NI Week was last week, and for only the second time in 20 years, I didn’t go. NI, formerly National Instruments, has been focusing more on test and measurement lately. Not so much automation. My interest is mostly on its IoT efforts especially TSN. I figure I can get an interview with Todd Walter or whomever without the expense of a conference.
NI’s core competency lies as the provider of a software-defined platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems. At NI Week it announced the release of LabVIEW 2018.
Applications that impact our daily lives are increasing in complexity due to the rapid innovation brought on by industry trends such as 5G, the Industrial Internet of Things, and autonomous vehicles. Consequently, the challenge of testing these devices to ensure reliability, quality and safety introduce new demands and test configurations, with decreased time and budget. Engineers need better tools to organize, develop and integrate systems so they can accomplish their goals within the acceptable boundaries.
Engineers can use LabVIEW 2018 to address a multitude of these challenges. They can integrate more third-party IP from tools like Python to make the most of the strengths of each package or existing IP from their stakeholders. Test engineers can use new functionality in LabVIEW 2018 to strengthen code reliability by automating the building and execution of software through integration with open interface tools like Jenkins for continuous delivery. Capabilities like this empower test engineers to focus on system integration and development where they can offer unique differentiation, rather than get bogged down in the semantics of how to use software tools or move IP from one to another. For test engineers using FPGAs for high-performance processing, new deep learning functions and improved floating-point operations can reduce time to market.
“NI’s continued commitment to its software-centric platform accelerates my productivity so I can focus on the challenges that yield the highest ROIs,” says Chris Cilino, LabVIEW framework architect at Cirrus Logic. “LabVIEW continues to minimize the effort of adding tests and code modifications to our validation framework, delivering a consistent process to maintain our software and incorporate the reuse of valuable IP without rewrites.”
To meet demands like testing higher complexity DUTs and shorter timeframes, engineers need tools tailored to their needs that they can efficiently use through their workflow, helping them to meet their exact application requirements. LabVIEW 2018 is the latest addition to NI’s software-centric platform that features products tailored to needs within distinct stages of their workflow – products that have been adopted in whole or in part by more than 300,000 active users.
With InstrumentStudio software providing an interactive multi-instrument experience, TestStand test management software handling overall execution and reporting and SystemLink software managing assets and software deployments, this workflow improves the productivity of test and validation labs across many industries. Each piece of the workflow is also interoperable with third-party software to maximize code and IP reuse and draws on the LabVIEW Tools Network ecosystem of add-ons and tools for more application-specific requirements.
Engineers can access both LabVIEW 2018 and LabVIEW NXG with a single purchase of LabVIEW.
Hannover Messe was the place to learn the latest about all things digital—digital twin, Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). SAP was one of the many stops in my itinerary advancing the trend.
My contact at the SAP booth at Hannover wasn’t around when I arrived for my appointment, so I left—only to get a text a half-hour later that he had arrived. But I was off to another appointment by then. However I did glean this information from the company at and following the show.
SAP enters the digital twin era
SAP SE has introduced SAP S/4HANA Cloud for intelligent product design, a new solution for collaborative research and development.
The solution, which is built on SAP Cloud Platform using SAP’s latest digital twin technology, is one of the building blocks for a network of digital twins to enable new business models.
Powered by SAP Leonardo and integrated with business processes in the digital core, SAP S/4HANA Cloud for intelligent product design enables customers to accelerate product design and development with requirement-driven systems engineering and instant collaboration across an extended network of suppliers and partners.
“The solution provides shared views of digital twin information for customers to gain live insights on new products and to store, share and review engineering documents with internal and external participants,” said Bernd Leukert, Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Products & Innovation.
SAP’s network of digital twins synchronizes the virtual, physical, conditional, and commercial definitions of assets and products in real time to accelerate innovation, optimize operating performance, predict service requirements, improve diagnostics and enhance decision-making. It enables new levels of collaboration among manufacturers of products, operators of assets, suppliers and service companies. The approach combines digital twins with manufacturing solutions from SAP, cloud networks and SAP Leonardo capabilities, including machine learning, blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT), to optimize the product lifecycle with:
• Digital representation: SAP synchronizes digital twin business data, product information, asset master data and IoT-connected data from both on-premise and cloud solutions enabling companies to represent the world digitally. Solutions including SAP Predictive Engineering Insights, SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service and the SAP 3D Visual Enterprise applications provide access to rich data processing capabilities and live configuration, state, condition and control information.
