Robotics, Vibration, and Water Systems News

Today is another “wrap up a bunch of products” day. It’s been a hectic couple of days where I was on a panel with the ZEDEDA Transform event live on the Web (I’m sure it will be ondemand shortly) while today Don Pearson of Inductive Automation interviewed me for an Inductive podcast. Below are two robotic announcements looking forward to new applications, a reliability oriented vibration sensor, and a water system.

MASS Robotics Partners with Procter and Gamble

MassRobotics helps create and scale the next generation of successful robotics and connected devices companies by providing entrepreneurs and innovative robotics/automation startups with the workspace and resources they need to develop, prototype, test and commercialize their products and solutions. It has launched a new partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to collaboratively explore technologies around automation and manufacturing-related applications.

The goal of the partnership is to develop ideas to improve productivity, drive increased value for consumers, accelerate agility from more automation, and allow more flexibility in meeting the manufacturing deadlines of customers. In addition to exploring and accessing innovations from resident startups, MassRobotics’ overall community will help P&G remain on the cutting-edge of the robotics and automation industry and more closely collaborate with existing P&G robotics partners in Massachusetts.

MassRobotics is the result of the collective work of a global group of engineers, rocket scientists, and entrepreneurs with a shared vision to create a strong, vibrant robotics and IoT ecosystem. 

MiR Introduces Two New Robots

Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), the global market leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), launched its most powerful robots for transporting pallets and other heavy items around manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and logistics centers. The MiR600 and MiR1350 robots, which can lift up to 600 kg (1322 pounds) and 1350 kg (2976 pounds), respectively, are designed to safely and efficiently perform material handling tasks in challenging industrial environments.

The industrial and protected MiR600 and MiR1350 are the market’s first Ingress Protection52-rated autonomous mobile robots, which mean their components are protected and can tolerate dust and water drops.

New AMRs optimize all logistics—inbound, production and outbound

The larger MiR600 and MiR1350 are ideal for autonomously transporting heavy loads of materials and goods in:

• loading bays

• production and assembly areas

• warehouses

• material delivery areas

Like MiR’s other AMRs (MiR100, MiR200, MiR250, MiR500 and MiR1000), the MIR600 and MIR1350 navigate smoothly and safely among people and other transport equipment in dynamic surroundings. Sensors, 3D cameras and the latest laser scanning technology ensure 360-degree vision for precise and safe navigation and operations. The new AMRs are designed to comply with the industry’s latest safety standards, including ISO 3691-4 and ANSI/RIA R15.08-1-2020.

Fluke Reliability introduces the Fluke 3562 Screening Vibration Sensor system

Fluke Reliability introduces the Fluke 3562 Screening Vibration Sensor system. With its batteryless technology, long-range sensor-to-gateway communication, and ability to connect up to 1,000 sensors to a single gateway, the Fluke 3562 is a “set it and forget it” solution that can operate continuously, even in hard-to-reach places. 

When used with the recently released Fluke 3563 Analysis Vibration Sensor for critical machines and LIVE-Asset management software, maintenance teams now have a comprehensive solution for virtually every asset in the plant. The vibration screening system enables maintenance teams to spot machine faults before catastrophic failures happen, avoiding costly downtime. 

The Fluke 3562 Screening Vibration Sensor draws power from a machine’s heat or the light in the room using innovative thermoelectric or photovoltaic energy harvesters. The technologically advanced sensor screens overall vibration levels, temperature, and humidity, as well as trends the nine highest FFT peaks by magnitude. 

The Fluke 3562’s unique features: 

Batteryless technology — With either a thermoelectric or photovoltaic energy harvester, the sensor requires minimum upkeep over a longer period of time, reducing costs and labor. 

Flexible wireless network capabilities — The wireless gateway has triple network connection capabilities — Wi-Fi, LTE, and Ethernet — so it’s adaptable for any facility.

Scalable and long-range — With long-wavelength signals and the ability to connect up to 1,000 sensors, the Fluke 3562 can be placed further from the gateway, allowing sensors to be installed in more hard-to-reach areas.

