Emerson Adds Software to its DeltaV Automation Platform

Emerson has gone through a process of divesting companies and adding others, such as NI (nee National Instruments) becoming overall more of an automation company. Much like years ago when Rockwell shed aerospace and trucks and other industries becoming Rockwell Automation.

Its tagline in press releases for some time has included software as an emphasis. Now, they’ve announced the new DeltaV Automation Platform adds SCADA, MES and operations management software technologies. The idea is to promote smarter, safer, optimized and more sustainable operations.

One of my more popular podcasts asked the question why industrial technology vendors are moving to software.

As part of its Boundless Automation vision for helping organizations deliver more seamless operations, global automation technology and software leader Emerson is evolving its DeltaV brand into the DeltaV Automation Platform. The newly expanded automation platform will include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and operations management software alongside the distributed control (DCS) and safety systems (SIS) and other technologies that have been part of the brand for decades. The evolution builds a more comprehensive automation platform to make it easier for users to deliver smarter, safer, more optimized and more sustainable operations.

Organizations across nearly every industry including life sciences, specialty chemical, mining and extraction, food and beverage, energy and more are experiencing new complexities as they face the modern challenge of improving throughput, performance and quality while simultaneously increasing sustainability of operations. Navigating this increased complexity requires seamless mobility of data, reliable performance and advanced control strategies from the plant floor to the corporate boardroom. The comprehensive nature of the new DeltaV Automation Platform will empower users to move away from “plant-by-plant” strategies to “site-by-site” or even enterprise automation solutions—the more advanced, integrated automation strategies that are increasingly necessary to compete in a complex global marketplace.

This, of course, is an ideal way to perpetuate, and indeed increase, vendor lock-in of its customers. Why go anywhere else for all your hardware and software needs?

“In an era of increased demand and higher sustainability targets, today’s organizations are looking for ways to manage and contextualize data across the many software solutions they use to help unlock easier, faster and safer decisions,” said Nathan Pettus, president of Emerson’s process systems and solutions business. “The DeltaV Automation Platform will combine a flexible, fit-for-purpose portfolio of DCS, SIS, SCADA, MES and operations management software with unmatched application and cross-industry expertise to help cross-functional teams across the enterprise more easily achieve their goals.”

With an extensive portfolio unified under one brand, users will have access to a comprehensive technology ecosystem that provides a broader suite of solutions. Organizations will more quickly and easily find the right solutions to meet their specific needs and will gain easier access to service, training and support.

All solutions in the DeltaV Automation Platform will be seamlessly supported through the Guardian digital customer experience. 

RoboDK and Comau Partner For Robotic Simulation and Offline Programming

The amount of activity in the robotic sector continues to amaze me. Companies continue to exploit the power of partnerships to extend applications rather than trying to invent it all themselves (most companies don’t have that sort of funding to invest in extensive R&D). This news brings Comau, a Stallantis company, and RoboDK, a spinoff from the CoRo laboratory at ETS University of Montreal. I can remember Comau from my earliest trips to the Robot Show in Detroit in the 80s.

The news is that the latest version of Comau Roboshop Next Gen software now fully integrates with RoboDK robotics simulation and offline programming.

Comau users can now enjoy the benefits of RoboDK directly due to RoboDK’s integration into Comau’s Roboshop Next Gen software suite. This integration allows users to easily simulate and program robots using advanced CAD to path features, import 3D Models, detect collisions, integrate with external axes such as turntables and linear rails, support multiple robot cells in the same project, improved integration with CAD/CAM software and use advanced simulation features such as conveyors and grippers. This allows Comau robot programmers to easily use Comau robots for advanced manufacturing applications such as robot machining or 3D printing.

In addition to these technical benefits, the collaboration also introduces support for Realistic Robot Simulation (RRS), providing accurate path and cycle time estimates. This advancement aims to provide businesses with a clear understanding of robot behavior and precise cycle time details, ensuring more efficient and optimized robot operations.

Turning The Giant: Leadership Challenges in Control and Automation

October 2003. We had a couple of issues of our new trade publication, Automation World, out into the world. There were two user conferences the same week that month. Foxboro (Invensys at the time) held its meeting in Houston. Emerson Process gathered users in Orlando.

Co-founder Jane talked it over with me. “I’m more acquainted with Emerson, so why don’t I go there, and you go to Foxboro?” OK. I found myself in Houston while she was in Orlando.

TLDR—I was in the midst of product meetings when my phone rang. Jane. “You’re got to get here.” What? “They want to talk with you.” So, I found a department store in downtown Houston to buy a shirt and underwear. Online, I found a way to fly to Orlando and then back home from there.

I wish I’d have had this new book, Turning The Giant: Disrupting Your Industry With Persistent Innovation, by former Emerson Process CEO John Berra then. I knew very little, well actually almost nothing, about Emerson at that time.

