3D Printing Effort Becomes Linux Foundation Open Standards Project

3MF Consortium joins Linux Foundation, announces new executive director as it moves from development to adoption

Open Source and Open Standards continue to expand influence in developing new technologies and applications. I love to see companies banding together to bring out useful new ideas. This one is interesting.

The 3MF Consortium, the organization dedicated to advancing a universal specification for 3D printing, has announced it is becoming a Linux Foundation member and that HP’s Luis Baldez is its new Executive Director (ED). Baldez supersedes Microsoft’s Adrian Lannin, who has served as ED since the 3MF Consortium was founded in 2015. Among the original creators of the 3MF Consortium, Lannin will remain a strategic advisor to the group.

The 3MF Consortium is among the original members of the Joint Development Foundation (JDF), which became part of the Linux Foundation in recent years to enable smooth collaboration among open source software projects and open standards. 3MF will take advantage of the combined strengths of the Linux Foundation/JDF alliance to advance 3D printing specifications and formats. With the majority of the world’s largest players in the 3D printing industry, 3MF Consortium represents the core of the industry’s innovation in this area.

“The 3MF Consortium has done the important work to create an open standard for 3D printing. The time is now to drive the evolution of 3MF from development to implementation,” said Baldez. “We would not be where we are today without Adrian Lannin’s leadership and contributions, and we’re looking forward to his insights as our ongoing advisor.”

Baldez was recently elected Executive Director by the 3MF Consortium membership to expand upon the technical progress and success of the 3MF standard by building new functionalities for the standard through collaboration with Linux Foundation and JDF. Baldez is a 3D printing veteran with experience across new research, market & business development. It is this combination of expertise that makes him well-suited for the ED role at 3MF Consortium, where the focus is maturing from standards development to implementation and adoption. Baldez has also held R&D engineering leadership positions at other multinationals and startups.

“Luis is a longtime champion of open standards and is an expert in the 3D printing space,” said Alex Oster, chairman of the 3MF technical working group and director of additive manufacturing at Autodesk. “Luis’ leadership and our collaboration with Linux Foundation will accelerate our work on 3D printing and help us build an even more vibrant network of contributions.”

The 3MF Consortium has grown rapidly since its formation in 2015, garnering new member investments and adoption across the industry’s leaders in 3D printing. It is supported by 3D Systems, Autodesk, GE, HP, Materialise, Microsoft, nTopology and Siemens among nearly 20 other companies and has been implemented in nearly 40 products across 22 companies. The 3MF specification is robust and includes six extensions that range from core and production to slice, material and property (including color), beam lattice and security. The Secure Content specification was recently released and establishes an underlying mechanism for payload encryption of sensitive 3D printed data based on modern web standards.

CII and MIMOSA Join Forces to move Interoperability Forward for Capital Projects

CII and MIMOSA sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to use the Open Industrial Interoperability Ecosystem (OIIE) as the interoperability framework for CII best practices.

I’m a believer based upon long experience that standards and interoperability drive industries (and society) forward. Just look, for example, at standard gauge railroad tracks or standard shipping containers or Internet protocols. I should also note that I worked on the development of the OIIE several years ago, but they got to the point where I could not contribute for a while. As I wrote recently, things are coming together in this effort for interoperable data flow from engineering design through construction to operations & maintenance throughout the lifecycle of a large capital project.

Here is the latest, and very important, news.

CII (The Construction Institute) and MIMOSA announce their collaboration to adopt and progress the standards for an open, vendor neutral digital ecosystem supporting data and systems interoperability in capital projects, operations and maintenance enabling digital transformation of the full asset lifecycle. The MOU establishes the basis for a CII/MIMOSA Joint Working Group to develop best practices for standards based interoperability in capital projects leveraging the organizations combined strengths.

