Inductive Automation Updates Ignition

I am seeing many companies large and small releasing app and software updates when they are ready rather than waiting for a special release day. Inductive Automation has been doing it this way with its flagship Ignition 8.1 SCADA/HMI platform. The latest release, 8.1.16, was just announced through the company’s blog.

This is also an appropriate time to thank Inductive Automation for its long time sponsorship of this site.

To whet your appetite to learn more about the latest Ignition features, I’m copying some of the blog from Arnell Ignacio.

As per usual, we’ve got updates to Perspective and quality-of-life improvements to the platform, as well as reporting and security improvements, and a little bit of something for Vision.

To better help our users meet compliance requirements, we added an Authentication Challenge concept in Ignition 8.1.16.

During a production process, there are determined points at which an operator will need a supervisor to sign off as part of the 21 CFR Part 11 regulations. For electronic signatures, it is required that a supervisor be authenticated to ensure their identity.

This new Authentication Challenge concept is made for those situations where an operator is logged in to an application and needs a supervisor or other appropriate party to sign off on something. The tricky part here is proving that the supervisor actually did the signing and was present with the operator. Normally, applications prove a user took some action by keeping a record of activity for the user, which can be audited at a later time.

Perspective is getting an exciting new feature in Ignition 8.1.16, the Audio Component. The Audio Component allows you to add audio to your Perspective projects.

Industrial Software Enables Collaboration and Continuous Improvement

GE Digital has been one busy organization lately. This is the third release along with one interview in the past month or so. The company continues to build on its platform not looking (so far) to bring it all together. I’ve only seen a couple of companies so far who have built from the ground up. This new piece of application software is a step toward letting its customers bring its data together in order to enable improved decision making.

Here is the short take:

• Updated software delivers actionable information with a cross-business digital operations hub 

• New portfolio-wide data flow editor saves time and increases visibility by automatically integrating and transforming data for IoT-fueled analysis and optimization 

• Code-free development environment accelerates configuration of rich web-enabled dashboards and applications through a library of widgets

GE Digital announced updates to Proficy Operations Hub, the company’s centralized environment for building industrial applications for web-based intelligence.

Proficy Operations Hub allows both developers and non-developers to quickly assemble displays through a comprehensive library of widgets and arrange them to provide responsive operator and supervisor visualization. Companies can define data sources for connected devices and create queries to access and transform data into actionable information for operations. Drag-and-drop design allows for simple placement and configuration of visualization components on the display, then dragging the query or data source onto the component quickly enables the data connections.

Designed as an OT business intelligence (BI) tool for any industrial environment, Proficy Operations Hub is used in diverse industries including water/wastewater treatment, automotive manufacturing, food and beverage processing, power and energy, and consumer goods.

As an example, ENGIE, a global company in low-carbon energy and services, worked with Control & Protection Automation NV (CPA) to leverage Proficy Operations Hub to accelerate time to value. The team developed and delivered an expanded remote and local monitoring and control solution. CPA maximized Proficy Operation Hub’s Rapid Application Development (RAD) capabilities in conjunction with the Proficy software portfolio to create reusable objects and High Performance HMI operator screens, GIS functionality, dashboards, and more.

New features in this latest update include increasing Rapid Application Development using cloud infrastructure with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), an expanded widget library for data display and analysis, and third-party systems integration enabled by OPC UA. The software also enhances OT BI with new visualization widgets for supervisory dashboards and a pivot grid for ad hoc multi-dimensional data analysis.

“Access to data across the organization provides faster response and better decision-making with centralized visualization, digitized processes, and data analysis in context. Ultimately that leads to decreased costs and time to market as well as lower maintenance costs,” said Richard Kenedi, General Manager for GE Digital’s Manufacturing and Digital Plant business. “These outcomes are the result of improved collaboration and continuous improvement programs that are key performance indicators in the industrial environment today.”

StorCentric’s Retrospect Adds Anomaly Detection to Ransomware Protection

I used to use Retrospect to back up files on my Macs. Not sure why I stopped, probably a compatibility issue with MacOS at the time. It did the job for me, though. But I was surprised to get some news from StorCentric, the company behind Retrospect, announcing an update. Something I’ll have to check out again.

