Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2019. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC), which took place September 17-19. I get to see the poster displays and chat with the companies at ICC. I love the technology developers, but it’s fascinating to talk with people who actually use the products.
[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is a long-time and much appreciated sponsor of The Manufacturing Connection. If you are a supplier, you, too, could be a sponsor. Contact me for more details. You would benefit from great visibility.]
The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.
“The award-winning projects this year were really impressive,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many of them featured Ignition 8 and the new Ignition Perspective Module, both of which were released just six months ago. We were really impressed with how quickly people were able to create great projects with the new capabilities.”
These Ignition Firebrand Award winners demonstrated the power and flexibility of Ignition:
- Brock Solutions worked with the Dublin Airport in Ireland to replace the baggage handling system in Terminal 2. The new system has 100,000 tags and is the largest Ignition-controlled airport baggage handling system in the world.
- Corso Systems & SCS Engineers partnered on a pilot project for the landfill gas system of San Bernardino County, California. The pilot was so successful, it will be expanded to 27 other county sites. It provides a scalable platform with strong mobile capabilities from Ignition 8 and Ignition Perspective, plus 3D imaging from drone video and virtual reality applications.
- ESM Australia developed a scalable asset management system to monitor performance and meet service requirements for a client with systems deployed all over Australia. The solution leveraged Ignition 8, Ignition Perspective, MQTT, and legacy FTP-enabled gateways in the field.
- H2O Innovation & Automation Station partnered to create a SCADA system for the first membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment plant in Arkansas. The new system for the City of Decatur shares real-time data with neighboring water agencies as well as the mayor.
- Industrial Networking Solutions created a new oil & gas SCADA system in just six months for 37 sites at ARB Midstream. The solution included hardware upgrades, a new control room, and a diverse collection of technologies with cloud-hosted SCADA, MQTT, Ignition Edge, and SD-WAN.
- MTech Engineering developed an advanced real-time monitoring and control system for the largest data center campus in Italy. The project for Aruba S.p.A. had to work with huge amounts of data — and was done at a much lower cost than was possible with any other SCADA solution.
- NLS Engineering created a single, powerful operations and management platform for more than 30 solar-power sites for Ecoplexus, a leader in renewable energy systems. The solution provided deep data acquisition, included more than 100,000 tags, and led to the creation of a platform that can be offered to other clients.
- Streamline Innovations used Ignition, Ignition Edge, Ignition Perspective, and MQTT, to facilitate the automation of natural gas treating units that convert extremely toxic hydrogen sulfide into fertilizer-grade sulfur. The solution increased uptime, reduced costs, and provided access to much more data than Streamline had seen previously.
This is still more followup from Emerson Global Users Exchange relative to sessions on Projects Pilot Purgatory. I thought I had already written this, but just discovered it languishing in my drafts folder. While in Nashville, I ran into Jonas Berge, senior director, applied technology for Plantweb at Emerson Automation. He has been a source for technology updates for years. We followed up a brief conversation with a flurry of emails where he updated me on some presentations.
One important topic centered on IoT projects—actually applicable to other types of projects as well. He told me the secret sauce is to start small. “A World Economic Forum white paper on the fourth industrial revolution in collaboration with McKinsey suggests that to avoid getting stuck in prolonged “pilot purgatory” plants shall start small with multiple projects – just like we spoke about at EGUE and just like Denka and Chevron Oronite and others have done,” he told me.
“I personally believe the problem is when plants get advice to take a ‘big bang’ approach starting by spending years and millions on an additional ‘single software platform’ or data lake and hiring a data science team even before the first use case is tackled,” said Berge. “My blog post explains this approach to avoiding pilot purgatory in greater detail.”
I recommend visiting Berge’s blog for more detail, but I’ll provide some teaser ideas here.
First he recommends
- Think Big
- Start Small
- Scale Fast
Plants must scale digital transformation across the entire site to fully enjoy the safety benefits like fewer incidents, faster incident response time, reduced instances of non-compliance, as well as reliability benefits such as greater availability, reduced maintenance cost, extend equipment life, greater integrity (fewer instances of loss of containment), shorter turnarounds, and longer between turnarounds. The same holds true for energy benefits like lower energy consumption, cost, and reduced emissions and carbon footprint, as well as production benefits like reduced off-spec product (higher quality/yield), greater throughput, greater flexibility (feedstock use, and products/grades), reduced operations cost, and shorter lead-time.
The organization can only absorb so much change at any one time. If too many changes are introduced in one go, the digitalization will stall:
- Too many technologies at once
- Too many data aggregation layers
- Too many custom applications
- Too many new roles
- Too many vendors
Multiple Phased Projects
McKinsey research shows plants successfully scaling digital transformation instead run smaller digitalization projects; multiple small projects across the functional areas. This matches what I have personally seen in projects I have worked on.