• Business process: Rich enterprise-grade data processing capabilities allow customers to create, access and update digital twins to support business processes. SAP solutions provide an integrated data model from design, production and maintenance to service, including packaged integration to existing systems for computer-aided design, ERP, and product lifecycle management. Offerings providing end-to-end process support for manufacturers and operators include SAP S/4HANA, the SAP Engineering Control Center integration tool, SAP Hybris Service Cloud solutions, and the SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence and SAP Manufacturing Execution applications.
• Business networks: With leading network offerings such as SAP Ariba solutions, SAP Asset Intelligence Network, and the SAP Distributed Manufacturing application, SAP is uniquely positioned to provide a virtual platform for collaboration on products and assets. The network of digital twins enables secure data access, sharing and governance on a global scale.
• Networks of digital representation: SAP enables twin-to-twin connections in systems within a specific asset and on an asset-to-asset level. SAP solutions such as SAP Asset Intelligence Network provide semantic and industry-standards support in an asset core modeling environment to enable live enrichment during the product or asset lifecycle.
Digital Manufacturing Cloud
SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud helps companies optimize performance, elevate production quality and efficiency, and ensure worker safety.
Drawing on SAP’s expertise in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), predictive analytics and supply networks, the solution enables manufacturers to deploy Industry 4.0 technologies in the cloud.
The new cloud solution extends and complements the digital manufacturing portfolio of on-premise solutions from SAP and is available in different bundles to serve manufacturers of varying sizes in both discrete and process industries and roles within their respective organizations.
SAP customers can choose from the SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud solution for execution, which provides all solutions in the manufacturing cloud portfolio, or the SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud solution for insights, which focuses on performance management and predictive quality.
“Manufacturers in the era of Industry 4.0 require solutions that are intelligent, networked and predictive,” said Leukert. “Our manufacturing cloud solutions help customers take advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things by connecting equipment, people and operations across the extended digital supply chain and tightly integrating manufacturing with business operations.”
SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud includes the following:
• SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud for execution: Industry0-enabled shop floor solution features “lot size one” and paperless production capabilities. It integrates business systems with the shop floor, allowing for complete component and material-level visibility for single and global installations.
• SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud for insights: Centralized, data-driven performance management enables key stakeholders to achieve best-in-class manufacturing performance and operations.
• Predictive quality: This helps manufacturers gain valuable insights to conform to specifications across processes and streamline quality management. It also allows manufacturers to apply predictive algorithms that can reduce losses from defects, deficiencies or variations, and recommend corrective actions.
• Manufacturing network: The network provides a cloud-based collaborative platform integrated with SAP Ariba solutions connecting customers with manufacturing service providers, such as suppliers of 3D and computer numerical control (CNC) printing services, material providers, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and technical certification companies.
Also at Hannover Messe 2018, SAP announced SAP Connected Worker Safety, a solution designed to reduce risks, costs and protect employees. Information from wearables and other sensor-enabled equipment can help companies react immediately to a hazardous situation or incident while proactively managing worker fatigue and other hazard inducers. Real-time information allows monitoring of compliance at all times against regulatory and other parameters.
The Internet of Things ecosystem is changing computing in almost a seismic shift. But like geology, it builds up over time and then the event happens before you know it.
We had centralized, on-site computing revolutionized by PCs. We networked PCs and wound up with centralized computing in the cloud. Demands from building the Internet of Things (or Industrial Internet of Things for us manufacturing and production geeks) expose the flaws of cloud computing. The next hot thing—edge.
Yesterday the CEO/co-founder of Zededa talked with me about the computing platform his company is building with no less a mission than to build the largest computing company on Earth without owning infrastructure. Its vision—create a new edge economy that allows applications to run anywhere.
Some of what follows may sound familiar. I’ve talked with many companies doing a piece of what Zededa has laid out, but none are as audacious as this.
In brief, Zedeta…
- Closes $3.06M in Seed Funding
- Pioneering a secure, cloud-native approach to real-time edge applications at hyperscale for solutions ranging from self-driving cars to industrial robots
- Built a team comprised of distinguished engineers from top tech companies in cloud, networking and open source to solve the edge computing puzzle and disrupt the status quo
- Seed round was led by Wild West Capital; other investors include Almaz Capital, Barton Capital and Industry Veteran Ed Zander, former CEO of Motorola and former COO of Sun Microsystems
“Tomorrow’s edge computing environment that enables digital transformation will be distributed, autonomous and cooperative. The edge is complex and not only has to scale out securely, but simultaneously must become friendlier for app developers. That’s the problem we are solving at ZEDEDA,” stated ZEDEDA CEO and Co-Founder Said Ouissal. “It will require a drastic shift from today’s embedded computing mindset to a more secure-by-design, cloud-native approach that unlocks the power of millions of cloud app developers and allows them to digitize the physical world as billions of ‘things’ become smart and connected.”
