Google Cloud Launches New Data Solutions for Manufacturers

This news is a bit old dating from the first of May. Its relevancy maintains its freshness—another look at the major IT companies looking for market in manufacturing. This holds personal interest in that once again I am not invited back to an IT company user conference because they tried a manufacturing vertical without success. (I could have told them, but that story will hold for another place and time.)

Google Cloud has co-developed Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect. These solutions are said to enable manufacturers to connect historically siloed assets, process and standardize data, and improve visibility from the factory floor to the cloud. Once data is harmonized, the solutions enable three critical AI- and analytics-based use cases–manufacturing analytics & insights, predictive maintenance, and machine-level anomaly detection.

Key points:

  • Ford, Kyocera, and Phononic among early customers to enhance data transparency and optimize production with new manufacturing-specific solutions
  • Cognizant, C3 AI, GFT, Intel, Litmus, Quantiphi, SoftServe, Sotec, Splunk, among partners supporting the new solutions

Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect, available today, help manufacturers unify their data and empower their workforce with easy-to-use analytics and AI solutions based on cloud infrastructure.

This continues the discussion I made yesterday about DataOps. The rapid move to data organizations and technology in manufacturing continues to amaze me.

Manufacturing Data Engine is an end-to-end solution that processes, contextualizes, and stores factory data on Google Cloud’s data platform. It provides a configurable and customizable blueprint for the ingestion, transformation, storage, and access to factory data. It integrates key Google Cloud products, including Cloud Dataflow, PubSub, BigQuery, Cloud Storage, Looker, Vertex AI, Apigee, and more, into a manufacturing-specific solution.

Manufacturing Connect is a factory edge platform co-developed with Litmus Automation that quickly connects to, and streams data from, nearly any manufacturing asset and industrial system to Google Cloud, based on an extensive library of more than 250 machine protocols. Deep integration with the Manufacturing Data Engine unlocks rapid data intake into Google Cloud for processing machine and sensor data. The ability to deploy containerized applications and ML models to the edge enables new dimensions of use cases.

Once data is centralized and harmonized by the Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect, it can then be used to address a growing set of industry-specific use cases.

Data holds no value unless it can be analyzed and visualized.

Manufacturing analytics & insights, which helps manufacturers quickly create custom dashboards to visualize key data—from factory KPIs such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), to individual machine sensor data. Integrated with the Manufacturing Data Engine, engineers and plant managers can automatically set up new machines and factories, enabling standardized dashboards, KPIs, and on-demand drill-downs into the data to uncover new insights opportunities throughout the factory. These can then be shared easily across the enterprise and with partners.

Data Scalability and Automation Challenges Addressed

According to ESG’s April 2022 The State of DataOps survey sponsored by HighByte, 97% of organizations face data integration challenges. One of the most common integration challenges is the inability to apply automation to processes or workflows, as reported by 28% of respondents.

Industrial software company, HighByte, addressed this problem by adding templates and expanding connectivity to leading data lakes and warehouses with HighByte Intelligence Hub version 2.4.

I’ve been bullish on the utility of DataOps and HighByte’s approach to solving the problems of data. This news relates to the latest version of its Intelligence Hub—version 2.4. 

This version enables users to scale data operations projects faster with less effort across a wider range of connections. The release introduces several new features, including instance and input templates, custom conditions, global functions, and parameters that enable users to define common, reusable components within the Intelligence Hub to improve its speed of deployment and maintainability. The latest release also includes new native connections to leading data lakes, warehouses, and sources, including Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, and Modbus.

“The Intelligence Hub will enable us to simplify our data architecture, making our data both easier to manage and more accessible to a wider audience through a unified namespace,” said Hayden Lovett, Global CI Engineer Specialist at Scholle IPN. Now part of SIG, Scholle IPN is a global leader in innovative sustainable packaging solutions. “With the new templating capabilities and custom conditions in the Intelligence Hub, we can rapidly create and manage modeled performance and OEE data for our machines. The ability to merge data from many sources will make new use cases possible, like precisely measuring how quickly machine issues are resolved and who performed them. It’s a powerful tool.”

To learn more about the release and see a live demonstration of the software, please register for the webinar, “More Data, Less Clicks: Automate Your Industrial Data Operations with Templates and Event Flows,” on June 29, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET. 

GE Unveils MES, 3D Visualization, Accelerator Tools, Energy Competency at ARC Forum

GE Digital held multiple meetings at the recent ARC Forum discussing a number of advancements. Executives talked frankly about the coming break up of GE corporate with a positive spin on Digital landing with the Energy group. I’m not a financial analyst, but this restructuring seems to meet with widespread approval. Perhaps with a new CEO at Digital and new organization we’ll see even more from it. Following are summaries of four announcements from last week.

