My last business trip was to the preview of Hannover Fair 2020. This year, Hannover Fair is once again digital (virtual). Companies are beginning to send previews of their stands and demonstrations. This one is from Festo. This company has some creative engineers who have done some cool things with pneumatics. This description of their 2021 Hannover Fair stand follows.
The Productivity Master, a modular demonstration system for personalized USB memory sticks from Festo, shows how automation technology will evolve along the value chain when combined with digitalization. The Productivity Master demonstration will be the centerpiece of the Festo exhibit at the upcoming Hannover Fair Digital Edition April 12-16.
Thanks to seamless connectivity, everything fits perfectly, from the mechanical and electrical systems to the intelligence. The Festo automation platform provides an integrated and practical system to link all Festo engineering tools, components, and solutions in hardware and software.
The demonstration shows how a plant can achieve a balance between mass production and individualization of a finished product. The electrical products, the axis mechanics, the electrics, and the software are planned as a complete automation platform with seamless connectivity.
With this consistency, users save a lot of time in their machines and systems – from planning to commissioning – and gain process reliability because everything fits together – Industry 4.0 included.
For example, the Productivity Master uses a cloud-based concept for registering and storing customer data complying with data protection regulations. This allows USB sticks to be produced with a personalized design as well as personalized data content. Customers could do this from home via the Internet without having to enter further data from other people on the supplier side.
Customers can use the same concept to reduce labor costs and coordinate the process from the home office. Festo’s IoT gateway securely connects the machine to the cloud so that operators cannot only retrieve production data from the cloud, but also access the machine’s diagnostic data, even if they are sitting hundreds of miles away in their home office.
Mask production and vaccines
The pandemic year 2020 revealed just such a contrast between mass production and individualization or small series production in the examples of mask production and vaccine research. The latter is more focused on precise data collection. For mass production, however, it is crucial to be able to use remote diagnostics and maintenance tools to maintain machine uptime as long as possible while protecting operator health.
“It doesn’t matter if the product weighs a few ounces or more than 200 pounds – being a technology-neutral company, Festo has the product range to do this,” explained Nigel Dawson, Head of Business Development Electric Automation at Festo. “While the Productivity Master features a mix of pneumatic and electric automation, from flow sensors to servo drives, from pneumatic slide units to electric Cartesian robots, it is the way these products are connected that enables true digitalization.”
By leveraging industry-standard networks such as EtherCAT, OPC-UA, IO Link, and MQTT, Festo can create a seamless data stream from individual sensors to remote IO, servo drives, controllers, and the cloud. “This technology-neutral approach has a major impact on energy efficiency and sustainability. We call this ‘seamless connectivity,’” added Dawson.
The Productivity Master was designed in record time utilizing Festo’s state-of-the-art unified engineering environment which includes project planning capabilities and management of digital twins. This allows designers and developers to work collaboratively worldwide. With the Festo Handling Guide Online HGO, users select and dimension 2D or 3D gantries in just three steps. For quick and easy programming, configuration, and commissioning in a shared virtual environment, they use the Festo Automation Suite.
Digital Customer Journey
“Along the journey to digitalization, we enable customers to correctly and efficiently select and size products online, add them to a shopping cart in a seamless process, view pricing and delivery in real time, and track products throughout the supply chain,” said Dawson, describing this digital value chain. “With developments in artificial intelligence (AI), Festo is expanding concepts such as digital nameplates, digital twinning and, of course, AI-driven predictions of machine conditions for remote maintenance.”
Four fully connected stations
In a show setting, attendees create the production order at the first station by registering with their name and perhaps a picture. A QR code identifies the visitors at the machine. A vision sensor SBSI from Festo registers the visitor and starts the production order, followed by stock management. This mechatronic complete solution, made up among other things of a planar surface gantry EXCM in size 40 for fast picking and placing of the USB memory stick, offers all the options from stock management and workpiece handling to the cloud.
