FDT Group Introduces FDT Unified Environment for Field to Cloud Data Harmonization

The HUG experience in Orlando is barely out of my system when I turned to Hannover Messe. No, I am not eating German food, well, at least not in Germany. Yesterday morning I sat in a 7 am (my time) press conference with OPC Foundation. More on that later. I have worked all afternoon consolidating about 20 press releases and interviews and decided at the end of the day to talk about the press conference / annual general meeting I attended virtually this morning. This from the FDT Group.

Steve Biegacki became Executive Director in January bringing experience with building this type of organization not to mention marketing and sales executive experience with both Rockwell Automation and Belden. Along with the Rockwell role he was a driving force behind ODVA and CIP. 

He pulled off his initial AGM at Hannover with his usual style backed with experienced staff. Pretty much like the organizations I’ve talked with this year, they didn’t let the pandemic slow the work cranking out valuable work. Biegacki will be leading a renewed marketing effort to explain benefits of the FDT 3.0 standard.

From today’s news: Device, system, and end users now benefit from an embedded unified environment unlocking universal device management, IT/OT convergence, data analytics, services, and mobility.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting the evolution of FDT technology, introduced the FDT Unified Environment (UE), and developer tools based on the new FDT 3.0 standard to deliver next-generation FDT industrial device management system and device solutions for field-to-cloud IT/OT data harmonization, analytics, services, and mobility based on user-driven requirements for smart manufacturing in the process, hybrid, and discrete markets.

Driven by digital transformation use cases to support new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) business models, the standard has evolved to include a new distributed, multi-user, FDT Server application that includes built-in and pre-wired OPC UA and Web servers enabling an FDT Unified Environment (FDT 3.x) merging IT/OT data analytics supporting service-oriented architectures. The new Server environment deployable in the cloud or on-premise delivers the same use cases and functionally as the previous generation FDT hosting environment, but now provides data storage for the whole device lifecycle at the core of the architecture allowing information modeling and data consistency to authenticated OPC UA and browser-based clients (tablets and phones) for modern accessibility to address the challenges of IIoT.

“Collaboration and data harmonization are the keys to manufacturing modernization,” said Steve Biegacki, managing director, FDT Group. “FDT UE delivers a data collaborative engineering specification and toolset to enable modern distributed control improving operations and production reliability, impacting the bottom line for new IIoT architectures.  I’m proud to witness our first group of members showcasing their FDT 3.0 WebUI-based DTM prototypes mixed with 2.0 DTMs in the new Server and Desktop environments running IO-Link and HART here at Hannover Messe live and in person. To be present as a guest in the OPC Foundation booth to demonstrate field-to-cloud connectivity, OPC UA enterprise access and services along with mobile field device operation is one for industry history books. I especially want to thank Thomas Hadlich, FDT architecture and specification chairman, for leading the first FDT UE demo project; along with our front runner member companies for participating – Flowserve, Krohne, Omron, Magnetrol, Thorsis, CodeWrights, VEGA, Rockwell Automation, Turck, PACTware and M&M Software.”

FDT UE consists of FDT Server, FDT Desktop, and FDT DTM components. System and device suppliers can take a well-established standard they are familiar with and easily create and customize standards-based, data-centric, cross-platform FDT 3.0 solutions—expanding their portfolio offerings to meet requirements for next-generation industrial control applications. Each solution auto-enables OPC UA integration and allows the development team to focus on value-added features that differentiate their products, including WebUI and App support. FDT Desktop applications are fully backward compatible supporting the existing install base.

FDT 3.0 specification license agreements and developer toolkits are now available on the FDT website.

 

Updates from Honeywell

I am in a hallway of the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando attending my first Honeywell User Group meeting in several years. I missed a couple before the pandemic shut things down. More than 1,200 people here, so it’s a lively return to conference season. 

There were several announcements in CTO Jason Urso’s usual high energy product keynote this morning. The one I am reporting today deals with sustainability—of which they had much to say. Other announcements will discuss the future of process control and other goodies. I was also sitting on an update from Honeywell Forge (software) that I’ll tack on to the end of this report.

