People and Data—the Most Important Assets

This week I attended the AVEVA World customer conference sitting on my patio with a bank of computers on the table. It’s always nice to catch up with the latest from technology suppliers, even if we couldn’t meet in person and have all those informative hallway conversations.

Next week I’ll be attending three conferences, something that would have been a physical impossibility only a few months ago. Looks like all of my anticipated conference trips have been cancelled until November.

I must begin with a note regarding the AVEVA/Schneider Electric relationship. If you go back a few years, Schneider Electric made a rather large and significant acquisition. It kept the Foxboro and Triconex (and a few other) brands and used the software parts—Wonderware and Avantis and some others—as an investment into an engineering software company called AVEVA. As a result, Schneider Electric owns just over a majority of the shares in the publicly traded software company. And, therefore, Schneider Electric played a significant minor role in this conference.

Schneider’s chairman and CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, said, “AVEVA should be agnostic. Our customers don’t have just one system but have the problem of integrating the complexity of having more than one system. AVEVA is completely open. We are independent companies working closely with each other.”

Craig Hayman, CEO of AVEVA, noted during his keynote address, “We’ve pivoted to emphasize digital. We recognize that people and data are the two most important assets. We do this technology in order to make people successful. Businesses have the great responsibility to protect employees and customers. We’re seeing the power of data and analytics helping companies respond to incidents as they occur and operate assets as efficiently as possible.” Indeed, digital, data, and people were the keywords of the event.

In further remarks, Tricoire emphasized “Digital Trust and Sustainability”. He shared how COVID-19 has accelerated existing digital trends, encouraging more efficiency, “remote everything,” greater resilience, and for sustainability to mitigate and adapt to primary threats of both the pandemic and climate change. He said, “Faced with a very volatile environment, companies need superior agility, and increased efficiency. This means they need increased capacity on one side, resiliency on the other side. The overall winner is digitalization. And the need for digitalization has been further reinforced by companies new need to operate remotely, for higher efficiency, and ultimately, for much better sustainability.”

Guest customer keynoter, Saad Bashir, CTO of the City of Seattle, speaking on “Digital Agility in the Age of COVID-19” shared his thoughts on what happened in Seattle when the pandemic hit. “Although we had planned for digital resiliency for some time, we didn’t really know how it would go until one morning all 30,000 people in our team decided to stay home and log on.” Although the team’s resiliency plans have held up well, Saad adds, “We’ve already seen opportunities from the lessons learned and one that’s worth highlighting is digital resiliency…with a unified view of our infrastructure with systems that are seamlessly connected so that they can inform decisions.”

Much discussion involved both Cloud and Edge—you must develop both, can’t have one without the other.

Ravi Gopinath, AVEVA Chief Cloud Officer and COO discussed cloud and AI. He noted four areas of investment—new way of engineering; new way of visualization; reliability and safe operations; drive agility. Develop cloud on one side and AI on the other. The cloud strengths—deploy applications easily, low TCO, enable flexible consumption, and enhance collaboration. AI provides—analysis, prediction, guidance, learning. Leading to Digital Twin, Big Data, and Industrial IoT and Edge.

The press release coming from the event focused on Schneider Electric, who announced expanded partnerships with AVEVA, Lenovo and Stratus to address the convergence of IT and OT. This partnership is bringing together system integrators with IT solution providers to build integrated industrial edge computing solutions resulting in the immediate release of three programs to empower system integrators to expand their value to end users, enabling their customers’ industrial digital transformations.

