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.
So last week I shared an update on Schneider Electric from the ARC Forum–mostly on cybersecurity. A helpful marketing person guided me to the press release with all the data that updated the software side of the week’s news–specifically asset performance management. For the most part the discussion did not center on product updates but on “increasing momentum surrounding customer adoption”. In other words, Schneider wanted to highlight an area of software not often brought to center stage and show that it is a growth area.
Kim Custeau (I misspelled her name in my last post, I believe–thank you autocorrect), Asset Performance Management Business Lead, shared how investments in the cloud, advanced machine learning, and augmented reality, coupled with new partnerships, have empowered customers.
“Defining and executing an asset performance strategy is a critical component to improving productivity while safeguarding business continuity,” she said. “We have been delivering proven, industry leading asset performance solutions for nearly 30 years, and continue to invest in a long-term strategy to drive innovation in this area. Our focus is to provide real value to our customers by empowering them to maximize return on capital investment and improve profitability. We are proud to see our customer results speak for themselves with significant savings.”
Machine learning and prescriptive analytics:
- Duke Energy prevented an estimated $35 million cost from early warning detection of a steam turbine problem
- Ascend Performance Materials now responds faster to alerts saving an estimated $2 million through avoided plant shutdowns
- BASF is implementing AR to improve asset performance, reliability, and utilization while increasing production efficiency and safety because technicians leverage an augmented digital representation of the asset.
Cloud and Hybrid Deployment:
- WaterForce partnered with Schneider Electric to develop and IIoT remote monitoring and control system in the cloud that allows farmers to operate irrigation pivots with greater agility, efficiency, and sustainability.
- MaxGrip and Schneider Electric announced a partnership to expand APM consulting and add Risk-based Maintenance capabilities. The APM Assessment is a first step for industrial companies to evaluate asset reliability and digital transformation strategy.
- Schneider Electric and Accenture completed development of a Digital Services Factory to rapidly build and scale new predictive maintenance, asset monitoring, and energy optimization offerings. As a result, a large food and beverage company saved over $1 million in maintenance costs
I was so busy during the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum last week, that I just couldn’t find time to write coherently. The keyword was digital supplemented by embedded, edge, IIoT, security, and transformation.
The Forum attracted perhaps not only its largest attendance but also its largest attendance of end users. The things that appeal to me are those that fit into the Industrial Internet of Things the most. Here are two related new product releases. The first one involves embedding HMI/SCADA software and the second involves using that embedded software in addition to many other technologies for an edge device.
First is the announcement from Inductive Automation concerning the creation of its Ignition Onboard program. The program involves device manufacturers embedding Ignition and Ignition Edge software in the devices they manufacture.
The program includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. 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), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition Edge is a line of lightweight, limited, low-cost Ignition software products which empower solutions designed for edge-of-network use.
“Device manufacturers have joined Ignition Onboard in response to their customers’ demands for an all-in-one solution that contains hardware and software at a reasonable price,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “These are companies that understand the importance of building a strong IIoT, and we’re very happy to be collaborating with them.”
The other announcement came from Opto 22. This is a significant advance in edge devices for industrial and SCADA applications.
The new groov EPIC system from Opto 22 combines I/O, control, data processing, and visualization into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. groov EPIC lets engineers and developers focus on delivering value, not on triaging loosely connected components.
“We are a company of engineers inspired and driven to create products that unleash our customers’ imaginations,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22 CEO. “groov EPIC is a culmination of that mission, a response to industry requests to more wholly integrate IT and OT technologies, simplify development and deployment, and provide a platform for long-term growth now and well into the future.”
Combining reimagined intelligent I/O with an embedded Linux real-time controller, gateway functions, and an integrated display, groov EPIC offers field-proven industrial hardware design with a modern software ensemble, to produce the results that visionary engineers want today.
Connecting legacy systems, controlling processes and automating machines, subscribing to web services and creating mashups, acquiring and publishing data, visualizing that data wherever it is needed, and mobilizing operators—all of these are now within reach. In addition, groov EPIC simplifies commissioning and wiring and helps engineers develop rapidly and deploy quickly.
“The groov EPIC system incorporates in one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data, through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets and other software, to cloud storage and services—and back again,” says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of Marketing & Product Strategy. “This ability to easily exchange data and use it where needed opens opportunities automation engineers have not had until now. This is a truly new system that builds on the past but looks fundamentally to the future of our industry.”
