Industrial Internet of Things Integral Part of Industry of Things Conference

Industrial Internet of Things Integral Part of Industry of Things Conference

The Industry of Things World USA conference in San Diego in its third year is becoming a premier Internet of Things (IoT) event in the US. Organized by weConnect in Berlin, Germany, it attracts a few hundred attendees, excellent speakers, and me (of course). The organizers leverage worldwide contacts–organizing similar events in Berlin and Singapore. They also have similar events in other technology areas.

Topics cover a range of IT and OT subjects. I make sure to get to the OT people who are here. This is a quick recap of what I’ve seen so far.

Charlie Gifford spoke at a breakout session on ISA95. He updated us on the latest changes proposed to the standard. His other focus was to promote event-driven architecture. He suggested that we build a library of operations events such that when an event occurs information about the change with the updated data is broadcast to subscribers. This is a great bandwidth saving over continuous point-to-point connections. He is also concerned with how to interconnect the many existing databases within a plant or production location.

Jagannath Rao, SVP of IoT and MindSphere for Siemens, discussed the evolution of MindSphere and its latest incarnation. Key point–Siemens has committed to openness–providing for open APIs especially in its MindSphere platform and adoption of open technologies such as OPC UA.

MindSphere v 2 enabled people to go out and do Proof of Concept (PoC) projects. From these Siemens could determine what customers were interested in and what the problems were that they were trying to solve. This all fed back into the product development process leading to the recent release of v 3.

V3, now a product, builds on open technologies–open being the key word. The platform moved from SAP Leonardo to Amazon Web Services (AWS) providing a more robust cloud experience. AWS is a Infrastructure as a Service, while MindSphere is Platform as a Service containing open APIs and data models. The next step on the journey is for Siemens to build out an ecosystem of 3rd party applications.

When asked about TSN, Rao also brought up 5G, both of which point out the importance of the Edge for initial processing of IoT data. Siemens is preparing for this next step, for example its Sinumeric Edge contains much analytics power, then ability to communicate information not just vast streams of data.

OPC vice president of marketing Stefan Hoppe, during his breakout session, discussed the acceptance of OPC UA in industry and the power of the release of publish/subscribe with OPC UA. His strong discussion point was to emphasize that OPC UA is not a protocol. It is an information model. It uses protocols—AMQP, MQTT, DDS, JavaScript, whatever to communicate the information from one device to another (or many). Proponents of a protocol who suggest that a protocol is superior to OPC UA miss the point that it’s not a protocol but actually an information model.

One key potential misunderstanding…Hoppe’s presentation made OPC appear to be German-centric and tied to the German Industrie 4.0. We need to keep in mind that the OPC Foundation Board is only 33% German, and that OPC UA lends itself to the digitalization efforts of any of the countries developing standards. It has become the official communication technology for many standardization efforts including the Open Process Automation Forum. It is truly global.

Lin Nease, IoT technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, chatted with me at a one-on-one meeting about the edge and the power of Xeon server technology in its edge devices as well as software-defined control. I think I’ll be seeing more from HPE as it builds out its IoT infrastructure.

Greater Investment In Autonomous Vehicles For Manufacturing Than Passenger

Greater Investment In Autonomous Vehicles For Manufacturing Than Passenger

Quick, when you think of self-driving cars and trucks and other news of autonomous vehicles, what comes to mind? OK, maybe an unfair question today given the Waymo v Uber lawsuit trial that began yesterday. But most of us think in terms of passenger cars rather than industrial uses.

PwC worked on a study and Bobby Bono (pictured), Carolyn Lee, and Todd Benigni all of PwC wrote a blog post, Can you be a first mover in industrial mobility? discussing the investment in manufacturing outdistancing the investment in passenger vehicles.

PwC Bobby Bono

When it comes to self-driving vehicles, passenger cars may grab most of the headlines, but they aren’t capturing most of the investment in the space. According to a PwC analysis, of the $6.8 billion raised by autonomous-transport startups since 2012, about 62% has gone to companies working on technology for vehicles ranging from drones to unmanned forklifts and tractor-trailers, all pieces of the larger ecosystem of industrial mobility.

