I was working with controls, instrumentation, computers, software when I traded it in for media work first with Control Engineering and then with Automation World. Through a lot of those media years, Honeywell was one of the Big Four or Five in process control and systems. Over the past 6-10 years, those big companies have diverged into differing specialities. It’s been interesting to observe that part of the industrial market.
Honeywell began leveraging expertise of its various divisions into wireless, mobile, and wearables. Much of the emphasis has been safety with a spillover effect into productivity.
Wearables comprise a growing market category with much promise. I’ve had the opportunity to try on a number of different products. These increasingly solve real world problems with ever reducing interference in the real work of the person.
In this latest release, Honeywell announced that Braskem Idesa has adopted a hands-free, wearable connected technology solution at its plant in Veracruz, Mexico. Honeywell’s Intelligent Wearables will allow Braskem Idesa to improve productivity and compliance with process procedures, capture the expertise of experienced workers and provide critical insights and information effectively to trainees and support workers in the field.
Honeywell is delivering a complete outcome-based solution that tracks specific key performance indicators and integrates hardware, software and services, and a full Wi-Fi infrastructure to support use of the solution across the plant. The wearable technology will also accelerate training and ensure safety for field operators at the Braskem Idesa facility.
“With this solution, Braskem Idesa is embracing the digital transformation that will enable us to retain our leadership in the petrochemicals industry,” said Roberto Velasco Gutiérrez, industrial director, Braskem Idesa. “Capturing all the relevant expertise and data within the organization and getting it to workers wherever and whenever needed, will help get trainees safely into the field faster and ensure that every worker operates to Braskem Idesa’s best standards.”
A comprehensive range of applications from Honeywell will boost the speed, safety and reliability of field workers thanks to the following services:
- Expert on Call: Provides field workers with live, real-time access to experts in the central control room or elsewhere for troubleshooting, support and advice
- Video support: Enables users to view videos demonstrating key tasks
- Paperless rounds: Provides step-by-step instructions for common and complex tasks
“Braskem Idesa has not only taken an important step toward Industry 4.0 but has now also replaced paper-based and manual operations with a sophisticated solution that’s both digital and wireless,” said Vincent Higgins, director of technology and innovation, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Industrial. “Wearable, voice-controlled computer headsets and software eliminate the need for clipboards, pens, and flashlights. Our offering will help Braskem Idesa capture expertise and document critical tasks to ensure operational compliance.”
Honeywell’s solution for field worker competency and productivity enables Braskem Idesa to tie its plant performance directly to the performance of its workers, critical to the success of any industrial enterprise. By connecting field workers with remote advice, Honeywell Intelligent Wearables also reduce the need for site visits from experts, empower workers to continue learning, become their best and effectively share their knowledge with peers.
Industrial Internet of Things begins with “things”, of course. But it really needs to end with a decision by either a human or a control. In between the thing and the human is software that takes data input from the thing, analyses the data, and provides information in a digestible form.
Swift Sensors not only manufactures wireless sensor systems, it provides a Manufacturing Analytics Dashboard. Newly released are eleven new predictive maintenance tools for the Dashboard.
These new tools add trend analytics to key manufacturing metrics of compliance, utilization, maximum, minimum and average measured values monitored by the wireless sensor system. Eleven new dashboard panels have been added for measuring analytic trends across multiple shifts.
”We have deployed more than 100 Swift Sensors in our manufacturing facility to improve operational efficiency,” said Jackson Minear, Continuous Improvement Engineer at Meggitt Airframe Systems. “We use just about every feature in the Analytics Dashboards to track utilization of our equipment as well as critical trends across multiple shifts over time. Conservatively, we’ve improved our machine utilization by 20% while saving six figures in capital equipment expenditures.”
“Our manufacturing customers, particularly those using our wireless temperature and vibration sensors, frequently ask for advanced analytics tools to improve operational efficiency through higher overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and lower maintenance costs,” said Sam Cece, founder and CEO of Swift Sensors. “With the access to data from our wireless sensor system, Predictive Maintenance (PdM) programs can be easily created using our Manufacturing Analytics tools, which is included in the new Trend Analytics Dashboards.”
