AVEVA Named to Fast Company Most Innovative List

Here’s a quick news item from AVEVA. They’ve let me know that it was named as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2022 and specifically recognized as #4 in the Manufacturing category. AVEVA was selected for driving digital transformation and sustainability across some of the world’s essential industries, and for delivering technologies that connect data and artificial intelligence (AI) tools with human insight to provide business and environmental outcomes that are shaping the future of industry.

AVEVA’s software is already helping customers like DanoneGlaxoSmithKline and Borg Manufacturing to deliver environmental and financial benefits such as:

  • Between 15-30% in savings in energy costs, 9-15% reductions in carbon emissions, downtime reductions of up to 25%.
  • Up to 15% savings in total installed cost and up to 30% in design costs.
  • Faster and smarter feedstock decisions (from 2 days to 2 hours) for improved climate impact and shorter downtime.

Closing Out 2021

It’s the last day of 2021. Do you know where your year went?

Blogging grew in popularity during 2002 and 2003. I wanted to investigate it, but I had begun the work of starting a new magazine in February 2003 and didn’t have time. In December 2003 I began playing around with Dave Winer’s Radio Weblogs application, set up a Website, and started writing. Eighteen years and 2,700 posts later, this has grown to where even this specialized site attracts more than 150,000 page views per month.

I don’t encourage New Year’s Resolutions. They don’t work. Full stop. However, that doesn’t mean that you should not pause at the end of the year to reflect on what good you did this past year and where you grew personally, professionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Then, you can use that pause to reflect on where in your life you can do good next year, where you can grow personally, professionally, intellectually, and spiritually in 2022. We can choose to live better next year. And we can choose to make our piece of the world a little better.

Reflections on 2021:

  • IoT has been incorporated as part of edge-to-cloud architecture rather than being its own thing;
  • Connections are more important than ever;
  • Open source and interoperability have grown;
  • Consolidation of the automation and controls market continued with the rankings of companies essentially stagnant except for acquisitions;
  • Large IT companies have invaded the industrial software market in a significant way;
  • Gatherings began a comeback–I attended trade shows in Chicago and traveled to Automation Fair in Houston and IMC2021 in Marco Island at the end of the year.

For 2022, I hope to see many of you in person at a few events. Meanwhile, be kind to yourself and others.

Standards and Open Source News

Open source predominates in IT. One can find open source growing within OT. I expect more as the younger generation of engineers takes over from the Boomers. My generation has laid a great foundation of standards. These make things better for engineers just trying to get a job done with inadequate resources. A few news items have piled up in my queue. Here is a CESMII announcement followed by several from the Linux Foundation.

SME and CESMII Join Forces to Accelerate Smart Manufacturing Adoption

SME, a non-profit professional association dedicated to advancing manufacturing, and CESMII – The Smart Manufacturing Institute, are partnering to align their resources and educate the industry, helping companies boost productivity, build a strong talent pipeline, and reduce manufacturers’ carbon footprint.

CESMII and SME will address the “digital divide” by connecting manufacturers to technical knowledge. These efforts will especially help small and medium-size companies—a large part of the supply network—to overcome the cost and complexity of automation and digitization that has constrained productivity and growth initiatives. 

“The prospect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution catalyzing the revitalization of our manufacturing productivity in the U.S. is real, but still aspirational, and demands a unified effort to accelerate the evolution of this entire ecosystem,” said John Dyck, CEO, CESMII. “We couldn’t be happier to join with SME on this important mission to combine and align efforts with the best interest of the employers and educators in mind.”

Smart Manufacturing Executive Council

The first joint initiative is the formation of a new national Smart Manufacturing Executive Council. It will engage business and technology executives, thought leaders, and visionaries as a “think tank” advocating for the transformation of the ecosystem. It will build on each organization’s history of working with industry giants who volunteer their time and impart their knowledge to benefit the industry.

Members of the council will act as ambassadors to drive the national conversation and vision for smart manufacturing in America. Working with policy makers and others, the council will unify the ecosystem around a common set of interoperability, transparency, sustainability and resiliency goals and principles for the smart manufacturing ecosystem.

