MindSphere World Establishes North American Chapter To Promote IoT Platform

The Profibus International office for North America has been a strong marketing arm supporting the spread of Prifibus/Profinet technology and products in the region. I’ve been wondering about what the future would be with the maturity of these networks. I did not know about Siemens’ work establishing a similar organization for its IoT platform—MindSphere. Here is news about a new chapter.

MindSphere World is a global community of companies and research institutions to jointly shape the future of IoT. Joining forces and sharing experiences enables members to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital world. MindSphere World was founded in 2018 by Siemens along with 18 partner companies to expand the ecosystem around MindSphere, the leading industrial IoT as a service solution. It has since expanded into a broad IoT community including the development of business models, proposals on requirements as well as recommendations to create uniform rules for the use of data. The association also promotes science, research, and education around the Industrial Internet of Things. MindSphere World comprises seven regional associations in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America.

Following is the specific news. I wonder where this will go.

In partnership with leading manufacturers and technology firms, MindSphere World has announced the formation of its newest chapter in North America. Founding Board of Directors members for this new chapter include representatives from Deloitte, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), IBM, Siemens, and Valiant TMS. Further founding member companies BEET, Edge2Web, Pure Precision, Gleason Corp, GROB Systems, Hardinge, MAYA HTT, Patti Engineering, TÜV SÜD, the University of Georgia, the University of South Carolina, and Wunderlich Malec Engineering form a powerful initial ecosystem of North American manufacturing interests. As one of the world’s premier IoT user associations, MindSphere World has expanded its scope to include the United States, Canada, and Mexico in order to help accelerate the adoption of Industrial IoT and drive the digital transformation of manufacturing in the region. 

MindSphere World’s mission is to create an environment in which thought leaders, research institutes, and manufacturers representing all sizes and markets can come together to network, develop standards, and explore best practices. The organization aims to create a platform for all North American manufacturers to convene, learn, and grow throughout their digital transformation.

“FCA is enthusiastic about our membership in MindSphere World North America. We are known for our technological strength and know that IoT is the next frontier of productivity, quality, and innovation. We believe that MindSphere World will help us to identify and implement standards and best practices more effectively,” said Steve Burris, Powertrain Controls Center of Competency, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.   

“As we move into a more digitalized manufacturing era, manufacturers must embrace the concept of acting in ecosystems. Siemens is committed to making this the preeminent industrial IoT organization in the world, powered by the best and brightest minds from North America’s industrial companies,” said Raj Batra, President of Siemens Digital Industries U.S.

“Over the past 10 years, Deloitte has been committed to narrowing the gap of how humans and machines work together, connecting data and driving innovation across every stage of the product lifecycle,” said Adam Mussomeli, principal and Supply Chain & Network Operations lead, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The creation of MindSphere World North America is an important next step to continue that conversation and explore the endless potential of IoT and digital threads as we look to create the next frontier of digital transformation together.” 

As localized manufacturing efforts in the United States, Canada, and Mexico continue to grow, companies are struggling with how to start their digital journey and how to leverage digital tools most effectively. Part of that struggle includes the lack of standards or networks of like-minded organizations. MindSphere World offers the manufacturing industry a mechanism within an ecosystem to determine typical IoT business models and how to leverage them, identify industry-specific use cases, share best practices, and develop and implement more efficient digital solutions.

MindSphere World North America aims to create a platform for all manufacturers to convene, learn, and grow throughout their digital transformation.

PTC and Rockwell Automation Extend Strategic Alliance

PTC and Rockwell Automation have announced an extension to their agreement for joint development and partnership in selling each other’s products. On the one hand given persistent rumors around the market about not everything being rosy with the partnership so far, this is perhaps surprising. On the other hand, Rockwell Automation has invested a lot of money into this and with an equity piece of PTC, it’d be hard to walk away. 

Looking through the press release, notable items are extension to PLM, something I’ve been suggesting to Rockwell executives for many years. The digital twin part could be powerful, except that PTC doesn’t really have a lot of market share in that area. But I’d like to see Rockwell do more in this area, and PTC would no doubt like the US market clout of its partner. It also sounds as if the companies are redoubling their joint sales effort. 

[I’m reprinting the press release without editing the superlatives of “first”, “best”, and the like. These are Rockwell’s own propositions.]

Having already helped almost 250 new customers around the world to achieve their digital transformation goals, PTC  and Rockwell Automation announced October 28, 2020 the expansion and early extension of their strategic alliance.

This extension will ensure continuity in both companies’ sales and product development efforts and expand the agreement to include PTC’s product lifecycle management and software as a service (SaaS) products. This expansion will streamline both companies’ commercial efforts to extend a comprehensive digital thread solution, from upfront design through the operate, maintain and optimize-lifecycle stages. PTC will also offer Rockwell Automation’s virtual machinery simulation and testing software to its own customer and partner network. Under the agreement, both organizations will continue to leverage each other’s resources, technologies, industry expertise, and market presence to seamlessly serve their customers through 2023 and beyond.

