GigaOm Report Highlights Data Management Tools Role Meeting Unstructured Data Challenges

You have been bombarded with analyst predictions about the gigantic quantities of data generated by the Industrial Internet of Things. Most of this is beyond the capacity and/or utility of traditional historians. Perhaps even SQL databases. This news discusses a report and analysis of building a data management strategy. If you aren’t there yet, you will be soon. Even if you are not a Fortune 500 company.

Datadobi, the global leader in unstructured data management software, today released a new report titled, “Building a Modern Data Management Strategy” compiled by GigaOm, a technology research and analysis company and leading global voice on enterprise technologies. The GigaOm analysis reveals the challenges enterprises focused on hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure are facing today, the increasing need for unstructured data management, and the role played by Datadobi solutions in addressing these requirements.

Opening with an examination of how data management has become key to modern IT strategies, the GigaOm research goes on to explain why the growing demand for IT infrastructure flexibility, keeping control over data, making it quickly available, more secure, and reusable is becoming the only viable solution for keeping budgets under control, while creating additional opportunities for the entire organization.

According to the report, Datadobi provides “a complete set of tools that will help users address today and tomorrow’s infrastructure-driven, data management challenges.” As a result, its solutions are able to quickly impact infrastructure TCO with immediate results, offering customers a core data management foundation that is growing with additional options for users in every type of industry.

GigaOm report author, Enrico Signoretti commented, “Because of data growth, data management is now a necessity in order to understand the data and know what to do with it. The first step towards a sustainable long-term data storage strategy is to understand what, how, and why we save in our storage systems and then take actions depending on the business and operational needs. From this point of view, Datadobi is uniquely positioned to offer a core data management foundation that is growing with additional options for users in every type of industry.”

“This report clearly explains the importance of approaching data as a resource and not a liability, and as a result, why effectively managing unstructured data is key to success,” said Carl D’Halluin, CTO of Datadobi. “Our experience and track record of innovation means we have solutions that help large enterprises address these needs to build modern data management strategies that meet their evolving needs.”

AI plus IIoT Yields Plant Information and Visualization

Companies are sprinkling their press releases and Websites with Artificial Intelligence (AI) like sugar on your cornflakes. Now we even have Artificial Intelligence of Internet of Things—AioT. One of my favorite series of questions these days runs something like: what do you mean by AI; how is it used; what do operators see; what does it do—really?

One outgrowth of a series of meetings from the recent ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum was an interview with serial entrepreneur Mike Brooks. Most recently he was President and COO of Mtelligence (Mtell) when it was acquired by AspenTech a bit over four years ago.

He clued me into a number of Aspen products based on the Mtell technology. More on those below. First, some insights from someone who has witnessed a lot in the industry. 

Talking about machine learning, Brooks told me that it’s not just AI on its own that gives value. Look for a combination of AI plus domain knowledge. This gives you causation, not just correlation. It is also important to build AI from first principles (I’m betting many miss that one). Mostly, AI is a tool for providing event analytics for front line workers. 

I’ll combine Brooks and other sources to describe the more practical AspenTech solutions:

From a blog post by Adi Pendyala, Sr. Director, Market Strategy—Aspen AIoT Hub: The Cloud-Ready Infrastructure for Industrial AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are two of the most prominent technological forces driving digital transformation for capital-intensive industries today. Collectively, they’re like the body and brain of industrial digital transformation: IIoT is the body, creating and transmitting data from a variety sources that is sometimes acted upon, while AI is the brain, turning data into intelligence for smarter decisions and enabling the digital future of industrial organizations.

The confluence of these technological forces gives rise to a new digital solution category – the Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) – that centers on unlocking the hidden business value in industrial data.

Impact of IT-OT Convergence: Sharp market volatility means that capital-intensive industries have to be more agile than ever before to survive and thrive in every cycle – an area that has thwarted the OT-side of industrial organizations in the past. Enterprises are looking to exploit the rapid convergence of IT and OT to significantly reduce the technological implementation risk and the time-to-market risk for introducing AI-rich, real-time applications to complex industrial operations. The rise of the digital executive, i.e. the CTO/CDO/CIO, in driving the digital transformation strategy of industrial organizations is a key influencer of this trend.

