Google and Other Misdemeanors
I have noticed that over the past few months, the number of people coming to my site via search engines, principally Google, has dropped by something like 40%. Curious, last weekend I took a little time and searched on about a dozen keywords that would be used in the industry.
Media sites just don’t come up in the searches. But what does come up are a ton of ads. The bulk of the rest of the links are suppliers. This is a big change over this time period.
Then I came across a tweet from Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp. He noticed that when he searched for his company, Basecamp, he came up number 4. The first three were ads from competitors who had worked the words base camp into their URLs or name in some ingenious way. And they had purchased the adwords that placed their ad above the real organic result. He explains all this in a podcast on Rework.
Back to my observation. I appeared seldom, except for my own domain name, and I never saw the major trade journals in the industry. Even ones named IIoT in a search of IIoT. Automation got three hits a couple of pages back on the keyword automation. But it should have had a bunch.
But suppliers are the most prone to buy adwords from Google.
If you think that searches are not biased and show you the most relevant to you, then you are years behind times.
I have noticed a similar effect in Facebook. Of course, its ad strategy came from Google in the person of Sheryl Sandberg. I did marketing for a small retail startup coffee house in Sidney, Ohio. Being local, I went to Facebook. I also spent a few dollars a month on ads.
When I ended the ad campaign, I was pestered with several notices per day about boosting a post for only $10, then for only $5. And our reach started dropping. Suddenly not everyone saw all the posts. The algorithm ensured that. When you’re in a small town with only about 1,000 person reach, you get pretty quick feedback.
Once upon a time, I mostly trusted Google search results. I use it for research constantly. Now, I’m not so sure about where to go for better results. Everyone is in such a rush to maximize ad dollars that they manipulate anything, including us, in the quest for eyes on ads.
That engineers would develop ways for humans and robots to co-exist, yes even collaborate, seemed inevitable. Why should we consign robots to cages as safety hazards when the future assuredly requires close collaboration. Therefore the burgeoning area of collaborative robotics or cobots.
I’m thinking not just about industrial applications. Robots surely will assist an aging population cope with everyday tasks in our (near) future of fewer people to populate those jobs.
Several of the “old guard” robotics companies have developed “co-bots” but I’ve watched the development of Universal Robots for some time. The company sponsored this blog for a while a few years ago. Here I’ve picked up on a couple of items. The UR marketing team was a bit surprised to discover that I have more than a passing interest in packaging. As a matter of fact, I noticed packaging as a likely growth area for automation about 18 years ago, and that feeling has been borne out.
One story concerns a packaging demonstration with a socially worthwhile goal mixed in. The other reports on a recent market study by ABI Research.
Universal Robots Solves Random Picking Challenge, Providing Food for At-Risk Youth
The challenge: Pick six differently sized food items randomly oriented on a moving conveyor and place each of these items into the same pouch. Then do this again 1,199 more times, ensuring each pouch has the same six items. This is the challenge Universal Robots and Allied Technology will address, quickly identifying and picking items – ranging widely from packs of Craisins to cans of beef ravioli – in Pack Expo’s Robotics Zone during the three-day show.
“Random picking is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after automation tasks from industries such as e-commerce, fulfillment centers and warehousing,” says Regional Sales Director of Universal Robots’ Americas division, Stuart Shepherd. “At Pack Expo, Universal Robots and Allied Technology will demonstrate how UR cobots can be quickly deployed in a compact, modular system, handling the entire process from box erecting, to vision-guided conveyor tracking, part picking, tote assembly, pouch filling and sealing, kitting and palletizing,” he says, adding how the packaging line is also a testament to the capabilities of Universal Robots’ growing number of Certified System Integrators (CSIs). “Allied Technology was able to quickly create this fully-automated solution. We are delighted to see our cobots competently integrated in so many new packaging applications now.”
Allied Technology and Universal Robots’ packaging line features four UR cobots equipped with products from the UR+ platform that certifies grippers, vision cameras, software, and other peripherals to work seamlessly with UR’s collaborative robot arms. The latest flexible grasping technology will be showcased by a UR5e with Piab’s new Kenos® KCS vacuum gripper guided by a vision camera from UR+ partner Cognex.