From what I can tell it is plants that attempt a big bang approach with many digital technologies at once that struggle to scale. There are forces that encourage companies to try to achieve sweeping changes to go digital, which can lead to counterproductive overreaching.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests a disciplined phased approach rather than attempting to boil the ocean. I have seen plants focus on a technology that can digitally transform and help multiple functional areas with common infrastructure. A good example is wireless sensor networks. Deploying wireless sensor networks in turn enables many small projects that help many departments digitally transform the way they work. The infrastructure for one technology can be deployed relatively quickly after which many small projects are executed in phases.
Small projects are low-risk. A small trial of a solution in one plant unit finishes fast. After a quick success, then scale it to the full plant area, and then scale to the entire plant. Then the team can move on to start the next pilot project. This way plants move from PoC to full-scale plant-wide implementation at speed. For large organization with multiple plants, innovations often emerge at an individual plant, then gets replicated at other sites, rolled out nation-wide and globally.
Use Existing Platform
I have also seen big bang approach where plant pours a lot of money and resources into an additional “single software platform” layer for data aggregation before the first use-case even gets started. This new data aggregation platform layer is meant to be added above the ERP with the intention to collect data from the ERP and plant historian before making it available to analytics through proprietary API requiring custom programming.
Instead, successful plants start small projects using the existing data aggregation platform; the plant historian. The historian can be scaled with additional tags as needed. This way a project can be implemented within two weeks, with the pilot running an additional three months, at low-risk.
I personally like to add you must also think of the bigger vision. A plant cannot run multiple small projects in isolation resulting in siloed solutions. Plants successful with digital transformation early on establish a vision of what the end goal looks like. Based on this they can select the technologies and architecture to build the infrastructure that supports this end goal.
NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA)
The system architecture for the digital operational infrastructure (DOI) is important. The wrong architecture leads to delays and inability to scale. NAMUR (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries) has defined the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) to enable Industry 4.0. I have found that plants that have deployed digital operational infrastructure (DOI) modelled on the same principles as NOA are able to pilot and scale very fast. Flying StartThe I&C department in plants can accelerate digital transformation to achieve operational excellence and top quartile performance by remembering Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast. These translate into a few simple design principles:
- Phased approach
- Architecture modeled on the NAMUR Open Architecture
- Ready-made apps
- East-to-use software
- Digital ecosystem
This week saw the annual incarnation of the Ignition Community Conference from Inductive Automation in Folsom, CA focused on application of manufacturing software. The level of user conversations and idea exchanges is higher than anywhere else I attend.
I entered the building walking down the hallway amongst the exhibits of partner companies. Immediately the strength of MQTT, Sparkplug, and embedded Ignition stood out. The stands of OEMs Opto 22, Wago, EZAutomation, Moxa, Bedrock Automation, and Stratus Technologies swarmed with curious engineers.
MQTT is a light-weight messaging protocol that is now an open standard. Originally developed jointly by IBM and Arlen Nipper, now CTO of Inductive Automation partner Cirrus Link, MQTT is also widely deployed in IT applications.
Family obligations cut my stay, but I got a sense of what is important. Last year’s focus was Ignition 8, a major update to the core product. This year’s focus included the various aspects of the ecosystem that has sprung up through some patient nurturing by Inductive Automation executives.
Free training has been a hallmark. Examples cited included college student interns at customer sites taking the online class and then developing a significant application–all during their summer internship. It’s that easy to learn and develop.
Inductive has expanded its university partnerships for additional training and has also greatly expanded its international presence. Partnerships include a growing number of OEMs who package Ignition within products and systems integrators out solving interesting problems for their customers.
This is called the “Community Conference” because of the intense community of users.
By the way, customers often tell me that the product is rock solid, but what convinced them to change software suppliers–not an easy undertaking–is the innovative pricing model originally developed by founder (and president/CEO) Steve Hechtman. The model drives cost of ownership down for customers, and, while Inductive Automation is a private company and does not release financials, when I pump Steve for information, he smiles broadly.
Oh, and competitors are trying to find a way to compete with their pricing. That should be interesting.
Many, if not most, companies I cover are earnestly trying to build an ecosystem of partners. Inductive Automation patiently assembled an impressive one.
[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is my major sponsor, but I’m not paid to be anything but my usual objective, analytical self observing the industry.]
Major IT companies have been scrambling to compete in the Industrial Internet of Things market. The control, instrumentation, and automation companies all talk about how this is all stuff they’ve been doing for years, or even decades, this is really quite new.