It will develop formal OIIE Use Cases for capital projects based on Industry Functional Requirements developed by CII, starting with those associated with Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). These OIIE Use Cases will be validated in the OIIE Oil and Gas Interoperability (OGI) Pilot before they are published and licensed for use on a world-wide royalty free basis. Once the jointly developed OIIE Use Cases are validated in the pilot, CII and MIMOSA intend to submit them to ISO TC 184/WG 6 for inclusion in future parts of ISO 18101.

The OIIE is an outgrowth of collaboration between multiple industry-level Standards Developing Organizations, where MIMOSA plays a key leadership role and has led the workstreams for digitalization and interoperability in support of asset life-cycle management. The OIIE OGI Pilot includes standard use cases for asset intensive industries, currently featuring an example oil and gas industry process unit.

Active collaboration has begun, by sharing the existing OIIE Use Case Architecture and asset lifecycle management OIIE Use Cases previously developed by MIMOSA and validated in the OIIE OGI Pilot. CII has shared the AWP data requirements that are under development by CII.

Next steps will begin to include CII AWP best practices in applicable, OIIE Use Cases for capital projects, including jointly enhancing existing use cases and the joint development of new ones. CII and MIMOSA encourage interested organizations to join and participate in each association to fully support this important industry-led effort.

Organizations that participate have the potential to benefit in many ways including:

  • System of Systems interoperability results in less reliance on expensive, fragile, custom integration between systems, reducing IT costs while increasing agility and sustainability.
  • Education and training to a common set of industry practices and standards, provides a more flexible and efficient digital economy work force, benefitting industry and workers alike with reduced loss of knowledge and expertise.
  • Investment in future proofed, vendor neutral, interoperable data, enables industry to create, capture, manage and reuse digital information, as a strategic asset throughout the entire physical asset lifecycle, deriving significantly more business value from capital projects.
  • Owners identified the opportunity to cut CAPEX spend by 15-20% through better information sharing with improved schedules and productivity due to far less time wasted looking for information, and much more time on tools.

CII, based at The University of Texas at Austin, is a consortium of more than 140 leading owner, engineering- contractor, and supplier firms from both the public and private arenas. These organizations have joined together to enhance the business effectiveness and sustainability of the capital facility life cycle through CII research, related initiatives, and industry alliances.

MIMOSA is a 501 (c) 6 not-for-profit industry trade association dedicated to developing and encouraging the adoption of open, supplier-neutral IT and IM standards enabling physical asset lifecycle management spanning manufacturing, fleet and facilities environments. MIMOSA standards and collaboratively developed specifications enable Digital Twins to be defined and maintained on a supplier-neutral basis, while also using Digital Twins to provide Context for Big Data (IIOT and other sensor-related data) and Analytics.

National Instruments Rebrands, Acquires Data Analytics Company

I debated for most of the day about using my energy to work on this blog post about NI (formerly known as National Instruments). It has long been one of my favorite companies. Its user conference, NI Week, overflowed with energy and bright engineers with big ideas. The founders were brilliant, yet humble, men. And I met some of the nicest people in the industry there.

Their marketing and PR people identified me with automation and control, for obvious reasons. Beginning in about 2010 or 2011, they seemed to become more distant until by the 2011 and 2012 NI Weeks, they didn’t talk to me about a single interview. I met with marketing people through 2014, and then all was quiet.

But I’m a keen observer. I noticed that industrial automation and even IoT were being rapidly de-emphasized in favor of the test market. That’s where the company started and remains the core competency. I also noticed that by 2012 the keynotes were no longer about “gee whiz” technology but rather about big engineering ideas—none of which were in industrial control and automation.

And they began emphasizing “NI” rather than the entire name more than 10 years ago.

Therefore, the big splash about rebranding and new directions were not entirely a surprise to me. Well, the green color scheme was. And I have a pet peeve about senior executives explaining what the logo means. I believe that a logo should be self-evident. But as for a new direction, everything they talked about were things I’ve seen them doing for years—solving big engineering problems, community contributions, diversity, sustainability. It’s almost like internally they realized what they had become. But I knew it. No longer the company of the small sale where the average order was $1,000, but now the company of solving big engineering problems.

