Multi-Cloud Enhancements for Unstructured Data

I remember talking with a friend about ten years ago about the explosion of database technology beyond SQL. The feeling within industrial circles evidently was that historian and SQL were the only tools needed. Many were also skeptical of cloud architectures, as well. Today’s news concerns a couple of announcements from a company called Datadobi who specializes in helping you manage your unstructured databases even across multiple clouds. May the force be with you!

Datadobi Software Enhancements Power Agile Multi-Cloud Expansion, Flexible Data Reorganization, Lower Costs

Datadobi announced enhancements to its vendor-neutral unstructured data mobility engine with the introduction of DobiMigrate’s API. Version 5.13 will allow organizations to programmatically configure unstructured data migrations using the API.

This latest update complements Datadobi’s enterprise GUI and enables automation of file and object migrations and reorganization or clean up projects. 

Using the DobiMigrate API, customers and partners can now extend existing automated storage provisioning workflows with the necessary data migration steps. Organizations can first use the storage system APIs to provision a new group of on-premises or cloud storage and then use the DobiMigrate API to set up the NAS or object migration. Following the cutover to the new storage, the administrator can then again use storage systems APIs to deprovision the original storage. 

The DobiMigrate process is fully auditable and comes with patent pending chain of custody technology that provides a detailed report on what files were migrated, their content, and timestamps. DobiMigrate has also been reviewed and received attestation for Service Organizations Control (SOC) 2 Type 1 compliance by KPMG. The attestation follows a review of Datadobi’s operations, support, and engineering processes demonstrating Datadobi’s focus on high standards for integrity, security, and confidentiality of customer data. 

“Due to the scale and complexity of unstructured data in today’s heterogeneous storage environments, enterprises can no longer rely on outdated tools and manual practices to execute data management projects. Organizations must trust specialist tools powered by automation to gain an understanding of their environments and move data accordingly,” said Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi. “Datadobi’s API allows for a seamless data management experience built with the speed and integrity needed to conduct business today.” 

“Every day we see organizations challenged by an overwhelming volume of unstructured data. As data proliferation continues, successful enterprises will look to data management solutions like DobiMigrate’s API to tailor data projects, enhance mobility capabilities, and find value in their data,” said Bill O’Brien, Director of Data Center Storage and Data Protection at AHEAD. “We look forward to continuing to provide top-of-the-line data management to our enterprise clients using Datadobi’s solutions.”

Datadobi Validates Google Cloud Storage as an Endpoint for Data Management

Datadobi announced it has validated Google Cloud Storage as an endpoint for data replication in addition to data migration. As a result, users of the DobiProtect software suite can now replicate data held on any S3-compatible object storage to Google Cloud Storage or vice versa. The news comes shortly after the company announced support for Azure Blob storage in the DobiProtect software suite.  

Datadobi’s validation of Google Cloud Storage enables organizations to build a true multi-cloud strategy with their data available at multiple Hyperscalers. Customers can host their data both on any S3 object storage service and on Google Cloud Storage, and use DobiProtect to set up permanent data replication between these two clouds.

Nearly 92% of enterprises now have a multi-cloud strategy. This way, data is held in two different sets of data centers, deployed on two completely different cloud storage software and hardware stacks, operated by different companies, different people, and different service procedures. DobiProtect now allows users to boost data protection by entrusting their data to two cloud storage stacks.

Datadobi can enable the initial migration and then set up the subsequent replication stream. This is a one-time copy which ends in the cutover step, during which the data authority is moved from the source to the destination storage service or system. During this cutover, the Datadobi software provides a chain of custody containing an auditable proof of which data was moved during the data migration and confirming the integrity of the data.

Honeywell and Saipem Team To Implement Digital Solutions

Yes, Virginia, people really are operationalizing digital twin and other digital technologies. This news hails from Italy about digital twin in chemical processing. It’s not just for building cars.

Honeywell and Saipem have signed an agreement for product development and commercialization of a “Digital Twin” as part of Saipem’s Snamprogetti Urea technology. The solution will be developed on Honeywell Forge, Honeywell’s enterprise performance management solution, to enable customers to improve the production of urea through virtual simulation of key processes.

The new service will be commercialized with Saipem’s brand and powered by Honeywell Forge. Saipem will be responsible for the management and technical support of the digital tool, involving Honeywell on a demand basis. Honeywell’s digital twin solution will also be used as a virtual model to guide engineers with actionable insights into machine performance and maintenance needs in order to optimize plant production of urea.

