by Gary Mintchell | Feb 28, 2023 | Automation, Motion Control, Networking, News, Technology, Wireless
I wish I were in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, but at least the sun is shining in northern Illinois as I accumulate news from the event. And the word of the day is 5G. This post focuses on Nokia and how it has moved on from the mobile handset business.
Two things: first of two moves by Dell Technologies this time with Nokia plus 5G positioning (as in manufacturing a piece) technology with Bosch. Check out the “hardware-as-a-service” model and high end compute. I spent some time working with a team at Dell several years ago as they searched for a manufacturing use case. Looks like they’re playing with a new one.
Nokia bolsters MX Industrial Edge Capabilities
- Nokia MXIE to leverage high-performance Dell PowerEdge server family to support the increasing processing needs of Industry 4.0 use cases
- Nokia introduces MXIE GPU support for advanced real-time video analytics applications and to unlock future business-critical AI and machine learning OT use cases
- Nokia to offer MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service model, reducing CAPEX requirements to allow more enterprises to digitalize operations leveraging OT data
Nokia announced it is working with other industry-leading technology providers as it boosts the capabilities of the off-the-shelf, Mission-Critical Industrial Edge (MXIE) to manage the growing digitalization demands of industries. Nokia will also make it possible for many more enterprises to realize the value of operational technology (OT) data with the introduction of MXIE in a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) model.
As enterprises implement a growing number of Industry 4.0 use cases, such as autonomous robots in a factory or warehouse leveraging real-time situational awareness for safety, or zero-fault manufacturing using advanced real-time video analytics for efficiency, demand is growing for high-capacity, on-premise edge processing. To support this, Nokia is introducing a new high-performance, high-capacity infrastructure platform from Dell Technologies, beginning with the Dell PowerEdge XR11 server to further increase the processing power of the MXIE to handle the most demanding and complex workloads.
The new Dell PowerEdge XR11 server-based MXIE featuring 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor introduces physical graphics processing unit (GPU) support. The high-performance NVIDIA A2 Tensor Core GPU enables versatile *AI inference acceleration.
This, for example, will unlock business-critical use cases that rely on real-time monitoring of video feeds and alerts using applications such as Nokia Scene Analytics or Atos Computer Vision Platform, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for quality assurance and video analytics solutions for mission-critical applications.
By offering MXIE in a HaaS model, Nokia will enable more enterprises to begin their digitalization journey. This will reduce up-front capital investment, and allow them to benefit from MXIE capabilities on a subscription basis.
Nokia and Bosch Set a New Bar for 5G Positioning and Look Ahead to 6G
- Proof-of-concept network in Germany demonstrated accuracy within 50 cm
- Nokia and Bosch are continuing their joint research in 6G, exploring the integration of sensing technologies in future 6G systems
Nokia and Bosch announced that they have jointly developed 5G-based precision positioning technology intended for new Industry 4.0 use cases. The two have deployed the proof of concept in a Bosch production plant in Germany, where extensive tests under realistic manufacturing conditions have shown an accuracy within 50 cm in 90 percent of the factory footprint.
The positioning technology tracks mobile and portable devices connected to the 5G network, accurately determining their positions where no global navigation satellite service coverage is available, for instance in factories, warehouses or underground facilities. As part of the factory test, an enhanced private 5G network was able to determine the precise position of assets such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), mobile robots and mobile control panels – tracking their movements throughout the plant in real time.
Traditionally, 5G positioning works by measuring the time it takes for mobile signals to travel from a mobile device to different base stations and anchor nodes in the network. As signals take longer to reach nodes that are further away, the positioning system can triangulate its source. Nokia and Bosch have built upon that foundation by equipping 5G nodes with multiple receive antennas, which enable the network to detect the incoming angles of signals. Advanced Nokia Bell Labs algorithms interpret this time-delay and angle-of-arrival information to determine the most probable position of the mobile device. Their proof-of-concept achieves a level of accuracy well beyond the current cellular position state-of-the-art, providing a sneak peek at what 5G networks, both public and private, will be capable of in the future.
Precision localization is important for many applications in industrial environments, such as robot navigation, asset tracking and worker safety. Realizing both high-performance connectivity and high-accuracy positioning within a single private network’s infrastructure also has many operational benefits, such as reducing the complexity of IT infrastructure, leading to a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and higher returns on investments.
by Gary Mintchell | Feb 21, 2023 | Asset Performance Management, Interoperability, Operations Management, Sensors, Software, Standards, Technology
Still catching up on news I learned at ARC Industry Forum in early February. This one is expansion of the device integration model enabled by the latest version of FDT. Earlier, I wrote about Migrating to FDT 3. I sat in a couple of sessions where a senior engineer at a consumer packaged goods company pleaded with suppliers to make integrating and applying technologies more user-friendly. This is one such technology.