Which is all good.

Even so, I am interested in data—data acquisition, analytics, and data used for problem solving.

Therefore, the acquisition. This should be a great move. I’m a possibility thinker, so I see these moves and see all the possibilities for good that can happen with a strong merger.

The news in short:

The acquisition strengthens data analytics software capability to provide enterprise-level value.

NI has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire OptimalPlus Ltd., a global leader in data analytics software for the semiconductor, automotive, and electronics industries. The acquisition will expand NI’s enterprise software capabilities to provide customers with business-critical insights through advanced product analytics across their product development flow and supply chain.

NI and OptimalPlus serve highly complementary positions in the semiconductor, automotive, and electronics industries. NI test systems are used in semiconductor manufacturing with OptimalPlus serving as a leading supplier of semiconductor manufacturing data analytics. Similarly, the NI automotive and electronics production test offerings are complementary to OptimalPlus’ growing automotive and electronics analytics business. Combining the strength of NI’s software-centric approach with OptimalPlus’ enterprise-level analytics software is expected to dramatically increase the value of test and manufacturing data, enabling product insights that will improve quality, efficiency and time to market for both NI and OptimalPlus customers.

“The addition of OptimalPlus’ data analytics capabilities will enable us to accelerate our growth strategy by increasing enterprise-level value for shared customers in the semiconductor and automotive industries.” said Eric Starkloff, NI President and CEO. “During this age of digital transformation, we remain committed to delivering innovative software and systems that leverage a robust data platform to address our customers’ business challenges. I welcome the employees of OptimalPlus and look forward to collectively accelerating our long-term growth ambitions.”

“OptimalPlus is excited to join the NI team. We are confident NI is the ideal partner to accelerate our innovation and increase sales opportunities through advanced product analytics,” said Dan Glotter, OptimalPlus Founder and CEO. “It is evident we share the unique commitment to high-quality software tools and need for world-class customer experience. The acquisition by a technology leader like NI is testament to the leading-edge innovation delivered by our R&D, Product and Data Science teams in Israel and to the great dedication and commitment of our employees across the world. Together with NI, we will provide enterprise-level analytics to enable customers to achieve their digital transformation objectives while expanding our customer reach.”

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval. The transaction is valued at $365 million and expected to close in early Q3 2020. OptimalPlus had 2019 revenue of $51 million and employs approximately 240 employees. Due to the highly complementary nature of the companies, there will be minimal cost synergies from this transaction. NI plans to fund the transaction through a combination of cash on hand and debt.

About OptimalPlus

OptimalPlus develops analytic solutions based on its big data platform technology which combines machine-learning with a global data infrastructure to provide real-time product analytics and to extract insights from data across the entire supply chain. Serving tier-1 suppliers and OEMs, in the market of semiconductor, automotive and electronic industries. The company provides technology to enhance key manufacturing metrics such as yield and efficiency, improve product quality and reliability and provide full supply chain visibility. OptimalPlus headquarters and R&D are in Israel with offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Supporting Deployment of Private Wireless Edge, 4G and 5G Networks

I am not a 5G specialist, nor even attempting to be one. But in my interviewing thus far, I see that there are many attributes to the technology beyond your mobile phone. I’ve already talked with at least one CEO about private networks for industrial applications.

During the course of my career, I’ve seen less dependence in production and manufacturing on specialized proprietary technologies and additional adoption of commercial technologies. Often without extensive morphing by industrial suppliers. Therefore, more often I’m dealing with suppliers whose products and services transcend industry segment. Such as the time I’m spending with IT suppliers. Watch for this trend to increase.

