Tom Burke stepped down as President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation after 23 years of leadership. He will remain on the Board of Directors continuing his global evangelization for the standard.
Stefan Hoppe, currently a vice president of the organization, becomes the new President and Executive Director. This follows on the recent news that the Board created a new Chair position and elected Veronika Schmid-Lutz of SAP to that position.
Hoppe is a familiar face in the community through his work as VP of Marketing for the past four years.
He joined BECKHOFF in 1995 where he developed OPC classic server and in 2006 the first OPC UA server integrated into an embedded controller. In 2008 he initiated and chaired the PLCopen OPC UA Companion working group. In 2010 Mr. Hoppe was elected President of OPC Foundation Europe. Since 2014, he is Vice President of the OPC Foundation and member of the OPC Board.
Hoppe said “It is truly an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility and exciting opportunity to lead this incredible global organization towards its full potential. While the OPC Foundation roots come from industrial automation and will always be grounded there, I believe it is our duty to greatly widen our horizons in multiple directions – inside industrial automation but also into other new markets.“
On the future adoption of the OPC technology Mr. Hoppe continued, “the value of the open, secure, vendor independent data interoperability the OPC UA standard introduces is universal and is as important to IoT applications across all markets as Ethernet was to connect computers and is to the Internet. My mission is to position and grow the OPC Foundation to work on this scale.”
Elaborating on his decision to change roles, Burke said, “After an amazing 23 years, I have decided it is time to turn over the reins of the day-to-day operations as the President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation to the next generation. I believe Stefan Hoppe is the right person for this job as he has clearly demonstrated his commitment and strong leadership on many occasions. I look forward to him advancing the OPC Foundation and its OPC UA technology.”
Hoppe concluded “On behalf of the OPC Foundation I sincerely thank Thomas Burke for the vision, leadership, and tireless evangelism he provided all these years. It was great to work with Thomas Burke for the last 8 years and I appreciate his decision to continue his worldwide OPC UA evangelization and contribution of his deep valued insights and strategic advice.”
I am not surprised by the changes. I’ve worked closely with Tom for many years. I’ve also known Stefan since his days at Beckhoff Automation. His presentations for OPC UA have increasingly become less German-centric remaining a powerful statement of the value of standards for the successful implementation of Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation.
I view this transition as a classic move from the entrepreneur to management. In the end it will be a positive step for the organization. I wish them all well.
News from EdgeX Foundry including an open marketplace for IoT Edge Computing. This is an interesting extension to the platform. Also, Intel has joined the consortium.
At a glance:
- EdgeX Foundry Seeds an Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing with New Developer Kits and Smart Building Automation
- Community Demo at IoT Solutions World Congress
- Intel, Redis Labs, ZEDEDA and five other tech influencers commit to IoT interoperability and join EdgeX’s mission to create a unified edge ecosystem
EdgeX Foundry, an open-source, vendor-neutral project that enables an ecosystem of plug-and-play components to unify the IoT edge computing marketplace, announced the availability of EdgeX-enabled developer kits and a Smart Building Automation Community Demonstrator that will debut at IoT Solutions World Congress on October 16-18 in Barcelona.
Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the EdgeX platform is architected to run on any hardware or operating system and unify components coded in any programming language to accelerate time to market and simplify the deployment of secure IoT solutions. The framework serves as a de facto standard to bring together any mix of existing connectivity protocols with an ecosystem of heterogeneous value-add applications.
Developer kits are important tools for building new applications and solutions. A variety of dev kits are already on the market; however, the majority of these kits lock the developer into a particular back-end platform or cloud. In comparison, dev kits based on the EdgeX framework will provide developers with the freedom to choose from an ecosystem of components bound together by the EdgeX interoperability APIs.
“With the emergence of these dev kits, developers will have the opportunity to prototype with their choice of ingredients while taking advantage of plug-in components from EdgeX’s growing vendor-neutral ecosystem,” said Jason Shepherd, EdgeX Foundry Governing Board Chair and Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO. “This allows them to focus on innovation rather than reinvention, in addition to being able to add and exchange components at any time to optimize their solution throughout the development and deployment lifecycle.”
There will be two different kinds of dev kits – community and commercial. For options in the community track, the bill of materials will be purchased independently online, the code will be downloaded straight from a special repository on the project GitHub, and questions will be answered through forums like the EdgeX Rocket Chat. The first kit is based on the Samsung Artik with Grove sensor, and options will grow through community contributions over time.