The first IT company people I talked with talked about selling boxes—gateways or edge computing. I’m thinking that there’s not enough money in that market. And, I was right. As the companies flesh out their strategies, the IoT group leadership keeps moving higher up the corporate ladder. And the vision broadens to include much of the portfolio of the companies enabling them to progressively enhance their competitive positions within their major customers.
Hitachi Vantara has recently been talking with me about their approach to the problem. I learned about Vantara and its focus initially through people I knew who landed new positions there. Life is always about serendipity. In the past, I’ve reported on the Lumada platform and the way the company is building modularly atop it. There was Maintenance Insights and then Video Insights. Now unveiled is Manufacturing Insights. I will get a deeper dive and talk to customers the second week of October when I attend its customer conference.
Note that these applications have more in common with MES than what you might think of as simply connecting devices with IIoT. In other words, the value proposition and integration into the customer grows.
Let’s discuss the latest addition to the Hitachi Lumada platform, Manufacturing Insights, which the company describes as a suite of industrial internet-of-things (IoT) solutions that empower the manufacturing industry to achieve transformative outcomes from data-driven insights. Using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and DataOps, Lumada Manufacturing Insights optimizes machine, production, and quality outcomes.
“Data and analytics have the power to modernize and transform manufacturing operations. But for too many manufacturers today, legacy infrastructure and disconnected software and processes slow innovation and impact competitive advantage,” said Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With Lumada Manufacturing Insights, customers can lay a foundation for digital innovation that works with the systems and software they have already to operationalize immediate gains in uptime, efficiency and quality and transform for the future.”
Accelerate Manufacturing Transformations
Lumada Manufacturing Insights applies data science rigor to drive continuous improvement opportunities based on predictive and prescriptive analytics. The solution integrates with existing applications and delivers actionable insights without the need for a rip-and-replace change of costly manufacturing equipment or applications. Lumada Manufacturing Insights supports a variety of deployment options and can run on-premises or in the cloud.
“With Hitachi Vantara, our customers benefit from our deep operational technology expertise and distinctive approach to co-creating with them to accelerate their digital journey,” said Bobby Soni, chief solutions and services officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With our proven methodologies and advanced tools, we can tailor solutions for our customers that enhance productivity, increase the speed of delivery, and ultimately deliver greater business outcomes.”
Providing machine, production and quality analytics, Lumada Manufacturing Insights drives transformational business outcomes by enabling customers to:
• Build on the intelligent manufacturing maturity model and empower the digital innovation foundation for continuous process improvement.
• Integrate data silos and stranded assets and augment data from video, lidar, and other advanced sensors to drive innovative new use cases for competitive advantage.
• Drive 4M (machine, man, material and methods) correlations for root-cause analysis at scale.
• Evaluate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and enhancement recommendations based on advanced AI and ML techniques.
• Evaluate scheduling efficiency and optimize for varying workloads, rates of production and workorder backlogs.
• Monitor and guide product quality with predictive and prescriptive insights.
• Improve precision of demand forecast and adherence to production plans and output.
I hope to get more depth while I’m at the Next 2019 user conference Oct. 9-10. Here are some supplied quotes.
“Significant short-lead products have to be designed, prototyped and delivered to meet the demands of our customers and partners as we accelerate the product supply for 5G. Ericsson and Hitachi Vantara have collaborated to test Lumada Manufacturing Insights to gear up for an anticipated increase in new product introductions, establishing a digital innovation foundation for sustained gains,” said Shannon Lucas, head of customer unit emerging business for Ericsson North America. “We are leveraging the same solution that we will take to our joint customers in partnership with Hitachi Vantara, and will further expand IIoT use cases based on our 5G technologies.”
“As a progressive manufacturer, our focus was to accelerate transformative change, eliminate data silos and build a foundation for digital innovation that would accelerate our journey toward Manufacturing 4.0. “We leveraged the IIoT workshop to align our use cases with our business transformation priorities and have a roadmap for success with Lumada Manufacturing Insights,” said Vijay Kamineni, business transformation leader at Logan Aluminum. “The collaboration with Hitachi Vantara enables us to define business goals for each stage of our transformation, with clear outcomes that we believe will accelerate gains in productivity, quality, safety and sustainable manufacturing. “Hitachi Vantara brings a unique IT/OT advantage that will help us in the long run.”
“Humans and machines working together to deliver the vision of ‘digital drilling’ is driven by our ambition to achieve transformative outcomes, drilling our best wells every time and consistently achieving Target Zero for accidents. With Hitachi Vantara, we are realizing time to value with industrial analytics and the powerful Lumada platform to process more than 20,000 data streams per second per rig, providing actionable information to the right people at the right time and helping make optimal decisions. This drives our operational excellence and consequently our competitive advantage,” said Shuja Goraya, CTO at Precision Drilling Corporation. “We’re leveraging insights from video and lidar, integrating it with Lumada Manufacturing Insights to deliver business outcomes. It’s driving process optimization through effectively identifying improvement opportunities and shortening well delivery times for our customers. It’s all about effective use of data to make better decisions and then being able to consistently execute on these learnings. We are excited about our strategic partnership with Hitachi Vantara.”
