Emerson Presentation on Sustainability Efforts Plus Control and Software News

Emerson held a media/analyst presentation on its sustainability efforts. I remembered writing and swore it was for here. After much searching, I found a document that is my monthly column for Automazione Oggi, an Italian automation magazine.

In addition, Emerson also held a user conference called Exchange Immerse. The control and software organization held the event last week. I was not invited—budgetary constraints I was told. So, no report on the conference itself and anything happening there. The company did release a number of news items which I’ve noted briefly below.

Sustainability

Emerson recently gathered assorted media writers virtually to discuss its ongoing efforts with sustainability. Seth Harris, Emerson Director of Sustainability for the Americas, and Gerardo Muñoz, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager for AspenTech (an Emerson business), discussed how advanced automation ensures integrity across the carbon capture value chain.

Emerson’s Framework includes: Greening Of—how they improve internal performance; Greening By—how they support and enable customers’ decarbonization and environmental sustainability; and Greening With—how they foster collaboration among many stakeholders.

The emphasis of this presentation included energy source decarbonization and energy management.

Carbon capture represents an estimated 15% of total CO2 reductions by 2070. These are achieved through both direct air capture and point-source capture. CO2 is captured from emissions and processed for deep well storage. The process includes four steps. First is separation and purification of complex toxic gas to yield high purity CO2. Next, the gas is compressed and liquified to an ideal stable state for transport. The liquified CO2 is safely transported to its destination for, fourth, stored in stable geologic formations.

My question for all of you inventive chemists out there is can’t this gas be used as a feedstock in order to make something useful?

News Items

This looks to me as Emerson’s response to the user-pushed initiative for Open Process Automation. Emerson has not been active with the Open Group’s work. But obviously they feel the customer pressure for software defined and more openness with connectivity and potential for upgrade. These are significant advancements proving out Emerson’s tagline as a software company. I find that doubly interesting given that a competitor has dropped software from its tagline. One of my more popular podcasts discusses “Software Eating Manufacturing.” Check these out.

Boundless Automation Vision Drives New Technologies for a Next-Generation Automation Platform

Emerson announced the first of a series of new technology releases that build upon its Boundless Automation vision and serve as the foundation of its next-generation, software-centric industrial automation architecture. The new technology releases will transcend a traditional control system, creating a more advanced automation platform that contextualizes and democratizes data for both people and the artificial intelligence (AI) engines.

Emerson’s DeltaV Edge Environment will provide more secure ways to move data from the automation platform to wherever it is needed – data lakes, data scientists, analytics applications in the cloud, enterprise resource planning systems, etc. – without losing valuable operational context.

Emerson also announced the release of technologies supporting the increased bandwidth and intrinsically safe connectivity of Ethernet advanced physical layer (APL). 

Its new DeltaV PK Flex Controller allows users to leverage subscription-based services to use only the technologies they need, with the flexibility to add functionality at any time. Subscription options also enable teams to reduce capital costs and shift expenses to the operating expense budget. As a next phase, Emerson will add more than 16 services to its subscription portfolio to provide customers with more flexible business models, empowering them to drive innovation and growth with ease.

Emerson has also added new software-as-a-service, cloud-hosted solutions to bring data from the edge into the cloud, helping combine cloud data with AI tools to upskill personnel and offset experienced worker shortages. Those AI analytics tools, including AMS Optics and Aspen Mtell, will help teams build models for predictive and prescriptive maintenance strategies that unlock the autonomous plant, while simultaneously creating a new paradigm of centralized operations where highly skilled personnel work in tandem with AI.

As expanded connectivity brings more assets, devices and data into the fold, teams will need more powerful tools to help them manage and use the information coming in from many different sources. Emerson’s Ovation Green solutions, including asset management and supervisory control and data acquisition software, represent a powerful suite of technologies to combine a utility’s renewable energy assets into a single management tool, unifying data and setting the stage for holistic automation across the power grid. Similarly, tools like AMS Data Server unshackle reliability data, making it easier for users to get critical information out of the intelligent field and into cloud-based applications for use by cross-functional teams.

Emerson Forms Life Sciences Executive Board to Advance One-Click Technology Transfer Initiative

Emerson announced a new executive board of key life sciences leaders to help define, review and demonstrate prototypes for Emerson technologies that will safely speed life-saving drugs to market.

