Standardization Advances From OPC Foundation

OPC Foundation held a virtual SPS press conference combined with annual general meeting last month. The most profound news comes from the group working on Field Level Communications. That seemed to be a bit of a political football when the idea was broached several years ago. It now has momentum. A couple of other items of interest relate to work with other associations. OPCF will take ownership of the MDIS Sub-Sea Standard. Meanwhile, John Dyck continues to be busy building relationships as CESMII and OPCF have launched a UA Cloud Library.

OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications Initiative reaches significant milestone and celebrates premiere

Three years after its launch, the OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative has completed the second release candidate of the OPC UA FX (Field eXchange) specifications and has started the review and release process for them.  In addition, a multi-vendor demo with controllers and network infrastructure components of 20 companies – among them the world’s largest automation suppliers – has been realized to showcase the cross-vendor interoperability of automation components for the most diverse use cases in Factory and Process Automation.

The release candidate of the Field Level Communications Initiative consists of four specification parts (Parts 80-83) and focuses on communication between automation components to exchange process data and configuration data using OPC UA Client/Server and PubSub extensions in combination with peer-to-peer connections and basic diagnostics:

  • Part 80 (OPC 10000-80) provides an overview and introduces the basic concepts of using OPC UA for field level communications.
  • Part 81 (OPC 10000-81) specifies the base information model and the communication concepts to meet the various use cases and requirements of Factory and Process Automation. 
  • Part 82 (OPC 10000-82) describes networking services, such as topology discovery and time synchronization.
  • Part 83 (OPC 10000-83) describes the data structures for sharing information required for Offline Engineering using descriptors and descriptor packages.

Peter Lutz, Director Field Level Communications of the OPC Foundation says: “We are happy about the progress that our working groups have made over the last months, despite COVID-19 and the associated restrictions. The completion of the second release candidate and an impressive multi-vendor live demo is a major achievement because the specifications are now mature so that the member review process could be started.”

Since the start of the Field Level Communications Initiative in November 2018 more than 320 experts from over 65 OPC Foundation member companies have contributed to generate the technical concepts and elaborate the specification contents for extending the OPC UA framework for field level communications, including Determinism, Motion, Instruments and Functional Safety.

The OPC Foundation Takes Ownership of the MDIS Sub-Sea Standard 

The OPC Foundation (OPCF) announced that it consolidated and took over the MCS-DCS Interface Standardisation (MDIS) specification ownership.  Effective immediately, as with all OPCF Companion Specifications, MDIS is freely available for adoption by all interested parties at no additional cost. The OPCF MDIS working group, co-chaired by Markus Koenig from SubSea, Tim Fortin from Honeywell, and Paul Hunkar from DS Interoperability, now oversees the ongoing maintenance and expansion of the standard. Original MDIS network group members will continue working in the OPCF working group. The OPC Foundation invites all members interested in helping shape the future of the MDIS specification to join the MDIS working group.

MDIS was formed with a vision to optimize and standardize communications between subsea Master Control Stations (MCSs) and topside Distributed Control Systems (DCSs). A standardized MCS-DCS interface simplifies the implementation of data communications and increases data quality.

The OPC Foundation and CESMII launches the UA Cloud Library

The OPC Foundation announced the launch of the globally available UA Cloud Library co-developed with the Clean Energy and Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII). With its multi-cloud architecture, the UA Cloud Library saw contributions from all major cloud vendors leveraging open interfaces and is available for sharing, finding, and collaborating on OPC UA Information Models. Today, the UA Cloud Library already contains over 65 OPC UA Information Models created by individual companies as well as international standards organizations like AutoID, DEXPI, MDIS, MTConnect, and over 30 VDMA working groups as part of their OPC UA Companion Specification work.

While shop floor (OT) components routinely discover and use data structures and services of other OPC UA components, direct access to such semantic information has not been readily available to cloud-based applications due to security considerations. The UA Cloud Library eliminates this gap by providing IT and cloud-based applications access to semantic information directly from the cloud instead of manually getting it from the OT systems

“The UA Cloud Library is the missing link that makes OPC UA information models available in the cloud on a global scale without requiring a connection to physical machines,” said Erich Barnstedt, Chief Architect Standards & Consortia, Microsoft Corporation, and chair of the UA Cloud Library working group. “It enables OPC UA Information Models – used as blueprints for industrial digital twins – to be looked up and matched against time-series machine telemetry data provided by cloud-based analytics software, which is a common requirement in Industrial IoT projects.”

