Emerson Ventures Makes Strategic Investment in ZEDEDA

ZEDEDA provides network edge management and orchestration for industrial applications. It has been reaching out to large automation companies for partnerships or collaboration. Its solution integrates with Emerson’s DeltaV automation system. It announced in mid-December 2022 that Emerson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Emerson, has made a strategic investment.

Emerson’s solution integrates ZEDEDA’s edge management and orchestration offer into its DeltaV automation system, enabling Emerson customers to extend DeltaV to the distributed edge. This expansion will deliver enhanced OT solutions while also continuing into the IT environment, providing software-defined automation and revolutionizing how customers can deploy and connect workloads within their distributed environments.

Streaming Video Analytics AI Assists Industrial Engineering

Video as a sensor has been a topic for several posts here at The Manufacturing Connection. One notable case study involved detecting unwanted critters wandering into the facility when gates were opened to allow train cars to enter or leave. Machine vision has been usable since the 1980s to detect flaws, presence, and other quality issues, as well as to guide robots.

Anurag Maunder, CEO and founder, and Subbu Kuchibhotla, VP Growth and Development, of a new company in the video streaming market called Sensable.

They told me this is the first vision platform built for industrial engineering. Almost all current vision and video applications involve narrowly focusing on a part or a piece of a machine. The idea of the Sensable platform is to broaden the focus of the camera, or combine multiple camera, such that an entire operation or segment of the plant can be viewed, captured, and analyzed.

My grandfather told me of the time he was summoned to the front office of the GM plant where he was a production superintendent. The US had entered World War II and his plant was converting to production of aircraft armaments. Production ramp up was slow. Management picked him to organize things and get production up to expectations. 

He explained to 8-year-old me how he went up on the mezzanine and watched the process. Guys were performing a process, dragging a crate of parts to the next operation across the department, where the next operation took place, and that operator dragged the crate across the facility to the next operation. He told me how he organized the process to minimize material handling. That and other things boosted production and won the war—well, anyway, he did his part. And I learned a lesson.

Now imagine that you don’t have people to just stand and observe and take notes over three shifts a day for a week or so. What if you could position a few cameras in strategic locations. The video is captured and run through analytics. Engineers, operators, and managers would not have to  manually parse through hours of video. They would be presented with data visualization designed to help them get to root causes of problems, assist worker ergonomics, improve safety, and boost productivity.

That is what the Sensable solution does.

Imagine another scenario. You are an operator on a production line. You have been trying to point out bottlenecks to production on your machine. Then engineers install streaming video pointing not just at a specific point on you or the machine but with wide enough scope to see the larger process. The video analytics point out the bottleneck. Voila. Vindicated. Proof in the data. 

The video is not for spying on employees. It is designed to help them. Just what true digital transformation is—an aid to decision making and continuous improvement.

Key spots:

  • Missed throughput targets—station utilization lower than expected, unplanned downtimes more than planned
  • Low process efficiency—cycle time variability, too many interruptions
  • Low operations visibility—safety challenges due to best practices violations, missed inspection or assembly steps

Use cases:

  • Manage work area or assembly line—real-time feedback, identify bottlenecks, performance reports by shift/day, remote visibility-ideal for managing off shifts
  • Perform long duration time studies—data-driven Kaizen setup/changeover analysis, run/analyzed over weeks, compare across time and facilities, store metrics for Kaizen, perform SMED analysis in large areas
  • Identify missed inspection steps with 360 degree analysis—rapidly identify root cause of defects, search for video clips associated with product assembly
  • Achieve healthier, safer, well trained workforce—capture near misses and best practice violations, capture the impact of fatigue by measuring throughput at beginning and end of shift, capture and share the best practices for training
  • Build realistic engineering standards—capture data for the entire shift or multiple shifts before creating a standard to be enforced 

ZEDEDA Delivers Edge Infrastructure Solution for Switch Automation

This announcement relates more to IT than operations. ZEDEDA has established a spot in a technology called edge orchestration. As edge compute has become a hot thing finding ways to manage and orchestrate edge devices assumes importance.

This release concerns building automation, but the technology is more broadly applicable. ZEDEDA has delivered a scalable edge solution for Switch Automation, a global technology company for digitizing and decarbonizing buildings, enabling the company to provide innovative edge solutions for digital buildings.

Switch’s comprehensive smart building platform integrates with traditional building systems and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to analyze, automate and control assets in real time. During early deployments and without a fully formed management tool, Switch ran into scalability issues for hundreds of appliances.

