IMTS / Hannover Messe Chicago Recap

I didn’t have time to finish this about IMTS/Hannover Messe when I found myself in rainy Folsom, CA at the Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference. More on that later.

Here is a quick recap of my tour around two of the four full halls that comprised the event. I heard that there were more than 100,000 people who also toured the trade show floors.

Robotics

OnRobot — OnRobot Previews D:PLOY for Machine Tending at IMTS. D:PLOY automatically discovers and configures all the components in a robotic cell – including any leading collaborative or light industrial robot arm and tools – while also integrating external I/O from sensors and machines. D:PLOY will be available for all common robotic applications, making deployment up to 80% faster. See more.

Universal Robots—The booth featured nine partners with vertical industry applications and a new 20 kg cobot.

The UR20, the first of next-generation high performance cobots, has been redesigned from the ground up to provide up to 30% more speed and torque, advanced motion control capabilities, and first-class user experience. Its 20 kg payload and 1750 mm reach make it a match for applications ranging from palletizing to machine loading.

These partners exhibited within the booth. Click for more information. Cobot Systems, Hirebotics, Kane Robotics, MidAtlantic Machinery, PCC Robotics, Robotiq, Schunk, Vectis Automation, VersaBuilt.

ABB—Highlights include versatile industrial and collaborative robots, software advancements that reduce programming complexity, and a selection of interactive robotic educational systems and training programs.

• ABB has developed over 30 new robot, software digital and educational products and educational tools in the last year, designed to help industrial manufacturers of all sizes increase their operational performance and gain better access to a well-trained workforce

• ABB helps businesses of all sizes embrace the flexibility afforded by robotics to efficiently adapt production to satisfy their customer’s most pressing needs, especially as reshoring becomes a prominent means to address ongoing supply chain backlogs

For more information.

CNC

Siemens—Accelerating the digital transformation of the machine tool industry with Siemens Xcelerator 

• Siemens Xcelerator includes selected portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware, software and digital offerings for the machine tool industry

• Software applications for cloud, edge and customer servers with numerous innovations for the machine tool business

• First partner applications based upon Industrial Edge for Machine Tools, the open ecosystem for IoT

New technology functions for the SINUMERIK ONE CNC simplify operation and increase productivity

• Y-turning and Advanced Rapid Movement for greater machine tool productivity, 

up to 10% faster machining

• Reduced Dynamic Mode reduces wear and increases availability

• End-to-end keyboard and machine control panel portfolio from 15 to 24 inches

The introduction of Mcenter, a new manufacturing and resource management platform, designed to enhance the preparation of tool scheduling, workflow supervision and NC program  management — plus Mcenter will smartly and seamlessly network the machine tools with the company’s IT / OT landscape.  

For more information.

Automation

MFA Alliance — You may have noticed several items about private 5G networks for manufacturing and industrial applications. Several companies have joined this private network alliance

Find out which features you need to implement for your 5G private network device with Uni5G Technology Blueprints. Discover available spectrum options (locally licensed, shared, unlicensed) around the world for your private network. Gain access to MFA’s shared global PLMN-ID which can uniquely identify your private network.

GE Digital — Announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. GE Digital is also expanding its offerings in the AWS Marketplace with new cloud-based operational intelligence and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software.

For more information.

Deacom (ECI Software)—With a deep awareness of the challenges faced by process manufacturers and distributors, Deacom has been developed as an ERP solution tailored to the needs of medium-sized enterprises within industries such as Food & Beverage, Chemical and Coatings, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, and Nutraceuticals to name a few. Hyper-Tight Process Control enables you to easily identify issues within your supply chain, production, and order-to-cash processes early and fix – or eliminate – them before they turn into costly mistakes.

For more information.

HighByte — I talked with two of the founders of this DataOps company. It has a new release coming, teaser about future releases. My takeaway, DataOps has found customer footing. Watch for growth. For more information.

Artek 3D scanning — Perhaps the coolest demos of the show—handheld 3D scanning, built-in screen so that you don’t have to move it around and juggle a computer at the same time. Quickly transform your object into 3D graphics. For more information.

ATT —  The takeaway from my conversation at the AT&T booth was that 5G private networks are really in use. Also, you can go to the AT&T Business LinkedIn page for a “chat” that I participated in about smart factory. For more information.

Beckhoff Automation—The XPlanar magnetic conveyor was the hot thing in this booth. The XPlanar planar motor system combines the advantages of conventional transport technologies with magnetic levitation. The levitating 2D product transport enables a wide range of new options for handling products within a machine and also between several machines.