Significantly, these investments in the pioneers of industrial mobility have been accelerating in recent years. From 2012 to 2014, companies working on automobiles received about as much investment ($660 million) as those building non-auto solutions ($702 million). But from 2015 to 2017, non-auto investment increased five-fold to $3.5 billion, while investment in companies working on tech for passenger cars rose a comparatively modest 188% to $1.9 billion.

Why does this matter? The rapid growth in capital pouring into startups working on industrial mobility reveals that hefty bets are being placed on the prospect that the impact of autonomous vehicles may well first made more forcibly upon industrial applications – even as self-driving passenger cars continue to capture consumers’ imagination.

Attitudes toward self-driving trucks are a good example of this cautious approach. Nearly two-thirds of respondents in the survey said they’ll wait and see how the technology evolves before adopting it. That’s especially interesting, given that most all survey respondents estimated that autonomous trucks could slash transportation costs by up to 25%. In a nutshell: they see the potential, but aren’t quite ready to jump in.

Cost is arguably the most important factor keeping manufacturers on the sidelines. The high cost of autonomous technology was the most frequently cited barrier to adoption in our survey, with nearly six in 10 respondents identifying it as a hurdle. At the same time, 86% said advanced industrial mobility’s ability to deliver a cost advantage was among the factors most likely to prompt them to embrace the technology.

With investment in industrial mobility surging, it’s a fair bet that businesses may see autonomous technology’s value proposition start to seem more attractive (and proven) sooner rather than later. And, it only stands to reason that some early adopters – and the early-stage companies developing the technology they implement – will score a competitive edge while their peers loiter on the sidelines.

Improve the Climate And Also Improve Business Profits

Improve the Climate And Also Improve Business Profits

Let’s put aside politics and just talk good business strategies. I had a boss. He was quite conservative on the political scale. It was the time of “sustainability”. He thought that was only liberal, tree-hugger gibberish. I told him–think money. Less waste equals more profits. Waste is unsustainable.

Those of us who think Lean, think about how to reduce waste.

As usual, where politicians bicker, businesses do things to improve profits while also benefiting the environment.

This report came to me.


  • RE100 total renewable electricity demand of over 159TWh/yr is now equivalent to the 24thlargest country electricity use – ranking between Poland and Egypt;
  • 25 companies had reached 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2016; five of these in 2016
  • With three new members announced today, RE100’s 122 members are increasing renewables capacity globally, with operations spanning 122 countries.

LONDON: A rapidly growing group of ambitious multinational businesses are actively reshaping the energy market through their global investment decisions and accelerating a zero emissions economy, a new report release today (Tuesday January 23) shows.

‘Approaching the tipping point: how corporate users are redefining global electricity markets’, a new report from RE100 – a global corporate leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP –  tracks progress made in 2016-17 by companies committed to 100% renewable power.

The report also provides insight into emerging trends in corporate sourcing of renewables around the world, with 122 RE100 members operating in 122 countries averaging 1.3 times more renewables in their electricity mix than the global rate of renewable electricity use.

Thanks to falling costs of renewable energy technology, there is a notable shift away from renewable energy attribute certificates towards direct contracts with suppliers, as well as onsite generation and offsite grid-connected generators (power purchase agreements, or PPAs) – meaning that increasingly, members are directly growing renewable energy capacity.