The USB memory stick is transported, printed, turned over, and then passed on. The work steps at the second station involve holding, moving, handling, rotating, positioning, and identifying the workpiece position as well as identifying, separating, gripping, and applying labels. Fast transfer to a label printer is carried out at station 3 by a highly dynamic linear gantry EXCT with dynamic servo motors EMMT-AS and servo drives CMMT-AS. The rotation functions are performed by electric rotary drives ERMH.
The process is completed in station 4, where files are uploaded to the USB memory stick. Station 4 operations include holding the workpiece, turning, and carefully positioning the cap and press-fitting delicate parts. This is done using the attractively priced electric cylinders EPCO and rotary drives ERMO.
This announcement for Automate Forward, the conference and trade show of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), popped into my inbox this morning. The conference part of pandemic-era events draws many excellent speakers. The technology has greatly improved over the years to at least not getting in the way, if not improving the experience. Networking and trade show visiting still lag, but I’ve seen strides in the booth visitation area.
A personal observation from an old guy. I remember past lives where each of the areas of this trade show were large events in themselves. Industry and technology consolidation have reduced the size, but the importance to manufacturing remains.
In the spring of 2021, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA), and A3 Mexico will become the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. Combined, these associations represent over 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward.
A3 hosts a number of industry-leading events, including the new virtual Automate Forward (March 22-26, 2021) and the Automate Show & Conference (June 6-9, 2022, in Detroit, MI).
More than 80 global experts will speak at Automate Forward, the world’s premier virtual automation trade show and conference set for March 22-26, 2021. The event also features more than 250 leading companies in an expanded exhibit area, enhanced networking opportunities, and a look at innovative automation startups.
Speakers include senior executives from companies such as 3M, General Motors, Intel, Microsoft, UPS, IBM, GE, FedEx, Siemens, and Proctor & Gamble.
“With the adoption of automation accelerating, and the impossibility of holding large in-person shows in the US at the moment, Automate Forward will play a critical role in educating companies about how robotics, AI, machine vision, motion control, and related automation technologies can immediately help improve product quality, productivity, competitiveness, and worker safety,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the event’s host.
Automate Forward will include a robust virtual exhibit hall and networking center where attendees can connect directly with companies and experts to solve their automation solutions and get immediate answers. The trade show will be open daily from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET for attendees to learn about products and systems that can help with unique challenges.
A3 will share a sneak peek of the association’s new brand identity at 9:30 am ET on Monday, March 22 exclusively for Automate Forward attendees. Join live to learn about how its four current brands – RIA, AIA, MCMA, and A3 Mexico – are combing to create the new A3 representing over 1100 global companies and organizations active in automation.
Automate Forward Keynote Sessions
Monday, March 22
10 AM ET PANEL: The New Industries Driving The Growth of Automation and Robotics
Robert Little, CEO, ATI Industrial Automation
Mark Lewandowski, Director – Robotics Innovation, Procter & Gamble
John Dulchinos, Vice President, Jabil
Ted Dengel, Managing Director, Operations Technology and Innovation, FedEx Ground
John Bubnikovich, Chief Regional Officer – North America, KUKA Robotics
11 AM ET: The Competitive Advantage is Here and It’s All About Digital
Raj Batra, President, Digital Industries, Siemens
1:30 PM ET: Moving Automation Forward: What is required?
