Consulting Firm Makes Open Source Acquisition

In brief: Arthur D. Little acquires Cutter Consortium and Presans to expand open consulting capabilities

Arthur D. Little (ADL) today announced the acquisitions of Cutter Consortium, a business technology research company based in the US, and Presans, a leading player in industrial open innovation based in France. By combining its own expertise with an existing community of independent experts, ADL expands its consulting ecosystem to establish a next-generation value proposition powered by open consulting and open problem solving.

Now, at first, I suffered from a bit of cognitive dissonance. It’s difficult to imagine these large consulting firms who make a living from charging high prices for custom coding. Then I remembered what a friend with experience at this level told me–open source is good for the community, but the large companies benefit, too. You see, they get in return thousands of hours of free software development by the community. I guess you could say it’s a “win-win-win” situation.

Acquired companies described 

Cutter Consortium helps organizations navigate digital disruption of business models and leverage emerging technologies for competitive advantage and mission success. Through its research, consulting, training, and executive education – all delivered by globally recognized thought leaders – Cutter delivers innovative solutions to its thousands of clients worldwide. Cutter’s experts have done the ground-breaking work in areas ranging from digital architectures to digital tech, enterprise agility to data analytics, and digital leadership to sustainable innovation. At the heart of its business is a membership service that gives clients valuable access to its experts and their insight. 

Presans is a leading data-driven platform dedicated to industrial open innovation and open problem solving. Thanks to cutting-edge technology based on big data and artificial intelligence, as well as a team of fellows (former research and innovation executives) with in-depth knowledge in innovation, Presans leverages a network of over 6 million experts worldwide. Presans provides a variety of high-end open innovation services, contributing to the acceleration of decision-making and removal of scientific and technological roadblocks. Presans has worked for 50+ international industrial groups and delivered more than 100 innovation projects in Europe, the US and the Middle East.

Supporting quotes

“Arthur D. Little applies an ‘open consulting’ and ‘open problem solving’ approach and brings the best global experts to every assignment to complement its internal strengths,” comments Ignacio García Alves, Chairman and CEO of Arthur D. Little. “We believe the future is open consulting. With the double acquisition of Cutter and Presans, we are able to expand our open consulting ecosystem and open problem solving capabilities, offering access to experts, premium insight and a differentiated experience for our clients, in a seamless way.”

“The Cutter team felt an instant synergy with our colleagues at ADL. We share a focus on innovation, which, in ADL’s case, goes back to its roots, and an emphasis on providing custom, leading-edge solutions. Moreover, ADL’s more than 40 offices in 30 countries has given Cutter an enhanced ability to assist its clients worldwide,” says Karen Coburn, CEO of Cutter Consortium

“Since its inception at the École Polytechnique’s start-up incubator, Presans has always engaged with the best experts in the world, mainly to help its customers solve complex technical problems,” says Albert Meige, Founder of Presans. “Presans now addresses more and more problems at the crossroads of strategy consulting and scientific & technical expertise. The time had therefore come for Presans to strengthen itself by joining forces with Arthur D Little.”

Benefits

Together with Cutter and Presans, ADL reinforces its position on digital and information technologies, as well as industrial innovation, particularly in breakthrough innovation and convergence problem solving. In addition, through the acquisition of the technological platform of Presans, ADL is accelerating its investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop state-of-the-art offerings for its clients.

Cutter Consortium and Presans will continue to operate under their current brands with the same management teams, while benefiting from ADL’s capabilities, investment, and global exposure.

EdgeX Foundry Hits Milestone Downloads and Simplified Deployment

I have followed the Development of EdgeX Foundry since right after its inception talking with many of the founders at Hannover Messe three years ago. That’s when Dell (now Dell EMC) was developing an IoT and Edge Computing group—since disbanded. Dell was leading the charge for an open source platform as a way to build an ecosystem for providing value to customers and selling product.