Focus on Manufacturing Workforce

The need for richer, scalable education and workforce development is more important than ever.

SME’s training organization, Tooling U-SME, is the industry’s leading learning and development solutions provider, working with thousands of companies, including more than half of all Fortune 500 manufacturers as well as 800 educational institutions across the country. CESMII has in-depth training content on smart manufacturing technology, business practices, and workforce development. Leveraging Tooling U-SME’s extensive reach into industry and academia, the synergistically combined CESMII and Tooling U-SME training portfolios and new content collaborations will expedite smart manufacturing adoption, driving progress through transformational workforce development.

Through this national collaboration, Tooling U-SME will become a key partner for CESMII for advancing education and workforce development around smart manufacturing. 

“Manufacturers are looking for a more effective, future-proof approach to upskill their workforce, and we believe that the best way to accomplish that is for CESMII and Tooling U-SME to work together,” said Conrad Leiva, Vice President of Ecosystem and Workforce Education at CESMII. “This partnership brings together the deep domain expertise and necessary skills with the know-how to package education, work with employers and schools and effectively deliver it at scale nationally.

Linux Foundation Announces NextArch Foundation

The Linux Foundation announced the NextArch Foundation. The new Foundation is a neutral home for open source developers and contributors to build next-generation architecture that can support compatibility between an increasing array of microservices. 

Cloud-native computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Edge computing and much more have led businesses down a path of massive opportunity and transformation. According to market research, the global digital transformation market size was valued at USD 336.14 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.6% from 2021 to 2028. But a lack of intelligent, centralized architecture is preventing enterprises and the developers who are creating innovation based on these technologies to fully realize their promise.

“Developers today have to make what feel like impossible decisions among different technical infrastructures and the proper tool for a variety of problems,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation. “Every tool brings learning costs and complexities that developers don’t have the time to navigate yet there’s the expectation that they keep up with accelerated development and innovation. NextArch Foundation will improve ease of use and reduce the cost for developers to drive the evolution of next-generation technology architectures.” 

Next-generation architecture describes a variety of innovations in architecture, from data storage and heterogeneous hardware to engineering productivity, telecommunications and much more. Until now, there has been no ecosystem to address this massive challenge. NextArch will leverage infrastructure abstraction solutions through architecture and design and automate development, operations and project processes to increase the autonomy of development teams. Enterprises will gain easy to use and cost-effective tools to solve the problems of productization and commercialization in their digital transformation journey.

Linux Foundation and Graviti Announce Project OpenBytes to Make Open Data More Accessible to All

The Linux Foundation announced the new OpenBytes project spearheaded by Graviti. Project OpenBytes is dedicated to making open data more available and accessible through the creation of data standards and formats. 

Edward Cui is the founder of Graviti and a former machine learning expert within Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group. “For a long time, scores of AI projects were held up by a general lack of high-quality data from real use cases,” Cui said. “Acquiring higher quality data is paramount if AI development is to progress. To accomplish that, an open data community built on collaboration and innovation is urgently needed. Graviti believes it’s our social responsibility to play our part.”

By creating an open data standard and format, Project OpenBytes can reduce data contributors’ liability risks. Dataset holders are often reluctant to share their datasets publicly due to their lack of knowledge on various data licenses. If data contributors understand their ownership of data is well protected and their data will not be misused, more open data becomes accessible.
 
Project OpenBytes will also create a standard format of data published, shared, and exchanged on its open platform. A unified format will help data contributors and consumers easily find the relevant data they need and make collaboration easier. These OpenBytes functions will make high-quality data more available and accessible, which is significantly valuable to the whole AI community and will save a large amount of monetary and labor resources on repetitive data collecting.

The largest tech companies have already realized the potential of open data and how it can lead to novel academic machine learning breakthroughs and generate significant business value. However, there isn’t a well-established open data community with neutral and transparent governance across various organizations in a collaborative effort. Under the governance of the Linux Foundation, OpenBytes aims to create data standards and formats, enable contributions of good-quality data and, more importantly, be governed in a collaborative and transparent way.

