Rockwell Automation Unleashes Automation Fair at Home

I have to admit, I’m much less tired than I’ve been this week relative to every other year beginning in 1997 at my first Automation Fair by Rockwell Automation. I sat in on a few Rockwell sessions and even squeezed in a robotic press conference from a different supplier. Busy day.

Bear with me a moment. One of my favorite philosophers is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He was a French Jesuit priest and a paleontologist. In one of his books, he used the metaphor of an ascending spiral to describe the history of evolution. Or, if theology is your hobby, try outlining John’s First Letter (from the Christian New Testament). It won’t come out Roman Numeral I with A, B, C and then Roman Numeral II, etc. That outline will also look like a spiral with each new idea ascending above the earlier one.

The reason I bring this up is that I listened to all the presentations and, with one filter in place, it sounded much like the same words as seven years ago. In fact, many of the ideas could date back 20 years. On the other hand, remove that filter and look at the presentations with a different filter, we see that everything is the same, but at a much higher level.

Each year, both the technologies and business contexts have grown over the year before until you realize that the seven-years-ago-me would not recognize much of the today-me.

The constant theme of several years returned in force this year—Connected Enterprise. And the Connected Enterprise does not work for customers unless the supplier brings partners. Rockwell Automation spokespeople prominently displayed this year’s premier partners—Microsoft, PTC, Emulate3D, Ansys, Kalypso.

Cloud is accepted as commonplace. It’s just one of the gang. Not a lot of discussion of Edge except for a short introduction of Microsoft Azure Edge technologies. Ethernet is now so commonplace that it was not mentioned. However, MES (the manufacturing execution software) received more mentions that a center midfielder in the English Premier League gets touches of the ball. Almost every case study mentioned it.

I went to the Milwaukee headquarters for the first time in the mid-90s for a week-long training class. It was brutal, by the way. But those of us smart enough to wait until we finished homework before we got our beer finished high on the list (I think I was 3rd in my class). One of the features was an automated manufacturing line for the new IEC-style contactors. Guess what? Featured this year was a brand-new automated assembly line making—contactors. It looked pretty good.

The contactor line was part of a Rockwell supply chain tour of plants in the US, Mexico, Singapore, and Poland exhibiting how Rockwell uses its own products plus those of its partners to maintain a robust internal supply chain.

The company has come a long way from the controller and contactor company I knew 30 years ago. They proved to me (not that I don’t have many other questions) that they are serious about the Connected Enterprise. It has progressed up the spiral.

Not to mention, this year I don’t have to travel on my Birthday, which is this week.

Rockwell Automation Software Gets Update and Added Services

Rockwell Automation software announced a set of new capabilities for FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC.  I have previously written about some other updates plus a renewed and expanded partnership between RA and PTC.

Enhancements to InnovationSuite include:

FactoryTalk Analytics now offers a comprehensive array of simplified data science capabilities for multiple personas—process engineers, data scientists, and citizen data scientists—and reduces analytics data preparation effort. New capabilities include end-to-end data orchestration with visual data modelling, open-stack connectivity, pre-built analytical templates, and self-service model deployment for a full-service customer journey.

The Rockwell Automation Digital Thread enables a collaborative workflow across product designers, production engineers, and OEM suppliers, optimizing the design process from the beginning. As data models born in the design phase are automatically used in advanced analytics applications, insights can be leveraged to achieve new levels of performance.

With the acquisition of Kalypso, Rockwell Automation now offers a full suite of consulting, data science, technology, business process management and managed services. With approximately 250 new InnovationSuite customers and a library of dozens of repeatable industrial use cases, the Rockwell Automation consulting and delivery services are a component of the InnovationSuite digital transformation journey to accelerate time to value.

Comments from executives:

“The need for digital transformation has increased significantly as our customers accelerate innovation, maximize workforce productivity, and optimize operations,” said Arvind Rao, director of product management at Rockwell Automation. “These new capabilities combined with our industry-leading partner ecosystem helps us extend our technology and solutions leadership, meeting our customers’ needs for simplicity, scale, and domain expertise.”