Once completed, the 1,200 bags of food will be delivered to “Blessings in a Backpack” a leader in the movement to end childhood hunger, ensuring that children receiving free or subsidized school lunches during the week do not go hungry over the weekends. “We look forward to showcasing this demo that is meaningful in so many ways,” says Shepherd. “We are excited to partner with Blessings in a Backpack while also addressing the needs of the packaging industry with solutions that will simplify and fast-track cobot deployment on their lines.”
Unlike traditional robots caged away from show attendees, visitors to the UR booth are able to walk right up to the UR cobots and interact with them. The booth “playpen area” will feature several cobot arms including a U53e with Robotiq’s new UR+ certified E-Pick Vacuum Gripper, allowing attendees to explore on-the-spot programming. The gripper is one of the recent additions in a rapidly expanding UR+ product portfolio that now includes no less than 195 UR+ certified products with 400+ companies participating in the UR+ developer program.
Meanwhile, Universal Robots maintains top spot in ABI Research’s Ranking of Cobot Companies in Industrial Applications; Doosan, Techman Robot, and Precise Automation are closing in.
This news originates with ABI Research. There are well over 50 manufacturers of collaborative robots (cobots) worldwide, but only a handful of these companies have so far deployed cobots on any meaningful level of scale. Tens of thousands of cobots have been sold as of 2019 and earned US$500 million in annual revenue for world markets. In its new Industrial Collaborative Robots Competitive Assessment, global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research finds Universal Robots (UR) to be the clear forerunner, particularly in implementation.
The Industrial Collaborative Robots Competitive Assessment analyzed and ranked 12 collaborative robot vendors in the industry – ABB, Aubo Robotics, Automata, Doosan Robotics, FANUC, Franka Emika, Kuka AG, Precise Automation, Productive Robotics, Techman Robot, Universal Robots, and Yaskawa Motoman – using ABI Research’s proven, unbiased innovation/implementation criteria framework. For this competitive assessment, innovation criteria included payload, software, Ergonomics and human-machine interaction, experimentation and safety; implementation criteria focused on units and revenue, cost and ROI, partnerships, value-added services, and the number of employees.
“Market leaders in cobots generally have well-developed cobot rosters, in many cases backed up by an ecosystem platform that integrates applications, accessories, and end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) solutions in with the base hardware,” said Rian Whitton, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. With 37,000 cobots sold so far, UR leads, followed by Taiwanese provider Techman with 10,000, and Korea-based Doosan with over 2,000. Precise Automation, which uses an advanced direct drive solution to develop faster collaborative robots, was cited as the most innovative of the 12 providers, just edging out Universal Robots, who claimed the overall top spot due to their significant lead in implementation.
There are several companies that are too young to be challenging the dominant parties in the cobot market but are developing new and disruptive technologies that will allow them rise to prominence in the years to come. Productive Robotics is a case-in-point. The California-based developer has an arm with inbuilt vision, 7 axes for superior flexibility, long reach, and a very affordable price point, but has yet to deploy at scale. Automata, a British company that develops a ‘desk-top’ cobot costing less than US$7,000, is significantly lowering the barriers to entry for smaller actors and is championing the use of open-source middleware like ROS to program cobots for industrial use-cases. Germany-based Franka Emika and Chinese-American provider Aubo Robotics also represent relatively new entrants to the market who are building on the success of Universal Robots and are beginning to compete with them.
Perhaps surprisingly, while the major industrial robotics providers have developed cobot lines, they have generally been less successful in marketing them or gaining market traction relative to the pure-cobot developers. In part, this is down to focus. While collaborative robots are valuable, they generally suit deployments and use-cases with smaller shipments and a wider variety of small and large end-users. For industrial players like ABB, FANUC, KUKA AG and Yaskawa Motoman, their client-base tends to be large industrial players who buy fixed automation solution through bulk orders. Aside from this, all four of these companies are competing extensively for greater shipment figures in China, where the cobot oppurtunity relative to the market for traditional industrial systems is much less apparent than in Europe or North America.