Similar to automated guided vehicle systems, the user benefits from the freedom of movement of the object carriers: Individual goods can be transported to any location via any route. XPlanar combines this flexibility with the dynamics of conventional linear motors and offers added value through cycle-time-optimized linking of individual production steps. XPlanar significantly simplifies individual production steps because the degrees of freedom and accuracy familiar from robotics can be used for 6D product handling. The concept of product positioning during processing is applied to the transport system. The floating effect replaces all mechanical guide components and drastically reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.

For more information.

Syntax — As I walked through the AWS booth, a woman at one of the kiosks called out, want to learn about predictive maintenance? This enterprise software company touts a better UI difference—one dashboard, one interface, predict material usage. For more information.

Shields Up Against Cyber Attacks Due to War in Ukraine

At the start of the Ukraine conflict, CISA issued a “Shields Up” alert to all critical infrastructure in an effort to stave off potential cyber attacks from Russia. 6 months later, the proverbial “shields” are still up but is the U.S. critical infrastructure more secure because of it?

I was wondering if I should have more security than I have being a manufacturing and industrial site. Indeed I saw a sharp peak of hits from Russia and Ukraine at the outset of the war. But it was only a blip. But what if I weren’t a media site but a critical infrastructure site?

Security information comes at me faster than to my friend Greg Hale who specializes on the subject at Industrial Safety and Security Source. Recently I talked with Ron Fabela, CTO of critical infrastructure cybersecurity firm, SynSaber. This company is working directly with operators across oil & gas, electric, water infrastructure and nuclear to maintain a “Shields Up” posture.

More than six months has passed since the initial flurry of war and increased cyber attacks in the US. I wondered what the state of “Shields Up” was these days. Have we kept up the urgency? Or have we learned to live with it?

Rob suggested that astute executives should have used the directives to get some much needed budget. He pointed out that one cannot sustain a high alert indefinitely. And that IT and security executives should not over hype the situation. Still, when attention is suddenly focused on a risk area, it makes sense to lay a plan and ask for budget to implement strategies. Plus, sometimes the government brings money with its directives, something that is always a big help.

Expanding on the topic, like its peers, SynSaber initiated a study to discover what reported Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) could tell us from the 681 CVEs reported via the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) ICS Advisories in the first half of 2022.

Breaking up the reported CVEs into remediation categories (i.e., can it be patched with software, a firmware update, or something more complex requiring protocol or whole system changes) or taking a look at attack vector requirements can provide critical insights for teams to assess these and future CVEs as they are reported.

We hope that by analyzing and counting these vulnerabilities with new methods, this context can be used by all industrial security teams to better understand and remediate future vulnerabilities.

Key Findings

● For the CVEs reported in 2022, 13% have no patch or remediation currently available from the vendor (and 34% require a firmware update)

● While 56% of the CVEs have been reported by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), 42% have been submitted by security vendors and independent researchers (remaining 2% were reported directly by an asset owner and a government CERT)

● 23% of the CVEs require local or physical access to the system in order to exploit

● Of the CVEs reported thus far in 2022, 41% can and should be prioritized and addressed first (with organization and vendor planning)

Collaboration Boosts Process Automation Device Information Model

August was a month of collaboration news. After years of organizations aligning into opposing groups backing similar, but different, technologies, things are coming together. You cannot count this one on the fingers of one hand.

ISA100 WCI, NAMUR, ODVA, PI, VDMA, and ZVEI Plan to Partner with FieldComm Group and OPC Foundation to Collaboratively Develop the Process Automation Device Information Model Standard

The goal—something end users are asking for:

Collaboration promises to simplify integration of OT and IT systems by optimizing process automation end users’ management of data from field devices.

From the news release:

Major standards development and end user organizations serving the process automation industry announce August 23, 2022 ongoing collaboration work on the specification for a standardized Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM). Participating organizations plan to share ownership of the specification and collaboratively participate in the PA-DIM working group, hosted at FieldComm Group, creating enhancements and extensions to the PA-DIM specification.

Expanding ownership to these organizations and their members will further solidify the adoption of the OPC UA-based standard model for core field device information in process automation plants today and new products going forward. 

New co-owners of the PA-DIM specification include ISA100 WCI, ODVA, PROFIBUS/PROFINET International, NAMUR, VDMA, and ZVEI.

Following are all the requisite statements of support from each of the affected organizations along with a description of them all.

Andre Ristaino, Managing Director of ISA100 WCI: “As a standards-driven organization, the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute has been supporting the ISA100 Wireless (IEC 62734) standard with its core mission of assuring device interoperability. The PA-DIM specification fits into our mission and we have adopted it as the foundation for standardized data exchange in our ISA100 Wireless ecosystem.”

