Proficy Historian Updated for 2022

Steve Pavlosky, Principal Product Manager Proficy Historian and Data at the Edge, talked with me about this latest release of Proficy Historian by GE Digital. I asked him for the important points. He responded, “It’s our extreme scalability of up to 100 million tags.” Further, this release allows customers to choose their cloud environment and how much data they want sent to the cloud of their choice. It sounds like there are some cool things coming later in the year. Glad to hear about the progress. With OSIsoft now part of AVEVA, I am interested in how market competition may (or may not) change. So this is interesting.

Here is the release.

GE Digital today announced the availability of its latest version of Proficy Historian, a historian software solution that collects industrial time-series and Alarms & Events (A&E) data to analyze asset and process performance to drive business value. Proficy Historian 2022 has a flexible and scalable architecture – from sensor to enterprise – that makes it foundational for Industrial Internet deployments.

Used by thousands of companies around the world, Proficy Historian has helped a global chemical company create a single industrial data repository across its plants for improved visibility and insights, delivering a 20% increase in capacity; a large power monitoring and diagnostics center achieve tens of millions in cost savings for customers in just one year along with 5% reduction in unplanned downtime and 20% reduction in IT infrastructure costs; and a leading industrial gas company reduce costs by consolidating to one historian and eliminating more than 100 servers.

This new version boosts large-scale deployments with enhanced system management and connectivity, value from data with a new Asset Model associated with Historian data, and significant improvement in collection throughput and encryption. Proficy Historian 2022 also features improved system management with a modern single administrator across the Proficy portfolio that increases productivity. It also provides new capabilities for managing multiple systems from a “single pane of glass.”

“GE Digital has made significant strides with Proficy Historian 2022. With features like decentralized data collection, excellent data volume handling, scalability from on-premise to hybrid Cloud to full Cloud, plus remote management, and an OPC UA Server, Proficy Historian is now one of the leading historian products on the market,” said Joe Perino, Principal Analyst, LNS Research. “No longer is there a default choice in historians. If GE Digital’s Proficy Historian is not on your short list, it certainly should be.”

A centralized collector configuration within Proficy Historian 2022 allows companies to utilize remote data collectors to reduce maintenance costs and downtime. This simplified enterprise-wide management makes Proficy Historian the best solution on the market for widely distributed data collection in large water utilities, organizations such as oil & gas and power generation and grid operators, and multi-plant manufacturing. In addition, it provides horizontal scalability, so all clients have access to all data, without the need for consolidation in a central enterprise historian. 

Standardization Advances From OPC Foundation

OPC Foundation held a virtual SPS press conference combined with annual general meeting last month. The most profound news comes from the group working on Field Level Communications. That seemed to be a bit of a political football when the idea was broached several years ago. It now has momentum. A couple of other items of interest relate to work with other associations. OPCF will take ownership of the MDIS Sub-Sea Standard. Meanwhile, John Dyck continues to be busy building relationships as CESMII and OPCF have launched a UA Cloud Library.

OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications Initiative reaches significant milestone and celebrates premiere

Three years after its launch, the OPC Foundation’s Field Level Communications (FLC) initiative has completed the second release candidate of the OPC UA FX (Field eXchange) specifications and has started the review and release process for them.  In addition, a multi-vendor demo with controllers and network infrastructure components of 20 companies – among them the world’s largest automation suppliers – has been realized to showcase the cross-vendor interoperability of automation components for the most diverse use cases in Factory and Process Automation.

The release candidate of the Field Level Communications Initiative consists of four specification parts (Parts 80-83) and focuses on communication between automation components to exchange process data and configuration data using OPC UA Client/Server and PubSub extensions in combination with peer-to-peer connections and basic diagnostics:

  • Part 80 (OPC 10000-80) provides an overview and introduces the basic concepts of using OPC UA for field level communications.
  • Part 81 (OPC 10000-81) specifies the base information model and the communication concepts to meet the various use cases and requirements of Factory and Process Automation. 
  • Part 82 (OPC 10000-82) describes networking services, such as topology discovery and time synchronization.
  • Part 83 (OPC 10000-83) describes the data structures for sharing information required for Offline Engineering using descriptors and descriptor packages.

