by Gary Mintchell | May 30, 2023 | Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Software
I had family commitments and did not attend PTC’s LiveWorx events. They did send a couple of press releases detailing announcements made there. One is an AI-enhanced (of course, they had to work AI into some release!) visual inspection called Step Check from Vuforia. There was also a sustainability partnership announcement along with a SaaS solution for Creo.
Vuforia’s AI-enhanced visual inspection solution Step Check.
Step Check focuses on visual inspection for quality control. These inspections are traditionally done with the naked eye and paper-based documentation, which puts added pressure on workers to make decisions quickly and runs the risk of mistakes and rework.
Step Check makes inspections more efficient and lessens the potential for mistakes by combining augmented reality and AI. Step Check guides workers through inspection tasks with context-aware, step-by-step AR work instructions that are overlaid on the physical part or product. As this is happening, the underlying AI can detect improper assemblies, missing or misaligned parts, or related faults. Color-coded pass/fail graphics displayed on the part or product in real time inform workers if an inspection step has passed or failed. Step Check automatically documents the inspection results and provides dashboards to analyze the performed checks.
Science Based Targets Initiative and Relationships with Ansys and aPriori
PTC announced new initiatives as part of its environmental sustainability practice. It has signed the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitment letter, pledging both near-term emissions reductions and long-term net-zero targets. In addition, PTC is expanding its relationships with Ansys and aPriori to support manufacturers’ environmental sustainability goals in the areas of product dematerialization and manufacturing efficiency.
In parallel with its SBTi commitments, PTC is broadening the ways in which it supports manufacturers’ efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of their products. Most of a product’s environmental footprint is determined at the design stage, where decisions are made about materials, manufacturability, potential for circularity, and much more. PTC enables manufacturers to address these footprint considerations with its industry-leading product design and lifecycle management software and through new partner integrations with Ansys and aPriori.
PTC and Ansys, who have partnered for several years on product design and simulation software, will pursue more integrated workflows between PTC’s Creo computer-aided design (CAD) and Windchill product lifecycle management (PLM) software with Ansys’ materials information management solution, Ansys Granta MI. These workflows are expected to make it easier for design engineers to assess how the materials used in a product impact the product’s performance, embodied carbon, and recyclability, enabling our joint customers to develop both more sustainable and highly performant products.
PTC and aPriori will pursue greater interoperability between Windchill and aPriori’s aP Pro, aP Design, and aP Generate software. Together, these solutions enable designers to review designs in CAD and PLM and generate reports for part costs, manufacturability, and environmental footprint. If changes are required, aPriori’s software can generate recommendations for improvements for the designers. This process can increase the likelihood of making changes before excessive costs and footprint are committed.
Creo+ Software as a Service CAD
PTC announced Creo+ software as a service (SaaS) computer-aided design (CAD) solution and the release of the tenth version of its Creo CAD software. Creo+ combines the power and proven functionality of Creo with new cloud-based tools to enhance design collaboration and simplify CAD administration. Creo+ includes real-time design collaboration tools to enable multiple team members to review, explore, and edit product designs. Creo+ also includes the PTC Control Center application, powered by the PTC Atlas SaaS platform, which enables simple deployment and management of software licenses for cloud-based tools.
In addition to the release of Creo+, PTC announced the simultaneous release of Creo 10. With Creo 10, users can now design and simulate with composite materials for lighter products that maintain strength and durability. Additionally, Creo 10 introduces Ansys-powered thermal stress as well as non-linear materials and contact simulation, which significantly broadens addressable simulation-driven design use cases in Creo.
by Gary Mintchell | May 10, 2023 | Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Productivity, Software
Some writers expound upon autonomous—machines and processes that run themselves, machines and processes that are self-diagnosing and self-healing, elimination of humans from manufacturing.