The Honeywell Forge solution, deployed in more than 60 process units worldwide, will enable Saipem to provide real-time response on plant operational management, to collect data for monitoring and predictive maintenance, to contribute to the optimization of its clients’ operations and to deliver more value to stakeholders. The solution will allow Saipem to remain in close contact with its clients, even after plant delivery, to modernize its offering as a licensor and to collect feedback regarding plant performance.

Off-the-shelf, Mission-critical Industrial Edge

The press release came from Nokia. I remembered that the company had pivoted somewhat from its origin as an early mobile phone manufacturer. But I was hardly prepared for news about mission-critical Edge products. Although, true to its networking roots, the website is loaded with 5G information. Check this out as an alternative Edge resource.

In brief:

  • Addresses new category of Industry 4.0 applications that require increased capabilities and performance at the network edge, and tight integration with industrial systems and networking solutions
  • Combines on-premise mission-critical edge, workload lifecycle management and simplified IIoT integration in a ’one-stop’ industrial edge digitalization platform, delivering high-compute capacity, performance, resilience and security required by mission-critical connected OT use cases 
  • Scalable Edge as-a-service based on consumption gives enterprises a low-cost entry point, scalability and full control over data
  • Nokia ecosystem-neutral approach and integration capabilities give enterprises unparalleled flexibility to swiftly adopt edge innovations from public cloud, industrial partner cloud and industrial ISV applications.

Nokia has launched the industry’s first cloud-native, mission-critical industrial edge solution to allow enterprises to accelerate their operational technology (OT) digitalization initiatives and advance their journey to Industry 4.0. The new Nokia MX Industrial Edge is a scalable application and compute solution designed to meet the mission-critical digital transformation needs of asset-intensive industries such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation. It uniquely combines compute, storage, wired/wireless networking, one-click industrial applications and automated management onto a unified, on-premise OT digital transformation platform. 
  
Industry 4.0 requires widespread digitalization and connectivity of equipment, machines, and other assets in industrial environments. Due to the volume and velocity of data generated, and the need for real-time automation, increasingly data needs to be processed at the edge – close to where it is generated. By 2025, Gartner predicts that 75% of industrial data will be processed at the edge.   
  
By adopting the Nokia MX Industrial Edge, enterprises will benefit from an on-premise cloud architecture that unifies edge requirements in an easy-to-use, deploy everywhere, as-a-service package. It removes the complexity, knowledge, and economic hurdles typically associated with deployment, integration and life cycle management of high-performance compute applications and mission-critical networking.   
  
The platform’s extreme scalability enables multi-facility enterprises, such as logistics companies, to deploy the same technology in all their locations, whether large or small, making the benefits of ‘develop-once, deploy-everywhere’ a reality. The Nokia MX Industrial Edge is powered by the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (Nokia DAC), providing the enterprise a single pane of glass user experience to manage everything from applications to private wireless networking.

  
Nokia MX Industrial Edge comes in a variety of configurations to support small, medium, and large-scale industrial deployments. Based on the Nokia AirFrame Open Edge server, leveraging Intel’s latest innovations and CPU for highcapacity processing, the Nokia edge solution is designed for compute-intensive tasks and advanced AI/Machine Learning (ML) workloads optionally supported through graphic processing unit (GPU) support. In addition, high-performance network interface cards (NICs) and packet processing systems scale to support very large 5G standalone (SA) private wireless traffic flows. It offers extreme resilience and reliability through an end-to-end, high availability (HA) architecture, supports geographical redundancy (GR) for business continuity, and the guaranteed performance is assured via integrated orchestration features for service performance management.  
  
Enterprise customers can accelerate their OT digitalization initiatives with the one-click deployment of industrial applications on the MX Industrial Edge. The catalog contains Nokia applications for a variety of common digitalization use cases and is complemented by applications from independent software vendors (ISV) which undergo an onboarding process testing reliability, performance, and security. In addition, Nokia’s ecosystem-neutral approach also enables industrial customers to take advantage of edge cloud compatible applications present in hyperscale clouds, as well as industrial partner clouds. 

Finally, the MX Industrial Edge also simplifies southbound IIoT system integration complexity with its Industrial connectors providing industrial data protocols translation, and with the Nokia Integrated Operations Center that provides a single pane of glass view from all systems as well as helping create industrial automation workflows. 