Greg Brown, Vice President of Strategy and R&D, UPS
Tuesday, March 23
10 AM ET PANEL: The 2021 State of the Automation Industry Executive Roundtable
Mike Cicco, President & CEO, FANUC AMERICA
Patrick McDermott, President North America, B&R Automation
Dr. Thomas Evans, CTO Robotics, Honeywell Intelligrated
Christine Boles, Vice President, Internet of Things Group – General Manager, Industrial Solutions Division, Intel
Sebastien Schmitt, North American Robotics Division Manager, Stäubli
11 AM ET: Human Aware Robot Software and Tools for Delivering it
Rodney Brooks, Co-Founder and CTO, Robust.AI
1:30 PM ET: 3M’s Automation Journey: Driving Growth & Productivity
Debarati Sen, Vice President & General Manager Abrasive Systems Division Safety & Industrial Business Group, 3M
Wednesday, March 24
10 AM ET PANEL: The Rise of Smart Automation
Rashmi Misra, GM AI Platforms, Business Development, Microsoft
Jorge Ramirez, Global Director Automation and Chief Mfg. Cybersecurity Officer, General Motors
Rishi Vaish, CTO and VP, IBM AI Applications, IBM
John Lizzi, Executive Leader – Robotics, GE
Tom Panzarella, Senior Director of Perception, Seegrid
11 AM ET: Using Deep Learning and Simulation to Teach Robots Manipulation in Complex Environments
Dieter Fox, Senior Director of Robotics Research, NVIDIA
1:30 PM ET: Automation and the Future of Manufacturing
Indranil Sircar, CTO, Manufacturing Industry, Microsoft
Thursday, March 25
10 AM ET PANEL: How Collaborative Automation is Driving Productivity
Co-sponsored by the International Federation of Robotics
Milton Guerry, President, Schunk USA
Joe Gemma, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Calvary Robotics
Greg Smith, President of the Industrial Automation Group at Teredyne
David Robers, Robotics Sales Manager – Americas, Denso Robotics
11 AM ET: Value Chain Integration and Optimization Through Robotics in Consumer segments and Retail
Marc Segura, Executive Global Business Line Leader – Consumer Segment Service Robotics, ABB Robotics and Machine Automation
Friday, March 26
10 AM ET PANEL: Autonomous Mobile Robots: How to Get Started
Karen Leavitt, Chief Marketing Officer, Locus Robotics
Søren E. Nielsen, President, Mobile Industrial Robots
Matt Rendall, CEO and Co-Founder, OTTO Motors
Rob Sullivan, President, AutoGuide Mobile Robots
Melonee Wise, CEO and Founder, Fetch Robotics
11 AM ET: Using an End-to-End Workflow to Build, Iterate, and Operationalize Deep Learning-Powered Visual Inspection Projects
Andrew Ng, CEO & Founder, Landing AI
The last segment of the Emerson Virtual Exchange had a sustainability emphasis. I sat in on the March 2 Keynote – Making Sustainability a Core Business Strategy. There are more sessions March 4 and again next week.
The keynote speakers were:
- Mike Train, Emerson President and Corporate Sustainability Lead
- Randy Page, Emerson Automation Group President Final Control
- Michelle George, VP Engineering and Storage & Transmission Operations, Enbridge
- Greg Houston, President, Lakeside Process Controls (Emerson Local Impact Partner)
Sustainability has evolved from “the right thing to do” to “business critical”. It touches nearly every aspect of business and our personal lives. Mike Train and Randy Page as they discuss the drivers for Sustainability, the opportunities to get started and practical steps to move your Sustainability program forward. And as Hydrogen emerges to transform our energy mix, an important opportunity many countries and energy companies are exploring is the blending of Hydrogen into the Natural Gas infrastructure. Enbridge’s Michelle George discusses this important step in ‘greening the pipeline’ with Emerson’s Randy Page and Lakeside Process Controls’ Greg Houston.
Page discussed the pressures coming from society, government, customers, and the board to pursue sustainability goals. There is an urgency to improve the product mix with a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Train noted the role of automation as an enabler for business success. He stressed that his many conversations with business, government, and academic leaders focus on the importance of collaboration amongst them.
Train laid out three points: Emerson of—greening of Emerson; by—Emerson helps customers achieve sustainability goals; with—collaboration with government, academia, other groups.
His focus is to build a sustainability culture with goal 20% reduction by 2028. Emerson taps into the creativity of employees, for example, gamifying the search for waste through “Treasure Hunts”. Spreading the word within the company has generated lots of ideas.
Sustainability is great for business, as it’s essentially eliminating waste. Emissions reduction fits right in Final Control wheelhouse. Valves can be a big source of emissions. Emerson has improved valve packing and sealing technology and have a new PRV solution.
Michelle George discussed the work at Enbridge gas distribution and storage on sustainability target net zero emissions. The company has a pilot project greening pipelines by introducing hydrogen into pipelines and storage leveraging the expertise of supplier Lakeside Process controls. The pilot project uses excess electrical power from sustainable generating for hydrolysis of water, capturing hydrogen, and either capturing or releasing oxygen. This can be blended into natural gas or use existing pipelines and storage to handle hydrogen as a fuel of the future.