KETOS Unveils Updates to its Smart Water Intelligence Platform

Addressing global water management issues, KETOS, Inc., a water intelligence innovator, announced enhancements to its award-winning, cloud-based KETOS Smart Water Intelligence Platform. Key updates include improved user experience and workflow management, greater flexibility to configure customer-specific instances, scalability to support larger concurrent users numbers, the ability to handle larger data sets, and more sophisticated analytics and reporting capabilities.

Bringing water intelligence to customers across agriculture, industrial and municipal operations, KETOS combines software, hardware, and predictive analytics to automate water monitoring and testing. The holistic solution helps solve water efficiency and quality challenges with real-time data and mission-critical insights.

Measuring over 25 water quality parameters, KETOS offers water operators a fully integrated, EPA-compliant solution with intelligent hardware, stable connectivity infrastructure, an interactive software platform, and actionable data. 

KETOS Smart Water Analytics enhancements support operational stability and business continuity efforts across its customers, offering predictive maintenance with zero labor hours required for water operators. Users now have access to improved graphical view enhancements, instant notifications, enhanced calendar-based test scheduling, push mobile notifications, and more.

Additional updates include:

• Vertical-focused analytics including reporting comparisons and correlation between parameters; 

• Improved flexibility  and overall user experience; and

• 24/7 remote support.

AI and Edge Top Today’s News Stories

I have four news items today. A couple are AI related and a couple more along the Edge. All concern developing products with the latest tech. ABB, Micropsi, IOTech, and ThinkIQ.

ABB to deliver artificial intelligence modeling for data center energy optimization in Singapore.

ABB has signed up to a pilot study with ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC) to explore how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and advanced analytics can optimize energy use and reduce a facility’s carbon footprint.

Singapore-headquartered STT GDC, which is one of the fastest growing global data center operators, is leveraging the digital transformation expertise of technology leader ABB as it bids to become net carbon-neutral by 2030.

ABB is conducting the pilot in two phases, beginning with initial data exploration, modeling, and validation, studying historical data to establish how digital solutions would impact existing operations and energy use. Once proven, it will be followed by AI control logic testing in a live data center environment. STT GDC aims to achieve at least 10 percent in energy savings from its cooling systems, which is the largest consumption of electrical power in a data center after IT equipment.

The ABB team is currently developing AI-based optimization models for the entire data center cooling plant, including the upstream chiller and distribution systems. The AI project is also unlocking new opportunities for efficiency improvement at a granular level within the data center. STT GDC will be able to use AI-generated insights, leveraging cutting-edge ABB Ability™ Genix for industrial analytics and AI, to track and analyze data generated by monitoring systems in the data center, and better facilitate dynamic cooling optimization.

Micropsi Industries’ AI-driven Control System Speeds Complex and Precise Robot Training and Deployment

Industrial and collaborative robots learn to perform camera-guided movements more quickly with the latest version of Micropsi Industries’ MIRAI robot control system. Using artificial intelligence (AI), MIRAI enables robots to flexibly react to variances in their tasks in real time by learning from humans. Variances in position, shape, surface properties or lighting conditions are a common challenge for robotic automation of machine tending, assembly or test applications. With MIRAI’s new “positioning skills” feature, giving examples of quality movements to the robot has become much easier, and the robot will generalize and understand what to do much more quickly.

With the new feature, MIRAI customers will notice quicker set-up times, down from 2-3 days per skill to about three hours. In addition, robot speeds have increased, which also enables shorter cycle times.

Companies wanting to use a robot to perform precise and complex skills—such as gripping and inserting a bendable or soft component, like a cable, into differently arranged sockets—would primarily use the MIRAI controller at the first and last decisive centimeters of a manufacturing step. 

