The control and automation market I’ve been in since the late 90s has definitely become a software market. Yes, the main players that remain do still have their legacy controllers, instrumentation, sensors, and networking. The excitement that remains is mainly software and services. Domain expertise within the supplier community becomes increasingly important.
I was coming off a vacation (not planned by me) and couldn’t work out the logistics of making it to Dallas. I kept up with things through press releases and reports from social media guru Jim Cahill. I survived missing presentations by the inimitable CTO Peter Zornio. News came through, anyway.
Announcement summaries follow.
This next-generation architecture will empower companies through “boundless automation” to manage, connect and deliver operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) data seamlessly and easily across the enterprise. Moving data freely and securely across OT and IT domains – from the intelligent field to the edge and cloud – will enable operational and business performance optimization across the enterprise.
It really is all about the data.
Check out Jim Cahill’s report.
- Emerson’s Latest Control System Update Lays Foundation for Software-Driven, Data-Centric Automation Platform
- DeltaV version 15 helps drive faster, easier digital transformation to accelerate IT/OT convergence, enabling easy upgrades and modernization
PlantWeb plus recent acquisition AspenTech = Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem, optimized by AspenTech, enables industrial manufacturers across all industries to “See, Decide, Act and Optimize” their operations. Leveraging a robust suite of sensors, software and control technologies, Plantweb now enables companies to optimize the business and sustainability performance of their plants and enterprise through advanced asset and business optimization software.
Movicon.NExT 4.2 is a flexible, modular platform that provides local HMI, supervision and analytics that scale from small IIoT or WebHMI applications on embedded Linux devices to large Windows server systems, allowing users to achieve sustainability and performance improvements, one step at a time, easily and cost effectively.
Emerson has released DeltaV IO.CONNECT, a new subscription software service designed to help plants simplify modernization with an open architecture pathway that makes it possible to transition to more efficient control schemes without the need to completely overhaul existing infrastructure. In a traditional plant with tens of thousands of I/O points and many controllers, this can save hundreds or thousands of hours of labor and up to 40% of the capital required for a total rip-and-replace upgrade.
Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), a regulated subsidiary of Sempra, has selected Emerson’s digital technologies, software and services to demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of its new [H2] Innovation Experience in Southern California. One of the first microgrid projects of its kind in the United States, the [H2] Innovation Experience is a technology demonstration that aims to show how carbon-free gas made from renewable electricity can be used in pure form or as a blend to fuel clean energy systems of the future.
Here are two interesting announcements from Rockwell Automation this month. DataOps and asset management subscription service—both technologies for the future.
IT companies have been touting edge-to-cloud architectures for several years. I’ve followed several of those companies until they decided there’s not enough revenue from the industrial market to satisfy them. Industrial technology suppliers have been notoriously slow to adopt new technologies. But the pace is picking up.
In my next post after this one, I’ll discuss another industrial company who has discovered edge-to-cloud as a promising architecture of the future. Rockwell Automation beat them by few days. I have two announcements from Rockwell from last week revealing that company’s continued advance into software and IT-related technologies. Some executive sources in the industry have told me that Wall Street is driving much of this strategy by valuing software companies over hardware companies.
Check out Rockwell’s investment in and subsequent partnership with PTC that enhanced its software connectivity of automation to IT. Then acquisitions of Plex and Fiix to get into the cloud. Now a partnership with Cognite for a data hub—yet another key component.
- Strategic partnership to develop a unified, edge-to-cloud industrial data hub offering
- Combines Rockwell’s FactoryTalk software with Cognite’s Industrial DataOps platform Data Fusion [Note: I’m on record somewhere predicting DataOps as a cool tool for the future.]
My Equipment Subscription
I always forget that often when Rockwell talks asset management, it’s not the same thing as when a process automation company discusses it. In Rockwell speak, this means keeping track of Rockwell assets in a manufacturing company.
