Cloud-based Platform Complements PI System

Cloud-based Platform Complements PI System

Digitalization requires digital data, which in turn requires a place to robustly store that data. This place is most often the cloud these days. OSIsoft PI System must be the most widely used industrial database. The company has released OSIsoft Cloud Services—a cloud-native, real-time data management system for unifying and augmenting critical operations data from across an organization to accelerate industrial analytics, data science projects, data sharing, and other digital transformation initiatives.

OCS highlights and capabilities:

  • Data sharing – partner companies can access a shared data stream to remotely monitor technology
  • Functionality – seamless crossover between the PI System and OCS to compare facilities, perform root cause analysis and run hypotheticals
  • Scalability – tests proved OCS can simultaneously manage over two billion data streams, and safely share information with partners
  • Petuum uses OCS to stream historical data and live data on production, temperature and variability to its AI platform to assist Cemex, a global cement manufacturer, improve yield and energy to 7% from 2%.
  • DERNetSoft uses OCS to aggregate data in one place, allowing users to access useful analytics for ways to reduce power and save money.
  • Pharma companies will use OCS to give a regulator access to anonymized drug testing or production, without risk of unauthorized users in the manufacturing networks.

With OCS, an engineer at a chemical producer, for example, could combine maintenance and energy data from multiple facilities into a live superset of information to boost production in real-time while planning analysts could merge several years’ worth of output and yield data to create a ‘perfect plant’ model for capital forecasts.

OCS can also be leveraged by software developers and system integrators to build new applications and services or to link remote assets.

“OSIsoft Cloud Services is a fundamental part of our mission to help people get the most out of the data that is at the foundation of their business. We want their cost of curiosity to be as close to zero as possible,” said Gregg Le Blanc, Vice President of Product at OSIsoft. “OCS is designed to complement the PI System by giving customers a way to uncover new operational insights and use their data to solve new problems that would have been impractical or impossible before.”

The Data Dilemma

Critical operations data—i.e. data generated by production lines, safety equipment, grids, and other systems essential to a company’s survival—is part of one of the fastest growing segments in the data universe. IDC and Seagate estimate in “Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life Critical” that “hypercritical” data for applications such as distributed control systems is growing by 54% a year and will constitute 10% of all data by 2025 while real-time data will nearly double to more than 25% of all data.

Critical operations data, however, can be extremely difficult to manage or use.

Data scientists spend 50 percent or more of their time curating large data sets instead of conducting analytics. IT teams get bogged down in managing VPNs for third parties or writing code for basic administrative tasks. Data becomes inaccessible and locked in silos. Over 1,000 utilities, 80% of the largest oil and gas companies, and 65% of the Fortune 500 industrial companies already use the PI System to harness critical operations data, turning it into an asset for improving productivity, saving money, and developing new services.

Natively compatible with the PI System, OCS extends the range of possible applications and use cases of OSIsoft’s data infrastructure while eliminating the challenges of capturing, managing, enhancing, and delivering operations data across an organization. Within a few hours, thousands of data streams containing years of historical data can be transferred to OCS, allowing customers to explore, experiment, and share large data sets the same day.

Two Billion Data Streams

The core of OCS is a highly scalable sequential data store optimized for time series data, depth measurements, temperature readings, and similar data. OSIsoft has also embedded numerous usability features for connecting devices, managing users, searching, transferring data from the PI System to OCS, and other functions. OCS can also accept data from devices outside of traditional control networks or other sources.

“The scale and scope of data that will be generated over the coming decades is unprecedented, but our mission remains the same,” said Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, CEO and Founder of OSIsoft. “OSIsoft Cloud Services represent the latest step in a nearly 40 year journey and there’s more to come.”

To test the scalability and stability of OCS, OSIsoft created a deployment that contained the equivalent of the data generated by all of the smart meters in the U.S. over the last two years, or two billion data streams (100 million meters with 20 data streams each). OCS successfully stored up to 1.2 billion data points per hour and was managing all two billion streams simultaneously within 48 hours.

