Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2019. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC), which took place September 17-19. I get to see the poster displays and chat with the companies at ICC. I love the technology developers, but it’s fascinating to talk with people who actually use the products.

[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is a long-time and much appreciated sponsor of The Manufacturing Connection. If you are a supplier, you, too, could be a sponsor. Contact me for more details. You would benefit from great visibility.]

The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.

“The award-winning projects this year were really impressive,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many of them featured Ignition 8 and the new Ignition Perspective Module, both of which were released just six months ago. We were really impressed with how quickly people were able to create great projects with the new capabilities.”

These Ignition Firebrand Award winners demonstrated the power and flexibility of Ignition:

  • Brock Solutions worked with the Dublin Airport in Ireland to replace the baggage handling system in Terminal 2. The new system has 100,000 tags and is the largest Ignition-controlled airport baggage handling system in the world.
  • Corso Systems & SCS Engineers partnered on a pilot project for the landfill gas system of San Bernardino County, California. The pilot was so successful, it will be expanded to 27 other county sites. It provides a scalable platform with strong mobile capabilities from Ignition 8 and Ignition Perspective, plus 3D imaging from drone video and virtual reality applications.
  • ESM Australia developed a scalable asset management system to monitor performance and meet service requirements for a client with systems deployed all over Australia. The solution leveraged Ignition 8, Ignition Perspective, MQTT, and legacy FTP-enabled gateways in the field.
  • H2O Innovation & Automation Station partnered to create a SCADA system for the first membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment plant in Arkansas. The new system for the City of Decatur shares real-time data with neighboring water agencies as well as the mayor.
  • Industrial Networking Solutions created a new oil & gas SCADA system in just six months for 37 sites at ARB Midstream. The solution included hardware upgrades, a new control room, and a diverse collection of technologies with cloud-hosted SCADA, MQTT, Ignition Edge, and SD-WAN.
  • MTech Engineering developed an advanced real-time monitoring and control system for the largest data center campus in Italy. The project for Aruba S.p.A. had to work with huge amounts of data — and was done at a much lower cost than was possible with any other SCADA solution.
  • NLS Engineering created a single, powerful operations and management platform for more than 30 solar-power sites for Ecoplexus, a leader in renewable energy systems. The solution provided deep data acquisition, included more than 100,000 tags, and led to the creation of a platform that can be offered to other clients.
  • Streamline Innovations used Ignition, Ignition Edge, Ignition Perspective, and MQTT, to facilitate the automation of natural gas treating units that convert extremely toxic hydrogen sulfide into fertilizer-grade sulfur. The solution increased uptime, reduced costs, and provided access to much more data than Streamline had seen previously.
Integrating Engineering and Project Execution

Integrating Engineering and Project Execution

The design engineering function originates data. It includes data about the structure of the plant or factory, data about the equipment and processes used to make the product, and data about the product(s) itself. In my early career, I embodied the movement of the data from design to operations and then back to design in a continuous loop of as designed—>as built—>as designed. I was also involved for a while in the development of a platform to automate this process using standards.

To say I’m interested in this area would be an understatement. And this process is important to all of you, too. Including those who siphon off some data for other uses such as accounting, customer service, maintenance, and reliability.

AVEVA, the integration of its iconic design engineering software and Schneider Electric’s software business, just introduced integrated engineering software designed to help customers transform the way capital projects are engineered, executed, and integrated into operations and maintenance.

The integrated portfolio comprises three software solutions. AVEVA Unified Engineering integrates process design with front-end engineering and detailed 3D based design. AVEVA Unified Project Execution links and streamlines procurement and construction processes for capital projects. AVEVA Enterprise Learning enables the rapid skilling of operators and engineers using Extended Reality (XR) and simulation tools, to ensure efficient startups and shutdowns, normal operations, and the ability to handle abnormal situations

“This launch builds on the recent news describing AVEVA’s capabilities as the first company in the engineering and industrial software market to comprehensively address the end-to-end digital transformation imperatives with an integrated portfolio of solutions that deliver efficiency, unlock value and empower people across the lifecycle of capital assets and operational value chains,” commented Craig Hayman, CEO, AVEVA. “It changes the way that owner operators engage with Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies in designing, building, commissioning, and operating their capital assets.”

The functionality provided in these integrated solutions enables the realization of an EPC 4.0 strategy for owner operators, central to digital transformation in the capital-intensive process sectors. This allows collaboration on a global scale, through hybrid cloud architectures and on a common platform. The entire manufacturing process can be traced, tracked, and linked – from engineering and design, through procurement and construction, to handover and to operations and maintenance, as a comprehensive Digital Twin for the capital asset.