- My Equipment Digital enables digital collection and updating of industrial automation asset data through the use of network-based devices.
- The digital collection method includes firmware information and a one-time vulnerability assessment.
- Customers can self-manage and track their installed base automation assets
- The self-manage feature can be added to an Installed Base Evaluation (IBE service) and is included in the My Equipment Digital and My Equipment Managed offerings.
- Mitigate network risks if legacy products and/or unmanaged switches are found
- Review modernization potential to determine risks and productivity improvement opportunities by identifying which older products may be less expensive to repair than to buy new
- Provide adequate remote support coverage by confirming that the most prevalent technical segments are covered
- Reduce costs through the optimization of asset and spares strategies by comparing storeroom data to the installed base, and the identification of warranty savings
Rockwell Automation Expands Threat Detection Offering through Managed Services
In many ways the tech industry—consumer and industrial including even Apple—is moving from product-centric to finding ways to promote continuing revenue through service offerings. This example comes via Rockwell Automation.
Rockwell Automation launched the new Threat Detection Managed Services offering in early 2022 providing customers with application-level, real-time monitoring, and response services to help detect, identify, contain, eradicate, and recover from a cyber incident. This is a cloud-based service focusing on both Cisco and Claroty threat detection software.
- 24/7 security alert monitoring
- 24/7 hardware health monitoring
- System tuning
- Software update administration
- Backup administration
- Value reporting
Rockwell Automation Simplifies Sizing, Selection of Motion Control Components with New FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer
I appreciate the efforts of companies to automate and optimize everyday activities such as all the work involved with designing and implementing motion control. This is a new release from Rockwell Automation.
FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer software enables users to select, analyze and validate their system components using new intuitive workflows and comparison tools. It is now available for download on the Rockwell Automation website.
FactoryTalk Motion Analyzer consists of a comprehensive component library that allows the analysis of a wide-variety of user-defined applications. Designers can select their system using a combination of Kinetix motors, Kinetix drives, select PowerFlex drives and third-party components such as gearboxes from Rockwell Automation Technology Partners. They can choose from pre-built application templates or by start with a blank template adding components and motion profiles to define the ideal machine.
Craig Duckworth, President and Co-Founder of Velta Technology, spoke with me shortly before I left for two conferences. I’m catching up, slowly. You may not have heard of Velta Technology. It’s just four years old. They are trying to find a niche within the cybersecurity market without being just another packet sniffing or intrusion detection company.
The company doesn’t sell just one product family. It relies on working with partners such as Claroty and Cisco to bring solutions to customers. It is comprised of multi-disciplinary industrial manufacturing and critical infrastructure experts. “We understand the differences between industrial and IT infrastructures, as well as the toolsets required to secure them.” In this regard, they are one of the companies attempting to bring IT and OT to the same table.
“Our experience and partnerships with the world’s leading solution providers in the industrial space allow us to integrate cybersecurity solutions with existing technologies. We bridge the gap in expertise and understanding from industrial assets on the plant floor across to the enterprise.”
Much of our conversation focused on risk. He talked about the role of the customer company’s board of directors as the key leadership element in focusing management on cybersecurity in order to mitigate risks of cyber intrusions. Velta works with customers to implement solutions to retrieve data and organize risk. They recognize that many IT trusted tools simply are not effective or even possible in the operations environment.
Here’s a summary of the company’s offering:
- Technology & Tools
- End-to-End Protection
- Industrial Hardened Platforms : Appliances, Enclosures, Networking
- Continuous Monitoring : Ability to see real time performance and threats
- Secure Remote Access : With full Audit Tracking and Controls
- Industrial Endpoint Protection : The definitive protection in the industry
- Connected Devices Vulnerability Index (CDV Index): Identify your supply chain risks
- Visibility & Digital Safety
- Velta Technology Visibility Program : Real-time visibility into the assets in your industrial environment, behavior anomalies, security threats and vulnerabilities. More than simply a moment-in-time Risk Assessment.
