Hannover Messe Preview

Two years ago my last business trip was to Hannover, Germany, to attend the official press preview of the upcoming, but soon to be postponed, Hannover Messe. We knew things were happening in China that were bound to spill over to the rest of us. I don’t think anyone I talked with from any of several countries ever thought the situation would get as bad as happened.

Today I listened to that same preview from the relative comfort of my home office. 2020 experienced the Preview live and the Trade Fair virtual. 2022 will see the situation reversed. The Preview was virtual. The Trade Fair will be live, in-person beginning May 30.

Technology takes center stage at this event. There will be plenty of digital. Digitalization, digital twin, data, software. Many companies will be showing solutions for sustainability, decarbonization, climate change. I saw some new metal forming technologies. Connectivity and networking of many types will be featured.

I remember 10 years ago when the buzz was a new thing called cyberphysical systems. Much of that has been instantiated by now. But there is far to go.

Whether a trip to Germany is in the cards for me right now, I don’t know. It is an expensive trip. So far I have not been contacted directly by companies seeking audiences. I like Hannover, but it will take more than that to get me there. There are worse things than reporting from home.

I have recorded podcast reflections on the ODVA meeting–237 It’s Too Complicated. Or, you can watch it on YouTube.

Taking a step back to look at some trends, some other networking news and developments you can find at The Manufacturing Connection include 5G and private networking and chip advances. This topic will heat up this year as more companies implement advanced networks for bandwidth and security.

Companies who have developed advanced product information management applications have been a new addition to my coverage. These companies develop algorithms and math to handle the complexity of managing huge numbers of product variations and supply chain issues.

A few years back the hot topic was IoT. Companies had IoT groups. Websites (and businesses around them) sprang up. I even got some business based on covering connectivity (read IoT). The groups have been disbanded. Coverage is changing. Stacey Higgenbotham of Stacey on IoT recently discussed her expanded areas of coverage. HPE’s Tom Bradicich still writes on IoT issues, but his position at HPE changed and broadened. HPE now refers to Edge-to-Cloud. I’ve always been broader than IoT, so I am not really affected. But I find how markets change interesting.

Open Source Software continues to make advances. There is continual news coming from the Linux Foundation and Industrial IoT Consortium.

Podcasts have been on my daily agenda for twenty years. Here are some recents that are interesting and educating:

Analysts Benedict Evans and Toni Cowen-Brown discuss current tech trends at Another Podcast. Check out “Asking Dumb Questions.”

John Gruber of Daring Fireball interviews Ken Locienda about the origins of the iPhone.

Listen to the most impassioned plea for science and math education I’ve heard on Moira Gunn’s TechNation podcast interview with George Yancopoulos.

I’ve practiced varieties of health and fitness activities for years. Peter Attia, MD, has become a favored source of information. Check out How Fructose Drives Metabolic Disease and The Science of Obesity.

ODVA Wraps Up Annual General Meeting Detailing Much Activity

I’m sitting in the San Diego airport following my second post-pandemic conference. ODVA wrapped up its 2022 Annual General Meeting at lunch today with technical committee sessions continuing the rest of the day. This organization may be the most active of any similar one of its kind currently. Working groups met virtually during the two years of the pandemic following the 2020 meeting and maybe were more productive than ever.

Technical Sessions

Yesterday, March 9, I sat in two technical sessions relevant to my interests. The first, ”Edge to Cloud”, discussed the work being done to map CIP data to OPC UA. A large amount of detail has been by the ODVA working group as well as work with a joint working group writing a companion specification for OPC Foundation. Much field-level data that may not even be used by the control function bears content useful to other systems—many of which use the cloud for storage and retrieval.

The second technical session concerned using CIP networks in process automation applications. ODVA originally developed DeviceNet, a fieldbus most useful for discrete applications. Even EtherNet/IP found most uses in factory automation. Process automation users also discovered a need to use EtherNet/IP (a CIP network). The technology enticing for process automation users is Advanced Physical Layer (APL). This network can handle identified required areas including safety, hazardous areas, configuration, process improvement, secure remote access, and 24/7 uptime. Work continues to define and implement standards.

ODVA Growth

Al Beydoun, executive director of ODVA and Adrienne Meyer, VP of operations, reviewed the many association activities of the past two years.

  • Grew membership to greater than 365
  • Focused on growth in China
  • Development work for EtherNet/IP over TSN
  • CIP Safety was recertified with IEC
  • Collaboration continued with Fieldcomm Group and FDT Group
  • Worked with OPD Foundation
  • Worked on xDS device descriptions
  • Extensive online training and promotion.