“As competition in the business world accelerates the time has come for industrial organization to innovate to facilitate the transition from the manual, document-centric processes, towards a data-driven vision of project design, procurement, and execution in order to increase safety, reduce costs, and minimize delays, “ commented Craig Hayman, CEO AVEVA. “With the launch of AVEVA Unified Engineering, a first of its kind solution, we are breaking down the silos between engineering disciplines and enabling our customers to turn conceptual designs into 3D models quickly, accelerating engineering to estimation and ensuring designs can be operated before committing billions of dollars.”

New AVEVA Unified Engineering enables the integration of the process model and plant model lifecycles from concept to detailed design, delivering frictionless collaboration for multi-discipline engineers to collaborate in the cloud. The net result is a minimum 50% improvement in engineering efficiency in FEED and up to 30% in detail design, which can yield a 3% total installed cost improvement. These savings can be re-invested to ensure engineering quality, accuracy, and maturity for downstream project execution business processes.

AVEVA Unified Project Execution solutions integrate with AVEVA Unified Engineering to further break down the silos within Procurement and Construction by combining key disciplines covering Contract Risk Management, Materials and Supply Chain Control, and Construction Management into one cloud based digital project execution environment. AVEVA Unified Project Execution solutions deliver up to 15% reduction in material costs, 10% reduction in field labor costs and reduces unbudgeted supplier change orders by up to 50%, which translates to 10% total installed costs savings opportunities for our customers.

AVEVA’s Enterprise Learning solutions combine traditional simulation-based learning with 3D connected learning management solutions. AVEVA’s learning solutions extend process models and 3D models from AVEVA Unified Engineering to fast track DCS panel operator training, field operator training, process and maintenance procedural training, and process safety situational awareness training using cloud and Extended Reality (XR) technology to deliver up to 2% Total Installed Cost reduction by improved operations readiness.

“Our Engineering portfolio enhancements will deliver increased agility for our customers, enabling them to reduce cost, risk, and delays, minimizing errors and driving rapid capital project execution. The cost savings are realized by mitigating capital investment risks at the process design stage, cutting engineering man-hours by up to 30% in plant design, reducing material costs in procurement by up to 15% as well as reducing field labor costs in construction by up to 10%,” commented Amish Sabharwal, SVP, Engineering Business, AVEVA. “With these new solutions AVEVA is providing integration across all stages of the capital project, from conceptual design to handover, to optimize collaboration and break down silos between both engineering disciplines and project stages.”

Integrating Engineering and Project Execution

Hitachi Vantara NEXT 2019–All About Data

[Updated] Hitachi, a large industrial conglomerate, brought together several businesses it owned and acquisitions of Pentaho and Lumada into a wholly owned enterprise called Hitachi Vantara in 2017. NEXT 2019, its third customer conference attracted a large attendance to Las Vegas.

Hitachi was founded more than 100 years ago “to make products for good.” Thus the conference theme “Powering Good.” I have to say, it is so refreshing to see some ethics emphasis on doing good on display. It gave donations to the American Heart Association and the Rainforest Connection. Nice to see some ethics and doing good on the part of corporations.

Hitachi is involved in manufacturing, so the IT group has roots there, which is of course relevant to all of us. It is not just a random act that brought a manufacturing emphasis to Lumada–although it is used in many other industries as well.

I previously wrote about new products under the Lumada brand in May and September. Following are summaries of important announcements from last week.

DataOps: Data Management for the AI Era

I walked into the stand and told the guy, “DataOps is my new hobby.” I learned much about this new (to me) technology that I wrote about for the first time only a couple of weeks ago.

DataOps was briefly described to me as a pipeline for data. Hitachi Vantara says, “DataOps is enterprise data management for the artificial intelligence (AI) era, seamlessly connecting data consumers with data creators to rapidly find and use all the value in an organization’s data.”

DataOps is not a product, service or solution. Rather, it’s a methodology, and a technological and cultural change, to improve an organization’s use of data through better data quality, shorter cycle time and superior data management. Because organizations are not analyzing most of the data they have due to legacy methods, Hitachi Vantara believes DataOps will have significant impact on the future of IT by unlocking vast amounts of previously unused data.

Hitachi Vantara announced the expansion of the Lumada platform services and solutions portfolio to help customers across industries break down data silos and drive more innovation through DataOps. Hitachi is now extending Lumada’s capabilities beyond the internet of things.

New and updated Lumada offerings include:

Lumada Data Services, a set of software services that help customers manage increasingly complex data ecosystems with an intelligent data foundation.

Interoperating with Hitachi’s proven technologies for object storage, data integration, and analytics – underpinning Hitachi Content Platform (HCP), Pentaho and Lumada – customers can now cost-effectively govern and manage all their data assets, including structured and unstructured, across data center, cloud and edge locations. Policy-based automation tools orchestrate enterprise data flows to deliver on cost savings, compliance and business growth demands.