Collaborating through Emerson’s One-Click Technology Transfer Board, Emerson customers FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Merck and Pfizer will lead the development of strategies, solutions and guidelines to convert today’s life sciences manufacturing recipe transfer process into a digitalized production platform. Digitalizing recipe technology transfer will reduce the time, effort and risk of managing, sharing and translating information to help get new drug therapies to patients faster.

Emerson will also open a dedicated research center to accelerate the development of One-Click Technology Transfer software. Located in the Singapore life sciences manufacturing hub that is home to 8 of the 10 global pharmaceutical companies, Emerson’s new research center will design, develop and verify the software and digitalized production platform.

Emerson’s One-Click Technology Transfer capabilities will help digitalize drug recipes and recipe management, from discovery and development to production at scale, providing valuable translations between drug recipe requirements and manufacturing processes while establishing best practices and creating a framework to unify disconnected systems into a holistic platform. The board will define reference data models and objects for one-click manufacturing, create the framework for a centralized recipe transport and translation platform that is scalable and extensible, and define and implement standards for version and quality control while simultaneously ensuring the overall system is easy and intuitive to use.

Emerson’s data scientists and software developers at the research center will use the latest computer software development technologies to perform rapid prototyping to test and verify concepts. The software platform developed through rapid prototyping will be tested and proven, working across the One-Click Technology Transfer Board company supply chains as appropriate.

The new board builds on Emerson’s globally recognized life sciences leadership combined with the industry’s most flexible and integrable solutions. Bolstered by its acquisition of the Fluxa PKM solution and AspenTech’s software capabilities including AspenTech DataWorks industrial information management software, Emerson is well positioned to develop the technologies and standards for a fully integrated end-to-end solution for the drug development pipeline.

New Digital Valve Controller First to Offer Embedded Edge Computing

Emerson has announced the Fisher FIELDVUE DVC7K Digital Valve Controller, a new design improving upon 30 years of field-proven innovation. The DVC7K features Advice at the Device technology with embedded computing and analytics that convert raw data into actionable information locally with Bluetooth capability, within the device. This means maintenance personnel can receive the data via their phone, tablet, or computer wirelessly without having to be in a control room at the plant location. The new valve controller technology improves the performance, reliability, and uptime of both on-off and control valves—and by extension an entire process plant or facility—in a wide variety of process industry applications, and provides the information required to create streamlined work processes.

Previously, digital valve controller data had to go to a host system to be processed and prepared for viewing, however, with the intelligence of this system, data is now accessible without requiring access to the host software. All information can be viewed at the DVC7K’s local user interface, nearby via Emerson Secure Bluetooth wireless technology, or remotely after it is transmitted via a wired digital network to a host, such as a distributed control or asset management system.

The local user interface provides indication of valve health at a glance via LEDs, and users can drill down from the interface home screen to find more information. Emerson Secure Bluetooth enables access to one or more digital valve controllers at distances up to 30 feet from any device capable of supporting Bluetooth, such as a smartphone or tablet. Whether the information is viewed locally, nearby, or remotely, plant personnel can use it to drive awareness of valve health.

Inductive Automation Celebrates 20 Years of Developing Industrial Software

Twenty years ago at an ISA show (remember those?) my boss, the publisher of Automation World, called me and told me to come to our stand. There was a guy who there who had started a new industrial software company using Java and all the latest IT-friendly technology. He was going to change the industrial software world. His name was Steve Hechtman.

I found my way back to the booth and had a good conversation. But, I had interviewed too many CEOs like that with visions they couldn’t back up. But I reported. And continued to report as Inductive Automation began business and found initial success with a solid technology and a great pricing model.

A few years later we gathered around a conference table in the Inductive Automation offices in Sacramento. My podcast series was only three years old. It was still a new media effort for trade press. I laid a recorder on the middle of the table. We had Glen Gudino, the Automation World media sales person, Steve Hechtman, CEO/founder, and Colby Clegg (now CEO) and Carl Gould (now CTO) then both original developers. I turned the recorder on and this podcast was the result. It is episode 112. A hint about Steve’s personality. He had the vision, so I expected him to do all the talking. I think he said nothing. He let Colby and Carl tell the story.

Since then they grew enough to build a building in Folsom and then a couple of years ago moved into yet another new building. All without ever taking outside investments.

A couple of years ago, I recorded another podcast with Don Pearson, chief strategy officer of Inductive Automation. Here is that recording.