EdgeX has come a long way. Here is the latest information in brief:

  • EdgeX’s sixth release (Geneva) offers more scalable and secure solutions to move more data faster from multiple edge devices to cloud, enterprise and on-premises applications.
  • As one of LF Edge’s Stage 3 Projects, EdgeX Foundry is seeing increased community growth and adoption and deployments.
  • New LF Edge project Open Horizon is building an integration project that will demonstrate automated delivery and lifecycle management of EdgeX Foundry as a containerized application.

EdgeX Foundry, a project under the LF Edge umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for IoT edge computing independent of connectivity protocol, hardware, operating system, applications or cloud, today announced a major milestone of hitting 5 million container downloads and the availability of its “Geneva” release. This release offers more robust security, optimized analytics, and secure connectivity for multiple devices.

“EdgeX Foundry is committed to developing an open IoT platform for edge-related applications and shows no signs of slowing down the momentum,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “As one of the Stage 3 projects under LF Edge, EdgeX Foundry is a clear example of how member collaboration and diversity are the keys to creating an interoperable open source framework across IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge.”

Launched in April 2017, and now part of the LF Edge umbrella, EdgeX Foundry is an open source, loosely-coupled microservices framework that provides the choice to plug and play from a growing ecosystem of available third-party offerings or to augment proprietary innovations. With a focus on the IoT Edge, EdgeX simplifies the process to design, develop and deploy solutions across industrial, enterprise, and consumer applications.

Currently, there are more than 170 unique contributors to the project and EdgeX Foundry averages one million container downloads a month, with a total of 5 million reached last month, and rising.

“The massive volume of devices coming online represents a huge opportunity for innovation and is making edge computing a necessity,” said Keith Steele, EdgeX Foundry Chair of the Technical Steering Committee. “With at least 50% of data being stored, processed and analyzed at the edge 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. In 3 short years, EdgeX has achieved incredible global momentum and is now being designed into IOT systems and product roadmaps.”

The Geneva Release

As the sixth release in the EdgeX Foundry roadmap, Geneva offers simplified deployment, optimized analytics, secure connectivity for multiple devices and more robust security. Key features include:

  • Automate on-boarding: simplify, scale and quicken connection of devices by allowing automatic provisioning of devices
  • Improved Performance: A new rules engine that is written in Go for faster performance, a smaller footprint and more memory
  • Connectivity: Improved bandwidth utilization and efficiency through use of new batch and send capabilities provided in the App Functions SDK
  • Secure Authentication: Store and use/authenticate secrets to connect with cloud providers
  • Testing: New integration and backward compatibility testing along with enhanced security and blackbox testing

EdgeX Foundry works closely with several of the other LF Edge projects such as Akraino Edge Stack and new project Open Horizon. During this release cycle, EdgeX was made to work under the Akraino Edge Lightweight IOT (ELIOT) Blueprint and tested under the Akraino Community Lab.

Launched last month, Open Horizon is a platform for managing the service software lifecycle of containerized workloads and related machine learning assets. Open Horizon is building an integration project that will demonstrate delivery and management of EdgeX Foundry as a containerized solution in stages, beginning with a single deployable unit and then progressing to a more modular set of services and alternate delivery targets.

Support from Contributing Members and Users of EdgeX Foundry:

“To further enhance use in production environments, EdgeX Foundry’s Geneva release brings simplified deployments and improved security,” said Tony Espy, Technical Architect at Canonical. “With EdgeX available as a snap, this aligns to the fundamentals of snaps’ core principles which allow developers to benefit from confinement and transactional updates to ensure deployments are secure and with minimal need for manual intervention. As the EdgeX ecosystem continues to see strong traction, we look forward to continuing our contribution to building an open, interoperable framework for edge computing.”

“EdgeX Foundry’s middleware solution is an important component of an open, vendor-neutral pipeline connecting IoT devices and their data to analytics and data management at the on-premise edge,” said Joe Pearson, Engineering Strategy & Innovation Leader, Edge Computing, IBM. “This latest release underscores the importance of working within LF Edge to encourage interoperability as we build a comprehensive open edge computing framework, beginning with Open Horizon.”

