Industrial Products and Services News Briefs

We might be on various types of stay-at-home orders globally, but companies continued to churn out new products and services for the industrial market. These cover the month of April. I’ve gotten behind, there has been so much coming out. These all deserve some time.

In this post:

  • ABB Launches Augmented Field Procedures
  • OPC Foundation Announces North American Director
  • Zebra Technologies Unveiled Results of a Field Service Study
  • Swift Sensors Releases Water-Resistant Power over Ethernet Bridge
  • Aveva Partners For Micro-Learning Service

ABB Ability Augmented Field Procedures

ABB has developed an augmenting technology aimed at digitalizing the field operator experience and improving interaction between field and control room operations.

ABB Ability Augmented Field Procedures will enable consistency when executing manual procedures, standardizing operating procedures and maintenance or repair techniques in the field, tightening field to control room integration and digitally recording notes to ensure operational knowledge is captured and utilized.

Unlike traditional paper-based operating procedures, the technology enables interactive execution of procedures using a mobile device to guide operators through each step in a consistent, effective, and safe way.

Operatives will be able to access hands-free, real-time data related to plant assets, processes or procedures using industrial tablets, smart phones and Microsoft HoloLens glasses, increasing real-time collaboration and enabling immediate data entry from the user interface in the field.

Created in collaboration with industry majors, the system can be used in any industrial environment, in greenfield and brownfield sites, for start-up, routine maintenance, and shutdown activities.

OPC Foundation Appoints Director of OPC North America

Michael Clark has been appointed Director of OPC Foundation North America. Clark will support OPC North American membership and function as a spokesperson for the Foundation throughout the region.

Looking for someone who can expand penetration into the process market, Clark is internationally recognized in the process automation sector for his expertise in Industrial Control System (ICS) fieldbus protocols. He also has been a contributor to the Open Process Automation Standard (OPAS) since its inception. He was Founding Director of BusCorp Inc., a Canadian-based consulting firm dedicated to design, implementation, commissioning, and training in the competencies of ICS networks and fieldbus systems. He has supported industrial sectors across the globe including, refining & upgrading, chemicals, food & beverage, gas exploration, offshore production, water & waste-water treatment, power generation, and nuclear remediation.

Zebra Technologies Studied Field Service Providers

Zebra Technologies Corporation  announced study findings that reveal field service providers in the telecommunications and technical industries globally will increase the use of mobile technologies to optimize and transform workflows in the field.

The number of organizations that will implement predictive solutions as part of their mobile strategies is set to double in five years, according to respondents to Zebra’s three-part Future of Field Operations vision study on the telecommunications, manufacturing, construction, mining, and agriculture industries. Today, just 16 percent of organizations use predictive solutions to assign the right resource to the right task at the right time with the use of mobile devices, and this will jump to 32 percent by 2025.

“With increased focus on streamlining workflows and getting tasks done right the first time, service providers in the telecommunications and technical industries are increasingly equipping their front-line workers with mobile technologies such as rugged tabletsmobile printers and handheld mobile computers,” said Alex Cooper, Director of Government and Critical Field Service Strategy, Zebra Technologies. “Faster mobile connectivity, combined with purpose-built rugged devices and advanced applications, will enable enterprises to keep essential services uninterrupted, safe, and efficient.”

In the study, 76 percent of respondents from service providers say their field operation strategies now focus on mobile devices instead of desktops, especially with 86 percent agreeing that the availability of faster 4G and 5G networks will drive greater investments in new field operations technologies. The use of mobile devices will quickly boost productivity with 87 percent in the study indicating that they expect to see positive impact within the next year.

While the study indicates email (62 percent), real-time database access (60 percent) and dispatch management (57 percent) are ranked as today’s three most important applications, about nine in ten service providers plan to expand their use of remote monitoring and reporting as well as advanced analytics and machine learning as part of their mobile strategies over the next five years.

Swift Sensors Adds Water-Resistant Power Over Ethernet Bridge

Swift Sensors Inc., a supplier of plug-and-play cloud-based wireless sensor systems for Industrial IoT, has released a water-resistant Power over Ethernet (PoE) bridge for use in manufacturing plants, restaurants, and other spaces where water, cleaning solutions, and other chemicals come into contact with monitoring equipment.

“Many of our industrial customers have requested a water-resistant PoE bridge, specifically for use in wet and harsh environments,” said Ray Almgren, COO of Swift Sensors. “Our new bridge delivers a ruggedized and cost-effective IoT networking solution for applications such as industrial manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, food and beverage manufacturing, wastewater treatment facilities, refineries and restaurants.”

