The Automation Industry (if you wish to call it an industry) has some interesting news of innovation. The ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum is coming up in a couple of weeks. I will be there. If you’re coming, let me know. Maybe we can chat over a coffee or something.
Meanwhile, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has announced a call for startup companies in robotics, machine vision and motion control to enter the Automate Launch Pad Competition. The competition is a chance for the industry’s most innovative young companies to vie for the spotlight at the Automate 2017 Exhibition and Conference—the industry’s largest gathering in North America, taking place in Chicago, Illinois April 3-6, 2017—as well as a $10,000 cash award. The Automate Launch Pad Startup Competition seeks out startup companies looking to generate awareness of their technology and find new sources of funding.
“Investment in the automation and robotics market is rising sharply, with a record 128 companies receiving funding of $1.95 billion in 2016—which is a 50% increase over the previous record-breaking year,” noted Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “The Automate Launch Pad Competition is a great opportunity for innovative young companies to gain some extra funding and garner the attention of key players in the automation industry.”
Call for submissions and application form for the Launch Pad Competition are now open. Eligible companies include those in the automation space (robotics, vision, motion control, etc.) who were founded in the last five years; raised less than US $2 million since creation; and are not affiliated with a larger group. Eight semi-finalist companies will be invited to participate in the competition at Automate on April 3, where they will have three minutes to pitch their technology to a panel of investors and automation experts. All semi-finalists will also be provided booth space on the Automate show floor, putting them in front of an expected audience of over 20,000 automation professionals, investors, scientists and journalists. The Automate Launch Pad Competition is sponsored by GE and the event is co-produced with Silicon Valley Robotics.
Systems Integrators To Meet
In other news, The Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA) has announced its spring meeting information.
It is expecting more than 500 control system integrators and industry suppliers from around the globe in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, May 2 – 5 for the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) 2017 Executive Conference. Themed From best practices to transformative business models, the conference will include over a dozen educational sessions, including several presented as part of two separate tracks.
- Track 1: Small Company SIs and Best Practices
CSIA’s Best Practices have helped hundreds of system integrators grow from younger, smaller companies into the well-established ones they are today. Attendees will learn how they, too, can use CSIA Best Practices for growth.
- Track 2: Transformative Business Models
Technology is creating a very exciting future filled with opportunity for SIs — opportunities that will require a shift away from traditional SI business models. Through a series of presentations, panel discussions and an unconference, SIs will gain an understanding of how to take advantage of these emerging models.
Economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, will open the conference with his latest economic outlook for manufacturing, providing a solid outlook for attendees to use to guide their companies’ into the future.
In addition to the educational sessions included during the conference, CSIA will offer a two-day intensive training workshop on Best Practices implementation on Monday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 2, just prior to the conference.
Those attending the conference will have opportunities for networking, including the annual industry expo, awards banquet and a closing reception. The CSIA Fun Run/Walk will be held again this year, along with other special events and tours.
See complete details and register at the CSIA 2017 Executive Conference website.
It is time to begin planning your trip to perhaps the only automation industry general gathering. Here is a teaser from ARC about its upcoming event.
Presenting the 21st Annual ARC Industry Forum Industry in Transition: Realizing the Digital Enterprise February 6-9, 2017 – Orlando, Florida. How will disruptive technologies change existing products and plants? How will open source solutions impact traditional software and automation domains? Is cybersecurity a threat to digitalization and, if so, how can the risk be mitigated? How ‘smart’ are smart machines, and what benefit will these bring? How do Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics enable operational change? How do connected products create opportunities in aftermarket services? What software capabilities are needed to achieve transformational change? Which industries are already changing? What steps can organizations take to foster innovative thinking? Join us at the 21st annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida to learn more about how the digital enterprise will be realized and the benefits that this can bring. Discover what your peers are doing today and what steps they are taking in their respective journeys.
I plan to attend for the 20th time. The only industry people not there are competitive analysts. There are representatives from most suppliers, foundations and associations, as well as from forward thinking end users. Most of the industry trade media will also be present. Suppliers began setting up press conferences several years ago. For a while it was quite a marathon where we would see a new presentation every half-hour for more than five hours! Then it was time for snacks and wine.
