Podcast Passion for Teaching Thinking

Maurice Ashley immigrated to a tough part of New York City from Jamaica and later worked diligently to become the first African-American chess grandmaster. Later, he became a teacher of chess to inner city youth. His passion for teaching shines strongly in his interview with Tim Ferriss. I listen to almost an hour of podcasts a day while I workout. Another of my favorites is Wednesday with Seth Godin on Akimbo. Recently quoting Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman as saying I don’t understand people now. They just want answers given to them. They cannot think things through. Seth also tells of an experience with straight-A students where he showed them a gadget and asked them to explain how it worked. They couldn’t. They all just got out notebooks and pens ready to write down the answer. I riff off these for my latest Podcast.

Inductive Automation Releases Ignition Maker Edition

Companies once upon a time gave me copies of their software to play with and try. Software has become so large and complex over the past 20 years, that I haven’t been able to play with software for a long time.

Enter an interesting idea. Imagine a version of a powerful SCADA, HMI, IoT software that you, yes you, can try out at home. Build a home automation system. Do a bill-pay routine. Let your imagination take you places.

For, yesterday, Inductive Automation announced the release of Ignition Maker Edition. This new software platform gives people free, personal access to the industrial-grade Ignition by Inductive Automation. Ignition is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.

Ignition Maker Edition is free for non-commercial users and takes just three minutes to install. It enables people to bring innovation home, allowing them to easily create their own “control rooms” for personal use. “I use Ignition for my home automation system and to manage my bills,” said Travis Cox, co-director of sales engineering at Inductive Automation. “Ignition is an ideal tool because it connects to anything and gives me the flexibility to customize the solution the way I want it. And I can access it anywhere.”

Ignition Maker Edition is not intended for industrial, professional, or commercial use. It was designed as a free tool for hobbyists, students, and individuals wanting to familiarize themselves with the Ignition platform. It is cross-platform, and uses trusted technologies like SQL, Python, OPC UA, and MQTT — allowing users to connect to just about any kind of database, PLC, and device.

People can use it to automate the lights in their home, manage a personal weather station, or to build projects for other personal activities. The software is so flexible, it can be used to turn all kinds of ideas into reality. Users can add charts, tables, voice notifications, sophisticated logic systems, and more. Ignition Maker Edition gives users the power to create customized dashboards. Users can collect data, get real-time analytics, and manage multiple devices.

Ignition Maker Edition is nearly identical to Ignition and includes many of the same core modules that make Ignition so popular with industrial users. It includes the Ignition Perspective Module, which brings powerful new capabilities to phones and tablets. Other modules, also included, enable database connections, alarm notifications, OPC UA functionality, tag historian, reporting, and more. The software also supports MQTT modules from Cirrus Link Solutions.

Ignition Maker Edition is the perfect personal tool for those who use Ignition at work. “The same individuals who are using Ignition every day to optimize production lines, track energy usage, and monitor operating conditions can now apply all that knowledge to their personal projects,” said Colby Clegg, vice president of technology for Inductive Automation.

The release was announced today on Ignition Community Live, a weekly series of webcasts featuring Inductive Automation experts and special guests. A recording of the presentation about Ignition Maker Edition will be available soon at Inductive Automation’s Videos page and YouTube channel.

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.