FDT IIoT Server Standard to Empower Platform Independent Deployment

FDT IIoT Server Standard to Empower Platform Independent Deployment

Another group validates standards for industrial communication including FDT and OPC UA.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit standards association supporting the evolution of FDT technology (IEC 62453), announced that its Board of Directors voted unanimously to empower the emerging FDT IIoT Server (FITS) architecture with full platform independence. This decision strengthens the FITS architecture to support the diverse array of operating systems to meet industry-driven demands.

In addition to platform independence, key features of the FITS solution include native integration of the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), as well as comprehensive Control and Web Services interfaces. With built-in security protecting valuable information and operating data, the FITS platform will enable cloud, enterprise, on-premise, and a single-user desktop deployment method meeting the needs of the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing sectors.

“The FITS platform is the ‘game changer’ the automation industry has been anticipating,” said Glenn Schulz, managing director of FDT Group. “I’d like to thank our Architecture and Specification Working Group that worked behind the scenes investigating and prototyping the platform independence feature approved by our board.”

Schulz added, “The Architecture and Specification Working Group has been directed to immediately transition FDT Server Common Components to a pure .NET Core implementation, previously built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This transition will result in a single FDT Server environment deployable on a Microsoft-, Linux-, or macOS-based operating system, which will empower the intelligent enterprise by bridging the current installed base with next-generation solutions supporting the IIoT and I4.0 era.”

The significant decision and direction allows nearly unlimited deployment and application scenarios. For example, cloud-based FDT Servers can enjoy the performance and cost benefits of a Linux operating system. Traditional control system vendors can offer the FDT Server embedded in their hardware, and machine builders can deploy a small Linux-based FDT Server offering a comprehensive preconfigured asset management system for their skid that can be securely accessed remotely or with smart phones or browsers.

MES applications can also incorporate an FDT Server to gain secure, direct access to production data and asset health and availability metrics through OPC UA. In addition, service providers can wrap services around an FDT Server delivered in an industrial hardened Linux box. The opportunities for cost savings and value creation goes on due to the highly flexible deployment options of the FITS standard.

Because of the security, scalability and the ease of deployment of an FDT Server, the solution will simplify entry into the IIoT marketplace as the only open platform standardized integration architecture providing a single interface with cloud-to-plant floor mobile access. The decision to migrate to platform independence will delay the launch of the FITS specification by approximately six months. With the launch planned for the latter half of 2019, alongside Common Components supporting the FITS standard, automation suppliers and service providers will immediately reap the benefits of a quick development and deployment strategy. Common Components create a library of FDT routines and will simplify compliant development of FITS-based solutions such as Servers, Device Type Managers (DTMs) and APPs.

The final standard will be delivered as three documents: the FDT 2.5 specification, which builds on FDT 2.1 to include HTML5 and JavaScript graphical user interface features; the FITS Web Services Technical Specification, which describes the Web Services interfaces and requirements for an FDT Server; and the OPC UA Annex detailing the OPC UA Server mapping for an FDT Server.

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Foxboro and Triconex looks to be on the path to health under Schneider Electric. Its annual user conference is this week in San Antonio. I‘d love to be there, but personally more important is “grandparent duty” that I’m on this week. So, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Freburger, leader of the group, and Peter Martin, VP of marketing, to get an update and view of what I’ll be missing.

Gary Freburger began with the market rebounding due to current oil pricing. Business is starting to get strong. IA product line has done well and the process business also did well going up 6% in the first half of the year. He’s expecting majority of growth over the next two years. Schneider Electric is still investing around EcoStruxure system. Foxboro is continuing on the path they discussed with us at the last user conference—how to get more value from control systems going from “necessary evil” to value add in the eyes of customer executives. The strategy is to turn data and connectivity into a business driver. The goal is enabling better decisions and improving profitability.

Freburger discussed cooperating with OPAF for a comprehensive strategy. Then he dropped in an interesting tidbit—cooperation with AVEVA. I’ve wondered about how AVEVA with the inclusion of previous Schneider Electric software would work with the Foxboro side of things. He told me they now have and end-to-end relationship to improve time to market. He noted as oil prices dropped customers thought “what can I afford to do?” Now, all have reset expectations. As oil prices rebound, they have not changed expectations. Some interesting applications and strategies include AVEVA auto populate control system, digital twin of facility, operations feedback our systems to AVEVA’s, then customer asset management upgrade works easier.

