Industry IoT Consortium Publishes Guidance On Cloud vs. Edge For AI-based Industrial Applications

The Industry IoT Consortium, part of the Object Management Group, gathers interested technical people together to study and publish guidance on a variety of industrial connectivity applications. This one provides guidance for when to use cloud or edge computing for AI-based applications such as machine vision.

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) published the Optimal Use of Cloud and Edge in Industrial Machine-Vision Applications whitepaper. The paper is a brief guide for developers who want to integrate machine vision with industrial cloud and edge computing applications.

“With advances in technology, industrial machine vision is becoming increasingly sophisticated. For example, today you can perform AI vision analysis directly on a camera. You can also process this data on a nearby computer, an on-premises server, or remote data center,” said Daniel Young, IIC Technology Working Group Co-Chair and Senior Manager at Toshiba. “Understanding where image processing should occur is an engineering decision based on many different factors.  For example, cloud computing offers industrial applications flexibility and scalability for machine learning models, while edge computing is best for real-time industrial tasks.”

The whitepaper covers the following sections:

  • Applications of Industrial Machine Vision gives a broad description of how companies use industrial machine vision.
  • Edge Computing in Industrial Machine Vision provides an overview of applying edge computing to industrial machine vision applications.
  • Cloud Computing in Industrial Machine Vision discusses cloud computing in industrial machine vision.
  • Deciding Where the Edge Lies in Industrial Machine Vision talks about typical edge computing configurations that incorporate industrial machine vision.

PACTware 6.1 Now Supports FDT3 and Expands Device Integration Model 

Still catching up on news I learned at ARC Industry Forum in early February. This one is expansion of the device integration model enabled by the latest version of FDT. Earlier, I wrote about Migrating to FDT 3. I sat in a couple of sessions where a senior engineer at a consumer packaged goods company pleaded with suppliers to make integrating and applying technologies more user-friendly. This is one such technology.

FDT Group announced that the PACTware consortium released its latest software version, PACTware 6.1, based on the latest FDT3 standard. PACTware 6.1 is one of the first FDT3 stand-alone device configuration environments available. The software tool’s source code is available to the PACTware Consortium membership consisting of 22 automation vendors who offer the FDT-enabled hosting product to the user community at no cost. 

By leveraging the modern FDT3 Unified Environment for intelligent device management, PACTware 6.1 users will enjoy the ability to support their current FDT DTM install base and support modern FDT3 web-based DTMs that are scalable for IIoT architectures. This release also supports integration with FDI Device Packages.

Suppliers of industrial automation systems and devices want to provide solutions that enable the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). To meet their customers’ needs, it is vital for suppliers to enhance their system and device offerings with standards-based, platform-independent, information-driven business models. The new FDT3 standard is accelerating the digital manufacturing journey by enabling an ecosystem of FDT-based solutions providing a unified environment for industrial device management with IT/OT data-driven operations.

In addition to the new FDT3 standard that fully describes the FDT Desktop environment and FDT web-based device DTM, the standard also defines a cloud-based FDT Server environment for distributed control. The new FDT3 DTM and FDT Server are OPC UA- and -mobile ready without any coding, allowing users an easy to use and scalable migration path of OT data to IT enterprise applications. 

AspenTech DataWorks, Enables Customers to Unlock Value from Data

This ARC Forum company update looks at a new Business Unit of AspenTech called AspenTech DataWorks. Probably relevant to this discussion is a quote from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled By Randomness, “The more data we have, the more likely we are to drown in it.”

The founders of inmation Software, recently acquired by Aspen Technology must have had this in mind as they developed technology for making sense from data.

The week in Orlando every year always gives me a chance to catch up with Mike Brooks, Global Director of APM Solutions at AspenTech. He always has something interesting to talk about. He was part of the leadership team that sold Mtell to Aspen Technology in 2016. That brought predictive and preventive maintenance technology applications to the AspenTech portfolio. Under the covers of the tech was the use of machine learning—a technology now hitting all the media headlines as AI.

Brooks always grounds my thinking about ML as a useful technology not for the marketing hype but for actually using AI as an enabler for asset management. He explained how ML is more adaptable than model predictive control because of its iterative nature. It analyzes data iteratively and can then run the scenario out for 40 days in a predictive mode.

Dwain Plauche, Sr. Manager DataWorks Product Marketing, joined the meeting to explain the new business unit, DataWorks.

They consider the past of turning data into value as a trickle. The idea of the new AIoT Hub plus inmation Software is to turn that trickle into a stream. Now known as AspenTech DataWorks, the rebranded business unit provides customers with a singular solution to access and manage their industrial data, whether at the plant level or enterprise wide, in support of their digital transformation strategies.

