Smart Trend—Specific Function Application Software

Smart Trend—Specific Function Application Software

This announcement from Schneider Electric originated from the conference in Barcelona that I will be attending in Austin, Texas. It supports a trend we’re seeing of suppliers breaking software into specific-purpose chunks to make it easier for customers to purchase, install, and maintain. The EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors suite points toward food and beverage; mining, minerals and metals; oil and gas; water and wastewater; and other industrial enterprises. 

These comprise a specialized suite of smart manufacturing apps and digital services, providing easy-to-understand, real-time analytics. 

“The digital transformation vision is coming to life for industrial operations,” said Sophie Borgne, senior vice president, Schneider Electric Digital Plant. “Industry 4.0 has embraced digitalization but now must get out of ‘pilot purgatory’ and scale up. Respecting an industrial enterprise’s operational investment, the modular EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors make it easy for plants of all sizes—not just big corporations to modernize at a sustainable pace and accelerate their digital transformation in very simple, step by step manner.”

Data-driven Plant Performance Management

Schneider rightly contends that IIoT blurs the line between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) yielding great amounts of data. The Advisors enhance asset optimization, asset performance management, predictive maintenance, and real-time decision-making. 

Schneider Electric utilizes digitalization in its own factories. Using technology, including EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors, its Smart Factory in Bantam, Indonesia is reporting a 44% reduction in machine downtime in one year. The Schneider Electric Smart Factory in Vaudreil, France also implemented EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors, which contributed to:

  • 10% reduction in energy consumption
  • 25% improvement in plant operations efficiency.
  • 20% reduction in maintenance costs.
  • 20% reduction in diagnosis and repair time.

EcoStruxure Plant Advisors are fully configurable, off-the-shelf solutions for easy integration into even the most advanced systems. By providing users with a familiar application theme and environment, an efficient plant can create synergies for processes and empower digital operators. This greatly reduces the user learning curve, saving time and money.

Schneider Electric’s modular and scalable EcoStruxure Plant Advisors suite includes:

  • EcoStruxure Pumping Performance Advisor is a new digital service for the continuous improvement of water and wastewater pumping assets in 24/7 operations. By addressing challenges such as cost of water, plants can save up to 15% in OPEX through pump optimization.
  • EcoStruxure Equipment Efficiency Advisor provides real-time efficiency root cause analysis. It then recommends appropriate action plans for increasing capacity while reducing unscheduled downtime and waste, which often results in immediate 5% to 10% OEE gains.
  • EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor uses augmented reality to slash the amount of time a worker spends looking for information to about a tenth of current levels. By superimposing real-time data and virtual objects (point of interest, documentation, procedures) onto cabinets or machines, this “contactless maintenance” model also increases safety. EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor V2.4 is easy to customize; no special platform knowledge is required. Users can also easily add augmented reality into existing procedures and export notes and analysis to share with others.
  • EcoStruxure Secure Connect Advisor with embedded cybersecurity provides a digitally secure and simple asset monitoring connection for remote diagnostic and maintenance that reduces plant downtime while saving time and travel costs to maintain critical assets. In some cases, this has resulted in a shortened time to solution from over 7 days to as little as 4 hours.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform.

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

I guess I did attend the last GE software conference Minds + Machines. However, the reconstituted and independent GE Digital recently held a user conference where it announced a number of upgrades to its IIoT software. These are firmly within the current trends of connecting and mobility.

The product updates include:

  • Predix Essentials, which makes it easier for industrial companies to connect, visualize and analyze their data
  • Asset Answers, which helps customers to understand the competitive potential of Asset Performance Management (APM) software
  • Webspace 6.0, a new HTML5 interface that seamlessly brings automation data to operators across any mobile device

Edge-to-Cloud Accessibility

Predix Essentials is an easy-to-use SaaS solution, helping companies connect to disparate data sources, monitor operations, and leverage edge-to-cloud predictive analytics–reducing time-to-value for operational teams looking to reduce waste, lower costs, and increase performance.

Developed in partnership with a number of customers, including silicon chip manufacturer Intel, Predix Essentials is a natural first step for industrial businesses looking to leverage the power of cloud-based Industrial IoT technologies, providing the connectivity, visualization and analysis capabilities that are the cornerstones of a digital transformation journey, regardless of vertical or maturity.