Unlock Industrial Data Value: There is a critical (and growing) need for access to industrial analytics and actionable insights in making business decisions – across all levels of the enterprise. Efforts to mine pools (silos) of data across the enterprise are often stalled by the challenges of data collection and integration, with promised business insights and agility never materializing. Organizations are switching their focus from mass data accumulation to strategic industrial data management, specifically homing in on data integration, data mobility and data accessibility across the organization – with the goal of using AI-enabled technologies to unlock the hidden value in these previously unoptimized and undiscovered sets of industrial data.

Lowering the Digitalization Barrier: Industrial organizations are increasing investment in lowering the barriers to AI adoption by deploying fit-for-purpose Industrial AI applications that combine data science and AI with software and domain expertise. This will be the key to overcome a lack of in-house skills and drastically reduce the need for an army of data scientists. To scale this effort, many enterprises are adopting new measures to reduce complexity in interoperability, overcome information silos and harmonize towards a cloud-ready infrastructure that bridges legacy systems with next-generation solutions.

The Aspen AIoT Hub – Cloud-Ready Industrial AI Infrastructure

The AIoT Hub provides the integrated data management, edge and cloud infrastructure and production-grade AI environment to build, deploy and host Industrial AI applications at enterprise speed and scale. It also serves as the foundational infrastructure to realize the transformative vision for the Self-Optimizing Plant. In fact, as part of our recent aspenONE V12 release, the AIoT Hub provides the underlying cloud-ready, enterprise-scale infrastructure that powers V12 Industrial AI applications such as Aspen AI Model Builder and Aspen Event Analytics.

Key Capabilities of the Aspen AIoT Hub

Data Integration & Mobility 

On average, between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused. This challenge is further exacerbated by the lack of a scalable data infrastructure to power Industrial AI models from training to productization. Through the AIoT Hub, organizations will be able to access and leverage fully integrated data, from sensors to the edge and cloud, across the enterprise.

Cloud-Ready Infrastructure

Scaling AI requires providing the tools, infrastructure and workflows for powering Industrial AI across the solution lifecycle. It also requires the software, hardware and enterprise architecture needed to productize AI in industrial environments, including broader collaboration between development, data science and infrastructure capabilities such as CloudOps, DevOps, MLOps and others. This dimension is critical to helping organizations mature beyond sporadic AI proof-of-concepts to an enterprise-wide Industrial AI strategy. 

Enterprise-wide Visualization

Industrial organizations are seeking to aggregate data from different sources across the enterprise, transforming it into analytics and visualizations to guide better decisions at every business level. The goal is to translate real-time data into faster, smarter, profitable business decisions to visualize deviations, sequences and trends automatically and identify risks and opportunities early. The AIoT Hub enables enterprise users’ access to real-time data and analytics to do all of this – improving collaboration, project efficiency and operations by tapping into the power of accelerated insights and enhanced visualizations.

Industrial AI Applications Ecosystem

Enterprises are looking for purpose-built, fully integrated AI environments for their data scientists to accelerate the transformation from raw data to productized AI/ML algorithms. The AIoT Hub provides an embedded workbench for feature engineering, training and rapidly productizing machine learning (ML) models, as well as supports versioning and collaboration. It empowers data scientists, at customers and partners, to collaborate and build their own data-rich AI apps. 

Distribution Management Standardizes on Aruba Network Infrastructure

I’ve helped a number of people, including myself, with the installation of networking and WiFi in homes. When I consulted with an organization with a large building and many users, I ran into Aruba. About five years ago I started attending HPE conferences and getting deeper dives into robust networking. Perhaps the best story was meeting the IT head of the European PGA tour who talked about the WiFi requirements for hosting the Ryder Cup.

Aruba is one of my go-to sources for networking technology and application news these days. Today, this news came about a rugged network solution that includes IoT and robots and other things near and dear to my heart. Use this for an example of what you can accomplish with this equipment whether in distribution or other industrial or manufacturing settings.

Aruba announced that Distribution Management, a leading fulfillment and supplies network, is standardizing on Aruba wireless, switching, and security solutions across all of its locations to enable digital transformation initiatives to support the company’s rapid growth and increasing customer demand. 

With headquarters in St. Charles, Missouri, and five distribution centers across the U.S., Distribution Management operates a supplies and order fulfillment network that can reach 99 percent of the country within one-to-two days. The company also operates a Foreign Trade Zone that services international needs, and offers managed services for printer fleets, dispatching technicians for troubleshooting and repair, as well as supplying printer repair parts.