The technical committees recorded activities of 80 SEs and TDEs, completed two publication cycles in 2020 and three in 2021 one of which concerned APL, and recorded 27 volume revisions. They also worked on standards for resource constrained devices, process industry requirements, and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN).

User Requirements from P&G

Paul Maurath, Technical Director—Process Automation from Procter & Gamble’s Central Engineering, presented the user’s view of automation. I will dispense with suspense. His conclusion, ”Help us manage complexity.”

Maurath told the story of setting up a test process cell in the lab. They used it to test and demonstrate Ethernet APL devices and the network. They discovered that APL worked, the controller didn’t see any issues. The discouraging discovery was the amount of configuration required and the complexity of setup. He referred to an E&I technician working the shift on a Sunday morning at 3 am. Call comes in. Device is down. With a regular HART / 4-20 mA device, the tech has the tools. But with an Ethernet device configuration can be a problem.

Conclusion:

  • There is a need for new technology to deliver functionality and simplicity
  • Standards are great
  • Please keep end users in mind when developing standards and technology

ARC Advisory Group Glimpses the Future

Harry Forbes, research director for ARC Advisory Group. devoted a substantial part of his keynote to open source. ”There is,” he noted, ”an IT technology totally overlooked by OT—open source software.” He principally cited the Linux Foundation. You’ll find news and comments from LF throughout this blog. I see great value from this technology. That an ARC researcher also sees the power was somewhat a surprise, though. ”It’s not software that’s eating the world,” said Forbes, ”it is open source eating the world.”

The problem to solve as detailed by presentations at the last ARC Industry Forum (and I think also worked on by the Open Process Automation Forum which also appears often on this blog) is the need to decouple hardware and software allowing easier updates to the software through containers (Docker, Kubernetes) and virtual machines.

Is that the future? I’m not sure where the vendors are that will bring this innovation, but I’m sure that many users would welcome it.

Conclusion

ODVA appears to be thriving. It is at the forefront of pushing new standards. It is looking forward at new technologies. It is growing membership and mindshare. The staff also assembled an outstanding event.

Commercialization Accelerator Program

Several companies have internal incubators or other programs to foster innovation from outside the company. Hexagon has been pursuing one method of innovation—acquisitions. But it also has an “open innovation start-up platform” called Sixth Sense targeted to “accelerate technology commercialisation in global manufacturing industry.”

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division launched Sixth Sense to bring together start-ups and industry-leading companies to create transformative solutions that benefit everyone. It promotes sharing resources, data and ideas to fast-track progress and solve real-world problems which address some of humanity’s greatest challenges, such as the journey to net zero. The challenge areas include Sustainability, Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Sensors and Robotics.

Sixth Sense’s first themed challenge – Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sustainable Smart Manufacturing – encompasses all these areas and is also accepting dedicated applications, with start-ups encouraged to register their interest for future themed challenges and events.

Parth Joshi, Chief Product and Technology Officer of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “We are searching for intelligent, efficient solutions that will not only enhance performance, but benefit people and the planet. Industry 4.0 is evolving and pushing to solve complex challenges, but the catch is that you cannot solve big problems without solving lots of little ones at each step with innovation.”

The 10 most innovative proposals will be chosen for an intensive innovate-on-the-job scaling programme, supported by Hexagon, key clients and world-leading mentors. Three final concepts will be offered opportunities to globalise and scale their business as commercial joint ventures.

Milan Kocić, Head of Sixth Sense for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “Sixth Sense will build a bridge between small businesses and larger manufacturers; helping overcome start-ups’ challenges with scaling, while simultaneously meeting the industry’s need for new ideas.”

The platform has already partnered with a number of promising young companies, and is founded on the principle that diversity is fundamental to innovation and establishing such a thriving open ecosystem.

The selection criteria for Sixth Sense include:

• $1m or less in revenue

• 1-5 years in existence

• Post seed, Series A, Series A+

• Proven traction and product-market fit

• Propensity to scale

Preferred qualities:

• Validation of investment from third party

• IP & licenses

Complex Product Portfolio Management

I mentioned in my previous post about changes in the types of news coming my way. That was a LiDAR sensor. I recently talked with Max Kissel, co-founder and managing director  of Soley, a German university spinoff dealing with managing complexity of product portfolios. The company applies advanced math and complexity management to sort through the complexity of products and component parts a company may have accumulated over many years.