I disagree (or my favorite phrase from my high school years, “I beg to differ.”). We should be enhancing the human-to-process or human-to-machine collaboration. In so doing, we should be enhancing the role of the human. Promoting collaboration, creativity, ideas, innovation that only comes from thinking humans.
At least by 1995 I was configuring ways to propose to my customers ways to replace paper-based production and maintenance systems with digital equivalents. So, when a PR person sent a product release with the title “Why Ditch Paper Processes?”, I was transported Forward to the Past, so to speak.
The company is Beekeeper, a Swiss-based company founded in 2012 to enhance the experiences of the front-line worker. They have released a new maintenance workflow product. Here are some points:
- Paper processes slow workflows down and increase disruptions.
- Sharing information with the team is difficult when it’s kept on a sheet of paper.
- Facilities teams need continuity of workflows from one shift to the next which is difficult when information is siloed and fragmented on multiple pieces of paper.
- Poor maintenance management can lead to more downtime, higher repair costs, and loss of productivity.
- Companies that rely on paper documentation and manual maintenance and inspection workflows grapple with data accuracy, problems with efficiency, and information accessibility. This impacts consistency and safety, can lead to more errors, and eventually impact a company’s productivity and revenue.
Beekeeper’s Maintenance and Inspections is a mobile-first solution for paperless workflows for frontline teams.
By switching paper workflows to digital ones with the Maintenance and Inspections package, frontline workers can:
- Decrease downtime and disruptions
- Stay compliant with easy tracking and automatic documentation
- Ensure maintenance tasks are completed correctly and consistently to reduce the frequency of accidents, repairs, and unplanned breakdowns
- Shorten the time between detecting and fixing potential hazards and the amount of time it takes to fix the hazard/time to resolution
- Optimize your maintenance management process to reduce overall maintenance costs and enhance workplace safety
- Use real-time checklist tracking so everyone knows jobs completed and issues addressed to avoid redundancy
- Upload images to Beekeeper of maintenance issues or repairs for documentation
- Enable managers to easily assign and track tasks
- Have immediate access to all resources they need to complete tasks
- Report safety hazards right away
- Save time and reduce miscommunication with smart management software. Automatically translate all content into your employees’ preferred language.
- Get up-to-the-minute data on who is reading your posts, message delivery confirmation, and employee engagement statistics to improve manufacturing processes.
by Gary Mintchell | May 5, 2023 | Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Software
Inductive Automation has released an update to Ignition—Ignition 8.1.27. This one includes increased OPC UA write flexibility, Open ID Connect request options, new web properties for the Designer, timeout properties for the Gateway Configuration page, and more.
OPC UA Writes
- OPC UA clients can now attempt writes to exposed tags that include a StatusCode. This StatusCode is converted to an equivalent QualityCode, passing the write value to the system as a QualifiedValue, which encompasses the quality, value, and timestamp. By supplying more than simply the raw value, a QualifiedValue provides more information and increases write request flexibility and specificity.
- Additionally, for those who are scripting-inclined, supplying a QualifiedValue (quality, value, and timestamp) to system.opc.writeValue now sends the corresponding StatusCode in the DataValue to the server. Essentially, this scripting function allows you to pass the entire object to a point in the OPC UA server.
- Finally, 8.1.27 also includes support for writing struct array values represented as a Document tag. Previously, while a read would populate a tag with no issue, writes to the full value of Document tags were not possible when subscribed directly to Siemens array data type instances. This update aligns with IA’s long-term effort to provide more flexibility with unique Siemens data types.
Ignition 8.1.27 adds a new setting control dropdown menu for Open ID Connect, with options to choose GET or POST as the HTTP Request Method for UserInfo API calls. This improvement also better aligns with current OIDC standards, helping Ignition to be interoperable with even more IdPs.