The commercial track for the dev kits will provide EdgeX members with the ability to seed the emergence of an open marketplace for IoT edge computing. These kits will offer end users with attractive options to get started with professional support so they can focus on their preferred value-add rather than supporting open source code. Commercial options will include kits based on supported versions of the EdgeX framework itself (neutral to any plug-in value add), kits based on specific IoT platforms, and microservice plug-ins for value-add such as analytics, data orchestration and security.
EdgeX Foundry is debuting a new community demo at IoT Solutions World Congress that will highlight the platform’s ability to bring together heterogeneous solution components. This first community demo showcases how EdgeX can bring together a real-world, smart flexible office space environment based on components from a variety of vendors leveraging numerous connectivity standards, operating systems and hardware types.
The growth and diversity of the EdgeX ecosystem over the last year has helped the technical community hit major milestones including the “California” release, which made the switch to Golang for the baseline reference implementation. Since the release in April, EdgeX Foundry unique code contributions from members and non-members alike have more than doubled to 70 on a regular basis.
These contributors have played a major role in the upcoming “Delhi” release, which offers major enhancements including the first management features, more security functionality such as access control and improved security bootstrapping, C and Golang-based Device Service SDKs and a reference GUI for demos and simple deployments. Projected to launch in November, the Delhi code will be well-suited for end users to begin developing commercial offers and production deployments. To find more details about Delhi or the EdgeX roadmap, visit the wiki here.
Intel joins the EdgeX Ecosystem
“Today’s announcement represents one more step in Intel’s open source journey and increased role in the advocacy, use and contribution across the ecosystem,” said Stacey Shulman, chief innovation officer for Retail Solutions at Intel. “Intel’s involvement in EdgeX Foundry will help drive scale and accessibility of solutions for both our customers and businesses of all sizes.”
Other new EdgeX Foundry project members include Basking Automation GmbH, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), DATA AHEAD, CertusNet, Redis Labs, the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) /Embedded Lab, Windmill Enterprise and ZEDEDA.
“We’re standing at a critical point for digital transformation,” said Shepherd. “The massive volume of devices coming online represents a huge opportunity for innovation and is making edge computing a necessity. We need an open, cloud-native edge ecosystem enabled by EdgeX to minimize reinvention and facilitate building and deploying distributed, interoperable applications from the edge to the cloud. We’re thrilled to welcome these new member organizations into our already strong community that shares the same commitment to open collaboration and innovation.”
Here is the second news piece, and perhaps the biggest, from the ODVA annual meeting held this week in Georgia. Honeywell has become a principal member of ODVA alongside Bosch Rexroth, Cisco Systems, Endress+Hauser, Rockwell Automation, Omron and Schneider Electric. The primary focus of Honeywell’s activities in ODVA will be through Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), part of Honeywell’s Performance Materials and Technologies strategic business group and an industry leader in automation control, instrumentation, software and services.
Honeywell Process Solutions has a 40-year history in process automation control. It has supported ODVA technologies and standards since the late 1990s with the integration of ControlNet into its distributed control system (DCS) offering. With the convergence of industrial control systems used in process and hybrid industries, Honeywell has seen both a growth in adoption and in opportunity for EtherNet/IP connectivity and now has integrated EtherNet/IP into multiple product lines including Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) and ControlEdge PLC. Today HPS has its solutions installed in more than 10,000 sites around the world including various locations with EtherNet/IP.
ODVA has activities focused on the adoption of EtherNet/IP in the process industries. These activities include a technical working group focused on enhancements to The EtherNet/IP Specification for specific needs in the process industries. ODVA is also involved in industry-wide efforts to promote adoption of Ethernet in the process industries, such as its collaboration with FieldComm Group and PROFIBUS and PROFINET International to help promote adoption of Ethernet to the Field that will be made possible by forthcoming enhancements to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard for long-reach single pair Ethernet.
“EtherNet/IP is an important platform for industrial control and, in the future, for overall digitization,” stated Brian Reynolds, senior director of engineering for HPS’ Projects and Automation Solutions business. “Honeywell leverages EtherNet/IP in its Connected Plant solutions, which allows customers to collect more meaningful data from devices to improve overall equipment effectiveness and safety. By joining ODVA as a principal member, Honeywell is increasing its contribution to the advancement of EtherNet/IP and related ODVA technology and standards, in order to increase productivity, reliability, safety, security and digitization in the process and hybrid industries.”
“Adoption of EtherNet/IP in the process industries is poised for vertical take-off within the next ten years,” said Katherine Voss, president and CEO of ODVA. “ODVA welcomes increased participation from Honeywell Process Solutions inside ODVA as we work together to bring the benefits of EtherNet/IP to users in an ever expanding range of industries within, and beyond, the process industries.”