With the new dashboard panels, a trend line is calculated using the best fit line algorithm for the measurement data across each shift. The slope of the trend line represents the trend per shift, which indicates the overall tendency of the analytics value to increase or decrease by a specific amount from one shift to the next.
The trend analytics include a confidence percentage to indicate how well the trend line correlates with the historical data. A high confidence level indicates the trend is more likely to continue. Conversely, a low confidence level indicates the trend is not a reliable predictor of future values because the historical data is too chaotic.
Wireless mesh networking has been the source of technology and market battles for years in industrial applications. There is one that’s seldom discussed among engineers in this sector, though—Bluetooth. There exists a Bluetooth mesh standard. It’s been out a year. At this point there are more than 65 Qualified Bluetooth Mesh Products.
The dominant application to date is smart lighting systems. Smart home applications are coming along. The Bluetooth SIG talks of other industrial applications. We’ll have to see what develops. If I were an active engineer, I think I would take a look at possibilities. Bluetooth has some longevity and stability. We all use it with our smart devices. Interesting possibilities.
Following is news from the press release. Bluetooth mesh plays a role in the development of emerging markets such as Smart Building, Smart Industry, Smart Cities, and Smart Home. In the year since the release of Bluetooth mesh, more than 65 products with mesh networking capability have been qualified from leading silicon, stack, component, and end product vendors.
Bluetooth mesh networking enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. Designed to meet the scalability, reliability, and security requirements of commercial and industrial environments, Bluetooth mesh is powering smart building and smart industry implementations where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with one another effectively. From factories to hospitals, airports, retail stores, and the home, Bluetooth mesh supports building services that bring real value to owners, operators, and occupants.
“Bluetooth mesh is one of a number of fundamental enablers of future IoT markets, allowing for robust, secure and scalable connectivity across the smart home, commercial building automation, industrial environments, and beyond,” said Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer, ABI Research. “Bluetooth mesh, in conjunction with Bluetooth beacons, can propel these environments towards greater automation, increased sensorization, and enable valuable RTLS services. Nearly 360 million annual Bluetooth Smart Building device shipments are forecasted by 2022.”
Lighting control systems have served as a key use case driving the increase in Bluetooth mesh implementations. A building’s lighting system provides a natural grid through which all devices in a Bluetooth mesh network can pass messages and establish whole-building control, monitoring, and automation systems within a facility. This wireless lighting solution can also function as a platform to enable indoor positioning and location services – including point-of-interest solutions, indoor navigation, asset tracking, and improved space utilization.
“Bluetooth mesh has fundamentally altered the conversation around connected lighting by providing a complete, high-performing solution that allows lighting to serve a greater purpose in industrial and commercial spaces,” Mark Needham, Vice President, European Sales at Fulham Co, Inc. “A lighting system that can both help visitors find their way and allow building operators to pinpoint the location of assets within a building or collect a vast range of data from various building sensors for analysis and utilization is only the beginning of what is possible.”
In one year alone, Bluetooth mesh has paved the way for wireless lighting control solutions and has been a driving force in realizing the concept of lighting as a platform. According to ABI Research, annual commercial smart lighting equipment shipments are expected to increase fivefold by 2022.
“We are really excited about the rapid progress our member companies have made using Bluetooth mesh in just one year,” said Mark Powell, Executive Director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. “The Bluetooth member community dove straight into developing with the new technology, creating a growing list of product innovations that will steer the evolution and direction of commercial and industrial markets for years to come.”
I met with the representative of an interesting company with a different take on indoor location services. Years ago I listened to a podcast called the Gillmor Gang and a famous (at the time) blogger Robert Scoble was always extolling the virtues of beacons. They will be everywhere and do all sorts of things, he repeated like a mantra.
Things got quiet, then I met Quuppa at Hannover Messe 2018. They have a beacon that has multiple antennas that does a better job of location than trying some of the older triangulation technologies.