Greg Houston discussed the challenges for pipeline and valve sealing, since H2 is a smaller molecule. Users would require a greater volume of gas for an equivalent heat content.
Train summarized, “Achievement will not be with a big bang, but with smaller efforts over time.”
Make your plans for a live Emerson Exchange on September 27-30 at the Gaylord in Washington, D.C. I see that the board is still accepting proposals for presentations if you have some good stories to tell.
The conferences I have attended over the past five or six years have changed since my early days as a customer or sales engineer of industrial technology. While the automation companies have been changing with the trends in technology and application, IT companies have generated much energy and thought with advances in compute platforms, storage, memory, virtual machines, and the like.
I’ve tried to stir up, maybe not controversy, but at least conversation regarding using these powerful compute platforms for both control and data. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity has progressed to a point where networked I/O is not a problem.
That leads me to what I learned from today’s sessions about implementing IIoT and digital transformation and Edge Control from Emerson Virtual Exchange. This was discrete and industrial automation day.
Emerson’ Global User Exchange went virtual this year, and thinking outside the proverbial box, stretched it out over about six months. There are sessions January 5 (which you can see on demand) and January 7, as well as next week on January 12 and 14. These are well done as the platform companies continue to improve and provide better service. Emerson has always worked hard to present professionally done sessions. Virtual did not change things.
The opening “keynote” was introduced by Hakan Erdamar, Group President for Discrete & Industrial. Zach Gustafson, VP of Business Development for Machine Automation and Derek Thomas, VP of Strategy & Marketing for Machine Automation, discussed IIoT and digital transformation, and then introduced Warren Pruitt, VP of Global Engineering Services, Colgate-Palmolive, who related the recent digital transformation journey his company has been traveling.
The key messages include using IIoT connectivity for data, starting small with scalable components, and using local (on-prem) compute. Use cloud for longer term analysis.
The blurb you’ll see online goes like this: Zach and Derek go beyond the obstacles of the “new normal” that manufacturers face are the ongoing challenges of production pressure, operational efficiency, and sustainability measures. In this unique moment in industry the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the digital transformation it enables is poised to help unleash a new era of manufacturing that is more reliable, more efficient, more connected and more sustainable than ever before. Join Zach Gustafson and Derek Thomas to gain insight into how manufacturers are getting started with unlocking trapped data in individual machines and processes to identify quantifiable savings and benefit that can then quickly scale on global levels.
Warren’s presentation promo goes, A global consumer products leader, Colgate Palmolive is leveraging the power of Digital Transformation to help meet its aggressive global sustainability and operational performance goals. Not waiting for a silver bullet solution, Colgate’s approach is to “get started” with a test an learn mindset and scale successful lessons learned across their global footprint. Warren Pruitt shares Colgate’s implementation approach and lessons learned from the Digital Transformation efforts the organization has made to achieve the company’s objectives.
Thomas took us through a data path in his presentation going through the start small and scale theme and then landing on the latest “PACSystems” edge controller. This is a compute device that runs Linux, is open, makes extended use of Node-RED, also runs PLC control in the same processor/box, has extended open connectivity, and utilizes most standard industrial protocols.
Edge control is redefining the traditional control model by bringing together OT and IT technology in a single solution capable of logic, data management and analytics. This incredible evolution and transformation of PLCs and Industrial PCs is creating new possibilities for tackling today’s IIoT and digital transformation challenges by enabling customers to start small at a machine, scale to plant-wide analytics, and make manageable investments with a single platform. Learn how Emerson’s PACSystems RX3i CPL410 Edge Controller can operate as either an IIoT-enabled PLC or an advanced supervisory controller for your manufacturing operations. This industry leading controller combines the powerful PACSystems runtime, PACEdge IoT platform and Movicon WebHMI to deliver unmatched capability and possibilities for customers. Derek Thomas, Vice President, Marketing & Strategy, Emerson.