These programs include:

      Industrial edge reference designs: Co-developed with AVEVA, including solutions from Lenovo and Stratus, these reference designs reduce risk and time to market with fully customizable, pre-integrated EcoStruxure Micro Data Center solutions for any edge environment. With secure solutions designed to meet IT standards, system integrators can free up time from the IT architecture to focus on the software and solutions. These reference designs are available in Schneider Electric’s Local Edge Configurator and can be customized to specifications.
      A digital training program for system integrators: Edge computing continues to prove itself as a space for opportunity for system integrators to extend business models and establish their roles as consultants. This learning program includes a comprehensive digital training series for system integrators on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Micro Data Center and EcoStruxure IT solutions to help address common challenges at the edge.
      The Industrial Edge Exchange Community: Built within Schneider Electric Exchange, the Industrial Edge Community allows system integrators to easily identify and engage with edge-certified IT solution providers. It is designed to facilitate new business and address IT/OT projects, and features a tool that pairs Alliance System Integrators with Schneider Electric’s Edge-certified IT Channel Partners.

    “The smart factory is becoming smarter. Our expanded partnerships and new industrial edge programs empower system integrators to leverage their domain expertise and become IT/OT convergence specialists and meet these needs for their customers,” said Philippe Rambach, Senior Vice President, Industrial Automation, Schneider Electric. “We know that smart manufacturing is driving an unprecedented wave of IT technologies into industrial spaces. As companies leverage AI, robotic processing automation, and more, they will require edge computing solutions to reduce latency and enable resiliency, while ensuring privacy and security, and addressing important data and bandwidth requirements.”

    What is the Industrial Edge?

    For industrial operators to capture the benefits of increased automation, they cannot rely on cloud-technology alone to bring the resiliency and speed demanded by AI, HD cameras, and other Industry 4.0 technologies. Local edge data centers are IT infrastructure enclosures/spaces/facilities distributed geographically to enable endpoints on the network. When in industrial environments such as a manufacturing plant or distribution center, this application is referred to as “industrial edge.”

    Digital Transformation Strategies

    I finally got some time to collect my thoughts about Wednesday’s virtual conference. There was a bit of Rockwell Automation at the PTC LiveWorx. Wednesday was Rockwell’s turn with ROKLive–the latest, and virtual, iteration of its distributor education series RSTechED and RATechED.

    At times over the years, journalists, editors, and writers were not invited to TechEDs. Then they invited us and we sat in sessions. They’ve tried a few executive education days during these events–usually June and usually alternating between Orlando and San Diego. This year was to have been co-located with new partner PTC’s event–until Covid-19 and quarantine.

    I received an invitation and link to check out the Digital Transformation track. (Although a refresher on programming PLCs, networking, and drives would have been OK, too.)

    This was pretty high level with former P&G vp and consultant Tony Saldanha, Microsoft’s Caglayan Arkan, Gartner’s, Ivar Berntz, LNS’s Matt Littlefield, Cisco’s Paul Didier, and at the end of the day two presenters from Rockwell, Mick Mancuso and Jeff Botsch. There were many more. Some time slots had two speakers and some had three.

    A few speakers got pretty high-leveled, but many practical tips came out.

    On the one hand, OEE came out a few times. I’m not a fan–mostly because of data collection methodology. You cannot use OEE as a comparison because within the formula are many definitions and common definitions plant-to-plant seldom exist. In fact, one Rockwell presenter acknowledged as much.

    While Saldanha was speaking, he mentioned that MRP II (or its ideas) was still in widespread use. That is disheartening. I learned and implemented that way back in the late 70s. I’d hope that everyone had moved way past that by now.

    Tips I gleaned from the talks

    • Be data driven
    • We’re benchmarking the wrong companies, you’re competitors are likely to be startups
    • When looking for digital transformation projects, look for the 10x opportunities
    • Focus on solving problems, not just applying technology
    • Consider business objectives first
    • People are key, and be aware of workforce issues such as turnover, retirements, training (and I should add diversity)
    • Key is to develop agile plants and agile supply chains
    • Develop healthy change management processes
    • Pay attention to governance issues

    I have several more virtual conferences this week. I miss meeting the people, but these have not been as painful as I feared.