ZEDEDA provided solutions and technical expertise for managing Switch’s edge devices – including the OS, the edge apps, and the network — and delivered a completely stable network device to allow Switch to achieve best-in-class uptime and a more robust support infrastructure.

Since leveraging ZEDEDA, Switch has reduced its overall maintenance hours typically consumed by OS and general software upgrades. That reduced downtime has translated into a more cost-effective operational management across all of its appliances.

A Little IT Update from Siemens, Edge and Networking

Siemens has had a manufacturing IT presence for many years. Here are two announcements bolstering its portfolio. Industrial Edge and Networking products.

Siemens Expands Industrial Edge

  • Industrial Edge Management System (IEM V2.0) for Kubernetes clusters addresses IT users in production and saves IT resources, energy and costs
  • Industrial Edge Hub provides greater license management visibility
  • New virtual edge device and new Simatic IPC edge devices offer more flexibility when implementing IIoT applications

The Industrial Edge Management System (IEM V2.0), an alternative offering to the existing IEM 1.3, is available for the open-source system Kubernetes. IT professionals can now easily integrate Industrial Edge into existing Kubernetes clusters. This makes shop floor automation more IT-oriented, and ultimately more efficient and easier to handle for IT users. 

Since computing power can be flexibly allocated within one or more Kubernetes clusters, companies can save IT resources and thus energy and costs. 

The Industrial Edge Hub will help ensure better future usability in terms of license management as well as provide a clear and convenient overview of all device management licenses and apps purchased through the Industrial Edge Marketplace. Users will be able to either actively retrieve statistics via the Industrial Edge Hub or have them reported automatically. The statistics will include: the number of purchased apps, the assignment of licenses to the industrial edge management systems, as well as the remaining number of installations and licenses. In addition, users will receive warnings when quotas are exceeded as well as recommendations for action to avoid such warnings in the future.

For further information regarding Siemens Industrial Edge for IT specialists click here.

Industrial Networks: New Generation Industrial Ethernet Switches 

  • Scalance XC/XR-300 series with compact and 19-inch rack models
  • Next-generation industrial networks connect OT and IT for more flexible and secure production
  • New switches will support Time-Sensitive Networking

Siemens has now renewed the Industrial Ethernet Switches of its Scalance XC-/XR-300 series and upgraded them with additional functions for next-generation industrial networks. So-called managed Layer 2 switches from the Scalance X Industrial Ethernet Switch product family are now available – both as compact models and as 19-inch variants for control cabinets. The new switches thus replace the portfolio of the current Scalance X-300 series and carry the model designation Scalance XC-/XCM-300 in the compact version and Scalance XR-/XRM-300 in the 19-inch version. 

The switches of the new Scalance XC-/XCM-300 and Scalance XR-/XRM-300 series have a high port density.

Automation Fair Attracts Large Crowd, Exhibits New Technology

There was Automation Fair and then meetings and then Thanksgiving. Plenty of time to digest everything I learned and experienced at Rockwell Automation’s event. They skipped 2020, of course. The 2021 event in Houston was abbreviated. This one held at Chicago’s McCormick Place resembled all the pre-Covid events. More than 15,000 attendees, lots of presentations and learning opportunities, and many Rockwell and partner exhibits.

I wrote a quick update with the themes I picked up. Here is a recap.

Themes

  • Emphasis on partners working together—specifically Festo, Zededa, Stratus
  • Connected Enterprise is still central, connectivity is everywhere
  • Cloud is everywhere
  • Use technology the right way
  • Enable humans to make better decisions

The big three things Rockwell spokespeople referenced were FactoryTalk Design Hub, FactoryTalk Edge, and cloud. The cloud discussion involved Design Hub, Plex, and Fiix. Plex, the cloud-based MES software replaced PTC as the focus of software discussion. PTC’s stand, though, with ThingWorx and Vuforia, was constantly busy—so much so that I never squeezed in for a talk. Fiix is the cloud-based CMMS package. I think these were meaningful acquisitions that will add value now and in the future.

Specifics — Rockwell Automation Products

FactoryTalk Design Hub

Transform automation design capabilities with a more simplified, productive way to work powered by the cloud. There are five core applications.

