“Digital Transformation is so last year. While many legacy companies around the world are still grappling with “transforming” their digital ecosystems, the true leaders are already on to next hot topic: Digital Transformation 2.0. We’ll call it ‘Digital Reinvention.’ ” Media relations agencies, aka PR agencies, must be under constant pressure to get messages published however they can. I’m flooded with teasers such as this one. And few, if any, take the time to know if their target is a good place for the news. It’s almost like there is no strategy other than send out as many promos as possible and hope some land.
Most I just delete. Then I get the inevitable follow up, when are you going to run my news (that probably doesn’t apply to your coverage but I need numbers)?
I bit on this one. Is Digital Reinvention an attempt to coin a new marketing phrase? Is it a real thing with a real definition? Dr. Google told me that the phrase has been around for several years, but it has not caught on. Maybe Rick Bullotta will catch on with Industry 4.5? (Search on LinkedIn)
The press release introduced me to Alfresco co-founder John Newton. He was quoted, “the whole notion of infinite computing, infinite storage, and resilience is just completely different.” Those changes are having a profound impact on how companies think about their future. Cloud adoption is happening at the speed of light as companies embrace the idea that they are no longer limited by server space. Responsive design and responsive applications are driving not just apps, but the entire business model. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and the behemoth, Amazon, are taking those words to heart and constantly reinventing each day.
So, I talked with Newton. He mentioned they had done a survey on what companies were achieving with Digital Transformation, how fast they were growing—innovative, size, etc. That formed the foundation for his thoughts. He told me to look at platform, design, and business operations. How open are they to connecting to customers and suppliers. Innovators looked at Digital Transformation not as technology only but also as business operations stretching to customers and supply chain.
Newton called out ‘design thinking’ that looks from the users point of view to make technology human. Another type of today’s thinking is ‘open’—open source, open standards, open architecture. “This will trump all other forms. It is naturally attractive to customers. The more profound is platform thinking. This is dominating in the stock market. Five of the top 10 value companies are platform plays, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon. They have a long term relationship with customers. In manufacturing think after-service care, maintenance and service relationships. Product is almost a loss leader. Digital twin is part of the platform play, for example, using it to predict failures.
Twenty-five minutes into the conversation, Newton had not tried to sell me on Alfresco. I had looked him up and noted he had founded Documentuum before founding Alfresco. So, I had to ask. Always need to learn about new companies. “We help create and manage documents and processes,” he told me. “We have a different way of thinking—open, open source, architecture, cloud friendly, AWS templates, manage in a matter of minutes.” Sounds interesting. All of my favorite concepts.
Iconics has been a long-time supporter of OPC Foundation and an early adopter of OPC UA. President Russ Agrusa has seen the power and benefits of OPC as an information model for open interchange of data among industrial automation devices.
Thomas Burke, president of the OPC Foundation presented a keynote on the technology and benefits of OPC UA and the status of working with a variety of protocols such as Time Sensitive Networking, MQTT, AMQP, and others. I have written a white paper on TSN and OPC that you can download here.
The company provides advanced web-enabled OPC UA certified visualization, analytics, and mobile software solutions for any energy, manufacturing, industrial or building automation application. OPC is obviously a popular topic with Iconics developers as revealed by the packed session and probing questions.
“Connected Intelligence is our theme at this year’s customer summit and it all about connectivity to every “thing” in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is critical for today’s manufacturing, industrial, and building automation systems. The OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is the core standard for Industry 4.0 and IIoT. ICONICS works closely with the OPC Foundation and its technical committees to help create new standards that have applications in many industries.
“As a member of the OPC Board of Directors, I am proud to promote its many specifications and wide-reaching standards for manufacturing, industrial, and building automation,” says Russ Agrusa, President and CEO of ICONICS.
“I have presented at many ICONICS Worldwide Customer Summits over the years and I find meeting the wide variety of ICONICS customers, partners, and integrators from around the world to be rewarding. ICONICS early support and extensive commitment to OPC for over 20 years has helped propel OPC to where it is today,” says Thomas Burke, President of the OPC Foundation.
The ICONICS community of partners, system integrators and customers will learn from top industry experts how the OPC Foundation is driving the next wave of solutions for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things.