Peter Lutz, Director Field Level Communications of the OPC Foundation says: “We are happy about the progress that our working groups have made over the last months, despite COVID-19 and the associated restrictions. The completion of the second release candidate and an impressive multi-vendor live demo is a major achievement because the specifications are now mature so that the member review process could be started.”

Since the start of the Field Level Communications Initiative in November 2018 more than 320 experts from over 65 OPC Foundation member companies have contributed to generate the technical concepts and elaborate the specification contents for extending the OPC UA framework for field level communications, including Determinism, Motion, Instruments and Functional Safety.

The OPC Foundation Takes Ownership of the MDIS Sub-Sea Standard 

The OPC Foundation (OPCF) announced that it consolidated and took over the MCS-DCS Interface Standardisation (MDIS) specification ownership.  Effective immediately, as with all OPCF Companion Specifications, MDIS is freely available for adoption by all interested parties at no additional cost. The OPCF MDIS working group, co-chaired by Markus Koenig from SubSea, Tim Fortin from Honeywell, and Paul Hunkar from DS Interoperability, now oversees the ongoing maintenance and expansion of the standard. Original MDIS network group members will continue working in the OPCF working group. The OPC Foundation invites all members interested in helping shape the future of the MDIS specification to join the MDIS working group.

MDIS was formed with a vision to optimize and standardize communications between subsea Master Control Stations (MCSs) and topside Distributed Control Systems (DCSs). A standardized MCS-DCS interface simplifies the implementation of data communications and increases data quality.

The OPC Foundation and CESMII launches the UA Cloud Library

The OPC Foundation announced the launch of the globally available UA Cloud Library co-developed with the Clean Energy and Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII). With its multi-cloud architecture, the UA Cloud Library saw contributions from all major cloud vendors leveraging open interfaces and is available for sharing, finding, and collaborating on OPC UA Information Models. Today, the UA Cloud Library already contains over 65 OPC UA Information Models created by individual companies as well as international standards organizations like AutoID, DEXPI, MDIS, MTConnect, and over 30 VDMA working groups as part of their OPC UA Companion Specification work.

While shop floor (OT) components routinely discover and use data structures and services of other OPC UA components, direct access to such semantic information has not been readily available to cloud-based applications due to security considerations. The UA Cloud Library eliminates this gap by providing IT and cloud-based applications access to semantic information directly from the cloud instead of manually getting it from the OT systems

“The UA Cloud Library is the missing link that makes OPC UA information models available in the cloud on a global scale without requiring a connection to physical machines,” said Erich Barnstedt, Chief Architect Standards & Consortia, Microsoft Corporation, and chair of the UA Cloud Library working group. “It enables OPC UA Information Models – used as blueprints for industrial digital twins – to be looked up and matched against time-series machine telemetry data provided by cloud-based analytics software, which is a common requirement in Industrial IoT projects.”

“It was an honor to partner with the OPC Foundation in this strategic initiative,” said John Dyck, CEO of CESMII. “The UA Cloud Library is truly an important step on the journey to Smart Manufacturing Interoperability and will pave the way for dramatic simplification and cost savings for manufacturing systems!”

Stefan Hoppe, President and Executive Director of the OPC Foundation, said, “The value of what the OPC Foundation and CESMII joint working group created cannot be overstated because it equips us with the mechanism needed to facilitate access to all known OPC UA information models via an open, global, single-source of truth.” Mr. Hoppe continued, “Beyond the value the UA Cloud Library brings to applications, it will help with global OPC UA information model coordination and harmonization efforts by making it easy to search and cross-reference the latest OPC UA companion specifications in real-time. Finally, the UA Cloud Library will serve a crucial infrastructure role in Smart Manufacturing initiatives that depend on interoperability.”

StorCentric Announces Nexsan Unity Software For Data and Security

The types of products and services covered here keeps expanding with technology and application requirements change. It’s the new year prompting reflection on the past and the future. I just happened upon a LinkedIn conversation about an article in Automation World about PAC versus PLC. That seems so 20 years ago. Yet, the discussion in Germany involves PC-based control versus PLCs. Meanwhile, I’m looking at all the data technologies required for the efficient operation of a plant or factory. This news came involves the hot topics of data and security.

