Emerson Moves to the Cloud and Registers Product with FieldComm Group

I’ve accumulated a couple of news items from Emerson. The most interesting tidbit lies in the standard company description found at the beginning of all corporate news releases. This one highlights Emerson as a software company, as in “Emerson, a global software, technology, and engineering leader.” I’ve written a post and recorded a podcast (which is popular, by the way) on the “software is eating the industrial world” topic. There is no income for media coming from software, but it’s an interesting direction for this market.

The two items include moving its SCADA SaaS platform to Microsoft Azure in the cloud and registering its AMS Device Manager with FDI.

Emerson Supports Sustainability with Improved Cloud-Hosted Industrial Control Platform

Emerson explains the benefits of moving to the cloud as improved scalability, data protection, and threat intelligence, not to mention sustainability as it moves its Zedi Cloud SCADA software-as-a-service to Microsoft Azure.

The more robust cloud host enables customers to securely scale their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems quickly and easily to achieve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, better safeguard critical business assets, and empower users to adapt their operations to changing requirements while mitigating risks and operational costs.

Emerson’s Zedi Cloud SCADA platform uses advanced automation and software, including proven machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to build predictive models that lead to autonomous operations over time, helping support sustainability efforts in oil and gas, water/wastewater and other data-intensive industries. Critical data from those predictive models can then be stored in an operation’s data historian to more easily track and trend performance and emissions and demonstrate compliance to regulators.

The Zedi Cloud SCADA platform helps personnel manage advanced analytics in formats that present authorized end users with clear, easily understood data accessible in the cloud anytime from anywhere. This improved access to intuitive data enables easy remote monitoring of assets, helping users improve operational performance even in rugged, dangerous, or distant locations. Increased layers of cybersecurity and the more robust network afforded by the Azure platform enable customers to further protect data for advanced continuity of operations.

Emerson Improves Device and Process Visibility with FieldComm Group Registration

AMS Device Manager is the first software of its kind to be registered under the Field Device Integration standard, making it easier to monitor and optimize plant health.

Field devices collect and transmit important data that personnel use to improve plant health, performance, and reliability. FDI registration will reduce the need for plants to support two different technologies to integrate and maintain field devices. Full FDI registration is important to avoid having a patchwork of systems and devices that only support individual elements of FDI but still require extensive integration effort. Because manufacturers can pick and choose individual FDI features to support, some device management applications will likely not contain every feature a plant requires. Emerson worked side by side with FieldComm Group for nearly two years to enable AMS Device Manager to pass the group’s rigorous testing process for registration, which requires all features to be supported by the software. 

The newest release of AMS Device Manager will make it easier, more secure, and more cost effective to access device data. FDI integration technology eliminates the need for plants to support the two most common technologies for installing and configuring devices: Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and Field Device Tool/Device Type Manager (FDT/DTM). Instead, all FDI devices support a single installation package, so organizations will no longer have to double up on time, training, and effort when installing field devices.

Unified Real-Time Data Streaming and Integration SaaS

Analyst firms have made considerable publicity projecting the amount of data generated by Industrial Internet of Things. IIoT populates many manufacturing enterprise databases with the promise of better output from analytics applications for improved decision making. With real-time data, operations leaders can use analytics to assess both demand and cost-to-serve, and make informed decisions. Additionally, the customer experience must be personalized and differentiated to be relevant and competitive in today’s digital economy.

Striim, a company I’ve only just now learned about, collects data in real time from enterprise databases (using non-intrusive change data capture), log files, messaging systems, and sensors, and delivers it to virtually any target on-premises or in the cloud with sub-second latency enabling real-time operations and analytics. 

Its latest press release is not bashful about promoting its new product. Striim, Inc. announced general availability of Strim Cloud, the fastest way for customers to deliver real-time data and insights to power business intelligence and decision-making to meet the needs of the digital economy. Striim Cloud is the industry’s first and only fully-managed software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for real-time streaming data integration and analytics. With a few clicks, customers can easily build real-time data pipelines to stream trillions of events every day, backed by enterprise-grade operational, security and management features. Striim Cloud’s zero-maintenance, infinitely scalable platform enables customers to transform their businesses by adopting new cloud models, digitizing legacy systems, and modernizing their application infrastructure.

I, of course, cannot verify any of these claims. We all know that “easy” is a relative term for engineering. But this looks worth checking out.

“Handling and analyzing large-scale data for real-time decision-making and operations is an ongoing challenge for every enterprise; one that is only going to become more challenging as more data sources come online,” said Ali Kutay, founder and CEO of Striim, Inc. “These challenges are driving ‘digital transformation.’ Striim Cloud is a powerful, cloud-based, SaaS platform that gives enterprises worldwide an invaluable advantage in reaching this goal.“

Striim Cloud seamlessly integrates data into platforms such as Azure Synapse Analytics, Google Big Query, and Snowflake. By doing so, Striim Cloud enables businesses to power business intelligence and decision-making to meet the needs of the digital economy while delivering an unbeatable, data-driven customer experience.

Manufacturing Materials Software Moves to Azure

The movement toward making manufacturing SaaS applications available on Microsoft Azure continues. News from ThinkIQ tells us three of its platforms are now available on that platform—VisualizeInsight and Transform.