With MIRAI, preparing robots to perform tasks that include variances requires a human worker to guide the robot arm several times through typically occurring scenarios to show the robot to its destination, such as sockets in which freely hanging cables need to be inserted. A machine learning process then derives a motion intuition for the robot from the given examples. For a robot that is not required to follow specific paths to perform its task, MIRAI users can deploy the new positioning skills to teach the robot to find the destination even faster because a human worker needs only to show MIRAI the surroundings of the target with the camera. The robot then independently searches for the shortest path to the object.

IOTech launches Edge Builder to manage edge systems at scale 

IOTech, the edge software company, announced the launch and availability of Edge Builder, its end-to-end management solution for edge systems. Edge Builder provides a comprehensive, flexible and open solution that simplifies and automates the management of edge systems at scale. 

To ensure that Edge Builder addresses the market opportunity, IOTech has been working with a number of key partners and potential customers during the development phase of the product. 

Designed to meet the specific needs of edge systems, Edge Builder provides light touch provisioning and complete lifecycle management for both edge nodes and their applications. Currently it supports the deployment and management of containerized applications at the edge and in the future will also support the deployment of native binary applications.

Edge systems are managed from a centralized Edge Builder controller that can be hosted either on-premise or in the cloud. Platform independence for both the managed nodes and the cloud environment on which the controller is deployed ensures flexibility and choice for Edge Builder users. 

Edge Management at Scale -Solving the Big Problem in the IoT Room

ThinkIQ Enhances SaaS Platform with Stronger Connectivity, Analytics and Visualization

ThinkIQ, a pioneer of digital manufacturing transformation SaaS, announced major enhancements to its SaaS Manufacturing platform. The new offering strengthens the company’s leading Transformational Intelligence Platform and provides more powerful and simplified modeling technology to allow for faster time to solution, better analytics and visualization, and higher performance data processing.

Many transformational intelligence platforms are either pure developments tools or are restricted to the feature set that is delivered with the platform. ThinkIQ’s latest enhancements deliver the best of both worlds with strong model integration combined with an extensible development platform that bridges the gap between traditional, on-premise OT technologies and strong could-enabled analytics.

These capabilities can be applied to any manufacturing and supply chain application and are particularly well-suited for hybrid, continuous and batch processes.

ThinkIQ’s SaaS Manufacturing cloud-based platform simplifies the creation of web-based applications and leverages the strengths of the Internet of Things, Big Data, Data Science, Semantic Modeling and Machine Learning. The platform collects data across the operation (existing and IIoT sensors) to provide actionable real time insights (e.g., identify correlations and root causes, traceability and yield issues, etc.). It creates a new level of capability beyond what independent disconnected operating environments can provide today.

To learn more about ThinkIQ, visit our website.

Industrial Internet Consortium Pivots to Reflect Maturity of IoT Marketplace

IIC stands for something different today than yesterday. Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) announced a new direction and a new name – Industry IoT Consortium (IIC). The news release states, New focus on technology innovation that fosters business transformation. I have been downplaying that IoT term for some time. These terms grow old in buzz factor within just a few years. Engineers working in manufacturing and production have been connecting “things” for a long time and using Internet Protocol (Internet of Things) for a decade. The current buzz is all about “digital transformation”, so a revised focus (while probably doing much of the same thing) is in order.

IIC has become the world’s leading organization transforming business and society by accelerating the Industrial IoT. The consortium’s new mission is to bring transformative business value to organizations, industry, and society by accelerating the adoption of trustworthy IoT systems. IIC’s new focus will drive technology innovation that fosters business transformation so that organizations can realize a return on their IoT investments.

“We recognized the need to focus on technology deployments to solve technical problems,” said Dr. Richard Soley, Executive Director, Industry IoT Consortium. “We’re applying technology to address customer pain points and improve business results. Industry organizations and technology providers turn to IIC and its members for IoT support and guidance. Now we’ll guide them on the application of IoT technology and digital transformation enablers to achieve positive business outcomes.”

I like Richard’s comment about addressing customer pain points and improving business results. Technology should solve real world big problems not just another technology problem.

