by Gary Mintchell | Feb 8, 2023 | Data Management, Manufacturing IT, Operations Management
Partnerships are all the rage these days. It is a great way to add value to customers without the risky business of acquisitions. This one concerns Datanomix and Hexagon.
Datanomix announced a partnership with Hexagon to offer the Datanomix production monitoring software solution to its global manufacturing customers.
Through the new partnership, Hexagon’s customers will be able to access the Datanomix solution more easily. The two companies will also begin a journey of joint development and integration of new data sources that visualize larger and larger segments of manufacturing processes, enabling business leaders to zero in on untapped layers of efficiency in their operations.
by Gary Mintchell | Feb 3, 2023 | Enterprise IT, Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Software
While I was researching the QAD acquisition of RedZone, I noticed the prominence of something called “Adaptive Solutions.” When I mentioned I was curious about what that meant in beyond marketing terms, the PR team went to work and set up a conference call with QAD CEO Anton Chilton.
He told me, “The pace of change facing manufacturers has required a real-time response to situations. Industry models are changing. For instance, look at the automotive industry transitioning to electric vehicles. So they need solutions to adapt to rapid change.”
This explanation comes from the company’s website under the manufacturing tab—Digital manufacturing fully integrates planning, scheduling, quality, cost management, material movement and shop floor control. The solution allows manufacturers to leverage advanced digital manufacturing technologies to better communicate, analyze and use information to meet cost and quality objectives. Build a strong foundation for lean manufacturing concepts that eliminates waste throughout your operations. QAD’s manufacturing ERP capabilities also adapt to any style of manufacturing and to the unique needs of a geographic location and industry.
I mentioned that my experience and coverage usually ended with the MES layer. I have only a little ERP experience. Chilton said, “Some people see ERP as something like concrete poured in the form and left to harden. Enter a platform emphasizing no-code or low-code where users can build new capabilities on it without intrusive customization.” That sounds like a step in the right direction.
We spoke of the meaning of the RedZone acquisition. “We speak of the foundation of people, process, systems,” he said. “We due process and systems well with our current portfolio. With the RedZone acquisition, we can better address the people part of the equation. RedZone is a pure SaaS play providing real-time information to front line workers. It’s in the hands of workers on a tablet configured to each person’s role. The secret sauce includes locking in best practices such as kaizen right in the system on the tablet. The system encourages the team to work collaboratively.”
I’m always curious about integrating the new acquisition into the existing structure. “RedZone can take in information from directly from QAD. It offers deeper interpretation with deeper modules, such as enterprise quality management and others.”
How good is this application? Chilton—“on overage RedZone users have seen 42% increased productivity for medium sized companies and 20% for large enterprises. It scales because it’s implemented at the plant level. The improvements are typically seen within the first 90 days on average. It’s in 1,000 locations with 300,000 users.”
Only a few months earlier, QAD had acquired LiveJourney. Its product is a data mining and predictive modeling application. It offers analysis of real-time data on the fly. It compares patterns from the actual to the as-designed. Managers and workers can use the results to find constraints or other problems and attack them as part of their Lean continuous improvement.
by Gary Mintchell | Jan 25, 2023 | Automation, Manufacturing IT, Security
Mindful people are marked by curiosity. At least, that is one characteristic. I don’t know about being mindful, but I embody a healthy dose of curiosity. A press release came my way from a company I had never heard of touting a process I also had never heard of—range. So, I had to investigate. In addition to the Web (yes, you can still do research by searching on the Web, but thanks to Google, it’s not as easy or as fruitful as it used to be), I also talked with Debbie Gordon, CEO of Cloud Range.
This technology solution relates to cybersecurity. Specifically, these solutions provide training for varieties of personnel regarding identifying and thwarting cyber attacks. The “range” term is known in the IT world. Cloud Range, Gordon told me, is the first company to take the concept, develop it specifically for the operations environment, and use it to train operators, engineers, manufacturing IT, and any others who may be involved.
Gordon used the metaphor of a flight simulator. It’s better for a pilot to train on abnormal situations in a device that isn’t going to crash and kill everyone on board. The problem for operations people lies in the fact that they may have never experienced a cyber attack. They may treat it as just another alarm that can often be ignored.
Cloud range also understands that while IT’s concern is data, OT’s concern is uptime. This requires an entirely new look at how to train and solve the problem.
On to the news:
Cloud Range introduced Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure—the first-of-its-kind full-service, live-fire simulation training specifically designed to proactively train and prepare incident responders (IR) and security operations (SOC) teams in operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) environments to defend against cyber attacks to critical infrastructure.