Retrospect, a StorCentric company, announced the general availability (GA) of Retrospect Backup 18.5, featuring new anomaly detection, customizable filtering and thresholds, and enhanced ransomware protection to help businesses quickly detect and protect against malicious attacks. With deeper Microsoft Azure Blob integration for Immutable Backups and integrated cloud bucket creation, Retrospect Backup 18.5’s anomaly detection and ransomware protect bolsters StorCentric’s data-centric security approach to organizations’ critical infrastructure.

According to Coveware, most corporate targets are small and medium businesses. 72% of targeted businesses have fewer than 1,000 employees, and 37% have fewer than 100. Businesses are projected to have paid out $20B in 2021, a 100% Y-o-Y increase for the last four years, and it’s only going to get worse with new business models like RaaS: ransomware-as-a-service. With Retrospect Backup 18, businesses can protect their infrastructure with immutable backups for ransomware protection.

Included in Retrospect Backup 18.5

▪ Anomaly Detection: Detect anomalies in systems based on customizable filters and thresholds tailored to individual environments.

▪ Retrospect Management Console Integration: View anomalies across a business or partner’s entire client base in a single pane of glass.

▪ Improved Microsoft Azure Blob Integration: Set individual immutable retention policies for different backup sets within the same Azure Storage Container.

▪ Streamlined Immutable Backup User Experience: Automatically create cloud buckets with immutable backups supported by default.

▪ LTO-9 Support: Includes support for LTO-9, with capacities up to 18TB (45TB compressed).

HMI SCADA Adds Python and Cloud Support

A news release from GE Digital came my way regarding the latest update to its CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software product. I have not had an update on that product line for more than a year, so my friends there set up a conversation with product management director Gimmi Filice.

He told me that product development continues to build on its object oriented architecture. Developers have continued to assure that CIMPLICITY plays well with other products in the GE Digital sandbox, especially the Historian and Operations Hub. And one other key feature of the product it scalability.

This latest news contains three key points. 

The release contains the year of release—CIMPLICITY 2022. This implies the intent for regularity of update cadence.

Secondly, this release adds support for Python. This language has become de facto standard for college students. Customers are beginning to request it for a couple of reasons. New hires are proficient in it. Python is now the standard for data analytics work. It has a large development community with a large number of vetted libraries. Finally, digital twins can be constructed in Python that can be part of an object type that can be inherited.

Cloud comprises the third key update. Customers have begun asking for cloud support. This release supports Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. Customers have migrated toward a hybrid cloud architecture with some on-prem servers and a bulk of servers on a commercial cloud.

Following are snippets from the news release.

GE Digital announced the availability of the latest version of its CIMPLICITY 2022 HMI/SCADA software. This new version also provides options to deploy on-prem, in the cloud, or in a hybrid architecture to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Other new capabilities include: the flexibility of Python scripting, improving extensibility and ease of use; analytics through SCADA data and Python libraries; support for cloud infrastructures including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS); and improved single-server scale and alarm visualization.

Rübig GmbH, a global provider of plasma nitriding systems for steel manufacturing, says that CIMPLICITY provides greater efficiency with remote access and online diagnostics as well as easy-to-use, real-time operator displays. Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, achieves high availability and virtually no downtime with connected control featuring CIMPLICITY.

Proficy Historian Updated for 2022

Steve Pavlosky, Principal Product Manager Proficy Historian and Data at the Edge, talked with me about this latest release of Proficy Historian by GE Digital. I asked him for the important points. He responded, “It’s our extreme scalability of up to 100 million tags.” Further, this release allows customers to choose their cloud environment and how much data they want sent to the cloud of their choice. It sounds like there are some cool things coming later in the year. Glad to hear about the progress. With OSIsoft now part of AVEVA, I am interested in how market competition may (or may not) change. So this is interesting.

Here is the release.

GE Digital today announced the availability of its latest version of Proficy Historian, a historian software solution that collects industrial time-series and Alarms & Events (A&E) data to analyze asset and process performance to drive business value. Proficy Historian 2022 has a flexible and scalable architecture – from sensor to enterprise – that makes it foundational for Industrial Internet deployments.