The companies’ primary joint offering, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, is the industry’s first comprehensive digital transformation software suite that offers fully integrated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), edge-to-cloud analytics, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and augmented reality (AR) required for the connected enterprise. FactoryTalk InnovationSuite makes it simple to rapidly develop, operationalize, and globally scale innovative solutions to operations.

“Our selection of FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC could not have come at a better time for our company,” said Teja Schubert, Director, Controls, Automation and Technology, Norbord, an international producer of wood-based panels. “As the first wave of COVID-19 hit, it became even more important to have a platform that helps us reduce costs, improve our employee’s experience and make better use of our maintenance and training efforts. This ever-important alliance has made it easier for our company to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic so far, and we look forward to leveraging future solutions.”

“Over the past two years, PTC and Rockwell Automation teams have combined great innovation to offer our customers the world-class FactoryTalk InnovationSuite solution,” said Blake Moret, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “The expansion and early extension of our contract with PTC signifies the increasing value of this strategic alliance and its importance to the Connected Enterprise.”

Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC, said: “The strategic alliance with Rockwell Automation has expanded our reach and our capabilities as we champion Industry 4.0 initiatives around the world. The powerful impact of our offerings amid the current macroeconomic environment proves the market’s need for this collaboration.”

OPC Foundation Welcomes Emerson to Its Board of Directors

Emerson also joins the OPC Foundation Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative to drive a holistic approach to sensor and device level communications across process and factory automation industries.

This news could be a big win for the OPC Foundation. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that big companies join standards efforts in order to delay adoption. Sometimes, though, big companies see benefits for themselves from standards developments. It saves them a ton of internal development time and money. The news that Emerson is increasing its commitment to OPC and working with the field Level communications development can give a needed boost to the effort. We can hope.

The OPC Foundation is proud to announce Emerson has joined its Board of Directors and sincerely welcomes Peter Zornio, Chief Technology Officer for Emerson Automation Solutions, as Emerson’s representative on the Board of Directors. Emerson is one of the world’s largest automation suppliers, providing engineering services and automation technologies to process and discrete manufacturing industries.

Emerson has a long history with the OPC Foundation. As one of its founding members, Emerson played an important role in the development and adoption of the first OPC data connectivity standard and contributed to the development of OPC UA, today’s open data interoperability standard. Emerson supports OPC UA initiatives by participating in OPC Foundation working groups and by adopting OPC UA in a wide variety of its family of products.

Peter Zornio says: “OPC technology is well established in the automation space as the de facto standard for application-level communications.  It also provides integration between operations technology (OT) and the IT world, including cloud-based environments.  We look forward to growing that role, as well as working with the OPC FLC initiative on expanding OPC technology into real-time communications between control and field-connected devices.  OPC is the best candidate to have a single communication standard cover the entire scope of automation architecture from intelligent field devices to the cloud.”

Peter Lutz, Director FLC Initiative: “Currently, the OPC Foundation is extending use of OPC UA down to the level of sensors and devices on the shop floor via its Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative. The value that a major player like Emerson brings to this initiative is important from both technical and market messaging perspectives. First, OPC Foundation Working Groups benefit from extensive Emerson field level expertise. Second, with its strong support for ongoing OPC UA standard development for use in both process and discrete industries, Emerson helps send a clear message to the market: OPC UA plays an equally important role in both verticals.

Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director, OPC Foundation commented “It is gratifying to welcome a company of Emerson’s stature to the OPC Foundation Board of Directors. Working together with Emerson and our other valued board members, the OPC Foundation is now better positioned to deliver on its directive to provide the world with the best single data connectivity and interoperability standard for use throughout the enterprise, regardless of the industry sector.” 

Working Group For Small-to-Medium Sized Manufacturers

If you are an engineer or a manager with one of the large manufacturing or production companies, you wind up getting a lot of love from suppliers and academics and others who seek to help you. But, do you feel like James Lawrence who is Plant Manager, ECM Performance Materials Group? “We are a small tier 3 and 4 supplier of synthetic and natural rubber raw materials. We have a small team wearing many hats.”

Well, CESMII – The Smart Manufacturing Institute seeks to help those of you—a majority of firms in the US–with the first Small to Medium Manufacturers (SMM) Affinity Group meeting to assist manufacturers in accelerating their Smart Manufacturing technology adoption and Workforce Development.