Asset-intensive industries looking to maximize value from industrial data often are challenged to do so securely and economically as the data is often trapped in different silos across the organization. AspenTech DataWorks addresses these challenges by aggregating and contextualizing data, both transactional and real-time, from assets across the enterprise using powerful integration technology. With this unique, industry leading offering, organizations are now able to realize successful digital transformation, with capabilities including:

 Data Governance – Centralized, flexible data management that supports contextualization and user access control, as well as encryption for all data types

 Connectivity – Vendor-neutral connectivity to all major OT and IT interfaces that allows organizations to integrate data from disparate sources and manage from a centralized system

 Data Integration– Value-added application enablement such as advanced analytics, decision support, and AI

Schneider Electric Launches Digital Transformation Services

My first digital transformation project in manufacturing was in 1978. We had an IBM Series 3 minicomputer. I procured (leased) a set of programs from IBM. There were classes and other training. I remember a trip to New York City. We put all current engineering data on that little machine (not nearly as powerful as the thing in my lap that I’m typing on). Then…the market tanked, the company was sold, the president was fired by the corporate overlords, the new president fired my boss the vice president, the new vice president fired me (stuff runs down hill).

But they couldn’t take away the learning.

That’s why I look with prejudiced eye at the marketing and analyst aspect of today’s articles on digital transformation. We’ve been at it for a long time.

On the other hand—

  • Compute platforms grow ever more powerful
  • Databases become ever better servants of our data needs
  • Organizations grow to incorporate new digital realities

New products and services that help end users get better at this digital journey provide needed support. Aside from hype, these are good. 

At the ARC Industry Leadership Forum in Orlando February 6-9 this year, I had a chance to listen to people from Schneider Electric describe their new offering. I’m sure many customers will find it quite useful.

  • Industrial Digital Transformation Consulting and Deployment Service 
  • Specialized end-to-end service to accelerate successful digital transformation strategic planning and implementation for industrial businesses 
  • Sustainability, industrial performance, digital operations, and energy management experts to drive transformation at enterprise and local levels 

Industrial Digital Transformation Services offering is designed to help industrial enterprises achieve future-ready, innovative, sustainable, and effective end-to-end digital transformation. (OK, that was the marketing hype.)

The targeted benefits include:

  • operational efficiency and workforce empowerment 
  • sustainability and energy efficiency 
  • asset optimization 
  • cybersecurity

And, I’ll close by giving you a quote from the organization leader:

“Successful industrial digital transformation requires a global vision that is agile enough to support local needs,” said Marc Fromager, SVP Industrial Automation Services, Schneider Electric. “Successful programs encompass efficiency, sustainability, and employee empowerment, underpinned by robust cybersecurity. What elevates Schneider Electric is our unmatched combination of digital transformation experience across a myriad of industries, supported by our world-leading energy management and automation technology and software—all delivered by local experts with the full backing of our global teams.” 

Impressive Year of Growth for Zededa

Michael Maxey, recently hired VP of Business Development at Zededa, met with me during the ARC Industry Forum this week in Orlando to discuss progress the company has made over the past year. It has a niche in what they call edge orchestration—a technology that helps organizations manage their edge computing infrastructure. The company certainly had an impressive year.

Following are some highlights:

  • Concluded 2022 with annual revenue growth of 300% and nodes under management growth of 250%.
  • Closed Series B funding with a broad range of new and existing investors, including Coast Range Capital, Lux Capital, Energize Ventures, Almaz Capital, Porsche Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Juniper Networks, Rockwell Automation, Samsung Next and EDF North America Ventures.

Significant Customer Growth

  • Rockwell Automation chose Zededa as a key technology supplier for its upcoming edge management offering, which allows users to manage edge devices, orchestrate applications, and improve access to manufacturing data.
  • VMware announced a multi-year OEM agreement where Zededa will provide distributed edge management and orchestration capabilities as part of VMware Edge Compute Stack.
  • Emerson integrated Zededa’s edge management and orchestration offer into its DeltaV automation system.
  • Advantech and Zededa debuted a new combined solution for Connected Oilfield Systems.
  • Switch Automation turned to Zededa to solve its operating system management and deployment challenges in providing innovative edge solutions for digital buildings.

Strengthened Leadership Team

  • Erik Nordmark, a co-founder of the company, was promoted to Chief Technology Officer.
  • Paul Campaniello joined as Vice President of Marketing to oversee all aspects of global marketing and communications.
  • Michael Maxey was hired as VP of Business Development to help customers and partners accelerate and simplify the deployment of applications at the edge.
  • Michael Pearl transitioned to a new role as VP of OEM and Embedded Sales to focus on rapidly expanding customer base in the OEM and embedded markets.
  • Ryan Hesson was brought on as VP of Enterprise Sales to lead growth in the enterprise market.

Datanomix and Hexagon Partnership Brings Real-Time Factory Analytics to Industrial Manufacturers

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.

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