The purpose of these platforms is collecting manufacturing and supply chain data, monitoring real-time material traceability, and delivering actionable insights to improve the overall manufacturing processes for greater efficiency and flexibility.

The unique proposition of ThinkIQ is to look at materials, not just equipment. The company points out the old, but still prevalent problem, that data collection within manufacturing processes are often fragmented rendering it unable to extract insights or identify inefficiencies.

With ThinkIQ Visualize, all manufacturing data can be seen from a single contextualized cloud-based system.

ThinkIQ Insight delivers a material ledger for traceability and improved operations across the entire manufacturing supply chain on Azure.

ThinkIQ Transform provides material traceability from supplier to factory to consumers.

ThinkIQ integrates a wide range of Microsoft Azure solutions including Azure Communications Services, Azure IoT, Azure Networking and Azure Storage.

HMI SCADA Adds Python and Cloud Support

A news release from GE Digital came my way regarding the latest update to its CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software product. I have not had an update on that product line for more than a year, so my friends there set up a conversation with product management director Gimmi Filice.

He told me that product development continues to build on its object oriented architecture. Developers have continued to assure that CIMPLICITY plays well with other products in the GE Digital sandbox, especially the Historian and Operations Hub. And one other key feature of the product it scalability.

This latest news contains three key points. 

The release contains the year of release—CIMPLICITY 2022. This implies the intent for regularity of update cadence.

Secondly, this release adds support for Python. This language has become de facto standard for college students. Customers are beginning to request it for a couple of reasons. New hires are proficient in it. Python is now the standard for data analytics work. It has a large development community with a large number of vetted libraries. Finally, digital twins can be constructed in Python that can be part of an object type that can be inherited.

Cloud comprises the third key update. Customers have begun asking for cloud support. This release supports Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Customers have migrated toward a hybrid cloud architecture with some on-prem servers and a bulk of servers on a commercial cloud.

Following are snippets from the news release.

GE Digital announced the availability of the latest version of its CIMPLICITY 2022 HMI/SCADA software. This new version also provides options to deploy on-prem, in the cloud, or in a hybrid architecture to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Other new capabilities include: the flexibility of Python scripting, improving extensibility and ease of use; analytics through SCADA data and Python libraries; support for cloud infrastructures including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS); and improved single-server scale and alarm visualization.

Rübig GmbH, a global provider of plasma nitriding systems for steel manufacturing, says that CIMPLICITY provides greater efficiency with remote access and online diagnostics as well as easy-to-use, real-time operator displays. Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, achieves high availability and virtually no downtime with connected control featuring CIMPLICITY.

Platform for Continuous Intelligence for Supply Chain and Production Optimization

Executives at ThinkIQ have talked with me a few times. They have an interesting story around what they call a SaaS-based Continuous Intelligence Platform. They also released some news last week.

ThinkIQ announced enhancements to its platform to provide more capabilities geared towards Continuous Intelligence for supply chain and production optimization within material centric manufacturing.

ThinkIQ is the first platform-based Continuous Intelligence solution in the market and can be operationalized at many levels – from supply chain, product quality, process improvement, and any time-sensitive process enhanced by the ability to respond to what’s happening right now throughout the entire manufacturing process. Analytics are woven directly into operational processes that can take or trigger actions when specific conditions are met. This ranges from time-sensitive alerts that guide employees on what to do next, to fully automated processes that trigger downstream actions without human intervention.

Continuous Intelligence closes the gap between what is happening in your operations now and the information and insights available. This accelerates how effectively people and processes respond to rapidly changing conditions.

With ThinkIQ, manufacturers are able to collect, analyze, and share information in a way that was not previously possible. ThinkIQ combines the capabilities of continuous ingestion of data with a well-defined model that fits manufacturing and their supply chains, achieving the goal of having current data with meaning. The latest release includes a number of new features, including:

The ability to close the loop from the edge to the cloud where AI can be done, and back to the edge where actions can be taken. This is a key step to enabling the autonomous self-driving supply chain.

  • Several modeling enhancements including automatic propagation of model configuration information which enables adoption of corporate standards.
  • Attributes on organizations and places. This is critical for continuous roll up of corporate, business-unit, and plant KPIs. ThinkIQ supports rollup of any KPI, including operational, environmental, safety, and financial metrics.
  • Strengthening of ThinkIQ’s GraphQL API for stronger integration with third party applications.
  • A new Model Browser that makes it easy to find anything anywhere in the model.
  • New expressions for attributes for simple and weighted moving average. The expressions take into account how the interpolated data between the recorded points shall be interpreted and do not require that the data input stream is evenly sampled in time.
  • Improved robustness and performance of our on-premises gateways and connectors.
  • Cyber security enhancements according to our SOC 2 compliance program.

“The supply chain has been in disarray since the pandemic started, and accurate materials tracking is more important than ever before for manufacturers,” said Niels Andersen, CTO and CPO of ThinkIQ. “With our enhanced Continuous Intelligence solution, our customers can respond and adapt their manufacturing processes automatically based on ever-changing conditions leveraging contextualized, time-sensitive data.”

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.