    OTOH Don’t Get Ready to Travel Too Soon

    Yesterday’s notice was from an IoT event in Barcelona in October. Maybe the situation in Spain will be better by then. On the other hand, a message just came in from the Deutsche Messe people announcing that Hannover Messe will not be held in 2020. The city of Hannover has ruled that the city will not be ready for the trade show until its next regularly scheduled event in April 2021.

    From the press release:

    HANNOVER MESSE cannot take place this year due to the increasingly critical situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Hannover region has issued a decree that prohibits the staging of the world’s leading tradeshow for industrial technology. From now until the next HANNOVER MESSE in April 2021, a digital information and networking offer will provide exhibitors and visitors with the opportunity for economic policy orientation and technological exchange.

    The world of industry will not be able to meet in Hannover this year. Comprehensive travel restrictions, bans on group gatherings and a prohibition decree in the Hannover region make it impossible to stage HANNOVER MESSE. At the same time, the corona crisis is affecting the economy, and the manufacturing industry – HANNOVER MESSE’s core clientele – is already struggling with serious consequences of the pandemic. Demand and sales in German industry are declining, resulting in supply bottlenecks, production stops and reduced working hours for employees.

    “Given the dynamic development around Covid-19 and the extensive restrictions on public and economic life, HANNOVER MESSE cannot take place this year,” says Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Board of Management, Deutsche Messe AG. “Our exhibitors, partners and our entire team did everything they could to make it happen, but today we have to accept that in 2020 it will not be possible to host the world’s most important industrial event.”

    It is the first time in HANNOVER MESSE’s 73-year history that the event will not take place. However, the organizers will not let the show completely vanish. “The need for orientation and exchange is particularly important in times of crisis,” says Köckler. “That is why we are currently working intensely on a digital information and networking plattform for HANNOVER MESSE that we will open to our customers shortly.”

    Various web-based formats will enable HANNOVER MESSE exhibitors and visitors to exchange information about upcoming economic policy challenges and technological solutions. Live streams will transport interactive expert interviews, panel discussions and best-case presentations all over the world. The online exhibitor and product search is also being enhanced, for example with a function that enables visitors and exhibitors to contact each other directly.

    “We firmly believe that nothing can replace direct, person-to-person contact and we are already looking forward to the time after Corona,” says Köckler. “But especially in times of crisis, we must be flexible and act pragmatically. As organizers of the world’s most important industrial trade fair, we want to offer orientation and sustain economic life during the crisis. We are doing that with our new digital offering.”

    Thilo Brodtmann, executive director of Germany’s Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), said, “The cancellation of HANNOVER MESSE 2020 is an unfortunate decision, but it is the only correct one. The mechanical engineering industry must now concentrate on minimizing the consequences of the pandemic in its own operations so that it can start up again. In April 2021, the engineers will be back in Hannover in full force.”

    Wolfgang Weber, Chairman of the ZVEI Management Board: “The fact that Hannover Messe 2020 cannot be hosted is a bitter loss, but it is the right decision. For the electrical industry, the fair is the showcase to the world, which unfortunately remains closed this year. So our companies will use the time until 2021 to manage the considerable consequences of Corona. Next year, they will then present themselves with the latest products and solutions for Industry 4.0 and the energy system of the future.”

    HANNOVER MESSE 2021 will be held from 12 to 16 April 2021.

    Getting Ready to Travel?

    With all this staying home protocol going on, are you missing the travel scene? Some pundits are doing a linear extrapolation from a limited data set and predicting a “new normal” where all conferences are virtual. Have you heard that before?

    October might be a good time for IoT people to consider a trip to Barcelona. This announcement just arrived from The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) concerning a call for papers for IoT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC), the global reference for industry IoT and the annual meeting for end users to discuss new IoT projects.

    In its sixth year, IOTSWC runs from October 27-29, 2020, in Barcelona and is co-located with the AI & Cognitive Systems Forum, the Barcelona Cybersecurity Congress and the Wireless Global Congress. 