Honeywell Introduces Emissions Control and Reduction Initiative

This initial offering will focus on the detection and reporting of fugitive methane emissions to help users reduce production losses, improve productivity and comply with ongoing legislation.

Honeywell announced an Emissions Control & Reduction Initiative designed to help customers achieve carbon neutrality in a wide range of areas. The initiative will initially focus on helping oil and gas customers with upstream, midstream and downstream operations to monitor and reduce fugitive methane emissions, which are more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

By combining its portfolio of fixed, portable and personal gas detection solutions with gas cloud imaging cameras, Honeywell will provide customers with early detection of fugitive methane emissions, including the precise location of any leaks and associated data analytics and trends. Equipped with this data, users can act quickly to address leaks and other identified risks to minimize production losses and maintain compliance with legislation.

The solution – which combines wireless gas detector technology with enterprise-wide data management solutions – works in tandem with existing Leak Detection & Repair (LDAR) testing methods to improve the accuracy of reporting and increase productivity by enabling users to find production losses faster.

Honeywell’s methane detection capability will be available to customers in Q4 2022.

Honeywell Introduces Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse

Honeywell announced the Spring 2022 release of new offerings and enhancements to Honeywell Forge, the leading enterprise performance management software solution, designed to assist customers in accelerating the digital transformation of their operations. This class of offerings, which includes Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse, will help organizations simplify operations and lower costs by providing increased visibility to data as well as real-time insights, monitoring and automation. 

“Our new Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse offering brings a scalable and cloud-based solution to help distribution centers accelerate their productivity, predictability and transformation strategies,” said Kevin Dehoff, president and CEO of Honeywell Connected Enterprise. “We are proud to also introduce several enhancements to our current software solutions across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors, enabling enterprises to optimize asset performance and drive operational savings.”

Honeywell Forge Connected Warehouse provides organizations with two modules that provide real-time visibility across their warehouse site operations and advanced analytics to reduce unplanned downtime, address recurring challenges and automate legacy processes. The Site Operations module features a dashboard that indicates how sites are performing against plan and helps managers identify repetitive bottlenecks and proactively address issues that may impact performance. The interface, which is optimized for tablets, enables enterprise benchmarking, monitors areas such as picking and shipping and makes recommendations to achieve daily targets. Users can use the Honeywell Forge Connect edge solution to connect devices and integrate with standard warehouse systems.

Honeywell is launching enhancements to other software across the aerospace, smart buildings and industrial sectors.

• The all-new Honeywell Forge Pilot Connect mobile app is our latest aerospace offering, designed to improve fuel savings while engaging flight crews in their companies’ sustainability and efficiency initiatives. The easy-to-use app works with Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency to provide pilots with briefing information like historic fuel averages, debriefing information like trajectory analytics, and customizable KPIs and targets.

• For the commercial real estate industry, Honeywell Forge Predictive Maintenance provides near real-time visibility into buildings’ health & performance, and service cases in order to prioritize asset issues based on safety, operational and quality risks.

• Additionally, Sine occupant experience solutions provide frictionless access to buildings via mobile Bluetooth. Other improvements include new scheduling and capacity planning features along with occupant experience enhancements such as better feedback, information and wayfinding.

• UniSim Design now provides a common simulation platform for upstream oil and gas, downstream processing and sustainability. It contains new features for modeling Green H2, CO2 capture, transportation and storage. 

• Honeywell Forge Inspection Rounds offers new features for industrials customers that allow the capture of images and videos during task execution and the creation of reusable checklists to drive standardization across an organization. Other additions include GPS-enabled monitoring of worker proximity, enhanced capabilities for gaining insights from historical data trends and improved asset identification through NFC tagging.

• For OT Cybersecurity, Honeywell is rolling out a new Cyber Care services offering to supplement its Process Control Network (PCN) Hardening Service. After completion of the initial PCN hardening services to help industrial companies reduce their OT attack vectors, Cyber Care provides an option to purchase bi-annual onsite Cyber Care visits by Honeywell consultants for maintaining previously implemented networking hardening benefits and identifying potential additional PCN hardening settings for enhanced protection.