The sessions are usually interesting. ARC strives to have mostly users talking to users discouraging vendor sales pitches. One problem with that is that the vendors are the technology developers. If they would let their technology people speak, then that would really round things off. But marketing people being marketing people, they just can’t let an opportunity to be in front of prospects and customers go by without a pretty blatant sales pitch. So, ARC cuts that off in order to attract good discussions and quality attendees.
Start setting up appointments soon! Hope to see you there. Maybe we could organize a meet up.
The conference was all about digital transformation. Company leaders must begin thinking about digitally transforming their companies or they face disruption from digital startups.
This was Dell EMC World—the first user conference after the major acquisition of EMC by Dell forming Dell Technologies. Touting the size and breadth of the combined companies, Michael Dell began the meeting, “Let the transformation begin.”
A poll of business leaders returned these sobering thoughts:
- 45% may be out of business in 3 years;
- 48% 2-3 years see big changes;
- 78% digital startups will be a threat
As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE put it, “You go to bed an industrial company and wake up a digital and analytics company.”
“Dell EMC will be the trusted provider of essential infrastructure for the next industrial revolution,” proclaimed Dell further into his keynote.
I attended the conference at the invitation of the Dell social influencer marketing group. Press conference attendance broke down as 41% analysts, 41% press, and 18% social influencers. They expect the press number to decline and influencer number to increase over time.
Michael Dell in press conference: “Internet of Everything helps customers embrace the digital future.” Dell also sees the need to help customers move from CapEx to OpEx. This need financial need from customers was echoed the next week at the Emerson Exchange. Companies in many industries at this time have slashed capital expenditures. Any movement forward in facility and process improvements must be done through operations expenditures.
This was my second Dell World. The Internet of Things group is just over a year old. Its unveiling was last year’s conference. This year’s presence was greatly enhanced. The booth layout simulated an ice cream factory (see diagram). Emerson Automation was represented (along with partners OSIsoft, Microsoft, and Dell) showing valves, wireless transmitters, date ported to a database into the Microsoft Azure cloud using a Dell IoT Gateway.
Emerson’s Jim Cahill wrote this section of the process in his Emerson Process Experts blog.
Dell has taken an embedded PC platform, added its services, mixed in a variety of partners and baked up an IoT solution. Other partners included Air Watch, Eigen Innovations, V5 Systems, IBM, KMC Controls, PTC Kepware, ELM Fieldsight. Solutions included quality, security, data communications, analytics.
As I have written several times over the past year, Dell is serious about the manufacturing space. The IoT platform is designed to leverage Dell’s vast IT contacts to achieve IT/OT convergence from the IT side.
Dell Technologies new products
Dell Technologies is a serious technology player on many fronts. I’ll just highlight some of the many announcements it made during the conference.
Michael Dell was insistent that integration of Dell and EMC was achieving rapid results. Many of the products announced resulted from just that integration.
From the press release:
Global business leaders agreed that moving toward a cloud model, expanding software development capabilities and enabling faster innovation and deeper insights from data are key strategies to digital transformation. However companies are struggling to evolve their data centers, with 69% saying they are being held back by too many traditional applications. They are challenged with reducing sprawl and spend, while bringing systems up-to-date. New products and solutions announced this week at Dell EMC World are designed to help organizations accelerate their transformation and manage costs.
“To ensure that they’re not “Uber’d”, “Airbnb’d” or “Tesla’d” in their marketplace, today’s organizations must embark on a digital transformation. To truly realize their digital future, we believe the vast majority of organizations will transform their IT through a hybrid cloud strategy, ” said David Goulden, president, Infrastructure Solutions Group, Dell EMC. “The first ‘no regrets’ step is to modernize their data center through the most advanced converged infrastructure, servers, storage, data protection, and cybersecurity technologies to name a few. This week we are launching a wave of new products and solutions designed as the building blocks for this endeavor.”