In 8.1.27, two new system properties, ignition.jxBrowser.userDataDir.browser and ignition.jxBrowser.userDataDir.perspective, replace the deprecated ignition.jxBrowser.userDataDir property. These new properties offer improved control and separation for user data directories in both Vision and Perspective. Previously, the AppData folder was the Web Browser Component’s default location for storing cache data and browser files. The two properties let you specify where web data is stored. For example, you can now choose to store web data on the desktop for quick access or in a particular folder that better aligns with your system’s data organization structure.
A triple shot of timeout. 8.1.27 adds three system properties — ignition.gateway.connectTimeout, ignition.gateway.readTimeout, and ignition.gateway.opcBrowseTimeout — for setting client connection, tag reading, and OPC UA point retrieval timeout thresholds, respectively. The purpose of these properties, which only apply to connections between Designers and clients, is to set parameters at the Gateway level that globally apply to all of your active projects. If you have certain projects that require different timeout thresholds, you can then adjust those properties within the projects themselves.
You can check out more on the developer’s blog.
by Gary Mintchell | May 4, 2023 | Manufacturing IT, Operations Management, Software
Not Back to the Future, but Jump to the Past. I have not thought about embedded systems and UML and SysML and the like for several years. My, but your brain gets rusty without use. It took that dive into memory to understand this, the last of a series, of announcements from Siemens. This one comes from Siemens Digital Industries Software—the software arm that includes PLM and much more.
This announcement details further collaboration between Siemens and IBM. Theu are developing a new systems engineering and asset management combined software solution to support traceability and sustainable product development – linking domains including mechanical, electronics, electrical and software engineering. The goal is a combined software solution integrating their respective offerings for systems engineering, service lifecycle management and asset management.
The new combined SysML v1 standards-based suite of integrated engineering software is expected to support traceability and sustainable product development using a digital thread that links mechanical, electronics, electrical engineering and software design and implementation. It is intended to span the product lifecycle, from early design and manufacturing to operations, maintenance, update and end of life management.
Initially, the companies are working to connect IBM Engineering System Design Rhapsody for systems engineering with solutions from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio of software and services including Siemens’ Teamcenter software for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Capital software for electrical/electronic (E/E) systems development and software implementation. The companies have also connected the IBM Maximo Application Suite for asset management with Siemens’ Teamcenter software to support an integrated digital thread between service engineering, asset management and services execution.
These integrations will focus on the effective reuse of processes and materials to allow traceability for sustainable product development. This can help companies to make informed decisions earlier in the design and engineering process to help drive improvements in cost, performance and sustainability. For example, companies can more quickly identify under-performing components or design elements that consume excessive amounts of power, or require maintenance or early replacement, and product innovation can be driven through an integrated digital thread that connects the physical and software assets back into product development.
Siemens and IBM are also collaborating to create a SysML v2 based solution with a migration path to help customers transition to next generation systems engineering. SysML supports the specification, analysis, design, verification and validation of a broad range of systems and systems-of-systems. Service lifecycle management can assist in maximizing business value for product servitization by connecting service engineering to service maintenance to facilitate new collaborative processes between OEM and operators.
Siemens will be supported by benefits through IBM’s newly launched Partner Plus program and will offer the solution as part of the Siemens Xcelerator ecosystem.
by Gary Mintchell | May 1, 2023 | Design, News, Operations Management, Software
Siemens made a splash at Hannover with several announcements. Some I listed last week. This one is AI and Chatbot. Another one was made by the software group. I am working on that one. Had a number of questions on it.
This news highlights further enhancement of Siemens’ long-standing relationship with Microsoft. In brief:
- Siemens’ new Teamcenter app for Microsoft Teams to use AI, boosting productivity and innovation throughout a product lifecycle
- Azure OpenAI Service powered assistant can augment the creation, optimization and debugging of code in software for factory automation
- Industrial AI to enable visual quality inspection on the shop floor
Using AI to power software development is something Apple developers hope to see next month in a release of Xcode. They say that this will be a powerful tool to enhance programming.
