Getting Ready to Travel?

With all this staying home protocol going on, are you missing the travel scene? Some pundits are doing a linear extrapolation from a limited data set and predicting a “new normal” where all conferences are virtual. Have you heard that before?

October might be a good time for IoT people to consider a trip to Barcelona. This announcement just arrived from The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) concerning a call for papers for IoT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC), the global reference for industry IoT and the annual meeting for end users to discuss new IoT projects.

In its sixth year, IOTSWC runs from October 27-29, 2020, in Barcelona and is co-located with the AI & Cognitive Systems Forum, the Barcelona Cybersecurity Congress and the Wireless Global Congress. 

“IOTSWC continues to be the place to go to hear from industry IoT users,” said Deloitte Global IoT Lead Helena Lisachuk. “Industry leaders can learn a lot from one another and this year we have shifted our track titles from industries to major solutions and use cases around IoT. This maintains our focus on end-user stories, but will enable IoT leaders across industries to more easily identify where they can best learn from their peers.” 

Last year, a record-breaking 16,000 visitors from 120 countries attended the Congress. The three-day event featured 300 top-level speakers discussing digitalization for businesses across industries. This year, potential speakers are asked to share the essential ingredients necessary to harness the transformative potential of IoT, highlighting use cases or business cases that demonstrate how IoT is: 

  • Reshaping the way enterprises execute business processes

  • Achieving tangible business outcome metrics such as improved efficiency, reliability, asset management, remote monitoring, increased productivity, decreased downtime, increased profits, etc. 

  • Creating new revenue streams

  • Making new business models possible

  • Enabling synergy with other advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, digital twin, robotics and more.

“IOTSWC is an industry-leading technology conference bringing together best-in-class solution providers with real-world users,” said Leila Dillon, VP Marketing & Communications at Ameresco.  “This conference highlights the solutions that are in the global market today, showcases how they are making a measurable difference and gives end-users a blueprint for success in their own implementations. Driven by a relentless focus on customer use cases, IOTSWC is not to be missed.”

“IoTSWC gives me an opportunity to catch up on the global landscape of industry IoT every year. The speakers share their wealth of practical knowledge and are open to professional networking and open dialog about their challenges and successes,” said Shyam V. Nath, Oracle, Director IoT and Cloud. “It always surprises me to see how end-user companies work hand-in-hand with IoT solution providers to tweak solutions for industry-specific problems such as quality control of industrial manufacturing and ensuring adequate food production via smart farming.” 

The Five IOT Solutions World Congress Tracks 

  • Security – Enterprises are in need of security solutions to prevent data breaches into their systems. As more information is available through IoT devices, enterprises need to protect their data network properly. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Trust through Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Digital Certification, Cloud Data Protection Gateways and Data Encryption.

  • Connectivity – With the global roll-out of 5G, enterprises are in the need of finding connectivity so providers can offer flexible plans for implementing IoT devices. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: 5G, Edge Computing, Autonomous Vehicles, Traffic Management, LPWAN, eSIM vs uSIM and Vehicle Telematics.

  • Business Optimization – IoT enables companies to identify gaps and potential risks thanks to available data in the value chain. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Twins, Virtual Reality, IoT Cloud Platform, Big Data Analytics, Augmented Reality, Additive Manufacturing – 3D, Remote Operating Center, Smart Metering, Workplace Management, Tracking Assets, Predictive Maintenance, Fleet Management, Inventory Management, Digital Thread and Fog Computing.

  • Intelligence – The combination of IoT and technologies, such as machine learning, provide humans with the tools needed to interpret relevant, but sometimes non-structured data. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Artificial Intelligence, Collaborative Robots and Deep Learning Platforms.

  • Customer – IoT provides valuable customer data so companies can deliver quality improvement solutions to clients while improving the customer experience. Topic areas include use case presentations that focus on solutions such as: Remote Health Monitoring, MHealth, Tracked Ingestible Sensors and Smart Parking. 

All submissions must be use-case/business-case-focused, with business outcome metrics clearly highlighted. Priority selection is given to use-case oriented submissions that include an end-user speaker. The deadline to submit to the IOTSWC 2020 CFP is April 30, 2020. Click hereto apply.

The conference sessions for IOTSWC are built by a program committee responsible for developing the strategy for the congress, the overall content and bringing together industry leaders. Sessions illustrate how companies are realizing positive business outcomes from implementing IoT and how they collaborated with their solutions teams to make it happen.  The committee is comprised of a cross-section of industry and technology leaders who build the program covering multiple industries, technologies, standards and applications. 

Inductive Automation Expands Again, Buys Land for Two New Buildings

How about some good news? Based on many conversations within the industry, I’ve longed pegged Inductive Automation as a growth company among a field perhaps not so active. Here is more evidence of solid growth for the company—and most likely also for this type of software.

Inductive Automation announced March 17 it has purchased land near its headquarters, with plans to construct two new buildings. The significant expansion comes 2 ½ years after its previous expansion, when the company purchased a building that allows it to grow to 285 employees. With the two new buildings, Inductive Automation will be able to triple its number of employees. The company will continue to use its current building, which is only 350 feet from the new site. Groundbreaking for the first new building is scheduled for September.

Inductive Automation makes industrial automation software that’s used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries. The company’s strong revenue growth is driving the need to expand. For the last 10 years, Inductive Automation’s revenues have grown, on average, 55 percent each year.

That phenomenal growth has been due to the popularity of the company’s key product, Ignition by Inductive Automation. Ignition is an industrial application platform with numerous tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition software, along with its unlimited licensing model, is allowing organizations to build the systems they really want.

