Everything as a Service — My Second HPE Discover Report

Everything as a Service — My Second HPE Discover Report

Antonio Neri, HPE CEO, announced during his keynote address to HPE Discover Las Vegas 2019, that the company was moving toward “Everything as a Service”—a consumption-based model within the next three years. Wait, isn’t this a company that sells boxes? Lots of power inside the boxes, but still. Most of the conversations for the rest of the week reinforced this strategic direction.

From the press release, “HPE will offer entire portfolio through a range of subscription, pay-per-use and consumption-driven offerings, in next three years transitioning the company into an as a Service company over time.” The concept will work out as a service contract with the customer with built-in verifiability as a default. It will offer a low level of granularity.

In the industrial automation space, the reaction differed among competitors and customers when Inductive Automation (note: one of my sponsors) began with its version of pricing for its original HMI/SCADA software. Some 15-16 years later, it seems to be doing well. Actually well enough that in the past year a couple of competitors have announced their responses.

When we discussed Edgeline IoT during the arranged Influencer Coffee Talk—Tom Bradicich, HPE vice president, for years has been a visionary evangelist regarding data generated from the processes, aka the Edge. I met him during his stay at National Instruments where he received industrial grounding after his IBM days where he promoted the concept of “Big Analog Data.” He told us that now he has moved from being a visionary to being an historian. These ideas are now adopted, not just theory. When asked about owning data from manufacturing, he said unequivocally that IT will own the data.

Manufacturing applications are not core to HPE, but we did get a lot of play during Discover. I gave a brief discussion of the manufacturing “demo” in my first post. It was one of the first stands on the exhibition floor. A mock up of a conveyor system with stations formed the layout of the exhibit. The system began with design, continued through assembly, looked at packaging, switched a little into predictive maintenance and troubleshooting of the line, then a quality station.

Two partners sill be immediately recognizable by regular readers—PTC and ABB. The design station featured Creo CAD from PTC along with Windchill PLM. The next station was guided assembly featuring PTC Vuforia augmented reality helping guide assembly along with PTC ThingWorx connecting data from the IP-enabled screwdriver (torque, presence, number of screws per assembly, and the like). An ABB dual-armed robot deftly prepared a box and inserted the product. Later on was another station using PTC’s Vuforia and ThingWorx.

At our 5G Influencer Coffee Talk, executives noted that 5G is still in process, but HPE Aruba is working on it. That is, 5G along with WiFi 6. Before long, there should be some interesting Aruba wireless products. 5G holds great potential for communicating things as well as people. We discussed the difficulties and potentials for handoffs from WiFi to Cellular and back. Could this be a better/faster SCADA? It’s build for today’s cloud not older computing architectures like LTE is.

During our security Influencer Coffee Talk, technologists from HPE discussed silicon-rooted trust. HPE makes its own ASIC that assures only authorized firmware is running on the device.

Finally, more thoughts relevant to manufacturing and production in industrial use cases. As “Dr. Tom” Bradicich told us during his session, data is created at the edge, so need the ability get at the data at the edge. Therefore the concept of move data center from cloud to edge. This is actualized by a partnership of HPE, ABB, Rittal, and PTC. There is sort of a “data center in a box”, although the box is actually a rack.

While I was checking the “box” out on the show floor, the representative from Rittal told me that customers at a recent conference in Monaco complained that it was too much work to install equipment at the edge. But this data center in a box concept overcame that objection.

On last tidbit for thought. HPE has a platform called NonStop—a very high availability compute platform. We spotted on in an Edgeline rack. The HPE statement held that it is inventing the market for high availability converged OT, not following. I wonder what applications this could disrupt.

Driving the Next Wave of Intelligent Edge Adoption

Driving the Next Wave of Intelligent Edge Adoption

This week is IT week in my study of how IT and OT are coming together. I am in Las Vegas at the annual Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) customer conference called Discover. This rather long post looks at many of the announcements that show how far HPE has come in its expansion into manufacturing.

An interesting point (and you can see some pictures on my Twitter feed @garymintchell) is that there is a manufacturing demo at the entrance into the show area this week. It demonstrates partnerships with PTC (CAD, augmented reality, and IoT), ABB (robotics in this case, more later), along with video and predictive maintenance analytics.