Suitable for industrial companies of all kinds, Predix Essentials is also the foundation of GE Digital’s APM and OPM application suites, providing core functionality and bridging the entire software portfolio by connecting GE Digital cloud-based solutions to on-premises data from its Automation, MES and Historian solutions.

Identifying Maintenance Strategies

Asset Answers is a benchmarking tool that helps customers quickly import and assess data to better understand how their asset maintenance compares with similar companies in their particular domain, or even against their own internal performance across sites.

With this intelligence, customers can determine where best to invest in updating maintenance regimes or capabilities, and ultimately provide a seamless path to products like APM to manage and optimize assets across their business. Asset Answers is available for many sectors, including power generation, oil and gas and chemicals.

Improving Operator Mobility

Webspace 6.0, a web and mobility solution, brings the full visualization and control capabilities from GE’s iFIX and CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software seamlessly across devices, including smartwatches, phones, tablets and desktops.

Offering enhanced encryption and new zero-install HTML5 client, Webspace 6.0 improves the way that operators receive and react to operational insights, whether they are in the field, on the plant floor or at a desk, providing them the flexibility to make informed decisions and share their expertise, regardless of location. By dynamically extending automation solutions, Webspace 6.0 increases information sharing across teams, speeds the right operator actions, and improves agility with real-time visualization and control anywhere, anytime.

Availability

“GE Digital continues to release innovations that forge the way for industrial customers working on transforming their operations,” said Pat Byrne, CEO of GE Digital. “By continuing to invest across our portfolio of industrial software, and by making it easier than ever for our customers to unlock the power of the Industrial IoT, GE Digital is strengthening its customers’ ability to become more productive, efficient and safe.”

Predix Essentials, Asset Answers and Webspace 6.0 are generally available today as part of GE Digital’s portfolio of industrial software products covering HMI/SCADA, Historian, Asset Performance Management and Manufacturing Execution System applications. Today’s announcements build on a strong thread of recent investments in product innovations, all designed to solve a broad range of industrial customer challenges, including iFIX 6.0; Historian 7.2, Plant Applications 8.0 and Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud for the manufacturing sector; Grid Analytics for the power transmission and distribution market; and APM Integrity’s Compliance Management for the O&G and Power Generation industries.

Smart Trend—Specific Function Application Software

Aligning Sales and Manufacturing Operations

Digitally integrating and aligning manufacturing operations with the rest of the enterprise has been an elusive goal for perhaps 20 years. It was a promise of ERP. Easy to say; hard to accomplish. Then we went through all the IT/OT stuff. Here’s another take–aligning sales and operations. Speaking from bitter experience, have faster and more accurate feedback from sales would have made our lives better in operations.

Salesforce just announced Manufacturing Cloud, a new industry-specific product for manufacturers. Manufacturing Cloud brings sales and operations teams together around a unified view of market and customer demands to more accurately forecast, plan, and drive predictable business performance. With Manufacturing Cloud, companies can now better meet commitments and run a more streamlined business while improving customer satisfaction. 

Here is the rationale from Salesforce: The manufacturing industry depends on predictability, as its capital-intensive businesses often have complex physical operations that cannot be quickly or inexpensively modified to meet changing customer demands. Unfortunately, operations teams aren’t always aligned with sales reps to ensure they have a single, real-time view of all aspects of their customer relationships.

Critical customer insights are siloed across spreadsheets and multiple ERP systems, which can negatively affect account performance and ultimately the ability to accurately predict demand. The resulting inventory stockouts, buildups and warehousing costs reduce operating margins and negatively impact revenue. In order for manufacturers to provide a seamless customer experience, they need a solution that helps them better understand customer needs while improving visibility across the entire value chain. 

“In the manufacturing industry, changing customer and market demands can have a devastating effect on the bottom line, so being able to understand what is happening on the ground is imperative for success,” said Cindy Bolt, SVP and GM, Salesforce Manufacturing. “Manufacturing Cloud bridges the gap between sales and operations teams while ensuring more predictive and transparent business, so they can build deeper and more trusted relationships with their customers.”

Introducing Manufacturing Cloud 
Manufacturing Cloud, the newest industry-specific product from Salesforce, delivers a new level of business visibility and collaboration between the sales and operations organizations of a manufacturing company. This allows them to have a better view of their customers through powerful new sales agreements and account-based forecasting solutions, providing visibility into their customer interactions while enabling them to generate more robust sales forecasts.

Salesforce has collaborated with major manufacturing and sales companies through the product pilot program, including Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. – Engines Division, Hitachi Chemical, CF Industries, Mipox, GELITA and more.