I posted overall thoughts from the opening day of Automation Fair at Home yesterday. It’s not that all is rosy in Milwaukee, but the company keeps making strides forward and yet goes its own way not bothering to emulate any competitors.
Several announcements have accumulated that I thought would fit along with Automation Fair thoughts. We have an acquisition, a partnership, and a new product series.
First, the acquisition.
Rockwell Automation Acquires Fiix Cloud Software for Maintenance Solutions
Rockwell Automation announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Fiix, a privately held, AI-enabled computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) company. Fiix, founded in 2008, is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Fiix’s cloud-native CMMS creates workflows for the scheduling, organizing, and tracking of equipment maintenance. It connects to business systems and drives data-driven decisions. The company’s revenue grew 70% in 2019 with more than 85% recurring revenue. Fiix has more than 2 million assets under management and creates more than 6 million work orders a year.
“We believe that the future of industrial asset management is performance-based,” said Tessa Myers, vice president, product management, Software & Control, for Rockwell Automation. “With the addition of the Fiix platform and expertise, our customers will benefit from a 360-degree view of integrated data across automation, production, and maintenance, helping them to monitor and improve the performance of their assets and optimize how maintenance work is done.”
James Novak, Fiix CEO, said, “From the beginning, Fiix has been on a mission to connect maintenance and operations teams to the tools, resources, and technology they need to modernize and join the future of maintenance. Joining Rockwell Automation will allow us to help even more companies modernize maintenance and increase asset performance by connecting to industry-leading data, automation, and production systems.”
Fiix will be reported as part of Rockwell Automation’s Software & Control operating segment. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the 2020 calendar year, subject to customary approvals and conditions.
Second, the partnership.
PlantPAx 5.0 Running on ztC Edge by Stratus
Stratus Technologies announced a “Solution in a Box” process control architecture for fast, easy deployment at edge locations that require 2,000 I/O’s or less. The solution runs Rockwell Automation PlantPAx 5.0 software on Stratus ztC Edge. The solution is performance tested, characterized, and validated by Stratus and Rockwell Automation to ensure reliable, rapid deployment by operations teams and systems integrators using a single industrial-grade, panel mounted Edge Computing device.
“Whether it’s control in Water and Wastewater management, Machine Builders innovating for their customers, or managing remote assets in Oil & Gas, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving operational excellence. Enterprises require plant-wide data and control solutions with high availability that can both scale up and scale down based on the use case and location, while being cost effective and easy to implement,” said Dave Rapini, Business Manager for PlantPAx at Rockwell Automation.
The ability to bring mission-critical applications to where they’re needed most via Edge Computing delivers the scale and real-time data acquisition for operational excellence. Stratus’ simple, protected, and automated platform with fault tolerance and zero-touch operation is powering the disaggregation of large process architectures, traditionally deployed at level 3 and 4 of the Purdue model. The combined Stratus and Rockwell Automation “Solution in a Box” architecture provides a flexible approach to scale Industry 4.0 capabilities across a range of environments that was not previously possible.
PlantPAx is a plant wide distributed control system (DCS) that utilizes a common automation platform to integrate both process and discrete control as well as plant-wide information. ztC Edge is an industrial-grade Edge Computing platform that offers built-in redundancy and meets Class 1 Division 2 requirements to operate in hazardous environments.
The tested Solution-in-a-Box architecture includes:
- Rockwell Automation PASS-Consolidated Image
- PASS (Process Automation System Server) – FactoryTalk View
- FactoryTalk AssetCentre
- FactoryTalk Historian
- FactoryTalk VantagePoint
- Rockwell Automation Application Server -OWS – ThinManager remote desktop server (RDS) for remote, mobile, and tablet access
- Stratus ztC Edge 110i (single system with a redundant option) – tested in fault tolerant and high availability modes
And thirdly, a new product series.
High-Performance, Scalable Kinetix Integrated Motion Drives
Rockwell Automation’s motion business has expanded its Kinetix line of servo drives with intelligent and scalable solutions.