“It was an honor to partner with the OPC Foundation in this strategic initiative,” said John Dyck, CEO of CESMII. “The UA Cloud Library is truly an important step on the journey to Smart Manufacturing Interoperability and will pave the way for dramatic simplification and cost savings for manufacturing systems!”

Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation, said, “The value of what the OPC Foundation and CESMII joint working group created cannot be overstated because it equips us with the mechanism needed to facilitate access to all known OPC UA information models via an open, global, single-source of truth.” Mr. Hoppe continued, “Beyond the value the UA Cloud Library brings to applications, it will help with global OPC UA information model coordination and harmonization efforts by making it easy to search and cross-reference the latest OPC UA companion specifications in real-time. Finally, the UA Cloud Library will serve a crucial infrastructure role in Smart Manufacturing initiatives that depend on interoperability.”

Linux Foundation Open Standards Updates

Industries cannot advance without standards. Trains could not operate across a continent. I could not connect to the world from my computer through WiFi to an Internet. Standards may be recognized by governments or they may be de facto industry standards. The key benefit from standards is interoperability. At some level, competing proprietary products can interoperate. I can send a text from my iPhone to your Android phone. I support standards in the name of interoperability. I say this as preamble to three pieces of news coming from the Linux Foundation.

EdgeX Foundry Announces Jakarta, the Project’s First Long Term Support Release

EdgeX Foundry, a Linux Foundation project under the  LF Edge project umbrella, announced the release of version 2.1 of EdgeX, codenamed ‘Jakarta.’  The project’s ninth release, it follows the recent Ireland release, which was the project’s second major release (version 2.0). Jakarta is significant in that it is EdgeX’s first release to offer long term support (LTS). 

“Our Jakarta release is a stabilization release,” said Jim White, the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee  (TSC) Chairman and co-founder of the project.  “As such, it is our project community’s pledge to adopters that EdgeX offers you a stable version of the platform that you can expect the community to stand behind and support for a period of two years.  We stand with you in support of EdgeX in real world, commercial deployments of the platform.”

“Only a few open-source projects offer long term support; the rapid change of open source projects and the effort needed to LTS is significant,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, at the Linux Foundation. “By including LTS, EdgeX demonstrates it understands the needs of the operational technology (OT) user base, and how products in this space must work and operate over longer periods of time than traditional IT solutions,” said Arpit Joshipura. “This is a big milestone for any open source community, and we are incredibly proud of EdgeX Foundry for this achievement.”

The EdgeX long term support policy states that the community will work as quickly as possible and give “best effort and development priority to fix major flaws as soon as possible.”  Major flaws by the project are defined as 

• bugs causing the system or service to crash and where there is no work around for the function

• bugs for a feature/function that does not work and there is no work around for the function

• a security issue deemed a critical or high-level CVE (per CVSS)

The project has further stipulated in its LTS policy that “no new major functionality (at the discretion of the TSC) will be added” to the LTS version after the release happens.

The next EdgeX release, codenamed “Kamakura,” is set for Spring 2022.  The community has held its semi-annual planning session to lay out the goals and objectives of this release.  Kamakura is likely to be another dot-release that will again be backward compatible with all EdgeX 2.x releases (Ireland and Jakarta).  Major additions currently under consideration and being developed by the community include:

• Initial north to south message bus.  Improved security secrets seeding and allowing for delayed service starts.

• Metrics collection

• Dynamic device profiles.  Better (native) Windows support

• Improve testing – including real hardware testing

• A second version release of the EdgeX Command Line Interface (CLI) which,  compatible with EdgeX v2.x.

The Cyber-Investigation Analysis Standard Expression Transitions to Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation announced the Cyber-investigation Analysis Standard Expression (CASE) is becoming a community project as part of the ​​Cyber Domain Ontology (CDO) project under the Linux Foundation. CASE is an ontology-based specification that supports automated combination and intelligent analysis of cyber-investigation information. CASE concentrates on advancing interoperability and analytics across a broad range of cyber-investigation domains, including digital forensics and incident response (DFIR). 