Lumada Manufacturing Insights will be available worldwide Sept. 30, 2019.
Sean Riley, Global Director of Manufacturing and Transportation at Software AG, discussed Industrial IoT (IIoT) implementation in industry with me a couple of weeks ago. Now, a survey sponsored by Software AG has been released revealing that manufacturers are not scaling IIoT across the enterprise due to failure to invest in predictive analytics and innovative integration strategies.
The shocking thing to me about the survey is that it mirrors survey results over the past three or four years. Executives and managers recognize a problem further even acknowledging that this is something that could cost them competitively against the market even putting them out of business. Yet, they cannot figure out how to do it right. They whine about how tough it is.
Sounds to me like a new crop of leadership is needed.
There are good practices taught some 40 years ago when I took a deep dive while implementing my first IT project. Things like understanding the system first. Bringing all the departments in on the plans, work to be done, and benefits we all would get. Some recommendations from Software AG sound that familiar—breaking silos, bringing IT and OT organizations closer together (a management problem, not a technical one), transparency in the project roll out.
The survey of over 125 North American manufacturers primarily in the heavy industry and automotive sectors revealed inability to scale IIoT investments across their enterprises results in losing millions of dollars in potential profits.
The survey also revealed that the vast majority of manufacturers queried report that their IIoT investments are limited – locked in one small department or sector of their company – preventing these organizations from sharing the power of IIoT across their enterprises.
Other key findings include:
- 80% of all survey respondents agree that processes around IIoT platforms need to be optimized or they will face a competitive disadvantage but very few are doing this
- IT-OT integration is considered one of the most difficult tasks – with 57% of automotive manufacturers stating that this has prevented them from realizing full ROI from their IIoT investments
- 84% of automotive and heavy industry manufacturers agree that the most important area of IIoT is “monetization of product-as-a-service-revenue.” However, optimizing production is still important with 58% of heavy industry and 50% of automotive manufacturers agreeing with that statement
- Curiously, defining threshold-based rules is considered almost as difficult as leveraging predictive analytics to scale IIoT. More than 60% of respondents stated that defining threshold-based rules was as difficult as integrating IT systems and IoT sensors into existing control systems.
“Manufacturers place a high value on IIoT, but they are encountering serious difficulties in unlocking the complete intended value to unleash their innovation across their organizations,” said Riley. “Fortunately, there is a way for them to quickly and easily resolve this problem. By investing in the right IT-OT integration strategy that leverages sensors, predictive analytics, machine learning, control applications, and product quality control, manufacturers can fix this problem in less than 6-12 months while realizing other key benefits, namely extended equipment lifetime, reduced equipment maintenance costs and accessing more accurate data for production-quality improvements.”
Riley outlined five best practices for manufacturers to follow when looking to scale their IIoT investments across their enterprises and realize immediate profits and competitive advantage. Those best practices are:
1. Ensure clear collaboration between IT and the business by leveraging a step by step approach that starts focused and has clear near term and long- term objectives to scale
2. Create a transparent roll out process and don’t let other plants or departments move ahead outside of it
3. Give IT the ability to connect at speed with a digital production platform that is proven to be successful
4. Leverage a GUI driven, consistent platform to enable an ecosystem of IT associates, business users and partners around the platform
5. Enable the plant or field service workers to work autonomously without continual support from IT through GUI driven analytics, centralized management and easy, batch device connectivity and management
Riley also stated that it is critically important for manufacturers to select the best possible IIoT integration platform supported by key enabling technologies like streaming analytics, machine learning, predictive analytics and a larger ecosystem. Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform recently received the highest use case scores from Gartner Group in the brand new “Critical Capabilities for Industrial IoT Platforms” report which included Monitoring Use Case, Predictive Analytics for Equipment Use and Connected Industrial Assets Use Case for its IoT.
The Software AG IIoT Implementation survey was completed in Q2 2019 by Software AG and an independent third-party research house. The survey queried nearly 200 respondents at large manufacturing companies across automotive, heavy industry, high-technology, electronics, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The respondents were primarily senior executives leading Manufacturing or Information Technology with the breakdown of 50% Managers, 38% Directors and 13% Vice Presidents or higher.
Software AG product
The press release contained some information about the company’s IoT platform—Cumulocity.
Being device and protocol agnostic allows it to connect, manage, and control any “thing” over any network. Cumulocity IoT is open and independent, letting customers connect to millions of devices without being locked into one single vendor.