Data Analytics Helps Industry Tackle Emissions

We used to be told (last year) that it was all about data. Now, it’s all about insight from those data. ABB has jumped into the game with this analytics application.

In summary:

  • ABB Ability Genix Datalyzer is a cloud-based data analytics solution for fleet-wide management and optimization of emissions monitoring equipment in highly regulated industries like cement, steel, chemicals, and power generation 
  • The new solution pre-empts plant failure and helps achieve emissions compliance, improving plant uptime and process safety 
  • Out-of-the-box actionable insights combined with self-service analytics help close the skills gap

Increased governmental and societal focus on emissions mean that industry is under ever greater pressure to increase the agility and reliability of emissions monitoring in real-time.

ABB’s Datalyzer is designed to help customers respond to this challenge. The comprehensive, cloud-based modular application provides real-time status across a fleet of analyzers and plants. In doing so, it lowers ownership cost and reduces capital expenditure. 

Datalyzer collects data from emissions monitoring analyzers which is then routed to an on-site Edge device (Micro PC). The Edge device sends the relevant information up to Datalyzer which sits in the Microsoft Azure cloud. The application analyzes the data received transforming it into a concrete information for decision-making.    

The end user receives the information from Datalyzer across three different dashboard views. The first shows the fleet view, the second the plant view and the third a more detailed analyzer view. This combination provides both an ‘at a glance’ vision of the overall emission monitoring equipment status alongside valuable detailed asset parameters. Heatmaps of the installed base, historical trends and systems diagnostics are amongst the key parameters provided.

Datalyzer also offers QAL-3 assessment and reporting, as well as event-based notifications by e-mail. Live analyzer process data together with value added insights and reports are amongst the application’s key features. Historical trends are tracked for up to five years, uncovering recurring patterns in the equipment performance and providing the platform for predictive maintenance. Adherence to cyber security standards prevent unauthorized access while ensuring data integrity.

Continuous gas analyzers such as ABB’s ACF5000 and ACF-NT analyzers are compatible with Datalyzer with extensions planned to include Advanced Optima and Easy Line in the first quarter of 2022.

Datalyzer forms a part of the ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI suite. The platform provides data analytics and industrial AI applications as the next generation operational intelligence and insight. 

Ignition Community Conference Provides Many Ideas For Industrial Progress

Inductive Automation held its annual “gathering” last week. The Ignition Community Conference brings together customers, partners, and Inductive staff for presentations and conversations around using technology to improve industrial (and other) processes. Sales and Marketing VP Don Pearson likes to point to a couple of key words—Ignition and Community. Ignition is the base product for HMI and SCADA and IoT. Community is how Inductive Automation leaders view the customers who gather and provide thoughts and input on how to use the product and what they would like to see added.

I put gathering in quotes because the conference was once again virtual. Perhaps next year…

And, speaking of https://inductiveautomation.com/resources/podcast/manufacturing-trends-asaservice-edge-mqtt-opc-ua-moreDon Pearson, he had me as a guest on his podcast recently. I enjoyed the conversation about technology and applications.

The cool thing about a virtual conference concerns the presentations—they are all specifically made for video. This means that watching on demand after the conference still yields the same experience minus only the live chat and networking. Check out the live sessions on the website.

I recommend the main keynote for an overview of the company, its leaders, and its direction. You’ll find Arlen Nipper’s discussion of MQTT and Sparkplug informative. The discussions of the finalists and winners of application awards were well done offering insights on some of the best practices for applying this type of software. You should also pick up many ideas for uses that would never before have occurred. I like them enough that I’m summarizing all 15 below. Go online and watch the videos and check out the details.

ICC 2021 Discover Gallery

OEE, SPC, and Real-Time Dashboards for Greater Insight into Six Production Lines

Gaining real-time and historical insight in the production process on any level is the key in this project. All of this is achieved by leveraging the options that Ignition delivers. Using standards in combination with the customization resulted in a state-of-the-art project.

Before starting with the project, AT-Automation (AT) identified the need for The Compound Company. This identification resulted in a single application that can be used throughout the full company. The solution mainly consists of four key elements:

  • Real-time and historical insight into production.
  • Insight into production data to identify pain points.
  • Statistical analysis of the process parameters so deviations between setpoints and actual values are identified quickly.
  • Mobile application so production information can be accessed from remote locations.