    “IOTSWC continues to be the place to go to hear from industry IoT users,” said Deloitte Global IoT Lead Helena Lisachuk. “Industry leaders can learn a lot from one another and this year we have shifted our track titles from industries to major solutions and use cases around IoT. This maintains our focus on end-user stories, but will enable IoT leaders across industries to more easily identify where they can best learn from their peers.” 

    Last year, a record-breaking 16,000 visitors from 120 countries attended the Congress. The three-day event featured 300 top-level speakers discussing digitalization for businesses across industries. This year, potential speakers are asked to share the essential ingredients necessary to harness the transformative potential of IoT, highlighting use cases or business cases that demonstrate how IoT is: 

    • Reshaping the way enterprises execute business processes

    • Achieving tangible business outcome metrics such as improved efficiency, reliability, asset management, remote monitoring, increased productivity, decreased downtime, increased profits, etc. 

    • Creating new revenue streams

    • Making new business models possible

    • Enabling synergy with other advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, digital twin, robotics and more.

    “IOTSWC is an industry-leading technology conference bringing together best-in-class solution providers with real-world users,” said Leila Dillon, VP Marketing & Communications at Ameresco.  “This conference highlights the solutions that are in the global market today, showcases how they are making a measurable difference and gives end-users a blueprint for success in their own implementations. Driven by a relentless focus on customer use cases, IOTSWC is not to be missed.”

    “IoTSWC gives me an opportunity to catch up on the global landscape of industry IoT every year. The speakers share their wealth of practical knowledge and are open to professional networking and open dialog about their challenges and successes,” said Shyam V. Nath, Oracle, Director IoT and Cloud. “It always surprises me to see how end-user companies work hand-in-hand with IoT solution providers to tweak solutions for industry-specific problems such as quality control of industrial manufacturing and ensuring adequate food production via smart farming.” 

    The Five IOT Solutions World Congress Tracks 

    • Security – Enterprises are in need of security solutions to prevent data breaches into their systems. As more information is available through IoT devices, enterprises need to protect their data network properly. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Trust through Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Digital Certification, Cloud Data Protection Gateways and Data Encryption.

    • Connectivity – With the global roll-out of 5G, enterprises are in the need of finding connectivity so providers can offer flexible plans for implementing IoT devices. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: 5G, Edge Computing, Autonomous Vehicles, Traffic Management, LPWAN, eSIM vs uSIM and Vehicle Telematics.

    • Business Optimization – IoT enables companies to identify gaps and potential risks thanks to available data in the value chain. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Twins, Virtual Reality, IoT Cloud Platform, Big Data Analytics, Augmented Reality, Additive Manufacturing – 3D, Remote Operating Center, Smart Metering, Workplace Management, Tracking Assets, Predictive Maintenance, Fleet Management, Inventory Management, Digital Thread and Fog Computing.

    • Intelligence – The combination of IoT and technologies, such as machine learning, provide humans with the tools needed to interpret relevant, but sometimes non-structured data. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Artificial Intelligence, Collaborative Robots and Deep Learning Platforms.

    • Customer – IoT provides valuable customer data so companies can deliver quality improvement solutions to clients while improving the customer experience. Topic areas include use case presentations that focus on solutions such as: Remote Health Monitoring, MHealth, Tracked Ingestible Sensors and Smart Parking. 

    All submissions must be use-case/business-case-focused, with business outcome metrics clearly highlighted. Priority selection is given to use-case oriented submissions that include an end-user speaker. The deadline to submit to the IOTSWC 2020 CFP is April 30, 2020. Click hereto apply.

    The conference sessions for IOTSWC are built by a program committee responsible for developing the strategy for the congress, the overall content and bringing together industry leaders. Sessions illustrate how companies are realizing positive business outcomes from implementing IoT and how they collaborated with their solutions teams to make it happen.  The committee is comprised of a cross-section of industry and technology leaders who build the program covering multiple industries, technologies, standards and applications. 