PaaS for OSIsoft Marketplace Partners

Software developers are already creating services based around OCS. DERNetSoft is creating a secure marketplace for sharing utility and electric power data to improve energy forecasts and peak shaving strategies. Meanwhile, others are collaborating with customers on efforts to bolster well integrity at oil drilling sites, pinpoint tank leakage, predict maintenance problems, and reduce energy consumption with OCS. OSIsoft partners developing OCS services include Petuum, Seeq, Toumetis, Transpara, Aperio, and TrendMiner. These services will be available from OSIsoft marketplace as they are released.

“Digital transformation requires the ability to compare data and outcomes across multiple plants and data sources,” says Michael Risse, VP/CMO at Seeq. “OCS is a unified solution for process manufacturing customers to enable this type of analysis, generating predictive insights on thousands of assets across company operations to improve production outcomes.”

Pricing and Availability

OCS is a subscription service currently available to customers and partners for use in facilities in North America. OCS will be extended to Europe and to other regions in the near future.

Pricing is based on the average number of data streams accessed, rather than the unique data streams stored, giving customers the freedom to experiment more freely with their data without incurring added costs..

Innovation—A Word Often Loosely Used

Innovation—A Word Often Loosely Used

People send about a dozen press releases per day to me, only slightly fewer on weekends. Many boast innovation in products, services, or pricing models. The word comes dangerously close to over use.

Siemens, however, consistently shows how users in a large variety of settings use the fruits of its own innovation of bringing together PLM, IT, automation, and industrial control for their own innovation.

My last post from the recent Siemens Innovation Forum discussed design and manufacture digitally using Siemens PLM and 3D printing. I also discussed a young woman using Siemens CAD and her own hard work to engineer a new prosthetic foot for a veteran of Afghanistan.

Next up at the Forum was Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando speaking on smart cities and the many places technology—principally from Siemens—were helping build infrastructure, water/wastewater controls, microgrids, and other elements of his administration’s smart cities work. Orlando has progressed far from its sleepy tourist-town roots.

Dr. Norbert Gaus, Head of R&D in Automation and Digitalization, AI at Siemens presided over an interlude with an example of robot picking utilizing AI + Digital Twin. Both are important components of an innovative manufacturing future.

The program jumped a level from travel by prosthetic foot to highways to aircraft carriers. Bharat Amin, VP & CIO of Newport News Shipbuilding discussed the entirely new way of building large ships using Siemens PLM, digital twin, digital thread, and electronic devices. This new workflow eliminated carrying huge piles of drawings to the site. The armloads of blueprints were replaced by a digital tablet.

People who have accomplished a digital turnaround always have timely advice for those of us beginning projects. Amin’s list: Start with people; Cultivate disruption; Nurture trust and relationships; Cut through bureaucracy; Go against the grain; Have an entrepreneurial spirit; Be willing to take risks.

Chester Kennedy, CEO Bridg—a microelectronics manufacturer, took Digital Twin from huge war ships to silicon wafers—microelectronics. He began with an MES to track through the entire process. The idea being that if they could find a flaw maybe at step 14 and scrap the part before investing more time and process only to find it at a later stage, they would save a ton of money. The digital twin idea is developing for work on security. At the beginning, Bridg just wanted an RFP for MES. Siemens came in and offered to go beyond Camstar (MES) to work in partnership to look at the system from design to physics and material science to workflow. The company needs security confidence by its customers, so it’s adding blockchain to help catch any potential sabotage within the microelectronics at manufacture.

Siemens Spotlight on Innovation

Siemens Spotlight on Innovation

I flew to Orlando May 22 as a guest of Siemens along with a select few other “influencers” to be introduced to a number of innovation projects fueled by Siemens technology. We met at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in downtown Orlando (did you even know there was a downtown?), which itself is filled with Siemens equipment. There are few companies in the industrial area which I cover that have the vision and execution that Siemens is exhibiting right now.

By the way, there is a fantastic little taco place in downtown Orlando. Email or DM on Twitter, and I’ll share the name. Greg Hale of ISSSource.com and I had dinner there Wednesday. We agreed—among the best tacos we’ve had.