ODVA introduced Honeywell as a principal member at its 2018 Industry Conference and 19th Annual Meeting of Members that was held October 9-11, 2018 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA. The introduction included an overview of HPS and its reasons for joining ODVA as a principal member along with an end-user perspective on EtherNet/IP in Action at DowDuPont. Presentations for Honeywell and DowDuPont may be viewed and downloaded with other proceedings from the ODVA online.
OPC Foundation’s continuous improvement program extended with the addition of new Chair for its Board of Directors. I haven’t had an OPC Foundation conversation since April. Based on conversations with numerous leaders in Hannover, I think this is a great step forward by the Foundation’s board of directors. I’m not sure what precipitated the addition, but I’ve met Schmid-Lutz and she’ll do an excellent job of bringing cohesiveness and direction to the organization.
OPC UA is solid technology used by most automation and IoT companies. These moves to strengthen the organization can only be positive.
This from the original press release—In this key position, the Chair manages the strategic and tactical directives of the Board of Directors and ensures the marketing, technical, and overall business activities of the OPC Foundation consistently align with its vision and objectives. In addition, the Chair organizes and calls the Board of Directors meetings and engages directly with the organization’s infrastructure. The Chair position requires a dynamic leader who can navigate the political, business, and technical challenges associated with a standard setting organization.
Veronika Schmid-Lutz was honored by the trust and confidence placed in her by her fellow board members and noted that “being elected as the Chair of the OPC Foundation’s board is a great honor for me. My focus will be to strengthen and pursuing all aspects that make interoperability between devices, machines, and business systems as simple and as secure as possible.”
Thomas J. Burke, President of the OPC Foundation commented on the importance of the Chair position and why Ms. Schmid-Lutz was the right person to fill it, “Veronika clearly demonstrated her excellent leadership and business skills as a member of the OPC Foundation Board of Directors. Based on this I believe she is well suited to now serve as the Board’s Chair. With Veronika at the helm of the business, I look forward to see her facilitate and successfully drive the OPC Foundation vision into the next era.” Mr. Burke concluded saying “It’s a great honor to have Veronika accept this important leadership role. We look forward to see her oversee communicating the importance of OPC UA into the IT world.”
Recognizing the value of both the organization and its deliverables, Veronika Schmid-Lutz emphasized the importance of OPC UA by noting: “Easy interoperability is an important enabler for intelligent systems leveraging new technologies in software and hardware. SAP strongly supports OPC UA as it simplifies and accelerates information exchange between heterogeneous systems and devices which is why Platform Industrie 4.0 has made OPC-UA a key component of its RAMI architecture. The board looks forward to continue enhancing the value of both the organization and its deliverables.”
Something good can come from the wastes of dirty coal mining in West Virginia. West Virginia University researchers are opening a new facility to capture valuable materials from acid mine drainage from coal mining – turning the unwanted waste into critical components used in today’s technology-driven society.
Through a collaborative research and development program with the National Energy Technology Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, WVU is opening the Rare Earth Extraction Facility to bolster domestic supplies of rare earths, reduce the environmental impact of coal-mining operations, reduce production costs and increase efficiency for processing market-ready rare earths.
Additionally, the technology could create jobs, helping to revive economies that have been historically dependent on the coal industry.
“Research on rare-earth extraction is one way that our University is fulfilling its most important mission—which is the land grant mission—to advance the prosperity of the people of this state,” President Gordon Gee said.
Representatives from WVU, NETL, DOE, representatives from West Virginia’s congressional delegation and others gathered July 18 in the High Bay Research Lab at the WVU Energy Institute’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy on campus to tour the new Rare Earth Extraction Facility and mark the start of this exciting new phase of research.
Brian Andson, director of the WVU Energy Institute, hosted the event and conveyed statements of support from the members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Rep. David McKinley and Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
In addition, WVU welcomed keynote speaker Steven Winberg, DOE assistant secretary for fossil energy.
“It’s a pleasure to be in West Virginia, because West Virginians understand what it really means to have an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy,” he said.
WVU is partnering with Rockwell Automation to facilitate market readiness through use of their sensor and control technologies in the new WVU facility.
Paul McRoberts, regional industry mining, metals and cement manager at Rockwell Automation, a 30-year veteran of the industry, said that this is one of the most exciting projects he has been a part of during his career and is excited to see the results of the new facility.