Affinity Groups are an opportunity for manufacturers of all types to share their challenges, and work – with CESMII guidance, as a collective, to overcome them. CESMII provides the management and guidance and will follow-up to address group needs. The SMM Affinity Group is open to CESMII members and will meet in an online forum with the goal of identifying challenges the participants share (such as energy optimization, resource efficiency, quality improvement) and working through solutions. 

The first meeting included speakers from ECM Performance Materials Group, a small manufacturing company, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) – The California Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center (MEP) focused on Technology and Efficiency improvements, the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) and Arkansas Manufacturing Extension Partnership (ARMEP) – Three (3) of Fifty one (51) Centers in the MEP National Network funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Lawrence, cited above, continued, “Our engagement with CESMII is delivering value on many fronts, exposing us to the right technologies and techniques, but most importantly, letting us engage with a community of forward-looking manufacturers and technology providers that we would never have found otherwise. We needed digital transformation expertise for our business, and CESMII put us in touch with Flexware Innovation, an excellent system integrator with whom we were able to engage. We never would have found them without CESMII.”

James Watson, President and CEO of CMTC – “CESMII is a very special organization, delivering game changing guidance and technology for manufacturers, to support them in the transfer and adoption of new Smart Manufacturing technologies. CESMII provides CMTC the necessary resources to successfully engage California manufacturers in the deployment of smart solutions.”

KeAnne Hoeg – NCMEP – “We have struggled with bringing new technology to SMMs due to a wide variety of readiness levels. The initiatives at CESMII are right in line with the needs of our manufacturing ecosystem in North Carolina and together, we can be the lighthouse in North Carolina for those ready for Smart Manufacturing adoption. Large manufacturers have their own initiatives and resources, and it’s the 99.6% of manufacturers in the SMM category that need our help.”

Dan Curtis, Director ARMEP – “We are relying on CESMII for their expertise in Smart Manufacturing and Workforce Development tools. Our task is to engage with our local manufacturers and guide them to new levels of performance and profitability, now with the assistance of CESMII.”

CESMII is the United States’ national institute on Smart Manufacturing, driving cultural and technological transformation and secure industrial technologies as national imperatives. By enabling frictionless movement of information – raw and contextualized data – between real-time Operations and the people and systems that create value in and across Manufacturing organizations, CESMII is ensuring the power of information and innovation is at the fingertips of everyone who touches manufacturing.  

Founded in 2016, in partnership with DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), CESMII is the third institute funded by EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office. The Institute is accelerating Smart Manufacturing (SM) adoption through the integration of advanced sensors, data (ingestion – contextualization – modeling – analytics), platforms and controls to radically impact manufacturing performance, through measurable improvements in areas such as: quality, throughput, costs/profitability, safety, asset reliability and energy productivity. CESMII’s program and administrative home is with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Swift Sensors Appoints Ray Almgren CEO

Executive promotions and shuffling are not my stock in trade, but I’ve known and respected Ray Almgren for a long time. Very happy to see him take on this sensor company—the essential basic element of an Internet of Things ecosystem. Sensors don’t get all the glory, but without them, no things in the Internet of Things.

Swift Sensors, a producer and supplier of wireless sensor systems, announced the appointment of Ray Almgren as Chief Executive Officer. Almgren will lead the growth initiatives of the company to expand product offerings and to scale worldwide distribution channels.  

Founded by Dean Drako, Swift Sensors has developed low-cost, monitoring solutions, making wireless IoT devices available for one-tenth the cost of traditional systems. These sensors are critical for operational efficiency and improvements, monitoring data such as temperatures for food processing and pharmaceuticals, or machine health and operation in industrial manufacturing. 

Almgren joined the company in 2016 as the Chief Marketing Officer, and helped launch the company. Almgren was named Chief Operating Officer in 2019. 

“Ray brings extensive knowledge and experience in sensors, embedded systems and the Internet of Things (IoT),” said Dean Drako, Founder and Chairman of Swift Sensors. “His leadership of our product development and marketing strategy has been a key factor in our success. As CEO, he will continue these initiatives and create a world-wide distribution channel for our products. Ray’s reputation in our industry as a strong technical and business leader is known throughout the world.”

Almgren joined Swift Sensors after a 28-year career at National Instruments (NI), where he served in numerous roles including Director of Engineering, Vice President of Product Marketing, and Vice President of Corporate Marketing. Almgren graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

Harting Technology Celebrates 75 Years

Whenever I begin to feel down about humans and the human condition, whenever politics and social media crap get to be too much, then a story about the human spirit comes my way.

I met a couple of members of the Harting family at a tech event several years ago. The company exemplifies the “connection” part of The Manufacturing Connection even though I seldom acknowledge them 

But to think, there the family was in the peace following the devastation of the Second World War starting a company that has grown and thrived for 75 years. 

In this hall in Minden, a few months after the end of the war, the Harting company was launched under the name of “Wilhelm Harting Mechanische Werkstätten”.

