IMTS / Hannover Messe Chicago Recap

I didn’t have time to finish this about IMTS/Hannover Messe when I found myself in rainy Folsom, CA at the Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference. More on that later.

Here is a quick recap of my tour around two of the four full halls that comprised the event. I heard that there were more than 100,000 people who also toured the trade show floors.

Robotics

OnRobot — OnRobot Previews D:PLOY for Machine Tending at IMTS. D:PLOY automatically discovers and configures all the components in a robotic cell – including any leading collaborative or light industrial robot arm and tools – while also integrating external I/O from sensors and machines. D:PLOY will be available for all common robotic applications, making deployment up to 80% faster. See more.

Universal Robots—The booth featured nine partners with vertical industry applications and a new 20 kg cobot.

The UR20, the first of next-generation high performance cobots, has been redesigned from the ground up to provide up to 30% more speed and torque, advanced motion control capabilities, and first-class user experience. Its 20 kg payload and 1750 mm reach make it a match for applications ranging from palletizing to machine loading.

These partners exhibited within the booth. Click for more information. Cobot Systems, Hirebotics, Kane Robotics, MidAtlantic Machinery, PCC Robotics, Robotiq, Schunk, Vectis Automation, VersaBuilt.

ABB—Highlights include versatile industrial and collaborative robots, software advancements that reduce programming complexity, and a selection of interactive robotic educational systems and training programs.

• ABB has developed over 30 new robot, software digital and educational products and educational tools in the last year, designed to help industrial manufacturers of all sizes increase their operational performance and gain better access to a well-trained workforce

• ABB helps businesses of all sizes embrace the flexibility afforded by robotics to efficiently adapt production to satisfy their customer’s most pressing needs, especially as reshoring becomes a prominent means to address ongoing supply chain backlogs

For more information.

CNC

Siemens—Accelerating the digital transformation of the machine tool industry with Siemens Xcelerator 

• Siemens Xcelerator includes selected portfolio of IoT-enabled hardware, software and digital offerings for the machine tool industry

• Software applications for cloud, edge and customer servers with numerous innovations for the machine tool business

• First partner applications based upon Industrial Edge for Machine Tools, the open ecosystem for IoT

New technology functions for the SINUMERIK ONE CNC simplify operation and increase productivity

• Y-turning and Advanced Rapid Movement for greater machine tool productivity, 

up to 10% faster machining

• Reduced Dynamic Mode reduces wear and increases availability

• End-to-end keyboard and machine control panel portfolio from 15 to 24 inches

The introduction of Mcenter, a new manufacturing and resource management platform, designed to enhance the preparation of tool scheduling, workflow supervision and NC program  management — plus Mcenter will smartly and seamlessly network the machine tools with the company’s IT / OT landscape.  

For more information.

Automation

MFA Alliance — You may have noticed several items about private 5G networks for manufacturing and industrial applications. Several companies have joined this private network alliance

Find out which features you need to implement for your 5G private network device with Uni5G Technology Blueprints. Discover available spectrum options (locally licensed, shared, unlicensed) around the world for your private network. Gain access to MFA’s shared global PLMN-ID which can uniquely identify your private network.

GE Digital — Announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. GE Digital is also expanding its offerings in the AWS Marketplace with new cloud-based operational intelligence and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software.

For more information.

Deacom (ECI Software)—With a deep awareness of the challenges faced by process manufacturers and distributors, Deacom has been developed as an ERP solution tailored to the needs of medium-sized enterprises within industries such as Food & Beverage, Chemical and Coatings, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, and Nutraceuticals to name a few. Hyper-Tight Process Control enables you to easily identify issues within your supply chain, production, and order-to-cash processes early and fix – or eliminate – them before they turn into costly mistakes.

For more information.

HighByte — I talked with two of the founders of this DataOps company. It has a new release coming, teaser about future releases. My takeaway, DataOps has found customer footing. Watch for growth. For more information.

Artek 3D scanning — Perhaps the coolest demos of the show—handheld 3D scanning, built-in screen so that you don’t have to move it around and juggle a computer at the same time. Quickly transform your object into 3D graphics. For more information.

ATT —  The takeaway from my conversation at the AT&T booth was that 5G private networks are really in use. Also, you can go to the AT&T Business LinkedIn page for a “chat” that I participated in about smart factory. For more information.

Beckhoff Automation—The XPlanar magnetic conveyor was the hot thing in this booth. The XPlanar planar motor system combines the advantages of conventional transport technologies with magnetic levitation. The levitating 2D product transport enables a wide range of new options for handling products within a machine and also between several machines.

Similar to automated guided vehicle systems, the user benefits from the freedom of movement of the object carriers: Individual goods can be transported to any location via any route. XPlanar combines this flexibility with the dynamics of conventional linear motors and offers added value through cycle-time-optimized linking of individual production steps. XPlanar significantly simplifies individual production steps because the degrees of freedom and accuracy familiar from robotics can be used for 6D product handling. The concept of product positioning during processing is applied to the transport system. The floating effect replaces all mechanical guide components and drastically reduces cleaning and maintenance costs.