“Becoming part of the Linux Foundation is a major milestone for CASE that will significantly benefit the broader open source and cyber-investigation communities,” said Eoghan Casey, Presiding Director of CASE. “As an evolving standard supporting structured expression and exchange of cyber-investigation information, CASE will substantially enhance efforts to address growing challenges in the modern world, including cyberattacks, ransomware, online fraud, sexual exploitation, and terrorism. Our objective is to create a culture of common comprehension and collaborative problem solving across cyber-investigation domains.”

Organizations involved in joint operations or intrusion investigations can efficiently and consistently exchange information in standard format with CASE, breaking down data silos and increasing visibility across all information sources. Tools that support CASE facilitate correlation of differing data sources and exploration of investigative questions, giving analysts a more comprehensive and cohesive view of available information, opening new opportunities for searching, pivoting, contextual analysis, pattern recognition, machine learning and visualization.

Development of CASE began in 2014 as a collaboration between the DoD Cyber Crime Center (DC3) and MITRE, led by Dr. Eoghan Casey and Sean Barnum, involving the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In response to international interest, this initiative became an open source evolving standard, with hundreds of participants in industry, government and academia around the globe. Early contributors include the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), the Italian Institute of Legal Informatics and Judicial Systems (IGSG-CNR), FireEye, and University of Lausanne. CASE governance and community coordination were formalized with support of Harm van Beek, Rich Brown, Ryan Griffith, Cory Hall, Christopher Hargreaves, Jessica Hyde, Deborah Nichols, and Martin Westman. Growing international involvement is tracked on the CASE website.

CASE, built on the Hansken trace model developed and implemented by the NFI, aligns with and extends the Unified Cyber Ontology (UCO). This year has seen the release of UCO 0.7.0, and most recently CASE 0.5.0. CASE and UCO now both are built on SHACL constraints, providing an instance data validation capability. Currently, CASE is developing a representation for Inferences, both human formulated and computer generated, to bind investigative conclusions to supporting evidence and associated chain of custody.

Linux Foundation to Host the Cloud Hypervisor Project

The Linux Foundation announced it will host the Cloud Hypervisor project, which delivers a Virtual Machine Monitor for modern Cloud workloads. Written in Rust with a strong focus on security, features include CPU, memory and device hot plug; support for running Windows and Linux guests; device offload with vhost-user; and a minimal and compact footprint.

The project is supported by Alibaba, ARM, ByteDance, Intel and Microsoft and represented by founding member constituents that include Arjan van de Ven, Fellow at Intel; K. Y Srinivasan, Distinguished Engineer and VP at Microsoft; Michael Zhao, Staff Engineer at ARM, Gerry Liu, Senior Staff Engineer at Alibaba, and Felix Zhang, Senior Software Engineer at ByteDance. Initial focus for the Cloud Hypervisor project will be security and modern operation for Cloud. 

K.Y Srinivasan, Advisory Board member from Microsoft adds: “Cloud Hypervisor has matured to the point that moving it to the Linux Foundation is the right move at the right time. As LF continues to standardize key components of the software stack for managing/orchestrating modern workloads, we feel that the Cloud Hypervisor will be an important part of the overall stack. Being part of LF will help us accelerate development and adoption of this key technology.”

Quantum Intermediate Representation Alliance for Quantum Computing Development

Let’s mix open source, alliances, collaboration, and the future of computing—quantum—into a new Linux Foundation Alliance. This is more future than 5G and IoT, but this is something we need to pay attention to. It’ll be here before you know it. 

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the new QIR Alliance, a joint effort to establish an intermediate representation with the goal to facilitate interoperability within the quantum ecosystem and provide a representation suitable for current and future heterogenous quantum processors. Founding members include Honeywell, Microsoft, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Quantum Circuits Inc. and Rigetti Computing.  

QIR, or Quantum Intermediate Representation, is based on the popular open source LLVM https://llvm.org/ compiler toolchain. QIR specifies a set of rules for representing quantum programs within the LLVM IR. Examples of QIR applications include using the standard LLVM  infrastructure to write quantum optimizers that operate on QIR and target it to specific hardware backends or linking it with classical high performance libraries for quantum simulation. 

“We expect there to be exciting advances in how classical and quantum computations can interact at the hardware level. The QIR Alliance will provide a single representation that can be used for both today’s restricted capabilities and the more powerful systems of the future,” said Bettina Heim, principal software engineering manager, Microsoft. “This will allow the community to experiment with and develop optimizations and code transformations that work in a variety of use cases.” 