The new Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5300 servo drive is a fully integrated, CIP Motion solution for global machine builders looking to increase performance and leverage a single-design environment for control and motion. When paired with the new TLP motors, customers get a coordinated platform as they extend the power of the connected enterprise into simple machines, an approach that positions Rockwell Automation to accelerate growth in emerging markets throughout Asia and mature markets in Europe. The new product line, combined with the rest of the Kinetix family, provides a complete range of servo drive offerings from Rockwell Automation for everything from small, standalone machines to large, complex systems.
The Kinetix 5300 servo drives are designed for diverse machine applications such as electronics assembly, packaging and converting, printing and web (CPW). The new drives also feature capabilities that can help simplify machine design and optimize performance throughout the machine lifecycle. Like other Kinetix integrated motion drives, Kinetix 5300 leverages Studio 5000 as a single design environment. Using a single family of servo drives allows machine builders to program all their drives in this one design environment and reuse code across drives, streamlining the design and commissioning process. Kinetix 5300 native integration with Logix control enables smart tuning capabilities that adjust for changes in inertia and resonances automatically, helping to optimize machine performance and simplify machine maintenance over time.
“Our expanded portfolio provides machines builders a complete family of scalable servo drives for diverse applications,” said Bill Kegley, director, product management – motion control at Rockwell Automation. “Now with the addition of the Kinetix 5300 to our family of servo drives, we are in a position to deliver truly scalable and intelligent motion solutions that help our customers achieve productivity and sustainability for a wider range of applications.”
[Note: I have been asking for a few years for a working application of CIP Motion at a customer site. If anyone reading this has one, please contact me. If you don’t want mentioned, just say so. In 20 years, I have yet to violate a confidence. But enquiring minds want to know…. Thanks.]
Much good has come from virtual conferences replacing manufacturing events, but I’m looking forward to a hybrid of the best of virtual plus meeting with colleagues, making new friends, and asking impromptu questions. When will they begin?
Here is an event scheduling for next August. I hope by then we’ll be back on track. (Disclaimer: I have family in the airline business.)
This advanced manufacturing event – composed of Automation Technology West (ATX), Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West, Pacific Design & Manufacturing (D&M), PLASTEC West, and WestPack – announced the 2021 edition of the conference and exhibition – historically slated for the February timeframe – will now be held August 10-12, 2021 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.
Backed by key stakeholders and partners, the decision to schedule the event at a later date follows careful consideration from event organizers, Informa Markets – Engineering, with the community top of mind. The 2021 edition will feature the full comprehensive program including Center Stage, Design Dome, Tech Theater, dynamic panel discussions, live demonstrations, expert speaker presentations, and more.
In the interim, Informa Markets – Engineering will bring the manufacturing community cultivated by brands ATX, D&M, MD&M, PLASTEC, and Quality in November, 2020 for five days in a virtual setting featuring efficient networking, best-in-class education, buyer and seller sourcing, combining the power and reach of regional venues – Anaheim, Minneapolis, Montreal, and New York – the all-new digital event will have an international reach.
Dubbed Virtual Engineering Week this online event features a conference program and expo hall hosting hundreds of virtual exhibitor booths, scheduled to take place November 30 – December 4. It features the latest innovations, one-on-one meetings, live demos, live Q&As covering timely topics from 3D printing and next-gen technologies to packaging trends and sustainability.
“MD&M West is one of the largest shows we exhibit at and features the most qualified roster of attendees across applications; the new business we derive each year is unparalleled,” said Julia Morgenstern Abada, Marketing Communications Manager at Kyocera International. “We are excited to extend the premiere networking and education to the November and August months via the virtual and in-person offerings.”
“The support from our community to hold the 2021 event in August coupled with the excitement surrounding an introduction of a virtual platform this November is phenomenal. We are thrilled to offer another touchpoint for professionals, purchasers, and buyers to meet thousands of suppliers from globally renowned businesses at Virtual Engineering week,” said Hayley Haggarty, Group Event Director, Informa Markets – Engineering. “We understand continuous education is a key component fueling the longevity and sustained innovation of the advanced manufacturing industry and look forward to feeding the industry’s immense appetite in both a virtual and in-person setting this Winter and Fall.”