The digital convergence of OT and IT in critical infrastructure sectors has increased the focus of cyber attacks against OT and industrial control system (ICS) environments. This has accelerated the need for cyber defense teams to understand, train, and prepare to protect these assets. However, OT and IT environments can have very disparate objectives, setups, and risks. OT security requires different protocols, analysis, forensics, and other security methods than traditional IT security networks. That’s why OT/ICS security teams require unique training to ensure they can overcome the threats and challenges they face.
Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure is the industry’s first and only full-service OT/ICS/IoT cyber range simulation training environment with dynamic, live-fire OT/ICS, OT/IoT, and IT/OT incident response and security operations exercises. The customizable OT environments include unlimited network scenarios to simulate any organization’s OT/IT network and emulate any industrial sector, including energy, nuclear, transportation, communications, water systems, buildings/facilities, and more. The new OT solution not only strengthens the resilience of security teams, but also improves operational efficiency by providing a collaborative environment for IT/OT teams to work and train together and remove the complexity and friction between them that is common in most organizations.
The product is a program with a taskmaster where personnel set aside a training time of around four hours to participate in the simulation.
Cloud Range for Critical Infrastructure mimics potential real-life cyber attacks and enables cyber defenders to see and understand an attack before it actually happens, preparing them to be ready to defend. Attack scenarios are mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK Framework for Industrial Control Systems (ICS) so teams can understand the specific tactics taken by adversaries. The immersive, live-fire cyber range environment gives OT IR and ICS security teams the needed expertise, judgment, skills, and muscle memory required to be ready when a real attack occurs.
Cloud Range training missions are led by expert attackmasters providing teams with real-time guidance. Additionally, security leaders receive performance metrics and analysis with prescribed training plans based on the results of an exercise.
Learn more about OT cyberattack simulation training by watching the webinar, “Conquer OT Attacks in an IT-focused World” featuring Debbie Gordon, founder and CEO of Cloud Range; Bryan Singer, Principal Director, Global OT Incident Response Lead at Accenture; Mark Cristiano, Global Commercial Director – Cyber Security Services at Rockwell Automation; and Lucian Niemeyer, CEO of Building Cyber Security.
by Gary Mintchell | Jan 13, 2023 | Edge, Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Process Control
ZEDEDA provides network edge management and orchestration for industrial applications. It has been reaching out to large automation companies for partnerships or collaboration. Its solution integrates with Emerson’s DeltaV automation system. It announced in mid-December 2022 that Emerson Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Emerson, has made a strategic investment.
Emerson’s solution integrates ZEDEDA’s edge management and orchestration offer into its DeltaV automation system, enabling Emerson customers to extend DeltaV to the distributed edge. This expansion will deliver enhanced OT solutions while also continuing into the IT environment, providing software-defined automation and revolutionizing how customers can deploy and connect workloads within their distributed environments.
by Gary Mintchell | Dec 29, 2022 | Edge, Internet of Things, Manufacturing IT, Operations Management
This announcement relates more to IT than operations. ZEDEDA has established a spot in a technology called edge orchestration. As edge compute has become a hot thing finding ways to manage and orchestrate edge devices assumes importance.
This release concerns building automation, but the technology is more broadly applicable. ZEDEDA has delivered a scalable edge solution for Switch Automation, a global technology company for digitizing and decarbonizing buildings, enabling the company to provide innovative edge solutions for digital buildings.
Switch’s comprehensive smart building platform integrates with traditional building systems and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to analyze, automate and control assets in real time. During early deployments and without a fully formed management tool, Switch ran into scalability issues for hundreds of appliances.
ZEDEDA provided solutions and technical expertise for managing Switch’s edge devices – including the OS, the edge apps, and the network — and delivered a completely stable network device to allow Switch to achieve best-in-class uptime and a more robust support infrastructure.
Since leveraging ZEDEDA, Switch has reduced its overall maintenance hours typically consumed by OS and general software upgrades. That reduced downtime has translated into a more cost-effective operational management across all of its appliances.
by Gary Mintchell | Dec 28, 2022 | Data Management, Manufacturing IT, Operations Management
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Inductive Automation’s Jennifer Faylor wrote on the company’s blog some thoughts from last fall’s Community Conference about digital transformation tips. She notes that digital transformation is “unignorable”. Yep. Even I write about it, even though I think that it’s something that began many years ago and will continue indefinitely.