“We are pleased to be collaborating with the Rockwell Automation team on the next generation of our InnovationSuite offering,” said Don Busiek, senior vice president, strategic alliances, PTC. “As we help organizations realign their digital transformation goals to combat the current macroeconomic environment, we are confident that InnovationSuite offers the most comprehensive and effective way to optimize their people, products, and processes – empowering manufacturers to embrace their new normal.”

Ignition 8.1 HMI/SCADA/IoT Provides Faster Development, New Features, and Long-Term Support

We saw something of this new release of Ignition HMI/SCADA by Inductive Automation at the Ignition Community Conference in September. The key element of the release is that it’s a long-term support release. But it also expands upon some of the ground-breaking features introduced last year in Ignition 8.

Inductive Automation released Ignition 8.1, which will help users develop Ignition projects more rapidly and use them more effectively. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry in more than 100 countries and has been implemented at 54 of the Fortune 100 companies. 

Ignition 8.1 can help users future-proof their systems for years to come. It’s a Long-Term Support release, so it will be supported by Inductive Automation for five years. While 8.1 is focused on performance and stability, it also includes several new features.

“Ignition 8.1 is all the innovation and power of the Ignition platform, refined into a high-performing, secure, and reliable package ready for the future,” said Carl Gould, director of software engineering for Inductive Automation.

Ignition 8.1 builds upon Ignition’s unlimited licensing model, cross-platform compatibility, modular approach, and use of open technology standards. Last year’s release of Ignition Perspective brought powerful new capabilities to mobile devices. It saved development time by allowing users to design a single Perspective application that displays properly on screens of any size. And it put full control of the plant floor on smartphones and tablets. 

With Ignition 8.1’s new Perspective Workstation, users can deploy native applications to any HMI, desktop, workstation, and multi-monitor configuration without a third-party web browser. Screens can be displayed in full-screen kiosk mode with no distractions from the underlying operating system.

Perspective Symbols make it easier and faster than ever to create attractive HMIs. Symbols have dynamic data models, so binding them to process values is drag-and-drop. Each Symbol comes in three different styles, so users can customize to their preferences. Users can easily add animation and supporting text.

Perspective Power Chart allows users to easily create runtime-configurable time series charts from Tag Historian data. Users can quickly generate ad hoc charts within a Perspective session. Power Chart also adapts automatically for mobile screens.

Ignition 8.1 also includes several shortcuts to save time in development, a more powerful tag browser, and the ability to work with Docker Hub. For new users, Ignition Quick Start has several tools to help people quickly get going on creating projects. All of these new features save time for developers.

For more information on Ignition 8.1, visit Inductive Automation’s What’s New webpage.

Open Source Security Foundation Announces Education Courses

Open Source Security Foundation, OpenSSF, a cross-industry collaboration to secure the open source ecosystem, announced free training on how to develop secure software, a new OpenSSF professional certificate program called Secure Software Development Fundamentals, and additional program and technical initiatives. It is also announcing new contributors to the Foundation and newly elected advisory council and governing board members. 

Open source software has become pervasive across industries, and ensuring its security is of primary importance. The OpenSSF, hosted at the Linux Foundation, was created to provide a structured forum for a collaborative, cross-industry effort. The foundation is committed to working both upstream and with existing communities to advance open source security for all.

Open Source Security Training and Education 

OpenSSF has developed a set of three free courses on how to develop secure software on the non-profit edX learning platform. These courses are intended for software developers (including DevOps professionals, software engineers, and web application developers) and others interested in learning how to develop secure software. The courses are specifically designed to teach how to develop secure software while reducing damage and increasing the speed of the response when a vulnerability is found.

The OpenSSF training program includes a Professional Certificate program, Secure Software Development Fundamentals, which can allow individuals to demonstrate they’ve mastered this material. Public enrollment for the courses and certificate is open now. Course content and the Professional Certificate program tests will become available on November 5.