Manufacturing Cloud features include:

  • Sales Agreements allow manufacturers to unify their run-rate business with data housed in ERP and order management systems with the contract terms negotiated—including planned volumes and revenues—so both operations and account teams can have a 360-degree view of the customer. If any changes to the agreement are needed, they are immediately incorporated into the existing sales agreement, ensuring there is always a single source of truth. This allows account teams to manage the full sales agreement lifecycle and have visibility into committed and actual order volumes, the performance of the agreement against the forecast and other time-phased custom metrics. This also simplifies the renewal process, ensuring account teams continue to bring in revenue while increasing margins. 
  • Account-Based Forecasting provides manufacturers with a complete view of their current business alongside future opportunities. This allows sales, finance and operations teams to develop more accurate forecasts while breaking down internal silos. Account teams can also add updates on changing customer needs or market demands, allowing the team to collaborate and adjust forecasts in real-time, helping to make business transactions, profits and revenue margins more predictable. 

In addition to Manufacturing Cloud, Salesforce is also releasing new manufacturing-specific innovation across the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform to help manufacturers deliver greater transparency, streamline collaboration and grow their businesses.

  • Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing provides account managers with access to an intelligent experience with out-of-the-box KPIs into account health, demand insights, product penetration and sales agreement progress. By centralizing and analyzing key data sources, account managers can proactively engage clients that are at highest risk for churn. In addition, by identifying key trends within an account, account managers can proactively grow their relationship by recommending relevant upsell and cross sell opportunities. 
  • Community Cloud for Manufacturing will deliver a new pre-built template specific for manufacturers that extends sales agreements to channel partners, allowing them to easily collaborate together on leads and opportunities. 
  • MuleSoft Anypoint Platform unlocks data from any application, data source or device—whether that data is on-premise or in the cloud. By enabling organizations to connect Manufacturing Cloud with other systems, sales and operations leaders can automate the complete order-to-cash process, create a comprehensive forecast view and drive business process automation across all sales channels.

Partners Accelerate Expansion 
Salesforce has a comprehensive ecosystem of partners that will extend the power of Manufacturing Cloud. Key partners were instrumental in the development of Manufacturing Cloud, and will power digital transformation for customers in the manufacturing industry.

  • Accenture: As a pilot partner, Accenture’s global experience with industrials is providing new ways to apply Manufacturing Cloud to deliver transformational value through practical, connected, cloud-enabled solutions. 
  • Acumen Solutions: As a design and pilot partner for Manufacturing Cloud, Acumen Solutions collaborated with Salesforce to identify personas, use cases and requirements of customers in the manufacturing space to inform product development. 
  • Deloitte: Cloud4M, an ISV Managed Package, was built on Manufacturing Cloud by Deloitte Digital, Deloitte’s creative digital consultancy and a Manufacturing Cloud pilot partner. Cloud4M is a pre-configured, multi-cloud software solution designed to simplify decision making in B2B sales agreements and throughout the end-to-end customer engagement process, tailored for manufacturers and industrial product companies. 
  • Rootstock: Rootstock’s ERP system, built on the Salesforce Platform, feeds actuals from its ERP to Manufacturing Cloud to track compliance against sales agreements. Additionally, Rootstock’s planning engine consumes sales forecasts from Manufacturing Cloud to improve the quality of production, procurement and distribution plans.

Availability  

Manufacturing Cloud, Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing and Community Cloud for Manufacturing will be generally available in October, 2019. 

Smart Trend—Specific Function Application Software

High Energy Exhibited At Manufacturing Software User Conference

This week saw the annual incarnation of the Ignition Community Conference from Inductive Automation in Folsom, CA focused on application of manufacturing software. The level of user conversations and idea exchanges is higher than anywhere else I attend.

I entered the building walking down the hallway amongst the exhibits of partner companies. Immediately the strength of MQTT, Sparkplug, and embedded Ignition stood out. The stands of OEMs Opto 22, Wago, EZAutomation, Moxa, Bedrock Automation, and Stratus Technologies swarmed with curious engineers.

MQTT is a light-weight messaging protocol that is now an open standard. Originally developed jointly by IBM and Arlen Nipper, now CTO of Inductive Automation partner Cirrus Link, MQTT is also widely deployed in IT applications.