Announced this week at Dell EMC World:
- #1 Scale-Out NAS System Dell EMC Isilon Goes All-Flash For Unstructured Data
Dell EMC will announce a new member of the Isilon product family, combining the high performance of flash technology with the #1 scale-out NAS platform in the industry. Dell EMC Isilon All-Flash is designed to help IT organizations modernize their infrastructure and deliver on the capabilities of a digital business.
- Dell EMC Extends Common User Experience to SC Series
Dell EMC will announced it has boosted the capabilities of its mid-market proven SC Series (formerly Compellent) storage arrays by making it interoperable with the world’s leading portfolio of storage management, mobility and data protection solutions formerly only available to EMC customers.
- Extraordinary Dell EMC Partner Program To Provide Transformational Business Value and OpportunityDell EMC announced a preview of the company’s new and highly anticipated channel partner program. The Dell EMC Partner Program provides an unprecedented business opportunity for partners and validates Dell EMC’s commitment to the channel. Built on three core tenets—to be Simple, Predictable, and Profitable—the new program strategy ensures partners have ample opportunity, business continuity and commensurate profitability no matter their program tier.
Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things describe manufacturing strategy as much as technology. But as I occasionally write here and write daily on my spiritual practices blog, there is a people side to all this technology and strategy.
Technologists (most people reading this site) tend to talk technology. Then they get carried away and think that technology will replace all need for people. Hence the science fiction writing and movies on that theme.
Arianna Huffington (the Huffington Post) attended the recent gathering of the world’s elite in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. She discovered manufacturing and Industry 4.0. But she wrote a book on the power of getting enough sleep for your essential health. She managed to weave a story from both threads.
The dominant topic of discussion this year — both inside the talks and panels and outside, as well — was transition. Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s founder and executive chairman, captured this sense — the possibilities as well as the challenges — with this year’s theme, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Schwab describes this new period as “the fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds which is creating entirely new capabilities and dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.” It’s an era of automation, constant connectivity, and accelerated change, in which the Internet of Things meets the Smart Factory.
Yes, this new manufacturing strategy, which I must say seems to focus on what we call discrete manufacturing (think autos, airplanes), seeks to go deeper in employing digital technologies. In many ways it is following the lead of process industries (they hate the word manufacturing even though that is a government classification) which always seems to lead in applying math and rigor to its processes.
She continues, quoting Mark Benioff of Salesforce about people and technology:
If the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be defined by speed, connectivity, and change, there’s also a need for a countervailing force. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, “Speed is the new currency of business.” But as he also said, the Fourth Industrial Revolution begins with trust, which has been at the heart of business as long as business has existed — and will only become more important in our more transparent ever-faster-moving world. Benioff’s point exemplified a larger truth of this year’s Forum, that far from being add-ons, a focus on trust, transparency, purpose, and a deeper kind of connection are central to meaningful success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I’ve been writing about trust and transparency on my other blog this week. Sometimes we forget basic human values in our pursuit of either technology or profits.
Oh, yes, and she adds that we all need enough sleep each night to perform at our peak. You can go buy her book–or sleep on it.
We are closing in on February and time to start thinking about the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando. I went to my first one in 1998 and have my airline and hotel reservations for this edition.
Given the demise of general industry trade shows, there are precious few opportunities to see a large cross section of the automation and control industry. This is one.
I have 2 or 3 appointments set. If you are there, ping me. Maybe we can do a “meet up” in the lounge before everyone splits for dinner or something. Or stop me to chat during the week. ARC has once again planned an afternoon of press conferences for its sponsors. I’ll arrive in time to listen if you are presenting.
The 20th Annual ARC Industry Forum has the theme, “Industry in Transition: Navigating the New Age of Innovation”.
The conference is February 8-11, 2016 at the Renaissance Sea World in Orlando, Florida.
ARC says, “New information technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Smart Manufacturing, Industrie 4.0, Digitization, and Connected Enterprise are ushering in a new age of innovation. These concepts are clearly moving past the hype, where real solutions are emerging backed by strong business cases. Expect to see innovations in smarter products, new service and operating models, new production techniques, and new approaches to design and sourcing. Join us to learn how this industrial transformation will unfold and what other companies are doing today to embrace innovation and improve their business performance.”