The Swift Sensors PoE Standard Bridge 1011 is built to withstand washdown procedures and exposure to chemicals. Key features include: 

  • an IP54-rated dust- and water-resistant enclosure to protect against ingress from all directions.
  • a space-saving, mountable design and form factor used in Swift Sensors 1020 and 1030 bridges.
  • a single cable for power and ethernet to eliminate the need for additional hardwiring and to ensure a consistent power supply.
  • Compliant with Active 802.3af and 802.3at PoE standards for use in PoE systems.
  • 256-bit AES enterprise encryption to deliver the same level of security found in all Swift Sensors bridges.

AI-powered Microlearning

AVEVA announced that it has strategically partnered with Axonify to offer adaptive AI- microlearning as part of AVEVA Unified Learning.

This strategic partnership with Axonify makes AVEVA the first leading digitalization company to deliver microlearning solutions for industrial operations staff. This is part of an overarching framework designed to help companies build competence, improve worker performance and drive behavioral change. The training program drives measurable outcomes for organizational competency needs, all enabled by three key aspects:

  • A single integrated platform from one vendor encompassing simulation for training with rich extended reality capabilities, and tools for designing learning and development programs
  • Flexible deployment enabling customers to choose cloud, hybrid, or on-premises implementation.
  • Harnessing of AI to fill knowledge gaps with personalized training.

How We Think – Personal Development

For your personal development, I just finished and highly recommend a rather big (530 pages), but readable, book on thinking–Surfaces and Essences: Analogy As The Fuel and Fire of Thinking. The authors are Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. You may remember Hofstadter from an earlier book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Don’t let the size scare you off. It is quite an enjoyable read packed with everyday examples and ending with the fascinating examples of mathematicians pursuit of solving quadratic equations and the development of Einstein’s thinking as he came up with his many theories that explained gravitation and mass-energy unity.

Analogy is the selective exploitation of past experiences to shed light on new and unfamiliar things belonging to another domain. Analogy-making is the lifeblood of cognition. It is also is the wellspring of creativity. As they explore analogy making, they touch on the education establishment’s tendency to believe in teaching things–especially science and math–with formal logic rather than analogy. This latter is ironic because so many advances in math are accomplished through analogy and not through formal logic.

This book’s summary of research and story of stories added to my knowledge and experience about how importance of story over lists of facts. Even in science and technology. Partly because sometimes what we take as facts really aren’t. I am betting that you all have developed new technologies or applications because you’ve visualized them first and then proceeded to search for the appropriate solution.

Go dive into the story. It’s fascinating…and life-changing.

Telling Stories to Mentor and Inspire the Next Generation

Telling Stories to Mentor and Inspire the Next Generation

The end of the year brings reflections of years past.

My great-grandfather was an early electrical engineer. I heard many stories of bringing electricity to rural western Ohio at the dawn of that age.

Interestingly, he captured another spirit of his age by building an airplane and learning to fly it somewhere around 1919. His great-great-grandson now flies Boeing 777s. He’d be happy to see the progress.

He told his son, my grandfather, that at age 16 school was now a waste of time. He needed to learn a trade and bring some money home for the family. That would have been 1915 or so.

Grandpa apprenticed as a machinist at the Monarch Machine Tool Co. (Vestiges of which you can find at Monarch Lathes.) Somewhere in my archives there is a blog post about the demise of a great machine tool company in Sidney, Ohio.

Eventually grandpa became an area superintendent of production at a GM plant. He told stories about classes he took at General Motors Institute (GMI, now Kettering University named for Charles Kettering) when I was young.

He often described how he converted a plant that made refrigerators (Frigidaire was part of GM at the time) into a plant that made machine gun part for aircraft during World War II. Many of the ideas and actions he talked about as “common sense” were what I later learned as Lean.

Makes me reflect on what stories I’m telling and perhaps what stories you’re telling to young people now to get them interested in making things.

I’m about to mentor a small group of kids learning the LEGO Robotics. The school was looking for someone who knew something about programming to give them tips. I’m in a position to share. What about you?

Putting Skin in the Game

Putting Skin in the Game

Skin in the game is an old phrase that meant that you had something to lose if things went bad.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb tells us not to accept advice from a consultant/advisor who doesn’t stand to lose something if you lose something with the advice–they don’t have skin in the game. On the other hand, if you are trying to win through investing or even otherwise, you’d be better with skin in the game.

Following up on The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Taleb’s latest book is Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymetries in Daily Life. In it, he offers many practical examples for success and takes pointed swipes at his adversaries also noting that being an intellectual doesn’t mean that you can detect satire.

Here are a few insights:

For social justice, focus on risk sharing and putting skin in the game. He pokes at the Wall Street bankers who walked off with personal millions by transferring risk from themselves to citizens of the US.

The world is not run by consensus majorities, but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.