Executive Insights into Manufacturing Cybersecurity with Rockwell Automation and Dragos

Dragos invited me to sit in a webinar on Oct. 6 focusing on manufacturing cybersecurity featuring Robert M. Lee, CEO & Co-founder of Dragos, and Blake Moret, Chairman & CEO of Rockwell Automation. This is now available on demand.

They offered executive insight—both their own and executives of client companies—into the problems involving cybersecurity and what many companies are doing in defense. They offered some practical advice. 

They have found that CEOs and Boards realize the gravity of the situation and the necessity for quick action. Surprisingly many times the problem lies in the CISO organization. They get caught up in pilot purgatory without rolling out solutions in a timely manner. 

I wonder in your organization where the bottleneck to getting necessary systems implemented resides? I hope not with you. And if identified, what all can you do to pop that clog?

Back to the webinar, the  presenters pointed to such areas for improvement as limited OT network visibility, security perimeter challenges, unmanaged external connections, and the importance of separate IT/OT cybersecurity approaches.

In response, Rockwell Automation has offered guidance to customers about the need to prioritize cybersecurity. Moret, “Cybersecurity is the first thing on the list of things to get done, and the last thing on the list.”

I recently reported on a Rockwell paper detailing recent research on cybersecurity.

Lee discussed the Five Critical Controls for OT Cybersecurity:

  • Response Plan
  • Defensible Architecture
  • Visibility
  • Secure Remote Access
  • Key Vulnerability Management

The key takeaway—make cybersecurity a priority either strengthening your existing process or get busy building a secure process.

Why Use HMI/SCADA, Six Examples

Ignition Firebrand Award Implementations

I attended the annual Inductive Automation conference in Folsom, California with an inquiring mind regarding HMI/SCADA. What are people (and companies) doing with Ignition, its flagship software platform? Why after 20 years are customers still lining up to use the platform? I did the very beginnings of what is now called digital transformation 45 years ago. Why are we still so far from implementing it?

Two brief answers. First, there are always problems to solve. The problems solved here are providing information to people who need it in order to better operate whatever program or operation they work at. Second, the tools just keep improving enabling more problems to be solved.

Inductive Automation sponsors a competition among users culminating in the annual Firebrand Awards. Following are short takes on the projects that won. The link takes you to the overview page for deeper information. These are really cool projects that should fire your imagination for problems you could tackle.

IGNITION COMMUNITY UNITES TO BUILD HOMELESS MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM

Room in the Inn exists to provide programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help and work, centered in community and long term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home. 

Room in the Inn (RITI) was using four disparate software packages, Excel, and email to run their operations, but there were still too many gaps and the logistics were too complex for the existing solutions. Vertech offered to build an Ignition application that combined all their software packages for their existing operations and included additional logistics features. And Vertech offered to do it for free. Over 150 volunteers from around the world participated in this two-and-a-half-year project to provide RITI with the solution they need to help serve the homeless community in Nashville, TN.

In what Chris McLaughlin from Vertech describes as “stupidity or altruism,” he offered to build RITI one cohesive software platform that would encompass all the existing functionality and add the missing features required to scale their service for the homeless. Whether it was the offer to build a multi-million-dollar solution for free, or Chris’ “charm,” RITI trusted Vertech, Chris, and his community of engineers to make a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) despite having never made one before. Ignition wasn’t the obvious software platform for a HMIS that doesn’t have any I/O or industrial equipment, but it was the platform Vertech knew, and it came with a community of volunteers willing to help.

After two-and-a-half long years and over 150 volunteers, the new Ignition HMIS system went live and was named Discovery by RITI (just a coincidence that it is being submitted to the Discover Gallery). Now over 40 people per day use Ignition to run shelters, manage operations, provide services to the homeless, and generate KPIs for continuous improvement. They are already using it as a foundation to add additional reports, auto-task generation, and features to improve the service of the homeless.

CUSTOM VISUAL TOOLS HELP BRING ANIMATRONIC CREATURES TO LIFE

ESM Australia was founded in 1996, originally to provide a repair service in the fields of industrial electronics for industry in Queensland and later around Australia. Today we have become recognized leaders in Industry 4.0, leading companies through the process of digitalization, allowing them to realize the potential gains that automation and data promises.