Honeywell Forge is a purpose-built software solution on a native edge-to-cloud, data-driven architecture designed to accelerate digital transformation of operations. Explore the Spring Release, learn more about Honeywell Forge, request a demo and follow Honeywell Forge on LinkedIn for the latest news.

Responsible Computing Consortium

We thought of Artificial Intelligence as something magical. Then we figured out that much of the output of AI depends upon how the application is trained. Then, duh, we discovered bias underneath the AI training. Perhaps concepts we have learned since ancient times such as ethics, morals, and responsibility are important. My adolescent self hates hearing me say things like that. But, it’s true.

Sometimes I despair at the general lack of taking responsibility for our words and actions I too often observe.

In a bit of mining that same vein, the Object Management Group announced last Friday, May 20, a new consortium called Responsible Computing (a trademark of IBM, by the way). The founding members of this group are IBM and Dell. Its purpose is to focus on sustainable development goals.

From the news release, “Responsible computing is a systemic approach aimed at addressing current and future challenges in computing, including sustainability, ethics, and professionalism, stemming from the belief that we need to start thinking about technology in terms of its impact on people and the planet.”

“Responsible Computing aims to shift thinking and, ultimately, behavior within the IT industry and affect real change,” said Bill Hoffman, Chairman, and CEO of RC and OMG. “We’ve made our manifesto and framework freely available, and we’ve asked every RC member to implement RC principles. Our goal is that someday every IT professional will adhere to RC principles.”

The new consortium’s manifesto defines RC values to restore trust in IT by responsibly applying technology and by sharing experiences with other organizations. These values include sustainability, inclusiveness, circularity, openness, authenticity, and accountability.

The consortium’s RC framework focuses on six domains of responsible computing, including:

  • Data centers – are designed and operated with a focus on efficiency and sustainability, including emphasizing green energy and improving the handling and disposal of chemicals, toxic materials, and rare metals.
  • More sustainable infrastructure – monitoring the energy usage of products and technologies. Efficient and more sustainable operations, including proper disposal of products.​
  • Code – choosing code that optimizes environmental, social, and economic impact over time. Optimal code includes efficient algorithms, frameworks, and tools and KPIs to accelerate decision-making and pinpoint areas requiring more scrutiny during software development.
  • Data usage – the safe use of data will drive transparency, fairness, privacy, and respect for users.
  • Systems – that address bias and discrimination by driving equality for all, for example, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for transparency.​
  • Impact – the technologies and innovations that drive a positive impact on society at large such as building to improve human conditions and mitigate social risk.

Through interviews with over 100 CTOs concerns were raised around developing practical actions to progress Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. They wanted to contribute to becoming more sustainable businesses and demonstrate progress through consistent metrics. In November 2020, IBM’s Academy of Technology (AoT)’s responded to these challenges and created the Responsible Computing Council, an international team of technology and computing leaders who collaborate in validation and the implementation of the RC framework and lead by example in becoming a responsible computing provider. Object Management Group (OMG) was an early member of the council, and shortly after that, the OMG board approved the formation of the RC consortium.

“Now is the time for companies to adopt a holistic approach that places sustainability strategy at the center of their business,” said Sheri Hinish, Global Lead, IBM Consulting Sustainability Services. “IBM is proud to be a founding member of the RC consortium. Through this collaboration, we hope to help companies establish new and innovative ways to transform their business operations through ethical, impactful ways that can help contribute to a more sustainable future.”

“Dell is proud to be a founding member of the RC consortium. We are aligned with and driven by a similar passion to help leading technology organizations realize their sustainable development goals, in line with the planet’s,” said Marc O’Regan, CTO EMEA, Dell Technologies. “In addition to being socially and environmentally responsible, we also expect that RC members will see improved go-to-market solutions, strategies and bottom-line results by following RC principles.”