Takeaway: OPC UA has been recognized as an essential standard by Industie 4.0 in Germany and is a central technology for industrial data communication for software applications such as Iconics.
Looks like standards and interoperability week at The Manufacturing Connection. I once was pretty active with MESA and lately I’ve gotten to know the IIC. Both good organizations promoting best practices in industry. MESA is not a standards organization, though, but one that promotes Level 3 (MES/MOM) software applications. IIC has taken a leadership roll bringing Internet of Things people and companies together.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together to advance their shared interests. Under the agreement, the IIC and MESA will work together to align efforts to maximize interoperability, portability, security and privacy for the industrial Internet. That all sounds pretty vague and something like motherhood, but I applaud all steps toward collaboration.
Joint activities between the IIC and the MESA will include:
Identifying and sharing IIoT best practices
Realizing interoperability by harmonizing architecture and other elements
Collaborating on standardization
Collaboration in the areas of industrial analytics and asset performance management (APM)
MESA’s President, Mike Yost, said, “This partnership makes good business sense, with the Industrial Internet Consortium advocating for the broad adoption of industrial Internet technologies and with MESA educating manufacturers and solution providers of all sizes on both how and why to adopt them. Collaborating with the IIC also helps ensure MESA members and IIC members have a common vocabulary and a common understanding of business value.”
“We look forward to working with the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Enterprise Association,” said Wael William Diab, IIC Chair of the Liaison Working Group. “Within the manufacturing vertical, industrial analytics and asset intelligence systems enable manufacturers to realize the value of their industrial IoT systems by analyzing and acting on data to increase asset reliability and availability and reduce maintenance. Collaborating on industrial analytics and asset performance management will help to further advance industrial IoT in manufacturing environments.”
MESA and the IIC have agreed to meet regularly to exchange information and have targeted a joint workshop on industrial analytics and asset performance management for Q4. The IIC Liaison Working Group is the gateway for formal relationships with standards and open-source organizations, consortia, alliances, certification and testing bodies and government entities/agencies.
The agreement with the MESA is one of a number of agreements made by the IIC’s Liaison Working Group.
Here is a little more information about the IIC.
The Industrial Internet Consortium maintains active relationships with standards development organizations, open-source organizations, other consortia and alliances, certification and testing bodies and government entities or agencies involved in the Industrial Internet.
The purpose of these relationships is to generate requirements for new standards from every part of the activities taking place within the Industrial Internet Consortium.
These relationships help eliminate duplication of effort and ensure that new standards and technologies necessary to build and enable the Industrial Internet are brought to market more rapidly.
By establishing a formal liaison with the Industrial Internet Consortium, organizations can engage directly with our Working Groups and gain faster access to developing requirements for standards and technologies required for the Industrial Internet across a spectrum of industries and applications.
The Industrial Internet Consortium itself is not a standards organization; however, it strongly advocates for open standard technologies in order to ease the deployment of connected technologies. Our Liaison Working Group is the gateway for the liaison relationships listed below and new ones forming now.
This is interoperability news day at The Manufacturing Connection with this announcement of an Internet of Things sensor-to-cloud testbed. This announcement also includes SAP (see other news today), along with TE Connectivity, ifm, and the OPC Foundation.
The objective of sensor-to-the-cloud connectivity is to make sensor data available to information technology (IT) systems in near real time, enabling advanced analytics. This is of particular interest to operators of existing manufacturing facilities, as it provides them with opportunities to increase efficiencies, e.g. through reductions in energy consumption.
This type of connectivity and use case has been forming for many years. All the pieces are coming together for a better application.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has approved an IIC testbed on sensor-to-the-cloud connectivity called the “Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brownfield Sensors Testbed.” The testbed, led by IIC member TE Connectivity (TE), a world leader in connectivity and sensors, is being carried out with fellow IIC member SAP, the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue, ifm, a worldwide leader in sensors, controllers and systems for automation, and the OPC Foundation, the foundation of the industrial interoperability standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA). The idea for the testbed was publicly unveiled at the Hanover Fair in April of this year.