Ted Masters, President & CEO FieldComm Group: “PA-DIM helps bridge the gap between IT and OT systems in a protocol agnostic way.  This coupled with the extensive use of semantic identifiers provides an ideal solution to allow end users to access instrumentation data from both the installed base and newly installed instruments.  We are delighted that the major standards bodies and end user organizations in the process automation industry have agreed to collaborate on this important standard.”

Michael Pelz, Vice President, Christine Oro Saveedra, General Manager, NAMUR (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries): 

“NAMUR bundles end-user competencies for automation and digitalization within the process industry to enable more efficient, sustainable, and secure processes. NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) aims to make stranded production data easily and securely accessible and more importantly usable for plant and asset monitoring as well as optimization. NOA enables this without compromising the availability or OT-Infrastructure of a production facility. In order to use NOA effectively, standardized information models are essential. For this reason, NAMUR, in cooperation with ZVEI, supported the PA-DIM activities at a very early stage in order to develop a common data model as an interoperable, non-proprietary interface. It is a great signal that the future development of PA-DIM is now supported and adapted by further organizations. A signal that with this broadly supported standard, investment-safe (NOA) projects can be realized in the long term.”

Dr. Al Beydoun, President & Executive Director of ODVA: “ODVA is pleased to support the PA-DIM profile to enable greater information standardization within process automation, which will allow for more seamless data analysis and prognostics. End users of EtherNet/IP networks will be able to leverage PA-DIM to move data from the field to the cloud and to realize improved data standardization across networks.”

Stefan Hoppe, OPCF President & Executive Director: “Digitization needs a secure transfer of globally accepted information models across industries, technologies, and applications. No single organization can achieve this alone! OPCF, as a co-owner from the beginning, welcomes to extend the ownership of PA-DIM to ensure this necessary global acceptance. OPC UA over MQTT is the only accepted field-to-multi-cloud solution – the combination with PA-DIM plus 70+ additional information models is unique.”

Karsten Schneider, Chairman PROFIBUS & PROFINET International: “For us at PI, standardized information models like PA-DIM are a key enabler for the digital transformation. Since PROFINET is based on standard Ethernet, it can be used as the infrastructure in plants for all data exchange needs. With OPC UA being a perfect match for vertical communication in addition to PROFINET’s powerful and rich feature set, your automation solution will be ready for Industry 4.0.” 

Andreas Faath, VDMA Head of Machine Information Interoperability: “Interoperability is one of the major pillars for intelligent production. The VDMA’s vision is to achieve interoperability not only within the machine building industry but also across industries. VDMA will support the PA-DIM standard with its experience out of 60+ released or in development domain-specific and cross-domain harmonized OPC UA-based information models, including models for the area of process industry, for example, pumps and motors. We like to share this knowledge and are delighted to be part of PA-DIM and to support this new collaboration between mechanical engineering and process industry.”

Felix Seibl, ZVEI Managing Director: “Automation and Process Automation are the Key enablers to face the Major Challenges of the Future: Sustainable, efficient, and interoperable production. By creating and introducing smart digitalization concepts, for example NOA (NAMUR Open Architecture), together with the end users of NAMUR, ZVEI and its member companies help process and discrete industries to master these challenges. We are happy and feel privileged to become a co-owner of PA-DIM, which is a great basis for our digitalization efforts.”

Since 2017, FieldComm Group and OPC Foundation, as original co-owners and co-developers, have collaborated with standards organizations and users to create the PA-DIM specification to address end user use cases and requirements as outlined in NAMUR’s recommendations (NE 175, NE 176), also known as the NAMUR Open Architecture. The first version of the specification was published on 31 March 2020 and includes an information model and semantic identifiers for common process automation instrument types including pressure, differential pressure, temperature, level, flow, and valve positioners. Current activity within the working group is focused on extending the model to include process analyzers.

Benefits of PA-DIM

The Process Automation Device Information Model is a specification that allows for protocol agnostic communication of common process automation instrument parameters, including semantic IDs as defined by IEC 61987, using OPC UA information modeling techniques. Eliminating automation protocol dependencies simplifies the integration of IT and OT systems. Including semantic device information enables unambiguous machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Fieldbus-specific implementations are converted into the address space of the PA-DIM Information Model.

Products using PA-DIM can easily support the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) use cases including automated as built, unique identification, device dimensioning, multivariable possibility check, read multivariable process values, device life cycle backup, health monitoring, and diagnosis.