The facility is the researchers’ phase two project, worth $3.38 million, funded by NETL with substantial matching funding from WVU’s private sector partners. It follows on an earlier, phase one project, worth $937,000, to study acid mine drainage as feedstock for rare-earth extraction. The goal of the pilot facility is to test the technical and economic feasibility of scaling-up the technology to commercialize the separation and extraction process.
In addition, the team will be working to define a U.S.-based supply chain including the sludges created during acid mine drainage treatment and upstream to the acid-mine drainage source.
Brian Anderson holding a sample of dried acid mine drainage sludge containing rare earth elements. Photo by: M.G. Ellis
Neither rare nor earth
The name “rare earth elements” is a misnomer for important chemical elements that are actually neither rare nor earths.
A collection of 16 elements that hang off the bottom of the periodic table, they are moderately abundant but well dispersed in the Earth’s crust. They are identified as rare because it is unusual to find them in large concentrations.
The elements are all metals that carry very similar properties. In rare cases they are found in deposits together. Unlike an element such as gold, natural rare earth deposits never occur as pure metals, but are bonded in low-value minerals, making extraction challenging.
Conventional rare-earth recovery methods require an expensive, difficult and messy extraction process that generates large volumes of contaminated waste. China has been able to provide a low-cost supply of rare earths using these methods, and therefore, dominates the global market.
The conventional mining and extraction processes require mining ore from mineral deposits in rock, which is crushed into a powder, dissolved in powerful chemical solutions and filtered. The process is repeated multiple times to retrieve rare earth oxides. Additional processing and refining separates the oxides from their tight bonds and further groups them into light rare earths and heavy rare earths.
In usable form, these elements are necessary components of modern technologies. They are used in cellular phones, computers, televisions, magnets, batteries, catalytic converters, defense applications and many more segments of modern society.
Members of the WVU rare-earth research team from L to R: Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute; Chris Vass, facility operator; and Xingbo Liu, professor and associate chair of research, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, in the new Rare Earth Extraction Facility at the WVU Energy Institute/National Research Center for Coal and Energy. Photo by: M.G. Ellis
Aaron Noble, associate professor of mining and minerals engineering at Virginia Tech, is a co-investigator on the project working with the WVU team.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator on the project, is an expert in acid mine drainage. He found that acid mine drainage, a byproduct of coal mining, “naturally” concentrates rare earths. Active coal mines, and in many cases state agencies, are required to treat the waste, which in turn, yields solids that are enriched in rare earth elements.
“Acid mine drainage from abandoned mines is the biggest industrial pollution source in Appalachian streams, and it turns out that these huge volumes of waste are essentially pre-processed and serve as good rare earth feedstock,” Ziemkiewicz said. “Coal contains all of the rare earth elements, but it has a substantial amount of the heavy rare earths that are particularly valuable.”
Studies show that the Appalachian basin could produce 800 tons of rare earth elements per year, approximately the amount the defense industry would need.
“Currently, acid-mine-drainage treatment is a liability, an environmental obligation,” Ziemkiewicz said. “But it could turn into a revenue stream, incentivizing treatment and creating economic opportunity for the region.”
Ziemkiewicz, Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and Aaron Noble, associate professor of mining and minerals engineering at Virginia Tech, have designed the processing facility from the ground up using advanced separation technologies. Chris Vass, PE, is the operator of the new facility and a Summersville, West Virginia, native.
The researchers are using a two-step process to separate the rare earths from acid mine drainage: acid leaching and solvent extraction, which they call ALSX.
Researchers will dissolve the sludge in an acid. That solution will then be transferred to glass mixers and settlers that will make an emulsion that allows the oil phase and its extractant chemical to grab rare earths from the water, leaving the non-rare earth base metals like iron in the water
When that process is completed, the rare-earth-laden organic liquid enters another series of mixers and settlers that will strip the rare earths out as a concentrated solution and precipitate the rare earths as a solid, creating a concentrated rare earth oxide that can then be refined and further concentrated into pure rare earth metals to supply the metal refining industry.
The goal of the project is to produce three grams of rare earth concentrate per hour.
“For example, scandium, one of these rare earths, is worth about $4,500 per kilogram as an oxide, the form that it will leave this facility,” Anderson said. After refining, it would be worth $15,000 per kilogram.”
Unused materials will be returned to the acid mine drainage treatment plant’s disposal system, resulting in a negligible environmental footprint.
“This process uses an existing waste product that is abundant in our region,” Ziemkiewicz said. “It is also much easier to extract and requires much milder acids and has negligible waste materials when compared to conventional rare-earth recovery methods.”