The new direction will strengthen the IIC ecosystem by unifying members around successful IoT deployment outcomes. New programs, which combine several approaches to digital transformation, will identify customer pain points, improve go-to-market abilities, and enhance business outcomes. Existing programs will change to reflect this focus, and new initiatives will emerge to help members reach more of their customers.

IIC will continue its work on best-practice frameworks, innovative testbeds, and providing standards requirements to standards development organizations. It will also target IT, networks, manufacturing, energy & utilities, healthcare markets, and academia & research. 

The newly branded IIC will help organizations identify best technology practices, build credible brands, and grow their businesses. Industry IoT Consortium delivers transformative business value to industry, organizations, and society by accelerating the adoption of a trustworthy internet of things. Industry IoT Consortium is a program of Object Management Group (OMG).

Hexagon Announces New Version of Cyber Integrity

While I’m on a cybersecurity kick today, following is a news release from Hexagon which acquired PAS Global a few months ago. PAS had brought its holistic, enterprise-wide view of risk analytics to OT cybersecurity solution to drive remediation efforts. News release follows.

PAS Global, part of Hexagon, announced the availability of Cyber Integrity 7.2, a leap forward in visualizing, comprehending, and directing resources to mitigate vulnerability risk. As the cyber risk for critical infrastructure and process industries continues to escalate, with recent attacks including the JBS cyberattack impacting OT environments and a war on the country’s infrastructure with 65,000 ransomware attacks in 2020 alone, there has never been a more important time to safeguard these systems.

Within just a few clicks, Cyber Integrity 7.2 uniquely enables users to rapidly identify the highest risk assets, expediently prioritize and select a remediation method while deploying remediation assets and adhere to best practices with closed loop documentation. Cyber Integrity 7.2 provides the following capabilities:

● Reduces the attack surface and quickly conducts remediations in the order that reduces the greatest risk.

● Develops an enterprise-wide, holistic image of vulnerability risk and develops enhanced risk-based decision-making.

● Maintains situational awareness of the attack surface and vulnerability severity, aging and propagation paths as they relate to known weaknesses in the infrastructure.

● Rapidly identifies locations in the environment with the highest number of vulnerabilities while simultaneously considering the patching level of various assets.

● Instantly reviews meaningful and actionable data regarding patches and upgrades paths providing the highest value.

“We are excited to launch Cyber Integrity 7.2 to provide the industry’s best situational awareness and rapid remediation of vulnerabilities,” said Scott Plunkett, Senior Product Owner, Cyber, Hexagon’s PPM division. “While we could previously show vulnerabilities en masse, this version provides much more direction for customers by rapidly uncovering the most critical problems, easily prioritizing those problems and offering automated selection of the most efficacious route to remediation.”

“This is another excellent example from PAS of the practical application of analytics that enable end users to make better decisions about how to address the most pressing and impactful vulnerabilities at the OT level. OT is unique because it incorporates such a diverse range of systems and assets, from decades-old control system platforms to brand new IoT-based systems, containers, and cloud computing. This makes it even harder for end users to achieve a truly holistic view of cyber risk. PAS brings the OT level knowledge to the table to make the holistic view possible, enabling users to make good, actionable decisions to reduce risk quickly across multiple sites,” said Larry O’Brien, Vice President of Research at ARC Advisory Group.

Cyber Integrity 7.2 will be available to new and existing partners today at little to no additional deployment cost. A demo video is available here for more information.

Coalition for Open Process Automation Launches COPA QuickStart

The Open Process Automation Forum has made progress over the past few years. You can see a chain of reports and thoughts I’ve written over that time. These ideas remind me of a phrase we had amongst the graduate assistants when I was in grad school (we were all political philosophy majors), “Operationalize your eschaton!” In other words of Wendy’s restaurants, “Where’s the beef?” Is anything practical going to evolve from all this standards work?

Then an organization called “Coalition for Open Process Automation” contacted me with information about its formation, members, and, best of all, certified products. This is a giant step forward. Check out the press release and website.

The Coalition for Open Process Automation (COPA) is pleased to announce the launch of COPA QuickStart to accelerate the adoption of Industrial Control Systems (ICS). This is aligned with The Open Group O-PAS Standard, a “standards of standards” for industrial process automation developed by the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF).