Following are summaries of a number of announcements at this very busy event that have an impact on manufacturing technology and use cases. HPE calls the Edge—meaning basically not in the servers.

Things announced included new edge solutions, research labs, and programs to simplify and accelerate Intelligent Edge adoption, enabling customers to create unique digital experiences and leverage analytics and machine learning to adapt to changes in real-time.

The new offerings and programs include:

  • Major enhancements to Aruba Central, the only cloud-based platform that unifies network management, AI-powered analytics, user-centric service assurance and security for wired, wireless and WAN at the edge.
  • Integrations and new turnkey edge-to-cloud solutions, delivered with ABB, Microsoft, Rittal, and PTC, enabling real-time intelligence and control in industrial environments.
  • The Intelligent Edge and IoT Center of Excellence (CoE) and Labs, part of Hewlett Packard Labs, to develop and commercialize new capabilities and technologies that accelerate customers’ and partners’ Intelligent Edge journey.

Research suggests that over the next decade, the Internet of Things (IoT) and related data growth has an economic potential of up to $11 trillion per year. To capture this potential, organizations need to implement an Intelligent Edge, an architecture that is fully connected, secured, distributed and autonomous. However, to scale the Intelligent Edge across the value chain, organizations need solutions that secure and simplify deployment and management, converge operational technology (OT) with IT and address the lack of skills and funding.

“The edge has emerged as the new center of the digital universe, opening up opportunities for organizations to create new digital experiences and gain competitive advantage,” said Keerti Melkote, founder and president, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “Today, we announce innovations that will enable our customers to capitalize on these experiences and opportunities by dramatically simplifying, securing and accelerating the deployment of the Intelligent Edge.”

Unified cloud-based platform

Siloed network management solutions are creating complexity and increasing time to remediation. To accelerate IT operations and allow IT professionals time to focus on innovation, Aruba is making significant enhancements to Aruba Central. With these enhancements, customers will benefit from AI-powered network analytics, improved security and user-centric assurance for wired, wireless and WAN edge infrastructures from a single point of control. Significant advancements include:

Advanced AI-powered analytics and assurance capabilities based on Aruba NetInsight and User Experience Insight allow IT professionals to resolve infrastructure problems quickly before they impact the organization. Now integrated into the Aruba Central cloud-based platform, Aruba’s Analytics and Assurance capabilities deliver IT professionals a way to quickly remediate intermittent network issues while also proactively identifying how to optimize customers’ infrastructures to ensure optimal experiences.

Software-defined branch (SD-Branch) and SD-WAN, managed on Aruba Central, is now enhanced with improved branch management and orchestration capabilities to centrally define business-intent policies to meet the hybrid cloud connectivity needs for distributed enterprises and reduce operational costs. The new SD-WAN Orchestrator in Aruba Central makes it easier for IT professionals to deploy flexible and secure overlay topologies in a large-scale edge infrastructure, connecting thousands of branch locations with multiple data centers. Aruba Virtual Gateways now available for AWS and Azure, combined with orchestration, cost-effectively extends network and security policies to workloads running in the public cloud. The new SaaS prioritization feature not only enhances the performance of SaaS applications but also provides visibility about the end-user experience for business-critical applications, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.

Integrated in Aruba Central, Aruba ClearPass Device Insight provides IoT visibility and security via a single pane of glass, employing automated device discovery, and machine learning-based fingerprinting and identification. Used in conjunction with Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager and Aruba’s dynamic segmentation security capabilities, networking and security teams can automate unique policy enforcement down to each device and user.

New network management workflow enhancements are integrated into Aruba Central to accelerate device provisioning with an automated mobile app to deliver network health views and troubleshooting across all locations allowing IT to focus on delivering the needs of the business.

Flexibility in how to obtain and support edge infrastructure

To provide organizations more flexibility and choice in how they obtain and support their edge infrastructure, Aruba solutions are also available via HPE GreenLake for Aruba a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) subscription-based offering.