“Though many of the cobots deployed by these companies are impressive, and they have a lot of software services, the high-cost and lack of easy use among their systems largely defeat the current value proposition of cobots, making them the laggards in this competitive assessment.” says Whitton.
Looking forward, the larger industrial players are likely to improve their relative position, as future growth in cobots rests on scaling up and large deployments. “Universal Robots, though likely to remain the market leader for the foreseeable future, will be increasingly competing on an even footing with near-peer cobot developers, who are already developing second-generation cobots with significant hardware improvements. Meanwhile, some more innovative companies will be able to accelerate adoption through price decreases, improved flexibility, and common platforms to retrofit collaborative capability on industrial robots,” Whitton concluded.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Industrial Collaborative Robots Competitive Assessment report. This report is part of the company’s Industrial Solution, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Competitive Assessment reports offer comprehensive analysis of implementation strategies and innovation, coupled with market share analysis, to offer unparalleled insight into a company’s performance and standing in comparison to its competitors.
Here is a little bit of merger and acquisition activity of interest. One involving industrial cybersecurity; the other IT-oriented. Owl Cyber Defense and Tresys are coming together. I have been anticipating some consolidation in that space. Lots of startups. Can’t be that much business. In the other Dell Technologies appears to be rationalizing its organizational and investing complexity.
Tresys and Owl Cyber Defense to merge
Tresys Technology was recently acquired by DC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and placed in a common holding company with Owl Cyber Defense. “The intention is to merge the two companies in the coming months, creating what we believe is the number one boundary security product and services company in the world. To both of us, nothing makes more strategic sense than this combination, and with DC Capital’s support we will be exploring additional strategic acquisitions to broaden our investment in innovation, geographies, and vertical markets. While we will continue to operate as separate businesses in the short term, over the coming months we will work on merging all operations and we will keep you fully apprised of those changes.”
Further from the message I received, “What does this mean for you? Both companies are fully committed to customer service excellence. You will continue to have access to our industry leading expertise in technology services and support; to help you select, configure, customize, maintain, and accredit solutions for any network separation issue. With our new ownership, there is a commitment to grow our international presence and resources, while markedly increasing the investment in R&D and integration services. You can expect to see an acceleration in the development and availability of new technologies, with deeper absorption of specific business use cases.”
The current plan with our investors is for Robert Stalick, CEO of Tresys, to lead the merged company. Michael Timan, CEO of Owl Cyber Defense, will continue to actively work alongside Bob in developing the vision, applying diligent process focus, and maintaining the sales and services engagement excellence for which we strive. “Our shared goal is nothing less than defining the future of network boundary security technology for the coming decades.”
VMware To Acquire all outstanding shares of Pivotal
I saw this story on Launch Ticker newsletter from CNBC.
Pivotal Software surges after VMware says it’s in talks to acquire the company.
- VMware contributed to the formation of Pivotal in 2013.
- Pivotal stock has fallen 66% in the past year.
Pivotal shares rose as much as 72% premarket Thursday August 15 after VMware said Wednesday it’s proceeding with an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Pivotal’s class A stock at $15 per share in cash, an 80.7% premium on Pivotal’s $8.30 closing price.
VMware also said in a regulatory filing that it has requested that Dell exchange all outstanding shares of Pivotal’s class B stock, other than class B Pivotal shares owned by VMware, for Class A VMware stock. Dell controlled almost 81% of VMware’s outstanding common stock and more than 97% of the combined voting power of VMware’s outstanding stock as of May 3. Dell and Pivotal are negotiating an exchange ratio for the shares.
The transaction could contribute to the further diversification of VMware, which has moved to collaborate with cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon in order to enable existing customers to run their computing workloads in whatever environment they like.
Shares of Pivotal have declined 66% in the past year. On June 5 Pivotal stock declined 41% after the company issued guidance that was below what analysts were expecting.
Pivotal went public in April 2018. VMware and DellEMC both contributed assets when Pivotal was established in 2013.