Marketing Director Bill Morrison conducted a person tour of everything at the exhibit hall. And thus began a 10-year relationship with many really smart and nice (at least to me) people. And I saw a lot of technology development over those years along with increasing market reach.

And Berra is the only other man I’ve run into who also played Bellomy in The Fantasticks in community theater.

After he retired, I asked John if he would write a column for Automation World, which he did until the month I left the magazine. 

Berra’s book takes a look at his career in control and automation with the stories of companies he worked for and how Emerson Automation all came together. The central theme looks at overcoming challenges (Giants) leaders will face and must overcome. It’s interesting for those of us within the industry. It is also useful information for new would-be leaders about how not everything goes smoothly and what to do about it.

Since I reported post 2003, I’d have liked more details. I understand he had to fit it into his theme, though. Even if you were an ardent Emerson competitor back in the day, it’s worth a read for the background of today’s market. And the leadership lessons are worth the price of the book.

First All-natural Beverage Industry Plastic Bottle Cap

Completely biodegradable solution to replace conventional petroleum-based plastic bottle cap.

Material science plus manufacturability are providing some really cool sustainability products. One reason dire projections seldom come true—humans are problem solvers. It just takes longer than today’s news cycle to solve some of the problems. We will get there eventually. We always do.

This news comes from a company I’ve just heard about—Beyond Plastic, along with CJ Biomaterials and Techlong International. 

Note: Previously I’ve written about PlantSwitch, a company producing plastic tableware from agricultural byproducts. Who’s next?

Beyond Plastic has introduced the first-ever completely biodegradable plastic bottle cap to hit the market. The closure is made from polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a biopolymer created using bacteria fermentation. The new, eco-friendly cap looks, feels, and performs just like traditional petroleum-based plastic caps but brings transformative advantages — it’s recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable even in the most sensitive conditions. The Beyond Plastic bottle cap contains zero microplastics and causes no harm to the environment, unlike traditional plastics. 

To make this vision a reality, Beyond Plastic has strategically partnered with two leading value chain giants to make this sustainable solution a success — CJ Biomaterials and Techlong International. “We are proud to be working with Beyond Plastic in the development of this game-changing bottle cap,” said Max Senechal, Chief Commercial Officer at CJ Biomaterials. “As a global leader in the manufacture of PHA, we are committed to introducing revolutionary, eco-friendly solutions to replace traditional plastics. This collaboration with Beyond Plastic is helping to transform the plastics industry with sensible, sustainable technology, and we’re excited about the progressive impact this will have on a commercial scale.”

PHA holds great promise as a solution to the plastic crisis, and greater adoption will necessitate extensive testing and experimentation. To date, integrating PHA into existing systems has not been a straightforward process. Adapting conventional equipment that is typically used for petroleum-based plastics to effectively accommodate PHA adds a layer of complexity.

“Providing a PHA resin is not enough, you have to be able to provide a full turnkey solution that includes the adapted machinery to work with the material as seamlessly as it would running traditional polymers. We approach this as a packaged and complete solution. We are thrilled to help Beyond Plastic on their mission, and we’re excited to see that with our equipment they’re able to make the right modifications that turn PHA into a real-world, viable solution for the marketplace, ” said Keith Boss, CEO at Techlong International, Inc.

“The success of commercializing PHA depends on many factors, one of which is having great partnerships with leaders that both support and promote your vision. That’s exactly what we’ve found with both CJ Biomaterials and Techlong. With their help, leadership, and knack for innovation, we’re poised to revolutionize the plastics industry, help businesses have a positive impact, and significantly reduce plastic pollution, creating a cleaner planet for generations to come — it’s a win-win-win scenario,” said Lance Collins, CEO of Beyond Plastic.

The Beyond Plastic bottle cap is made from polyhydroxyalkanoate, a biopolymer created using bacteria fermentation. The cap contains zero microplastics and causes no harm to the environment.

About Beyond Plastic 

Beyond Plastic is creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly future using Mother Nature’s plastic. Our goal is to provide sustainable replacement plastic packaging options by pioneering the first 100% bio-based and 100% RCB — Recyclable, Compostable and Biodegradable — scalable solutions on the market. Beyond Plastic was established by Lance Collins, as a continuation project to Lance’s Carbon Negative ZENWTR beverage brand. The first water brand created using Certified 100% Ocean Bound plastic.

About CJ Biomaterials, Inc.

Headquartered in Woburn, MA, USA, CJ Biomaterials develops meaningful solutions that positively affect our planet, human health and well-being by addressing the challenges posed by plastic waste. The company invents and manufactures biopolymers and bio-based chemicals as part of a long-term vision to create a more sustainable future, by enabling true circular solutions that replace many non-recyclable, non-reusable and fossil fuel-based plastics and chemicals. CJ Biomaterials is a global leader in the manufacture of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs)–both polymers and associated basic chemicals. CJ Biomaterials, a business unit of CJ BIO, is part of CJ CheilJedang, a global lifestyle company with a vision to inspire a new life filled with health, happiness, and convenience.