It’s now possible for the customer to see data that is being generated by the production lines. All the production lines are easily visualized in one overview. The option to zoom in on data regarding one production line is also available to identify the smallest details. 

New SCADA and OEE for Ariens, Maker of Four Million Snow Blowers

Ariens has a state-of-the-art landscaping equipment production facility that includes industry-leading machinery and manufacturing principles, but its data-gathering process was falling behind. The company was able to offer highly granular data, but the data came at the cost of time, meaning any insight gained lagged behind. Ariens brought Corso Systems in to take the OEE data collection process from pen and paper to automated real-time results using Ignition Perspective and the Sepasoft OEE Module.

The process for the operators at Ariens was to track all produced parts and scrap by hand. Once the data was tracked, it was then collected into a digital format via manual data entry. The final step of the process was to take the data and leverage highly complex tables to service the efficiency of the work center, and the data was aggregated to determine the overall plant efficiency.

Manual data collection from the operators, while effective in the past, was dated and needed to be addressed. The errors from the manual entry easily multiplied across the various translations. Operators might make an error when transcribing a part count, analysts might input the wrong value when translating to a digital format, and there was room for additional error when driving the data calculations through unlocked open forms. This stacking of potential errors left Ariens exposed to risk that it could no longer tolerate.

The result of the project is taking a company from pen and pad to on-the-fly, real-time understanding of what is happening on the plant floor. With the ability to see high-level overviews and drill into each line, work center, and employee, management can take action to effect change for the good of the company at a much higher rate. Throughout the process, there were moments of reflection for both the Ariens and Corso teams to adjust procedures and grow as companies and individuals.

High-Performance HMI and Single User Interface for Minerals Division of Global Resources Leader

This project is a high-performance human-machine interface (HMI) which assists technicians at BHP’s Technology Remote Operations Centre (TROC) for Minerals Australia in monitoring and managing the status of critical technology infrastructure and components across the operations.

BHP has provided visibility and context of PLCs, switches, servers, applications, substations, data centers and more, using its internally developed OPC UA module for OSI PI to bring in hundreds of thousands of data points.

BHP has also integrated with many of its other enterprise platforms to provide quick, intuitive, and easy-to-digest context at a glance to enable TROC technicians.

The BHP HMI solution is a significant innovation that uniquely integrates the IT world into the OT space for the mining industry. BHP has used new technology and modern integration to combine huge volumes of real-time data and context — presenting this in an actionable form to enhance safety and productivity. BHP’s initial research found no solutions in the market that met its needs, so it chose to develop an innovative solution.

The system is providing better visibility and context to operational personnel in the field, as well as a better experience when the TROC is contacted, with the TROC technician already aware of the issue and actively resolving it. Usually, issues are being proactively resolved prior to the operations noticing any effect or impact. As the TROC HMI is accessible to all employees, others outside of TROC watch and respond to alarms, preventing issues earlier than in the past.

There is also a cultural benefit, as BHP is providing a solution that is “fit for purpose” for TROC, rather than presenting the team with multiple siloed solutions which do not provide the context required.

The HMI system results in fewer outages and IT failures. Over time, this will result in significant cost savings from disruptions that have been avoided across all of BHP’s operations in Australia — and, if replicated to other operations, potentially globally.

Smithfield Hog Production Improves Feed Mill Operations with Modern SCADA Platform

This project — automating the hog feed production plant at Smithfield Hog Production’s facility in Milford, Utah — uses Allen-Bradley CompactLogix processors accompanied with Flex and SLC I/O hardware. The computers are based on a virtual environment, having all machines running on a common server connected to thin clients. CPM Beta Raven’s MillMaster is the interface for the consumer to receive product, run recipes, track inventory, and loadout product seamlessly and accurately.

Major benefits from the project include the efficiency and response times of the software. The manufacturing business is fast-paced, safety-oriented, and dependent upon the Ignition HMI client to provide real-time data. For the Smithfield facility, it’s important to know the status of the boiler; without it the plant will not produce. This mill now has the comfort of knowing the management will be alerted on their phones in the event the boiler malfunctions. Before the CPM Beta Raven system integration project, the feed mill worked entirely on pushbuttons, relay circuit boards, and physical labor. Now the operators have the capability to focus more on ingredient/product accuracy and production times for the best results. This provides Smithfield the ability to serve more hog farms and therefore provide more protein for humans everywhere.