Recently I have communicated with a company quite new to me who has just leased two announcements of interest. Quortus Ltd, a provider of innovative private edge, 4G and 5G network solutions, announced recently it has secured strategic investment from Communications Systems, Inc., a US-based IoT intelligent edge products and services company (CSI), and cellXion Ltd, a UK-based provider of specialist telecoms solutions to drive its ongoing global expansion and technology innovation.

The injection of capital will allow Quortus to accelerate its growth in North America, Europe, and Japan by capitalizing on the growing demand for private wireless networks across all market sectors.

Quortus creates agile and feature-rich private wireless networks for enterprises, industry, and government organizations, supporting many Industry 4.0 applications and bespoke use cases across a wide variety of vertical sectors including manufacturing, retail, and utilities.

In tandem with the funding news, Quortus today also launched a new and complementary product portfolio, supporting the deployment of private wireless networks spanning 5G, LTE(4G), 3G, and GSM.

“These announcements mark a major milestone for Quortus. We have just enjoyed a successful year, signing long-term contracts with some of the biggest technology companies in the world. We now have a fantastic opportunity, working in close strategic partnership with CSI and cellXion, to grow our position in private wireless network solutions,” says Mark Bole, CEO at Quortus. “We are perfectly placed to capitalize on the growing global demand and spectrum availability for private wireless networks and have the product capabilities, working with our channel partner ecosystem, to deliver significant competitive advantage to organizations in our target markets.”

Roger Lacey, CEO of CSI noted, “This strategic partnership with Quortus and cellXion will provide our mutual clients with a range of comprehensive solutions designed to help build their mobile edge capabilities as well as supporting a wide array of industrial IoT initiatives.”

The new product portfolio includes:

  • ECX Core range for private mobile networks targeting Enterprise and Industrial
  • ECX Edge range for private edge (MEC) network deployments
  • ECX Pack range for private mobile networks in Government, blue light and defence sectors
  • ECX Access range for managed access solutions in secure facilities and defined areas
  • ECX Gateway range for optimization of distributed private mobile networks

Bole continues: “The range of our product portfolio highlights the scale of the exciting global opportunity we face. Our technology helps organizations benefit from advancements like mobile edge computing, industrial IoT applications and helps them maximize the benefits of private 5G. We look forward to continuing to bring innovation to market, through our select and highly valued global partner network.”

Industry analysts SNS Telecom and IT expect global spending on private LTE and 5G networks to reach $4.7 billion by the end of this year – a number which it expects to almost double to nearly $8 billion by the end of 2023.

EdgeX Foundry Hits Milestone Downloads and Simplified Deployment

I have followed the Development of EdgeX Foundry since right after its inception talking with many of the founders at Hannover Messe three years ago. That’s when Dell (now Dell EMC) was developing an IoT and Edge Computing group—since disbanded. Dell was leading the charge for an open source platform as a way to build an ecosystem for providing value to customers and selling product.

EdgeX has come a long way. Here is the latest information in brief:

  • EdgeX’s sixth release (Geneva) offers more scalable and secure solutions to move more data faster from multiple edge devices to cloud, enterprise and on-premises applications.
  • As one of LF Edge’s Stage 3 Projects, EdgeX Foundry is seeing increased community growth and adoption and deployments.
  • New LF Edge project Open Horizon is building an integration project that will demonstrate automated delivery and lifecycle management of EdgeX Foundry as a containerized application.

EdgeX Foundry, a project under the LF Edge umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for IoT edge computing independent of connectivity protocol, hardware, operating system, applications or cloud, today announced a major milestone of hitting 5 million container downloads and the availability of its “Geneva” release. This release offers more robust security, optimized analytics, and secure connectivity for multiple devices.

“EdgeX Foundry is committed to developing an open IoT platform for edge-related applications and shows no signs of slowing down the momentum,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “As one of the Stage 3 projects under LF Edge, EdgeX Foundry is a clear example of how member collaboration and diversity are the keys to creating an interoperable open source framework across IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge.”