You can be an Intellectual yet an Idiot. Educated Philistines have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.

Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). Remember, a simple barbell is better for strength fitness than an expensive machine.

True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you are willing to risk for it.

Intellectual monoculture prevails in the absence of skin in the game.

The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that is necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster.

I am a fan.

Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

This is a post about education, personal development, and why you should be a generalist.

Tiger Woods was trained almost from the cradle for one thing–to be the greatest golfer.

Roger Federer tried many sports. He loved soccer. Even though his mother was a tennis teacher, he didn’t pick up tennis until his early teens. Other kids had been playing for years by then. He soon passed them by and into his thirties is a dominant tennis star.

You need to be good at something, but it is good to be interested and experienced in many things.

Range by Epstein

I have a book to recommend. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein. This book will help you learn to live a fuller life–and help you bring up your kids and encourage your grandkids.

Life in the industrial age, as well as in some previous eras, was composed of patterns. You could be trained to recognize patterns and adapt and become skilled at them. These are called “kind” learning environments. Kids excel who see and repeat the patterns.

Life today is what a psychologist call a “wicked” learning environment. Here, the rules of the game are often unclear or incomplete, there may or may not be repetitive patterns, and they may not be obvious, and feedback is often delayed, inaccurate or both. In most devilishly wicked learning environments, experience will reinforce the exact wrong lessons.

So, let’s look at responding to today’s “wicked” learning environment. “The bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution. Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.” This all sounds great. But what about what I read in the news as the “typical Trump voter” who is a worker trained in the old way watching his job being replaced. And who is the leader who is poised to take them to this next level? Well, no one. Just leaders who play to their fears.

There are some courageous leaders changing the system for educating young people so that they can thrive in this new environment. We just have to have more of that. More people guiding young people—and older people, as well—need to take into practice this advice from psychologist and creativity researcher Dean Keith Simoton, “Rather than obsessively focusing on a narrow topic, creative achievers tend to have broad interests.” Modern work demands knowledge transfer—the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different demands. In my life I have worked with both highly educated engineers AND high-school-educated technicians who exhibit  this. More must be encouraged.

For those who, like me, studied broadly as an undergraduate and didn’t care much about grades, take this observation from professor and researcher James Flynn who was “bemused to find that the correlation between the test of broad conceptual thinking and GPA was about zero. Flynn, “The traits that earn good grades at [the university] do not include critical ability of any broad significance.

Here is a tip for those who teach at any level. When asking a student a question, force them to answer, even if it is wrong. Then just force them to answer again. And again. Until they get it right. Giving them hints to guide a correct answer quickly provided fewer long-term results than the first method. “Repetition is less important than struggle.”

Oh, and in a test of forecasting, experts were far worse than “amateurs” getting it right!

How does one adapt? By reading widely. Pursue several interests. That will be the human triumph in an age of robots.

Telling Stories to Mentor and Inspire the Next Generation

Personal Brand Building with Digital Transformation–Emerson Exchange

Emerson Global User Exchange brings thousands of geeks together to, well, exchange ideas. Most relate to technology and its applications. Some relate to personal growth and development. So far, I’ve captured the growing importance of Digital Transformation—both Emerson helping customers achieve their own, as well as, Emerson’s own transformation. We talked personal development with Dave Imming’s presentation on giving presentations. Then we discussed the Edge, Industrial Internet of Things, and connections. Today, I’m reporting on a presentation by Jim Cahill (for years he was called “Chief Blogger”) and Adam Thompson.

Personal Brand Building with Digital Transformation

The “Digital Transformation” part of the presentation was partly a reference back to the conference theme. But, the presenters also did a bit of compare and contrast of the older analog way of building personal connections and the newer digital way.

Cahill and Thompson told us that first we need to become an expert on some topic. How do we accomplish that? Well, the traditional way included reading books, attending classes, researching, attending conferences, reading trade magazines. Those between analog and digital might watch TV, also read books, scan social media,read blogs [maybe like mine…], attend conferences, read trade magazines, watch TED Talks. The digital people are on Netflix, YouTube, and social media, they watch TED Talks, are active on Emerson 365.

Next you must build your network. We traditionally do things such as trade business cards, attend conferences/events, reach out to authors, reach out to internal contacts, join groups. Moving on, you might make use of online groups such as Emerson 365 and LinkedIn groups both reading and contributing. Use hashtags both in your posts and searches.

Finally, you’ll want to share your expertise. Take the initiative. Present in company meetings. Find relevant conferences and construct presentations (see Dave Imming’s ideas). Share ideas and knowledge with press and influencers [we like input]. A great activity is to participate on industry standards committees or, if you are a programmer, contribute to an open source project. Write white papers.

Building a personal brand will help you and your company and often the community, as well.

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