A long-time friend from the manufacturing software market asked what I had seen at ARC Industry Forum. Advances in HMI SCADA manufacturing software, I told her. Oh, I figured that was such a mature category that there couldn’t be anything new, she replied.
Inductive Automation used its very visible presence at a press conference and breakfast to promote the changes hinted at during the Ignition Community Conference last September. Principally it announced the Public Beta of Ignition 8.
Ignition was built from the ground up as database-centric and IT-friendly. It now is used by more than 1,900 integrators. Chief Strategy Officer Don Pearson told us that it is found in 48% of the Fortune 100 companies in one way or another.
The three major upgrade areas in Ignition 8 focus on Expanded architectures (for enterprise), Security, and Mobility.
Key information points include:
- Easier for large groups to work together
- Added inheritance—flexibility and dynamic
- Re-engineered tag system—customers have not been limited in number of tags they use so they use so many it is slowing the system, the revised system has made things much faster
- Security—always a focus, but time to evolve, compatible with federated identity structure, 2FA, single sign on, and the like.
- Mobile—developed Ignition Perspective, a tool for building mobile HMI, built in security, flexibility, functionality, based on HTML 5 and CSS 3.
- Source control—compatible with Git and GitHub for development and deployment
In other news, Inductive Automation and FreeWave Technologies, a leader in long-range wireless radios and edge computing platforms, are providing increased data visibility and a more reliable data network for industrial IoT customers with remote assets.
Ignition Edge MQTT, an edge-of-network software solution from Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link Solutions, can run on FreeWave’s hardened, C1D2 ZumIQ Edge Computer and the ZumLink IQ Intelligent Edge Radio to flawlessly perform edge-based data collection using various industrial protocols and data publishing using MQTT.
This publish/subscribe, or pub/sub, architecture provides granular data to anyone on the network and the proven ruggedness of the Zum platform provides a reliable home for applications that place analytics and intelligence alongside remote assets. As a result, the ZumLink IQ is an all-in-one solution that provides both secure data transmission over long distances and application deployment.
“This collaboration with FreeWave will provide real benefits to users,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Today’s industrial users are certainly on a quest for more data, and edge computing is a big part of satisfying that demand.”
“The ZumLink hardware platform is a perfect example of why we developed the Ignition Edge MQTT product,” said Arlen Nipper, CTO and president of Cirrus Link Solutions, a leading innovator of pervasive computing technologies, and co-inventor of the MQTT messaging transport. “Having a modular platform with tools that are already SCADA/OT-aware is extremely important in any digital transformation journey. Having a mature set of tools on the Ignition platform that can run on ZumLink solves numerous migration strategy issues.”
“In the simplest analogy, we are the ‘I’ in ‘IoT,’ and Inductive Automation’s holistic approach to delivering automation solutions is not like any other software provider in the marketplace today,” said Kirk Byles, CEO, Freewave Technologies. “Our joint focus on enabling industrial customers with data platforms that can transform their operations while improving productivity and reducing operating costs is of paramount importance to both our companies’ missions. It’s a unique hand-in-glove type of relationship and it has many automation integrators excited about the endless opportunities that can be created from our partnership.”
Advances continue in the venerable HMI/SCADA space. I got to see a preview of the new Ignition 8 from Inductive Automation [disclaimer: it is a sponsor, but they don’t pay for content] at the Ignition Community Conference in September featuring enhance mobile utility. The public beta version is now available. Full product to be released in April.
A key part of the Ignition 8 release is the Ignition Perspective Module, a pure-web, fully mobile solution. It provides full SCADA control from mobile phones, and drag-and-drop capabilities for designing mobile-responsive screens that are ideal for mobile devices.
Applications built with the Ignition Perspective Module adapt to fit any size screen, from cellphone to desktop. It will also enable users to leverage a phone’s GPS, camera, Bluetooth, orientation-sensing, and more. It runs in any web browser with HTML5, and requires no plug-ins. Perspective will allow people to enhance their SCADA systems in new and creative ways.
Ignition 8 also features capabilities for building enterprise-scale architectures. A faster tag system aids very large deployments, such as those with a million tags or more. Improved concurrent design allows projects to move faster. Project inheritance allows corporate standards to be used in addition to local modifications. And Ignition 8 was built with cybersecurity as a key pillar. It supports industry-leading encryption protocols, uses two-factor authentication, and also includes single sign-on.
More than 1,000 people have participated in the private Beta test for Ignition 8, and the response has been very positive. “Ignition 8 is a game-changer, a fundamental shift in how SCADA applications are developed and deployed,” said Bob Hastie, senior control systems engineer for Able-Baker Automation, Inc. “We — and our largest Ignition client — are very impressed with what we’ve seen in this release. Inductive Automation continues to deliver on its mantra of ‘Dream It, Do It.’”
