Last of ARC Industry Forum Interview Notes

Last of ARC Industry Forum Interview Notes

ARC’s annual Industry Forum gathering provided an opportunity rare these days of meeting with a wide variety of people and companies. Today’s post summarizes most of the rest of information gathered not previously published.

Interestingly, IIoT was not a major theme. Perhaps it underlies the other things. Most of the time we talked security and software. This round up involves Schneider Electric, Bedrock Automation, Bentley Systems, Siemens, and ioTium.

Profitable Safety for Industry

Schneider Electric has announced EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor, an IIoT-based digital process safety platform and service that enables customers to visualize and analyze real-time hazardous events and risks to their enterprise-wide assets, operations and business performance.

Safety Advisor is built on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure SIF Manager application for tracking and validating safety instrumented function (SIF) performance over the life of a plant. It provides a single view into the health and status of the user’s safety instrumented functions, which helps to identify potential risks and their impact on operations performance.

It also identifies the need to take corrective action via easy-to-understand performance dashboards and leading indicators for safety health and then documents the entire process using an embedded SIF audit trail that supports safety compliance.

Safety Advisor enables customers to understand their risks within minutes, and then act decisively to drive better business results.

Bedrock Automation

Albert Rooyakkers, Bedrock Automation CEO, pointed to advances with Bedrock’s offering including “Zero Cost Software”, having an OSA Proxy, using MQTT Sparkplug-B secure, Role-Based access control, and a partnership with SI firm Wood Group.

Wood’s automation and control group will deliver Bedrock Open Secure Automation (OSA) to its clients in energy and industrial markets. Wood has active membership in The Open Process Automation Forum, which is focused on the development of a standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture.

“This partnership centers on combining our diverse capabilities and innovative solutions in automation with Bedrock’s OSAtechnology to bring open and secure systems to our clients, advancing our position as a world leading automation providerand bringing greater cyber protection to our client’s projects,” said Jeff Shannon, Senior Manager of Strategy and Development in Wood’s automation and control group.

Planning and Design Assessment Solutions for Grid Modernization

Bentley Systems announced availability of OpenUtilities DER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions that provide decision support and cost-based models and simulations for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) integration.

In partnership with Siemens’ Digital Grid business unit, OpenUtilities Solutions for DER empowers electric utilities, electricity suppliers, and distribution network operators (DSO) with software applications to analyze, design, and evaluate DER interconnection requests through desktop and cloud-based services, while supporting the reliability and resilience of network operations.

The solutions generate an electrical digital twin for utilities – a GIS digital twin that enables owner/operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralized energy without compromising safety and reliability. Digital twins can provide huge efficiencies in grid operations by streamlining DER interconnection applications with optimized workflows to better assess operational impacts, long-term strategic scenarios and investment decisions.

OpenUtilities Design Optioneering advances OpenUtilities Analysis one step further with cost-based decision support for planning and designing complex utility networks with DER. The application provides the ability to analyze both planned and existing infrastructure, optimize equipment sizing, and estimate materials and labor costs for DER projects. This helps utilities minimize design construction costs associated with DER and streamline the DER interconnection process with detailed cost estimation included with the impact analysis studies.


Finally, I talked with Ron Victor of ioTium. The product consists of a soft node on, for example, a Dell Gateway device providing baked-in security. It runs as server in cloud enabling easier deployment.

ioTium’s IoT network isolates IT and OT network and data, preventing IT traffic from touching OT traffic and thus eliminating the possibility of backdoor threats. Further, ioTium isolates data streams from different sub-systems, preventing a compromise on one sub-system from affecting any other sub-system.

ioTium’s virtualized edge platform enables deployment, update and upgrade of edge services across thousands of remote sites in one click from the cloud, making analytics, DPI, machine learning, encryption, compression and more possible closer to the data source.

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

Let me try to summarize a number of other news items gleaned from the ARC Forum featuring edge computing, IIoT Platforms, and technology. When ARC’s Paul Miller told me it would be the best ever, he turned out not to be exaggerating. More people, more news.

Stratus Technologies, known for years for secure servers, released an edge computing device. Interest in computing at the edge of the network has blossomed lately, with many companies releasing products. Lots of choices for users.

Integration Objects, firmly within another important trend, introduced an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Platform. I’m beginning to see articles about users latching on to these platforms rather than building their own ad hoc connections among IoT devices and applications.

UL discussed standards with me during the show. The company known for developing safety standards and then testing for compliance has developed also a security standard. And it tests to it for compliance.

HIMA is another company combining safety and security technologies. There is so much in common between the two–especially thought processes and planning.

Yokogawa has extended and rebranded its process automation offering, now called Synaptic Business Automation. Among other things, it has refined the dashboard into a “karaoke” style.

Bentley Systems discussed the combining of engineering design tools with digital photography and other digital technologies to better represent the engineering and design of a plant. This is the most cutting edge technology I saw during the week, but I cannot do it justice in a paragraph. I encourage a tour of the Website.