Questions they expect to address:
- How will inexpensive, easy-to-install sensors change existing products and plants?
- Will cyber security concerns impede disruptive innovation?
- What kind of intelligence will machines have and what value will this bring?
- What role will Wi-Fi and LTE play?
- How do Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics enable operational change?
- What is the opportunity in aftermarket services?
- What software capabilities are needed to achieve transformational change?
- Which industries are already changing?
- What steps can organizations take to foster innovative thinking?
Forum’s Keynote Presentations
Michael Carroll, Vice President, Innovation & Operations Excellence, Georgia-Pacific
Michael joined Georgia-Pacific in 2010 to focus his technological and entrepreneurial talents on innovation and leadership. Prior to that he and a partner formed McTech Group, a company focused on innovative products for the building products and construction industry. In addition to his Executive Vice President responsibilities, Michael formed a Joint Venture designed to sell consumer “DIY” products to big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Previous positions include Director of Operations at Riverwood International, CEO of North and South American Operations at Shepherd, and Principal Change Agent at Mead Paper.
Sandy Vasser, Facilities I&E Manager, ExxonMobil Development
Sandy has been with Exxon or ExxonMobil for over 35 years and has been involved in a number of Upstream projects covering offshore facilities, onshore facilities, and cogeneration facilities. He currently manages a team of about 120 electrical and I&C professionals responsible for the design, installation, and commissioning of electrical generation and distribution systems, process control systems, and safety instrumented systems for all major ExxonMobil Upstream capital projects. This team is also responsible for developing, promoting and implementing strategies, practices, processes, and tools for successfully executing project automation and electrical activities.
Rob High, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Watson Solutions, IBM Software Group
Rob has overall responsibility to drive Watson Solutions technical strategy and thought leadership. He works collaboratively with the Watson engineering, research, and development teams across IBM. Prior to joining Watson Solutions, Rob was Chief Architect for the SOA Foundation and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. He championed an open industry architectural definition of the principles of business and IT alignment enabled by SOA and business process optimization, as well as ensuring IBM’s software and services portfolio is architecturally grounded to enable for efficient SOA-based solutions. Rob has 37 years of programming experience and has worked with distributed, object-oriented, component-based transaction monitors for the last 26 years.
Allen-Bradley CompactLogix I/O
I am spending the week with Rockwell Automation at its annual user conference and trade fair. Today was Integrated Control Architecture and Connected Enterprise day. More later on Connected.
The last two posts have been Rockwell and there is enough information for me to post many more times. We’ll see when I’ve run the course.
Someone asked me in the press room what was the most outstanding thing from the day on Wednesday, the first day of Automation Fair. The prompt response, “CompactLogix I/O.” First thing in the morning a trusted contact told me to check it out. I was not disappointed. I don’t have all the specs, but it is blazing fast.
Below are summaries of three announcements from Wednesday–Integrated Architecture which includes the I/O discussion, partnership with Fanuc, and some more detail about the “modern DCS” referred to a couple of posts ago on the Plant PAx product.
The expanded next-generation Integrated Architecture portfolio from Rockwell Automation includes a newly released next-generation Allen-Bradley controller, graphic terminal, servo drive and distributed I/O system, as well as the latest release of the Rockwell Software Studio 5000 and FactoryTalk software offerings.
“We’ve invested significantly in the Integrated Architecture portfolio to help our customers prepare their production environments for future growth, and help machine builders simplify machines and get them to market faster,” said Dan DeYoung, market development director, Integrated Architecture, Rockwell Automation. “With this new portfolio and our ongoing collaboration with our PartnerNetwork members, customers have the tools to more easily design, operate and maintain smart, high-performing systems.”
The new additions to the portfolio include:
- The latest release of the Studio 5000 software includes three new applications: Studio 5000 Architect, Studio 5000 View Designer and Application Code Manager. These applications, along with the Studio 5000 Logix Designer application released in 2012, bring more functionality together into one environment to simplify and speed system development. In addition, the latest releases of FactoryTalk ViewPoint Mobile software and FactoryTalk VantagePoint Mobile software allow users to more easily engage with their production information on mobile devices.