About ISA100 WCI

ISA100 Wireless (IEC 62734) is an international industrial wireless network standard designed to meet the field needs of the process automation field. ISA100 Wireless is open and interoperable, enabling multi-vendors to build highly reliable large-scale wireless networks.  The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute promotes ISA100 Wireless technology, provides technical support, and performs conformance testing services to ensure interoperability among ISA100 Wireless certified technology.

Contact: Andre Ristaino, [email protected]

About FieldComm Group

The FieldComm Group is a global standards-based organization consisting of leading process end users, manufacturers, universities, and research organizations that work together to direct the development, incorporation, and implementation of new and overlapping technologies and serves as the source for FDI technology. FieldComm Group’s mission is to develop, manage, and promote global standards for integrating digital devices to on-site, mobile, and cloud-based systems; provide services for standards conformance and implementation of process automation devices and systems that enable and improve reliability and multi-vendor interoperability; lead the development of a unified information model of process automation field devices while building upon industry investment in the HART®, FOUNDATION™ Fieldbus, and FDI® standards. Membership is open to anyone interested in the use of the technologies.

Contact: Paul Sereiko, [email protected]

About NAMUR

NAMUR, the “User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries”, is an international association of user companies (established in 1949) and represents their interests concerning automation technology. NAMUR has over 170 member companies. The achievement of added value through automation engineering is at the forefront in all NAMUR member company activities. 

NAMUR represents several thousand process control technology specialists, with around 300 participating in almost 40 working groups involved in all areas regarding the process industry.

Contact: Christine Oro Saavedra, General Manager,  [email protected]

About ODVA

ODVA is an international standards development and trade organization with members from the world’s leading automation suppliers. ODVA’s mission is to advance open, interoperable information and communication technologies for industrial automation. Its standards include the Common Industrial Protocol or “CIP™,” ODVA’s media independent network protocol – and industrial communication technologies including EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, and others. For interoperability of production systems and their integration with other systems, ODVA embraces the adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf, standard Internet, and Ethernet technologies as a guiding principle. This principle is exemplified by EtherNet/IP – today’s leading industrial Ethernet network.

Contact: Steve Fales, [email protected]  

About The OPC Foundation

Since 1996, the OPC Foundation has facilitated the development and adoption of the OPC information exchange standards. As both advocate and custodian of these specifications, the Foundation’s mission is to help industry vendors, end-users, and software developers maintain interoperability in their manufacturing and automation assets. The OPC Foundation is dedicated to providing the best specifications, technology, process, and certification to achieve multivendor, multiplatform, secure, reliable, interoperability for moving data and information from the embedded world to the enterprise cloud. The Foundation serves over 880 members worldwide in the Industrial Automation, IT, IoT, IIoT, M2M, Industrie 4.0, Building Automation, machine tools, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, oil & gas, water treatment, and Smart Energy sectors.  

Contact: Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director, [email protected]

About PROFIBUS & PROFINET International

Over 30 years ago, the PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation e.V. (PNO) initiated the foundation of a large, global community which has come together under the PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI) umbrella organization. With 25 regional user organizations in every international market, around 1,700 member companies and many thousands of different products, PI is the largest interest group for industrial automation technology. Its global network includes most manufacturers and users from every industry. The technologies cover every key market of industrial automation, from production automation to process automation to motion control and safety applications. PROFIBUS, the leading fieldbus – PROFINET, the leading Ethernet standard – IO-Link, the leading sensor/actuator communication system – and omlox, the open and interoperable standard for real-time locating – are available automation technologies with future potential enabling production in the “Industry 4.0” generation.

Contact: Barbara Weber, [email protected]

About VDMA

The VDMA represents around 3,500 German and European mechanical and plant engineering companies. The industry stands for innovation, export orientation and medium-sized businesses. The companies employ around four million people in Europe, more than one million of them in Germany alone. Mechanical and plant engineering represents a European turnover volume of around 800 billion euros. In the entire manufacturing sector, it contributes the highest share to the European gross domestic product with a value added of around 270 billion euros.

Contact: Andreas Faath, [email protected]

About ZVEI

The ZVEI promotes the industry’s joint economic, technological and environmental policy interests on a national, European and global level. The association has more than 1,100 member companies, and 170 employees work in the ZVEI Group.

The sector has about 879,000 employees in Germany (July 2022). In 2021 the turnover was Euro 200 billion. 

The electro and digital industry is the most innovative industry sector in Germany. One-third of the industry’s sales are based on new products. Every third innovation in Germany´s manufacturing sector stems from solutions of this sector. More than 20 percent of all industrial R+D spending comes from this industry. Every year, the industry spends 20 billion euros on R+D, more than 6 billion euros on investments and two billion euros on training and further education.