And I won’t be ignoring the Consumer Electronics Show starting today in Las Vegas. Several companies have pulled out of the live experience, but I’ve begun getting CES news. I never go to that show, but I’ve been to two and survived. We’ll see how that one works out. It’s amazing the technologies we’ll see at CES that will be industrial  before you know it.

StorCentric, provider of a comprehensive portfolio of secure data management solutions, today announced Nexsan Unity software version 7.0, which includes important enhancements to power enterprise-class security, compliance and ransomware protection. The new Unity software now supports Object (S3) protocol, and data-centric security features such as immutable snapshots and object locking. This release also offers up to a 40% performance increase over Nexsan Unity version 6.1.

This massive growth in data combined with significant changes in the way we work today and a rapid rise in cybercrime has driven increased demands and challenges for enterprise data center managers. The new Unity software enhancements are designed to address these issues and redefine how StorCentric channel partners and customers store, manage and protect data at scale.

Available in Nexsan Unity v7.0:

Protocol Support

– Object (S3) Protocol – Unity is now a true unified solution, supporting Block (iSCSI, FC), File (NFS, CIFS/SMB) and now Object (S3) protocols.

Security, Compliance and Ransomware Protection

– Immutable Snapshots – Unity now supports immutable volume and file system snapshots for data protection. This provides secure point-in-time copies of data for business continuity.

– Object Locking – Unity now supports object locking, enabling bucket or object-level protection for a specified retention period to create immutable copies of data. This allows enterprises to address compliance, regulatory and other data protection requirements.

– Data Integrity – Unity supports pool-scrubbing to detect and remediate bit rot to avoid data corruption.

Performance Improvements 

– Total Throughput has increased up to 13GB/s on the existing platforms. 

– Up to 50% increase in Unity to Assureon Ingest Rate – Significantly improves the efficiency of the Unbreakable Backup solution.

Digital Twin Consortium Announces Digital Twin System Interoperability Framework

I applaud these efforts to improve and increase digital interoperability through industry or formal standards and open source. These efforts over many years, and even ones that pre-date digital, have provided progress not only in technology but in the lives of users. This announcement comes from the Digital Twin Consortium, a project of The Object Management Group (OMG)

Digital Twin Consortium (DTC) announced the Digital Twin System Interoperability Framework. The framework characterizes the multiple facets of system interoperability based on seven key concepts to create complex systems that interoperate at scale.

“Interoperability is critical to enable digital twins to process information from heterogeneous systems. The Digital Twin System Interoperability Framework seeks to address this challenge by facilitating complex system of systems interactions. Examples include scaling a smart building to a smart city to an entire country, or an assembly line to a factory to a global supply chain network,” said Dan Isaacs, CTO, Digital Twin Consortium.

The seven key concepts of the DTC Digital Twin System Interoperability Framework are:

1 System-Centric Design – enables collaboration across and within disciplines—mechanical, electronic, and software—creating systems of systems within a domain and across multiple domains.

2 Model-Based Approach – with millions and billions of interconnections implemented daily, designers can codify, standardize, identify, and reuse models in various use cases in the field.

3 Holistic Information Flow – facilitates an understanding of the real world for optimal decision-making, where the “world” can be a building, utility, city, country, or other dynamic environment.

4 State-Based Interactions – the state of an entity (system) encompasses all the entity’s static and dynamic attribute values at a point in time.

5 Federated Repositories – optimal decision-making requires accessing and correlating distributed, heterogeneous information across multiple dimensions of a digital twin, spanning time and lifecycle.

6 Actionable Information – ensures that information exchanged between constituent systems enables effective action.

7 Scalable Mechanisms – ensures interoperability mechanism(s) are inherently scalable from the simplest interoperation of two systems to the interoperability of a dynamic coalition of distributed, autonomous, and heterogeneous systems within a complex and global ecosystem.

“The Digital Twin System Interoperability Framework enables USB-type compatibility and ease for all systems connected to the Internet and private networks, which until now, has been the domain of system integrators,” said Anto Budiardjo, CEO, Padi.io. “This means system integrators can concentrate on designing applications rather than point-to-point integrations.”