Family obligations cut my stay, but I got a sense of what is important. Last year’s focus was Ignition 8, a major update to the core product. This year’s focus included the various aspects of the ecosystem that has sprung up through some patient nurturing by Inductive Automation executives.

Free training has been a hallmark. Examples cited included college student interns at customer sites taking the online class and then developing a significant application–all during their summer internship. It’s that easy to learn and develop.

Inductive has expanded its university partnerships for additional training and has also greatly expanded its international presence. Partnerships include a growing number of OEMs who package Ignition within products and systems integrators out solving interesting problems for their customers.

This is called the “Community Conference” because of the intense community of users.

By the way, customers often tell me that the product is rock solid, but what convinced them to change software suppliers–not an easy undertaking–is the innovative pricing model originally developed by founder (and president/CEO) Steve Hechtman. The model drives cost of ownership down for customers, and, while Inductive Automation is a private company and does not release financials, when I pump Steve for information, he smiles broadly.

Oh, and competitors are trying to find a way to compete with their pricing. That should be interesting.

Many, if not most, companies I cover are earnestly trying to build an ecosystem of partners. Inductive Automation patiently assembled an impressive one.

[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is my major sponsor, but I’m not paid to be anything but my usual objective, analytical self observing the industry.]

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

Manufacturing Simulation Software Competitive Assessment

Industrial Internet of Things plays the starring role in the new digital transformation theater, but digital twin is the supporting actress without whom there would be no drama. Simulation comprises an important element of this whole digital enterprise scene. ABI Research has been releasing some interesting research reports, and this one just hit my inbox that is quite interesting.

The Manufacturing Simulation Software Competitive Assessment analyzed and ranked seven major vendors in the industry – Siemens, Dassault Systèmes, Arena (Rockwell Automation), AnyLogic, FlexSim, Simio, and Simul8 – using ABI Research’s unbiased innovation/implementation criteria framework. For this competitive assessment, innovation scores examined the technical capabilities of the vendor’s software and implementation scores focused on the vendor’s commercial ability to deliver their solution around the world across a variety of manufacturing verticals.

Ranked as the top manufacturing simulation software vendor, Siemens scored highest in implementation and topped four of the ten scoring criteria. Dassault Systèmes came in a close second, having scored the highest in innovation and topped three of the ten criteria.

A key judgment criterion within the innovation category was digital twin capability, the software’s ability to align end-to-end physical processes with a dynamic digital representation that provides two-way feedback and ongoing optimization. Vendors were also judged according to data ingestion, the software’s ability to utilize high volumes of real-time data from a variety of sources, including industrial equipment and sensors on the factory floor. Further assessment included UX, data modeling and analytics, and virtual commissioning capabilities.

ABI Research chose these vendors for the assessment due to their simulation capabilities in discrete manufacturing specifically, where software is used to simulate physical processes digitally to optimize engineering, planning, and operations on the factory floor.

Siemens scored strongest overall due to its ability to integrate simulation with the widest range of adjacent industrial software and hardware. This integration provides the most robust end-to-end product offering to manufacturers. Another major strength of Siemens is virtual commissioning, delivered through its Simcenter and PLC Sim Advance tools. These tools allow simulation capabilities to extend to the machine control level, where individual machines can be virtualized and modeled to improve equipment efficiency and reduce failure rates. Dassault Systèmes very closely followed Siemens and topped the innovation category due to outstanding digital twin capabilities and analytics performance via the company’s impressive 3DExperience platform. These two companies stood out from the field and were therefore named Leaders in the report.

“It is no coincidence that the two companies with the strongest end-to-end software offerings across the smart manufacturing value chain have emerged as Leaders in this report,” said Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Siemens and Dassault Systèmes can leverage their broad service offerings and industrial expertise to feed innovation and to implement complete solutions that equate to powerful and reliable simulations in discrete manufacturing.”

Three companies- Arena (Rockwell), AnyLogic and FlexSim- were named as Followers in the report. While these companies lack the full range of simulation capabilities of the Leaders, especially at the machine and equipment level, they have strong modeling and analytics capabilities. They, therefore, provide effective solutions for simulating factory floor layouts to optimize discrete manufacturing performance according to key metrics such as product throughput, machine downtime, capacity, and inventory levels. Arena, owned by Rockwell Automation, topped the Followers category due to strong performance in data modelling and analytics. Arena’s complex variability modeling capabilities and its strong installed base within the market contributed to a strong score in implementation.

