establishes US Office

Danish Robotics Firm Establishes US Office

OnRobot is part of the Danish robotics revival that includes collaborative robotics and innovative end effectors. I’ve written about it a few times since our first meeting. Latest here.

Yesterday I talked with Kristian Hulgard who leads its new office and the US region from Dallas, Texas. He and the company have ambitious growth plans for adding sales and support staff and growing business.

Part of the growth will come because the company has expanded its offerings from only working with Universal Robots to including others such as KUKA, FANUC, and Yaskawa.

Since I rarely travel to Dallas to visit automation companies, I asked why choose that city. He cited the central loacation within the US that is easy for both customers and staff to visit for training, demonstrations, and sales meetings. The company plans on recruiting nationwide for its Dallas-based positions with goals to grow the number of staff from currently four employees to 25-35 staff members in the next two to three years.

OnRobot provides hardware and software that is used with collaborative robots – or cobots. The industry is now scaling up production as cobots have become the fastest growing segment of industrial automation, expected to jump ten-fold to 34% of all industrial robot sales by 2025, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

The new OnRobot office space is located in the Urban Towers within the Las Colinas area, only 15 minutes from the Dallas Forth Worth airport.The location allows the company ample opportunity to expand its US headquarters as staff is added – without having to relocate.

“North America is rapidly becoming one of our primary markets and we looked at several locations from coast to coast before settling on Dallas,” Hulgard, whose title is General Manager of OnRobot’s Americas Division, told me. “Not only was it the prime location for our business, we were also pleased to see the tech boom that has been going on in the city. As more manufacturers and tech companies realize the benefit of growing their businesses in this region, OnRobot will also benefit from the quality of talent that is sure to follow.”

OnRobot was established in 2015, merged with Perception Robotics and OptoForce earlier this year, followed by a recent acquisition of Purple Robotics. Now, the OnRobot product range features a wide assortment of robot equipment, including: electric grippers, force/torque sensors, gecko grippers, and tool changers. Hulgard told me to expect many new products coming in the next year–not all from acquisition. The company also has a research and development center in the Los Angeles area.

Headquartered in Odense, Denmark, OnRobot also has offices in Germany, China, Malaysia, and Hungary.

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