He told me about the solution. Soley has three solutions: Enterprise Digital Twin—graph of BOM, supply chain, etc., updated regularly; Complexity Patterns, we created PhD program, not just analytic solution; Transformational Decision Support—helps with decision making for customer teams. This is a map—nodes and edges, like a mind map—that is a semantic network, would be millions of nodes hosted on Azure. It maps customers, products, components, suppliers. 

Decisions in the product portfolio have a significant impact on sales, delivery capability, working capital and the outcomes

Millions of dependencies between products, value stream, customers and suppliers make fast and targeted interventions extremely time-consuming and costly

Soley provides automated evaluation bases and digitized decision-making processes, thus freeing up valuable time and design freedom

Enterprise Digital Twin brings together all relevant information and dependencies of a company.

Complexity Patterns uncover the most important fields of action and set the focus for all stakeholders.

Transformational Decision Support brings all the important facts and stakeholders together at one table.

Public-Private Partnership To Accelerate Transition To Circular Economy

I lost this news item, and now the deadline for sending information has passed. However, this is an initiative that you may want to keep in the back of your mind for future ideas. Or, maybe you would like to investigate further and join. Remade Institute is one of 16 US Department of Energy advanced manufacturing organizations.

Responses to REMADE’s RFI will inform revisions to the Institute’s technology roadmap, which is currently focused on reducing the use of raw and virgin, or primary, materials; increasing remanufacturing and the use and supply of recycled, or secondary, materials; and fostering circular innovations. The RFI will also address REMADE’s sustainability strategy, including developing Circular Economy approaches that will help address climate change economy-wide.

“Over the last five years, REMADE has invested or allocated more than $85.6 million to develop innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption and decrease carbon emissions,” Remade CEO Nabil Nasr said. “Given REMADE’s projected impacts so far, it’s important to see how we can further accelerate the U.S.’s transition to a Circular Economy — to turbocharge it.”

The connection between industrial development and climate change is significant. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, manufacturing accounts for 25% of U.S. energy consumption at a cost of approximately $150 billion. Based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industry is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the nation at 30%. This is why a circular approach to manufacturing — “make-use-reuse-remanufacture-recycle” — is so important, Nasr said.

“If we don’t reduce industrial energy consumption and industrial emissions, research shows we will only get a little more than halfway to net-zero by 2050, about 55% of the way,” he added. “A Circular Economy approach to how we manufacture and use everyday products can help us get all the way to net-zero.”

REMADE Chief Technology Officer Magdi Azer says the Institute has focused its efforts and investment dollars on increasing the reuse, remanufacturing, recovery and recycling of four energy-intensive material classes: metals, plastics/polymers, fibers, and electronic waste (e-waste). In addition to seeking feedback regarding these current activities, the RFI asks where REMADE should focus its efforts relative to electric vehicles (EV) and photovoltaic (PV) solar power as part of the Institute’s future planning.

“Having invested in a suite of technologies to increase the reuse, remanufacturing, recovery and recycling of metals, polymers, fibers and e-waste, REMADE is evaluating how to proactively respond to megatrends such as climate change, resource scarcity, and technological breakthroughs in its research agenda,” Azer said. “The RFI will assist us in answering these questions.”

Those interested in learning more can read the detailed RFI here. Innovators and researchers with industry, academia, government, and the non-profit sector who are interested and involved in the nation’s transition to a Circular Economy are especially encouraged to respond. Responses can be submitted in either short-form or long-form. For details on REMADE’s 2020 Technology Roadmap, review the Institute’s roadmap here.

REMADE, part of the nation’s Manufacturing USA network of 16 advanced manufacturing institutes, and its members are developing technology solutions that are capable of:

• Saving more than 1 Quad of energy per year, which is the equivalent of conserving more than 180 million barrels of oil a year

• Reducing 50 million metric tons per year in greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of eliminating the annual emissions of 11.5 million cars

• Increasing the supply and use of recycled materials by more than 40 million metric tons per year

• Creating up to 700,000 direct and indirect jobs, enhancing the U.S. economy and increasing the nation’s competitiveness

Founded in 2017, REMADE is a 141-member public-private partnership established by the U.S. Department of Energy with an initial investment of $140 million. REMADE is the only national institute focused entirely on the development of innovative technologies to accelerate the U.S.’s transition to a Circular Economy. In partnership with industry, academia, and national laboratories, REMADE enables early-stage applied research and development that will create jobs, dramatically reduce embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the supply and use of recycled materials.