COPA is a diverse group of leading IT and OT technology companies, led by innovative newcomers Collaborative Systems Integration of Austin, Texas and CPLANE.ai of Silicon Valley, California. Its partners include veteran industry leaders such as Phoenix Contact, R. Stahl, Supermicro, Nova SMAR, and CODESYS. With the release of COPA QuickStart, the Coalition is applying years of research, collaboration, and investment by members of OPAF to bring ICS systems to market that are built on industry standards for open, secure, and interoperable architectures.

Securing ICS’s from ransomware attacks and state-sponsored hacking is now one of the top priorities of governments and corporations. These cybersecurity issues along with outdated and crumbling infrastructure adds to the imperative to increase value generation and reduce total cost of ownership through digital transformation. The first step in digital transformation for industrial manufactures is Open Process Automation.

The COPA partner companies have engineered COPA QuickStart to incorporate components and technologies from multiple vendors into a single, advanced, and cohesive ICS. The COPA QuickStart system is the catalyst for industrial manufacturers to accelerate their adoption of state-of-the-art ICS systems that greatly improve security, flexibility, and profitability of their operations.

Industrial manufacturers can no longer take a “wait and see” approach to adopting modern and open control systems into their manufacturing operations. Until now, there have been no open control system products available for companies to buy. The COPA QuickStart system provides the critical first step in helping industrial manufacturers to start learning, proving, and adopting open architecture ICS solutions into their operations.

Don Bartusiak, who is known widely as the “Father of Open Process Automation,” previously served as ExxonMobil’s Chief Engineer for Process Control. He said, “industrial manufacturers have repeatedly told me that if O-PAS Standard aligned systems were available, they would buy them. The COPA QuickStart system is our answer to that challenge.” Dr. Bartusiak’s company, Collaborative Systems Integration (CSI) is the systems integrator for the COPA QuickStart offering.

The COPA QuickStart system is designed to accelerate the innovation efforts of leading industrial manufacturers, allowing them to realize the benefits of open systems sooner. The system includes:

A pre-packaged industrial control system, aligned with the O-PAS Standard and carefully engineered with best-of-breed components from Phoenix Contact, R. Stahl, Nova SMAR, Supermicro, CPLANE.ai, CSI, and CODESYS.

CPLANE.ai’s Fusion management software for seamless automation and orchestration across the entire life-cycle of an industrial control system from startup to operate to evolve. CPLANE.ai Fusion leverages capabilities engineered by Intel and is powered by Intel Edge Controls for Industrial.

The Advanced Computing Platform, built by Supermicro and powered by Intel Xeon D processors installed in a versatile short-depth 1U chassis.

Advanced digital technologies demonstrating the value of new capabilities such as fast-cycle Model Predictive Control, Reinforcement Learning Control, AI, and advanced cybersecurity.

Hands-on training modules allowing engineers and executives to rapidly gain a deeper understanding of the next-generation control systems and the value they can deliver.

“Powered by Intel Atom x6000E series and Intel Pentium and Celeron N and J series processors with the Intel Edge Controls for Industrial software, the COPA QuickStart will help accelerate the adoption of OPAF-based control systems,“ said Richard Kerslake, General Manager of Industrial Controls and Robotics at Intel.

Steve Nunn, CEO and President, The Open Group said: “Through defining and promoting Open Process Automation™, OPAF and COPA are united by a common goal of helping industrial manufacturers accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. The launch of COPA QuickStart coupled with new developments to the O-PAS Standard represents a key milestone in the creation of open, secure, and interoperable architectures, which are critical to the future of industrial process automation systems. We are looking forward to continue working with COPA to address industry challenges and drive progress in process automation.”

“COPA QuickStart is the fruit of many years of collaboration by OPAF and COPA members. It is exciting to see the first, standards based open system become commercially available. Open Process Automation is the future, and we are excited to be a catalyst to accelerate that transformation,” shared Bob Hagenau, CEO, CPLANE.ai

First availability of COPA QuickStart system will be in Q3 of 2021. More information is available at www.copacontrol.org or by contacting CPLANE.ai.