Linux Foundation Announces Security Enhancements to its LFX Community Platform to Protect Software Supply Chain

The Linux Foundation announced it has enhanced its free LFX Security offering so open source projects can secure their code and reduce non-inclusive language.

The LFX platform hosts community tools for security, fundraising, community growth, project health, mentorship and more. It supports projects and empowers open source teams to write better, more secure code, drive engagement and grow sustainable ecosystems.

The LFX Security module now includes automatic scanning for secrets-in-code and non-inclusive language, adding to its existing comprehensive automated vulnerability detection capabilities. Software security firm BluBracket has contributed this functionality to open source software projects under LFX as part of its mission of making software safer and more secure. This functionality builds on contributions from leader in developer security, Snyk, now making LFX the leading vulnerability detection platform for the open source community.

The need for a community-supported and freely available code scanning is clear, especially in light of recent attacks on core software projects and recent the White House Executive Order calling for improved software supply chain security. LFX is the first and only community tool designed to make software projects of all kinds more secure and inclusive.

LFX Security now includes:
● Vulnerabilities Detection: Detect vulnerabilities in open source components and dependencies and provide fixes and recommendations to those vulnerabilities. LFX tracks how many known vulnerabilities have been found in open source Projects, identifies if those vulnerabilities have been fixed in code commits and then reports on the number of fixes per project through an intuitive dashboard. Fixing known open source vulnerabilities in open source projects helps cleanse software supply chains at their source and greatly enhances the quality and security of code further downstream in development pipelines. Snyk has provided this functionality for the community and helped open source software projects remediate nearly 12,000 known security vulnerabilities in their code.
● Code Secrets: Detect secrets-in-code such as passwords, credentials, keys and access tokens both pre- and post-commit. These secrets are used by hackers to gain entry into repositories and other important code infrastructure. BluBracket is the leading provider of secrets detection technology in the industry and has contributed these features to the Linux Foundation LFX community.
● Non-Inclusive Language: Detect non-inclusive language used in project code, which is a barrier in creating a welcoming and inclusive community. BluBracket worked with the Inclusive Naming Initiative on this functionality.

Newsletter Redux

I have had to change my newsletter in many ways. We originally set it up to link from this blog to MailChimp. But that provider has become more and more obnoxious as a privacy invader. I did not need or want all the information it collects on subscribers. I never figured out a good thread for the newsletter, either.

Last year I subscribed to a new email service from BaseCamp called HEY. My email address over there is [email protected] They offer a “web site” at world.hey.com/garymintchell and an email newsletter. The latest is here. You can sign up for it there. It will offer a weekly synopsis of posts and additional thoughts on the market, tech trends, or personal development suggestions. This website captures no information. It is much more in keeping with my ethics than MailChimp or its competitors.

If you sign up via this blog, you’ll get an email from HEY asking you to confirm. My old set up unbeknownst to me automatically subscribed people. I apologize to all who received an email without directly requesting. I thought you had until I delved into the underlying programming.

Video Streaming Plus 5G Bandwidth Equal a Safer Plant

Back in the 90s, I used to haul around a $25,000 vision system in the trunk of my car to perform demonstrations of machine vision technology applications.

Today, there is more video power in my smartphone than in that entire system.

Just like all the technologies we use in manufacturing, vision systems and video have become more powerful and useful,most often leveraging consumer electronics or IT innovations. I visited a small chemical refinery that installed streaming video into its operator interface for a unique, but essential, personnel safety/security application. Located in a rural area of Texas, the refinery operators periodically opened the gates to allow railway cars into the facility or to let the filled cars leave. The open gates became a welcome invitation to the local coyote population. Of course, these guys were not wanted wandering around the facility. The video system watched for incursions and alerted personnel.

Not too long ago, the bandwidth required by that streaming video would have been too expensive or awkward to be economical. Now, it’s just another sensor.