FDT Group announced that the PACTware consortium released its latest software version, PACTware 6.1, based on the latest FDT3 standard. PACTware 6.1 is one of the first FDT3 stand-alone device configuration environments available. The software tool’s source code is available to the PACTware Consortium membership consisting of 22 automation vendors who offer the FDT-enabled hosting product to the user community at no cost.
By leveraging the modern FDT3 Unified Environment for intelligent device management, PACTware 6.1 users will enjoy the ability to support their current FDT DTM install base and support modern FDT3 web-based DTMs that are scalable for IIoT architectures. This release also supports integration with FDI Device Packages.
Suppliers of industrial automation systems and devices want to provide solutions that enable the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). To meet their customers’ needs, it is vital for suppliers to enhance their system and device offerings with standards-based, platform-independent, information-driven business models. The new FDT3 standard is accelerating the digital manufacturing journey by enabling an ecosystem of FDT-based solutions providing a unified environment for industrial device management with IT/OT data-driven operations.
In addition to the new FDT3 standard that fully describes the FDT Desktop environment and FDT web-based device DTM, the standard also defines a cloud-based FDT Server environment for distributed control. The new FDT3 DTM and FDT Server are OPC UA- and -mobile ready without any coding, allowing users an easy to use and scalable migration path of OT data to IT enterprise applications.
by Gary Mintchell | Feb 13, 2023 | Automation, Commentary, News, Technology
While I’m compiling my thoughts from last week’s ARC Industry Forum, I’m taking a look at some earlier news. This news comes from Tim Dawson, senior research director at Interact Analysis. This firm performs market research more closely aligned with what I’d like to see.
This news relates to smart conveyance technology. The current market leaders are Beckhoff Automation and Rockwell Automation.
Dawson offers this broad picture of the market:
Since the majority of smart conveyance technology vendors are headquartered in Europe, EMEA was the largest market in 2020, registering a total market value of around $100 million. Closely following behind was Asia Pacific ($84 million) and the Americas ($50 million). Despite being second historically, the APAC market is set to surpass EMEA during 2023, as linear smart conveyance technology gains traction in the region. By 2026, the APAC smart conveyance technology market is anticipated to be worth $450 million, ahead of $350 million for EMEA and $185 million for the Americas. The market is set to quadruple in size between 2020 and 2026 with a CAGR of 26.5%.
The point of his research concerned new entrants into the market who just might disrupt things a bit. The new entrants include:
- In October 2021, Schneider Electric entered the market with the launch of its Lexium MC12 multi-carrier system. Schneider is the largest vendor to have launched a linear smart conveyance product post 2020.
- Motor Power Company is another new entrant who recently unveiled the Independent Linear Synchronous Motors (ILSM) product. The solution is fully customizable and is stated to be compatible with any company’s PLC, making the new product attractive to users.
- Bosch Rexroth launched a new planar smart conveyance technology system ctrlX FLOW6D, which incorporates free-floating transport systems to allow for high-performance transportation and freedom of movement. Planar systems can offer extreme flexibility (beyond the capability of linear systems) and can work overhead, horizontally or vertically.
This is interesting technology with applications in several market verticals. It will be enlightening to see where the market is by the end of 2023.
by Gary Mintchell | Feb 7, 2023 | Automation, Robots, Technology
This news came my way last month relative to the robotics market. OnRobot drives market growth with groundbreaking D:PLOY Platform delivering unrivaled reductions in application deployment time. I had a look at this last fall at the IMTS/Hannover Messe event in September 2022.
D:PLOY automates robotic deployment for multiple applications directly on the factory floor with zero programming or simulation needed, resulting in dramatic time savings of up to 90% over conventional solutions.
“The D:PLOY platform and its ability to truly democratize automation has been OnRobot’s goal from the beginning, and we have been laying the groundwork for years,” said Enrico Krog Iversen, OnRobot CEO. “Today, we offer the industry’s broadest range of tools and application solutions for every leading robot brand – all based on our “One System, Zero Complexity” philosophy. Now that the building blocks are in place, we can finally launch the first version of D:PLOY, which will be a market enabler across the industry.”
Almost every conversation I have gets around to shortage of skilled people. This is seen as one solution.