Creature Technology Co. produces the most technologically sophisticated, creatively inspired and life-like animatronics for area spectaculars, theme parks, exhibitions, stage shows and events around the world. Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2006, Creature Technology revolutionized animatronic entertainment through the production of Walking with Dinosaurs ‐ The Arena Spectacular. With a vision to emotionally connect an audience to a cast of prehistoric beasts, we used never‐before‐seen technology to set a new benchmark in storytelling through animatronics. Since then, our work has spanned the globe and the many genres of live entertainment.

Creature Technology Company developed and implemented the C-Tech 2 system with support from ESM Automation Systems (AKA ESM Australia) and Inductive Automation. The system provides theatrical technicians and operators with simple visual tools to modify or create interaction and motion of complex animatronics figures without needing to access or be experts in PLC, motion, or SCADA programming.

The drag-and-drop interface offers a friendly and familiar way to pull dynamic functions from a palette to a workspace and draw links between them to create complex relationships. For this project, the data structures, functions, variables, relationships, and even screen layouts and tabbed views are linked to a PostgreSQL database.

Beckhoff industrial controllers, connected to the same database, interpret configurations in the database into logic and motion control settings. The logic and motion control settings are used in conjunction with motion profiles generated by studio animation tools to create fluid, lifelike movements, and interaction of animatronic creatures. 

 After surveying potential solutions, Creature Technology Company determined that a custom Ignition module using a React library to create a custom Perspective component would yield the best results. With the help of Inductive Automation’s Travis Cox, a custom module was built using the React Library’s React Flow Chart. The module contains two components: the draggable node and the chart. Both components utilize Perspective’s embedded views for visualization on the chart. This enables full integration and use of Ignition’s features, e.g., pop-ups, tag bindings, etc.

The element palette is a database-driven flex repeater that contains all available elements as draggable nodes which can be dragged onto the chart. There are three categories of nodes: inputs, functions, and outputs. Inputs and outputs are linked to static elements, while the functions contain dynamic elements such as adders or setpoint select nodes. Each node is uniquely identified and has dynamically created tags. Once a node is removed its tags are also removed. 

Nodes are displayed using a dynamic block template. Based on the database, a defined number of input and output ports, as well as custom local parameters, can either be exposed as an input or statically defined. Local parameters can be edited in a setting pop-up for each node. Ports can be linked using connectors to other nodes. Once a flow is completed from an input to an output element through any number of functions, a map is created to identify the order of execution for the Beckhoff controller. Lastly, for an improved user experience, tabbed workspaces and file operations were added to ensure operators can manage large animation programs more easily.

 The improved user experience has been lauded by end users, who express overwhelming appreciation for the new drag-and-drop view’s ease of use. Assessing the UI mockups next to the delivered system demonstrates that Perspective is the ideal environment to connect industrial hardware quickly into a web-based environment which can be accessed anywhere at any time.

DATA CENTER SUPPORTS CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT THROUGH SCADA SYNCHRONIZATION

Vantage Data Centers powers, cools, protects, and connects the technology of the world’s well-known hyperscalers, cloud providers, and large enterprises. Developing and operating across five continents in North America, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, Vantage has evolved data center design in innovative ways to deliver dramatic gains in reliability, efficiency, and sustainability in flexible environments that can scale as quickly as the market demands.

Vantage Data Centers’ goal for this project was to design and deploy an Ignition Perspective system for multiple data centers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), used for both system control and monitoring, as well as supporting operational excellence and continuous improvement.

With Vantage Data Centers’ targets for rapid expansion in the EMEA region, they were challenged with “industrializing” SCADA deployments, namely building a framework and approach to deploying thousands of devices in short development and commissioning windows, all without compromising quality or ease of use.

The challenges Vantage Data Centers faced were all derived from the scale of the project:

  • How to build and configure this many tags and devices?
  • How to display thousands of different devices?
  • How to ensure the system is vendor and communication protocol agnostic?
  • How to create the above without compromising consistency and quality?
  • How to achieve this in the time frames required?
  • How to maintain a system so huge?

Vantage Data Centers focused on five critical areas while creating their Ignition solution.

Engineering Tools

To solve the issue of building tags and devices on a large scale, Vantage Data Centers developed a number of engineering tools. This allowed the deployment of tags and devices to remote I/O gateways from the project’s frontend, leveraging the redundant hub & spoke architecture and gateway network. These are fully configured, including the driver configurations.

