Digital Infrastructure Orchestration Pilot

The thought visited that some time has elapsed since I have heard anything from the Open Process Automation people (OPAF). Then this news of the successful conclusion of a digital infrastructure orchestration pilot project within the scope of the project. A nice step forward on the journey.

CPLANE.ai and ExxonMobil have published the results and findings of their digital infrastructure orchestration pilot. As IT/OT Convergence and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) adoption accelerates, new system management challenges must be addressed. This pilot demonstrated how orchestration can simplify the management of these new, multi-vendor systems while improving security and reliability. The whitepaper describing the methods and results of the pilot can be downloaded HERE.

Key findings from the pilot include:

1. Multi-vendor, open process automation can be integrated into a wholistic system using system orchestration technology.

2. Open standards, such as the Open Process Automation Standard, make inter-operability
orders of magnitude easier to manage and more reliable to implement.

3. An integrated hybrid-architecture of IT/OT digital assets can be managed in one cohesive
framework with limited or no IT expertise.

4. System orchestration is critical for accelerating innovation and adoption of converged IT/OT systems, particularly in an open, multi-vendor and interoperable control system.

Don Bartusiak, Chief Engineer for Process Control at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering said, “CPLANE.ai exceeded our expectations on what is possible in demonstrating the management of a converged IT/OT industrial control system. System orchestration is growing in visibility and importance within the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) and many of the findings of this pilot will help us shape the evolution of our standards.”

Digital infrastructure orchestration automates the provisioning, monitoring, failure-recovery, and evolution of OPA systems while maintaining continuous operations and network-based cybersecurity. Steve Bitar, an automation leader at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, said “this was an ambitious project from the beginning. And the results have really given us a vision for how complex open industrial control systems can be managed and automated.” 

CPLANE.ai is now conducting demonstrations of its Digital Infrastructure Test Bed with partners and members of OPAF. Going forward, CPLANE.ai will be applying the learnings from this pilot project to other OPAF related test beds and pilots globally.

CPLANE.ai automates the orchestration of distributed edge computing across a diverse landscape of hardware and software components. CPLANE.ai removes the complexity of provisioning, managing, securing, and evolving distributed systems. CPLANE.ai’s intelligent software platform automates the coordination and configuration of policies and procedures across multiple layers of distributed cloud infrastructure. 

OMAC Remote Access Working Group

The first end-user driven industry-standards working group I ran into as a new editor at Control Engineering magazine several (22) years ago was the Open Modular Architecture Controller (OMAC) group spearheaded primarily by the major automotive players plus Boeing and then some CPG firms such as P&G and Unilever. The first attempt was a less expensive and more easily updatable machine controller. If it sounds much like today’s Open Process Automation Forum, it should.

Later packaging companies and their suppliers became dominant within OMAC as the organization changed its name a couple of times and eventually found a home with PMMI. I really haven’t heard much about the organization for a few years. Then Mark Fondl, with whom I had many discussions about standards in automation—primarily Ethernet—got involved and started pinging me.

Here is news about a new working group striving for a best-practices handbook for remote monitoring services.

The rationale:

The Covid-19 crisis has pushed manufacturers to actively develop plans for “lights out” factories and supply chains. A recent survey conducted by PMMI shows that 92% of respondents working at CPGs cannot use their existing remote access capabilities due to cybersecurity concerns. The study further noted that 36% of respondents listed that there is no practical guide to help start as their top barrier to adding new remote access service.

The desired result:

OMAC (The Organization for Machine Automation and Control) believes a collaborative review is needed to create a comprehensive best-practices handbook for remote monitoring services that will help manufacturing companies allow secure remote access to machines and automation systems on the plant floor.

Focus:

This Workgroup focuses on timing, safety, and security procedures when allowing inbound connections that link to specific machines and automation systems. This work is essential because inbound connections are more complex and hold more risk than the more common outbound connections.

More than 20 companies are now involved:

  • End-Users: Cargill, Nestle, P&G, Sonoco
  • OEMs: Nordson, Mettler Toledo, Milacron, ProMach, Bobst
  • SIs & Vendors: Siemens, EtherCAT Technology Group, Beckhoff, SICK, Martin CSI, Trola Industries, Omnicon

Timeline:

9 SepIntroduction, Agenda Review
23 SepCurrent State and Stakeholders of Remote Access
7 OctCollaboration with IT
21 OctClassification of Activities
4 NovValidation of Assets being Connected
18 NovMethodologies to engage beyond one-to-one
2 DecSecurity and Safety, Documentation and Change Management
16 DecReview of Draft Report
13 JanFinal Report Approval

You can help, but you must be a member. Find out more here.

Object Management Group Forms Digital Twin Consortium

Thanks to Terrence O’Hanlon of ReliabilityWeb for cluing me in to this latest open source project regarding Digital Twins on LinkedIn. Somehow the OMG and I missed connections on the press release. Yet another case of cooperation among suppliers and users to promote the common good. Digital Twins form the bedrock of Industry 4.0 and whatever other modern industrial advance.