Improved Data Management for High-Speed Catamarans

The purpose of the project was to develop a DNV-GL approved Ship Integrated Management System (SIMS) to manage data from various inputs on the ship and present information in a consistent manner on operator workstations distributed throughout the vessel.

Australian shipbuilder Incat, based in Hobart, Tasmania, designs and builds high-speed lightweight catamarans which are supplied globally. Ships vary from fast, flexible, and efficient vehicle-passenger ferries to high-speed military support vessels, crew ships, and dynamic platforms.

Each Incat ship requires a Ship Integrated Management System (SIMS). The purpose of the SIMS is to manage data from various inputs and present data in a consistent manner on operator workstations distributed throughout a vessel.

The outcome for Incat and Cromarty was extremely positive. The project was completed within the specified time frame. The hardware and software design achieved DNV-GL Plan approval using readily available industrial-standard hardware and software. The final solution was scalable and repeatable and allowed Incat not only to deliver Vessel 091 with a DNV-GL approved Ship Integrated Management System, but also laid the foundation for the system to be adapted for future vessels — all with locally based support.

Creating a High-Capacity Lab for COVID Testing in Just Nine Months

Ginkgo Bioworks expanded its automation capabilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for increased nationwide diagnostic testing capacity. Ginkgo designed and built a new sample-processing lab very quickly. The lab is highly automated; once a rack of samples is placed on the line by an operator, it makes its way through a series of work cells with no human intervention. Ultimately the goal of the system was to prepare COVID-19 test samples for DNA sequencing & PCR testing for the virus. At the heart of this new lab is the Ignition SCADA platform.

Sample traceability is of utmost importance. With more than 40 separate PLCs all triggering actions that impacted the samples, Ignition was critical to unifying the process data and allowing Ginkgo to extract meaningful testing results.

This automated lab went from conception to bio-validation in nine months, so it was important to have a SCADA platform that could scale quickly. Commissioning occurred seven days per week, so redundant Ignition servers allowed the facility to achieve nearly 100% SCADA uptime. Ignition’s responsibilities included connecting more than 40 work cells (each with their own PLC, lab equipment, robot, and vision inspection systems), providing real-time dashboards for production data, connecting PLCs to lab equipment with a consistent interface, and reliably storing event data for the lab.

Real-Time Data Across the Entire Enterprise for a Leading Oil & Gas Company in Latin America

Pluspetrol, one of the leading oil & gas companies in Latin America, acquired Block 10 operations in Ecuador and successfully finished migrating one of the largest SCADA systems in Ecuador to Ignition in 2019. The fact that all Ecuador operations chose Ignition as their monitoring, control, and information platform allowed the corporation to evaluate its benefits and choose it as the appropriate tool for digital transformation of the company at the corporate level.

In 2020, Pluspetrol adopted Ignition software to concentrate the information of the processes of its different assets in many countries to allow availability of information at the corporate level. With Ignition as the foundation, the corporation can now collect and distribute information in an efficient, real-time, and effortless way for different area users and third-party applications and corporate services.

Pluspetrol has allowed corporate-level access to data in real time from any of the operation centers and offices. Now sites in Peru are in the process of joining the IDEA initiative. Soon, more sites located in Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador, which already has Ignition, will be incorporated into the corporate SCADA system.

The collected and centralized data will be available to third-party systems such as ERPs, through Web Services and other available technologies.

In Ecuador, the system has allowed constant development for all areas in the plant with a faster response and taking the operation to an administrative/management level.

New opportunities have arisen for the customer’s everyday operations due to the IDEA standard. Every area in the company can access data in real time. This is the basic difference for everything. Making decisions based on past data only is now history. Having real-time information from past and current data enables the customer’s operations to be more efficient — and helps tremendously with constant improvements to operations.

Mobile Robots and Logistics Automation for Avery Dennison

More and more organizations are introducing automation into their logistics operations through the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Over the past several years, Flexware Innovation has assisted customers with this effort by leveraging Ignition to integrate these vehicles into their existing ecosystems. This integration typically includes interfacing with automation/control infrastructure, inventory management systems, and other line-of-business applications. The result of this continuous development is a highly configurable, Ignition-based middleware framework named LIFT (Logistics Integration Framework Technology). 