“We’re very excited to be expanding again,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Most industrial organizations are trying to pull more data from the plant floor, so they can analyze it and make better business decisions. With Ignition, they can access data, analyze data, and control processes better than ever before. All this leads to a much stronger bottom line. Our customer base is expanding rapidly because we provide the tools that help people do all this in a very cost-efficient manner.”

Hitachi Vantara Acquires What’s Left of Containership

Suddenly the subject of “containers” has moved from the realm of IT into the realm of manufacturing IT (aka OT). One company held a press conference at the decidedly OT-oriented ARC Forum last February. If you are new to containers, check out Kubernetes.
Kubernetes (K8s) is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It groups containers that make up an application into logical units for easy management and discovery. Kubernetes builds upon 15 years of experience of running production workloads at Google, combined with best-of-breed ideas and practices from the community.
The complex dance among several of the IT suppliers regarding manufacturing IoT has been fascinating. Dell jumped in, but following a less-than-stellar-result from its EMC acquisition has pretty much jettisoned anything to with IoT. HPE has shuffled things and people, but it remains a player bringing together its edge computing and wireless technologies showing signs of life. The third one I’ve worked with is Hitachi Vantara. This recently formed subsidiary of Hitachi has some solid technology and market awareness. It is another one to watch.Speaking of Hitachi Vantara, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi that focuses on building hardware and software to help companies manage their data, it has announced acquiring the assets of Containership, one of the earlier players in the container ecosystem, which shut down its operations last October.

Containership, which launched as part of the TechCrunch 2015 Disrupt New York Startup Battlefield, started as a service that helped businesses move their containerized workloads between clouds. It then moved on to focus solely on Kubernetes.

“Containership enables customers to easily deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters and containerized applications in public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise environments,” writes Bobby Soni, the COO for digital infrastructure at Hitachi Vantara. “The software addresses critical cloud native application issues facing customers working with Kubernetes such as persistent storage support, centralized authentication, access control, audit logging, continuous deployment, workload portability, cost analysis, autoscaling, upgrades, and more.”

Hitachi Vantara says it will continue to work with the Kubernetes community. Containership was a member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Hitachi never was, but after this acquisition, that may change.

IIoT versus MES, Is It A Battle?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Manufacturing Enterprise Solution (MES), that is the question. Actually, I didn’t know that it was a question, or an either/or. I’m thinking false dichotomy.

As you might imagine, I receive a ton of emails from a variety of marketing and PR people promoting one thing or another.  Recently, a message arrived from Brock Solutions highlighting just that question. Since I know several people at Brock, including the man whose name is on the building, so to speak, and since I respect the organization, I bit.

Here is the pitch: Many of our manufacturing customers have multiple plants around the world. And it’s safe to say that each of those plants are different. Some plants come from acquisitions. Some have been around forever. And some plants are brand new. 

Inevitably, this mix of sites also means a mix of technology at the operational layer. As you may know, there is no easy answer to manage this. Watch our video to see how we help manufacturers evaluate MES vs. IoT using a standard criteria.

They then sent me to a vlog (video blog). This is, of course, a little promotional at the end. But some good issues are raised about evaluating your business, your technical needs, your application needs and fitting a solution to the need. It’s worth a watch. Only 5 minutes.

Standard of Standards Model For Asset Data

Alan Johnston caught up with me yesterday to update me on progress MIMOSA has made toward updating and adoption of its asset information data and data flow models–described by the Open Industrial Interoperability Ecosystem (OIIE). I had been working with them a few years ago, but it was too early for the promotional work I could help them with.

[Note: This is an old slide I had in my database. I don’t think Fiatech and POSC Caesar are still involved, but I cannot edit the slide. The ISA 95 committee is still involved.]

I did write an Executive Summary White Paper that has been downloaded many times over the years. This paper is four years old, but I think it still describes the ideas of interoperability, using standards, handing off from engineering to operations and maintenance of process plants.

Many operations and maintenance managers have expressed frustrations of handover and startup events. When I’ve described this system, they’ve all been receptive.

On the other hand, neither the large integration companies nor the large automation and control companies are thrilled with it out of concern about greatly reduced revenue generated by lock in.

I could reference the work of the Open Process Automation group attempting also a “standard of standards” approach to dissociating software from hardware for improved upgradability. Schneider Electric (Foxboro) and Yokogawa have seen the possibility of competitive advantage, especially with ExxonMobil, with this approach. But the view is not generally held.

Back to Alan. He has been making progress on the standards adoption front and getting some buy-ins. I’ve always seen the potential for improved operations and maintenance from the model. But the amount of work to get there has been staggering.

Looks like they are getting there.

Digitalization or The Practice of Leadership

Gasp! Signs of common sense begin to pervade the discussion of digitalization and its cousins–connected (everything?), digital twin, cyber-physical, and so forth. Meaning that it’s all about leadership.

Suppliers constantly develop or enhance technologies within products. But I’m betting that just about all of you already have more digital data than you know what to do with. I’m betting most of you already have some products and connectivity–and have had for 15 years or longer.

What is always lacking is the will, the ingenuity, the, yes, leadership, to use all of this to its most beneficial effect.

Leadership doesn’t just appoint someone to head an exploratory team. It sets vision and expectations about how a new business model can send the company on a growth and success trajectory.

Leadership sees data as an asset and asks how it can be used to further goals of profitability, process uptime, improved quality, faster time to market, better/faster customer service, supply chain smoothing, and more.

Leadership organizes and motivates people to forge new paths into the economy.

Simply compiling digital data is a waste of time and resources. Leadership treats it as a foundation for success.

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