Quantum development SDKs and languages appear and evolve at a fast pace, along with new quantum processors with unique and distinct capabilities from each other. To provide interoperability between new languages and new hardware capabilities and reduce development effort from all parties, it is imperative for the ecosystem to develop and share a forward-looking intermediate representation that works with present and future quantum hardware.

“Quantum technology is still quite nascent but the promise grows every day,” said Seth Newberry, executive director the Joint Development Foundation. “The QIR Alliance is poised to enable the open and technical development necessary to realize these promises. We’re very happy to provide a forum for this work.” 

Honeywell
“The Quantum-Intermediate Representation Alliance, also known as QIRA, is a key piece of the quantum computing ecosystem that enables quantum hardware suppliers and quantum software suppliers to reduce redundant efforts involved in implementing programming languages across quantum computer architectures,” said Alex Chernoguzov, Honeywell Quantum Chief Engineer, Honeywell. 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
“ORNL is thrilled to be a part of the Quantum Intermediate Representation Alliance, which aims to develop a unified LLVM-based intermediate representation for quantum computing. A consistent IR of quantum programs will enable interoperability between quantum applications and hardware devices, making quantum computing more usable to researchers and developers. We look forward to contributing to the QIR specification and the associated compiler toolchain under this partnership,” said Thien Nguyen, Quantum Computer Science Researcher, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Quantum Circuits Inc.
At QCI, we are very pleased to be participating in the QIR Alliance. The QIR approach represents a revolutionary advance in the representation of quantum circuits, enabling users to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of quantum computing systems across a variety of different hardware platforms,” said Tom Lubinski, Chief Software Architect of Quantum Circuits Inc. 

Rigetti
“Rigett has pioneered hybrid system architectures that are quickly becoming the predominant approach for cloud-based quantum computing” said David Rivas, SVP Systems & Services at Rigetti Computing. “The QIR Alliance is focusing on precisely the interface between quantum and classical compute, enabling rapid advances in quantum programming  language design and execution systems. We’re thrilled to be working closely with this community to design the necessary compiler technology and develop implementations for Rigetti hardware.”

About Joint Development Foundation
Launched in 2015, the Joint Development Foundation (the Joint Development Foundation) is an independent non-profit organization that provides the corporate and legal infrastructure to enable groups to quickly establish and operate standards and source code development collaborations. More information about the Joint Development Foundation is available at http://www.jointdevelopment.org/.

About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more.  The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration..

FDT Group Names New Leadership

Congratulations to Steve Biegacki for becoming the new Managing Director of the FDT Group. Glenn Schultz has led the organization for 13 years overseeing advancement and adoption of the standard. Biegacki was executive leader of the CIP/DeviceNet/ControlNet/EtherNet/IP group of networking standards. He is knowledgeable in the area, knows about everyone, and a proven leader. This should be a win for the organization.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting the evolution of FDT technology, today announced that Steve Biegacki has been named the Managing Director successor.  Glenn Schulz, who has held the role for 13 years, had earlier this year announced his retirement with effect at the end of 2021. Mr. Biegacki will immediately begin the transition, joining the organization as Vice President of Marketing, commencing 1 November 2021, to undertake strategy, planning and collaborative work alongside existing leadership and working groups to ensure a seamless transition assuming the Managing Director role on 1 January 2022.

Biegacki’s 30+ year career has been in leadership roles working in and with manufacturing companies in the areas of sales, marketing, and business management developing and implementing strategies to deliver market awareness and growth. He was involved in the design, manufacturing, and delivery of technologies and solutions. Most recently, Biegacki has served as Director, Management Advisory Services for BDO, collaborating with industry clients to help them improve their business by helping them understand their market and opportunities, creation of goals and action plans, and KPI’s to measure progress and provide feedback, to ensure planned outcomes.  Prior roles include CEO at Kramer Electronics, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Belden and Vice President of Global Commercial Marketing at Rockwell Automation. At Rockwell Automation he was also the Business Manager that led the creation, development and delivery of a single international networking standard known as CIP, the underlying protocol of DeviceNet, ControlNet and EtherNet/IP.

Biegacki resides in the United States. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Electronic Technology Institute in Cleveland, Ohio and participated in the Executive MBA program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

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.