ZEDEDA will use the funding for continued research and product development, investment in community open-source projects for edge computing as well as further investment in sales and marketing initiatives. ZEDEDA investors include Wild West Capital and Almaz Capital, whose funding was part of a broader group investors, some of whom also invested in IoT/edge companies Theatro and Sensity Systems (now Verizon).
In the coming wave of pervasive computing, real-time apps, cyber-physical systems and data services such as machine learning and analytics will become commonplace. ZEDEDA envisions an open ecosystem and a completely new technology stack that creates a service fabric essential to achieving the hyperscale that will be required in edge computing.
To realize that goal, ZEDEDA has pulled together a distinguished roster of industry veterans from legendary technology companies with expertise in areas of operating systems, virtualization, networking, security, blockchain, cloud and application platforms. This unique blend of skills combines with the team’s deep connections to core open-source projects and standardization bodies. The team’s work has directly contributed to software and system patents as well as industry standards used by billions of people around the world today.
“A new paradigm and massive innovation is needed to meet demand for IoT and edge computing,” said Kevin DeNuccio, Founder of Wild West Capital and ZEDEDA’s lead investor. “Massive shifts in technology, including the proliferation of IoT, paves the way for industry disruption, which large incumbents tend to inhibit. Disruption takes a combination of an entrepreneurial team with a very unique set of collective experience, groundbreaking ideas, and the ability to garner immediate traction with global industrial leaders, who can transform their business with machine learning and artificial intelligence delivered by the Edge connected IoT world. ZEDEDA is simply one of the most promising edge computing startups out there.”
“Operations Technology teams face major challenges when it comes to fully realizing the advantages of an IoT world. Their worlds are becoming massively connected systems dealing with virtualization, networking and security,” stated Christian Renaud, Research Director, IoT at 451 Research. “Our recent research shows that while OT teams have the application plans for leveraging IoT, the vast majority of organizations’ IT resources and capabilities are maxed out. This leaves open the question of how these edge applications and IoT will scale out without compromising security or taxing resources even further in the future.”
Ouissal told me, “Edge is the next big wave, bigger than cloud, simply because of the sheer size of the number of devices. The goal is ubiquitous compute where applications want to interact real-time. The problem with the cloud is that it’s centralized. This ecosystem is truly Cyberphysical—just like your Industry 4.0.”
The current IoT model of sending all data to the cloud for processing, won’t scale due to:
- Privacy issues
Three problems that the company is attacking:
1. Moving apps now running in the cloud to the edge
2. Edge-to-edge communication, key for autonomous systems, peer-to-peer
3. Security, cloud requires cyber security, but at the edge we must add physical security—someone could walk in and carry out an intelligent device
Ouissal often mentioned the need to rethink management of the edge. There exists a big difference between managing cloud and edge. Zedeta is tacking the variety of management challenges for updating and managing thousands to millions of embedded devices.
Solutions the team are developing include:
1. Security-built on platform, use keys, trusted, health check with every plug in, embedded virtualization
2. management-virtualization->can run multiple sessions on a device, eg robot motion on one session and analytics on another all on same embedded system, can scale this to millions of devices
3. Networking-monitor, watch lists, anomaly detection, analyze why, VPN architecture
This is all fascinating. I can’t wait to talk with competitors and potential competitors in a couple of weeks in Hannover and during some upcoming trips to get responses.
HMI SCADA as a technology product continues to grow and adapt in this Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) world. Once a control room technology, new iterations make it a natural for the Internet of Things. Steve Hechtman, founder of Inductive Automation, approached me some 15 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) at a trade show to explain a new HMI SCADA product built with Java and IT-friendly technologies. The product has evolved substantially over the years, but the IT-friendly aspect is proving valuable in this new IT/OT convergence atmosphere.
So, now we have HMI SCADA and Enterprise linked. Inductive Automation has named Brock Solutions as the first system integrator in the new Inductive Automation Enterprise Integrator Program. Inductive Automation defines Enterprise Integrators as those with a high level of Ignition certification, a global presence, the ability to take on enterprise-wide projects, and 250 or more engineers, among other requirements.
Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with fully integrated tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.
“We’re very excited to be the inaugural member of Inductive Automation’s new Enterprise Integrator program,” said Davin McDougall, operations leader at Brock Solutions. “This program focuses on organizations looking for an integration partner like Brock Solutions with global/national reach, technical expertise, and breadth of services to roll out enterprise-wide Ignition solutions that are repeatable, scalable, sustainable, and — most importantly — that drive business value.”