“The OpenSSF has already demonstrated incredible momentum which underscores the increasing priorities placed on open source security,” said Mike Dolan, Senior VP and GM of Projects at The Linux Foundation. “We’re excited to offer the Secure Software Development Fundamentals professional certificate program to support an informed talent pool about open source security best practices.”

New Member Investments

Sixteen new contributors have joined as members of OpenSSF since earlier this year: Arduino; AuriStor; Canonical; Debricked; Facebook; Huawei Technologies; iExec Blockchain Tech; Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH); Open Source Technology Improvement Fund; Polyverse Corporation; Renesas; Samsung; Spectral; SUSE; Tencent; Uber; and WhiteSource. 

Core Infrastructure Initiative Projects Integrate with OpenSSF

The OpenSSF is also bringing together existing projects from the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), including the CII Census (a quantitative analysis to identify critical OSS projects) and CII FOSS Contributor Survey (a quantitative survey of FOSS developers). Both will become part of the OpenSSF Securing Critical Projects working group. These two efforts will continue to be implemented by the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). The CII Best Practices badge project is also being transitioned into the OpenSSF.

OpenSSF Leadership 

The OpenSSF has elected Kay Williams from Microsoft as Governing Board Chair. Newly elected Governing Board members include the following:

  • TBC Oct 28, to be dropped in
  • Dan Lorenc from Google as Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) representative.

An election for a Security Community Individual Representative to the Governing Board is currently underway and results will be announced by OpenSSF in November. Ryan Haning from Microsoft has been elected Chair of the Technical Advisory Council (TAC).

There will be an OpenSSF Town Hall on Monday, November 9, 2020, 10:00a -12:00p PT to share updates and celebrate accomplishments during the first three months of the project.  Attendees will hear from our Governing Board, Technical Advisory Council and Working Group leads, have an opportunity for Q+A and learn more about how to get involved in the project. Register here.

Membership is not required to participate in the OpenSSF. For more information and to learn how to get involved, including information about participating in working groups and advisory forums, please visit https://openssf.org/getinvolved.

New Member Comments

Arduino

“As an open-source company, Arduino always considered security as a top priority for us and for our community,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. ’”We are excited to join the Open Source Security Foundation and we look forward to collaborating with other members to improve the security of any open-source ecosystem.”

AuriStor

“One of the strengths of the open protocols and open source software ecosystems is the extensive reuse of code and apis which expands the spread of security vulnerabilities across software product boundaries.  Tracking the impacted downstream software projects is a time-consuming and expensive process often reaching into the tens of thousands of U.S. dollars.  In Pixar’s Ratatouille, Auguste Gusteau was famous for his belief that “anyone can cook”.  The same is true for software: “anyone can code” but the vast majority of software developers have neither the resources or incentives to prioritize security-first development practices nor to trace and notify impact downstream projects.  AuriStor joins the OSSF to voice the importance of providing resources to the independent developers responsible for so many critical software components.” – Jeffrey Altman, Founder and CEO or AuriStor.

Debricked

“The essence of open source is collaboration, and we strongly believe that the OSSF initiative will improve open source security at large. With all of the members bringing something different to the table we can create a diverse community where knowledge, experience and best practices can help shape this space to the better. Debricked has a strong background in research and extensive insight in tooling; knowledge which we hope will be a valuable contribution to the working groups,” said Daniel Wisenhoff, CEO and co-founder of Debricked.

Huawei

“With open source software becoming a crucial foundation in today’s world, how to ensure its security is the responsibility of every stakeholder. We believe the establishment of the Open Source Security Foundation will drive common understanding and best practices on the security of the open source supply chain and will benefit the whole industry,” said Peixin Hou, Chief Expert on Open System and Software, Huawei. “We look forward to making contributions to this collaboration and working with everybody in an open manner. This reaffirms Huawei’s long-standing commitment to make a better, connected and more secure and intelligent world.”

Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard

“We are excited to bring the Core Infrastructure Initiative’s research on the prevalence and current practices of open source into this broader network of industry and foundation partners,” said Frank Nagle, Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School and Co-Director of the Core Infrastructure Initiative at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard. “Only through coordinated, strategically targeted efforts – among competitors and collaborators alike – can we effectively address the challenges facing open source today.”

Polyverse

“Polyverse is honored to be a member of OpenSSF. The popularity of open source as the ‘go-to’ option for mission critical data, systems and solutions has brought with it increased cyberattacks. Bringing together organizations to work on this problem collaboratively is exactly what open source is all about and we’re eager to accelerate progress in this area,” said Archis Gore, CTO, Polyverse.

Renesas

“Renesas provides embedded processors for various application segments, including automotive, industrial automation, and IoT. Renesas is committed to ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of systems and data while mitigating cybersecurity risks. To enable our customers to develop robust systems, it is essential to provide root-of-trust of the open source software that runs on our products,” said Shinichi Yoshioka, Senior Vice President and CTO of Renesas. “We are excited to join the Open Source Security Foundation and to collaborate with industry-leading security professionals to advance more secure computing environments for the society.”

Samsung

“Samsung is trying to provide best-in-class security with our technologies and activities. Not only are security risks reviewed and removed in all development phases of our products, but they are also monitored continuously and patched quickly,” said Yong Ho Hwang, Corporate Vice President and Head of Samsung Research Security Team, Samsung Electronics. “Open source is one of the best approaches to drive cross-industry effort in responding quickly and transparently to security threats. Samsung will continue to be a leader in providing high-level security by actively contributing and collaborating with the Open Source Security Foundation.”

SUSE

“At SUSE, we power innovation in data centers, cars, phones, satellites and other devices. It has never been more critical to deliver trustworthy security from the core all the way to the edge,” said Markus Noga, VP Solutions Technology at SUSE. “We are committed to OpenSSF as the forum for the open source community to collaborate on vulnerability disclosures, security tooling, and to create best practices to keep all users of open source solutions safe.”   

Tencent

“Tencent believes in the power of open source technology and collaboration to deliver incredible solutions to today’s challenges. As open source has become the de facto way to build software, its security has become a critical component for building and maintaining the software and infrastructure,” said Mark Shan, Chair of Tencent Open Source Alliance and Board Chair of the TARS Foundation. “By bringing different organizations together, OpenSSF provides a platform where developers can collaboratively build solutions needed to protect the open source security supply chain. Tencent is very excited to join this collaborative effort as an OpenSSF member and contribute to its open source security initiatives and best practices.”

WhiteSource

“In today’s world, software development teams simply cannot develop software at today’s pace without using open source. Our goal has always been to empower teams to harness the power of open source easily and securely. We’re honored to get the opportunity to join the Open Source Security Foundation where we can join forces with others to contribute, together, towards open source security best practices and initiatives.” David Habusha, VP Product. 

About the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF)

Hosted by the Linux Foundation, the OpenSSF (launched in August 2020) is a cross-industry organization thatbrings together the industry’s most important open source security initiatives and the individuals and companies that support them. It combines the Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), founded in response to the 2014 Heartbleed bug, and the Open Source Security Coalition, founded by the GitHub Security Lab to build a community to support the open source security for decades to come. The OpenSSF is committed to collaboration and working both upstream and with existing communities to advance open source security for all.

About the Linux Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more.  The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit linuxfoundation.org.

Rockwell Automation Introduces Next Generation Edge Gateway

Rockwell Automation introduced the first capability of its edge strategy with FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, to simplify and accelerate IT/OT convergence.

I have been working in the area of edge gateways for about six years as a marketing consultant, writer, influencer, analyst. I thought I knew what one was when I saw it. After reading this press release several time and visiting the Website (not easy to find on the RA Web, by the way), I see that Rockwell Automation has once again redefined what I thought I knew.

This edge gateway is not a hardware product with compute, storage, networking, and the like. It is a software product designed to connect IIoT data to Rockwell’s analytics engine. Therefore, it “helps converge IT and OT”.