Avery Dennison recently expanded the production and warehousing capacity of its plant in Greenfield, Indiana. The project included the implementation of a new JBT AGV system that would transfer materials autonomously throughout the facility. Avery Dennison wanted to create a comprehensive material handling solution that would seamlessly integrate the new JBT AGV system with existing facility systems and processes. Flexware utilized its Ignition-based LIFT framework to create a fully integrated logistics solution and help make Avery’s expansion a success.

Flexware developed the solution over a six-month period, and then partnered with both the Avery Dennison and JBT teams to implement the integrated solution into the production environment successfully. With limited training, the Avery Dennison team has achieved complete customer ownership of the solution. The full-featured configuration client allows Avery Dennison to reconfigure existing missions as desired, as well as add new equipment, vehicles, and missions to the system as needed. The system manages Avery Dennison’s autonomous vehicles, human-driven vehicles, production lines, a shipping area, and an expanded warehouse area. This integrated material handling solution has allowed Avery Dennison to increase logistics capacity significantly in this plant with minimal additional manpower.

Improved Data Integrity and Easier Compliance with 21 CFR Part 11

Par Pharmaceutical worked with Grantek as part of Par’s corporate data integrity initiative to improve production data quality and regulatory compliance. The project related to fluid beds, which are pieces of equipment used to reduce the moisture content of pharmaceutical powder and granules. The project was to draft corporate data integrity requirements for all control systems across Par Pharmaceutical’s industries, and then develop a new system for the fluid bed as a pilot against the new requirements.

The fluid bed dryer solution provided by Grantek is a critical piece of process equipment involved in the manufacturing of solid dose pharmaceuticals. This solution ensures each fluid bed control system utilizes five main process phases: pre-conditioning, charging, heating, spraying, and cooling — each involving a sequencing of air flow, temperature control, or spray per a pre-configured (but editable) manufacturing recipe.

Previously, one of the fluid beds was being controlled by a ControlLogix 5562 processor with an iFix SCADA HMI and custom Visual Basic interfaces and scripts. In contrast, the other Fluid Bed was controlled via a PLC-5 with a Wonderware SCADA HMI. The client also upgraded the air handler and other process equipment as part of the migration included in this project. The solution provided by Grantek utilized the Sepasoft module for recipe management within Ignition to organize and manage all recipe creation and versioning. The tight integration of Ignition with the database also allowed for robust filtering and data validation using dropdowns and search-fields objects.

As data becomes the driver behind critical business decisions, it is becoming ever more critical to ensure that data is handled correctly, following industry best practices. These projects reviewed the shortcomings of the antiquated fluid bed dryers to identify risk areas that could lead to errors in electronic records, or compromise data integrity. This solution removed the barriers to documentation and sped up data retrieval. Several of the priority concerns addressed by this project are adding robust role-based access controls, modernizing the audit trail to improve mean time to resolution, and implementing electronic signatures to approve critical operating changes or events.

These projects further facilitate the collection of trusted data while increasing the availability of actionable data to allow users to improve operations. While the interface was updated for these features, the PLC operations were identical aside from several additions to accommodate new HMI features. This allows for the transition to compliance while maintaining familiarity for operators working with the system.

In terms of data integrity improvement, data reporting capability, change tracking capability, and data retention, the project was a very strong success.

The highlight of this project and its value is using Ignition as a centralized data repository and 21 CFR Part 11/data integrity compliance tool. Par is now working on centralizing many machines’ controls into Ignition.

Modern SCADA, MQTT, and the Cloud Bring Intelligent Buildings for SNCF, the French National Railway Company

This project is about digital transformation for railway stations across France. The challenge was to collect and interact with greenfield and brownfield facilities in a highly distributed BMS-like environment.

Three years ago, the western management of the SNCF’s Gares et Connexions entity began thinking about updating its command and control systems for onsite and remote operators, as well as subcontractors for the various operating and maintenance contracts.

With the Ignition and MQTT Sparkplug platform, HTTProject was able to implement a flexible solution that meets all requirements.

Ignition Perspective has made it possible to create applications that can be adapted to all terminals (responsive design); these are not simple dashboards, but real industrial supervision applications in the palm of your hand!

More than 250 users can view and control the installations from anywhere on their mobile devices or from any computer on the network. With alarm notification, external users are alerted in real time of any deviations and use their remote access to correct anomalies.

