Rockwell Automation and PTC Launch Collaborative Offering

Rockwell Automation and PTC Launch Collaborative Offering

Wondering what Rockwell Automation is going to net out of its $1B investment in PTC that also netted John Genovesi a major promotion within the company? I have been. And here is the first release.

The companies have launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, a software suite that enables companies to “optimize their industrial operations and enhance productivity by providing decision makers with improved data and insights.” The new suite delivers visibility of operations and systems status from one source of information inside the organization. The collaborative offering is the first to integrate technologies from both companies following the strategic partnership announcement in June.

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, improves connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor, natively supporting the rapid, scalable, and secure connection of the most commonly used industrial equipment. Combined with data from information technology (IT) applications and systems, decision makers can now gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines, and facilities from anywhere in the enterprise.

“Our offering is unique in its ability to improve how companies capitalize on the IIoT by combining expertise from industry, technology, and plant-floor professionals,” said John Genovesi, incoming senior vice president, Enterprise Accounts & Software, Rockwell Automation. “Now we’re bringing innovative solutions from PTC together with leading analytics and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) from Rockwell Automation for a differentiated industry solution.”

“We’re moving the needle on how leading-edge technology is applied in industrial environments,” said Catherine Kniker, Head of Strategic Alliances, PTC. “Manufacturers have seen digital technology rapidly change, but their execution continues to follow practices established for the legacy business. This bundled offering will help organizations accelerate time to value and reinvent how they compete by breaking down barriers across their operations through a comprehensive approach to operational intelligence.”

Included in this collaborative offering are the FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms, as well as PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware, and the Vuforia augmented reality solution.

Key features of applications within the new collaborative offering include:

Intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that give users a view of the operations by combining data from multiple IT and OT sources and tailored to their role. An operations manager, for instance, can view overall performance of a facility, or multiple facilities, before researching the performance of specific equipment or factors impacting OEE.

Automated advanced analytics of IT and OT sources transform massive amounts of raw data into actionable or proactive information to improve performance and reduce the impact of downtime. Leveraging powerful artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simplify complex analytical processes, users can now proactively respond to issues ahead of any critical failures.

Augmented reality (AR) delivers more efficient and effective ways of looking at digital information within the physical world. AR enables more efficient training, wider knowledge sharing, and better first-time fix rates. Through the bundled offering, maintenance, for example, can receive digitized work instructions containing real-time performance and service history information so technicians can better diagnose and fix equipment correctly the first time.

FactoryTalkInnovationSuite.com

MES Application Conforms to Your Processes

MES Application Conforms to Your Processes

Manufacturing is tough, says FactoryFour, a startup in the MES space. Managing it shouldn’t be, it follows up.

Param Shah, co-founder and CEO of FactoryFour, told me that he and his partner researched build-to-order and configure-to-order manufacturing in the orthopedic device market they discovered that manufacturing planning was done by a combination of paper and spreadsheets.

Further research showed that typical MES platforms required the manufacturer to configure its processes to conform to the workflows and parameters of the software. People really didn’t want to do that. They would simply ignore the cumbersome software and opt for something familiar and flexible.

FactoryFour’s simple value statement goes like this:

Today’s manufacturing software is manual and complicated. Manually managing the 100 little tasks that go into pushing products out the door causes unnecessary production errors and delays.

Managing it shouldn’t be complicated. Simple and automated. The freedom to focus on improving processes, eliminating bottlenecks, and growing revenue. Everything else is automated.

The manufacturing Shah studied was highly manual. In the orthopedic space where custom pieces are manufactured, order process errors are common. Employees find it hard to keep track of where products are in the manufacturing system.

FactoryFour uses native cloud technology. It customizes order intake, using it to inform the manufacturing system. In that system, engineers configure workflows, draw it up then put in software. Therefore the software conforms to the manufacturer’s workflow. The use barcode, RFID, etc., to track the process. FactoryFour connects to other software systems as required.

The Workflows allow rules and an “if this then that” process. It can, for example, integrate with shipping apps and APIs. If shipping stage goes active, it will call up software and generate shipping documents, find UPS tracking number, send to customer automatically. If error is called, it will notify and assign tasks.

Its API connects data to SAP, Epicor, Oracle, and the like. It tracks human labor through scans.

The company’s focus is on custom manufacturing and configure to order with high traceability needs. Channel includes consultants, SIs, and hardware companies.

I asked about usability. “Our first hire was UI UX person,” Shah told me. “We are extremely visual, using colors and designs effectively. Screens are intuitive, geared to technicians with only one or two buttons on a screen not 60.“

This is a young company that just completed its A round of financing looking to shake up the MES market.