Last of ARC Industry Forum Interview Notes

Emerson Automation Strives To Enable Top Quartile Performance For Customers

Emerson Automation’s PlantWeb architecture has grown and morphed into a full blown Industrial Internet of Things platform. The redesigned and reinvigorated integrated architecture forms the foundation of Emerson’s new Operational Certainty initiative. This is the first of a few reports on the latest Emerson Automation news.

Steve Sonnenberg, recently elevated into the role of Chairman of Emerson Automation—the company formerly known as Emerson Process Management, introduced new Executive President Mike Train to the assembled customers and press at the 2016 edition of Emerson Global Users Exchange in Austin, Texas on Oct. 24. Train then introduced Operational Certainty.

The previous initiative was Project Certainty where the company strategists arrayed its existing and new products into a package that was designed to remove automation from the critical path of capital projects. These days capital projects are few and far between. Companies are scrambling to wring more profitability from existing assets. Therefore a new approach from Emerson that is obviously driven by its customers’ needs. Train says that this initiative will help wrest more than $1 trillion from operational losses globally.

Initiatives need benchmarks. Emerson introduced peer benchmarking on best practices to achieve Top Quartile performance in safety, reliability, production, and energy management. Top Quartile is defined as achieving operations and capital performance in the top 25 percent of peer companies.

The company is also launching a new Operational Certainty consulting practice plus expanded project execution methodologies and resources. Additionally, on October 24, the company will announce a new Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) digital ecosystem to provide the technology foundation for companies to securely implement Industrial IoT to achieve measurable business performance improvement.

A few examples of Emerson’s findings:

  • In terms of safety, Top Quartile performers had one-third the number of safety incidents as compared to their average industry peers.
  • In terms of asset reliability, Emerson found that Top Quartile performers spend half as much on maintenance compared with average performers and operate with an incremental 15 days of available production each year.
  • In the domain of production, Top Quartile manufacturers spent 20 percent less on production-related expenses as compared to average producers.
  • In the area of energy and emissions, the top 25 percent of producers spent one-third as much as the industry average on energy costs and had 30 percent less CO2 emissions.
Industrial Risk Management And Common Sense

Industrial Risk Management And Common Sense

West Virginia Oil Tanker Fire 0215 WOAYI am a conservationist.

What that means is that I have a lifestyle of conserving and preserving. Especially nature. It doesn’t mean that I’m political. Or even anti-development.

On the other hand, I have ceased being political. Whether I’m “liberal” or “conservative” (as if anyone really knows what all falls under those labels!) bores me. Don’t care for the discussion.

But it’s a weird world. Take industrial risk management. I guess that there are many “conservationists” who do not want to build the oil pipeline known as Keystone. They are afraid of oil spills.

OK, that means one of two things–either they wish to live in a petroleum-free society or they endorse shipping massive amounts of oil across our nation via rail. I’d like to see them accomplish the former. And look at the unintended consequences of rail-based shipping, especially when we as a nation do not really care about upgrading the infrastructure.

If you study the comparative risks, oops, looks like pipelines are a better option.

One of my economics professors used to say that people never really vote their economic interests because they are voting emotions. Interesting observation think about it. Maybe the conservationists are actually achieving the opposite of their desired outcome. Wouldn’t be the first time in politics that happened. Won’t be the last.

Now, I’d never tell you to rush right out and email your congressperson. Even if they had not voted already, it would be too late. I’m in favor of the movement to require congresspersons to wear jackets like those the NASCAR drivers do–there’s a patch that shows who all their sponsors are!

But I do think that no matter your politics that you should stop and think that maybe you’re supporting an outcome that is exactly opposite of what you think you are.

It’s a good business and engineering idea, too. Maybe you’re too stuck on an idea that you’ve missed the real solution.

Manufacturing Jobs on this Labor Day

Manufacturing Jobs on this Labor Day

Happy Labor Day (in the US).

We’re still debating automation vs. manufacturing jobs or something like that.

My friend Walt Boyes, who left Control magazine a few months after I left Automation World, is finally blogging again. He started about the same time I did in late 2003 or early 2004, but his employer moved it from independent to part of its mothership. Evidently as part of his leaving, he was able to keep the name, Sound Off. And all of us who know and love Walt know that the title of the blog is well earned.

He recently wrote about automation and jobs and the mess in Ferguson, MO.

There is no doubt in my mind that automation and robotics have eliminated some working class jobs. Many of the jobs, however, were dirty, dangerous and physically debilitating. We needed machinery to improve the lot and safety of the workers.

Have you ever seen pictures of early manufacturing plants? Have you visited a modern automotive manufacturing plant? You could never imagine that they are doing the same thing. I think we are going through one of those disruptive times.