As Distribution Management has grown and seen increased demand from customers, modernizing and streamlining operations, and improving efficiencies and employee productivity, have become key objectives. According to Tom Huck, Distribution Management’s Director of Infrastructure Technologies, the company realized it needed to upgrade its network infrastructure to achieve these objectives.

“We knew that the underlying network foundation would be critical to advancing all of the modernization and expansion efforts we had in mind,” Huck said. “It was pretty clear our existing network couldn’t accommodate our growing needs.”

As the company planned for expansion into larger warehouse spaces, with an increasing number of IoT devices on the network, and new distribution models that would include replacing traditional conveyor equipment with robots, it realized their legacy Cisco network had to be replaced. After evaluating new solutions from both Cisco and Aruba, Distribution Management chose to standardize on Aruba across all of its sites.

Working with partners Insight and InterVision, Distribution Management began installing Aruba access points, mobility controllers, and access switches, as well as ClearPass, so the organization can authenticate every wired and wireless device that accesses the network and begin implementing consistent role-based policies. 

According to Jim Adelmann, network administrator for Distribution Management, the new Aruba network is accelerating the organization’s warehouse digital transformation, allowing the IT team to connect a variety of crucial devices including robots to the network for automated inventory management. The robots use the wireless network to check in and “call home” for real-time order details that indicate where to go within the warehouse and how to process orders.

Other devices and applications benefiting from the Aruba network include Zebra barcode printers and wrist-mounted TC52 devices, which warehouse employees use to scan, pick and pack inventory, QubeVu hardware which is essential in viewing and analyzing the dimensions of packages coming through their warehouse so they can be processed properly, and RingCentral softphones for videoconferencing and employee laptops and mobile devices.

From an IT perspective, Adelmann said the Aruba network is providing the kind of reliability, redundancy and always-on connectivity that Distribution Management needed to move forward with their expansion and modernization efforts confidently.

“Had we stuck with Cisco, we would have spent twice the amount of time getting the network up and running. With Aruba, network management is so easy – we had everything rolling within a week,” Adelmann said.

Adelmann also noted that the modularity of the Aruba solutions allowed the IT team to stage everything ahead of time and that the uptime has been “through the roof,” freeing up the IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives. Added Huck, “Lost productivity translates into lost revenue. That’s why having a solid network foundation was so vital to supporting our digital initiatives and meeting our growth and expansion needs.”

To date, Distribution Management has installed the Aruba infrastructure in three of its five distribution centers and plans to continue its roll-out to its additional two centers in the near future. In 2021, the company also plans to continue its move to role-based access control with ClearPass, and will evaluate Aruba Central for management, as well as Aruba User Experience Insight sensors to provide additional troubleshooting and diagnostic capabilities. 

Said Huck, “We now feel confident that as our business grows and evolves, our network can grow with it, supporting whatever initiatives we undertake.”

IoT Starts With Sensors, Here Is a Bunch of Sensor News

Sometimes similar news comes in bunches, a little bit like a graph of an FFT. News from Swift Sensors and ABB take us from Covid to Space and back.

Swift Sensors Launches Sub-Zero Temperature Sensor to Meet COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring and Storage Requirements

24/7 cloud-based wireless monitoring ensures vaccines are stored throughout the cold chain in the required sub-zero temperature ranges down to -100°C.

Swift Sensors, a provider of industrial IoT sensor solutions, launched a secure wireless vaccine storage unit monitoring and alert system to enable medical facilities and pharmacies to remotely monitor COVID-19 vaccine storage temperatures, automate data logging, and respond quickly in case of an equipment problem or power failure.

As vaccine suppliers and public health agencies expand the number of locations for vaccine delivery, pharmacies and clinics must quickly and safely store the vaccines to preserve the vaccines’ efficacy, prevent waste, and comply with data monitoring regulations. Swift Sensors has developed a wireless sensor system to achieve these goals.

“Data loggers have historically been used in cold-chain monitoring of vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and other critical perishable items. However, they lack the low cost, simplicity, and connectivity of wireless sensors connected to the internet,” said Ray Almgren, Swift Sensors CEO. “Our new sub-zero temperature sensor delivers an all-in-one, cost-effective solution for the safe and fast distribution and delivery of much-needed vaccines.”