Used by thousands of companies around the world, Proficy Historian has helped a global chemical company create a single industrial data repository across its plants for improved visibility and insights, delivering a 20% increase in capacity; a large power monitoring and diagnostics center achieve tens of millions in cost savings for customers in just one year along with 5% reduction in unplanned downtime and 20% reduction in IT infrastructure costs; and a leading industrial gas company reduce costs by consolidating to one historian and eliminating more than 100 servers.

This new version boosts large-scale deployments with enhanced system management and connectivity, value from data with a new Asset Model associated with Historian data, and significant improvement in collection throughput and encryption. Proficy Historian 2022 also features improved system management with a modern single administrator across the Proficy portfolio that increases productivity. It also provides new capabilities for managing multiple systems from a “single pane of glass.”

“GE Digital has made significant strides with Proficy Historian 2022. With features like decentralized data collection, excellent data volume handling, scalability from on-premise to hybrid Cloud to full Cloud, plus remote management, and an OPC UA Server, Proficy Historian is now one of the leading historian products on the market,” said Joe Perino, Principal Analyst, LNS Research. “No longer is there a default choice in historians. If GE Digital’s Proficy Historian is not on your short list, it certainly should be.”

A centralized collector configuration within Proficy Historian 2022 allows companies to utilize remote data collectors to reduce maintenance costs and downtime. This simplified enterprise-wide management makes Proficy Historian the best solution on the market for widely distributed data collection in large water utilities, organizations such as oil & gas and power generation and grid operators, and multi-plant manufacturing. In addition, it provides horizontal scalability, so all clients have access to all data, without the need for consolidation in a central enterprise historian. 

StorCentric Announces Nexsan Unity Software For Data and Security

The types of products and services covered here keeps expanding with technology and application requirements change. It’s the new year prompting reflection on the past and the future. I just happened upon a LinkedIn conversation about an article in Automation World about PAC versus PLC. That seems so 20 years ago. Yet, the discussion in Germany involves PC-based control versus PLCs. Meanwhile, I’m looking at all the data technologies required for the efficient operation of a plant or factory. This news came involves the hot topics of data and security.

And I won’t be ignoring the Consumer Electronics Show starting today in Las Vegas. Several companies have pulled out of the live experience, but I’ve begun getting CES news. I never go to that show, but I’ve been to two and survived. We’ll see how that one works out. It’s amazing the technologies we’ll see at CES that will be industrial  before you know it.

StorCentric, provider of a comprehensive portfolio of secure data management solutions, today announced Nexsan Unity software version 7.0, which includes important enhancements to power enterprise-class security, compliance and ransomware protection. The new Unity software now supports Object (S3) protocol, and data-centric security features such as immutable snapshots and object locking. This release also offers up to a 40% performance increase over Nexsan Unity version 6.1.

This massive growth in data combined with significant changes in the way we work today and a rapid rise in cybercrime has driven increased demands and challenges for enterprise data center managers. The new Unity software enhancements are designed to address these issues and redefine how StorCentric channel partners and customers store, manage and protect data at scale.

Available in Nexsan Unity v7.0:

Protocol Support

– Object (S3) Protocol – Unity is now a true unified solution, supporting Block (iSCSI, FC), File (NFS, CIFS/SMB) and now Object (S3) protocols.

Security, Compliance and Ransomware Protection

– Immutable Snapshots – Unity now supports immutable volume and file system snapshots for data protection. This provides secure point-in-time copies of data for business continuity.

– Object Locking – Unity now supports object locking, enabling bucket or object-level protection for a specified retention period to create immutable copies of data. This allows enterprises to address compliance, regulatory and other data protection requirements.

– Data Integrity – Unity supports pool-scrubbing to detect and remediate bit rot to avoid data corruption.

Performance Improvements 

– Total Throughput has increased up to 13GB/s on the existing platforms. 

– Up to 50% increase in Unity to Assureon Ingest Rate – Significantly improves the efficiency of the Unbreakable Backup solution.