For 75 years now, the HARTING Technology Group has been driving technological change and providing decisive impetus for the future. The vision formulated in 1996 by the owner family “We want to shape the future with technologies for people” remains the guiding star of our entrepreneurial activities. September 1 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding day of the family company. The manufacturer of everyday products such as waffle irons and irons has evolved into a worldwide leading supplier of industrial connection technology for the three lifelines of data, signal and power, a global player fielding innovative products and solutions focusing on Industry 4.0 and digitization.

Wilhelm and Marie Harting opened the “Wilhelm Harting Mechanical Workshops” on September 1, 1945, in a repair workshop covering about 100 square meters in Minden, Westphalia. Wilhelm Harting initially concentrated on everyday consumer goods, which were in short supply after the war: Immersion heaters, hotplates, energy-saving lamps and electric firelighters that sold like hot cakes. His wife delivered the goods by bicycle in the surroundings of Minden and was paid with bread, bacon, eggs, and legumes. For copper and other raw materials, the company’s first buyer had set off to Cologne and Wuppertal with his rucksack. The return trip was on a coal freight wagon.

The nascent company had a stand at the first HANNOVER MESSE in 1947 and received numerous orders for alternators, starters, regulators, fuel pumps and ignition distributors.

The company grew rapidly and needed more space. From 1950 onwards, the company gradually moved to the neighbouring refugee settlement of Espelkamp. By 1955, the company already had 500 employees and was able to double its turnover to 8.6 million D-Mark within a year. 

The Han (HARTING standard), patented in 1956 and a registered trademark since 1957, became the standard, the epitome of the industrial connector and laid the foundation for the ascent of the medium-sized company from East Westphalia. Thanks to the Han-Modular series, customers are able to achieve optimal design solutions for the supply of machines, systems and plants. Today, the Han-Modular represents the market standard for modular industrial connectors.

Like the company founders, Dietmar and Margrit Harting are also committed to the region. They support projects, initiatives and associations in the fields of culture, sports, education and science. Margrit Harting, until 2018 also Vice President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of East Westphalia in Bielefeld, has received several awards for these activities. She is Honorary Chairwoman of the Philharmonic Society of Eastern Westphalia-Lippe, Honorary Chairwoman of association for the promotion of the Minden-Lübbecke district, Honorary Chairwoman of the Local Cultural Agency Espelkamp, and honorary citizen of Leibniz University Hanover. In 2002 she received the Espelkamp Medal.

For many years, Dietmar Harting was active as a leading luminary in national and international associations and committees, including as President of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), President of the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI), member of the Presidium of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), President of CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) and Chairman of the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies in DIN and VDE (DKE). From 1995 to 1998, Dietmar Harting was a member of the “Council for Research, Technology and Innovation” under Chancellor Helmut Kohl and from 2004 to 2006, he was also active as a member of the “Partners for Innovation” initiative of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Chancellor Angela Merkel respectively. Several organisations honoured his high level of commitment with honorary membership or honorary presidency. In 2013, the Erich Gutenberg working group bestowed its “Praktikerpreis” (Practitioner Award) on Dietmar Harting.    

In 1998, the entrepreneurial couple received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and in 2009 the Federal Cross of Merit First Class. In the same year, the city of Espelkamp acknowledged the Hartings by bestowing honorary citizenship. Dietmar Harting was also honoured with the Lower Saxony Cross of Merit 1st Class in 2004 and has been an honorary doctor of Leibniz Universität Hannover since 2010.

Dietmar Harting was Chairman of the HANNOVER MESSE Exhibitors’ Advisory Board for many years and also a member of the Supervisory Board and Executive Committee of Deutsche Messe AG. In 2008 he was awarded the Golden Trade Fair Medal. To this day, the technology group ranks as one of the very few companies to have been present at the trade fair every year without interruption.

In October 2015, after almost 50 years in the management of the Technology Group, Dietmar Harting handed over the reins as Chairman of the Board to his son Philip (46). Today, Philip Harting and his sister Maresa Harting-Hertz (Member of the Board for Finance, Global Purchasing and Facility Management) work closely with their parents Margrit and Dietmar Harting on the Board.

The HARTING Automotive subsidiary develops and produces charging equipment for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. HARTING is also making its key contributions to sustainability in the generation of regenerative energy and has long featured as an experienced and reliable partner to the wind turbine industry.

In recent years, HARTING has been increasingly relying on cooperation activities, networks and partnerships such as the MICAnetwork and the Future Alliance for Mechanical Engineering, with which Industry 4.0 and digitization are being driven forward, while shaping and co-determining the networking of processes and objects. The Technology Group regards partner networks as an ideal platform for the further development of Integrated Industry. In this way, the future can be shaped and designed with technologies for people and values created.