Siemens and Microsoft are integrating Siemens’ Teamcenter software for product lifecycle management (PLM) with Microsoft’s collaboration platform Teams and the language models in Azure OpenAI Service as well as other Azure AI capabilities.
“The integration of AI into technology platforms will profoundly change how we work and how every business operates,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI, Microsoft. “With Siemens, we are bringing the power of AI to more industrial organizations, enabling them to simplify workflows, overcome silos and collaborate in more inclusive ways to accelerate customer-centric innovation.”
For example, service engineers or production operatives can use mobile devices to document and report product design or quality concerns using natural speech. Through Azure OpenAI Service, the app can parse that informal speech data, automatically creating a summarized report and routing it within Teamcenter to the appropriate design, engineering or manufacturing expert. To foster inclusion, workers can record their observations in their preferred languages which is then translated into the official company language with Microsoft Azure AI. Microsoft Teams provides user-friendly features like push notifications to simplify workflow approvals, reduce the time it takes to request design changes and speed up innovation cycles.
Siemens and Microsoft are also collaborating to help software developers and automation engineers accelerate the code generation for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), the industrial computers that control most machines across the world’s factories. At Hannover Messe, the companies are demonstrating a concept for how OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other Azure AI services can augment Siemens’ industrial automation engineering solutions. The showcase will highlight how engineering teams can significantly reduce time and the probability of errors by generating PLC code through natural language inputs. These capabilities can also enable maintenance teams to identify errors and generate step-by-step solutions more quickly.
by Gary Mintchell | Apr 28, 2023 | Automation, Data Management, Edge, Internet of Things, Software, Technology
Moving past Mindsphere (now integrated into this platform), Siemens has integrated a new platform for industrial automation and business. The have launched Xcelerator and now add Industrial Operations X. I see this as part of a trend where established control and automation suppliers are scrambling to show financial markets that they are cool, hip software developers. We have seen many platforms touted over the past 5-7 years. We’ll have to wait and see how this one performs in the market.
- Siemens expands Siemens Xcelerator open digital business platform with launch of Industrial Operations X
- Uniquely combining the real and digital worlds
- Production processes to become more efficient and highly adaptive
- Includes launch of first fully virtual controller
Industrial Operations X is the solution for production engineering, execution, and optimization. It focuses on integrating cutting-edge IT capabilities and proven methods from software operations in the world of automation: low code, edge, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are combined with industry-leading automation technology and digital services.
Industrial Operations X solutions make data actionable by leveraging AI analysis capabilities. Independent studies suggest that a digitally enabled factory delivers production increases of up to 30 percent.
Based on the SIMATIC S7-1500, the virtual programmable logic controller (PLC) is hardware-independent, allowing applications to be centrally managed and flexibly modified to meet changing customer needs. PLC projects can be scaled with virtual control and easily integrated into other IT offerings through open data interfaces.
Making automation programmable with IT code: Simatic AX
Simatic AX provides IT professionals with a familiar development environment based on Visual Studio Code and version control via GIT and others. Simatic AX is cloud-based and is available as a service.
Visualization for the Industrial Edge environment: WinCC Unified for Industrial Edge
With Industrial Edge, administering software in machines is easier, more flexible, and more secure. A variety of apps is already available, focused on acquisition, preprocessing and analysis of machine or plant data.
Insights Hub: Turning Industrial IoT into actionable insights
Siemens will integrate MindSphere in the core of our operations software portfolio with an even stronger focus on delivering business value from IoT data. To emphasize our commitment to application value from industrial IoT, Siemens is evolving MindSphere (including partners and developers worldwide) into Insights Hub as part of Industrial Operations X and the Siemens Xcelerator ecosystem.
Insights Hub highlights the focus on empowering smart manufacturing to generate actionable insights from asset and operations data, by analyzing data locally or in the cloud, and transforming it into value. With Insights Hub, Siemens gives its customers proven industrial IoT solutions that include a variety of applications, like Insights Hub Quality Prediction for improving quality inspection and rework processes.