Intelligent Video for Health and Safety

These Covid pandemic days have led to new use cases for video. AT&T identifies a few key examples on their video intelligence page:

  • Temperature monitoring
  • PPE monitoring
  • Ensuring social distancing
  • Counting people to maintain safe capacity

Infrared thermal imaging has progressed to the point that strategically placed thermal imaging cameras can monitor personnel for fevers—an outward sign of potential Covid infection. We can potentially stop the spread of the virus at the plant entrance.

Another Covid-related application involves contact tracing and social-distancing assurance. These applications require high bandwidth along with sophisticated analysis software—both now readily available. And, both technologies are poised for improvement. We will see 5G installations before long that will improve bandwidth, speed, and latency forvideo applications.

“Outside of these pandemic applications, process plants with hazardous areas have found video sensors to be a perfect solution to determining personnel safety during an incident. Rescue teams need to know who is in the area and where they are. Security teams can be alerted if someone wanders into a hazardous or restricted area.

Intelligent Video for Quality Control

Then we return to the applications I once tried to solve—product quality. While it is best practice to fix the process such that defects are not produced, vision inspection is another step in assuring products that fail to meet specification are not shipped to customers. Taking a feedback loop from inspection information provides a pathway to solving the process problem. As network bandwidth improves and video sensors become smaller, cheaper, faster, these video IoT solutions become more attractive.

5G is the Foundation

Apple released its latest iPhone (one of which is lying on my desk) with great hoopla about 5G. Apple pundits were originally less than enthusiastic about the 5G bandwidth. I have been advising them, along with clients and readers,about the tremendous value that will be unlocked by 5G. It may not be as apparent in an individual iPhone, but we will see a massive shift in business and manufacturing applications.

5G skeptics do exist, but most technologists are decidedly bullish on the possibilities. I think that manufacturers of many varieties will begin deploying the networks for one or two of the reasons that fit them, and then discover that they’ve received more benefit than they expected. Then managers and engineers will have difficulty remembering why there was any debate over moving from LTE to 5G.

As the AT&T Business team puts it in their “Agility Refined” white paper: 

5G is the next generation of wireless communications technology. In essence, 5G will put the network edge closer to users and devices. It uses mid-band frequencies and millimeter wave (mmWave) to help accomplish this. 

5G offers significantly larger spectrum allocations and enables exponentially increased data rates. It has a reduced range compared to today’s 4G frequencies—but the antennae needed for 5G are much smaller. This will allow for a dense network of small cells, enhancing the current user experience.

As you lay out your 5-year-and-beyond scenarios, this intelligent video powered by 5G will be technology to keep in the narrative.

This post was sponsored by AT&T Business, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T Business’s positions or strategies.

Book Recommendation, A Man at Arms

My day has had a bit of a delayed start. I left the house about 6:45 this morning to go obtain my second Covid vaccination. There was perhaps a slight amount of fear and trepidation. I’ve heard a variety of stories ranging from no reaction to being very tired and achy. Sitting in the observation room (unlike YoYo Ma, I didn’t bring my cello (well, guitar) to the room to entertain during the wait), I did begin to feel a little soreness in the area of the shot. But that feeling left. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

I like historical fiction, but I don’t read much of it. Steven Pressfield wrote a popular work of nonfiction, The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, cited by many creatives I follow. I recommend it. Mostly, he writes historical fiction. I decided to buy his latest book, A Man at Arms. I could not put it down. Totally destroyed yesterday’s productivity. The setting is the eastern Mediterranean in 55 AD. A “Man at Arms”, a warrior and mercenary, accepts a job from the Jerusalem-based Roman Authority to track down and capture a man and girl child who have a letter from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth. Early on, he attracts to him a male youth who follows him. The story is gripping. You can’t guess the end until the next-to-last page.

Note: it is a warrior story, so there are pretty graphic battle scenes as well as scenes of Roman brutality. Pressfield gives you a look at the cultural backdrop of Roman occupation that is only alluded to in the Bible. I think it’s great. It may be one of those few books I’ll read again.