Martin discussed how Schneider is trying to change the question—from how to do control to how do we help customers solve problems that impact business? He pointed out that they’ve been doing digitization for years. What’s new is how to drive this new approach. 40 years ago controls was a solution-driven business; then with digitization the industry went from solutions to technology-driven. The times now require a need to flip flop. Solutions oriented but with today’s portfolios taking it to a much higher level. The speed of industrial business has increased—what was stable, e.g. cost of electricity—is stable no longer. The speed means IT world can’t keep up. Built-in real-time accounting control helps plants go beyond control to profitability. Foxboro is still dedicated to taking the use of technology to the next level.

During the conference (while I am writing from the forests in southern Ohio while the grandkids are in bed), Schneider Electric announced the release of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1.With expanded capabilities and an enhanced HMI, the updated software simplifies engineering and enhances the user experience, while expanding the ability of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS to drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely.

The EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS is an open, interoperable and future-proof process automation system that provides highly accurate and effective control over a manufacturing plant’s operational profitability. It is the only process control system that provides measurable operational profitability improvements and a future-proof architecture, enabling a measurable 100 percent ROI in less than one year.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. This includes Connected Products, Edge Control, and Apps, Analytics and Services. EcoStruxure has been deployed in 480,000+ sites, with the support of 20,000+ system integrators and developers, connecting over 1.6 million assets under management through 40+ digital services.

EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 runs on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, to provide maximum flexibility while ensuring robust cybersecurity. When planning upgrades, Schneider Electric customers can mix Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10 on the same system, allowing flexibility in scheduling and timing for upgrades. Customers can upgrade individual sections of the plant in any order, at any pace, to best accommodate plant production schedules. With Microsoft support for Windows 7 due to end in 2020, transitioning to Windows 10 allows EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS customers to benefit from the strongest operating system with the most up-to-date cybersecurity features.

Among other new and updated features, the continuously current EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 now includes:

• EcoStruxure Field Device Expert that improves efficiency, safety and profitability, while considerably reducing time for startup and restarts. It includes:

◦ Intelligent Commissioning Wizard, to reduce commissioning time up to 75 percent by automating HART device commissioning and documentation processes.

◦ Device Replacement Wizard to significantly reduce time and expertise to replace or commission HART devices, either individually or in bulk.

◦ Bundled HART DD library for increased security, faster device deployment, eradication of version mismatch and elimination of cybersecurity risks previously created by moving documents from the HART consortium web page into the system.

• New HMI Bulk Graphics Editor for increased operational efficiency and reliability by greatly reducing engineering hours and improving quality during testing. Use in major projects shows that replicating hundreds of displays with the new Bulk Graphics Editor saves months of man hours and improves quality by delivering highly predictable results. The Bulk Graphics Editor makes migrating from the classic FoxView HMI to the new Foxboro DCS Control HMI easier, requiring far fewer engineering hours, which reduces the time and cost to transition between technologies.

• Control Editors Activity Monitor for increased efficiency by improving communication, workflow and collaboration.

• Real-time asset health condition monitoring for increased reliability.

• Future-proof technology supporting the latest FTD 2.0 standard, which improves compatibility with digitized field devices from Schneider Electric and third-party vendors.

• New migration path, along with the new HMI Bulk Graphics Editor, simplifies the transition from existing FoxView HMI displays to the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 HMI platform for a continuously current and future-proof system. An upgrade migration path is available from previous Control Software Versions 5.x, 6.x and 7.0. After upgrading, users can tap into newer technologies that improve productivity, cybersecurity, efficiency and profitability.

84% of industrial companies face gap between IoT and ERP

84% of industrial companies face gap between IoT and ERP

There are two types of people in industry—operations technology and information technology. God forbid if they should actually talk with each other.

Everywhere I go there is talk of overcoming the OT/IT divide. Something just crossed my email stream where there was a survey about whether the departments have merged anywhere. They were shocked, shocked I say, that only about 1 in 10 companies have merged the two departments. I think the purveyors of that survey must have been on Mars for the past bunch of years.

These people just have different jobs to do. Different things they are measured on. Different ways they contribute to the common welfare of the corporation. However, the technologies they use are overlapping at an ever greater pace.

Here is a survey that once again reveals what is seemingly a disconnect between IT and OT. But I think that interfacing to ERP systems is non-trivial. I’m actually amazed and heartened by the progress we’ve made to date.

I’d take a look at this survey and consider how far we have come—and yet, how far we still need to go.

IFS has released a primary research study on how the Internet of Things (IoT) affects readiness for digital transformation in industrial companies.

According to survey of 200 IoT decision makers at industrial companies in North America, only 16 percent of respondents consume IoT data in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. That means 84 percent of industrial companies face a disconnect between data from connected devices and strategic decision making and operations, limiting the digital transformation potential of IoT.