Universal popup

Vantage Data Centers coined the phrase “universal pop-up” for the one pop-up they use for all devices. This pop-up evaluates the data structure of the UDT instance and displays the tag data accordingly. It is fully automated, works with any industrial protocols, and incorporates a number of features, including integrated trending, alarming, maintenance, and commissioning. This tag-centric approach to building graphical elements allows for high-speed deployment with excellent quality and consistency.

Icons

The operators and wider team use displays ranging from large wall-mounted monitors to tablets. Leveraging their library of icons, Vantage Data Centers is able to display each device in a simple format, with configuration of the template as simple as the UDT definition path. This allows for standardization across multiple-sized UIs throughout the region.

High-Performance Design

A modern, high-performance layout enables operators to access any device within four clicks. With a simple eight-color pallet, it is easy to identify issues with equipment.

EAM

Three layers of gateways have been deployed: I/O gateways collecting data from devices, frontend gateways where users interact with the data, and the regional management layer. Using the Enterprise Administration Module, Vantage Data Centers is able to monitor the health of all the systems from a single location, perform remote revision-controlled changes to projects and trend data, and monitor KPIs from anywhere in EMEA.

Since migrating to the Ignition Perspective system in 2022, Vantage Data Centers has reduced their development and deployment cycle from a few months to a few weeks. Commissioning of the new projects is now simpler while error and rework rates have been significantly reduced. Additionally, situational awareness has been dramatically improved by the end users. 

IGNITION EMPOWERS BUSINESS EVOLUTION FOR LEADER IN WATER SUPPLY PIPELINES

2Gi Technologie is one of the oldest Ignition integrators in the world. As a Premier Integrator, 2Gi Technology has specialized in the digitalization of industrial processes for over 20 years. It is involved in SCADA, MES, and IoT, and can offer full turnkey solutions, including hosting and telecoms. Over the years, 2Gi Technologie has successfully implemented solutions in the manufacturing industry, chemical industry, and water and wastewater management. Thanks to its recognized expertise, including in large groups, 2Gi Technologie is occasionally active in Europe, French-speaking Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction, Saint-Gobain designs, manufactures and distributes materials and services for the construction and industrial markets. As part of this vast group (€51.2 billion turnover in 2022, 168,000 employees, present in 75 countries), Saint-Gobain PAM has been the leading expert in water supply pipelines for more than 150 years and equips more than 100 capitals and 1,000 towns worldwide each year with its range of ductile iron pipes, fittings, joints and accessories. It also supplies equipment for the municipal casting and building sectors, such as fire hydrants, manhole covers, valves, gully grates, and flange adaptors.

Saint-Gobain PAM has launched a business modernization program to remain at the highest level of competitiveness, and digital technology plays a key role. Saint-Gobain PAM chose the 150-year-old reference plant to demonstrate that leveraging Ignition as an enterprise platform could cover every need and that a team of 6 experts could successfully manage the entire transformation, including SCADA, MES, track and trace, quality control, and many other functions.

Saint-Gobain PAM has chosen to: 

  • Use Ignition with an adapted economic model that natively embeds numerous technical capabilities.
  • To build a team of experts: Three in the Saint-Gobain PAM digital team and three in an Ignition integration team.
  • To rely on the expert integration team at 2Gi Technologie, which has been using the Platform for 15 years.

Ignition’s Hub & Spoke architecture met every challenge, including security, performance, real-time data transmission, and scalability. 

Ignition’s open standards made it possible to easily interface with third-party systems, including SAP and VAX architectures (designed in 1977).

Saint-Gobain PAM uses Vision, Perspective, and Perspective Mobile at the same time to keep HMIs adapted to use at the foot of the production line, in a “responsive” office environment, and in mobility

Saint-Gobain PAM achieved tracking by combining an RFID tag placed in the surface of the pipe and capable of withstanding high temperatures developed by its R&D teams  and Ignition’s ability to collect and aggregate data in real time from various points on the production line.

This unique traceability allows Saint-Gobain PAM, after 15 years of various attempts, to track the detailed production of each pipe manufactured in real time.

Vision has improved quality control with simple and ergonomic HMIs with tactile input for operators permanently wearing protective gloves. 

The strategy of building a team of experts to leverage the full power of the Ignition Platform has paid off.

In a few months and with optimized costs, Saint-Gobain PAM has a modern and open Enterprise Platform covering all of its digital needs in a manufacturing environment. The plant put an end to costly and imperfect paper-based information collection processes.