Proficy Plant Applications Upgrades

GE Digital announced the latest version of its Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Proficy Plant Applications, part of the Proficy Smart Factory portfolio. New features in the 2022 version include expanded discrete manufacturing capabilities developed through co-innovation with existing customers as well as a better user experience for the modern connected worker.

Customer results with Proficy Plant Applications have included saving 45 minutes per shift, per line, per business unit at one of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies; 3X increase in throughput for an automotive battery manufacturer; and 80% reduction in downtime at a pharmaceutical company.

The new discrete features include extending support for serialized and lot-based discrete manufacturing such as job shops and complex discrete environments. These extensions include the ability to support the execution of very large lots plus the flow of complex routes that include optional, parallel, and mutually exclusive operations. Proficy Plant Applications has also expanded the scope of discrete to include complex receiving inspection rules as well as linking them to non-conformance.

Implementation speed of the Proficy Plant Applications solution has been improved with a new low-code Data Flow Editor, easing integration with other systems, and modelling complex logic. These capabilities allow faster installs and upgrades including seamless ERP integration with approximately 20 out-of-the-box messages for MES-ERP communication.

Proficy Plant Applications is also designed to empower the modern Connected Worker and operating teams with easy, flexible access to their manufacturing data for better decision making. The software provides a contemporary Web User Interface (UI) with widgets as embedded in out-of-the-box screens and available for custom screen development in the software’s no-code development environment.

Available on-premises and in the cloud, the software includes four modules: Efficiency Management, Production Management and Tracking, Quality Management, and Batch Analysis. Proficy Plant Applications is used at thousands of diverse manufacturing sites around the world including top food and beverage, non-food consumer packaged goods, automotive, pharmaceutical, aerospace, chemicals, heavy equipment, and other manufacturers.

GE Digital Partners with Visionaize to Provide 3D Visualization Capabilities to APM

GE Digital announced a technology partnership with Visionaize, a provider of world-class operational 3D Digital Twin solutions. This technology is designed to help empower data-driven businesses with high accuracy visualization capabilities for operational use cases that can help to save time, reduce cost, and improve safety. Visionaize’s V-Suite Starter can be incorporated into GE Digital’s APM Mechanical Integrity software designed to help streamline maintenance activities and improve worker efficiency across asset intensive industries.

While industrial companies can choose to review data and information in any number of formats including plant blueprints, Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID), and Isometrics through various means of CAD/CAM software solutions, the implementation of V-Suite Starter is designed to allow users to view real-time and historical asset data on the 3D model to deliver timely and valuable insights at the point of action. The 3D visualizations of key asset information combine “see it, model it, and understand future behavior” to help asset-intensive companies solve key challenges associated with asset downtime, quicker time to resolution, maintenance costs, and workforce productivity.

Visionaize integrates 3D plant models with APM Mechanical Integrity to provide data-driven visualization of key APM Integrity attributes by color coding the model to filter out noise and focus on what matters most. The ability to dynamically visualize and contextualize data for operations and maintenance activities help make inspectors, planners, maintenance technicians, corrosion analysts, and Risk Based Inspection (RBI) analysts more efficient and effective in their daily jobs.

Utilizing 3D visualization in GE Digital’s APM solution can help improve worker safety and productivity with situational awareness and less time spent in hazardous environments. An accurate 3D model is designed to allow recovery planning even before workers can access the site itself to facilitate faster time to resolution. And it can help to optimize maintenance programs with more efficient scheduling to accelerate planned and unplanned downtime activities.

GE Digital Launches Accelerator Tools to Help Energy Companies Accelerate Digital Transformation

GE Digital announced its new Accelerator product line adding best-in-class software tools to help empower companies in asset-intensive energy industries to quickly configure its Asset Performance Management (APM) and other offerings. GE Digital Accelerators are designed to enable faster time to value, scale APM to a wider range of assets, and help enterprises gain financial value at both their facilities and across the enterprise.

GE Digital’s first set of Accelerators includes an extensive library of predictive analytics, asset management strategies, and standard health and reliability processes. These can be applied to the entire energy value chain, from oil & gas to power generation — ranging from renewables like wind and solar to more traditional gas power and nuclear production assets. 

Energy companies have used asset management practices for decades on the highest criticality equipment, ensuring high availability to meet the demands of their customers. The increasing complexity and scale of industrial facilities, along with the need for market flexibility, requires applying asset performance practices to a much wider array of equipment, using more advanced digital technologies. Accelerators will help energy companies expand asset management processes without consuming more time and resources building custom configurations and health monitoring techniques. 