“Our team is very excited to roll out Perspective to our largest Ignition user,” said J. C. Harrison, director of systems engineering for Roeslein & Associates, Inc. “We have successfully tested the Beta against live, true, plant-floor data. We (and our customer) are ready!”
“Ignition 8 builds on the industry-altering changes we’ve come to expect from Inductive Automation, and the Perspective Module pushes the envelope further by bringing Ignition natively to your browser,” said Dave Griffith, sales & marketing manager for Corso Systems. “These changes make it easier to develop and implement solutions more rapidly and efficiently than ever.”
“SugarCreek is looking forward to using the Ignition Perspective Module to combine the power of Ignition with HTML5,” said Dan Stauft, director of operational technology for SugarCreek. “We have been using the Beta and can’t wait for the official release!”
The Beta version of Ignition 8 is available at demo.inductiveautomation.com, Google Play, and the Apple App Store.
The point of manufacturing is to design and make a product then deliver the right product to the customer. Sometimes we just churn out a large quantity and hope they will sell. Sometimes we configure to order or “mass customize” products.
For example, I once had a job where I reported to the Vice President of product development for a manufacturing company. Two of us reported to him. The other guy headed the engineering teams for all of our standard products. I had a small team and we did special projects. One task was to help sales people go through complex specs and configure our product to meet the specs. My technology was a 4-column accounting ledger, pencil, and Singer adding machine.
I bet I made mistakes.
Frederic Laziou, CEO of Tacton, a Swedish company with a product in the CPQ space, just talked with me about what’s happening with his company and the technology.
CPQ stands for Configure Price Quote recognized by Gartner with Tacton firmly situated in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in CPQ.
A SaaS company born in the cloud from a research institute in Sweden, Tacton used AI plus search research to become a product search engine. Among CPQ companies, Tacton is unique as a niche player in manufacturing with key domain knowledge in manufacturing.
CPQ would have made my job from the late 70s easier, more accurate, and better documented. Good stuff.
Laziou states Tacton has presence in Europe, Japan, and North America. There is a common thread—they cannot compete on price. Mass customization or individualizations helps companies compete.
The company was seeking to deepen its North American presence, niche player in these areas:
- Production lines
- Power Generation (Dresser/Siemens)
- Medical Technology (Siemens and GE)
- Heavy commercial vehicles
- Fluid and air flow
30-40% of that business is in the US. In order to sustain leadership, need to be closer to the customer and partners, therefore have US headquarters. It established an office in the Chicago area. Two additional reasons for the Chicago location include direct flights to Stockholm and a wealth of necessary talent in manufacturing, software, and sales and marketing.
Putting Tacton in context of Industry 4.0, it puts customer in the center of the customer’s digitization.
Laziou says that as more people are bringing consumer technology into the business context, Tacton developed AR to enhance customer engagement. Not to mention that AR addresses big pain point—errors in quotes.
To fuel the expansion and drive increased sales, the company is making a $12 million investment over the next three years to establish joint headquarters in Chicago
In conjunction with its expansion and investment in the U.S. market, Tacton is also announcing new capabilities in its cloud-based CPQ platform. The new features include augmented reality (AR)-powered visualization and expanded integration with Salesforce that makes it even easier for manufacturers to design, configure and sell complex products.
Founded in 1998, Tacton CPQ software and design automation solutions help the world’s largest manufacturers, such as Bosch, Siemens and Caterpillar to manage the complexities traditionally associated with producing customized and configured products that meet strict customer requirements.
For example, the Industrial Power division at Siemens uses Tacton’s sales configuration software to slash the time it takes to prepare price quotes and simplify product configuration of custom solutions. It used to take Siemens eight weeks to produce a custom quote for its gas turbine units, With Tacton’s CPQ, the sales team now produces the same quote in a matter of minutes, without requiring any help from product specialists.
“The beauty of the Tacton Configurator is that it will guide the sales representative and get the product configuration for an accurate price quote each time. It now takes us only five minutes to generate a complete budget offer including pricing. This saves us tremendous amounts of time and money,” said Siemens Senior Engineer CRM process & IT Development Jan Nilsson.
Tacton CPQ now includes visual product configuration, including real time, interactive 3D drag-and-drop functionality. Sales engineers can interact directly with a sophisticated configuration tool, powered by AR to visualize the configuration within the actual environment.