“With the evolution of IoT and edge computing, there is a growing realization to deploy and run compute engines near the data source in a truly globally distributed manner. This architecture requires running intelligent AI-based functionality at the edge while processing a significant amount of data at high-throughput and low latency on small form-factor devices,” said Yiftach Shoolman, CTO and co-founder at Redis Labs. “EdgeX Foundry with Redis as the primary data store provides an open-source data platform to meet these expectations by combining in-memory data processing with modern data-models, and can be extended with a serverless engine and AI-serving platform.”

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.

Burke Named Global Strategic Advisor to CLPA

CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA, Nagoya, Japan) has named Thomas Burke to the new position of Global Strategic Advisor position. Burke founded and led the OPC Foundation to successful industry adoption until late last year. He concurrently holds the roles of Global Director of Industry Standards for Mitsubishi and Director of Strategic Marketing for Iconics.

CLPA promotes the widespread usage of the CC-Link open industrial network family.

Burke’s role is to accelerate the construction of Smart Factories by increasing the reach of CC-Link IE TSN.

CC-Link IE TSN combines the gigabit bandwidth of CC-Link IE with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) to meet future automation market demands, such as Industry 4.0. This provides flexible integration of Operational Technology (OT) and IT while further strengthening performance and functionality. A comprehensive portfolio of device development options is also ensuring that any vendor can easily add this technology to their product line-up.

The aim is to improve efficiency and reduce time to market for Smart Factories utilizing the IIoT and the products they manufacture. As of April 2020, a year and a half after the announcement of the CC-Link IE TSN specifications, more than 100 partner products have been released or are under development.

Burke’s primary responsibilities include:

  1. Increasing awareness and adoption of CC-Link IE TSN in the global marketplace;
  2. Advising CLPA leadership on industry trends, standards, and market strategy;
  3. Sustaining and increasing the number of CLPA partners from North America;
  4. Facilitating collaboration with suppliers and end-users to maintain CLPA’s industry leading position;
  5. Collaboration with other industry standards organizations, focusing on harmonization across industry-standard organizations.

CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) is an international organization founded in 2000 dedicated to the technical development and promotion of the CC-Link open industrial network family. The CLPA’s key technology is CC-Link IE TSN, the world’s first open industrial Ethernet to combine gigabit bandwidth with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN).

Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center Launched

Turns out that I’ve been following developments of US leaders of Smart Manufacturing (yes, a thing, so capitalized) for going on to 10 years. I’ll put a number of links to previous posts that begin in 2011.

The beginnings were a group led by Jim Davis of UCLA, Jim Wetzel from General Mills, John Bernardin from Rockwell Automation, and a few others called the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC). They were developing ideas to fund and promote Smart Manufacturing when eventually the US Federal government began funding test beds and institutes through the Department of Energy.

By then Germany had combined with the Fraunhofer Institute and leading technology suppliers such as Siemens and Festo to use the concept of cyberphysical systems as the basis for Industrie 4.0—an initiative supporting the German machine building industry. The idea had spread to China, and several European countries. The US suddenly was playing catch-up.

At that point the SMLC dissolved and members reconstituted under the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) now called CESMII—The Smart Manufacturing Institute. I wrote an update to this last January after a lunch I had with old friend John Dyck at the end of December 2019. John had left his roles at Rockwell Automation and MESA International to lead this new initiative.

CESMII has been busy developing its own academic partnership with the North Carolina State University. The partners have launched the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center (SMIC) at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The objective of the SMIC is to link manufacturers, industrial technology vendors, systems integrators and equipment providers with academia, demonstrating and driving research and innovation that scales to all of US manufacturing. 

At NC State, pilot plants for biomanufacturing, papermaking, nonwovens textiles, and advanced manufacturing are using Smart Manufacturing tools from CESMII and its nationwide partners.

The SMIC at NC State is a visible proof point of CESMII’s well documented network-of-networks strategy to make Smart Manufacturing readily available and accessible throughout the nation. The SMIC facilities now become available for industry to try innovative Smart Manufacturing solutions and drive their use of Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning, Energy Productivity, Asset Performance Management and so forth.