Perhaps most importantly, with Ignition, MQTT, and Sparkplug B, the choice of technology and site integrator is free. The definition of assets is done at the edge level, so the unique name space is used by all applications from the moment of publication on the MQTT infrastructure.

Equipment control is less than a second at all points on the network. The reliability, flexibility, and performance of the solution is such that other projects using more conventional techniques will use the data produced by Ignition. And this is just the beginning. Ignition can expand almost indefinitely with its unlimited license and the scalability of MQTT Sparkplug B.

Advanced Monitoring and Control for a Data Center Leader in Italy

This project provided Aruba with an advanced real-time monitoring and control system for its revamped IT2 Arezzo Data Center. This was Aruba’s first data center, put into operation more than 15 years ago, covering approximately 2,000 square meters.

After the positive experience with a previous MTech project, Aruba wanted to give a new shape to this old but still strategic data center, with particular attention to the use of modern technologies, building a flexible control system to control all its subsystems.

Once again, Ignition has demonstrated its power and flexibility, as well as an incredible ability to bring real innovation into the hands of customers. The ability to manage truly complex systems from the palm of your hand is certainly the real next step in automation and control of systems.

Cloud-Hosted SCADA with MQTT Gives Water Agency Faster Access to Data

Waterford Township Department of Public Works (DPW) in Oakland County, Michigan, manages 715 miles of water and wastewater sewer, including 19 production wells, three storage tanks, 11 treatment plants, and 63 sewer lift stations. In 2015, Perceptive Controls undertook a project to upgrade the department’s core SCADA infrastructure, which monitored RTUs over licensed RF using a poll/response protocol. Now, the department’s system runs on a cloud-hosted Ignition MQTT infrastructure, which has improved the speed, scalability, accuracy, and fault-tolerance of the system with lots of potential for future integration.

This design is unconventional for the industry, but it avoids the kinds of problems with local utilities that have made the news lately and is more resilient than it used to be. In fact, Waterford DPW recently experienced a loss of internet connectivity in their office building, and of course, the system was totally unaffected.

With MQTT, the system is also much more responsive and stable. The DPW system has gone from multi-minute cycles to sub-second latency and a significant reduction in actual data transmission because of report-by-exception. This allows the DPW to send out more data than before and never miss a system action or an alarm notification, which enables operators to accurately diagnose issues in the field.

The new HMI screens complement the level of data integrity with a friendlier user interface. Critical factors like wet well level and pump runtime in each lift station are highlighted so an operator can spot problematic behaviors early on.

The DPW also has lots of communication diagnostic information, which simply wasn’t possible before. Scalability is no longer a concern, and the DPW is looking forward to future projects built on this foundation. In the future, the DPW sees huge potential for integrating with local and regional systems to build predictive systems that help avert disaster and operate more efficiently.

Support costs went down by around $10,000 from what they were when paying for iFIX, and the DPW saved a lot of money in travel time because Perceptive can do all the programming through a secure remote connection. Tag counts and related metrics will increase by the time the project is completed in late 2021.

AWS, MQTT, Edge, and Perspective for Easy Government Compliance and Better Operations

With this new system, Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) can collect data from numerous locations and see all the data in one place. It’s now much easier to do compliance reporting, and data is also used to improve operations in several ways.

RAE and another company are both using the solution provided for reporting compliance data. This has streamlined the process and ensures a single source of truth for reporting the data. Furthermore, RAE uses the operations platform daily for various reasons and it continues to grow and develop new features. This type of system has been proposed to potential customers and has received quite a bit of interest.

Modern SCADA Improves Operations Across Three Water Districts

Ignition Perspective proved to be a big improvement over the previous SCADA system for the Warren, Simpson, and Butler County Water districts. The new system has much more flexibility and scalability, allowing it to keep up with the districts’ needs as they continue to expand. The project was implemented across 131 separate stations.

Vertech was brought into this project to provide a world-class automation solution for the three water districts. 

The new system created a viable way for the districts to view and control any level of equipment from a singular interface while introducing data insights on network reliability and system performance down to a granular level. This allowed improvement to truly originate from the bottom up as operators became more acquainted with the nuances of the system and used it to convey data insights through dynamic reports and annotated charting. Vertech also benefited greatly in this process by refining and improving its offering of web-based water SCADA systems and leveraging the operational experience and procedural skills of the three water districts.