GE Digital Achieves AWS Energy Competency Status

GE Digital announced that it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Energy Competency status. This designation recognizes that GE Digital has demonstrated deep expertise leveraging AWS to build, implement, and integrate technology that transforms complex business and operational systems to help accelerate the energy transition. 

GE Digital’s Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions for both Power Generation and Oil & Gas industries were the basis of receiving the AWS Energy Competency status. These software solutions are designed to help optimize the performance of industrial assets to increase reliability and availability, to minimize costs, and reduce operational risks. For power generation, this is an imperative as plants must be able to reliably respond to more dynamic operating models as more and more renewables are added. 

To receive the AWS Energy Competency Partner status, AWS Partners undergo a rigorous technical validation process, including a customer reference audit. The AWS Energy Competency provides energy customers the ability to more easily select skilled partners to help accelerate their digital transformation with confidence.

FDT Group Introduces FDT Unified Environment for Field to Cloud Data Harmonization

The HUG experience in Orlando is barely out of my system when I turned to Hannover Messe. No, I am not eating German food, well, at least not in Germany. Yesterday morning I sat in a 7 am (my time) press conference with OPC Foundation. More on that later. I have worked all afternoon consolidating about 20 press releases and interviews and decided at the end of the day to talk about the press conference / annual general meeting I attended virtually this morning. This from the FDT Group.

Steve Biegacki became Executive Director in January bringing experience with building this type of organization not to mention marketing and sales executive experience with both Rockwell Automation and Belden. Along with the Rockwell role he was a driving force behind ODVA and CIP. 

He pulled off his initial AGM at Hannover with his usual style backed with experienced staff. Pretty much like the organizations I’ve talked with this year, they didn’t let the pandemic slow the work cranking out valuable work. Biegacki will be leading a renewed marketing effort to explain benefits of the FDT 3.0 standard.

From today’s news: Device, system, and end users now benefit from an embedded unified environment unlocking universal device management, IT/OT convergence, data analytics, services, and mobility.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting the evolution of FDT technology, introduced the FDT Unified Environment (UE), and developer tools based on the new FDT 3.0 standard to deliver next-generation FDT industrial device management system and device solutions for field-to-cloud IT/OT data harmonization, analytics, services, and mobility based on user-driven requirements for smart manufacturing in the process, hybrid, and discrete markets.

Driven by digital transformation use cases to support new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) business models, the standard has evolved to include a new distributed, multi-user, FDT Server application that includes built-in and pre-wired OPC UA and Web servers enabling an FDT Unified Environment (FDT 3.x) merging IT/OT data analytics supporting service-oriented architectures. The new Server environment deployable in the cloud or on-premise delivers the same use cases and functionally as the previous generation FDT hosting environment, but now provides data storage for the whole device lifecycle at the core of the architecture allowing information modeling and data consistency to authenticated OPC UA and browser-based clients (tablets and phones) for modern accessibility to address the challenges of IIoT.

“Collaboration and data harmonization are the keys to manufacturing modernization,” said Steve Biegacki, managing director, FDT Group. “FDT UE delivers a data collaborative engineering specification and toolset to enable modern distributed control improving operations and production reliability, impacting the bottom line for new IIoT architectures.  I’m proud to witness our first group of members showcasing their FDT 3.0 WebUI-based DTM prototypes mixed with 2.0 DTMs in the new Server and Desktop environments running IO-Link and HART here at Hannover Messe live and in person. To be present as a guest in the OPC Foundation booth to demonstrate field-to-cloud connectivity, OPC UA enterprise access and services along with mobile field device operation is one for industry history books. I especially want to thank Thomas Hadlich, FDT architecture and specification chairman, for leading the first FDT UE demo project; along with our front runner member companies for participating – Flowserve, Krohne, Omron, Magnetrol, Thorsis, CodeWrights, VEGA, Rockwell Automation, Turck, PACTware and M&M Software.”

FDT UE consists of FDT Server, FDT Desktop, and FDT DTM components. System and device suppliers can take a well-established standard they are familiar with and easily create and customize standards-based, data-centric, cross-platform FDT 3.0 solutions—expanding their portfolio offerings to meet requirements for next-generation industrial control applications. Each solution auto-enables OPC UA integration and allows the development team to focus on value-added features that differentiate their products, including WebUI and App support. FDT Desktop applications are fully backward compatible supporting the existing install base.

FDT 3.0 specification license agreements and developer toolkits are now available on the FDT website.

