GE Digital Ends Not Invented Here Syndrome

GE Digital Ends Not Invented Here Syndrome

GE Digital initiates a huge turnaround in its attitude toward software and Industrial Internet development. GE invested large sums to build a Silicon Valley presence for its software. Hired many engineers. Took its industrial software base up a notch or two with its Predix platform. Tried to build its own cloud infrastructure. The mantra—not invented here.

[Late Breaking News: I was wrong. There will be another Minds + Machines. San Francisco, October 30-31. That’s an expensive trip. Anyone want to fund me? 😉 ]

During the last Minds+Machines conference in San Francisco new CEO John Flannery, barely two months into the job, said that GE Digital needed to work more closely with partners. Soon thereafter came the axe.

That is the context for this major announcement (this one came from Microsoft, so within it may be a bit of its bias) of a partnership. Following report is based upon a media blog from Microsoft.

GE and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership, bringing together operational technology and information technology “to eliminate hurdles industrial companies face in advancing digital transformation projects.” GE Digital plans to standardize its Predix solutions on Microsoft Azure and will deeply integrate the Predix portfolio with Azure’s native cloud capabilities, including Azure IoT and Azure Data and Analytics. The parties will also co-sell and go-to-market together, offering end customers premier Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions across verticals. In addition, GE will leverage Microsoft Azure across its business for additional IT workloads and productivity tools, including internal Predix-based deployments, to drive innovation across the company.

GE also plans to leverage Azure across the company for a wide range of IT workloads and productivity tools, accelerating digital innovation and driving efficiencies. This partnership also enables the different GE businesses to tap into Microsoft’s advanced enterprise capabilities, which will support the petabytes of data managed by the Predix platform, such as GE’s monitoring and diagnostics centers, internal manufacturing and services programs.

According to Microsoft, leveraging Azure enables GE to expand its cloud footprint globally, helping the companies’ mutual customers rapidly deploy IIoT applications.

The global IoT market is expected to be worth $1.1 trillion in revenue by 2025 as market value shifts from connectivity to platforms, applications and services, according to new data from GSMA Intelligence. Note: I find this a very interesting comment.

As part of this expanded partnership, the companies will go-to-market together and also explore deeper integration of Predix IIoT solutions with Power BI, PowerApps and other third-party solutions, as well as integration with Microsoft Azure Stack to enable hybrid deployments across public and private clouds.

Process Solutions Evolving

Did Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) short-circuit the Open Process Automation work? Inquiring minds wonder. Once again, some news and analysis of a conference that I couldn’t attend—three of these the same week in June.

HPS and ExxonMobil sent this release. Subsequently, I talked with some sources at competitor companies who broached the question to me—did this news short-circuit the ExxonMobil-led effort for a new process control solution? An interesting caveat is that there is more than one group within ExxonMobil—and they don’t necessarily agree.

From the first release:

The Open Process Automation group was initiated by ExxonMobil who was trying to find a better (less expensive) upgrade path for its control systems that had fallen behind that of its competitors. The oil & gas supermajor still has in operation a significant number of older systems installed as far back as the 1980s—systems that have served the company well for more than 30 years, but as older electronic components have been replaced by more modern alternatives, spare-parts shortages and looming obsolescence put ExxonMobil and other owner operators in a difficult place.

When facing obsolescence, rip-and-replace is clearly the option of last resort—incurring high costs, protracted downtime and the loss of all the intellectual property invested in developing a system’s displays, databases, control strategies and third-party interfaces, according to David Patin, distinguished engineering associate – control systems, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering.

The company’s installed base of Honeywell TDC 3000 systems, in particular, looked to be facing a critical shortage of spare parts in the year 2025, Patin explained. “So in 2011 we met with Honeywell regarding the future of TDC 3000,” Patin began, addressing a plenary session of the Honeywell Users Group Americas 2018 conference this week in San Antonio.

Challenge issued

Unwilling to settle for rip-and-replace, “We challenged Honeywell to develop and prove a method to migrate TDC forward,” Patin said. The two companies established a joint task team to investigate the problem.

ExxonMobil’s wish list of deliverables included avoiding wholesale system replacement (especially the I/O); preserving the company’s intellectual property investment; allowing for on-process migration of system components (meaning without shutting down the process); enabling new capabilities not currently possible with TDC; and unifying TDC with Honeywell’s current state-of-the-art Experion platform.