Unlike new deployments, where the appropriate connectivity may be designed in from the beginning, smart solutions are required for these “brownfield” installations in order to enable easy integration at both the operational technology (OT) and the IT level to reduce downtime and save costs.
The Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brownfield Sensors Testbed will:
Introduce a retrofit hardware solution (the “Y-Gateway”) that makes use of existing physical connectivity
Extract sensor data from the automation system without impacting operations
Deliver the sensor data to SAP’s IT platform through a secure OT/IT communication based on OPC UA (IEC 62541)
Define and implement a common device model based on an available open standard to allow for the easy integration of an IO-Link sensor with IT, enabling the remote configuration of the sensor
“Testbeds are a major focus and activity of the IIC and its members,” said IIC Executive Director, Dr. Richard Soley. “Our testbeds are where new technologies, applications, products, services and processes – the innovation and opportunities of the industrial Internet – can be initiated, thought through and rigorously tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before coming to market.”
In this podcast, also viewable in video, I discuss the 2016 Ignition Customer Conference from Inductive Automation–and the pseudo competition between OPC UA and MQTT/Sparkplug. Mostly it’s all about getting the right information into your Industrial Software (HMI/SCADA) application.
It was interesting that spokespeople for the two communication technologies were at the same venue. There was an undercurrent of competition, although many seemed to think there was a place for each.
The industrial software market has changed dramatically over the past 13 years. One market disruptor hails from just outside Sacramento, California. I still remember meeting Steve Hechtman at an ISA show probably in 2003. He talked about developing HMI/SCADA industrial software in an entirely new way.
He told me that Inductive Automation was developing software written in Java and using IT-friendly technologies. Not only that, he would have a business model that totally disrupted the prevalent licensing by seats.
Hechtman greeted a capacity audience at the 2016 Ignition Customer Conference Sept. 19. The 430+ attendees exhausted the capacity of the Harris Center in Folsom, CA. The company has experienced double-digit growth every year since it started. It has been profitable every quarter since the launch of its flagship product, Ignition, in 2010. Privately held, it has no debt and no investors.
The company’s mission has been to reduce friction. Reduce friction to use the product, to buy the product, to develop using the product. Or, to quote from the presentation, “Our mission is to create industrial software that empowers our customers to swiftly turn great ideas into reality by removing all technological and economic obstacles.”
The technology allows for a 3-minute installation. It is scalable from a Raspberry Pi to enterprise servers.
Rather than calling Ignition HMI/SCADA software, Hechtman refers to it as a platform. Not only does Inductive Automation build modules to sit on it, the company makes it easy for customers to build, and even sell, modules, too. Part of that removing friction thing.
Hechtman brought up the IIoT and the hype surrounding it. The Gartner Hype Cycle plots a curve from early thoughts to euphoria plummeting to the trough of disillusionment to a partial recovery where 20%-30% of companies use and gain benefit from the technology. He suggested that Ignition builds a bridge over the trough of disillusionment to beneficial application of the IIoT.
Chief Strategy Officer Don Pearson followed with the other theme of the week—IT/OT convergence. ”We’ve been doing that from the beginning,” he stated.
Most people have talked about driving convergence from the IT side. That’s all backwards according to Pearson. The OT side should drive the convergence partly through adopting IT-friendly technology and learning from IT folks about their strengths such as security.
One last sign of growth—the number of partners exhibiting in the foyer. More than I can list, but start with Opto 22, Bedrock Automation, Cirrus-Link, Seeq. The company has vision and drive. And financial stability.
Here is a link to an interview I recorded with two of the original developers–Colby Clegg and Carl Gould. Owner/President Steve Hechtman was in the room, but I don’t recall that he said anything. I threw a digital audio recorder on the conference room table in early 2011. The company has grown into new offices and is now looking for more office space since then.
There was a lot of buzz at the conference. There were people from many countries, but many also were from large manufacturing companies. Several large systems integrators brought several engineers. The organizers asked if I would lead a “meet up” or round-table discussion on Monday before the actual kickoff. Wow–there were several really smart people in attendance. It was a great geek discussion.
If you are involved with developing applications with industrial software, you should check out next year’s conference. Even if you are not a customer, it’s worth it just to learn from others who come.