Turnkey edge-to-cloud solutions

In industrial environments, the Intelligent Edge requires an intricate interplay between sensors, actuators, networks, applications and infrastructures from edge to cloud. It also involves unique challenges including harsh environmental conditions, intermittent network connectivity and lack of qualified on-site staff. Consequently, such deployments are often costly, slow and vulnerable to security and reliability problems. To simplify, accelerate and secure deployments, HPE is launching pre-integrated turnkey edge-to-cloud solutions in collaboration with key industry partners:

The integration of ABB Ability Smart Sensor technology with Aruba access points is designed to deliver a scalable, high-performance wireless connectivity solution for operational technology (OT) equipment such as motors, mounted bearings and pumps. This allows industrial companies to capture valuable data and insights from their equipment to proactively monitor their condition and performance, and plan maintenance in advance in order to avoid costly and disruptive downtime.

Jointly developed by ABB, HPE, Microsoft and Rittal, the Secure Edge Data Center for Microsoft Azure Stack is the industry’s first enterprise-grade edge appliance for Microsoft Azure Stack, enabling real-time intelligence and action in harsh industrial environments, while providing seamless integration with Microsoft Azure. The appliance provides IP55-rated environmental protection, cooling, redundant power supply and distribution and automated management – allowing customers to run pre-configured, high-end enterprise applications in locations such as factories or oil rigs.

HPE Edgeline IoT Quick Connect dramatically simplifies the convergence of OT and IT, enabling customers to monitor and control OT equipment such as machines or motors in real time. Jointly delivered with Microsoft, HPE Edgeline IoT Quick Connect is based on the HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform, which connects OT devices, the HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System and Microsoft Azure IoT, a collection of cloud services to connect, monitor and control IoT assets.

Fast Start Condition Monitoring enables customers set up condition monitoring within 90 days to deliver performance and availability of their OT equipment. An end-to-end solution implemented by HPE Pointnext Services, Fast Start Condition Monitoring is designed for customers who want to get started quickly with condition monitoring, but lack the skills to do so. HPE Pointnext Services help define use cases, OT data sources and workflows, and implement pilots for proof of value, based on HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, the HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform and PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT platform.

The newly established Intelligent Edge and IoT CoE & Lab provides critical capabilities and technologies to HPE’s partners and customers to accelerate Intelligent Edge adoption. It will guide partner activities, M&A and research in the following areas:

  • Knowledge transfer to HPE’s channel partners to accelerate market adoption of the Intelligent Edge with the Channel to Edge Institute (CEI), a program which helps HPE’s channel partners gain the required expertise to effectively recommend, sell, implement and manage Intelligent Edge solutions for their customers. The CEI provides training on Intelligent Edge use cases and business cases and will deploy joint go-to-market programs with HPE’s channel and ecosystem partners.
  • Research programs to drive rapid commercialization of Intelligent Edge technologies that simplify edge-to-cloud management and OT-IT convergence and enable new use cases – this includes, among others, a unified provisioning, policy and security management across wired networks, Wi-Fi and 5G; the next generation of HPE’s first-of-a-kind HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems and HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform; and real-time video analytics for quality, security and customer experience applications.
Cloud-based Platform Complements PI System

Cloud-based Platform Complements PI System

Digitalization requires digital data, which in turn requires a place to robustly store that data. This place is most often the cloud these days. OSIsoft PI System must be the most widely used industrial database. The company has released OSIsoft Cloud Services—a cloud-native, real-time data management system for unifying and augmenting critical operations data from across an organization to accelerate industrial analytics, data science projects, data sharing, and other digital transformation initiatives.

OCS highlights and capabilities:

  • Data sharing – partner companies can access a shared data stream to remotely monitor technology
  • Functionality – seamless crossover between the PI System and OCS to compare facilities, perform root cause analysis and run hypotheticals
  • Scalability – tests proved OCS can simultaneously manage over two billion data streams, and safely share information with partners
  • Petuum uses OCS to stream historical data and live data on production, temperature and variability to its AI platform to assist Cemex, a global cement manufacturer, improve yield and energy to 7% from 2%.
  • DERNetSoft uses OCS to aggregate data in one place, allowing users to access useful analytics for ways to reduce power and save money.
  • Pharma companies will use OCS to give a regulator access to anonymized drug testing or production, without risk of unauthorized users in the manufacturing networks.