Litmus Expands Enterprise-Grade Smart Manufacturing at the Edge

Many innovations and partnerships occur at the edge of the network today. Edge-to-Cloud is a term often replacing IoT for marketers. Litmus, a relatively new company, focuses on developing an innovative edge platform. I introduced Litmus here and I touched on this announcement here.

These hardware/software/platform edge partnerships constituted the trends of the times. This one links Litmus and Dell Technologies.

Litmus, the Intelligent Edge Platform for Industrial IoT, announced a new validated, end-to-end solution with Dell Technologies to simplify smart manufacturing at the edge. The offering combines Dell Technologies hardware and software with the Litmus Industrial IoT Edge platform for a resilient, scalable edge compute infrastructure that allows manufacturers to rapidly collect, analyze and act on time-critical data to improve operations.

The Dell Technologies Validated Design for Manufacturing Edge with Litmus uses Dell EMC VxRail and Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, which provide high-availability, AI and machine learning and high-speed connectivity for manufacturing edge applications. Litmus adds edge data collection, machine analytics, enterprise data integration and application and ML deployment at the edge. Scale is enabled via a centralized edge management platform that manages all IoT devices and services across all locations from a single point of control.

The Dell Technologies Validated Design for Manufacturing Edge with Litmus offers out-of-the-box connectivity to any industrial asset with more than 250 pre-loaded drivers. Pre-built and custom data visualizations, analytics and KPIs provide immediate insights at the edge, and data can be integrated to any cloud or enterprise system to power applications and feed machine learning models. The solution is integrated with the Dell EMC Streaming Data Platform, which allows customers to use high-speed data persistence and unconstrained data storage at the edge to train machine learning models without needing to send data to the public cloud.

Rockwell Automation News and Updates

The first business trip involving airplane and car in 18 months took me to Houston in November to Automation Fair, the Rockwell Automation user conference and trade show. They offered five press conferences via remote conferencing. I felt the urge to visit with people in person. Several thousand visitors wandered the show floor along with me. And I sat in the press conferences in person with a couple of editors from Control, a couple of analysts from ARC Advisory Group, an editor I didn’t know for one session, and an editor from Automation World for one other session. It felt good to be back, but this was hardly like old times. I was not rushed from appointment to appointment—I had no appointments.

The content was not like old times. No motor control or programmable controllers, although I did look up a PLC product person on the show floor to dive into a couple of things. The press conferences were somewhat IT oriented with cybersecurity and cloud, workforce issues around culture and diversity, and sustainability. Following are summaries of the press conferences and of three news items released at the show.

Cybersecurity Steps Needed for 2022

No discussion of industrial technology can begin without considering cybersecurity. Angela Rapko (Regional Vice President, Lifecycle Services, Rockwell Automation), Shoshana Wodzisz (Manager, Product Security, Rockwell Automation), and Theodore Haschke (Manager, Business Development, Functional Safety & Cybersecurity, TUV Rheinland) talked standards with us. High-profile cyber and ransomware attacks rocked the manufacturing industry in 2021 and raised government attention to the need for stronger oversight to protect businesses worldwide. Global cybersecurity standards have been established based on guidance from industry leaders for both the IT and OT level, but adoption still wanes. We’ll share how businesses can utilize standards to improve security in 2022, and why OT can’t be left behind when updating best practices.

Leveraging Culture and DEI as a Competitive Advantage

Bobby Griffin (Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Rockwell Automation) and Becky House (Senior Vice President & Chief People & Legal Officer, Rockwell Automation) discussed how many companies have put a more intentional focus on company culture and DEI – but how do you know you’re having the right impact? Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core principles at Rockwell. This has a KPI associated and manager’s compensation is tied to it. Among other things, check out the senior leadership page on the Rockwell website. There are women on it. And a couple of other faces that are not old white men. There is a refreshing mix of ages, genders, ethnicities.