For more information.

Syntax — As I walked through the AWS booth, a woman at one of the kiosks called out, want to learn about predictive maintenance? This enterprise software company touts a better UI difference—one dashboard, one interface, predict material usage. For more information.

Return of the Large Trade Show

IMTS / Hannover Messe invaded Chicago this week. I drove down a couple of days. It was huge. Booths populated all four halls. I did not see everything. Or even half.

Hannover Messe (in Chicago) has co-located for the past three or four events. As in the past, the automation / Hannover Messe part encompassed a few aisles in the East hall.

I’ll have more news items in the next post.

Best of what I saw:

Nokia. What?! I was approached for an appointment. I said yes figuring on a 5G private network discussion. I was partly right.

Let me back up for context.

  • Enterprises crave data to feed their information systems.
  • Data from industrial / manufacturing operations were bottled in isolated, siloed systems
  • Networking became robust
  • Interoperable protocols grew
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) became a thing
  • Suddenly data could go where and when needed

Solutions.

  • Automation vendors claimed connectivity to enterprise but that fell short
  • IT suppliers, supporters of the enterprise, tried to enter the market with gateways, networking, partnerships and ecosystems to get the data.
  • They couldn’t find the formula to sell to manufacturing (known as OT)
  • We have gateways, databases, networking, but still no enterprise solution

Nokia.

  • Builds off networking technology which has progressed to 5G Private Networks
  • Has added edge compute devices
  • Partnership with PTC (Kepware / Thingworx) for software connectivity
  • Attacking this open market from a new perspective–both the enterprise IT side and the operations OT side

I am not predicting success. I never do. What I love about trade shows is finding this nugget of original thinking cloaked in the mundane. They have the foundation. Can they sell?

Check out this page on the Nokia site.

Identify Data Sets With Orphaned Data Enabling Appropriate Actions

Steve Leeper, VP Systems Engineering and Marketing, and Carl D’Halluin, Chief Technology Officer of Datadobi, met with me recently to discuss data, unstructured data management, data migration, the company, and those poor little orphaned files and data left in storage long after they had useful life.

I’ve been writing about the company’s products for about two years. Datadobi is about to celebrate its 13th birthday. Organically funded, management expects it to be around for some time to come.

The occasion of this conversation was release 6.2 and an upgrade to the recently announced StorageMAP product—a multi-vendor, multi-cloud data management platform with the introduction of capabilities to discover and remediate orphaned data.

Orphaned data is owned by employees of a company that are inactive but still enabled on an organization’s network or systems. These datasets, which can amount to a significant part of a company’s total data stored, represent risk and cost to every organization. Any enterprise with a large employee base, normal to high attrition rates, or undertaking merger and acquisition (M&A) activities will be vulnerable to orphaned data. Orphaned data is mostly not of value to the organization and creates liability due to its unknown content. Eliminating orphaned data enables IT leaders to reduce cost, lower carbon footprint, and lower risk while maximizing value out of relevant unstructured data used by active users.

With the new capabilities, StorageMAP can identify data sets with high amounts of orphaned data, allowing IT leaders to group and organize the data independent of the business organization. The orphaned datasets can then be migrated, archived to a lower-cost platform, or deleted by StorageMAP. The platform provides an easy-to-read, granular report on the top users with orphaned data and for additional detail, a search function allows targeted searches to be executed across part of or the entire data estate.

The 6.2 release comes after Datadobi launched its StorageMAP platform earlier this year. StorageMAP provides a single pane of glass for organizations to manage unstructured data across their complete data storage estate on-premises and in the cloud. This latest update enables IT leaders to fully take control of orphaned data on their networks.

“Due to the scale and complexity of unstructured data in today’s heterogeneous storage environments, enterprises can easily lose track of orphaned data within networks and open themselves up to excess storage costs and risk,” said Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi. “StorageMAP’s new capabilities allow for a seamless experience identifying and taking the appropriate action on orphaned data to give IT leaders peace of mind.”

“As data proliferation continues, IT leaders are going to see more orphaned data on their networks. This is why it is so important that organizations turn to unstructured data management solutions like StorageMAP to find datasets associated with inactive users and take the appropriate action,” said Craig Ledo, IT Validation Analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “Combined with a high level of cross-vendor knowledge, years of real-life experience, and great customer support, enterprises can let StorageMAP do the heavy lifting when it comes to orphaned data.”

Insights from Product Data Boost Competitiveness

We keep returning to the theme of the importance of product data. This report from NI summarizing recent research into using product-centric data, such as test data, in product development brings forth some data on data.

Hundreds of senior product innovators say that product data is key to staying competitive, yet more than half of the respondents recognize gaps in the way they extract value from their test data. There is also a strong correlation between advanced data strategies and increased degrees of innovation, with two-thirds of respondents believing that a data strategy is essential to optimizing the product lifecycle.

“Companies face a dual challenge of increased product complexity and shrinking time to market, causing a shift in the way products are developed. They recognize that the status quo will not work anymore,” says Mike Santori, fellow at NI. “Business performance can improve through connected product data and analytics, and this research provides evidence that test data are a strategic differentiator.”