    Hannover Messe Postponed

    The latest casualty of Covid-19 (from the Coronavirus)–but at least the Deutsche Messe folks could find a new date for the event. Following is the press release with details.

    HANNOVER MESSE 2020 has been postponed to the week of 13 to 17 July. Deutsche Messe AG is thus responding to global developments related to the Coronavirus.
     
    Deutsche Messe made the decision to postpone HANNOVER MESSE 2020 to July 2020 in close cooperation with the Hannover Region Health Authority, the HANNOVER MESSE Exhibitors’ Council and the partner associations VDMA (German Engineering Federation) and ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association).
     
    The Hannover Region Health Authority had strongly recommended that Deutsche Messe follow the advice of the Robert Koch Institute, which includes comprehensive measures to safeguard health when hosting major events. For instance, fever measuring stations at all entrances and not allowing people from risk areas or those who have had contact with people from risk areas to enter the exhibition center. This would have entailed a comprehensive evaluation of all trade fair participants – from exhibitors and visitors to service providers, exhibit builders and catering companies.
     
    Deutsche Messe is unable to implement the proposed measures. In addition, their implementation would impair the staging of the event to such an extent that the event would not fulfill its purpose or would do so only with considerable restrictions for exhibitors and visitors.
     
    Since the health of exhibitors, visitors, employees, and the public is the top priority for Deutsche Messe, the decision was made in consultation with HANNOVER MESSE’s exhibitor advisory councils to switch to the July date.
     
    “With the July date, we offer our exhibitors the earliest possible time slot to present their innovations to a global audience and to initiate business,” says Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Messe AG. “In view of the global economic challenges triggered by the Coronavirus in the first half of the year, the new date offers great opportunities. Thus the world’s most important industrial trade fair can provide important impetus for the global economy at an early stage.”
     
    “The VDMA supports the decision of Deutsche Messe AG. In regards to the current challenges caused by the Coronavirus, postponing HANNOVER MESSE until July is the best possible option,” says VDMA Chief Executive Thilo Brodtmann. “We assume that the situation will calm down in the coming months and that the mechanical engineering industry will then benefit from a reviving business situation.”
     
    “Today’s decision by Deutsche Messe AG to postpone HANNOVER MESSE comes at the right time,” emphasizes Wolfgang Weber, Chairman of the ZVEI Management Board. “As an internationally important industrial trade show, its USP is the gathering of people from all over the world. This can only happen if there are no health risks. Furthermore, it is important for the electrical industry to present its products for Industry 4.0, electrification and greater energy efficiency to the public this summer.”

    Hannover Messe Preview

    The 2020 edition of the annual manufacturing trade show in Hannover, Germany isn’t until April, but here I am in Hannover for my first trip to the preview of the show given to global media. Well global except for most of the Chinese delegation for obvious reasons.

    2020 is expected to be as large as ever with the theme this year of Industrial Transformation.

    Show organizers have placed an emphasis of attracting start up companies acknowledging that these are often the sources of energy and new ideas. This year 250 startups are expected at the show.

    Hannover Messe is the world’s largest manufacturing technology show partly because it is also the broadest. The areas of emphasis this year are:

    • Digitalization (AI, IoT, Analytics, security)
    • Individualization (impact on manufacturers)
    • Climate Change (customers ask for responsibility from manufacturers)

    Demographics — acknowledging the global shrinking workforce — will be an added area of concern.

    The Big Picture trends, defined as 5G, Automation, Digital, Energy, Engineered Parts, Global, Logistics, and Future, constitute the organizing principle for the layout of the 30+ Halls.

    Attendees will not escape without hearing about Data many times. Artificial Intelligence being the key component.

    Networking is also considered an important component, and attendees will be tutored on speed and 5G.

    I am not sure yet if I will be attending–there are several personal commitments I have not to mention the cost. The jury remains out on that one. I’m trying to work it out. It’s a tiring week, but I always learn much.