Lumada Data Lake, an innovative, “smart” data lake offering that is self-optimizing – and which intelligently places data sets in an optimal location – continuously curates to avoid data swamps and is readily accessible to analytics anywhere.

Lumada Edge Intelligence, a new set of software and validated edge hardware devices that enable organizations to manage data and analytics at the network edge for digital use cases such as IoT, connected products, immersive customer experiences, remote and disconnected sites, and branch offices.

Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) 5000 series and Hitachi Ops Center software form the company’s powerful next-generation storage and infrastructure foundation with a new scale- out, scale-up architecture for any workload at any scale. These technologies can accelerate data center workloads and deliver future-proof IT with a new, innovative architecture that is the ideal foundation for modernizing data center, cloud, and DataOps environments. The platform also features the world’s fastest NVMe flash array.

Hitachi Vantara expanded and enhanced its capabilities for cloud services in the first major announcement of the company’s newly formed cloud services portfolio. The portfolio includes cloud migration services, application modernization services, operations managed services, consulting services and Hitachi Enterprise Cloud (HEC). The portfolio leverages critical capabilities and industry-leading expertise from the company’s acquisition of REAN Cloud in 2018.

Data Integration and Analytics

Pentaho 8.3, the latest version of the company’s data integration and analytics platform software, introduces a series of features designed to support DataOps, a collaborative data management practice. This latest version delivers improved data agility from customers’ edge-to-multicloud environments while facilitating privacy, security and overall data governance.

Pentaho 8.3 introduces several enhancements:

  • Improved drag and drop data pipeline capabilities to access and blend data that’s difficult to access
  • New connector to SAP offers drag and drop blending, enriching, and offloading data from SAP ERP and Business Warehouse providing deeper insights into and greater analytic value from enterprise information
  • Amazon Kinesis provides real-time data capability in an AWS environment. Pentaho allows AWS developers to ingest and process streaming data in a powerful visual environment as opposed to writing code, and blend it with other data, reducing the manual effort
  • Improved integration with Hitachi Content Platform (HCP)
  • IBM Information Governance Catalog (IGC) Integration
  • Streaming data lineage make it easier to trace real-time data from popular protocols such as AMQP, JMS, Kafka, and MQTT
Integrating Engineering and Project Execution

Use The Right Kind of Analytics

I am still talking about Emerson Exchange, and have a few more to go. This post is about analytics. Jonas Berge, Senior Director, Applied Technology, Plantweb, Emerson Automation Solutions, has often supplied me with great insight usually about networks in the past. We chatted briefly at Exchange and then followed up with email conversations. In this one, he talked about analytics.

Digital Transformation has a foundation in data. Data is useless without a formal way of thinking about it. There are two kinds of analytics tools.

We are left with two tasks. We must first understand the two types, how they are derived and their strengths and weaknesses.Then we choose the right analytics tool for the problem.

There are principles-driven tools and data-driven tools.

Data Science

One must remember that advanced predictive techniques can only be practically applied to a subset of use cases.

An over-emphasis on one approach means companies won’t position themselves to capture all the potential benefits.

When factoring the effort and expertise required to develop accurate machine-learning models, remember most organizations already have systems in place to record maintenance- and reliability-related data, but the effectiveness of such systems can be undermined by poor housekeeping. The same assets or issues may be described in different ways in different systems, for example, making integration difficult. Companies may use free-text fields to record issues or maintenance actions, making automated search or data analysis harder. Or critical data may be inaccessible, locked away in spreadsheets or on paper notes.

The application of machine-learning techniques to monitor asset condition has already received considerable attention, even though their cost and complexity may ultimately limit their application.

Engineered Analytics

When a machine is prone to a narrow range of well-understood failure modes, it is often possible to address a potential problem in a simpler way, for example by monitoring the temperature or vibration of a component against a set threshold.

Model-based predictive maintenance becomes a breakthrough way to solve selected high-value problems. This approach has the most potential where there are well-documented failure modes with high associated downtime impact, for example in a critical machine on a larger production line.

Root-cause problem solving, using approaches such as fault-tree analysis as well as cause-and-effect or failure-modes-and-effects analysis (FMEA), is a fundamental part of any organization’s maintenance and reliability strategy.

Not all condition-monitoring techniques require elaborate algorithms or complex models, however. Data-driven condition-monitoring approaches use simple queries that are run periodically or in real time against time-series data generated by machines and external sensors. If threshold conditions are passed, these systems can trigger investigative or corrective action in the digital-reliability-engineering workflow, or directly to maintenance execution.