While many of the engineering vice presidents and heads of R&D recognize the value of data in their product development, over half cited cost as the inhibiting factor preventing the transformation of their production models. The research also pointed to test being an underutilized resource with 38% of respondents saying they rarely use test to inform product design and 51% recognizing that they could extract more value from their data if they implemented test earlier in their processes.

Additional findings include:

  • 52% of companies with an integrated company-wide product data strategy experienced faster time-to-market in the last 12 months, compared to 33% of companies without this advantage
  • 55% of product innovators say that integrating test data into the product development process will be a key priority over the next 12 months
  • 40% identify integrating test data into the product development process among the initiatives that could bring the most value to their business

The survey was conducted among senior product innovators in 10 industries including semiconductor, transportation, consumer electronics, and aerospace and defense. It was produced by FT Longitude, the specialist research and content marketing division of the Financial Times Group.

Fix Your Data Flow and Transform Your Business

Back in the 70s I actually had a job in a manufacturing company with a principle function regarding data. All the engineering, product, and cost data. Little did I know then that 45 years later data is the new oil. (Don’t really believe all the hype.)

I’ve been interested in the new function and applications called DataOps, among other things for data management. I’ve been part of the HPE VIP Community for a few years. HPE isn’t talking as much about manufacturing lately, but many of its technologies are germane. I picked up this short post from the Community site on data management.

Data management complexity is everywhere in the modern enterprise, and it can feel insurmountable. IT infrastructure has evolved into a complex web of fragmented software and hardware in many organizations, with disparate management tools, complicated procurement processes, inflexible provisioning cycles, and siloed data. Organizations are running multiple storage platforms, each with their own management tools, which becomes a progressively tougher problem at scale.

Complexity is a growing problem, and according to a recent ESG study, 74% of IT decision makers acknowledge that it is holding them back in their digital transformation journey. Their data management capabilities simply can’t keep pace with business demands. As a result, IT organizations are forced to spend time managing the infrastructure, as opposed to really leveraging the data.

Constant firefighting might sound like business as usual to many tech pros, but it can be avoided. To accelerate transformation, IT leaders must confront and eliminate data complexity first, getting data to flow where and when it needs to, and allowing the business to get back to business.

Of course, HPE has a solution—GreenLake for Block Storage.

To Everything There Is A Season

What if the time has come to rethink all these specific silos and strategies that we build software solutions around?

Folk/rock group The Byrds popularized a Pete Seeger tune in the 1960s, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven.” 

The time has come to rethink all the departmental silos manufacturing executives constructed over the years with vendors targeting their applications to fit. This era of the Internet of Things (IoT), sensor-driven real-time data, innovative unstructured databases, powerful analytics engines, and visualization provide us with new ways of thinking about organizing manufacturing.

HMI/SCADA can become IoT enabling software expanding beyond the normal visualization role. Types of MES software break the bounds of traditional silos. Not just quality metrics, OEE calculators, or maintenance schedulers, what if we thought of MES as operational intelligence bringing disparate parts together? These can provide managers of all levels the kind of information needed for better, faster decision making.

I have worked with a number of maintenance and reliability media companies. They have all been embroiled in discussions of the comparative value of maintenance strategies: Reactive (run-to-failure), Preventive, Predictive, Reliability-centered. These are presented as a continuum progressing from the Stone Age to StarTrek. With them are always discussion about which is best.

The IT companies I have worked with fixated on predictive. They had powerful predictive analytics to combine with their database and compute capabilities and saw that as the Next Big Thing. They were wrong.

I was taught early in my career that Preventive was also known as scheduled maintenance. Management sends technicians out on rounds on a regular basis with lube equipment and meters to check out and lubricate and adjust. As often as not, these adjustments would disturb the Force and something would break down.

What if? What if we use all the sensor data from equipment sent to the cloud to a powerful database? What if we use that data to intelligently dispatch technicians to the  necessary equipment with the appropriate tools to fix before breaking and at an appropriate collaborative time?

A company called Matics recently was introduced to me via a long-time marketing contact. They wanted to talk about the second definition of preventive maintenance. Not just unscheduled rounds but using sensor-driven data, or IoT, to feed its Central Data Repository with the goal of providing Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) to its customers.

According to Matics, its RtOI system has provided customers with:

  • 25% increased machine availability
  • 30% decrease in rejects
  • 10% reduction in energy consumption

Smarter preventive maintenance leverages continuous condition monitoring targeting as-needed maintenance resulting in fewer unnecessary checks and less machine stoppage for repair.

I am not trying to write a marketing piece for Matics, although the company does compensate me for some content development. But their software provides me a way to riff into a new way of thinking.

Usually product engineers and marketing people will show me a new product. I’ll become enthused. “Wow, this is cool. Now if you could just do this and this…” I drive product people crazy in those meetings. I think the same here. I like the approach. Now, if customers can take the ball and run with it thinking about manufacturing in a a new way, that would be cool—and beneficial and profitable. I think innovative managers and engineers could find new ways to bring engineering, production, and maintenance together in a more collaborative way around real-time information.