“Ultimately the companies that scored best in the ranking can go beyond high-level factory layout simulation by also accurately modeling and commissioning industrial equipment on the factory floor and incorporating product design into the simulation environment. This means the way machines behave and how they are used to manufacture actual products is considered more comprehensively, a key factor in generating more reliable simulations. For this reason, Siemens and Dassault Systèmes stand out as market leaders in discrete manufacturing simulation software,” concludes Martin.

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

OSIsoft Discusses Digital Twin

The concept of digital twins was born from the marriage known as cyber-physical systems. The cyber representation of a product or process was often held digitally within CAD/CAM or PLM systems. These became linked to the physical object through a feedback loop that kept the two in sync.

Digital Twin has moved from the esoteric to mainstream within industrial culture. And digital no longer is consigned to drawing databases, as my recent conversation with Michael Kanellos and Perry Zalvesey of OSIsoft reveals.

They described the process this way, “From devices all the way to buildings and factories, we’re now living in a world where everything is connected. And as these operations become more connected, it’s increasingly important to identify the strongest solution to monitor them. With the introduction of IoT, sensor and even AI technology to industrial operators, there’s been a surge of unfamiliar digital strategies – the latest being digital twins.”

OSIsoft prefers to consider digital twin as a loose term, as it can be either a complete network doppelganger or just a copy of key data streams to narrow in on specific issues. Everyone has their own preference and iteration.

OSIsoft named its digital twin technology the Asset Framework, which allows companies to take a project-by-project approach, creating solutions for each need on a rolling basis.

When one of its customers, DCP Midstream, began deploying OSIsoft’s AF tool it rolled out 12 AF based applications in two months, experiencing a $20-$25 million one-year return.

Application of OSIsoft’s Asset Framework has been strong in the water industry. Zalvesey says that his first work in the area was with modeling processes that were only static models. Today’s digital twins are dynamic. Designers can model the facility and objects within it. Each object has attributes that data are then associated with. Where originally there was a pump object—say we define “Pump 12” and associate data such as temperature and pressure and more. Now with Asset Framework, designers can create a template class “pump” and be able to replicate for as many pumps as a facility contains.

1. Asset Framework is the core digital twin offering. It’s as a relational layer on top of PI that combines all the data streams (temp, pressure, vibration) of an asset into one screen. A lot of people get fancy with the digital twin term but to us it’s a simulation combined with live data.

2. A simple AF template for a pump probably takes a half an hour to build. It can then be replicated ad inifinitum. It’s a drag and drop process. AF is part of PI Server (it was a separate product years ago but combined into it.) Complex ones can take months. Element, a company that OSIsoft helped incubate (and has since culled investment from Kleiner Perkins, GE and others) has built a service called AF accelerator. Basically, they parachute a team of data scientists to study your large assets and then develop automated ways to build AF templates for complete mines or offshore oil platforms. It still takes two months or so but they can streamline a lot of the coding tasks. BP used them.

3. Examples:

  • DCP. In 2017, the company launched an effort to digitize operations. One of the first steps was using PI to collect the data and use AF to create simple and complex digital twins. DCP has 61 gas plants for instance. Each one has been modeled with AF. Plant managers are show a live feed of current production, idealized production, and the differential in terms of gas produced and revenue. DCP discovered that it could increase production per plant on average $2000-$5000 per day, or millions a year, by giving the plant managers better visibility into current production and market pricing. In year one, it saved $20=$25 million, paying off the entire project (including the cost of building a centralized control center in Colorado and staffing it.) The next year (2018) it saved another $20 million.
  • MOL. One of the largest uses of AF. MOL tracks 400,000 data streams and has 21,000+ AF instances based on 300 templates (a single template can be replicated several times.) MOL says that it has added $1 billion EBITDA since 2010 by using its data better. With AF, for instance, they figured out why hydrogen corrosion was exceeding the norm. In some instances, they’ve used advanced analytics—an experiment to see if it could use high sulfur crudes required deep analytics—but most of the time MOL has made its improvements by creating AF templates, studying the phenomena and taking action.
  • Colorado Springs. Complete opposite end of big. It’s a small, regional utility.
  • Heineken uses AF to model its plants to reduce energy. Aurelian Metals used it to boost gold extraction from ore from 75% to 89%. Michelin saved $4 million because AF let them recover more quickly from a previous outage. Deschutes Brewery meanwhile boosted production by $450K and delayed a plant (per our 2018 meeting.