Barbara Humpton, CEO Siemens USA, led with an overview. Siemens has made a greater than $1B investment in R&D in the US with 7,000 engineers churning out 700 inventions per year.

She introduced former stunt man and motorcycle racer turned CEO Mike “Mouse” McCoy, CEO & Founder of HackRod. McCoy built on a foundation of Siemens PLM and SolidEdge CAD. He added a gaming engine. He was able to use VR for design reviews, interference checking, and simulation during the design process. We followed along with design and review of a new motorcycle. A few parts required somewhat exotic materials. Oak Ridge National Labs printed the parts from the design files downloaded from HackRod. The design teams were in Ventura, CA and Princeton, NJ with input from Munich, Germany. Collaboration was not a problem.

Beginning of design until component parts shipped to Orlando—2 weeks. The parts arrived Tuesday. McCoy and a partner assembled the motorcycle on Tuesday evening and wheeled (not drove) it onto the stage Wednesday about 1:30. Not bad? Heck, in my early career, we couldn’t have done a foam-core mock up in that time frame.

One thought McCoy left us with. “We need to talk STEAM, not just STEM—science, technology, engineering, arts, math.” It is now possible for artists and designers to be an intimate part of the team going from art to finished product quickly. 3D printing from PLM files. Way cool.

How about a high school mechanical design student given a project to provide a lighter prosthetic foot for an Army vet? Humpton introduced 18-year-old high school student Ashley Kimbel who had undertaken just such a project. She worked with the veteran to analyze his current “foot” looking for areas where weight could be eliminated. Then she had to learn how to fabricate and manufacture the device. We saw films of the veteran running with Ashley proving out the new prosthetic.

This is a long way from projects I had as a 17-year-old senior. Education and technology have come a long way in a lifetime. Oh, and her future? She wants to work in bioengineering designing and 3D printing organs. She will be working on that during her tenure at UAB. She is going to make a difference for many people.

I have many more ideas and conversations to capture. This will serve for now.
Check out #SiemensInnovates

Misunderstood Manufacturing

Misunderstood Manufacturing

Humans get strange ideas in their minds that cannot be shaken by facts and truth. Such as any new idea for improving efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability of manufacturing will cost people their jobs.

It is part of popular mythology that automation puts people out of work. This idea is so prevalent that even MIT economics professors run math to try to prove it. (See previous post.)

Then I interviewed Bob Argyle, co-founder and CCO of Leading2Lean, who mentioned “People say Lean cuts jobs, but it actually saves jobs.”

Leading2Lean is a Lean-based company that has developed an implementation software that engages plant floor workers and changes the way they approach their jobs by delivering real-time actionable IoT data and methods that reveal the root causes of production bottlenecks. This allows everyone to problem-solve and create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement.

I related to Argyle that when I put together the first issue of Automation World back in early 2003 I wanted to interview a Lean expert. The gentleman asked why I would interview him since automation was antithetical to Lean. I told him that I thought there was a place where each could use the other. Hence, the Leading2Lean software.

Argyle gave me the history of his Lean journey beginning at AutoLiv, a supplier of air bags to the auto industry. The customer sent a “sensei” to teach Lean methodology–also known as the Toyota Production System. Responding to my automation comment, Argyle said, “Sensei never said computers are bad, but he taught us to improve the process before adding computers. Use automation to reduce process waste.”

Just what I was taught in my first computer applications class in 1977. Know your process first, then improve the process, then add digitalization.

Use data to capture critical data, Argyle told me. And use automation appropriately for the right thing to do in the particular process. Use it to remove waste, and for safety, quality, and efficiency.

We had to cut the interview, but they offered some specific customer stories that detail the benefits of the integration of computers and Lean.

Industrial, Cloud, AR, Subscriptions

Industrial, Cloud, AR, Subscriptions

I am often asked about what industrial digital transformation really means and about technologies such as cloud, edge, AR/VR, and so forth. This press release from AVEVA promised to answer much of that—until I sat down to parse it and figure out what to write. After editing out close to half of the document which was laced with buzz words—revolutionary, innovative, digital transformation, (BINGO), I think I have boiled it down to its essence. The essence is actually pretty good and didn’t need all the fluff to build it up. (I go here, because in my old age, I’m tired of fluff. Why not just tell us what you have? It’s probably pretty good!)