Real-time Robot Workspace Monitoring for Precision Manufacturers

I’m up to my ears in scheduling for this year’s IMTS show in a couple of weeks at McCormick Place in Chicago. I’ll be checking out what’s new in robotics among other technologies. Here is a release I’ve had for a few weeks to whet your appetite for more robot news. This regards monitoring Universal Robots workspaces for robot performance measurement.

Datanomix, maker of the industry’s only Automated Production Intelligence software platform, announced support for monitoring Universal Robots for real-time visibility into robot performance. By partnering with Flexxbotics, a leader in robotics process improvement technology, Datanomix extends its automated production intelligence coverage to Universal Robot cells, helping power lights-out and automated operations at precision manufacturers.

As part of the technology partnership with Flexxbotics, Datanomix gains access to real-time operational data for Universal Robots from Flexxbotics via their FlexxConnect platform. Advanced utilization and performance data for Universal Robots is collected and displayed in the Datanomix platform, offering insights into both cobot and CNC machine cycle time, part counts, run time, and machine/robot status to allow precision manufacturers to make better-informed decisions around automating their factory. In addition, FlexxConnect provides truly centralized and revision controlled cobot and CNC program management capabilities, and guided workflows for both cobot operators and CNC operators.

With this initial integration, existing Flexxbotics customers can add Datanomix to their deployments, and similarly, Datanomix customers can add the Flexxbotics management platform to Universal Robot installations. Using Flexxbotics’ underlying technology, the Datanomix platform receives performance information directly from Universal Robots, and visualizes it alongside the performance data from the CNC machines the robots empower.

TeamViewer and Siemens Partner with Augmented and Mixed Reality Solutions

We hear about Augmented Reality constantly. Today MIT Technology Review’s newsletter predicted we will all be wearing AR glasses someday. [I doubt it.]

I’ve demoed many AR manufacturing solutions. They show promise, but the promise can’t jump the hurdle of practicality. We’ll see how the results of this partnership of Siemens and TeamViewer fares.

TeamViewer, a leading global provider of remote connectivity and workplace digitalization solutions, announced a strategic partnership with Siemens Digital Industries Software to bring TeamViewer’s enterprise AR platform Frontline to Siemens’ Teamcenter software, a leading Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio. This collaboration allows Siemens’ global customers to improve their product development process based on immersive experiences with interactive, 3D content connected to the digital twin of a product. The 3D models of products can be easily modified, enabling more teams across the product lifecycle to collaborate and thus driving more informed product decisions and innovation.

The Spatial module within TeamViewer’s enterprise AR platform Frontline enables employees wearing Mixed Reality smart glasses such as the Microsoft HoloLens to execute tasks in a more intuitive, interactive way by providing them with digital information, three-dimensional elements and multimedia content in an Augmented or Mixed Reality environment. Virtual information or holograms are placed on top of objects in the real world to enrich each employee’s reality for visual process guidance. Thanks to the built-in no code editor, process owners can easily manage and update the underlying workflows without including their IT department, for example create digital twins from CAD model data.

VC Slowdown Happening Faster for AI Startups

In Q2, VC investment in AI fell by 44%, while overall funding fell by 25%.

One of my few trusted news sites is Morning Brew newsletter and its companion Emerging Tech Brew.

Writer Hayden Field recently posted an article looking at venture investment in Artificial Intelligence. My inbox has swelled with AI this and AI that for some time now. Marketers evidently feel this is a magic word to drive sales while showing the world their company is cool with the latest tech. Of course, Artificial Intelligence (often called neither artificial or intelligent) has been around for decades. Much of the manufacturing software you’ve used for years has AI embedded. So, I’m not surprised at this.

Total VC deal count worldwide has maintained momentum from last year’s record highs, but so far in 2022, “deal value has declined rather significantly across all stages,” according to a PitchBook report—and AI funding in particular is falling faster than the market.

By the numbers:

In Q2 2022, global AI funding plummeted by more than 44% year over year, from $33.6 billion to $18.8 billion, per Pitchbook data shared with Emerging Tech Brew. Over the same period, overall global VC funding fell by 25%, from $176 billion to $131.7 billion. On a quarterly basis, global VC funding for AI and machine learning was down more than 26% between Q2 and Q1, a slightly larger margin than the 20% drop for global VC as a whole.

Same old tech story, how to turn hype to profits.

For years, many VCs believed AI companies would figure out the path to profitability down the road, Shahin Farshchi, a partner at Lux Capital, told us. Today, investors want to see founders give more thought to how, exactly, they’ll build a sustainable business model around AI.