An organization can become more operationally efficient and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) when meeting sustainability goals. The ROI can potentially include:​

  • Reduced power consumption
  • Waste reduction for packaging
  • Cost-effective heating and cooling solutions​
  • Supply chain efficiency, and more

Security Enhancements Headline Ignition Updates from Inductive Automation

Inductive Automation has released update 8.1.17. Key to this release are security updates and extensive upgrades for the Tag Editor. Arnell Ignacio provides an overview on the Ignition blog.

Ignacio gives the rationale for the security updates. “On May 12, 2022 many products at the Pwn2Own competition were successfully hacked, with the goal of using this information to make improvements and ensure customers are well taken care of. Security awareness is a must, especially in today’s interconnected world, and being proactive can help prevent potentially catastrophic results in many critical systems. Although it’s never fun to hear about security vulnerabilities, the reality is that the world is constantly evolving and security threats will always be at our doorstep. The most important thing is how we address these threats and the steps that we take to protect our systems.”

Inductive Automation has a process to assure users get the latest security updates through various means, such as nightlies, critical updates, and the release train. That’s why the company recommends all Ignition users update to the latest version of Ignition, which is currently 8.1.17.

For our 7.9 users, we have back-ported security fixes from 8.1.17 into 7.9.20, which is now available for download. To protect our users, Inductive Automation will publish a technical advisory 60 days after the release of 8.1.17 and 7.9.20 that will disclose details for most of these vulnerabilities.

In addition to the important security update, Ignition 8.1.17 brings a major update to the Tag Editor in the Ignition designer, and improvements to Perspective, Vision, Docker, EAM, OPC UA, drivers and the platform.

Prior to this update, when you wanted to modify expressions, bindings, alarms, and event scripts, the relevant tag information was moved into a new window, making it unavailable. In 8.1.17, we brought all of that relevant information back into the dialogue window.

The next several improvements to the Tag Editor help to maintain context when modifications are made. In Ignition 8.1.17, updates were made to the Tag Browser Trees, Category Panes, and persistence of categories.

We also brought back category panes within the Tag Editor. Prior to the current update, all properties were visible, thus making the view overwhelming and harder to focus on. With Ignition 8.1.17, the category panes group related properties together, making it easier to focus when editing specific items.

In Ignition 8.1.17, the Expression Binding editor will appear as a pop up. This will afford users a larger editing workspace while keeping the Tag Editor in view, thus maintaining context.

With a security update and a major facelift to the Tag Editor, what more can software development throw into Ignition 8.1.17? Well, plenty more! Let’s check out what additional goodies are found in Ignition 8.1.17.

Other updates include:

Perspective—Added expandSubviews and collapseSubviews component methods to the Table component.

Vision—Added “Login Prompt” and “Login Message” to the Vision Login project properties, which change some of the default text when attempting to log into an IdP from a Vision Client.

Docker Image—Added a GATEWAY_MODULES_ENABLED environment variable that can whitelist a set of built-in modules that will remain installed prior to gateway startup, which helps with container re-creation events.

EAM—The Collect Backup task now times out after 60 minutes of waiting for the agent to generate the backup, plus an additional 60 minutes to transfer the backup. In addition, we added a new system property (ignition.eam.task.collectBackup.transferTimeout) that can modify the transfer timeout.

OPC UA—The Ignition OPC UA server’s max session count is now configurable via a new Max Session Count property.

Redundancy—Failover to a redundant node is now allowed if the nodes have different platform versions, which allows attached clients to remain connected to at least one node during a redundant pair upgrade.

Platform—The audit log now records when a user logs in or out of the gateway’s web interface.

And many more.

OMAC Launches Data Governance Initiative

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) continues to reinvent itself as new technologies and applications appear. I could say the same about Mark Fondl, whom I first met as he explained how Ethernet was going to be the only sensible control network some 24 years ago. About the time I first met OMAC. This initiative comes because of all the data-intensive technologies we’ve added in manufacturing over the past few years. We have cloud, analytics, digital transformation, data-driven, and the entire panoply of use cases and tech.

OMAC’s latest initiative, led by ei3’s Mark Fondl, aims to establish a framework and guidelines to protect precious proprietary information while enabling secure data sharing for efficiently solving problems, mining insights, and capturing the highest value from data-supported capabilities. 