Explaining the reason for the product (and editing out all the superlative adverbs lacing the text), Rockwell Automation writes, “Industrial enterprises struggle to aggregate operational data from heterogeneous sources and add relevant context from the source—such as process conditions, time stamps, machine states and other production states—to the IT layer. This prevents them from uncovering insights at the enterprise level. While traditional gateway solutions fail to address these important challenges, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway goes a step above to not only enrich OT data with critical context where it matters the most—at the edge—but also delivers it in a flexible common information model to IT applications, so that industrial enterprises can derive critical insights for a competitive edge.”

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is an important foundation of a broader edge platform offering that will include elements of pre-built data analytics models, machine learning, tailored applications, and scalable compute. It is the latest addition to the highly recognized and widely adopted FactoryTalk Analytics suite offering that addresses diverse industries and Industrial IoT (IIoT) use cases. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is also a key pillar in Rockwell Automation’s strategy to accelerate digital agility across the industrial devices to cloud spectrum with partnerships, including PTC and Microsoft.

A leading Fortune 100 pharmaceuticals manufacturer says, “Legacy systems today are not IIoT enabled and need many different software programs to collect and organize data. With existing methods, the operational attribute values collected have different timestamps, so it is impossible to synchronize the data together. Compared to that, FactoryTalk Edge Gateway automatically stitches the data together and puts it in a payload using pre-configured information model hierarchy. It gives one solution to collect and organize the relevant data.”

FactoryTalk Edge Gateway’s data management capabilities result in up to a 70% reduction in analytics data preparation efforts for data scientists or analysts, while providing quality OT data. The underlying common information data model is orchestrated by the Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Smart Object capability and can be mapped to on-premises or cloud applications to generate predictive insights across the enterprise. FactoryTalk Edge Gateway is designed to integrate with best-in-class ecosystem solutions like Microsoft Azure and FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, and a variety of big data, IIoT, and cloud applications.

“Industrial businesses need actionable enterprise-level insights to achieve their goals. As customers continue to drive IT/OT integration and leverage operational data to drive insights, they are realizing that having the right OT data context is critical to scale their digital transformation initiatives.,” said Arvind Rao, Director, Product Management for Information Systems at Rockwell Automation. “With FactoryTalk Edge Gateway, we are dramatically reducing the time and effort required to build, maintain and enrich this critical OT context. This provides our customers with the opportunity to realize double-digit operational improvements through analytics.”

Agile MES With Microservices Architecture Streamlines System Integration

Here it is, yet another press release of an “industry-first” or “world’s-first” product. I can’t verify that, but this looks like an attack on a fundamental problem of manufacturing execution solutions software (MES)—the many components of it that only add to complexity and confusion. I don’t know, but this may be the first time I’ve written about iBASEt although I have known a few executives there.

The company has launched Solumina iSeries, an agile platform for industrial manufacturers that leverages dozens of pre-configured microservices to simplify how complex manufacturing operations are executed. The iSeries Software Developer Kit (SDK), a new feature to easily create Application Protocol Interfaces (APIs), offers a critical capability when it comes to simplifying how to manage and expand a digital ecosystem. 

“Unlike traditional applications on a three-tier architecture, the iSeries leverages microservices to deliver superior flexibility in design and integration while enabling continuous delivery of new features and capabilities,” said Sung Kim, Chief Technology Officer, iBASEt. 

“The iSeries captures our vision of helping manufacturers better adapt, add performance, and roll out new features faster,” said Naveen Poonian, CEO, iBASEt. “Solumina has leap-frogged the competition by delivering a way to simplify how complex manufacturing is performed as part of a larger enterprise digital ecosystem – capturing the essence of an Industry 4.0 strategy.”

As a cloud-native solution, Solumina iSeries offers benefits beyond easing how new features and updates are deployed. The iSeries can accelerate adoption of new transformative technologies, including augmented reality and artificial intelligence, as an operations platform to continuously drive performance and efficiency on an ongoing basis. 

The Solumina iSeries version i030 will be Generally Available on December 4, 2020.