The main point of discussion between Benson and me lately is whether Sparkplug (from the developer of MQTT) is adequate for IoT applications. He favors the lightweight (technical, not pejorative) protocol or I tend to favor OPC UA over MQTT as a better overall solution due to its interoperability. But that’s OK. He and I have had these technical discussions for almost 20 years now. I love pushback, and I think Benson does as well. It raises the energy level.
The industrial software market seems to be undergoing quite a consolidation right now. I’m not entirely sure what that means. There are a couple of underlying factors but slowing growth of the market is often one. Another is that larger companies usually find it more expedient to innovate through acquisition. A portfolio manager or CEO can see what is working in the market and see gaps in their own offerings. Then it’s simply a matter of negotiation.
I don’t know Aras as well as I know many other companies, but interesting that I finally wrote about its digital twin and digital thread strategy this week and then comes the announcement of its acquisition of the Impresa Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) business from Infospectrum.
Aras states it gains a suite of complementary MRO capabilities to help Manufacturers and Owner-Operators digitally transform development and maintenance of complex products. With the Impresa acquisition, Aras will deliver PLM and MRO on a single platform that extends the Digital Thread to the field and provides the foundation for Digital Twin.
The Aras Impresa MRO software will be available as part of Aras enterprise subscriptions and is immediately available at no charge for current Aras subscribers.
As the justification for the acquisition, Aras says, “To stay ahead of competition, manufacturers must continuously innovate next-generation products and offer the flexibility of capacity-as-a-service offerings. As a result, they need to transform how they develop products and plan to service them in the field. Connecting their PLM to MRO gives these companies a path to achieve both goals with a closed loop between product development and field data.”
And further, “Adding PLM functionality enables Owner-Operators to bring product engineering to their maintenance practices. With a combined PLM and MRO solution, they gain the PLM capability necessary to manage designs, decisions, and part selection related to maintenance and service of their assets.”
Peter Schroer, Aras CEO, states, “Companies choose Aras as a digital transformation partner to modernize their most complex engineering and manufacturing processes today and for the future – and have been asking for an MRO application to extend their journey. With the acquisition of Impresa, we are adding a highly-talented team and proven solution to further expand our MRO capabilities and to be first to connect MRO to the Digital Thread on a single platform.”
As part of the transaction, Aras will acquire technology, intellectual property, and subject matter expertise. Aras plans to immediately begin incorporating the Impresa MRO technology onto the Aras PLM Platform to continue to deliver full product lifecycle traceability on a single platform and code base.
This year has opened more strangely than usual. Looks like I’ll be emphasizing a lot more IT/OT intersection plus digital transformation and Internet of Things. Part of the strangeness is that several of my good friends are on the lookout for new positions. The end of 2017 was harsh for many people. If you need a good sales and/or marketing professional, I can put you in touch with some top people. In fact, my business also sort of tapered off the last part of the year. I thought things were supposed to be good (well, my investment accounts are looking good).
There was no other way than to just string together a number of news items in the Internet of Things and Industrial software space.
• Honeywell Data
• Schneider Award
• Bluetooth at 20
• RFP for IoT Software Platform
I am a media sponsor for a couple of upcoming conferences. The strange thing is that I haven’t heard from either one for a while and neither has sent an ad png for me to display.
News also seems to be a little slow. But here are a number of things I’ve compiled over several days along with some upcoming conferences. Hope to see you at some of those.
The 22nd annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando from February 12-15 on Digitizing and Securing Industry, Infrastructure, and Cities is a great industry meeting place. https://www.arcweb.com/events/arc-industry-forum-orlando
I see ARC Advisory Group, like many of us, must branch out from control and automation in order to find a big enough market to survive. My own practice has shifted from market and industry research and analysis in that space to greater focus on IT/OT, IoT, and digital transformation.
Also on my calendar is the Industry of Things USA (I’m also a media sponsor of the September one in Berlin) from March 7-9 in San Diego. This will be its third year. The organizing group from Berlin (Germany) has been outstanding. This is becoming a place for IT to meet OT. http://industryofthingsworldusa.com
Hannover Fair this year is April 23-27. I’ll go there depending upon sponsorship. Always a great place to meet many influential people.
The Control Systems Integrators Association is meeting from April 24-27 in San Francisco. I have never been to a CSIA meeting. Maybe this year I can slip one in if I don’t go to Germany.
The MESA International USA conference held in conjunction with the Industry Week Manufacturing and Technology conference in Raleigh, NC will be from May 8-10.
Maybe I can make it to the Rockwell Automation annual software bash in San Diego from June 10-15.