As a result of an agreement with Dell, VMware is the selling agent for certain Pivotal products, such that VMware collects cash that is then remitted to Pivotal, net of a contractual agency fee. As of May 3, VMware had a 16% financial interest in Pivotal and a 24% voting interest in the company.
In a statement of its own, Pivotal said on Wednesday that although it is in talks with VMware about a “potential business combination,” an agreement has not been made.
Senior leadership among leading automation companies has been regularly shifting during the past few years. ABB, Emerson Automation, GE Digital, Honeywell Process, Rockwell Automation have all experienced changes. Sometimes a few.
ABB’s board evidently didn’t like the direction former GE executive Joe Hogan was taking the company and looked closer to home to bring in Ulrich Spiesshofer. He accomplished some massive restructuring, but apparently his results did not match the expectations of the board, so he was replaced by Board Chair Peter Voser.
In today’s announcement, the Board of ABB has unanimously appointed Björn Rosengren, as Chief Executive Officer. He will join ABB on February 1, 2020 and succeed CEO, Peter Voser, in this role on March 1, 2020. At that time Peter Voser will revert to his position at ABB solely as Chairman of the Board.
Björn Rosengren (60), a Swedish citizen, is a highly experienced, international executive and leader of industrial businesses. He has been the CEO of Sandvik, a high-tech global engineering group, since 2015. During this time, he has overseen the successful implementation of a decentralized structure and improved both the profitability and financial strength of Sandvik. Prior to that, he was CEO of Wärtsilä Corporation, which manufactures and services power sources and other equipment for the marine and energy markets (2011-2015) and spent some thirteen years (1998-2011) in a variety of management roles at Atlas Copco, a world leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions.
“The Board is pleased that Björn Rosengren will be taking the lead at ABB, bringing with him a proven track record of value creation and exactly the managerial skills ABB needs during the next stage of its transformation,” said ABB Chairman and current CEO, Peter Voser. “After undertaking a thorough search, the Board is convinced that Björn Rosengren is the best candidate for the role. He understands how to establish successful decentralized organizations, empower people and demonstrates the culture of cooperation and high performance. Together with our strong management team, he will drive ABB’s strategy and deliver long-term value to all our stakeholders.”
CEO-designate, Björn Rosengren, said: “I am honored to have the opportunity to join ABB, a truly global technology leader, after I have completed my current commitments. At such a pivotal time for manufacturing industries, ABB must continue to best serve the needs of global customers with a unique technology and digital solutions portfolio to help enhance their productivity. I look forward to working with my new colleagues around the globe to enhance value through the delivery of the group strategy and fully empowering our businesses and people.”
Short take: OSIsoft appoints Michael Siemer President and Wolfgang Kuchen Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing revamping the senior management ranks.
OSIsoft, a leader in data technology for critical operations, recently announced these new appointments. I had thought that the transition from founder Pat Kennedy to his daughter running the operations was well under way. But Kennedy took on some VC investments a couple of years ago [https://themanufacturingconnection.com/2017/06/osisoft-announces-softbank-investment-fund-internet-things-infrastructure-growth/]and I’m betting that the investors were looking for experienced leadership to grow their investment.
Siemer, an energy industry veteran with extensive experience in leveraging software technologies to transform complex industrial operations, comes to OSIsoft from Devon Energy Corporation, a North American oil exploration and production company, where he served as Vice President of Engineering, Exploration and Production, Data and Analytics. Siemer led many enterprise-wide digital transformation efforts at Devon, including initiatives around field automation, data management, advanced analytics, decision support and strategic innovation. Prior to Devon, Siemer worked at SandRidge Energy, a startup E&P energy company, and prior to SandRidge he was employed for 18 years with 3M/Imation.
Kuchen, meanwhile, brings more than 20 years of experience providing financial, strategic and operational leadership in challenging business environments. Most recently, he served as President of Allergy Research Group (ARG), a Kikkoman portfolio company in the healthcare professional market. Prior to ARG, he was responsible for the growth and acquisition strategy at Soho Flordis International, a global healthcare company based in Australia.
Both Siemer and Kuchen will also serve on OSIsoft’s newly formed Executive Committee. Siemer will officially begin on September 1, 2019 while Kuchen will begin on August 1, 2019.