ALARM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM MAKES COMPLIANCE EASIER FOR BIOPHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY

For over 40 years, top manufacturers in food & beverage, CPG, and life sciences/pharmaceuticals have called upon Grantek to solve their most complex business and manufacturing challenges. Grantek automates pharmaceutical and food & beverage manufacturing operations, including integration with business systems for seamless solutions. Grantek helps customers meet the stringent requirements and challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Grantek is a system integrator and solution provider with a specialization in smart manufacturing solutions, manufacturing automation solutions, industrial IT/cybersecurity solutions and manufacturing consulting services.

For more than 130 years, Merck & Co., Inc. (Merck) has brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. Merck aspires to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world — and today, Merck is at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. Merck fosters a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operates responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities.

Merck & Co., Inc., the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world, requested Grantek’s assistance in building an alarm management system with the Ignition SCADA platform for its facility in West Point, PA. This solution provides alarm monitoring, historization, and a management interface for 10,000+ points while also delivering ad hoc and scheduled reporting tools to aid in the rationalization of up to 30,000 alarm events per day. Grantek’s solution, built with Ignition Perspective, also provides point change management and tracking tools to assist site administrators in maintaining the associated point metadata.

The system needed the ability to add various alarm data from existing Siemens PLCs and through OPC tags for different systems on site. To keep the configuration setup as simple as possible, all data was mapped through the existing Matrikon OPC Server. This eliminated the need to verify all tags back to the PLCs or other systems while also simplifying the overall tag verification for the existing system. Tags connecting to Siemens controllers were connected through the Ignition OPC Server.

The alarming system had to provide all levels of alarm management for the configured tags, and a variety of metadata type options. As part of the alarm system, the user needed the ability to enter comments for each active alarm that would be historized and available for review via reports and the alarm’s history. The alarm system will also work in conjunction with Active Directory to access a list of designated users and populate the given parameters that are made available. User profiles and characteristics also had to be created. Additionally, reports needed to be configured to be filterable by time (day/week/month), severity, category, and users.

Merck selected Ignition by Inductive Automation as the SCADA system for this solution. Grantek recommended Ignition Perspective, as it is uniquely positioned to deliver the results Merck wanted to achieve. The solution had a connection to 22,000 tags and 11,000 alarm points through an OPC/DA server architecture, while also providing a future avenue to connect 96 new Allen Bradley PLCs directly to the gateway. To ensure a user-friendly experience for Merck operators and managers, a real-time alarm management workflow was developed to allow operators to view, dispatch, acknowledge, and annotate unique alarm events through the life cycle of the event. Perspective views for high-density alarm summary and alarm history were also developed to let users perform advanced filtering of the alarm tables as needed. This feature also allows operators and management to view all relative metadata and response status in a conveniently docked pane.

This solution provided Merck with an application that enables well-defined management (dispatching, answering, annotating, and monitoring) of all alarms (up to 10,000 alarm events per day). Furthermore, the solution lets application administrators perform in-depth configuration updates to existing alarms points (and associated metadata including setpoints, sensor details, troubleshooting steps, owners, and various other details) and the ability to add and configure new alarms through the application’s frontend. Additional features included automatic notifications and report distribution, and a high-availability DB architecture allowing for historical retention of an immense amount of alarm information.

To provide more flexibility, the ad hoc and filterable reports let users view historical events in highly customized formats. This feature can also be helpful in the event of a regulatory review or audit. The UI tools allow authorized users to manage points from the system’s frontend. They will be able to change point metadata, alarm parameters, point owners, and specify users who will be notified by email or text if the point enters an alarm state. Alternatively, users can export point data to a CSV file from the Ignition Perspective application, make necessary edits, and re-import the CSV file into the application to modify points. 

UI tools were incorporated into this solution to provide workflow for users to request changes to points while allowing system administrators to track the progress of the changes and record annotation. Grantek’s solution also provides AD integration and workflow so that system administrators can approve or deny new users or role changes.

CUTTING-EDGE DMS EMPHASIZES DATA CONTEXTUALIZATION FOR PHARMACEUTICAL ORGANIZATION

Skellig was founded in 2010 to experiment with the optimization of teams in the life sciences industry. Skellig clients experience a level of transparency and partnership that has not been seen in the industry until now. Skellig partners best with their clients by focusing first on being a place where great engineers can do great work. They built their business around solving for engineers, where engineers find fulfillment in the work they do and take part in opportunities that suit their goals, surrounded by great teammates.