OPC Foundation Extends OPC UA With TSN To Field Level

OPC Foundation Extends OPC UA With TSN To Field Level

OPC UA and TSN (Time Sensitive Network). A marriage I was beginning to think was never going to happen. I wrote a preliminary white paper following Hannover Messe 2017. Yes, more than a year ago. (Check it out by clicking the small ad on the sidebar.) This thing has been like a ball in a Rugby match—kicked, going different directions, downed and picked up. People wanting to move before thinking. Getting caught up in legal issues and “politics.” Postponed press conferences.

And, now…”The OPC Foundation launches an initiative to further enable OPC UA adoption throughout industrial automation by extending standardization and harmonization activities for OPC UA including TSN-enabled Ethernet networks.”

The goal of this initiative is to deliver an open, cohesive approach to implement OPC UA including TSN and associated application profiles. This will advance the OPC Foundation providing vendor independent end-to-end interoperability into field level devices for all relevant industry automation use-cases. The OPC Foundation vision of becoming the worldwide industrial interoperability standard is advanced by integrating field devices and the shop floor.

A new set of working groups will identify, manage and standardize the OPC UA relevant topics focused on industrial automation including,

• harmonization and standardization of application profiles e.g. IO, motion control, safety, system redundancy

• standardization of OPC UA information models for field level devices in offline e.g. device description and online e.g. diagnostics

• mapping of OPC UA application profiles related to real-time operations on ethernet networks including TSN

• definition of certification procedures

The working groups will closely align with the TSN Profile for Industrial Automation (TSN-IA-Profile) which will be standardized by the IEC/IEEE 60802 standardization group. This will help ensure that a single, converged TSN network approach is maintained so that OPC UA can share one common multi-vendor TSN network infrastructure together with other applications.

This initiative integrates well with existing joint working groups engaged in ongoing companion specification e.g. description of machines.

Stefan Hoppe, President of the OPC Foundation said “The benefit of membership in the OPC Foundation allows companies to actively engage and influence the direction of the OPC Foundation and includes early access to the specifications and technology. This initiative will grow OPC UA into new markets and I highly encourage all OPC Foundation members to contact the OPC Foundation to participate”.

Thomas Burke, Strategic Marketing Officer of the OPC Foundation, “We are very excited about the initiative to extend OPC UA including TSN down to the field level, and the number of companies that want to actively participate in this initiative bringing the technology into real world products. This set of working groups will pave the way for the broadest, easiest, and fastest market adoption of OPC UA over TSN.”

The OPC Foundation develops and maintains OPC UA as an open and secure communication platform comprised of an information model framework, communication models and underlying protocol bindings. As such, the OPC Foundation works non-exclusively with other organizations on various OPC UA related topics but continues to operate as a platform, technology, use case, and vendor agnostic standardization body.

Industry of Things Conference Comes to Orlando in November

Industry of Things Conference Comes to Orlando in November

The company that organizes the successful Industry of Things conferences in the late winter in San Diego has launched Industry of Things East to be held in Orlando November 14-16. I will be speaking at a break out session on Thursday afternoon that week. Come and heckle me.

The event will include more than 40 interactive sessions and case studies, as well an IIoT Bootcamp. Here are all the formats you will be able to take part to:

IIoT Bootcamp: our partner MESA will take you on the journey towards Smart Manufacturing on November 14
4 Icebreaker sessions round tables on the evening before the first conference day
A Panel session on Society 4.0 – Engaging industry, policy makers, educators and institutions for a harmonious technological future
Over 25 Case studies from MIT, Monsanto, Continental, Siemens, Praxair and many more
12 World Cafés moderated by experts from Covestro, Merck or The Internet Association
2 co-located events: Pharma MES USA and Pharma TRACKTS! USA will gather 300 Manufacturing experts from the Industrial IoT, Pharma MES and serialization communities in one place.

Make sure to have a look at the event program to tailor an agenda fitting to your needs.

I have attended all three of the events in San Diego including participating as a moderator and table leader. This is the premier Internet of Things conference in the country. They also organize events in Berlin, Germany and Singapore.

The company is offering a special rate: simply sign up online before October 24* to take advantage of the $995 special.

Industrial Automation and Information Technology

Industrial Automation and Information Technology

Last week was where industrial automation and information technology met along with my vice–soccer.

Emerson Automation Solutions–Digital Transformation, IT/OT collaboration, corporate acquisitions (GE Intelligent Platforms, once known as GE Fanuc, joins the fold), WirelessHART applications expand, flow control data becomes an integral part of digital transformation.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)–Refinery of the Future tour of the Texmark refinery that I’ve written about before and CenterPoint Energy where digital boosts the electrical utility industry.

Marketers may still talk of IT/OT convergence as something coming. In many forward thinking plants it is here. Texmark CEO Doug Smith talks freely about the kick in the pants delivered by his insurance carrier that propelled him and his team toward finding innovative solutions to operations challenges.