 

OMAC Launches Data Governance Initiative

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) continues to reinvent itself as new technologies and applications appear. I could say the same about Mark Fondl, whom I first met as he explained how Ethernet was going to be the only sensible control network some 24 years ago. About the time I first met OMAC. This initiative comes because of all the data-intensive technologies we’ve added in manufacturing over the past few years. We have cloud, analytics, digital transformation, data-driven, and the entire panoply of use cases and tech.

OMAC’s latest initiative, led by ei3’s Mark Fondl, aims to establish a framework and guidelines to protect precious proprietary information while enabling secure data sharing for efficiently solving problems, mining insights, and capturing the highest value from data-supported capabilities. 

The workgroup will elaborate on the following topics to help organizations boost employee collaboration and productivity and support continuous innovation through practical data-sharing approaches. 

  • Categorizing types of data and methods of segmentation
  • Identifying the sources of data 
  • Clustering data usage – from control and optimization to service and support
  • Understanding data ownership and constraints – especially concerning the use of insights arising from the data
  • Architecting data hierarchy for distribution 
  • Reviewing security regulations concerning the transfer and storage

Participating organizations include leading manufacturing companies such as Cargill, Pepsico, and Corning; well-known OEMs including Mettler-Toledo, Milacron, Barry-Wehmiller, and Nordson; system integrators like Rovisys and Martin CSI, and groundbreaking technology companies like the ei3 Corporation, Siemens, General Electric, Rockwell, Cisco, Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. amongst others.

The workgroup will meet virtually, with the kick-off meeting being planned for May 18, 2022. (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party due to the allergy attack.) A face-to-face workshop will take place in December 2022 to allow active members to review the developed content and enable an easy and free flow of suggestions in advancing this topic.

If you would like to participate and contribute your knowledge, skill, and experience, please complete the Expression of Interest Form, and the workgroup administrator will reach out to you.

Unstructured Data Management

Welcome to the age of Industrial Internet of Things and the need for unstructured data management. Analysts talked for years about the amount of data generated (or could be generated if digital) from manufacturing. We have arrived at that age. Datadobi is one company I talk with in the unstructured data management space. Here is news of additions to its product portfolio through a product called StorageMAP.

TL;DR: New software enables enterprises to visualize, organize, and take action on their entire unstructured data landscape via one single pane of glass.

Datadobi, a leader in unstructured data management, announced launch of StorageMAP, a solution that provides a single pane of glass for organizations to manage unstructured data across their complete data storage estate. Built upon Datadobi’s best-in-class vendor-neutral unstructured data mobility engine, the software enables enterprises to visualize, organize, and act on their data in hybrid vendor and cloud environments. StorageMAP puts companies in control of their data’s cost, carbon footprint, risk, and value.

StorageMAP is the evolution from Datadobi’s field-hardened data migration and protection solutions to a fully-fledged data management platform.

Unstructured data is expected to reach 144 trillion gigabytes by 2025, according to IDC. The sheer magnitude of unstructured data combined with the increasing complexity of today’s heterogeneous storage environments has caused 95% of organizations to cite the need to manage unstructured data as a problem for their business.

The four major critical concerns for enterprises that StorageMAP addresses are:

  • Cost Control – StorageMAP helps organizations cut costs by enabling intelligent cloud adoption, moving data to less costly on-premises storage, accelerating the decommissioning of inefficient storage, and deleting Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) data.
  • Conformance to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Policies – StorageMAP helps organizations to meet CO2 reduction targets through carbon accounting of unstructured data storage in the cloud and in the data center. Cloud adoption (which claims to have up to an 80% carbon reduction rate compared to on-premises storage), data center optimization, and reduction of ROT data all contribute to a lower carbon footprint.
  • Risk Reduction –  StorageMAP bolsters unstructured data protection by allowing IT leaders to understand what data they have, why they have it, where it is, and who owns it. The software then enables companies to take action to properly backup their unstructured data and delete ROT, disowned, and dangerous data.
  • Getting More Value from Data – StorageMAP allows companies to move their data to the right place, at the right time, all the time. For example, data can be quickly copied to the cloud where it can be analyzed by cloud-native apps. StorageMAP enables companies to exploit their data’s hidden value, transforming it from a liability into an asset.

StorageMAP is sold as a “pay-as-you-grow” model that allows customers to first understand their unstructured data environment before committing to take any necessary actions required by the business. IT leaders, business unit managers, and the C-suite can see reports optimized to their needs that will help them make clear decisions according to their business priorities. Once they have the visibility, they can then organize the data according to multiple criteria such as ownership of the data, the role of the data, where the data belongs, the risk profile of the data, and the type of action to take on the data. Only then do customers need to commit to purchasing the necessary Action Add-ons required to meet their immediate needs.