This last item encapsulated a desire for a solution that would “be usable by a younger workforce, yet stand the test of time,” Patin said. “I picture a third-grader who’s also a future TDC engineer,” he said. “They just don’t know it yet.”
Also implicit in ExxonMobil’s requirements were continued “rock solid” reliability and security, Patin added.

Solution identified

Since the technical obstacles to bringing TDC forward hinged on hardware obsolescence, notably controller microprocessors and communications chips that would no longer be available, the team settled on an emulation approach that would effectively abstract TDC system functionality from the specifics of the older hardware.

And in February 2018, seven years after that first meeting of the minds—and two years ahead of schedule—Honeywell answered ExxonMobil’s challenge with the release of Experion LCN R501.1. The Experion LCN, or ELCN, effectively emulates the TDC system as software. “It’s 100% binary compatible and interoperable with the old system,” Patin explained. “Current TDC code runs unmodified in this virtual environment, greatly reducing the technical risks. Intellectual property such as application code, databases and displays are preserved.”

In the end, the Experion Station, Server, ACE and APP nodes can take the shape of Windows-based “physical” applications or virtual machines. Application Modules, Network Gateway and Network Interface Module functionality is redeployed on Universal Embedded Appliances or as virtual appliances. Only the Enhanced PLC Gateway cannot be readily virtualized because the emulation of serial network connectivity is not well behaved, Patin explained. “This means you can build an almost 100% virtualized or 100% physical system—or somewhere in between.”

With the new solution, LCN and UCN messages are now encapsulated in standard Internet Protocol. “All the old networks now exist as logical constructs on Fault Tolerant Ethernet,” Patin said. “We’re no longer locked into proprietary networks.”
And to address the challenge of on-process migration, Honeywell has also introduced several bridge devices that effectively facilitate the virtualization of TDC system node functionality—without the need to interrupt the process under control.

Benefits achieved

Virtualization of the TDC environment has come with some added benefits, including the ability to use Honeywell’s cloud-based Open Virtual Engineering Platform to engineer TDC solutions; lower cost, smaller footprint training simulators; peer-to-peer integration of virtualized HPM controller nodes with current-generation C300/ACE nodes; support for OneWireless (ISA 100 and WirelessHART) connectivity; and integration with ControlEdge and Unit
Operations Controllers.

“It’ll be a game-changer,” said Patin. “We don’t know all that’s possible as yet.”
Other benefits include a drastic reduction—or elimination—of spare parts, as well as reductions in cabinet space requirements. “We’ve gone from two nodes to six in a single cabinet,” Patin said. “We’ve not fully realized unification with Experion, but that process has begun.”

Overall, Patin gave high marks to the Honeywell team for its response to ExxonMobil’s needs. “The challenge was met, and expectations exceeded,” he said. “The need to replace an entire system is eliminated, future component issues are virtually eliminated (pun intended), intellectual property is preserved and on
process migration is supported.

“ELCN technology essentially resets the odometer on your TDC 3000 investment,” Patin added. “It’s the best example of Honeywell’s commitment to continuous evolution that I’ve ever seen. And if it were a final exam, I’d give Honeywell an A on this one.”

<End of release>

Safety Manager

HPS also announced Safety Manager SC, the next generation of its flagship Safety Manager platform. Its modular, scalable design enables it to function as a single platform for all enterprise safety applications, allowing customers – who are often using four or five different safety systems – to consolidate and reduce their training and engineering costs, and spare parts inventories.

Safety Manager SC incorporates a new Series C-based controller and Honeywell technologies such as LEAP, Universal Safety IO, offline simulation and Experion integration, which collectively simplify safety system engineering, development and testing.

“Our customers increasingly want integrated safety and control solutions and the simplicity of partnering with one supplier for all their needs,” said Tim LeFevre, global customer marketing manager for safety systems, HPS. “We deliver exactly that by combining unrivaled expertise in distributed control systems (DCS) and safety systems with deep integration know-how. Honeywell is one of the few vendors that can support the full safety lifecycle.”