“Customer satisfaction has always been one of our most important principles at OSIsoft so we are very excited to bring in executives like Michael and Wolfgang who have experience in the type of digital transformation initiatives that many of our customers are starting to implement,” said Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, CEO and founder of OSIsoft. “They will play a pivotal role in our growth as we enter a new decade.”
39 Years of Digital Transformation
Founded in 1980, OSIsoft has consistently been focused on software that lets people collect, understand and use data from critical operations, i.e. data generated by the production lines, safety equipment, power grids, and other systems that are at the foundation of their success. OSIsoft’s PI Systems acts as a data infrastructure, enabling individuals from across an organization to quickly obtain real-time insights into operations to save costs, increase productivity, develop new products or extend their capital investments.
OSIsoft customers have used PI System technology to predict wind turbine failures, increase output at a mine site by $120 million, reduce the power consumption of a supercomputer center at a national laboratory, deliver water services to millions of new customers in a major metropolitan city, boost the fuel efficiency of cruise ships and improve the quality and consistency of beer, among other accomplishments.
Over 1,000 leading utilities, 80% of the world’s largest oil and gas companies and 65% of the industrial companies in the Fortune 500 rely the PI System in their operations. Worldwide, over 2 billion sensor-based data streams are managed by the PI System.
“It is an honor to join OSIsoft. The company has long been recognized as a leader in industrial innovation and a critical partner for improving the performance of real-time operations,” Siemer said. “OSIsoft has earned an admirable level of trust with its customer base through technology-leading software and a genuine and consistent emphasis on service and support. My own experiences as a customer of OSIsoft are a big part of why I’m here. I look forward to working with the team and expanding upon the success they’ve achieved.”
“Data is the foundation of digital transformation and OSIsoft’s PI System is the gold standard for turning system data into an asset that people can use to make better decisions, improve their competitiveness and get the most out of their operations,” said Kuchen. “The impact of the PI System is set to expand rapidly.”
The International Society of Automation (ISA) held a press conference today to announce the first Founding Members of its new Global Cybersecurity Alliance (GCA): Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks.
As we would expect, the speakers emphasized the importance of standards as the foundation for work in the Alliance. Speakers also tied in safety and productivity as partners with cybersecurity in protecting and improving manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. I’m not so sure just exactly what the Alliance will accomplish, but if it succeeds in just raising awareness and a sense of urgency among companies it the industries, it will have accomplished an important task.
ISA created the Global Cybersecurity Alliance to advance cybersecurity readiness and awareness in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. The Alliance brings end-user companies, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations together to proactively address growing threats.
ISA is the developer of the ANSI/ISA 62443 series of automation and control systems cybersecurity standards, which have been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission as IEC 62443 and endorsed by the United Nations. The standards define requirements and procedures for implementing electronically secure automation and industrial control systems and security practices and assessing electronic security performance. The standards approach the cybersecurity challenge in a holistic way, bridging the gap between operations and information technology.
Leveraging the ISA/IEC 62443 standards, the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will work to increase awareness and expertise, openly share knowledge and information, and develop best practice tools to help companies navigate the entire lifecycle of cybersecurity protection. The Alliance will work closely with government agencies, regulatory bodies, and stakeholder organizations around the world.
“Accelerating and expanding globally relevant standards, certification, and education programs will increase workforce competence, and help end users identify gaps, reduce risks, and ensure they have the tools and systems they need to protect their facilities and installations,” said Mary Ramsey, ISA Executive Director. “Through the proliferation of standards and compliance programs, we will strengthen our global cyber culture and transform the way industry identifies and manages cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to their operations.”
The press release notes that first Founding Members of the Alliance are leading multi-national, industrial-technology providers with deep expertise in technology and applications, and they’ll apply their experience and knowledge to accomplish the Alliance’s priorities. However, two of the members were represented by building automation divisions. Two of the members are cybersecurity suppliers. Rockwell Automation is a pure play factory and process automation company and its Maverick Technologies division has been an ardent supporter of ISA. Schneider Electric is a large, multi-disciplined company, and I’m not sure which division within it is the sponsor.
