Parsec Releases TrakSYS 12 MES

Parsec Automation Corp. announced the wide release of TrakSYS 12, the latest version of its manufacturing execution system (MES) software. 

“We highly recommend that all our customers update to TrakSYS 12 to take full advantage of all that it has to offer,” said Bill Rokos, chief technology officer at Parsec. “The new features offer significant advancements in terms of functionality, efficiency, and user experience. As our team developed TrakSYS 12, our chief priority was anticipating and addressing the challenges faced by manufacturers—both today and tomorrow. We’re particularly excited about supporting containerization and streamlining integrations; that’s something our customers have been highly anticipating, and it will help sharpen their competitive edge in the years to come.”

Key updates:

  • TrakSYS Connect, a new feature that enables a simplified way of building interfaces between different systems and TrakSYS for multilateral data exchange. Connect includes preconfigured workflows that address customers’ most common use-cases, while leveraging low/no-code functionality to make interoperability – and solution delivery as a whole – as seamless as possible.
  • Leveraging .NET Core, TrakSYS 12 introduces containerization capabilities. The containers can run both on-premises and in the cloud, offering flexibility for manufacturers regardless of system architecture.
  • Refreshed UI has modernized color palette and more drag & drop tools. Redesigned menus make it easier to customize interface, manage workflows, and monitor production.

TrakSYS 12 is available now for all users. 

Digital Thread Sews Siemens Digital Apps Together

Siemens Digital held its Realize Live conference June 12-15 in Las Vegas. I was there for the Media/Analyst program as well as to explore how the software integration is progressing and coming together.

All in all I am impressed with what Siemens has done since I first talked with an executive from Germany in 2007 about a vision of digital factory and again in 2008 following the company’s acquisition of UGS. That acquisition gave it the tools to pursue that digital vision. In the ensuing decade plus, many more acquisitions have bolstered the role.

The meetings began with Siemens Digital executives proclaiming how Siemens is now not only the leading automation supplier in the world, but it is also the leading industrial software supplier in the world. Now they are aiming at leading industrial cloud provider.

One key word for the week was Xcelerator, its platform and ecosystem for tying the parts together. Another key word, seen all over the exhibit floor, was digital thread. The digital thread connects various modules—since software is increasingly modular as in pick what you need. Xcelerator is that digital thread.

Siemens software is not afraid to try things, see what happens, make changes, and put them out again. Mindsphere is one such initiative. It experience three major revisions. By the 3.0 version it seemed to find its niche. Now it has morphed yet again and reappeared as Insight Hub.

Tony Hemelgarn, CEO, showed industry segment after industry segment where Siemens is the dominant player. They truly are doing something right. He also pointed out that when Siemens talks of moving its software to the cloud, they mean moving their software to the cloud—not just file sharing in the cloud as some competitors do.

Mendez people on the show floor showed me the cool parts of the no-code and low-code applications. It’s a visual programming environment that I liken to NodeRED for context.

Siemens had to talk of AI somewhere. It has found application within TeamCenter along with spoken reports from the field that can flow into quality reports for corrective action.

Rahul Garg, VP Industrial Machinery, talked with me about how Siemens works to make applications simple to use which means that they will be used (I’ve lived that life in factories, I know how important that is). Talking metaverse (without goggles) he pointed to deeper diagnostics and ability to under the surface to find root causes and problems.

You can also watch on YouTube or listen as a podcast.

ChatGPT Trained For Industrial Applications

This news got buried in my queue. It is an early use of ChatGPT specifically for industrial applications. This came my way about six weeks ago. I don’t think I’ve seen it elsewhere, yet. It is interesting, although ChatGPT does come with drawbacks in that it doesn’t filter for truth or facts.

The product from Retrocausal is called LeanGPT and the derivative product is Kaizen Copilot.

Retrocausal announced the release of LeanGPT, its proprietary foundation models specialized for the manufacturing domain. The company also launched Kaizen Copilot, Retrocausal’s first LeanGPT application that assists industrial engineers in designing and continuously improving manufacturing assembly processes and integrates Lean Six Sigma and Toyota Production Systems (TPS) principles favored by Industrial Engineers (IEs). 

The industry-first solution gathers intelligence from Retrocausal’s computer vision and IoT-based floor analytics platform Pathfinder. In addition, it can be connected to an organization’s knowledge bases, including Continuous Improvement (CI) systems, Quality Management Systems (QMS), and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) systems, in a secure manner.

“We trained Retrocausal’s generative AI LeanGPT models on specialized knowledge needed for manufacturing,” said Dr. Zeeshan Zia, CEO of Retrocausal. “Using our new LeanGPT-powered Kaizen Copilot application with our Pathfinder floor analytics platform gives IE’s all the information they need to excel in their roles, including domain expertise, organizational knowledge, and automated process observations, eliminating the need for tedious field studies or combing through unwieldy knowledge bases, while staying firmly rooted in Lean principles.”

Kaizen Copilot can autonomously access the Retrocausal Pathfinder analytics platform through API calls to observe factory floor activity through computer vision and IoT sensors. It can also retrieve hidden insights from an organization’s internal knowledge bases, either by just connecting to it or by “fine-tuning” proprietary LeanGPT models on it. Retrocausal is also releasing Kaizen Copilot as a tablet application so industrial engineers can take it on their Gemba walks around the shopfloor. This app further embeds contextual knowledge into the tool to proactively offer help to IEs and assist in gathering worker feedback on problems and solutions. 

Retrocausal recently raised $3.4 million to advance its AI-powered platform led by Glasswing Ventures and Differential Ventures, along with major investors Incubate Fund US, Argon Ventures, Ascend Ventures Vietnam, and Hypertherm Ventures. The company also opened a new office in Dallas, Texas, to be closer to its manufacturing customers in the Midwest and Mexico. It unveiled joint projects with Honda Innovations and Siemens Digital Industries. 

Cloud, AI AR, and Sustainability Partnerships Mark PTC LiveWorx Announcements.

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.

Why Ditch Paper Processes?

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.

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