Despite the abundance of companies forging ahead with plans to digitally transform, there are some that remain a little lost in the weeds. And for those that are already navigating Digital Transformation adeptly, staying on the cutting edge of best practices is indispensable, to ensure you continue to create top-notch solutions.
Following is her compilation of tips.
1. Think Big, Start Small, and Act Fast
“When you start thinking about Digital Transformation, think big, start small, and act fast. … And the big one, I think, most people overlook is actually the acting fast. They get too caught up, or they think about this as a traditional, large, single-entity monolithic project or initiative, instead of a whole bunch of small, iterative, flexible, agile approaches to transforming the company.” – Jeff Winter, Industry Executive for Manufacturing with Microsoft
2. Prepare for Expanding Scopes
“A lot of times with these types of projects, as they expand, as the interest in it grows, the scope of the project grows. So really [it’s important] to define what our core objective is that we want to accomplish, once we meet that objective, add on additional features to it. Sometimes it seems like with these projects, they can balloon almost too quickly. If we can keep it focused on a couple of specific objectives and meet those, then we can take that and build upon it.” – Nate Kay, Engineering Manager at MartinCSI
3. Show How Easy It Can Be
“I think a big thing for Digital Transformation is oftentime clients are very shocked by how easy it is to implement some of the Digital Transformation concepts … and I think we need to continue to push customers to do things like proof of concepts, or really just see a demo for what their system could be. I personally think that the SQL Bridge Module is the most powerful tool, and that customers have been using bad tools for so long that they just don’t realize how simple it can be to capture data and do things like eliminate that manual report that they’ve been filling out for 15 years.” – Elizabeth Hill Reed, Project Engineer, DMC, Inc.
4. Flip the Process From “Push” to “Pull”
“As soon as you do the first line and you prove the data is real regardless of what the preconceived notions are of what the data should be, you turn from a push process, where ‘We’re from central office and we’re here to help,’ to a pull process, ‘I have a problem with another line, can you guys do what you did on that line over on this line?’ So as soon as that coin flips, you’re golden.” – Dan Stauft, Director of Operational Technology, SugarCreek
5. Follow the “4 Rights”
“[Get] the right data to the right people in the right place at the right time.” – Steve Chapman, Partner, Barry-Wehmiller Design Group
6. Embrace Your Role as an Educator
“As an integrator you’re also an educator, in terms of especially today in the space where you do have IT, OT … those are two different levels that for years hadn’t really talked to one another and don’t really know each other’s world. And so now they’re being forced to communicate with each other, and we’ve got to try to help educate them on what’s important to each other and why.” – Mike Ficchi, Senior Controls Engineer, Multi-Dimensional Integration (MDI)
7. Empower People on the Ground
“And the idea is, is that if you work with people on the ground rather than just [sending them] a memo, to say that we’re going to be putting in this system, speak with the people first, get their opinion, and ask them for input because now you’ve empowered them, now they’re part of that solution, and they feel like this solution is going to help them produce better, not this is just going to be some measuring stick as an excuse to get rid of people.” – Craig Resnick, Vice President, Consulting, ARC Advisory Group
8. Add Extra Value to Everything You Do
“For everything you do, give a little bit of value-added. Something new, something that they haven’t thought of, but something that’s going to give them information that they didn’t have before, or control of something, or view of something, or some new data that you’ve merged two bits of information to produce new data, data that they didn’t have before. And they will love that.” – Chris Taylor, Managing Director, BIJC Ltd
9. Remember: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
“This process is a journey and not a destination. If you can help everyone involved understand that … ‘This is new, and you know what we’re going to celebrate the wins, we’re going to get better from the losses,’ because both of those things will happen on a journey. You have the highs, you have the lows, but if we all understand, ‘Hey, we’re marching towards this common end goal,’ setting those mental parameters is extremely beneficial when we’re trying to attempt and create really any kind of change, not just Digital Transformation.” – Reese Tyson, Ignition Team Lead, Flexware Innovation
10. Accept That the Solution is “Becoming”
“One very important lesson that we learned last year and have discussed a lot internally is that any solution is never really done. It continues to develop in different directions as new business needs arise with the clients, and we’ve learned the hard way that we have to stop talking about the delivery and instead accept that it’s only a delivery, one of many. And somewhere along the road, we realized that there’s a term for this, it’s the thinker Kevin Kelly who actually coined this, ‘becoming.’ So, things are just becoming, the solution is becoming, it’s never ending as such, it’s just becoming.” – Jan Madsen, Founder, Enuda AB