Center for Breakthrough Medicines is a pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization focused on innovative cell and gene therapies. CBM’s integrated, comprehensive offering provides a one-source solution to accelerate speed to market for advanced therapies. CBM’s mission is to save lives by accelerating the development and manufacturing of advanced therapies. Services include drug substance and drug product for all phases of the product lifecycle at a single site. We provide many services including process and analytical development & testing as well as plasmid DNA, viral vector, and cell therapy manufacturing in an over 30 process suite, 700,000+ sq ft facility.

The objective of this project was to develop the Automation Infrastructure and Data Management System backbone for the world’s largest Cell and Gene Therapy Pharmaceutical (CDMO). Center for Breakthrough Medicines’ (CBM) primary aim was to automate data collection and contextualization while ensuring logical controls are in place to protect client data and proprietary information. The system will provide a platform for equipment deployment and integration, maximizes flexibility and redundancy while minimizing upkeep and maintenance, and incorporates cutting-edge automation and IT technology for expansion and future growth.

Development of the automation backbone is essential for efficient management of data, which, in turn, is crucial for business and organizational success across industries. CBM’s goal was to develop a robust Data Management System (DMS) and automation infrastructure to provide time-series and relational data archives as well as deploy process control capabilities for future needs.

The primary objective of the project was to automate data collection and contextualization as much as possible and make data readily available to all end users, including clients, enabling scientists to focus on science and business developers to focus on business development by eliminating manual data collection activities. In line with this objective, the DMS aims to ensure logical controls are in place to protect client data and proprietary information while still providing a high-availability interface.

To facilitate quick and easy equipment deployment and integration, the system provides a platform from both functional and validation perspectives. The system’s flexibility and redundancy are maximized while minimizing system upkeep and maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency.

The DMS is designed utilizing cutting-edge automation open-source technologies, including Opto 22 hardware, Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA platform, Canary Historian, and utilizing MQTT protocol, providing CBM with the tools and platforms for expansion and future growth. This architecture was designed with scalability in mind, ensuring that it can accommodate the growing needs of CBM as the company expands not just site-wide, but globally. The system’s capabilities also allow CBM to collect, record, and distribute data more efficiently, reducing the potential for human error and freeing up scientists to focus on higher-level analysis and scientific research. By incorporating all data repository and collection systems under one global strategy based on their data model, CBM has a streamlined approach to data management, enabling efficient and effective data analysis, quicker decision-making, and minimizing the effort of system expansion.

CBM’s DMS architecture and automation infrastructure are the most advanced in the pharmaceutical industry, enabling CBM to provide more services and data availability to its clients and giving it a major advantage over its competitors.

Announcements from Inductive Automation’s Ignition Community Conference 2023

I brought two questions along to my visit to Folsom, California and the 11th Ignition Community Conference. How are people using HMI/SCADA software? Why, after all these years, do companies still need to pursue “digital transformation”?

I’ll have a few posts from the event. Plenty of news. And time to write since I wasn’t invited to the user group meeting in Anaheim starting today.

CEO Colby Clegg and CTO Carl Gould made several announcements about enhancements and changes to the existing Ignition 8.1 including expansion of the Ignition Cloud product and  simplifying pricing and SKUs for the Ignition Edge product drawing cheers from its user and integrator audience.

Ignition Cloud Edition Multi-Tenant Licensing

Earlier this year, Inductive Automation released Ignition Cloud Edition, which is a fully hosted enterprise solution deployed on the AWS and Azure cloud platforms. Today, the company announced it will remove the Ignition Cloud Edition license clause that prohibits multi-tenancy.

This change, which is planned to take effect during Q4 2023, will allow customers to use Ignition Cloud Edition to build reusable, commercially viable multi-tenant applications.

“For years, many customers have been interested in building commercial hosted applications on top of the Ignition platform. The flexibility and accessibility of the cloud makes it the most natural place to build these types of applications. Multi-tenancy provides a new economic model for developing exciting and scalable web applications in Ignition,” says Inductive Automation CEO Colby Clegg.