The company has just announced a partner event, something that gives me an excuse to point you toward something interesting. I’m assuming that few if any of my readers are heading to Finland any time soon.
Quuppa, a Finnish company that delivers indoor positioning technology, announced its second annual partner event will take place June 5-7 in Helsinki, Finland. With a theme of “Defining the Future,” the event will feature speakers from Quuppa and its partner ecosystem, networking events and a Solutions Showcase Expo that demonstrates the current and future capabilities of real-time, global indoor location services and solutions. The event demonstrates the success Quuppa has had delivering on its go-to-market strategy that centers on providing an open positioning platform both in terms of hardware and software APIs, where each company focuses on what it does best, helping speed time-to-market.
The event will also highlight a day of presentations featuring “success stories,” with case study presentations that showcase the wide range of use cases for Quuppa’s unique indoor location technology. Featured success story topics include improving efficiency and customer experience in retail, asset tracking in large scale, Industry 4.0, manufacturing use cases from Japan, safety in a secure environment, generating business KPIs from location data, and employee safety indoors and outdoors.
Quuppa utilizes a unique combination of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and the Angle of Arrival (AoA) methodologies, as well as advanced location algorithms that have been developed over the course of more than 15 years, to calculate highly accurate indoor positioning.
The Quuppa Ecosystem includes more than 70 best-of-breed companies worldwide that deliver best-in-class software solutions, tags and installation services, as well as system integrators and solution providers that offer end-to-end solutions. Companies across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing and logistics, retail, healthcare, sports, law enforcement and security, government and others rely on Quuppa and its ecosystem partners to unlock the full potential of indoor location-based services without compromising accuracy, compatibility or cost.
“Quuppa’s ecosystem continues to thrive, and our partner event is a place to gather and share expertise and best practices for global indoor location services,” said Fabio Belloni, head of Quuppa’s Partner Ecosystem. “What we are seeing more of as the ecosystem expands is partner companies seeking answers from their peers—not just from Quuppa—on wide-ranging topics such as how to launch a large-scale deployment, how to forge partnerships to grow in new geographic areas, how to best conduct a demo, and more. Companies are realizing they no longer need to develop everything on their own, they can choose best-of-breed solutions from our incredible ecosystem partners. It’s amazing to see how quickly the Quuppa Ecosystem is growing and the unique partnerships that are forming because of it.”
One such partnership that has emerged within the Quuppa Ecosystem is between Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec Corp. and Synapses Lab, an Italian technology design company. The companies work together utilizing Quuppa’s precision location technology, Synapses’ platform for tracking and 3D modeling, and Nidec’s electronics and engineering expertise to develop autonomous solutions that will deliver improved productivity and security in the manufacturing industry.
“Building a solid and reliable ecosystem is essential for our company,” said Domenico Mariotti, CEO and cofounder of Synapses. “Such a system enables us to tackle new challenges and different use cases every day, sometimes beating any expectations we ourselves had for our solutions.”
“In the Japanese manufacturing industry, some early birds are now trying to introduce IoT to their factories,” said Hiroshi Mochizuki, Small Precision Motor and Solutions business unit at Nidec. “They do not allow position data to have jitter, so Nidec decided to select Synapses’ platform utilizing the Quuppa Ecosystem. Synapses has successfully developed its platform, of which the filtering capability and database structure is duly optimized for Quuppa’s technology. Nidec strongly believes that problem-solving requests by its customers will be soon made, and good results in increase of productivity and security are expected to become visible in a short period of time, thanks to the availability of Synapses platform.”
An enterprise computing and IT infrastructure company user event seems a weird place for a discussion of the Internet of Things and the Refinery of the Future. But there I was moderating a bloggers’ Coffee Talk with Doug Smith, CEO, and Linda Salinas, plant manager, of Texmark Chemicals, along with an executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and one from PTC (ThingWorx).
HPE invited me to Madrid, Spain, (and paid my expenses) as an Operations Technology blogger to participate in Influencer sessions, interview a number of technologists, and experience its Discover Madrid user conference. Several times during each of the three days November 28-30 we participated in coffee talks. These were Live Streamed by Geekazine. This is a link to the first day. My session was toward the beginning of the first day, and I appear at the end of day three.