With OCS, an engineer at a chemical producer, for example, could combine maintenance and energy data from multiple facilities into a live superset of information to boost production in real-time while planning analysts could merge several years’ worth of output and yield data to create a ‘perfect plant’ model for capital forecasts.

OCS can also be leveraged by software developers and system integrators to build new applications and services or to link remote assets.

“OSIsoft Cloud Services is a fundamental part of our mission to help people get the most out of the data that is at the foundation of their business. We want their cost of curiosity to be as close to zero as possible,” said Gregg Le Blanc, Vice President of Product at OSIsoft. “OCS is designed to complement the PI System by giving customers a way to uncover new operational insights and use their data to solve new problems that would have been impractical or impossible before.”

The Data Dilemma

Critical operations data—i.e. data generated by production lines, safety equipment, grids, and other systems essential to a company’s survival—is part of one of the fastest growing segments in the data universe. IDC and Seagate estimate in “Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life Critical” that “hypercritical” data for applications such as distributed control systems is growing by 54% a year and will constitute 10% of all data by 2025 while real-time data will nearly double to more than 25% of all data.

Critical operations data, however, can be extremely difficult to manage or use.

Data scientists spend 50 percent or more of their time curating large data sets instead of conducting analytics. IT teams get bogged down in managing VPNs for third parties or writing code for basic administrative tasks. Data becomes inaccessible and locked in silos. Over 1,000 utilities, 80% of the largest oil and gas companies, and 65% of the Fortune 500 industrial companies already use the PI System to harness critical operations data, turning it into an asset for improving productivity, saving money, and developing new services.

Natively compatible with the PI System, OCS extends the range of possible applications and use cases of OSIsoft’s data infrastructure while eliminating the challenges of capturing, managing, enhancing, and delivering operations data across an organization. Within a few hours, thousands of data streams containing years of historical data can be transferred to OCS, allowing customers to explore, experiment, and share large data sets the same day.

Two Billion Data Streams

The core of OCS is a highly scalable sequential data store optimized for time series data, depth measurements, temperature readings, and similar data. OSIsoft has also embedded numerous usability features for connecting devices, managing users, searching, transferring data from the PI System to OCS, and other functions. OCS can also accept data from devices outside of traditional control networks or other sources.

“The scale and scope of data that will be generated over the coming decades is unprecedented, but our mission remains the same,” said Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, CEO and Founder of OSIsoft. “OSIsoft Cloud Services represent the latest step in a nearly 40 year journey and there’s more to come.”

To test the scalability and stability of OCS, OSIsoft created a deployment that contained the equivalent of the data generated by all of the smart meters in the U.S. over the last two years, or two billion data streams (100 million meters with 20 data streams each). OCS successfully stored up to 1.2 billion data points per hour and was managing all two billion streams simultaneously within 48 hours.

PaaS for OSIsoft Marketplace Partners

Software developers are already creating services based around OCS. DERNetSoft is creating a secure marketplace for sharing utility and electric power data to improve energy forecasts and peak shaving strategies. Meanwhile, others are collaborating with customers on efforts to bolster well integrity at oil drilling sites, pinpoint tank leakage, predict maintenance problems, and reduce energy consumption with OCS. OSIsoft partners developing OCS services include Petuum, Seeq, Toumetis, Transpara, Aperio, and TrendMiner. These services will be available from OSIsoft marketplace as they are released.

“Digital transformation requires the ability to compare data and outcomes across multiple plants and data sources,” says Michael Risse, VP/CMO at Seeq. “OCS is a unified solution for process manufacturing customers to enable this type of analysis, generating predictive insights on thousands of assets across company operations to improve production outcomes.”

Pricing and Availability

OCS is a subscription service currently available to customers and partners for use in facilities in North America. OCS will be extended to Europe and to other regions in the near future.

Pricing is based on the average number of data streams accessed, rather than the unique data streams stored, giving customers the freedom to experiment more freely with their data without incurring added costs..

Smart Factory Demonstrats Quantifiable, Real-Time Benefits of IIoT and Digitizing

Smart Factory Demonstrats Quantifiable, Real-Time Benefits of IIoT and Digitizing

A mere 2.5-hour drive south on I-75 June 13 brought me to the Schneider Electric plant in Lexington, KY that manufactures load centers and other electrical devices. Schneider Electric marketing people invited me down for tours and festivities marking the unveiling of this brownfield manifestation of Smart Factory using the latest of IIoT, AR, digitalization, and other smart manufacturing principles.