Specific findings in the report include:

  • 25 members had reached 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2016, with Autodesk, Elopak, Interface, Marks and Spencer and Sky reaching this goal during 2016, while Equinix and Kingspan surpassed their interim targets during the same year;
  • The biggest achievers in 2016 included Bank of America, Astra Zeneca and Coca Cola Enterprises Inc., whose share of renewable electricity increased more than threefold;
  • The proportion of renewable electricity being sourced via power purchase agreements grew fourfold in 2016, while the quantity of electricity sourced from onsite generation increased x15 (via supplier-owned projects) and x9 (via member-owned projects);
  • 88% of respondents cited the compelling economic case for renewable electricity as a major driver – with 30 out of 74 reporting that renewable electricity was either cost competitive or delivered significant savings on energy bills;
  • Policy barriers represent the most common challenge for RE100 companies, alongside a lack of availability of suitable contracts or certificates in some markets.

The report comes as government and business leaders gather at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss pathways to a sustainable economy, and a few days after Nike signed its second major wind contract, in Texas, US, that will take the company more than half way to reaching 100% renewable electricity globally as part of RE100.

Helen Clarkson, Chief Executive Officer, The Climate Group, said: “I’d like to congratulate every RE100 member accelerating the roll-out of renewable energy through their investment decisions. Their leadership is vital for overcoming policy challenges, shifting global markets, and inspiring many more companies to reap the economic benefits of renewable electricity. Rapidly growing demand from world-leading RE100 companies – and increasingly their suppliers and peers – means governments can confidently look to ratchet up targets in 2020 for slashing greenhouse emissions, to deliver on the Paris Agreement.”

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, CDP, said: “CDP data shows a jump in renewable energy procurement and that motivations are not only environmental but economic. With nearly 90% of companies driven by the economic case for renewables, this demonstrates a fast approaching tipping point in the transition to a zero-carbon economy.  These companies prove that energy is becoming a board level issue across the globe and sustainability is essential for future business security. Now, it’s time to tip the balance and make 100% renewable the new normal.”

Regional trends

The report also shows key findings by region:

  • In Europe, renewable energy has been the main source of electricity for RE100 members for the second year running. However, the lucrative PPA market is largely untapped; EU policy makers have an opportunity unlock its full potential through the next phase of the Renewable Energy Directive;
  • In the US, we have seen a major increase in the use of PPAs by RE100 members, with continued momentum on renewable electricity sourcing by major businesses, despite political uncertainty;
  • In India, the amount of renewable electricity consumed by our members has more than tripled, thanks to falling costs. The diversity of ways in which companies are sourcing renewables has also increased.


RE100 now brings together 122 global companies, with a collective revenue of over US$2.75 trillion and operations spanning six continents. Together they represent over 159TWh of demand for renewable electricity – more than enough to power Malaysia, New York State or Poland, and equivalent to the 24th largest electricity demand of all countries.


The Climate Group is an international non-profit organization, founded in 2004, with offices in London, Beijing New Delhi and New York. Our mission is to accelerate climate action. Our goal is a world of under 2C of global warming and greater prosperity for all, without delay. We do this by bringing together powerful networks of business and governments that shift global markets and policies. We act as a catalyst to take innovation and solutions to scale, using the power of communications to build ambition and pace. We focus on the greatest global opportunities for change. Our business campaigns RE100 (renewable electricity), EP100 (energy productivity) and EV100 (electric vehicles), brought to you as part of the We Mean Business coalition, help companies to reduce emissions, enhance resilience, and boost the bottom line. They champion leadership, encourage the sharing of best practice, and tackle barriers to action. Visit and follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup and Facebook @TheClimateGroup.

Led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDPRE100 is a collaborative initiative uniting the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power. Renewables are a smart business decision, providing greater control over energy costs and driving innovation, while helping companies to deliver on emission reduction goals. RE100 members, including Global Fortune 500 companies, have a total revenue of over US$2.75 trillion and operate in a diverse range of sectors – from Information Technology to automobile manufacturing. Together, they send a powerful signal to policymakers and investors to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. Visit and follow us on Twitter @theRE100 #RE100.

CDP is an international non-profit that drives companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Voted number one climate research provider by investors and working with institutional investors with assets of US$100 trillion, we leverage investor and buyer power to motivate companies to disclose and manage their environmental impacts. Over 6,300 companies with some 55% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2017. This is in addition to the over 500 cities and 100 states and regions who disclosed, making CDP’s platform one of the richest sources of information globally on how companies and governments are driving environmental change. CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is a founding member of the We Mean Business Coalition. Please visit or follow us @CDP to find out more.