“Participating in the Alliance truly shows the commitment our founding members have to the safety and security of the industrial ecosystem, as well as the criticality of collectively moving forward together to ensure the standards, best practices and methods are applied,” Ramsey said.
“ISA engaged with discussions, initiated by Schneider Electric, to create an ISA-led global, open and industry-wide alliance comprised of all cybersecurity stakeholder companies. ISA quickly expanded those conversations to include Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks. These first Founding Members have since worked together to help us define the Alliance’s objectives. We are thankful for their collaboration and commitment. Together we welcome companies and organizations from all segments of industry to join our efforts.”
The Alliance is seeking additional members to support its initiatives. End-user companies, asset owners, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations are invited to join. Annual contributions to fund initiatives are based on company revenues and are tax-deductible.
Perspectives: Quotes from the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance Founding Members
“Over the last few years, global industry has recognized that taking on increasingly dangerous cyber risks can’t be limited to a single company, segment, or region. However, until now, there has been limited ability to respond as a unified whole to these worldwide threats. But by establishing an open, collaborative, and transparent body, with a focus on strengthening people, processes, and technology, we can drive true cultural change. We are pleased that ISA has stepped forward, and we look forward to working openly and collaboratively with them, our fellow Founding Members, and many others affiliated with global industry, especially end users. Together we will bring to bear the standards-based technology, expertise, and special skills required to better secure and protect the world’s most critical operations and the people and communities we serve.” — Klaus Jaeckle, Chief Product Security Officer, Schneider Electric
“Cybersecurity is critical to digital transformation. It’s critical not only for the protection of information and intellectual property, but also for the protection of physical assets, the environment, and worker safety. We make it a priority to collaborate with partners and research institutions to develop secure products. Rockwell Automation participated in the development of the 62443 standards from the beginning and continues to support ISA cybersecurity initiatives. Our engagement with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will be another important step in our efforts to help customers identify and mitigate risks.” — Blake Moret, CEO, Rockwell Automation
“Cybersecurity is the great equalizer to all companies. It’s critical to the connected world we live in and the cornerstone of trust that the world needs to be able to operate. Whether protecting critical infrastructure or managing a building’s operations, users need to do this with the confidence the employed systems are robust and secure. We are committed to and proud to work together ISA and the GCA members to continue to drive the adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards and identify further ways to secure and protect the connected world which we live. At Honeywell, we see cybersecurity as a core part of the future we are making, and we see the GCA as an important way to work together to make that happen.” — Matthew Bohne, Vice President and Chief of Product Security, Honeywell Building Technologies
“Digital transformation in the building sector continues to accelerate, which heightens the urgency for cybersecurity across the industry and beyond. As a leader in the industrial automation controls business, Johnson Controls is already a strategic member of the ISASecure program and is consistently taking proactive actions to protect customers against cyber-threats and risks. Joining ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance is a necessary and meaningful step as it supports our company values, customer adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standard and efforts to educate global government and regulatory bodies. We are proud to solidify our commitment to this important effort.” — Jason Christman, Vice President, Chief Product Security Officer, Global Products, Johnson Controls
“One of the most effective ways to drive consistency in an industry is by putting standards in place, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with all of these founding members, as well as future Alliance members, to help drive global best-practices forward in this historically standard-less environment. Claroty is committed to the mission of protecting all IoT and OT networks from cyber risks. Through our work with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance, we will be able to help shape the future of cybersecurity in these high-risk industries.” — Dave Weinstein, Chief Security Officer, Claroty
“Nozomi Networks believes real community collaboration, actionable standards and effective education are key ensuring a secure future for industrial organizations around the world. That’s why we are helping develop secure-by-design standards as a working member of ISA99 standards committees, why we’ve designed our industrial cyber security solutions for easy integration across the broadest possible set of industrial and IT technologies; and why we are thrilled to help establish the Global Cybersecurity Alliance. Together we will build a secure future for the industrial infrastructure that runs the world.” — Andrea Carcano, Nozomi Networks Co-founder and Chief Product Officer