Highlights:

• Schneider Electric Lexington facility is a showcase for sharing IIoT integration strategies with End Users, Machine Builders and Partners

• Lexington plant strategically integrates connected EcoStruxure solutions to enhance efficiency and provide end-to-end operational visibility throughout supply chain operations

• Smart Factory has tracked quantifiable benefits from IIoT implementation, including a 20% reduction in mean time to repair and a 90% paperwork elimination

If this plant is to demonstrate “in real time how its EcoStruxure architecture and related suite of offerings can help increase operational efficiency and reduce costs for its customers”, I asked the natural question—“What is EcoStruxure?”

I’ve heard the term for many years, but being a little slow on the uptake, I’ve never really understood what is meant. So, they set me up with an interview with Vice President Domenic Alcaro. Refreshingly, EcoStruxure is neither a platform or a product. Alcaro told me, “EcoStruxure is a phenomenal way to explain our value structure.” The foundation block consists of connected products (connectivity being a key word). The intermediary block is what they call Edge Control. However, whereas many people look at Edge and think hardware, Schneider Electric considers it basically software. Think the InduSoft HMI product, if you will. Atop the model then are apps and analytics.

Back to the plant:

In operation for more than 60 years and employing nearly 500 people, the Lexington factory is truly a showcase of modern integrated digital experience. Among the benefits realized include empowering operators to gain visibility into operations maintenance, driving a 20% reduction in mean time to repair on critical equipment, and process digitization eliminating paper work by 90%.

“We understand the value of IIoT and the positive business impact that innovation and digitization can have on our operations – particularly in our global supply chain. As a living example of how our EcoStruxure solutions deliver benefits to our customers, we are gaining those same benefits in our operation and sharing that knowledge,” said Mourad Tamoud, Executive Vice President, Global Supply Chain, Schneider Electric. “With our latest Smart Factory showcase, we are able to demonstrate this value in real-time, show the solutions at work and share the tangible benefits that we ourselves are seeing from our own IIoT investment as we accelerate our Tailored Sustainable Connected 4.0 digital transformation.”

As part of the Smart Factory program, Schneider Electric exemplifies brownfield implementation for customers who may be facing the same challenges with their existing production facilities. The team is able to offer strategies and talk through the challenges they faced to help customers exploring IIoT connected technologies overcome those same hurdles toward their modernization goals. By sharing their experience in leveraging EcoStruxure solutions, visiting customers can better understand the value of the brownfield modernization and the resulting operational efficiencies.

In this production environment, these solutions have demonstrated operational and quantifiable value since their implementation:

• EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor – Delivered a 20% reduction in mean time to repair on critical equipment where it has been implemented.

• EcoStruxure Resource Advisor and Power Monitoring Expert – Delivered 3.5% YOY energy savings in the Lexington facility in addition to $6.6 Million in regional savings since 2012; sophisticated reporting capabilities and increased transparency also drive operational performance.

• AVEVA Indusoft Web Studio – Delivered powerful Edge digitization of paper processes to eliminate paper work by 90% and cloud connectivity has enabled digital dashboarding of a critical process.

• RFID OsiSense – Eliminated 128 daily fork truck miles and eliminated $500,000 in Work in Progress (WIP) inventory with a 33% first year ROI.

• AVEVA Insight Data – Unlocked and shared silos of data in a mobile manner reducing downtime in critical processes by 5% with ROI of less than 6 months.

• Magelis GTU/GTUX HMI – Provided agile operator management of the process and vivid visual of the process onsite and via mobile devices.

Among the tidbits of information I picked up on the tour include:

Extensive use of Ethernet and IP networking. Interesting in that the very first conversations I had with a Modicon VP 20 years ago concerned how Ethernet was the network of the future. In 1999 that was revolutionary thinking. Today—it’s the backbone. Hat tip to Mark Fondl.

Great use of data tracking involving RFID tags, MES software, Ethernet connectivity, and visualization that coordinates all the products and containers throughout the company-wide power-and-free conveyor system.