Each Swift Sensors vaccine package includes at least one wireless remote temperature sensor to relay storage temperature data to an included wireless gateway.

The gateway sends data to a secure cloud-based Swift Sensors Console account. Pharmacy and clinic managers can view temperatures in real time on their computer or mobile device. They can also receive instant alerts via text, voice or email if the storage unit temperature exceeds established thresholds.

“Pharmacies and clinics can use our new sub-zero temperature sensor to monitor the super-cold temperatures the Pfizer vaccine requires or use our standard wireless remote temperature sensor to monitor Moderna vaccine storage conditions,” Almgren said. “Installation typically requires only a few minutes, and the device batteries last six to eight years.”

The Swift Sensors Console stores historical temperature readings so pharmacies and clinics can easily comply with CDC and state health department data logging requirements, without having to spend employee time manually recording or updating temperature data. 

ABB sensor onboard SpaceX rocket to detect greenhouse gas emissions 

An optical sensor manufactured by ABB was deployed with the successful launch of satellite Hugo from GHGSat, the emerging leader in greenhouse gas sensing services in space.

The ABB supplied optical sensor can map methane emissions from space at a resolution that is 100 times higher than any other sensors. Whilst previously only larger regions could be surveyed, for the first time the new greater granularity now allows the identification of the source of emissions. An additional nine units are currently under manufacture at ABB to be launched by the end of 2022 ready to be on-board across the first private satellite constellation dedicated to emission measurement.

Space offers the ideal location to freely monitor emissions across jurisdictions and quantitatively report on improvements. The ABB sensors will provide valuable insights which will enable governments and industries around the world to meet their emission reduction targets and reduce the negative impact on global warming.

With its involvement in the Canadian SCISAT mission and the Japanese GOSAT series of satellites, ABB has been at the forefront of the field of greenhouse gas sensing from space for more than two decades. ABB optical equipment already in space cumulates more than 100 years of reliable operation. The SCISAT sensor tracks long-term subtle composition changes in the earth’s atmosphere down to parts per trillion of more than 70 molecules and pollutants since 2003. Weather agencies across the world base their predictions on ABB equipment flying onboard the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellites (NPP and JPSS), which saves lives by improving the timeliness and accuracy of weather forecasts for up to seven days. 

ABB is also a global leader in earthbound continuous emission monitoring with over 60,000 systems installed in more than 50 countries worldwide. Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS) continuously record and evaluate emission data across all industries. They provide important information for the environmental and economic operation of production facilities. The range includes the ACF5000 that accurately and reliably monitors up to 15 gas components simultaneously.

New ABB emission monitoring solution helps the maritime industry achieve decarbonization targets

The launch of ABB’s CEMcaptain will help shipping comply with the sulphur emission regulations that were enforced in 2020 and keep in check their CO2 footprint.

In January 2020, the low sulphur and nitrous oxide emission limits in the International Maritime Organization regulations became effective worldwide. CEMcaptain is a powerful emissions monitoring system from ABB designed to help the maritime industry meet these new regulations and become more sustainable. Its measurement and digital capabilities increase on-board safety, provide process optimization and substantially reduce ownership costs. By consistently achieving 98 percent and more uptime, the new system not only requires less maintenance effort but also saves time otherwise spent on handling non-compliance issues. 

Designed with busy mariners and a regularly changing crew in mind, CEMcaptain is a multi-component analyzer system that continuously provides real-time data offering reliable measurement of emissions with the highest stability. Operating in even the harshest of conditions it integrates analyzer modules and sample handling components in a standalone cabinet, making installation easy.  

Equipped with ABB’s renowned Uras26 non-dispersive IR gas analyzer, CEMcaptain simultaneously and continuously measures sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in line with regulation requirements. Each analyzer has two separate gas paths to allow for continuous CO2/SO2 measurement of separate streams, with up to four different components per analyzer module.

Fast fault reporting, diagnosis and repair are achieved via the on-site and remote digital services which help operators get closer to 100 percent availability for their gas analysis instrumentation. Dynamic QR codes are integrated into the ABB CEMcaptain system display panel. All relevant diagnostic information can be collected from the analyzer via a scanned code and transferred to ABB support. This means that maritime instrumentation technicians can send real-time information to an ABB service expert to get immediate guidance on appropriate maintenance. ABB Ability™ Remote Assistance with secured connectivity direct to ABB support is also offered for real-time solutions to problems. These features reduce the costly training of changing crews as well as the number of experts required on board. They also increase on-board safety by reducing crew exposure to emissions. 