HUG

The ability of Honeywell Connected Plant’s offerings to deliver higher levels of safety, reliability, efficiency and profitability will continue to be the primary discussion point at the 43rdHoneywell Users Group (HUG) Americas symposium. More than 1,300 delegates from across the oil and gas, chemical, pulp and paper, and metals and mining sectors are attending the event, which features numerous displays of the newest technologies along with dozens of Honeywell- and customer-led sessions and technical discussions.

Throughout the conference, Honeywell will showcase how turning data into actionable insight requires more than just upgrading technology; it requires a system for capturing, retaining and sharing knowledge that allows both the plant and its workers to perform at their best every day.

“Digital transformation has to be about more than just moving data into the cloud,” said John Rudolph, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). “It ultimately has to be about the outcomes, including driving increased productivity and savings for our customers while allowing them to increase knowledge capture, knowledge sharing and knowledge retention among their employees.”

Rudolph was named president of HPS on May 31, 2018, succeeding Vimal Kapur, who was named president and CEO of Honeywell Building Technologies. Rudolph led the Projects and Automation Solutions, and Lifecycle Solutions and Services businesses for HPS over the past six years, driving significant growth. Rudolph also has held leadership roles with TAS Energy, General Electric and Ingersoll Rand.

Here is a revealing comment from the press release about HPS’s strategy and direction—something we’ve all been wondering about. “HUG attendees will be able to see and experience the Company’s ongoing transformation into a software-industrial provider.”

Announcements in brief:

  • Thermal IQ – Enables maintenance engineers and plant managers to more effectively monitor and manage their thermal process equipment, minimizing unplanned downtime and maximizing uptime.
  • Uniformance Cloud Historian – This software-as-a-service cloud hosting solution for enterprise-wide data capture, visualization and analysis helps customers improve asset availability, optimize processes and increase plant uptime.
  • Asset Performance Management – Integrates asset and process data for actionable insights to improve asset performance and plant profitability.
  • Immersive Competency – This cloud-based simulation offering uses a combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to train plant personnel on critical industrial work activities, empowering them to directly improve plant performance, uptime, reliability and safety.
  • Personal Gas Safety – This solution integrates with Honeywell’s leading plant control system to protect workers and speed emergency response in case of hazardous leaks or worker injury.
  • Intelligent Wearables – This hands-free, wearable technology allows industrial workers to more safely, reliably and efficiently accomplish their tasks in the plant or the field. It uses a head-mounted visual display that responds to voice and brings live data, documents, work procedures, as well as health and safety information into view and can connect field workers with remote experts in real time.
  • Experion Batch – Combines Experion distributed control, batch automation, and new visualization technology for improved efficiency, quality and throughput.
  • Measurement IQ for Gas – Provides measurement under control by transforming metering operations with 24/7 real-time condition-based monitoring.
Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

Here I go to yet another IT conference to talk convergence and platform. Salesforce invited me to its summer marketing conference in June and promised an interview with a Vice President. I could take my wife out to a good anniversary dinner, visit family, and go to a tech conference with a good interview all on one trip. Too good to pass up.

This was the Salesforce Connections conference. Not as big as Dreamforce in San Francisco, but still quite large by our standards in manufacturing.

Salesforce is more than the CRM company it was. Many acquisitions later, it has assembled an array of technology. Like all tech companies, it has a platform. In fact due to its open APIs, you could use it, too. Some time ago, I interviewed the CEO of a manufacturing ERP company called Kenandy that was build upon the Salesforce platform. Rootstriker, another ERP company build on the Salesforce platform, recently acquired Kenandy.

Featured in one keynote was an application by MTD, a manufacturer of lawn tractors (Cub Cadet, etc.). No, Salesforce doesn’t run machines. It does help connect the manufacturer with its end customers and then with its dealers with feedback to the manufacturer.

The idea is that customers do online research and so need to be reached in many ways (thus Salesforce marketing). MTD erected an online store on the Salesforce platform (in simplified terms) for direct to the consumer interaction. An order is fulfilled by the local dealer. The dealer still gets margin and relationship and as an extra added bonus, the opportunity for service business. Linking all back to MTD, it gets to know the customer, satisfies the dealer, plus receiving data from the service business feeds back into product development.

Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce VP automotive/manufacturing, told me industry is moving from product centric to system, e.g., autonomous vehicles, mobility services, digital signals; factory automation, geographic expansion, intelligence, vehicle sales. Mobility services lead to transaction service—over air updates, location based services.

He noted that people start online and mostly know what they want before visiting a dealer. Other manufacturing customers tying their whole sales systems back to manufacturing include John Deere and Ecolab.

“State of the Connected Customer” report

Before I went to the conference, Saleforce sent me this interesting report—a survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide that looks at the ever changing landscape of customers’ expectations, the emerging technologies influencing these expectations and the role trust plays in the customer experience.

Customers today are energized by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them. They have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.

These trends impact every company, regardless of whether they sell to consumers or business buyers purchasing on behalf of their companies. In this research, “customers” is an aggregate of both consumer and business buyer responses.

The report dives into the nuances of this tricky customer landscape. Here are five of the high-level findings our research brought to light:

1. Customer experience matters even more than you think

Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A majority take this sentiment a step further by voting with their wallets; 57% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.

2. B2B expectations mirror B2C standards

The concept of “B2Me” isn’t new, but it’s gathering steam. Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves. But only 27% say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, signaling ample room to improve.

3. Companies face new connected mandates

For 84% of customers, being treated like a person — and not a number — is very important to win their business. Another 70% say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).

Even before a purchase, personalization is hugely important; 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to win their business.

While they buy, 78% of business buyers seek salespeople that act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry.

4. Technology sets new benchmarks for innovation

Real innovation, not lip service, is a deciding factor for most customers. 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.

While some emerging technologies are only starting to take root, a majority of customers say these technologies have transformed (or are actively transforming) their expectations: the Internet of Things (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%).

5. Facing a crisis of trust: finding the balance between personalization and privacy

Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago — and nearly half of customers (45%) feel confused about how companies use their data.

82% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for connections between their digital and in-person experiences.

81% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for more consultative help from salespeople.

85% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for proactive customer service.

For 92% of customers, the ability to control what personal information is collected makes them more likely to trust a company with that information.

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Fourth in the series of posts as I digest all of the information I gathered at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2018 in Las Vegas. This post focuses on use cases. Yes, people, there are people some in manufacturing and some not who are using HPE IoT and Edge computing for fun and profit.

First off, a panel assembled by Tom Bradicich, VP and GM IoT and Edge and Ph.D. entitled Intelligence at the Edge.

Nathalie Elad of Comcast- We are an aggregator of data from homes sending this data from local server to cloud. He is working with HPE on virtualization. No, it doesn’t collect individual family usage to sell to others (yes, it came up). But the company does need data to know how to channel bandwidth. The challenge-“we double bits every 18 months and need to flex up and down during the day.” Interesting stat—there used to be 3.3 devices per house, now may be 20 or even 30.

Tim Thai, Tesla- OT—IT is still a challenge. “The Edge is dynamic, wherever business sets up shop.” Regarding IoT, there are “Things” in manufacturing-control and sensors. They incorporate sensors in testing of technology in cars. Not to mention “there are a ton of sensors in a car.”

Philip Rostle, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 racing, discussed F1 race car as the edge. There are lots of channels coming off the car during a race. They measure performance versus predicted. You think you have connection problems, he described connection in race as “variable”. Every car has a GPS. They track all cars in the race trying to predict status of the other cars. They run scenarios, analytics, quickly at the edge during a race to help determine strategy. Took “moonshot” server power to the edge so that they get maximum performance within the rules of F1.

In a special breakfast session, we talked with the CTO of the Ryder Cup and European PGA Tour. Think you know golf? Ever wonder about some of the stats that the TV announcers can quote during an event? Well, the tour requires a lot of data. And to get that data, they need connectivity. Golf is also an entertainment event. There are 50,000 spectators at the Ryder Cup. They all expect WiFi to access real-time information about the tournament.

First the data. Every shot has a dozen parameters to capture for every golfer. These are logged on the course. To connect, they use Aruba wireless networking devices. There are 30 switches and 700 access points. They collect 20K data points for scoring; 140K data points for other shot information. “Data drives insights that leads to performance for golfers.” They can track each golfer and also track spectator traffic patterns. An untold story, they lay 18km of fiber cable each tournament; ready to go for Wednesday morning and tear down beginning Sunday evening.