Oh, and a Megelis computer/HMI collecting data from sensors and passing it on uses Node-RED for programming. It’s only the second instance of Node Red I’ve seen in automation.

Finally, Schneider Electric plant management correctly combines digitalization with Lean principles enhancing their daily stand ups and feeding continuous improvement.

Impressive facility. When our politicians and east coast journalists go ripping on American manufacturing, they should be forced to take deep dives into plants like this one.

Industrial Automation User Conference Week

Industrial Automation User Conference Week

My wife’s family took me off for a week-long vacation to the beach last week. Eight days of much needed rest after a bunch of travel and a hectic (meaning wet) spring soccer season.

Last week was also Rockwell Automation TechED. That conference was once open only to distributer and integrator tech people. Several years ago it opened to media and became quite a thing for a few years. Last year I received an invitation to attend but they said that there was no media program. The timing was bad for me, so I passed. This year, there was no word at all. And I saw no news.

There are several industrial automation user conferences this week. PTC invited me to its conference in Boston. Then I was invited to Honeywell User Group (HUG). Then there were other invitations. Busy week. I initially told PTC I would attend, then putting it in my calendar, I realized that the week included my wedding anniversary. It’s big number (as in large). My better sense prevailed and I’m watching both of those conferences from afar.

So far this week, Honeywell Process Solutions has made a big announcement with some innovative product releases. Rockwell Automation, which owns about 8% of PTC and is banking on the partnership to bring its software into the new age, also issued a release. I’m still figuring that one out.

Honeywell Proclaims New Approach to Engineering

• Experion PKS Highly Integrated Virtual Environment (HIVE) significantly simplifies control system design, implementation and lifecycle management while reducing cost

• Market-first solution uniquely decouples the assignment of input/output (IO) modules and control strategies from specific controllers, and leverages IT capabilities in customers’ own data centers

My take on this announcement considers the HIVE product suite part of the growing trend under the umbrella of “digital twin.” Other companies have some somewhat similar products, but what I’ve found is that each company moves the ball forward a little more in a seemingly endless cycle of innovation. Honeywell labels it an evolution of the company’s flagship Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS).

Experion PKS HIVE uses Honeywell’s LEAP project execution principles, software, and networking to unchain control applications from physical equipment, and controllers from physical IO. This enables control systems to be engineered and implemented in less time, at lower cost and risk, and with simpler, modular builds. The solution also transforms the way control systems are maintained over their lifecycle, shifting day-to-day management of servers to a centralized data center, where experts and established protocols mitigate cybersecurity risk, allowing plant engineers to focus more proactively on optimization of their control systems.

Experion PKS HIVE incorporates three elements – IT HIVE, IO HIVE and Control HIVE – which can be used individually or collectively, in tandem with customers’ existing systems and infrastructure:

• Experion PKS IT HIVE centralizes up to 80% of the IT infrastructure traditionally used in project engineering to lower project delivery and lifecycle costs, better leverage skills, and drive consistent physical and cybersecurity management across an enterprise.

• Experion PKS IO HIVE provides flexible IO and control distribution enabling the control system to become a natural extension of process equipment and to facilitate modular and parallel project execution.

• Experion PKS Control HIVE uniquely applies control containers to provide flexibility and standardization of control hardware platform, control location, and control engineering. With multiple physically controllers operating as part of a Experion PKS Control HIVE, control engineering is dramatically simplified through automated load balancing.

“In developing Experion PKS HIVE, Honeywell worked closely with customers across the chemical, refining and oil and gas industries,” said Jason Urso, chief technology officer, Honeywell Process Solutions. “Many of these organizations want a more efficient approach to control system engineering, yet one that can be adopted incrementally and used interchangeably with their existing systems and infrastructure. Experion PKS HIVE provides these benefits and is truly a distributed control as it applies and geographically distributes technology to where it is needed.”

Experion PKS HIVE shifts IO to the field and makes it fully accessible to any controller, taking individual physical controllers and distributing the load so that they appear as a single controller to eliminate complexity. The solution distributes IT compute from onsite to offsite providing a seamless operations experience.

The Experion PKS IT HIVE and IO HIVE can be ordered now, with deliveries beginning Q1 2020. Experion PKS Control HIVE will be available in the second half of 2020.