Inductive Automation first made the announcement at its Ignition Community Conference (ICC) in 2017. Also at ICC 2017, Brock’s John Southcott presented a session with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company about how Brock aided Reynolds in its highly successful enterprise-wide transformation.
Brock Solutions worked closely with Inductive Automation on the development and launch of the Enterprise Integrator Program. “It’s been a pleasure working with Brock Solutions the past three years, and we’re very happy to designate Brock as our first Enterprise Integrator,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Brock Solutions’ thorough knowledge of its customers, its committed team members, and its strong business processes have led to some very impressive installations of the Ignition software platform, and we look forward to seeing Brock put together more large-scale projects in the future.”
Brock Solutions is an engineering solutions and professional services company specializing in the design, build and implementation of real-time solutions for broad-based industrial/ manufacturing and transportation/logistics organizations globally. With more than 400 employees, Brock Solutions is a privately held, employee-owned organization with more than 30 years in the real-time solutions space.
Inductive Automation creates industrial software cross-pollinating IT with SCADA technologies.
[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is an advertiser, but they do not dictate my coverage of either it or the space.]
There were some good responses to my post on LinkedIn regarding the AVEVA software / Schneider Electric Software deal. Check out Sandy Vasser’s comments. Those remind me of a conversation I had with a Schneider executive many years ago following a small acquisition. I was actually enthused with the acquisition and explained all the cool things I thought they could do with the new technology. He responded, “Wow. I should have you talk to my product team. These are great ideas.”
The conversation went no further. 2-Evidently is was just an acquisition with no strategic thought. 3-In the end, it went nowhere. Maybe like the Citect acquisition that never really panned out.
Sandy Vasser, retired from ExxonMobil, said, “This is a significant opportunity for Schneider to make more and more project delivery, operation and maintenance activities almost “just happen”. There should be opportunities to simplify HMI development. By interfacing AVEVA Electrical with ETAP and Schneider electrical systems, there should be opportunities to automatically program protective relays and update the settings when the electrical systems change. Schneider should sit down with all of their users and brainstorm all of the possible activities that could be automated or greatly simplified.”
He is right on. This is an opportunity. But I don’t know if it will happen. When I was evangelizing MIMOSA and its non-platform platform OIIE, we had that vision of automatic interfaces of data from design to construction to operate & maintain. There is some interest in the owner/operator community, but in the end they will probably pay big money to the Accentures of the world.
Robert Zwick, Automan Controls, noted, “New alliances will be formed in response to this AVEVA reverse takeover by Schneider Electric. We have already seen Emerson align themselves with Aspen Technology. I’m sure we’ll see Intergraph start making significant alliances as well.
The reverse takeover moves the Schneider Electric Software business into UK, where there is a different taxation environment than France. Plus Schneider Electric can now begin to see a P/E multiple of a software business rather than a stodgy old electrical manufacturer. Both of these points should put dollars into this new business to accelerate the merger, consolidation, and growth. At least one can only hope.”
Yes, there has been substantial consolidation in the industry over the past five years or so. This is probably good. But this will ultimately free up space for the innovative startups that solve real customer needs–until they sell out to the big companies.
Calling the action “transformational”, AVEVA completed the incorporation of Schneider Electric Software (Wonderware, Avantis, and so forth) proclaiming “a new software leader is born.” Of course, now the hard part starts. How do they get all these different parts to work together? How do they transform a culture that underwent the shocks of Invensys into the bureaucracy of Schneider Electric into this new company? Or, do they?
“88% of leaders in capital-intensive industries say that digitalisation would increase their revenues*”, said Craig Hayman, Chief Executive Officer at AVEVA. “Yet less than half of these companies are actually in the process of adopting a digital strategy. This represents an incredible opportunity for AVEVA to be our customer’s digital transformation partner.”
“Digitalisation demands a fundamental rethink of the way organisations operate. They need to be confident that their technology investment will deliver a high return on capital and can lower the total cost of asset ownership. AVEVA’s combination of proven solutions, industry-specific knowledge and a global partner ecosystem will drive innovation across capital-intensive industries, as companies plan their digital transformation journey,” Mr Hayman added.
The combination brings together AVEVA’s design, engineering and construction capabilities with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business, which ranges from simulation through to real-time manufacturing operations management. It creates a global leader in engineering and industrial software, expanding the markets and industries the company serves. Customers can benefit from improved profitability, efficiency and performance.
The net effect is to move AVEVA into direct competition with parts of Siemens and its digitalization strategy following the acquisition of UGS some years ago. Does this mean that there might be an AVEVA Mindsphere on the horizon? We’ll see.