Launched in April 2017, and now part of the LF Edge umbrella, EdgeX Foundry is an open source, loosely-coupled microservices framework that provides the choice to plug and play from a growing ecosystem of available third-party offerings or to augment proprietary innovations. With a focus on the IoT Edge, EdgeX simplifies the process to design, develop and deploy solutions across industrial, enterprise, and consumer applications.

Currently, there are more than 170 unique contributors to the project and EdgeX Foundry averages one million container downloads a month, with a total of 5 million reached last month, and rising.

“The massive volume of devices coming online represents a huge opportunity for innovation and is making edge computing a necessity,” said Keith Steele, EdgeX Foundry Chair of the Technical Steering Committee. “With at least 50% of data being stored, processed and analyzed at the edge we need an open, cloud-native edge ecosystem enabled by EdgeX to minimize reinvention and facilitate building and deploying distributed, interoperable applications from the edge to the cloud. In 3 short years, EdgeX has achieved incredible global momentum and is now being designed into IOT systems and product roadmaps.”

The Geneva Release

As the sixth release in the EdgeX Foundry roadmap, Geneva offers simplified deployment, optimized analytics, secure connectivity for multiple devices and more robust security. Key features include:

  • Automate on-boarding: simplify, scale and quicken connection of devices by allowing automatic provisioning of devices
  • Improved Performance: A new rules engine that is written in Go for faster performance, a smaller footprint and more memory
  • Connectivity: Improved bandwidth utilization and efficiency through use of new batch and send capabilities provided in the App Functions SDK
  • Secure Authentication: Store and use/authenticate secrets to connect with cloud providers
  • Testing: New integration and backward compatibility testing along with enhanced security and blackbox testing

EdgeX Foundry works closely with several of the other LF Edge projects such as Akraino Edge Stack and new project Open Horizon. During this release cycle, EdgeX was made to work under the Akraino Edge Lightweight IOT (ELIOT) Blueprint and tested under the Akraino Community Lab.

Launched last month, Open Horizon is a platform for managing the service software lifecycle of containerized workloads and related machine learning assets. Open Horizon is building an integration project that will demonstrate delivery and management of EdgeX Foundry as a containerized solution in stages, beginning with a single deployable unit and then progressing to a more modular set of services and alternate delivery targets.

Support from Contributing Members and Users of EdgeX Foundry:

“To further enhance use in production environments, EdgeX Foundry’s Geneva release brings simplified deployments and improved security,” said Tony Espy, Technical Architect at Canonical. “With EdgeX available as a snap, this aligns to the fundamentals of snaps’ core principles which allow developers to benefit from confinement and transactional updates to ensure deployments are secure and with minimal need for manual intervention. As the EdgeX ecosystem continues to see strong traction, we look forward to continuing our contribution to building an open, interoperable framework for edge computing.”

“EdgeX Foundry’s middleware solution is an important component of an open, vendor-neutral pipeline connecting IoT devices and their data to analytics and data management at the on-premise edge,” said Joe Pearson, Engineering Strategy & Innovation Leader, Edge Computing, IBM. “This latest release underscores the importance of working within LF Edge to encourage interoperability as we build a comprehensive open edge computing framework, beginning with Open Horizon.”

“With the evolution of IoT and edge computing, there is a growing realization to deploy and run compute engines near the data source in a truly globally distributed manner. This architecture requires running intelligent AI-based functionality at the edge while processing a significant amount of data at high-throughput and low latency on small form-factor devices,” said Yiftach Shoolman, CTO and co-founder at Redis Labs. “EdgeX Foundry with Redis as the primary data store provides an open-source data platform to meet these expectations by combining in-memory data processing with modern data-models, and can be extended with a serverless engine and AI-serving platform.”

About the Linux Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more. The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration.

Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center Launched

Turns out that I’ve been following developments of US leaders of Smart Manufacturing (yes, a thing, so capitalized) for going on to 10 years. I’ll put a number of links to previous posts that begin in 2011.