Why Cloud? Why Now? Three Factors Driving Adoption of SAAS-Based Solutions

I could understand the discussion of cybersecurity, which can be expected given the several-year-old vision of Rockwell regarding the Connected Enterprise. The discussion of computing in the cloud would never have happened with a straight face even three years ago. Maybe two. Let us consider two very recent acquisitions of cloud-based companies—Plex and Fiix. Brian Shepherd (Senior Vice President, Software & Control, Rockwell Automation), James Novak (Chief Executive Officer, Fiix), and Bill Berutti (Chief Executive Officer, Plex) joined us for a discussion of the companies, products, and benefits of cloud. Yet another sign of a rapidly changing Rockwell Automation.

Using Data to Drive Productivity and Sustainability

Rockwell Automation has had sustainability goals and solutions for many years. This topic remains a key focus for the corporation. Tom O’Reilly (Vice President, Sustainability, Rockwell Automation) and Arvind Rao (Director, Product Management & Head of Industry Solutions, Rockwell Automation) met with us to discuss how “customers and investors are demanding that we do business in ways that are more productive and more sustainable.” Operational data and analytics can reduce waste, improve quality, and reduce energy, all while driving increased productivity and delivering results against sustainability initiatives.

Three Strategies for Creating an Agile and Flexible Workforce

Rachael Conrad (Vice President & General Manager, Customer Support & Maintenance, Rockwell Automation) and Sherman Joshua (Director, Workforce & Competency, Lifecycle Services, Rockwell Automation) revealed Rockwell’s on key strategies for creating an agile and flexible workforce post pandemic and how manufacturers can leverage their workforce as their greatest asset.

New Initiatives to Bolster Cybersecurity Offering for Customers

Rockwell Automation, Inc. announced new investments to enhance its information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) cybersecurity offering. These initiatives include strategic partnerships with Dragos, Inc. and CrowdStrike, as well as the establishment of a new Cybersecurity Operations Center in Israel.

Rockwell and Dragos, a global leader in cybersecurity for industrial control systems (ICS)/OT environments, have announced a partnership that combines Rockwell’s global industry, application, and ICS domain expertise with Dragos’s world-class technology, professional services, and threat intelligence services. The partnership will focus on incident response services and threat intelligence.

Rockwell and CrowdStrike, a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint and workload protection, have formed a partnership to deliver end-to-end cybersecurity and network service solutions to customers. The partnership will examine initiatives for CrowdStrike’s cloud-native, AI-powered Falcon platform with Rockwell’s global deployment, network architecture, support, OT, and managed services capabilities to deliver differentiated solutions that address customer cybersecurity pain points.

Rockwell Automation Expands Supply Chain Services with Acquisition of AVATA

Rockwell Automation, Inc. has acquired AVATA, a leading services provider for supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, and enterprise performance management solutions. AVATA has significant domain expertise in enterprise applications and is a leading consultant and systems integrator for Oracle cloud software applications.

By significantly improving end-to-end supply chain visibility and management, AVATA, together with Kalypso, Rockwell’s industrial digital transformation services business, will help further unlock the value of information technology/operational technology (IT/OT) convergence that Rockwell can deliver to customers. AVATA will be integrated into Kalypso, which is a part of Rockwell’s Lifecycle Services business.

AVATA supports Rockwell’s recent cloud-native investments, building on its open architecture to extend the digital thread and enable powerful integrations with other leading technologies, now including Plex and Oracle Cloud.

Rockwell Automation and Battery Pioneer Cadenza Innovation to Explore Driving Energy Storage and Advance Sustainability

Rockwell Automation has begun collaborating with Cadenza Innovation, the award-winning provider of safe, low cost, and energy-dense Lithium-ion-based storage solutions, to define a strategic relationship including a   shared goal of building the industry’s highest performance battery cell production lines.

During 2022 the companies intend to collaborate to develop a customer cloud portal to manage deployed distributed energy resources, an end-to-end battery manufacturing execution system (MES), and equipment automation to support the expansion of Cadenza Innovation’s battery manufacturing in the US and abroad.

Rockwell Automation and Cadenza Innovation intend to create a full digital thread that feeds information from business systems to the factory floor and subsequently out to the field-deployed energy storage systems to ‘close the loop’ by feeding data from the field back into Cadenza Innovation’s connected operations. This, in turn, will ensure peak performance of customer systems.