Rockwell Automation Emphasizes PTC Partnership

Rockwell Automation announces its “unique combination of IT and OT software accelerates customers’ Digital Transformation Initiatives.” It says its solutions-oriented approach simplifies how manufacturers achieve business outcomes that transform operational processes, workforce productivity and efficiency.

Showcasing solutions during LiveWorx this week the company highlights:

Enterprise Operational Intelligence – cuts manufacturing costs and increases flexibility and agility of manufacturing networks by providing real-time manufacturing performance management across the industrial enterprise.

Digital Workforce Productivity – heightens productivity, improves quality, and avoids safety and compliance risk by equipping workers with actionable, augmented intelligence.

Intelligent Asset Optimization – reduces downtime and maximizes asset utilization through real-time monitoring, diagnostics, and predictive and prescriptive analytics into asset capacity, performance, and health status.

Scalable Production Management – lowers cost of inventory, improves quality, and compliance and accelerates time to market with effective planning and control of production processes.

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

The Manufacturing Connection conceived in 2013 when I decided to go it alone in the world from the ideas of a new industrial infrastructure and enhanced connectivity. I even had worked out a cool mind map to figure it out.

Last week I was on vacation spending some time at the beach and reading and thinking catching up on some long neglected things. Next week I am off to Las Vegas for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise “Discover” conference where I’ll be inundated with learning about new ideas in infrastructure.

Meanwhile, I’ll share something I picked up from the Sloan Management Review (from MIT). This article was developed from a blog post by Jason Killmeyer, enterprise operations manager in the Government and Public Sector practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Brenna Sniderman, senior manager in Deloitte Services LP.

They approach things from a much higher level in the organization than I usually do. They recognize what I’ve often stated about business executives reading about all these new technologies, such as, cloud computing, internet of things, AI, blockchain, and others. “The potential resulting haste to adopt new technology and harness transformative change can lead organizations to treat these emerging technologies in the same manner as other, more traditional IT investments — as something explored in isolation and disconnected from the broader technological needs of the organization. In the end, those projects can eventually stall or be written off, leaving in their wake skepticism about the usefulness of emerging technologies.”

This analysis correctly identifies the organizational challenges when leaders read things or hear other executives at the Club talk about them.

The good news, according to the authors: “These new technologies are beginning to converge, and this convergence enables them to yield a much greater value. Moreover, once converged, these technologies form a new industrial infrastructure, transforming how and where organizations can operate and the ways in which they compete. Augmenting these trends is a third factor: the blending of the cyber and the physical into a connected ecosystem, which marks a major shift that could enable organizations to generate more information about their processes and drive more informed decisions.”

They identify three capabilities and three important technologies that make them possible:

Connect: Wi-Fi and other connectivity enablers. Wi-Fi and related technologies, such as low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN), allow for cable-free connection to the internet almost anywhere. Wi-Fi and other connectivity and communications technologies (such as 5G) and standards connect a wide range of devices, from laptops to IoT sensors, across locations and pave the way for the extension of a digital-physical layer across a broader range of physical locations. This proliferation of connectivity allows organizations to expand their connectivity to new markets and geographies more easily.

Store, analyze, and manage: cloud computing. The cloud has revolutionized how many organizations distribute critical storage and computing functions. Just as Wi-Fi can free users’ access to the internet across geographies, the cloud can free individuals and organizations from relying on nearby physical servers. The virtualization inherent in cloud, supplemented by closer-to-the-source edge computing, can serve as a key element of the next wave of technologies blending the digital and physical.

Exchange and transact: blockchain. If cloud allows for nonlocal storage and computing of data — and thus the addition or extraction of value via the leveraging of that data — blockchain supports the exchange of that value (typically via relevant metadata markers). As a mechanism for value or asset exchange that executes in both a virtualized and distributed environment, blockchain allows for the secure transacting of valuable data anywhere in the world a node or other transactor is located. Blockchain appears poised to become an industrial and commercial transaction fabric, uniting sensor data, stakeholders, and systems.

My final thought about infrastructure—they made it a nice round number, namely three. However, I’d add another piece especially to the IT hardware part. That would be the Edge. Right now it is all happening at the edge. I bet I will have a lot to say and tweet next week about that.