Telling the IoT Story
Texas toll manufacturer Texmark Chemicals teamed with HPE and Aruba to build a Refinery of the Future featuring advanced IIoT capabilities. The results: better process analytics, increased up-time, uninterrupted productivity, satisfied customers, and safer workers.
Every IoT implementation I have seen so far relied on predictive maintenance as the justifying application. Here, the first priority was safety. Then came predictive maintenance, improved operations, and consistent quality.
Texmark produces dicyclopentadiene (DCPD), a polymer precursor for everything from ink to boats. DCPD manufacturing processes involve flammable materials requiring stringent safety measures — and as demand increases, so does the complexity of the supply chains that rely on it.
Its manufacture involves heat and highly reactive chemicals, making safety a top priority. And as demand for DCPD grows, the global supply chain becomes increasingly complex, requiring ever more stringent controls, granular visibility, uninterrupted productivity, and regulatory oversight. Texmark must ensure its workers adhere to Process Safety Management (PSM) procedures at all times, and that its facility is managed in ways that put worker and community safety first.
As a contract manufacturer, Texmark must be prepared to adapt to customer requirements, which can change with little advance warning.
And it must continually drive plant efficiency and productivity. Historically, Texmark has depended on physical inspections of process equipment to ensure all systems remain in working order. However, these plant walk-downs can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Texmark has 130 pumps in its plant, and spends nearly 1,000 hours a year on walk-downs and vibration analysis.
Depending solely on physical inspections also carries risk, because it relies on employees who — based on years of experience — can tell if a pump is starting to malfunction by recognizing slight variations in its noise and vibrations. But what happens if an employee with that skill is out sick, or reaches retirement age? Texmark needs ways to institutionalize that type of intelligence and insight.
Texmark’s vision for next-generation worker safety, production and asset management hinges on the emerging promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): sensored devices combined with advanced analytics software to generate insights, automate its environment, and reduce the risk of human error.
The IIoT architecture must eliminate the need to transmit device data over a WAN, but instead support analytics at the edge to deliver real-time visibility into equipment and processes.
Texmark launched a multi-phase project to implement an end-to-end IIoT solution. Phase 1 and 2 established the digital foundation by enabling edge-to-core connectivity. Aruba deployed a secure wireless mesh network with Class 1 Div 1 access points and ClearPass for secure network access control. Aruba beacons provide location-based services for plant safety and security purposes. The wireless solution cost about half of what it would have cost to deploy a hardwired network.
For its edge analytics, Texmark selected the HPE Edgeline Converged IoT platform, an industrialized solution that supports robust compute capabilities. HPE Pointnext implemented the system as an HPE Micro Datacenter, which integrates its compute and networking technology within a single cabinet. HPE also upgraded Texmark’s plant control room to enable seamless edge-to-core connectivity and high-speed data capture and analytics, and to meet Texmark’s safety and security standards. The Edgeline system runs Texmark’s Distributed Control System software, integrating its operations technology and IT into a single system.
Phase 3 builds on the foundation established by these technology solutions to support Texmark’s use cases: predictive analytics, advanced video analytics, safety and security, connected worker, and full lifecycle asset management.
Texmark’s new IIoT solution will help make its workers even safer. It can monitor fluid levels, for example, reducing the risk of spills. It can alert Texmark immediately if a system starts to malfunction, enabling the company to respond before workers or production are endangered. And in the event of an emergency, it can help protect workers by ensuring Texmark knows their precise location and movements within the facility.
Other benefits will improve the company’s bottom line. Texmark can use data from IIoT sensors to identify which systems require hands-on evaluations, for example, so it can conduct physical inspections in a more focused and efficient manner.
The new IIoT solution makes it easier for the company to plan inspections and maintenance. To work on distillation columns, Texmark must often take systems offline and erect costly scaffolding. Improved maintenance planning will reduce these associated costs by at least 50%.