The beginnings were a group led by Jim Davis of UCLA, Jim Wetzel from General Mills, John Bernardin from Rockwell Automation, and a few others called the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC). They were developing ideas to fund and promote Smart Manufacturing when eventually the US Federal government began funding test beds and institutes through the Department of Energy.

By then Germany had combined with the Fraunhofer Institute and leading technology suppliers such as Siemens and Festo to use the concept of cyberphysical systems as the basis for Industrie 4.0—an initiative supporting the German machine building industry. The idea had spread to China, and several European countries. The US suddenly was playing catch-up.

At that point the SMLC dissolved and members reconstituted under the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) now called CESMII—The Smart Manufacturing Institute. I wrote an update to this last January after a lunch I had with old friend John Dyck at the end of December 2019. John had left his roles at Rockwell Automation and MESA International to lead this new initiative.

CESMII has been busy developing its own academic partnership with the North Carolina State University. The partners have launched the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center (SMIC) at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The objective of the SMIC is to link manufacturers, industrial technology vendors, systems integrators and equipment providers with academia, demonstrating and driving research and innovation that scales to all of US manufacturing. 

At NC State, pilot plants for biomanufacturing, papermaking, nonwovens textiles, and advanced manufacturing are using Smart Manufacturing tools from CESMII and its nationwide partners.

The SMIC at NC State is a visible proof point of CESMII’s well documented network-of-networks strategy to make Smart Manufacturing readily available and accessible throughout the nation. The SMIC facilities now become available for industry to try innovative Smart Manufacturing solutions and drive their use of Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning, Energy Productivity, Asset Performance Management and so forth.

In its first 45 days this winter, the NC State SMIC successfully demonstrated the integration of a dozen vendor solutions (including: Siemens, Honeywell, Allen Bradley (Rockwell Automation), National Instruments, ABB, DeltaV (Emerson Process Technologies), Andritz and Sartorius) using the CESMII SM Innovation Platform. Avid Solutions of Raleigh, NC, is the strategic Systems Integration partner for this initiative. 

A video demonstrating the interoperability of 3rd-party Smart Manufacturing solutions leveraging core CESMII technologies is linked below. This is an excellent presentation, especially the first part where the basics of the platform and ecosystem are discussed. I highly recommend checking it out.

The SMIC Director, Professor Yuan-Shin Lee of NC State, comments, “NC State is a ‘Think and Do’ nationally recognized university for research and innovation. With this CESMII partnership, the NC State SMIC will be able to build and sustain a skilled and innovative Smart Manufacturing workforce with expertise in the requisite technology and best practices, and the ability to develop, continuously update, and deploy customizable, interdisciplinary educational training resources and programs. With this partnership, the NC State SMIC will develop a world-class Smart Manufacturing demonstration facility through partnerships with industry and regional and national laboratories for sustainable workforce development and educational training. We are very excited about this new opportunity. “ 

CESMII COO, Howard Goldberg, added, “We’re just as excited as the NC State team to make this announcement. NC State is a valued Education & Workforce Development partner for CESMII and will offer CESMII-sanctioned Smart Manufacturing training and education offerings through the SMIC. Additionally, the CESMII technology infrastructure connected to the NC State manufacturing assets will demonstrate the openness and interoperability essential to scaling innovation through Smart Manufacturing solutions beyond a limited pilot phase. We look forward to ending the days of ‘Pilot Purgatory’ which have held industry back for decades by creating and testing solutions at a SMIC and moving them to production environments through the large-scale use of our platform technologies.” 

Video

Advanced Manufacturing Gets Government Support

Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition Wins Funding

Rockwell Automation Initiates Department of Energy Test Bed Project

Leadership at Smart Manufacturing Coalition

Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition Announces New Secretary

Smart Manufacturing

US Government Smart Manufacturing Institute