About CPLANE.ai

CPLANE.ai automates the orchestration of distributed edge computing across a diverse landscape of hardware and software components. CPLANE.ai removes the complexity of provisioning, managing, securing, and evolving distributed systems. CPLANE.ai’s intelligent software platform automates the coordination and configuration of policies and procedures across multiple layers of distributed cloud infrastructure.

Manufacturing Reshoring Sets New Record in 2020

As companies grow, they must seek new markets. Necessity pushes these companies to expand internationally. I was a manager in two companies that were not even large but still needed overseas markets in an attempt to survive.

On the other hand, companies begin in one home country that provides access to many things that helped them start and grow. That country has certain vested interests, too.

One of the issues Trump pressed was the feeling that companies had grown too large and too much was taken overseas. He reflected the feeling of many that the US was weakened by these companies‘ growth and subsequent expansion of manufacturing jobs overseas.

Meanwhile Harry Moser and the Reshoring Initiative has been vocal about some companies’ shortsighted financial calculations moving factories from the US to international locations.

That is some background for this press release. I sympathize with both points of view, and I’m sure the pendulum will swing and things will balance. Unless we witness another huge world war again.

Reshoring has been hot in June. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Investment Advisory Council (IAC) reported on June 9 its recommendations, including reshoring of semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. The Reshoring Initiative’s Harry Moser teamed up with TEVA’s Terry Creighton, the driving force on the pharma recommendation, and played a leading role in expanding the focus of IAC to include reshoring in addition to foreign direct investment (FDI). At the meeting, Harry advocated for an even greater focus on reshoring and followed up with Under Secretary Farrell, offering the Reshoring Initiative’s help.

On June 8, 2021, the Biden Administration announced its immediate actions based on Executive Order 14017 “America’s Supply Chains.” The actions include major improvements in self-sufficiency in semiconductor chips, pharmaceuticals, rare earth minerals and electric vehicle (EV) batteries. These emergency actions are needed because we have allowed so many supply chain gaps to develop. The Reshoring Initiative recommends also attacking the root cause: U.S. lack of price competitiveness. 

Despite the economic slowdown caused by COVID, reshoring numbers were up in 2020. Reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) job announcements for 2020 were 160,649, bringing the total jobs announced since 2010 tover 1 million (1,057,054). Additionally, the number of companies reporting new reshoring and FDI set a new record: 1,484 companies. All jobs added are good news, but at this rate, it will take 30 years to reach President Biden’s goal of five million jobs. Actions needed to accelerate the trend are presented in the Report.

Top Takeaways from the 2020 Report

  • President Biden is prioritizing reshoring. The gaps in Biden’s plans need to be addressed in order to achieve his goal of returning 5 million more jobs. Details of needed actions are also in our Competitiveness Toolkit
  •  In 2020, U.S. reshoring set a record of 109,000 jobs and outpaced FDI for the first time since 2013. COVID/supply chain uncertainty has resulted in companies emphasizing operations in their home countries.
  • Recent national initiatives to shorten and close supply chain gaps for essential products aim to make the U.S. less vulnerable. The following industries are most likely to benefit: personal protective equipment (PPE), medical, semiconductor chips and defense. Medical equipment and PPE are the first responders of new reshoring and FDI, with 2020 cases up nearly 2,000% and jobs up 400% from 2019.
  • There is continued growth in efforts by Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), economic development organizations (EDOs) and states to enable reshoring. The Reshoring Initiative is deeply involved in these efforts with its Import Substitution Program (ISP). As a measure of corporate interest, the demand for this service is more than ten times the rate of 2019. 
  • We anticipate 2021 reshoring and FDI job announcements to be near 200,000, up by at least 25% from 2020.

See the full report: Reshoring Initiative® 2020 Data Report: COVID Drives Cumulative Jobs Announced Past 1 Million