A team, led by John Adams, assistant director of business operations at the WVU Energy Institute, is also defining the supply chain, moving upstream to the source and working with coal-industry partners. By producing a purified product at the mine, researchers could reduce transportation and waste handling costs.
“This could go a long way toward creating new economic opportunity for West Virginia and the region and make treating acid mine drainage a financial boon instead of a financial burden,” said Anderson.
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Platforms that serve to expedite the interaction and collaboration of apps in the Internet of Things (IoT) are sort of the next new thing. There are several that some of the IT analyst firms are following. Trouble is the term allows for a wide variety.
One I’ve written about several times here and here and here is open source developed under the auspices of the Linux Foundation with major leadership and contributions by Dell Technologies. It’s called the EdgeX Foundry. The initiative includes 47 member companies.
The second major release of the platform (California) has just seen the light of day. I picked up information from a blog post by Jim White, Vice Chair of the Technical Steering Committee and Distinguished Engineer and Project Lead of the IoT Platform Development Team within Dell Technologies IoT Solutions Division.
Following is a lightly edited version of his blog concerning the announcement.
While EdgeX is only a year old, our community is demonstrating its staying power with the second major release in its first year. The California release, which follows Barcelona, shows the commitment and dedication of many who see the importance and potential of developing a flexible, open source, IoT software platform for the edge that provides connectivity and interoperability while still allowing value add.
So, what is new with the California release? A lot! But before we get into the details, I want to highlight that the biggest focus of this release was to introduce a few key security capabilities and to make EdgeX smaller and faster.
EdgeX began its existence without security and organizations wanting to leverage the platform had to add their own security capability. Today, EdgeX incorporates some of the first security elements. These initial elements, while useful on their own, are essential building blocks to additional security features in the future.
The first security elements include a reverse proxy that helps protect the REST API communications and a secrets store. With the EdgeX reverse proxy in place – as provided by incorporating an open source product called Kong – any external client of an EdgeX micro service must first authenticate themselves before successfully calling on an EdgeX API.
The secure storage facility was provided by incorporating the open source Vault (Hashicorp) product, and it allows items such as username/password credentials, certificates, secure tokens, etc. to be persisted and protected within EdgeX. These types of “secrets” will allow EdgeX to, for example, encrypt data, make HTTPS calls to the enterprise, or connect EdgeX to a cloud provider in a secure manner.
Performance and Scalability
The EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee decided early last year in the project’s formation that we would release twice a year – once in April and once in October. You probably noticed that it’s not April.
Last year, we decided that EdgeX needed to be smaller and faster to better function effectively at “the edge”, which the largely-Java code from the seed donation was going to make difficult. To do this, we needed to rebuild the EdgeX microservices in Go Lang – and do so by our spring 2018 release. This was not a small endeavor and it was made at a time when the EdgeX Foundry developer community was just coming on board. We knew it would take a bit more time, but we were committed to this, and added two more months to this release cycle.
The extra time was well worth it! With the California release, we’ve dramatically lowered the footprint, startup time, memory and CPU usage. Take a look at the statistics below, which compares services from our first community release last October (Barcelona) to our current release (California).
We still have work to do, but it’s now possible to run all of EdgeX on something like a Raspberry Pi 3.
In addition to the initial security capabilities and reducing the size and latency of the platform, this release includes other work – some visible to the user while some features are more hidden but improve the overall quality of EdgeX.
• Several additions were made to the export services to provide additional “northbound” connectivity, to include connectors for XMPP, ThingsBoard IoT, and Brightics IoT
• We improved the documentation and now have documentation stored with the code in Github – allowing it to be maintained and updated more like code by the community
• Arm 64 is now fully supported. In fact we worked with the Linux Foundation to add external environments and tools to create native Arm 64 artifacts.
• We added blackbox tests for all the micro services. These are now kicked off as part of our build and continuous integration processes.
• Other improvements were made to our continuous integration – to help streamline developer contributions
On to Delhi
Our next release, named Delhi, will come out in October 2018. Due to the extended release cycle for California, the Delhi release cycle is going to be short. The significant features planned for Delhi include:
• Initial manageability services and capability
• Device Service SDKs (Go/C) and at least one example device service
• The next wave of security features to include access control lists to grant access to appropriate services and improved security service bootstrapping
• Better/more unit testing and added performance testing
• Adding the last of the refactored and improved Go Lang microservices
• Outlining options and a potential implementation plan for alternate or additional database support
• An EdgeX UI suitable for demos and smaller installations