News in brief: Users to create standard terminology and reference architectures and share use cases across industries

Non-profit trade association Object Management Group (OMG) with founders Ansys, Dell Technologies, Lendlease, and Microsoft, announced the formation of Digital Twin Consortium. Digital twin technology enables companies to head off problems before they occur, prevent downtime, improve the customer experience, develop new opportunities, drive innovation and performance and plan for the future using simulations. Members of Digital Twin Consortium will collaborate across multiple industries to learn from each other and develop and apply best practices. This new open membership organization will drive consistency in vocabulary, architecture, security and interoperability to help advance the use of digital twin technology in many industries from aerospace to natural resources.

Digital twins, virtual models of a process, product or service that allow for data analysis and system monitoring via simulations, can be challenging to implement due to a lack of open-source software, interoperability issues, market confusion and high costs. In order to ensure the success of Digital Twin Consortium, several leading companies involved in digital twin technology have joined the consortium prior to inception. This category of early innovators, called Groundbreakers, includes: Air Force Research Lab (US), Bentley Systems, Executive Development, Gafcon, Geminus.AI, Idun Real Estate Solutions AB, imec, IOTA Foundation, IoTIFY, Luno UAB, New South Wales Government, Ricardo, Willow Technology, and WSC Technology.

Membership is open to any business, organization or entity with an interest in digital twins.

“Most definitions of digital twin are complicated, but it’s not a complicated idea. Digital twins are used for jet engines, a Mars rover, a semiconductor chip, a building and more. What makes a digital twin difficult is a lack of understanding and standardization,” said Dr. Richard Soley, Digital Twin Consortium Executive Director. “Similar to what we’ve done for digital transformation with the Industrial Internet Consortium and for software quality with the Consortium for Information and Software Quality, we plan to build an ecosystem of users, drive best practices for digital twin usage and define requirements for new digital twin standards.”

Digital Twin Consortium will:

  • Accelerate the market for digital twin technology by setting roadmaps and industry guidelines through an ecosystem of digital twin experts.
  • Improve interoperability of digital twin technologies by developing best practices for security, privacy and trustworthiness and influencing the requirements for digital twin standards.
  • Reduce the risk of capital projects and demonstrate the value of digital twin technologies through peer use cases and the development of open source code.

An ecosystem of companies, including those from the property management, construction, aerospace and defense, manufacturing and natural resources sectors will share lessons learned from their various industries and will work together on solve the challenges inherent in deploying digital twins. As requirements for new standards are defined, Digital Twin Consortium will share those requirements with standards development organizations such as parent company OMG.

Founding members, Ansys, Dell Technologies, Lendlease and Microsoft will each hold permanent seats on an elected Steering Committee, providing the strategic roadmap and creating member working groups.

Sam George, Corporate Vice President, Azure IoT, Microsoft Corp. said, “Microsoft is joining forces with other industry leaders to accelerate the use of digital twins across vertical markets. We are committed to building an open community to promote best practices and interoperability, with a goal to help establish proven, ready-to-use design patterns and standard models for specific businesses and domain-spanning core concepts.”

“The application of the Digital Twin technology to Lendlease’s portfolio of work is well underway and we are already realising the benefits of this innovation to our overall business,” said Richard Ferris, CTO, Digital Twin R&D, Lendlease. “The time for disruption is now, and requires the entire ecosystem to collaborate together, move away from the legacy which has hindered innovation from this industry, and embrace Digital twin technology for the future economic and sustainable prosperity of the built world. Digital Twin Consortium is key to the global acceleration of this collaboration and the societal rewards we know to be possible with this technology and approach.”

“Dell Technologies is proud to be one of the founding members of Digital Twin Consortium. As the rate of digital transformation continues to accelerate, industry-standard methods for Digital Twins are enabling large scale, highly efficient product development and life cycle management while also unlocking opportunities for new value creation. We are delighted to be part of this initiative as we work together with our industry peers to optimize the technologies that will shape the coming data decade for our customers and the broader ecosystem,” said Vish Nandlall, Vice President, Technology Strategy and Ecosystems, Dell Technologies.

“The Consortium is cultivating a highly diverse partner ecosystem to speed implementation of digital twins, which will substantially empower companies to slash expenses, speed product development and generate dynamic new business models,” said Prith Banerjee, chief technology officer, Ansys. “Ansys is honored to join the Consortium’s esteemed steering committee and looks forward to collaborating closely with fellow members to further the Consortium’s success and help define the future of digital twins.”

Digital Twin Consortium members are committed to using digital twins throughout their operations and supply chains and capturing best practices and standards requirements for themselves and their clients. Membership fees are based on annual revenue.

Digital Twin Consortium is The Authority in Digital Twin. It coalesces industry, government and academia to drive consistency in vocabulary, architecture, security and interoperability of digital twin technology. It advances the use of digital twin technology from aerospace to natural resources. Digital Twin Consortium is a program of Object Management Group.

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.