The workgroup will elaborate on the following topics to help organizations boost employee collaboration and productivity and support continuous innovation through practical data-sharing approaches. 

  • Categorizing types of data and methods of segmentation
  • Identifying the sources of data 
  • Clustering data usage – from control and optimization to service and support
  • Understanding data ownership and constraints – especially concerning the use of insights arising from the data
  • Architecting data hierarchy for distribution 
  • Reviewing security regulations concerning the transfer and storage

Participating organizations include leading manufacturing companies such as Cargill, Pepsico, and Corning; well-known OEMs including Mettler-Toledo, Milacron, Barry-Wehmiller, and Nordson; system integrators like Rovisys and Martin CSI, and groundbreaking technology companies like the ei3 Corporation, Siemens, General Electric, Rockwell, Cisco, Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. amongst others.

The workgroup will meet virtually, with the kick-off meeting being planned for May 18, 2022. (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party due to the allergy attack.) A face-to-face workshop will take place in December 2022 to allow active members to review the developed content and enable an easy and free flow of suggestions in advancing this topic.

If you would like to participate and contribute your knowledge, skill, and experience, please complete the Expression of Interest Form, and the workgroup administrator will reach out to you.

Unstructured Data Management

Welcome to the age of Industrial Internet of Things and the need for unstructured data management. Analysts talked for years about the amount of data generated (or could be generated if digital) from manufacturing. We have arrived at that age. Datadobi is one company I talk with in the unstructured data management space. Here is news of additions to its product portfolio through a product called StorageMAP.

TL;DR: New software enables enterprises to visualize, organize, and take action on their entire unstructured data landscape via one single pane of glass.

Datadobi, a leader in unstructured data management, announced launch of StorageMAP, a solution that provides a single pane of glass for organizations to manage unstructured data across their complete data storage estate. Built upon Datadobi’s best-in-class vendor-neutral unstructured data mobility engine, the software enables enterprises to visualize, organize, and act on their data in hybrid vendor and cloud environments. StorageMAP puts companies in control of their data’s cost, carbon footprint, risk, and value.

StorageMAP is the evolution from Datadobi’s field-hardened data migration and protection solutions to a fully-fledged data management platform.

Unstructured data is expected to reach 144 trillion gigabytes by 2025, according to IDC. The sheer magnitude of unstructured data combined with the increasing complexity of today’s heterogeneous storage environments has caused 95% of organizations to cite the need to manage unstructured data as a problem for their business.

The four major critical concerns for enterprises that StorageMAP addresses are:

  • Cost Control – StorageMAP helps organizations cut costs by enabling intelligent cloud adoption, moving data to less costly on-premises storage, accelerating the decommissioning of inefficient storage, and deleting Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial (ROT) data.
  • Conformance to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Policies – StorageMAP helps organizations to meet CO2 reduction targets through carbon accounting of unstructured data storage in the cloud and in the data center. Cloud adoption (which claims to have up to an 80% carbon reduction rate compared to on-premises storage), data center optimization, and reduction of ROT data all contribute to a lower carbon footprint.
  • Risk Reduction –  StorageMAP bolsters unstructured data protection by allowing IT leaders to understand what data they have, why they have it, where it is, and who owns it. The software then enables companies to take action to properly backup their unstructured data and delete ROT, disowned, and dangerous data.
  • Getting More Value from Data – StorageMAP allows companies to move their data to the right place, at the right time, all the time. For example, data can be quickly copied to the cloud where it can be analyzed by cloud-native apps. StorageMAP enables companies to exploit their data’s hidden value, transforming it from a liability into an asset.

StorageMAP is sold as a “pay-as-you-grow” model that allows customers to first understand their unstructured data environment before committing to take any necessary actions required by the business. IT leaders, business unit managers, and the C-suite can see reports optimized to their needs that will help them make clear decisions according to their business priorities. Once they have the visibility, they can then organize the data according to multiple criteria such as ownership of the data, the role of the data, where the data belongs, the risk profile of the data, and the type of action to take on the data. Only then do customers need to commit to purchasing the necessary Action Add-ons required to meet their immediate needs.