  • FactoryTalk Design Studio—cloud-native software product built from the ground up to improve system design efficiency. Teams can collaborate with automated tools to share and merge changes, and project sizes can scale dynamically with support for multiple controllers in a single project.
  • FactoryTalk Optix—addition to the visualization portfolio, the first cloud-enabled HMI product to be launched within FactoryTalk Design Hub. 
  • FactoryTalk Twin Studio—end-to-end automation design solution where users can design, program, simulate, emulate, and virtually commission in one cloud environment.
  • FactoryTalk Vault—secure, cloud-native centralized storage for manufacturing design teams. 
  • FactoryTalk Remote Access—enables secure connections to equipment. 

FactoryTalk Edge

An intelligent edge management and orchestration SaaS platform with an edge application ecosystem – based on zero trust security and open industry standards – accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway (FTEG)

Connects operational technology to informational technology. FTEG tools scan the EtherNet/IP network to discover devices. 

FactoryTalk Smart Object (FTSO)

A simplified way to organize data for easy collection by the controller and subsequent transfer to IIoT systems. The FTSO Config Tool creates the base code for the tags the user selects to be included in data models.

On Machine Products

  • ArmorKinetix distributed servo drives provide the Kinetix 5700 platform in a compact, On-Machine form factor.
  • ArmorBlock 5000 I/O—Distributed I/O blocks with IO-Link technology
  • Armor PowerFlex—A new generation of On-Machine VFD motor control solutions that provide an integrated, near-motor solution where reducing installation time and cost are most critical.

Specifics — Partners

Festo

  • With the Festo CPX-FB36 bus node now recognized by FTEG, basic diagnostic information from smart pneumatic devices such as Festo valve terminals and energy saving pneumatic devices are easily accessible.
  • Add-on instructions can be used by FTSO that access timestamp values for the extension and retraction of pneumatic cylinders. This information is accessible to FTEG.
  • Data collected by FTEG can be shared with Festo AX software, the new AI solution from Festo that can improve machine utilization and quality, lower waste, and ensure energy optimization. Festo AX provides a bridge between advanced analytics arising from operational technology, such as that collected by FTEG, and IT-based business intelligence. Festo AX can run directly on the system (on-edge), on servers (on-premises), or in the cloud.

Zededa

Zededa announced a supply agreement with Rockwell Automation to provide distributed edge management and orchestration capabilities—incorporated as part of FactoryTalk edge management offering.

Lenovo Celebrates 30th Anniversary of ThinkSystem Innovation with  Broadest Portfolio Enhancement in its History

My knowledge of Lenovo stopped not long after its acquisition of the ThinkPad line of laptops and other personal computing devices many years ago. I accepted an invitation to a press event recently. Good thing. I’ve been attending IT company conferences for a few year. Turns out that Lenovo is a strong competitor in this market. They amazed me with the depth and breadth of their product line.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary, they announced many new products. You can find several summarized here and check the website for more complete information. 

  • Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions V3 delivers advanced ThinkSystem, ThinkAgile, and ThinkEdge servers and storage with next-generation AMD, Intel and Arm-based processors, NVIDIA AI Enterprise software and enhanced Lenovo ThinkShield security
  • New Lenovo XClarity One, a cloud-based, unified software management platform, provides an industry-first integration of TruScale Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Management-as-a-Service and Smarter Support analytics to simplify orchestration, automation and metering from edge to cloud 
  • Next-generation Lenovo Neptune warm water cooling and CO2 Offset Services help customers achieve their sustainability goals
  • Supported by next-generation AMD EPYC, Intel Xeon Scalable and Arm-based processors, as well as AMD Instinct and NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA AI Enterprise software 
  • Lenovo’s next-generation of ThinkAgile V3 hyperconverged infrastructure solutions are pre-integrated with an open ecosystem of partners, including Microsoft, Nutanix and VMware software capabilities
  • Three new Lenovo Microsoft Azure Solutions: SQL for AI and Machine Learning (ML) Insights, Backup and Recovery and Azure Virtual Desktop. 
  • The new Lenovo Open Cloud Automation (LOC-a) version 2.5 securely authenticates and activates leading ThinkEdge AI servers on site via a phone, accelerating business insights with a fully operational edge system within minutes or hours. 
  • Lenovo’s Modular Root of Trust helps protect, detect and recover from cyberattacks and digital compromises with bolstered tamper-detection and monitoring embedded into the chip design
  • Lenovo System Guard ensures heightened security between manufacturing, delivery and deployment with advanced hardware monitoring

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