D:PLOY addresses one of the industry’s greatest challenges: the shortage of skilled robotics engineers and integrators who can help smaller, less-experienced manufacturers break through existing barriers to automation.
by Gary Mintchell | Feb 2, 2023 | Automation, Sensors, Technology
The vision and streaming video area seems to be ripe for continued investment and innovation. I’ve discussed a few applications lately that look promising. Here is news of an underlying technology that will boost these other applications.
eYs3D, a silicon-design-AI computer vision solutions company, introduced at CES a state-of-the-art computer vision development platform for next-generation autonomous robotic applications such as AIoT (artificial intelligence of things), smart city, indoor cleaning robots, and outdoor agricultural robots for both industrial and retail sectors.
XINK offers multiple benefits:
- Industry 4.0 application readiness, via high-speed communications and conformance to IEEE 1588 standards
- Effective power management, including with sleep and deep sleep modes for unused blocks, supporting always-on capability
- Superior computing performance through the quad-core Cortex A55 and the 4.6 TOPS NPU in the eCV1 chip, which provides dedicated machine learning instructions, a patented neural network engine, and Tensor Processing Fabric
- Highly flexible image and computer vision processing for domain-specific applications
The platform, called XINK, is both a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) as well as a hardware and software development kit that is a cost-effective solution for design of safe, vision-capable mobile AI products equipped with field analysis, object recognition, obstacle detection, object tracking and following, and route planning functions.
XINK provides all the necessary elements for product development, including high-performance compute power, AI accelerator, I/O controls and Flexi-bus communication peripherals, smart power management and machine vision subsystems. The modular XINK platform takes care of low-level programming, freeing developers to use cut-and-paste coding for application-specific design while reducing design cycles for quicker commercialization.
The platform has H.264 compression for video streaming as well as Imaging Signal Processing (ISP) support features. XINK accepts image data from either an external ISP such as eYs3D’s separate eSP87x series stereo video and depth processor, or from the ISP soft code inside the XINK CPU.
The edge AI processing is powered by eYs3D’s new eCV1 AI chip that incorporates four Core ARM 64-Bit CPUs and a 4.6 TOPS neural processor unit (NPU). An additional low power ARM Cortex M4 processor can be used as an MCU. The platform supports various AI inference tools including TensorFlow, TensorFlow Lite, PyTorch, Caffe, TVM and more.
by Gary Mintchell | Jan 31, 2023 | Automation, Technology
Festo must be among the leaders of innovation. They send a continual stream of new product news. It’s also often pretty cool. Today, two new items from January 2023.
- Festo Introduces an Online 3D CAD Configurator for Actuators and Accessories
- Festo Introduces a Uniquely Engineered Angle Seat Valve
A 3D CAD file of the actuator assembly is ready for download at the end of configurator’s streamlined design process.
Festo introduces 3D CAD Configurator for pneumatic actuators and associated accessories such as fittings, lengths of tubing, and sensors.
The tool is intuitive and easy to use. Once the actuator is selected from a choice of either cylinder, drive with guides, or semi rotary drive, the engineer simply points and clicks on accessory hot spots to identify and select each accessory. The configurator ensures compatibility between actuator and accessory and eliminates any possible error in type code.
Actuators and accessories are shipped in a one-bag kit with a single unique Festo ID number covering all components in the kit. A unique identification number makes for fast and easy reordering. Kits are shipped to North American customers from the Festo Global Production Center in Mason, Ohio. The unique part number is recognized by Festo globally to ensure replacement kit availability wherever the machine is located.
The tool supports the most common CAD formats for OEM workflow compatibility. The single CAD file of the actuator/accessory assembly simplifies the design process by eliminating individual CAD files for the various components. The tool also consolidates and simplifies parts lists.
The Festo VZXA decouples the actuator from the valve seat for installation, maintenance, and operational benefits.
The new Festo VZXA family of pneumatically actuated angle seat valves delivers installation, maintenance, operational, and inventory benefits thanks to a unique modular design. When a VZXA actuator is removed for maintenance or changeover, for example, the stem, seat, and seal stay inside the valve body, allowing the process system to remain pressurized. In applications containing hazardous materials, those materials reside safely within the system, saving cleaning time and lowering health and safety risks of contamination. No other angle seat valve offers these operational benefits.
Reinstalling the actuator is simply a matter of screwing it into the valve body. The actuator does not have to be pressurized, which eliminates strain on the stem, seat, and seal and lowers the potential of damaging the valve seat. The modular design is ideal for valve manifold applications where speedy assembly, ease of maintenance, and compact size are pluses.
Modularity lends itself to valve body repair as stem, seat, and seal are individual components with readily available replacement parts. The valve family’s standardized design ensures every VZXA actuator is compatible with every valve body in the family. The universal fit between actuators and valve bodies simplifies ordering and inventory management.