Siemens Industry in the USA is holding its automation summit in Marco Island, FL from June 25-28.
If I can afford all the travel, this will be a busy 6 months.
In the realm of industrial software, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) today launched its Honeywell Connected Plant Uniformance Cloud Historian. This software-as-a-service cloud hosting solution for enterprise-wide visualization and analysis, helps customers improve asset availability and increase plant uptime.
It claims an industry first by fusing real-time process data analysis of a traditional enterprise historian with a data lake, enabling the integration of production, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other business data coupled with analytics tools to provide business intelligence. “This allows enterprise data to be analyzed instantly on a scale not previously possible using tools and functions already in use at sites and plants,” says the media release.
“Uniformance Cloud Historian brings the full power of cloud and big data to Honeywell’s traditional process historian for the first time, connecting even the most complex multi-site organizations effortlessly,” said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. “The solution makes it possible to leverage insights found at one plant across all plants, allowing smarter, more strategic decisions to be made and action to be taken.”
Honeywell’s new offering collects, stores and enables replay of historical and continuous plant and production site process data and makes it visible in the cloud in near real time. The historian combines a time series data store, which empowers plant and enterprise staff to execute and make decisions, with a big data lake, which enables data scientists to uncover previously unknown correlations between process data and other business data in the enterprise.
Last week I wrote about an interview I had with Cognizant, the Indian company that acquired Wonderware’s (Schneider Electric) R&D center. This week, an announcement about an award to Schneider Electric (not sure that these are the same it just reminded me of the Indian connection).
Schneider Electric announced its India-based Software Delivery Center (SDC) was appraised at Level 5 of the CMMI Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). With this designation, Schneider Electric’s SDC becomes part of a small group of companies with a CMMI Level 5 assessment in the industrial software industry.
An appraisal at maturity level 5 indicates that the organization is performing at an “optimizing” level. At this level, an organization continually improves its processes based on a quantitative understanding of its business objectives and performance needs. The organization uses a quantitative approach to understand the variation inherent in the process and the causes of process outcomes.
Select achievements include:
• Attaining a schedule variance of less than 1%
• Maintaining effort variances of less than 3%
• Delivering an industry-leading client satisfaction score
Bluetooth is 20
Are you listening to music on your wireless headset while working at the coffee house? Thanks to Bluetooth. Did you know that the technology just turned 20?
Today, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) kicks off its 20th anniversary year from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Formed in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG started with a handful of companies focused on wire replacement for mobile voice and data. Today over 33,000 member companies are part of an organization dedicated to perfecting and advancing a flexible, reliable, and secure wireless connection solution.
IoT RFP Platform
Here is one that I think merits a deeper dive:
Three of the biggest software vendors in IoT – HPE, PTC, and Wind River (Intel) – have agreed to join the IoT M2M Council’s (IMC) fledgling template RFP Program for IoT Software Platforms, which will be presented at the IMC’s conference at CES.
Using input from many vendors and more than 100 software buyers in an open-source process, the IMC developed a template reference document that will ease buying of IoT software, and later, hardware and connectivity solutions. HPE, PTC, and Wind River have agreed to have their platforms assessed by the IoT M2M Council which represents 25,000 enterprise users and OEMs that buy IoT solutions.
The RFP program will simplify sourcing of IoT platforms for buyers by providing reference documentation and demonstrating capabilities of established software platforms, and for participating vendors, it will ultimately shorten the sales cycle.
The IMC developed a template RFP document earlier this year in a wiki-based, open-source process with input from more than 100 IoT buyers, and has now retained a third-party consultancy to validate vendors against the RFP. The validation process, conducted by UK-based Beecham Research, includes surveying vendors for responses to the RFP, contacting their customers anonymously for references, and a hands-on analysis of the platforms for ease-of-use.
“No other industry group or major consultancy is talking to buyers at scale and looking at the actual IoT sales process. My staff spends a lot of time responding to RFPs. The IMC’s RFP program gives us a report from a credible third-party that allows us to respond to RFPs more quickly, as well as a place to send potential buyers where they can access a template RFP document and learn more. If this program reduces my sales cycle, even just incrementally, it will be well worth it,” says Volkhard Bregulla, VP of Global Industries, Manufacturing, & Distribution at HPE, with a seat on the IMC board.
IMC rank-and-file membership comes from 24 different vertical markets on every continent, and a plurality self-identify as “operations”, meaning that they are unlikely versed in communications technology. “The template RFP provides a non-technical reference, and can go a long way in establishing a common language for IoT technology among people actually doing the buying,” says Bregulla.