The new capabilities extend Tacton’s integration with Salesforce to boost sales with features including needs-based configuration. Salesforce Sales Cloud customers can now connect to the full power of Tacton CPQ leveraging its best-in-class AI-driven configurator for the manufacturing industry. Tacton CPQ for Salesforce features automated CAD drawing and engineer-to-order (ETO) processes with out-of-the-box integration to all leading CAD solutions, integration with SAP ERP and Variant Configurator (SAP LO-VC) and open APIs that enable full integration with the existing IT stack.
“We experienced significant customer adoption for Tacton CPQ solutions among European manufacturers over the last two years, making it the ideal time to meet a similar demand in the United States,” said Frederic Laziou, CEO of Tacton. “By continuing to add breakthrough enhancements like AR-powered visual configuration to our CPQ solution, we can drive even greater efficiency for manufacturers, making it even simpler and faster to sell complex products.”
I’m still deep in cyber security meetings in Germany. A pause here for software and cloud news from the west coast of America—OSIsoft and Amazon Web services. Since PI is used by many industrial companies, these announcements reveal the deep acceptance of cloud technologies.
In short, here are three bullets:
- AWS Quick Starts for PI System: enables industrial customers to quickly deploy and manage the PI System on AWS.
- PI Integrator for Business Analytics: optimized for AWS to reduce time and cost of bringing operational and IoT data to AWS for sharing or advanced analytics.
- Enhanced connectivity and data sharing to accelerate digital transformation and shrink the OT-IT gap.
OSIsoft launched a suite of products today designed to enable manufacturers, utilities, and other industrial customers to run the OSIsoft PI System on Amazon Web Services.
AWS Quick Starts for the PI System consists of AWS CloudFormation templates, scripts, and reference architectures for quickly spinning up and managing a fully functioning PI System on AWS. Customers will use the PI System Quick Starts for moving PI System workloads to the AWS cloud or for providing an aggregate PI System across an enterprise, monitoring remote or isolated assets and enabling data science efforts.
The PI Integrator for Business Analytics, meanwhile, has been optimized to extract, clean and transmit data from PI Systems and reduce data preparation tasks that bog down big data and data science initiatives. Some customers have successfully used PI Integrator technology to reduce the time consumed by data preparation in advanced analytics projects by over 90%.
AWS Quick Starts will be available in 2019. PI Integrator for Business Analytics, previewed at Hannover Messe earlier this year, is available this month.
Under the Hood
Quick Starts are built by AWS solutions architects and partners to help deploy solutions on AWS, based on AWS best practices for security and high availability. These reference deployments implement key technologies automatically on the AWS Cloud, often with a single click and in less than an hour. You can build your test or production environment in a few steps, and start using it immediately.
The PI Integrator for Business Analytics can integrate to Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, enabling industrial customers to speed up their data science experiments, combine disparate data sets for business intelligence, and operationalize the outcomes of advanced analytics that augment decision making.
The Life of the PI System
OSIsoft’s PI System transforms the vast number of operational data streams from sensors, devices and industrial processes into rich, real-time insights to help people save money, increase productivity or create connected products and services.
The PI System can be found inside thousands of companies and complex industrial sites around the globe. OSIsoft customers have used PI System technology to predict wind turbine failures, increase output at an iron mine by $120 million in a single year by fine-tuning logistics, reduce the power consumed by a supercomputer center at a national laboratory, deliver water services to millions of new customers in a major metropolitan city, transform how medicines are produced and reduce the time and expense and improve the quality and consistency of beer. Over 1,000 leading utilities, 90% of the world’s largest oil and gas companies and 65% of the Fortune 500 industrial companies rely the PI System in their operations.
“Worldwide, over 2 billion sensor-based data streams are managed by the PI System with some customers monitoring over 25 million data streams.
“Data from operations—the information being generated by chemical reactors, transformers and other industrial devices—is incredibly valuable. Operations data will be the most valuable asset companies have for moving ahead of the competition in the future. Until recently, this data has been mostly confined to the factory floor or production line in part because of the size, scope and complexity of the data generated by operations,” said John Baier, Director of Integration Technologies, Cloud Analytics Practice at OSIsoft. “Working with Amazon Web Services, we want to unlock the value of operations data by eliminating barriers and bringing it to as many people as possible.”
Wondering what Rockwell Automation is going to net out of its $1B investment in PTC that also netted John Genovesi a major promotion within the company? I have been. And here is the first release.
The companies have launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, a software suite that enables companies to “optimize their industrial operations and enhance productivity by providing decision makers with improved data and insights.” The new suite delivers visibility of operations and systems status from one source of information inside the organization. The collaborative offering is the first to integrate technologies from both companies following the strategic partnership announcement in June.
FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, improves connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor, natively supporting the rapid, scalable, and secure connection of the most commonly used industrial equipment. Combined with data from information technology (IT) applications and systems, decision makers can now gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines, and facilities from anywhere in the enterprise.
“Our offering is unique in its ability to improve how companies capitalize on the IIoT by combining expertise from industry, technology, and plant-floor professionals,” said John Genovesi, incoming senior vice president, Enterprise Accounts & Software, Rockwell Automation. “Now we’re bringing innovative solutions from PTC together with leading analytics and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) from Rockwell Automation for a differentiated industry solution.”
“We’re moving the needle on how leading-edge technology is applied in industrial environments,” said Catherine Kniker, Head of Strategic Alliances, PTC. “Manufacturers have seen digital technology rapidly change, but their execution continues to follow practices established for the legacy business. This bundled offering will help organizations accelerate time to value and reinvent how they compete by breaking down barriers across their operations through a comprehensive approach to operational intelligence.”
Included in this collaborative offering are the FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms, as well as PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware, and the Vuforia augmented reality solution.
Key features of applications within the new collaborative offering include:
Intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that give users a view of the operations by combining data from multiple IT and OT sources and tailored to their role. An operations manager, for instance, can view overall performance of a facility, or multiple facilities, before researching the performance of specific equipment or factors impacting OEE.
Automated advanced analytics of IT and OT sources transform massive amounts of raw data into actionable or proactive information to improve performance and reduce the impact of downtime. Leveraging powerful artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simplify complex analytical processes, users can now proactively respond to issues ahead of any critical failures.
Augmented reality (AR) delivers more efficient and effective ways of looking at digital information within the physical world. AR enables more efficient training, wider knowledge sharing, and better first-time fix rates. Through the bundled offering, maintenance, for example, can receive digitized work instructions containing real-time performance and service history information so technicians can better diagnose and fix equipment correctly the first time.
It’s not the technology; it’s what you do with it. Here are companies (and their engineers) who have done some cool projects with HMI/SCADA software. Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2018. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC) in September.
The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.
The Ignition Firebrand Awards are presented every year at ICC. The award-winning projects are selected from the ICC Discover Gallery, which features the best 15 Ignition projects submitted by integrators and industrial organizations.
“Once again, we had a lot of variety with the Firebrand Award winners this year,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many industries were represented — automotive, oil & gas, food & beverage, water/wastewater, and more. It was great to see quality projects in all kinds of settings.”
“It’s inspiring to see the creative applications people are building on top of the Ignition platform,” said Travis Cox, co-director of sales engineering for Inductive Automation. “Every year, people create some really interesting projects, and this year was no exception.”
These Ignition Firebrand Award winners demonstrated the versatility and power of Ignition:
- Brown Engineers (Little Rock, Ark.) took a unique approach to improving the filter backwash process for a water treatment plant at the City of Hot Springs. Brown used the Ignition SCADA platform to dramatically improve the automatic backwash, conserve water, improve water quality, and initiate collection of filter data needed to extend regulatory run-time limits. See the video here.
- ECS Solutions (Evansville, Ind.) and Blentech Corporation (Santa Rosa, Calif.) partnered on a project that brought a unified platform to JTM Food Group’s new state-of-the-art plant in Harrison, Ohio. The result was a SCADA system that included the full spectrum of process automation. The Ignition application includes material management, formulation control, batch processing, and process control. See the video here.
- Open Automation SRL (Santa Fe, Argentina) improved operations for a Cargill-owned animal nutrition plant. The project used Ignition to increase efficiency, productivity, and traceability without increasing labor. Greater access to data, less paper, and improved product quality were just a few of the benefits. See the video here.
- Roeslein & Associates (St. Louis, Mo.) helped global automotive supplier Dana Incorporated increase productivity by 30 percent at some of its sites. The project provided real-time statistical analysis and visualization of machine data to enable better and faster decision-making. The flexible solution can be leveraged by Dana in numerous additional plants. See the video here.
- Tamaki Control (Auckland, New Zealand) created a comprehensive clean-in-place scheduling system for the largest yogurt-manufacturing facility in the world: the Chobani plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. The solution increased visualization and made it much easier for operators to share information. It can also be leveraged for other uses at Chobani plants. See the video here.
- Weisz Bolivia SRL (Buenos Aires, Argentina) solved weather-related data-communication problems for the largest offshore oil operation in Argentina. Results included better access to data, easier reporting to a government agency, and streamlined processes. See the video here.
Information on all 15 Discover Gallery projects can be found here.