In its first 45 days this winter, the NC State SMIC successfully demonstrated the integration of a dozen vendor solutions (including: Siemens, Honeywell, Allen Bradley (Rockwell Automation), National Instruments, ABB, DeltaV (Emerson Process Technologies), Andritz and Sartorius) using the CESMII SM Innovation Platform. Avid Solutions of Raleigh, NC, is the strategic Systems Integration partner for this initiative. 

A video demonstrating the interoperability of 3rd-party Smart Manufacturing solutions leveraging core CESMII technologies is linked below. This is an excellent presentation, especially the first part where the basics of the platform and ecosystem are discussed. I highly recommend checking it out.

The SMIC Director, Professor Yuan-Shin Lee of NC State, comments, “NC State is a ‘Think and Do’ nationally recognized university for research and innovation. With this CESMII partnership, the NC State SMIC will be able to build and sustain a skilled and innovative Smart Manufacturing workforce with expertise in the requisite technology and best practices, and the ability to develop, continuously update, and deploy customizable, interdisciplinary educational training resources and programs. With this partnership, the NC State SMIC will develop a world-class Smart Manufacturing demonstration facility through partnerships with industry and regional and national laboratories for sustainable workforce development and educational training. We are very excited about this new opportunity. “ 

CESMII COO, Howard Goldberg, added, “We’re just as excited as the NC State team to make this announcement. NC State is a valued Education & Workforce Development partner for CESMII and will offer CESMII-sanctioned Smart Manufacturing training and education offerings through the SMIC. Additionally, the CESMII technology infrastructure connected to the NC State manufacturing assets will demonstrate the openness and interoperability essential to scaling innovation through Smart Manufacturing solutions beyond a limited pilot phase. We look forward to ending the days of ‘Pilot Purgatory’ which have held industry back for decades by creating and testing solutions at a SMIC and moving them to production environments through the large-scale use of our platform technologies.” 

Video

Advanced Manufacturing Gets Government Support

Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition Wins Funding

Rockwell Automation Initiates Department of Energy Test Bed Project

Leadership at Smart Manufacturing Coalition

Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition Announces New Secretary

Smart Manufacturing

US Government Smart Manufacturing Institute

US Government Smart Manufacturing Institute

US Government Smart Manufacturing Institute

I met John Dyck, an old friend from a couple of manufacturing software suppliers and former chair of MESA International, for lunch before Christmas to catch up on what’s happening at his latest gig—CEO of CESMII-The Smart Manufacturing Institute.

The leadership of the organization includes a few people I knew when I was following the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition several years ago. Primarily Jim Davis of UCLA who remains a leader and driving force for smart manufacturing in the US. (See this post, for example.)

Germany may have kicked off government-sponsored research for advanced manufacturing with Industrie 4.0, with China following, and then many others. CESMII along with several sister institutes embodies the US effort to promote smart manufacturing here.

I was aware of the formation of this and other institutes. In the ensuing couple of years, much has happened. John caught me up on progress, and I think you’ll see several progress updates here during 2020.

Following is some background and recent news from the Institute. It labels itself a Network of Networks. “CESMII is about transformation, made possible by collaboration. At our very essence is bringing together individuals, organizations and technologies to create one greater good.”

The term Smart Manufacturing (SM) seems to have caught on in the US as a label for the technologies and strategies involving the digital transformation. Some organizations such as MESA International and SME have embraced it, for example. According to CESMII, “Smart Manufacturing enables all information about the manufacturing process to be available when it is needed, where it is needed, and in the form it is needed across the entire manufacturing value-chain to power smart decisions. Islands of efficiency become interoperable, networked, and resilient solutions to drive transformational manufacturing enterprise performance for any size, level of technical sophistication, or resource availability at lower cost.”

Further, “Smart Manufacturing unlocks real-time data currently inaccessible or unused through new technology tools that realize benefits faster across the manufacturing enterprise.”