CEMcaptain GAA610-M is approved by all major classification societies (DNV GL, ABS Group, Lloyds Register, Bureau Veritas, ClassNK, Korean Register). 

Industrial Internet Consortium Launches IIoT RFP Toolkit

Free Step-by-step Wizard Creates RFP Content to Jumpstart IIoT Projects

Two problems consistently present themselves for open, collaborative, and even open-source projects to gain wide adoption. The specifications must be adopted as a corporate standard. The buying authorities, whether corporate or plant, must define the specification as part of the bid package.

Each of these is a hurdle. The first can be overcome by including as many end user corporations as feasible in the standards development process. The second can be a major roadblock, especially if the purchasing authority is decentralized and perhaps not technically aware and more apt to be influenced by the local specified supplier sales team.

Those influences make it imperative that the standards bodies make it as easy as possible to specify the standard as part of the bid package. I’ve seen failure upon failure because of this one roadblock. That makes this new toolkit from IIC that much more valuable.

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has released its IIC RFP Toolkit, a collection of best practices and online tools to help guide IIoT project managers and procurement managers and buyers through the process of procuring all the different components and resources required for a complete end-to-end IIoT solution.

“Digital Transformation (DX) projects require unique procurement skills to navigate the considerations needed when building an RFP. The procurement process for a typical IoT project is quite different from that of an enterprise software project,” said Dirk Slama, Director of the Co-innovation Hub at Ferdinand-Steinbeis-Institute.

“This IIC toolkit helps IIoT project managers and procurement managers/buyers through the process of procuring all the different components and resources required for a complete end-to-end IIoT solution. The RFP wizard helps users create and manage effective RFPs for IIoT solutions, helping to ensure that users of IIoT technology are using the right partners and getting the best possible IIoT solution for the most affordable price,” said Transforma Insights Founding Partner Jim Morrish.

The IIC RFP Toolkit is comprised of six modules, developed by the IIC member ecosystem of IIoT technology users, vendors, and consultants. These modules are:

  • Challenges, risks, and mitigation
  • Project planning
  • RFP creation
  • RFP wizard
  • RFP distribution and vendor selection
  • Expert advice and discussion

“As companies struggle to ensure they are successfully setting up their digital transformation projects it becomes more important to see what the rest of the market is doing and that’s exactly what we’ve provided with the IIC RFP Toolkit. Our ecosystem of members, from across the IIoT landscape, provide insights and lessons they learnt from their own projects and created the modules in the RFP Toolkit. The IIC ecosystem is unparalleled in its ability to crowdsource solutions and share best practices to solve IIoT and digital transformation challenges,” said IGnPower Executive Vice President Bassam Zarkout.

The IIC RFP Toolkit is accessible for free on the IIC Resource Hub, a central repository for the collective resources of the IIC community. Conversations about common challenges and crowd-sourced answers from IIC members can be found on the IIC Community Forum, the space for industry experts to exchange ideas, to discuss Industrial IoT (IIoT) problems in need of solutions and to network.

TwinCAT IoT Now Supports MindSphere

Beckhoff integrates data and communication services efficiently into the cloud with support for third-party IoT technologies

Where these IIoT platforms/ecosystems end up is beyond my power to guess, but this is an interesting partnership of a couple of German control and automation rivals—Beckhoff Automation and Siemens.

Beckhoff has offered diverse IoT communication capabilities with its TwinCAT IoT product family since 2015. Transmitting data to the cloud or between networked machines in this way creates enormous potential for increasing production efficiency. MindSphere, the Industrial IoT as a service solution from Siemens, is now one of the latest solutions that can integrate with TwinCAT.

TwinCAT 3 automation software can communicate with HTTP(S) servers as an HTTP(S) client, for example for exchanging data via a REST API. Establishing a connection with MindSphere is now also possible via this HTTPS communication for exchanging telemetry data. This connection is secured by TLS (Transport Layer Security) and uses MindSphere-specific authentication mechanisms.

The sample implementations of the TwinCAT 3 Function TC3 IoT HTTPS/REST (TF6760) in the relevant documentation show how to establish connections with MindSphere. These examples provide a simple introduction to connecting TwinCAT with MindSphere and help users to adapt the program code to suit individual requirements.