Ignition Edge Product Line Simplification

Inductive Automation announced that it is streamlining its Ignition Edge product offerings while expanding the products’ capabilities with unlimited data. In Q4 2023, the number of Ignition Edge products will be reduced from five to two, which are Ignition Edge IIoT and Ignition Edge Panel. Both Ignition Edge IIoT and Ignition Edge Panel will have no limits on tags or device connections, and both will include MQTT Transmission capabilities.

“Ignition Edge products provide the simplest, most cost-effective way to capture, process, and visualize critical data at the edge of the network. Ignition Edge has been a huge success and, for many of our customers, it has provided the missing piece to make IIoT a reality. Now we’re making Ignition Edge even better by removing limitations and making it easier for customers to choose the right Ignition Edge product for their needs,” says Inductive Automation Chief Technology Officer Carl Gould.

Two additional announcements of import

Inductive Automation Australia

For the first time, Inductive Automation will open an office outside of the United States. Inductive Automation has acquired the assets of its Australian distributor iControls and is opening Inductive Automation Australia PTY as a wholly owned subsidiary of Inductive Automation, LLC.

Brisbane-based iControls will ramp down its operations shortly, and most of its assets, operations, and staff will transfer over to Inductive Automation Australia, which will also hire additional staff in the region.

“The creation of Inductive Automation Australia is a major step toward our goal of providing direct support for Ignition around the world on a 24/7 basis. The team at iControls possesses a wealth of Ignition experience and we’re excited to bring them onto the official Inductive Automation team. Furthermore, Australia is an English-speaking country with a strong technology background, and operating there will position us to expand into key markets in the Eurasian region,” says Inductive Automation CEO Colby Clegg.

Read more about Inductive Automation Australia in this blog post.

Inductive Automation also continues to work with independent international distributors in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and UAE; Brazil; Central America; France; Italy; Norway and Sweden; Sub-Saharan Africa; and Switzerland.

Ignition Community Impact Program

Inductive Automation announced the launch of the new Ignition Community Impact Program, which provides a standardized process for individuals and organizations to apply for a free Ignition license to create a project that benefits their community. The program is intended to support philanthropic and community-service projects such as the Room in The Inn homeless management information system that won an Ignition Community Firebrand Award this year.

Program applications are filed through IA’s website, and licenses are granted after the application is approved. Those interested can learn more and apply.

The Ignition Effect’ Video Series

Inductive Automation announced the release of “The Ignition Effect,” a new video series highlighting the many positive long-term effects that Ignition has on the professionals who use it. The goal of the series is to help viewers more fully understand the role of Ignition in the industry by telling the types of personal stories that are not usually featured in case studies. The series includes interviews with system integrators and end users from the US, South America, the UK, and Europe, and highlights topics such as community, education, career journeys, and more.

The first 5 episodes are available now and more episodes will be released in the future.

BIC Implements Rockwell Automation’s Plex MES As Part of Digital Transformation

My mission involves going beyond the hype of the marketing term digital transformation into the reality of implementation. Companies have actually been doing this for many years. It’s just that we learn better ways to implement it, and suppliers have developed better tools. This implementation will be interesting to watch unfold.

Rockwell Automation aids iconic BIC to shift towards standardized and paperless operations with its Plex Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

Rockwell Automation announced the successful one-year implementation of the Plex Manufacturing Execution System (MES) at the BIC, a world leader in stationery, lighters, and shavers, plant in Bizerte, Tunisia.

BIC’s primary business drivers for digitalization and transformation are the standardization of production processes and integration across machines, people, and business layers. Plex MES was selected for its broad functional scope and technical capabilities, with a cloud-based, Software as a Service solution offering comprehensive support to BIC’s standardization process.

We have learned that the best MES projects start small. Prove a pilot at a plant. Make it scalable so that it can be rolled out to additional sites.

The deployment of Plex MES began in 2020 with a pilot project at BIC’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) production facility in Bizerte, Tunisia, encompassing 90 machines and 400 employees. The Plex MES system offers live reporting, enabling real-time visibility, automation of data collection, and tracking of production KPIs. The benefits of this project include improved inventory control, waste reduction, reduced error from manual processing, and overall equipment efficiency (OEE). It has also allowed for the automation of production integration, a significant change for people on the shop floor.

Plex MES also serves as a foundation for BIC’s broader Smart Manufacturing Initiative, including the integration of additional elements within the factory to help shift from a paper-based system to Plex MES and support self-sufficiency with a 360-degree view of the factory floor.

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