Things Americans Are Getting Right

Things Americans Are Getting Right

Despite all the news you may be consuming or posts that get passed around on Facebook (or inflammatory Tweets), Americans individually and with companies actually are doing many great things. Here is a list compiled by my new favorite news source–Axios.

The bottom line: Americans are pulling together, every day, to help one another; there are medical advances that will help millions, and not even D.C. is that bad all the time. But, much of the good news never makes headlines.

1. The kids are alright

Teen birth rates hit a new low in 2016, dropping 9% since 2015 and 67% since 1991. And Washington University found that teens aren’t abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in “delinquent behavior” as much as they used to.

2. We’re more environmentally friendly

Boston has joined other cities in banning single-use plastic bags. St. Louis committed to a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035 — it currently gets only 5% of its energy from renewable sources.

3. Technology is making a difference

Tesla restored electricity to a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico after it was hit by hurricanes in September, and a North Carolina police department used a drone to find a missing 81-year-old woman with dementia within 25 minutes of her disappearance.

4. Medical advances are helping millions

The FDA cleared an earpiece that may help block symptoms of opioid withdrawal. And Portal Instruments, a private medical device company licensed from MIT, has made a needle-free drug injection device.

5. The economy is booming

13 states saw record-lows of unemployment this year; nationally, the unemployment level is at the lowest it has been since 2000. And financial satisfaction hit a 24-year high this year.

6. We’re becoming more tolerant

Support for allowing same-sex marriage is at its highest point in 20 years, according to a Pew Research survey. For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers (56%) favor allowing same-sex marriage, and almost the same amount of Republicans favor allowing it (47%) as opposing it (48%).

7. Space exploration

Vice President Mike Pence said in October that the U.S. “will return…to the moon not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.” In September, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft ended its journey after bringing us some incredible findings.

8. Neighbors are looking out for one another

A man in North Carolina has started the non-profit ChemoCars, a service that provides cancer patients with free rides to and from their chemo treatments. More than 6,000 Texas inmates decided to donate $53,863 of their commissary funds to Hurricane Harvey victims. And, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $11 million for the victims of the horrific Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 people dead, and hundreds injured.

9. American philanthropy is reaching beyond our borders

Uber partnered with the charity Whizz-Kidz to give those who use wheelchairs in the UK free rides to polling places this summer. And The Carter Center, run by former President Jimmy Carter, announced in October that it helped eliminate the disfiguring tropical disease elephantiasis from two states in Nigeria, where it was the most prevalent.

Here Is A Hint Why I Chose Technology Career Over Political Science

Here Is A Hint Why I Chose Technology Career Over Political Science

Is it any wonder about the wisdom of dropping my graduate work in political science while returning to manufacturing and technology?

Try these pieces of obfuscation this week from Washington.

The big tax cut and simplification bill turns out not to simplify anything. Manufacturing organizations sending information to me believe it offers financial rewards to companies who keep workers offshore. Many of us will see little or no tax cut. Do you ever wish like I do that people would mean what they say and say what they mean?

This from FACT. A letter to Congress persons.

On behalf of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) Coalition, we write to urge you to oppose H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This bill would create significant new tax incentives to move U.S. jobs, profits, and operations overseas, while exploding the deficit. The bill’s complicated structure also creates multiple new loopholes to allow for expanded tax avoidance by large, multinational companies at the expense of small businesses and wholly domestic companies.

The FACT Coalition is a non-partisan alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations working toward a fair tax system that addresses the challenges of a global economy and promoting policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices.[1]

The final conference bill would move the country to a territorial tax system. The primary goal of a territorial system is to permit offshore corporate profits to escape U.S. tax. Taxpayers already lose an estimated $100 billion every year to aggressive tax avoidance by multinational companies.[2] These changes would further incentivize corporate profit shifting abroad — leaving regular taxpayers to pick up the tab.[3]

This is an item from Sara Fischer writing in the Axios Media Trends Newsletter.