In recent news, CESMII announced plans to formally launch an Affinity Group focused on the needs of small-to-medium sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs). This announcement is a continuation of the institute’s efforts to engage and empower smaller manufacturers, further demonstrated by CESMII’s previous commitment to make institute-directed project funds available in 2020 to small-to-medium enterprises, as appropriate.

CESMII CEO, John Dyck, said of the announcement, “CESMII’s first order of business is to democratize Smart Manufacturing, making it available to companies of all sizes. Small-to-medium manufacturers represent the overwhelming majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S., and it’s critically important we hear their voice and rise to their challenges. The new SME Affinity Group we’re launching and the potential funding we’re willing to allocate show how important we believe smaller manufacturers are to the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing and the strength of our nation.”

A CESMII Affinity Group is a group of members from the CESMII membership base that has an interest in a particular manufacturing sector or problem and works collaboratively to share experiences, perspectives and best practices. Affinity Groups are charged with examining a manufacturing sector or problem strategically, and its members bring their unique abilities, capabilities, and interests to engage the CESMII ecosystem, as needed or desired. Further, Affinity Groups formulate the proper approach to the manufacturing sector or problem for the application of Smart Manufacturing (SM) technologies or Education & Workforce Development (EWD) deliverables. There is no guarantee of CESMII project funds being allocated to any Affinity Group, but input from these groups provides direction for the Institute’s strategies and priorities.

Mr. Dyck continued, “CESMII has the mandate and the ability to empower smaller manufacturers to compete as 21st-century leaders. We are willing to launch a focused Affinity Group for small-to-medium manufacturers to show that we’re here for these companies and believe in them. We’re even willing to apportion a percentage of our project funding to support their needs. But, we need them to engage and lend their voice to shape our plans. We won’t release funds without well thought-out plans we expect will deliver value. We encourage all small-to-medium size manufacturers to come and be a part of our Smart Manufacturing ecosystem.”

About CESMII

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

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

Doing Good—The Other Side of Automation Fair

Doing Good—The Other Side of Automation Fair

We sat through two-and-a-half hours of presentations preparing us (writers, thinkers, journalists) for the coming two days of technical meetings. Speakers included the CEO, various vice presidents, and, oh, yes, three teenaged inventors.

Do not throw up your hands and mutter about “kids these days.” That’s a disservice. I am at an event sponsored by the technology supplier Rockwell Automation called Automation Fair. By the way, the company’s 28th annual gathering and my 22nd visit. The numbers of younger people, women, and “minorities” attending increases every year, and this year kept the trend up and to the left.

But back to the kids. The company sent out a challenge through various social media to students inviting them to invent something that would solve a social problem. The top three were given an all-expense trip (with parents) to Chicago to attend Automation Fair.

These three gave the best presentations of the day–content, presentation skills, poise, command of the audience. Yes, they had mentors, but that’s the key. Instead of complaining about kids, give them a useful challenge and then mentor them.

One project solved a problem with sump pumps not keeping up with ground water resulting in flooded basements. Areas of the US had large amounts of rain this spring and early summer flooding many basements. Many of the audience probably wanted to sign up to buy one.

Bullying remains a serious problem in schools (and other places where kids congregate). One young inventor came up with an anti-bullying backpack. It included a battery pack, two wifi-enabled web cameras, and communication. In a bully situation, the owner could quick-call an authority (parent, administrator, whatever) and show live video of the bullies. It also records to the cloud.

Sanitation kills more people throughout the world than just about anything else–lack of sanitation, that is. In many places, people just defecate in the street or wherever. Simple toilets requiring little to no water to operate widely available would save millions of live. The third young inventor actually invented such a device.

Make a difference. Find a way to mentor someone. Make it a discipline.

One last thing, Maria Kassarjian, executive director of Edesia, spoke on the efforts of her company, by the way using automation technologies from Rockwell, to create nutritional food packs to be sent to areas where malnutrition is a huge problem. The products contain peanuts, a nutritionally dense food, for both nourishment and also to introduce infants to nuts in order to reduce the prevalence of nut allergies.