Edge Computing and MQTT Help Uncrewed Vessels Gather Data from Oceans

XOCEAN is an Irish company with offices in the UK and Canada that has designed and developed a fleet of uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) to provide data collection services to surveyors, companies, and agencies globally.

XOCEAN’s CyberDeck 2.0 system uses Ignition as its controls platform to create a web-based command and control interface for its fleet of USVs. The system allows XOCEAN to perform over-the-horizon operations with USVs in any marine location, and work with remote pilots in any location with internet access.

Ignition was chosen as the XOCEAN controls interface because it provides fully developed modules to create a robust, secure, and scalable solution. With Ignition, XOCEAN has developed Edge and central Ignition Gateway projects in less than six months, allowing a very swift migration of the entire USV fleet from the pre-existing Rockwell solution.

XOCEAN now has a scalable, secure, and flexible controls platform which puts the company on sound footing as it grows its fleet and enhances its product offering.

NI Unlocks the Power of Test Data and Software

NI Connect, its annual user group done virtually again this year. It has announced several product advances this year. A couple relate to advanced driver-assisted systems with wider applicability, I’m sure. First was a brief discussion of digital thread—something NI was doing before the buzz word was invented. I loved the many years of co-founder Jeff Kodosky’s technical discussions of software defined instruments and data traces through the software.

To quote from this year, “NI’s software-connected approach creates a more complete enterprise data and insight chain, collecting and connecting the data that accelerates digital transformation, enabling customers to optimize every step of the product life cycle.”

“A digital thread of data across each phase of the product life cycle delivers powerful insights to enhance product performance,” said NI CEO Eric Starkloff. “At NI, our software-connected approach unlocks the power of test, from early research to the production floor and beyond. We continue to aggressively invest in the technology to make this compelling vision a reality.”

Product announcements include:

  • Streamlined SystemLink Software Interface to Increase Efficiency — By connecting test systems and test data to enterprise outcomes, SystemLink software substantially accelerates each phase of the product life cycle. With a unified view of test operations in design validation and production environments, SystemLink manages and simplifies test scheduling, resource utilization, system health and maintenance.​ The latest software enhancements include new UI customization options, simplified product navigation and expanded asset health monitoring capabilities. The result is test insight acceleration, more efficient use of assets and reduced cost of test.
  • New LabVIEW 2021 to Improve Interoperability with Python and MathWorks MATLAB Software — Open-source software is increasingly important as systems become more diverse and complex. NI’s 2021 version of LabVIEW, the leading software platform for building test and measurement systems, features improved interoperability with Python and MathWorks MATLAB software, improved support for version control using Git and usability enhancements. These updates make it easier for engineers to connect disparate systems and hardware to accelerate innovation, especially in the design and validation environments.
  • PXI Hardware Solution to Enable Software-Connected Workflow in a Smaller, Cost-Effective Package  Like open-source software, modular hardware is also increasingly important to flexibly connect with existing systems and workflows. PXI hardware delivers openness, software options, modularity and I/O coverage for customers seeking to develop adaptive and scalable systems. NI’s first 2-slot PXI chassis delivers these benefits in a smaller, more cost-effective package. Modular hardware like PXI enables a software-connected workflow to achieve better results. 
  • NI Collaboration with Seagate to Deliver First-of-Its-Kind In-Vehicle Edge Storage and Data Transfer Service — The next generation of autonomous vehicles requires more real road data than ever before, making efficient data storage exceedingly important. NI and Seagate Technology Holdings, a world leader in data storage infrastructure solutions, announced a new collaboration to enhance data storage services, including a first-of-its-kind advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) record offering. This in-vehicle data storage as a service (STaaS), powered by  Seagate’s Lyve Mobile edge storage and data transfer service, enables original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to modernize their data storage strategy from self-managed to STaaS, leading to reduced costs and efficient storage.
  • NI Ettus USRP X410 Software Defined Radio Platform to Accelerate Wireless Innovation — The next generation of wireless technologies, 5G and 6G, are poised to transform the way people and systems connect, making test data insights that much more important. Because wireless technologies are becoming increasingly complex, advanced tools to support research and prototyping are needed. The new NI Ettus USRP X410 Software Defined Radio Platform is high performance and fully open source, allowing engineers to achieve a faster time to prototype and accelerate wireless innovation