Mike Orr, director of digital transformation at Murphy Oil, uses Edgeline on oil platforms. He noted that his biggest hurdle was working with IT mostly due to its legacy software systems. He made this technology economics point—when oil went from $140 to $20, company laid off many workers. The only way he could get his work done was with technology.

I’ve already discussed the Texmark Chemicals “Refinery of the Future” use case, but I learned a few additional points at this conference.

Intel supplied streaming video analytics—used for physical security/monitoring, open gate for railway access allowed humans and critters into the site, monitored for exception to alert operators.

Deloitte is developing an IoT practice. It assembled an ecosystem including NI, Allied, ThingWorx, OSIsoft, SparkCognition AI for pumps. It also developed the operator dashboards for the project.

All together there were 12 partners in the ecosystem that completed the project that included predictive maintenance for two critical pumps and the video surveillance system.

HPE coordinated the entire project.

The insurance company was impetus to do something to upgrade the technology. Texmark kicked off the project by renting a party bus and taking 15 employees to the HPE IoT lab in Houston. They saw a demo of a pump with FlowServe monitoring and analytics. Employees discussed and picked the initial project targets—two critical pumps in the process plus the “video as a sensor” for the railway access. Getting early employee involvement was the key factor for successful implementation.

HPE Commits to IoT and the Edge

HPE Commits to IoT and the Edge

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) held its annual Discover conference in Las Vegas last week. It has made a sizable commitment to Internet of Things (IoT) and the Edge—areas central to my writing for the past few years. I am floating a number of ideas looking for feedback as I travel, and I’ll bounce some of those here later.

There is so much I learned last week beyond even what I wrote Monday about the new Edgeline computer. Perhaps the best place to start is with my latest discussion with Lin Nease, Chief Technologist IoT at HPE. This was a continuation of a discussion we began in Madrid last November and resumed at Industry of Things World in San Diego in February.

HPE’s power of compute at the Edge fascinates me. Even though my being in Las Vegas precluded being in Boston for LiveWorx, ThingWorx came up in many conversations at Discover. Nease said that ThingWorx (product and division of PTC) has been a good partner. Back to compute power at the edge Nease mentioned this power combined with TSN—Time Sensitive Networking, a new extension of Ethernet promulgated by IEEE.

Indeed, there is sufficient power in Edgeline that an enterprising developer could, for instance, accomplish the software defined DCS that seems to be the dream of some of the engineers at ExxonMobil and the Open Process Automation folks. Anyone out there have time and money?

Speaking of Edge, evidently the enterprise IT bloggers I hung out with during the event try to avoid the term. CEO Antonio Neri had said, “Edge is everything outside the data center.” In the blogger round table that I posted Monday, blogger Alastair Cooke noted, “Gary, we consider everything you do as edge.” Back to Neri who stated 94% of data is wasted; 75% of data comes from the edge.

Following are some points I gleaned from a session called “Harness the Power of Digital Platforms”:

  • HPE is a huge fan of open source & open platforms
  • Digital natives build platforms-e.g. Uber, Google, Amazon, etc.
  • An internal team built an open API platform to solve a problem in supply chain
  • Biggest problem was selling the system internally so that people would actually use the system (never seen that before—said no one anywhere)
  • Traditional—>Digital; everything is a frictionless stream of data
  • Platform always on, always looking for exceptions — sense/respond

HPE has an OEM Solutions group. Following are some points from a session discussing them:

  • OEM Solutions can be Embedded, Integrated, Private Label
  • Everything as a Service — Green Lake is the service offering that OEMs can resell the service
  • Shift to software defined
  • From storage to flash
  • Example—Konica Minolta embedded an Edgeline computing device in a printer called workplace hub that makes it easier to set up and install a new remote office

HPE has momentum in IoT and edge devices—and an organization supporting manufacturing.

IoT and Other Technologies–Blogger Roundtable From HPE Discover

I attended the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover conference as the IoT blogger. It is a different program from that of the press. More blog posts coming when I get a chance to catch up. Actually this week I’m in Florida at yet another conference. And I have things from two weeks ago. Jeffrey Powers with Geekazine live streamed and recorded the blogger / influencer sessions. This video shows the blogger roundtable that I participated in. It begins at 3:50 into the video.

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