And it is not all machine vs. human. Some is economic. The things that we (as a society) purchase have changed. We keep cars longer. We buy electronics on a six-month cycle. We are also entering a period of reduced labor supply.

Shortly the baby boomers will really retire. They’ll have to be supported by the “baby bust” generation. We are going to have to learn to do more with less. We will need robots to help the aging boomers in their healthcare needs. We won’t have as many operators and technicians. We may not realize it, but we are preparing for a new era.

Walt brings up the closure of an automotive plant where Ferguson residents could formerly work and earn middle class wages. It is closed. It is not closed because of automation. It is closed because clueless managers could not design cars that people wanted. They did not understand supply chain economics and outsourced manufacturing only to learn (I wish) to their chagrin that the economics did not support that. These managers cared not for customers or their own employees (hourly and salaried alike). I could write a book just on the ethics of the past 50 years of manufacturing management and the impact on society.

I bet miners would love some automation that makes work safer underground. And we would all profit from managers in the coal industry less focused on beating down employees and more focused on finding better ways to use coal that would be less harmful to the environment.

America does not have much of a “labor movement” like in the first half of the 20th Century. But we still need to pause and appreciate the efforts of everyone who works to provide us with a better life.

Industrial Safety Index and Awards

Rockwell Automation Safety Maturity IndexRockwell Automation has had an emphasis on industrial safety for quite a few years, now. Five or six years ago, I moderated two Safety Automation Forums. It has done a few since during Automation Fair. This year they held an “America’s Safest Companies Conference” I think in place of it. The commitment to safety solutions just keeps growing.

I should mention that I conducted an interview regarding the Rockwell Safety Automation Builder that has been downloaded more than 200 times.

First, here is a news note about a Safety Maturity Index Tool to help manufacturers achieve best-in-class safety performance. This is a self-guided assessment that gives manufacturers visibility into the effectiveness of their safety programs and the ability to optimize plant performance. Applicable to any industry, any plant size and any location in the world, the SMI tool helps manufacturers see where they measure in safety culture, compliance and capital. Most importantly, it provides recommendations to help achieve best-in-class safety performance.

The three principal components of a successful safe workplace – culture (behavioral), compliance (procedural) and capital (technical) – are equally critical and interdependent in developing a strong, sustainable safety program. For example, creating and maintaining a robust safety culture but not investing in safety technologies and/or complying with standards lowers a company’s ability to provide a safe workplace. Likewise, the possibility of risk remains when manufacturers invest in safety technologies but fail to emphasize the importance of safety culture throughout the organization.

“The benefits of optimizing safety through the SMI assessment can result in fewer injuries and fines, as well as improved plant productivity, greater efficiencies and enhanced employee morale,” said Mark Eitzman, safety market development manager, Rockwell Automation, who is presenting the SMI tool at the America’s Safest Companies Conference in Atlanta on Oct. 28-30, 2013. “Achieving best-in-class safety performance begins with assessing current practices companywide, and now customers can do this on their own.”

Rockwell Safety Award Winners

Rockwell Safety AwardMany manufacturers across several industries worldwide still view plant-floor safety as a burdensome and costly obligation that adds little value to overall operations. To raise awareness and recognize top-performing manufacturers that have realized the widespread benefits of a strong industrial safety program, Rockwell Automation announced its first Manufacturing Safety Excellence Awards commemorating the world’s safest manufacturing companies.

The winners – General Motors Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) – were selected because for them, safety is more than a priority, it’s a core value.

“These best-in-class companies have a robust safety culture that’s defined by continuous improvement,” said Mark Eitzman, safety market development manager, Rockwell Automation. “They take a comprehensive approach to safety by successfully integrating safety practices between the engineering and environmental health and safety (EHS) departments. This enables the kind of collaboration that reaches far beyond simple compliance to deliver improved plant productivity and greater efficiencies, and dramatically lower injury rates.”

Below are the details about the award winners:

  • General Motors’ collaboration with industrial automation companies has played a central role in developing some of today’s most innovative safety-automation technologies that help improve worker safety while also increasing production throughput in assembly applications. That same technology is now helping manufacturers across a wide range of other industries realize similar benefits. General Motors makes safety a visible commitment at every level across the company. It also shows a strong commitment to improving worker safety outside of its own walls by continuously dedicating resources and expertise to help develop U.S. and international safety standards.
  • PepsiCo successfully maintains a rigorous corporate-safety program across its global manufacturing sites. The safety program includes accountability that is driven from the top down, as well as adherence to a set of global standards that are embraced across the company.
  • P&G combines its engineering and EHS functions under the same leadership, which improves worker safety. This is especially helpful because the two departments have a greater understanding of the other’s job and can work toward common goals when upgrading or sourcing new machinery. This collaboration also results in a unified approach to safety-standards compliance and helps ensure consistency across all machinery in all plants. P&G also holds its vendors and material suppliers to the same high standards to help mitigate risk throughout the supply chain.