Integrating Engineering and Project Execution

Smart Trend—Specific Function Application Software

This announcement from Schneider Electric originated from the conference in Barcelona that I will be attending in Austin, Texas. It supports a trend we’re seeing of suppliers breaking software into specific-purpose chunks to make it easier for customers to purchase, install, and maintain. The EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors suite points toward food and beverage; mining, minerals and metals; oil and gas; water and wastewater; and other industrial enterprises. 

These comprise a specialized suite of smart manufacturing apps and digital services, providing easy-to-understand, real-time analytics. 

“The digital transformation vision is coming to life for industrial operations,” said Sophie Borgne, senior vice president, Schneider Electric Digital Plant. “Industry 4.0 has embraced digitalization but now must get out of ‘pilot purgatory’ and scale up. Respecting an industrial enterprise’s operational investment, the modular EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors make it easy for plants of all sizes—not just big corporations to modernize at a sustainable pace and accelerate their digital transformation in very simple, step by step manner.”

Data-driven Plant Performance Management

Schneider rightly contends that IIoT blurs the line between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) yielding great amounts of data. The Advisors enhance asset optimization, asset performance management, predictive maintenance, and real-time decision-making. 

Schneider Electric utilizes digitalization in its own factories. Using technology, including EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors, its Smart Factory in Bantam, Indonesia is reporting a 44% reduction in machine downtime in one year. The Schneider Electric Smart Factory in Vaudreil, France also implemented EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors, which contributed to:

  • 10% reduction in energy consumption
  • 25% improvement in plant operations efficiency.
  • 20% reduction in maintenance costs.
  • 20% reduction in diagnosis and repair time.

EcoStruxure Plant Advisors are fully configurable, off-the-shelf solutions for easy integration into even the most advanced systems. By providing users with a familiar application theme and environment, an efficient plant can create synergies for processes and empower digital operators. This greatly reduces the user learning curve, saving time and money.

Schneider Electric’s modular and scalable EcoStruxure Plant Advisors suite includes:

  • EcoStruxure Pumping Performance Advisor is a new digital service for the continuous improvement of water and wastewater pumping assets in 24/7 operations. By addressing challenges such as cost of water, plants can save up to 15% in OPEX through pump optimization.
  • EcoStruxure Equipment Efficiency Advisor provides real-time efficiency root cause analysis. It then recommends appropriate action plans for increasing capacity while reducing unscheduled downtime and waste, which often results in immediate 5% to 10% OEE gains.
  • EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor uses augmented reality to slash the amount of time a worker spends looking for information to about a tenth of current levels. By superimposing real-time data and virtual objects (point of interest, documentation, procedures) onto cabinets or machines, this “contactless maintenance” model also increases safety. EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor V2.4 is easy to customize; no special platform knowledge is required. Users can also easily add augmented reality into existing procedures and export notes and analysis to share with others.
  • EcoStruxure Secure Connect Advisor with embedded cybersecurity provides a digitally secure and simple asset monitoring connection for remote diagnostic and maintenance that reduces plant downtime while saving time and travel costs to maintain critical assets. In some cases, this has resulted in a shortened time to solution from over 7 days to as little as 4 hours.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform.

Industrial IoT Suppliers From a Different Point of View

Industrial IoT Suppliers From a Different Point of View

I have just returned from a weekend in Eastern Ohio at a youth soccer tournament. You learn a lot about human nature–your own as well as others–when you’re in a competitive tightly compressed space.

The games I refereed had coaches and parents carrying exhuberance carried way too far–probably into less positive descriptions. As director of referees for the tournament, I walked around observing other games, as well. Talked with a 15-year-old girl about her game. She told me the parents were the worst. They yelled unkind things directly at their goalkeeper including calling her a “bitch”. Sometimes I wonder.

This week I’m heading west for another IT conference. This one is Hitachi Vantara. I have had a few interviews lately with people from there as they have ramped up an Industrial IoT practice. I’m sure there will be more later this week.

What started me thinking about human nature and Industrial IoT suppliers was a comment I received a couple of weeks ago at another conference. “The trouble with the IT companies is that their sales people come in and promise that their Industrial IoT solution will solve all their problems.”

What engineer do you know who would believe that? Which ones would immediately tune them out and start thinking about their hobby?

I was a sales guy once. Or twice. I also was the guy from engineering who tried to explain the technology, benefits, and competitive advantage of our product versus the market. I also watched for when the sales peoples’ eyes glazed over. They didn’t want too much information. Too much gets in the way of a sales pitch. It’s partly just human nature and partly knowing their job.

That was a good comment. I don’t work with sales at these companies. Sure, the CEO is “selling” when they talk to me, but it’s a different selling. I write; I don’t buy.

It taught me to probe a little deeper into all these companies I cover–IT and OT–and get into what message they take to the prospect or customer. It may be entirely different from what I hear. And that would be a valuable part of the story.