- The Allen-Bradley ControlLogix 5580 controller provides up to 45 percent more application capacity and includes an embedded 1-gigabit Ethernet port to support high-performance communications, I/O and applications with up to 256 axes of motion. The new port and additional capacity cuts the amount of control and communications hardware required, reducing system complexity, costs and required panel space.
- The Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5700 servo drive is a single-platform alternative to using multiple servo drives for large custom machines with high axis-count and power requirements. This can reduce cabinet-space requirements by up to 70 percent and wiring requirements by as much as 60 percent.
- The Allen-Bradley Bulletin 5069 Distributed Compact I/O system with two 1-gigabit Ethernet ports scans 10 times faster than previous versions for greater productivity. The system can connect to as many as 31 modules without the need to expand.
- The Allen-Bradley PanelView 5500 graphic terminal provides a modern design and enhanced integration with Logix controllers using the Studio 5000 View Designer application. This integration improves programming efficiency because engineers can enter configuration information once and use it for the entire automation design.
The expanded portfolio also incorporates a number of security features to help manufacturers and industrial operators protect their facilities, assets and intellectual property.
Rockwell – Fanuc Collaboration
Rockwell Automation and FANUC are collaborating on several new initiatives to help customers realize productivity gains.
“Industrial IoT technologies are delivering on the promise of enabling operators to have access to the timely, contextualized information they need in order to prevent downtime,” said Sujeet Chand, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Rockwell Automation. “Working with FANUC, we can help customers gain access to the data that previously was either unavailable or trapped in their operations. This data is drawn from smart industrial assets, and then contextualized and delivered with actionable information related to asset health, performance and energy usage.”
Major strides have been made in monitoring and managing remote assets to further extend The Connected Enterprise.
“Companies are continuously searching out the latest manufacturing technologies that will help them drive future growth, innovation and profitability,” said Rick Schneider, president and CEO, FANUC America. “In the future, products such as Zero Downtime (ZDT), a cloud-based application, could virtually eliminate unexpected production downtime.”
ZDT from FANUC demonstrates how cloud-based data analysis can predict and prevent unexpected downtime from automation equipment in a connected infrastructure built upon Cisco and Rockwell Automation products.
New system capabilities include a more productive design environment to enhance automation productivity; easier adoption of new enabling technologies to improve user experience; and enhanced control capabilities to help meet operational goals.
“The latest release of our modern DCS platform focuses heavily on improving automation productivity,” said Jason Wright, PlantPAx system marketing manager, Rockwell Automation. “The system now includes pre-built process control strategies to help users greatly reduce the effort and risk to deploy new applications, which helps improve their time-to-market.”
Increased Automation Productivity: The system now includes expanded estimation, design and development guides. New pre-built control strategies developed within the Rockwell Automation library of process objects provide a consistent user and maintenance experience.
Improved User Experience: Leveraging network improvements and built-in mobility, the PlantPAx system delivers an improved, reliable user experience. Expanded industrial Ethernet switches support Layer 3 topologies, enhancing scalability for a variety of applications. Smaller control systems can now be integrated into larger enterprise networks with a common, fully supported network infrastructure. The network switches include embedded Cisco technology to integrate and translate operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT). This makes it easier for process operators to configure and manage system networks.
The PlantPAx system also now includes a mobile component that enables users to create displays and interact with process data across any HTML5-compliant mobile platform. The software is responsive to the user’s specific device, allowing operators and plant managers to access and view performance metrics and data analytics in their preferred format.
Enhanced Control: New built-in control features – such as integrated PlantPAx model predictive control (MPC), alarm management and batch management – now operate in a common environment, helping to improve plant efficiencies and operational performance. Control-based PlantPAx MPC provides the ability to predictably manage external and complex process disturbances, and maximize process performance up to process constraints. This allows continuous improvements within the process while reducing waste and variability.
The updated system also leverages the recently introduced batch application toolkit to help reduce the risk, time and cost of implementing batch control systems. Containing documentation, application examples and sample code, the toolkit gives engineers a starting point to build and maintain a consistent batch control system. It also provides flexibility to customize system elements for increased functionality.