About Techlong International Inc

Techlong International Inc is a worldwide leading supplier of equipment to the beverage industry. Customized to the needs of the customer our equipment offers the most adapted solutions, first-class product and sustainable packaging answers. Our Jeepine Compression Cap Manufacturing machines complement the other machines in our portfolio aimed at providing our customers with a turnkey bottling factory one-stop solution.

Dragos OT Cybersecurity Year in Review 

New OT threat groups include VOLTZITE linked to Volt Typhoon; ransomware attacks grew 50 percent; state actors and unsophisticated hacktivist groups gained ground against OT systems.

Cybersecurity companies busily conduct surveys and issue reports. This news concerns Dragos’ release of its sixth annual OT Cybersecurity Year in Review report

The report named the emergence of three new threat groups, including VOLTZITE linked to Volt Typhoon, and found that ransomware continued to be the most reported cyber threat among industrial organizations with a nearly 50% increase in reported incidents. 2023 also saw the first time a hacktivist group achieved Stage 2 of the ICS Cyber Kill Chain. 

Based on data gathered from annual customer service engagements conducted by Dragos’s cybersecurity experts in the field across the range of industrial sectors, the top challenges industrial organizations need to address are:

  • Lack of Sufficient Security Controls: 28% of service engagements involved issues with improper network segmentation or improperly configured firewalls. 
  • Improper Network Segmentation: Approximately 70% of OT-related incidents originated from within the IT environment. 
  • Lack of Separate IT & OT User Management: 17% of organizations had a shared domain architecture between their IT and OT systems, the most common method of lateral movement and privilege escalation.
  • External Connections to the ICS Environment: Dragos observed four threat groups exploiting public-facing devices and external services and issued findings related to externally facing networks such as the internet in 20% of engagement reports.

PlantSwitch Closes $8 Million to Commercialize Bioplastic Technology

Here is one of my favorite companies—using “waste” bioplastic to mold those plastic eating utensils ubiquitous in fast food restaurants and picnics. They have a small operating plant and just closed an $8 million round to increase production. How many more energy and resource saving ideas are lurking out there in the minds of my readers?

PlantSwitch has developed revolutionary bioplastic technology that converts cellulosic agricultural waste streams into a low-cost, compostable plastic resin alternative. As bans on single-use plastic are increasing globally and major corporations are searching for ways to reduce their plastic footprint, PlantSwitch is uniquely positioned to provide a compostable, cost-effective alternative to conventional plastic that is both sustainable and scalable.

“Alternatives to plastic have traditionally failed to deliver on cost, quality, and availability,” shares CEO and Founder Dillon Baxter. “PlantSwitch was founded with the mission to deliver a bioplastic alternative that can replace all traditional single-use plastics. To do that, the technology must be low-cost, high performance, and rapidly scalable; and those 3 tenets have guided every decision our development team has made since inception.”

Proceeds from this raise will be used to launch PlantSwitch’s first commercial manufacturing facility in North Carolina and expand its team. At scale, the 52,000 sq ft facility is expected to produce over 50M lbs of bioplastic resin annually. PlantSwitch’s customers include some of the leading brands and manufacturers in foodservice, CPG, cosmetics, and agricultural products, and the company expects this facility to reach its capacity in 2025. PlantSwitch currently has 12 employees, primarily chemical engineers and polymer scientists that have made significant contributions to the field of sustainable materials.

Aligned with PlantSwitch’s vision, NexPoint Capital is a large institutional investor with a climate tech platform, where they allocate early-stage capital to climate-smart technologies that will require significant infrastructure to scale. NexPoint currently holds over $16 billion in assets under management.

“At NexPoint, we are always looking to support companies that do important work, and offer attractive opportunities for growth,” said Scott Johnson, Managing Director & Portfolio Manager at NexPoint Capital.  “PlantSwitch certainly fits that bill and represents an investment that aligns with our values and expertise in Climate Tech businesses.”

PlantSwitch is now gearing up for its 2024 Series A fundraise, which will be used to expand capacity with additional manufacturing facilities.

“Major corporations have made commitments to lower their plastic consumption and the toxic waste it produces, but the proper infrastructure to deliver a viable alternative hasn’t existed,” says PlantSwitch CEO Dillon Baxter. “This $8 million raise, in partnership with NexPoint, is being invested in building out this infrastructure, which will drive the alternative plastics market forward.” In conclusion, Baxter adds, “We believe the infrastructure for compostable bioplastics is critical to the future of our economy, our health, and our planet. That’s why we are on a mission to build it in a way that is scalable and cost competitive.”

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