- Velta Technology Digital Safety Standards : A continuous improvement methodology that supports protection of industrial assets. Covers everything from cybersecurity threats to process integrity issues that can impact environmental and human harm.
- Service and Support Options
- Strategy & Advisory Support : Recommendations, designs and roadmaps to navigate safety maturity for industrial asset networks.
- Deployment : From onsite Basic installation and configuration to Enhanced assistance for a full year.
- Operationalize : Build programs for existing or new platforms to improve value and mitigation in your local environment
- Managed Services : Basic/Standard/Premier options to deliver full-platform and resources for your organization.
The rush to improve bottom lines and build closer relationships to customers through adding a valuable services portfolio has progressed from novel to commonplace. I’ve seen major IT companies pivot to a services-first strategy. This announcement of new services from GE Digital is a nice step forward.
GE Digital announced the availability of new Professional Services offerings. Quick Start for Industrial Advanced Analytics, Quick Start for Proficy Operations Hub, and Quick Start for OEE allow industrial companies to partner with GE Digital to deploy the company’s software with action plans for rapid digital transformation and continuous improvement.
“The market is moving fast, driving our customers to manage more SKUs, shorter production runs and more line change overs. Our solutions can scale from plant to enterprise-wide and then beyond the four-walls, from Plant Operations to Enterprise execution across many industries,” said Richard Kenedi, General Manager of GE Digital’s Manufacturing and Digital Plant business. “This requires accelerated pilot projects based on more than a million deployment hours of experience that provide faster results and a template for global visibility, orchestration, and optimization.”
The Quick Start for Industrial Advanced Analytics enables an industrial organization’s process engineers in AI and machine learning to accelerate problem detection, reduce variability, and optimize equipment and processes so that factors that are impacting process variability are identified quickly. GE Digital’s Professional Services team deploys Proficy CSense and provides a path for root cause analysis, early warning monitoring, predictive and proactive actions, process Digital Twin simulations, and process setpoint control and optimization.
With the Quick Start for Industrial Advanced Analytics, organizations can unlock the hidden potential within data to significantly improve operations in a way that simple trending or traditional analytics cannot. GE Digital’s Professional Services team develops behavioral models to identify abnormal conditions that might indicate problems such as faulty or inefficient uses of assets or systems, causes for variation in production rate or quality based on external factors or equipment, or root causes that could be resolved using advanced process control. Modelling the behavior of existing processes can enable new awareness and drive predictive behaviors for improvement in quality, maintenance, and production planning.
The Quick Start for Proficy Operations Hub helps industrial organizations to not only modernize their UI but also to merge data coming from different systems related to production KPIs, environmental health and safety, maintenance, and more. Teams across all levels in an organization can visualize their processes and make better decisions based on real-time and historical plant-wide application data, including historian, MES, and third-party solutions.
With the Quick Start for Proficy Operations Hub, users can monitor, control, provide data entry, and perform analysis all through Proficy Operations Hub using a desktop, laptop, or any mobile device. The Quick Start service provides a path for modernizing visualization and transitioning reports and dashboards to a thin client based on the latest Web-based UI interactions. With this Quick Start, companies can economically transition to a modern front-end without back-end or production changes, as part of a critical step toward digital transformation.
The Quick Start for OEE allows plant production managers, shift leaders, and line operators to rapidly deploy a targeted MES solution for one production line and measure benefit realization in weeks. OEE, a widely acknowledged best practice KPI, measures manufacturing productivity according to three standard perspectives: Quality (good production), Performance (fast production), and Availability (no downtime). Manufacturing teams can increase the effectiveness of their continuous improvement approach through the application of OEE via automatic data collection from automation systems, scaling by first focusing on a pilot line to quickly assess benefit realization, followed by defining a path to full enterprise visibility. This Quick Start helps manufacturers track losses with real-time integration, perform root-cause analysis, and solve the most impactful issues by identifying and implementing countermeasures.