I sometimes joke that “I’m the point of convergence of IT and OT”, or at least my blog and writing are.

Don’t believe hype or nay-sayers. The collaboration is real–among suppliers, partner ecosystems, managers, engineers. And real benefits are accruing.

Have you joined the 21st Century?

Emerson Champions Digital Transformation

Emerson Champions Digital Transformation

This week is Emerson Global Users Exchange week in San Antonio—with a quick side trip to Houston and a tour of some refineries implementing IoT applications with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The theme of the week is Digital Transformation just where I reside—at the convergence of OT and IT.

Emerson Automation Solutions (new-ish name for Emerson Process) continues to flesh out its drive to help customers achieve “Top Quartile” performance through Digital Transformation.

It doesn’t just talk digital transformation. The company builds out its offering through product development, services / engineering, and acquisitions. Similar to other major suppliers, it has been making strategic acquisitions rather than taking minor stakes in companies.

Mike Train, Executive President, set the themes and talked about his optimism in the business and industry. Train was recently promoted to COO of Emerson Corporation and introduced Lal Karsanbhai as the new Executive President of Emerson Automation Solutions.

My friends at Putnam Publishing are doing the show daily this year. Flash back to 8 years ago when I was still at Automation World nursing a torn quadraceps muscle doing the show daily in San Antonio. You can see the news from the team here.

Peter Zornio laid out the logic of an “Actionable Roadmap” at a subsequent press conference. The company’s PlantWeb ecosystem continues to grow and develop becoming the key element of Emerson’s Digital Transformation strategy. Below is from the press release.

The Digital Transformation Roadmap includes consulting and implementation services to help companies develop and execute a tailored digital transformation plan to reach Top Quartile performance.

“Our customers have different starting points and levels of maturity when it comes to evaluating and implementing digital transformation strategies,” said Lal Karsanbhai, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions. “Emerson’s proven digital transformation approach provides the ultimate flexibility while pinpointing the optimum path for each customer, based on their objectives, readiness and overall digital maturity.”

In an Emerson study of industry leaders responsible for digital transformation initiatives, merely 20 percent of respondents said they had a vision, plus a clear and actionable roadmap for digital transformation. Additionally, 90 percent stated that having a clear roadmap was important, very important or extremely important. Absence of a practical roadmap was also cited as the No. 1 barrier for digital transformation projects; cultural adoption and business value round out the top three barriers to progress. While all respondents were actively conducting pilot projects, only 21 percent had moved beyond that stage into new operating standards.

Leveraging customer engagements with successful digital transformation programs, Emerson defined a structured, yet flexible approach to help customers focus on priority areas with a practical roadmap tailored to their business needs and readiness. The goal is to help companies use technology to reach Top Quartile performance, measured by optimized production, improved reliability, enhanced safety and minimized energy usage.

“There is a clear global urgency among executives to harness innovation to improve performance, but many companies feel stalled for lack of a clear path,” Karsanbhai said. “Customers who engage with our operational certainty consultants quickly gain clarity on their best bets for digital transformation and a realistic implementation plan to accelerate time to results.”

Digital Roadmap Combines Technology with Industry Expertise

Emerson’s Digital Transformation Roadmap has two focus areas: business drivers and business enablers. Business drivers look at capabilities and performance relative to industry benchmarks in key areas: production management, reliability and maintenance, safety and security, and/or energy and emissions. The business enabler focus looks at capabilities in organizational effectiveness and systems and data integration. For each, Emerson has identified detailed criteria to measure customer performance along the digital journey – from conventional to best-in-class to the highest level: digitally autonomous operations.

Companies can start the digital transformation journey wherever they are, from starting small in one facility to address key issues, such as pump health or personnel safety mustering; to exploring companywide programs across an entire business driver, such as reliability of critical assets; to driving enterprise-wide adoption of cloud-based technologies and analytics for overall business transformation.

Emerson’s Operational Certainty Consulting Group provides a host of services, from Digital Transformation Jumpstart workshops to deep-dive change management to deployment and adoption of new digitally enabled toolsets. Customers partner with Emerson not only for its consulting expertise, but also to implement its Plantweb™ digital ecosystem, which offers a robust software, data analytics, and product technology and services portfolio to solve real-world problems while improving plant performance.

Emerson’s proven capability is bolstered by a global implementation team that includes more than 80 solutions architects and analytics integration engineers, backed by a project and service engineering workforce that exceeds 8,400. Important foundations for digital transformation have been established with producers around the world. For example, Emerson has collaborated with customers to deploy more than 37,000 wireless network installations and over 175 integrated reliability platforms and applications, to name a few.

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