First, the cloud. AVEVA Connect, a cloud-based digital transformation hub, enables customers to seamlessly access AVEVA’s software portfolio, enabling digitalization of design, build, operations, and maintenance processes across a wide range of industries. Over the past year, AVEVA Connect has launched eight new cloud-enabled offers, more than 75 updates to its digital services including the launch of cloud Operator Training Solution (OTS), visualization, and condition management capabilities, and grown to support over 5,500 daily users.

Second, the AR/VR and OTS. Total OLEUM has implemented AVEVA’s cloud- based operator training systems. No real details were added by the PR people regarding benefits, but they worked in the words, revolutionary, innovative, benefitted. Evidently Total is happy with the training results. When I’m asked about AR/VR (augmented reality and virtual reality), my response is that it’s great for training.

Third is not a technology but a pricing plan. AVEVA’s new subscription program, AVEVA Flex, includes “advanced HMI visualization, operations control and information management, manufacturing execution, and asset performance capabilities. With subscription-based, feature-rich software tiers, AVEVA Flex offers a broad range of flexibility in the purchase, design, and utilization of industrial software solutions.” What this sounds like to me is a repackaging of Wonderware’s pricing modal to bring it in line with the latest industry trends. Without knowing pricing details, it sounds like the company is on the right track.

Among the first to take up the new AVEVA Flex subscription program, Giovanni Borinelli – General Manager from Italian Steelmaker NLMK Verona, said: “For us to compete in today’s volatile market, we need a trusted partner who can help us master our digital transformation. The technical and commercial flexibility that AVEVA Flex provides is fundamental to that change and will help us remain agile and successful into the future.”

Don’t Be Replaced By AI

Don’t Be Replaced By AI

There are linchpins; and there are cogs.

I’m not talking mechanics. It’s about people.

Some people fit in. They find their place in an organization or team. They do the quiet, repetitious work. Work that can eventually be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). Or by robots.

Humans have a brain. Organizations, teams, companies need people who use their brains. They become vital to the cause. They are linchpins.

I’ve had very few mentors in the flesh. But I’ve had many mentors through the books they wrote. Seth Godin has become one of my mentors. He wrote the book on Linchpins.

Go find a way to make yourself valuable. Make a difference wherever you are. Don’t be replaced by AI.

If you keep butting against walls where you are, leave. Find a place where you can make a difference.

Another of Seth’s phrases applies–Go raise a ruckus!

I bring this up by way of introducing a way that many of you can raise a ruckus and raise your value. It’s called contributing to open source projects. These project contribute greatly to the advancement of the state of the art in many areas. The poster child, of course, is Linux. But there are many more.

Last week I wrote about an open source project that was the subject of a press release from one of the contributing companies concerning OPC UA over TSN. From the news release, it sounded promising. I went to the Web sites of the company–a software firm in India–and also the sponsoring organization–Open Source Automation Development Lab.

It all looked interesting, even though I had not heard of either one before.

A twitter conversation ensued with a reader who really dives into these projects. Turns out to be not so hot. The OSADL does not use GitHub–today’s standard repository for open source development. It has a few projects, some of which have not been updated since 2008. Nothing appears usable at this point.

I reviewed the companies involved in this project and in the OSADL generally. None seem to be taking a deep dive.

I know that the OPC Foundation has a new working group for Field Device communication of OPC UA over TSN. It has just organized as of a few months ago. I’m waiting for response from the working group leader for an update.

I’m also on a Facebook group concerning open source OPC UA. It has occasional conversations.

Maybe someone can raise a ruckus by prodding this German group OSADL to move to GitHub and grow. OPC Foundation is OK, but groups like that take a long time for specifications given the jockeying of various member companies to assure that each does not lose any competitive advantage when the standard if finalized. (Sorry, I had personal experience on these things, including having been chair of one once.)

And, I apologize for taking the shortcut with the press release on OSADL rather than exploring a little more deeply. Thanks to my reader who did.

Let me know if you see anything on the horizon.