Why it matters: Multi-billion-dollar deals — along with regulatory changes such as the repeal of net neutrality rules — are often justified as ways to spur innovation and increase consumer choice, but consumer advocates argue the actions could actually make access to some popular content more expensive. The real question: Is choice at the expense of price really giving consumers what they want?

Those of us who have been around the block a few times know a couple of things. 1) Big companies don’t really innovate—they acquire smaller innovative companies to develop their portfolios. 2) Industry consolidation (mergers) occur during a period when innovation runs out of energy and companies are beginning to fail. What we’re waiting for is the new innovation area.

Climate, Environment, Business

As politicians debate political theory—most likely with an eye toward electoral votes—regarding environmental policy, businesses have long ago discovered that a sound environmental policy reduces costs and improves operations. Try this item from Axios Generate’s Ben Geman.

Coal and climate tussle: Mining giant BHP said Tuesday that it plans to abandon the World Coal Association, and may also leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over differences on climate policy, including the Chamber’s opposition to pricing carbon and its attacks on the Paris climate deal. BHP’s newly published review of its membership in trade associations is here. Quick take, via the Financial Times: “The move reflects the growing importance of environmental, social and governance standards within multinationals, which want to protect their brands and insulate themselves from threats posed by activists and consumer boycotts.”

Just for fun.

Here’s one Fun Thing gleaned from the latest Axios newsletter.

Listening to Mozart is said to raise your IQ. Does playing his music make you a better employee? AP’s David McHugh answers from Frankfurt:

  • “Definitely so, say many global companies and their workers, above all in Germany and Asia, where accountants, engineers, sales reps and computer specialists bring violins, cellos, oboes and trombones and gather in their spare time to rehearse and perform lengthy, complex pieces of classical music.”
  • “A conspicuous number of big German corporate names — along with a handful in Japan and Korea — have their own company-linked symphony orchestra.”
  • Why it matters: “The orchestras serve as public relations tools, playing charity concerts and livening up corporate events. … [And] a symphony orchestra is an excellent model for the creative teamwork companies need to compete.”

Well, we have the people from Emerson Automation playing rock and roll at every Exchange these days. Time to pick up that guitar again.

Podcast 170 – Rockwell Automation Open and Scalable

Podcast 170 – Rockwell Automation Open and Scalable

Last week was Rockwell Automation week. I have one more major manufacturer show for the year—Discover Madrid with Hewlett Packard Enterprise next week.

I recorded a quick podcast recap of the week. I have so much material to digest, that I am still working through it.

Three quick points:

1. There was no discussion of the Emerson proposed acquisition of Rockwell. [My view after a few hallway conversations-very few-is that David Farr, Emerson’s CEO, needs to do something drastic to improve his performance. Emerson has been divesting lately, and his performance is below that of his legendary predecessor. He catches Rockwell with a CEO who have been in office just a little over a year. Maybe he thought he could surprise Moret and get a steal? What if the board prefers Moret to run the combined Emerson Rockwell company? Farr as chairman and Moret as CEO? Weird but interesting thought.]

2. Rockwell’s training is rigorous and thorough. I’ve been through at least 5 classes myself (controls, PLCs, drives, motor control centers, software). I know. Interesting and moving presentation on a joint effort of Manpower and Rockwell training veterans for second careers.

3. Open and scalable. I spent an hour learning about Rockwell’s new adoption of OPC UA. Then at least 1.5 hours on Rockwell software where the key word is scalable. The new analytics application appears to be well done and powerful (I only saw a demo during the keynotes and had some conversations, but it looked good).

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Overcast or you favorite pod catcher. I’d really appreciate a good rating and some referrals. It has a good audience considering the size of the market.


Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.