The study posed questions about companies’ degree of IoT sophistication. The study also explores how well their enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) or field service management (FSM)software prepares them for digital transformation and to consume IoT data within enterprise software.

Respondents were divided into groups including IoT Leaders and IoT Laggards, depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them to consume IoT data—as well as Digital Transformation Leaders and Digital Transformation Laggards depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them for digital transformation.

The two Leaders groups overlapped, with 88 percent of Digital Transformation Leaders also qualifying as IoT Leaders, suggesting IoT is a technology that underpins the loose concept of digital transformation.
Digital Transformation Leaders made more complete use of IoT data than Digital Transformation Laggards; Leaders are almost three times as likely to use IoT data for corporate business intelligence or to monitor performance against service level agreements.

Digital Transformation Leaders were more likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in applications used beyond the plant floor. They were more than four times as lilkely to have access to IoT data in enterprise asset management software, twice as likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in high-value asset performance management software, and almost twice as likely to be able to be able to use IoT data in ERP.

The data suggests a real need for more IoT-enabled enterprise applications designed to put data from networks of connected devices into the context of the business.

In reviewing the findings, IFS Chief Technology Officer for North America, Rick Veague, commented, “Are your planning and maintenance systems robust enough to make real time decisions using IoT-sourced data? Many are facing the reality of having to answer ‘no.’ ”

“Study data suggest that the most common use case for IoT in these industrial settings is condition-based maintenance. The benefits go beyond operational improvements and maintenance cost avoidance,” said Ralph Rio, Vice President of Enterprise Software at ARC Advisory Group. “It increases uptime that provides additional capacity for increased revenue. It also avoids unplanned downtime that interrupts production schedules causing missed shipment dates and customer satisfaction issues. When married to demand and scheduling systems in ERP, IoT becomes a revenue-enhancement tool improving the top line.”

 

Schneider Electric Software Boosts Asset Performance, New Pricing Model, and Cloud Offering

Schneider Electric Software Boosts Asset Performance, New Pricing Model, and Cloud Offering

Schneider Electric Software boosts Asset Performance, pricing model, and cloud offering. They called it a Schneider Electric Software Innovation Summit in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago. But as we know, that part of Schneider Electric is moving over to the new AVEVA which will be 60% owned by Schneider Electric. So, is this the last Schneider Electric Software summit, or will all the new company be absorbed at the conclusion of the buyout period?

I had committed to another conference by the time Schneider announced its software one, so I was not there. They did send news releases and I also talked with a friend who was there in order to gauge a little bit of what was happening. One other thing I find interesting. On the process automation side, they are clearly branding the legacy Foxboro name. On this side, not so much talk about Wonderware and Avantis. So I guess there is still some branding flux on the software side of the business.

Key takeaways: Schneider evidently saw a weakness in its asset performance management offering and has partnered with a European leader to add strength to it. Answering the challenge of a newer competitor regarding pricing for software, Schneider announced expansion of its subscription pricing model. The third larger announcement reflects the growing importance (and acceptance) of the Cloud for IT structure.

Short view of the news: 

  • Extends Enterprise APM Offering through New Partnership with MaxGrip: Schneider Electric has partnered with leader in Asset Performance Management (APM) software, MaxGrip, to deliver a more comprehensive asset lifecycle management offering. This expanded offering will include assessment services and risk-based maintenance capabilities, helping customers define and execute APM strategies for maximum return on assets.
  • Extends Subscription Access Across Industrial Software Portfolio: Schneider Electric has expanded its subscription license model, enabling customers to purchase software licenses a la carte, providing greater value, new benefits and access to more industrial software applications than ever before. Subscription Access is now available when purchasing Engineering, Planning, Operations and Asset Performance, as well as Control and Information software solutions.
  • Expands Cloud Platform with New Performance Module: Schneider Electric has announced the continued expansion of its Insight cloud platform, powered by Wonderware Online. The new Insight Performance Module provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring, asset utilization analysis and downtime tracking in the cloud to enable operational efficiency improvement while reducing total cost of ownership.
  • Enhances Manufacturing Operations Management Offering for Mining Industry: Schneider Electric announced enhancements to its Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solution for the Mining industry. By introducing real-time production accounting and inventory management, the enhanced solution will improve decision support, planning and reporting capabilities for mining companies, enabling them to meet their digital transformation goals.
  • Powers Roy Hill’s Remote Operations Center to Drive Digital Strategy: Schneider Electric announced the success achieved at independent iron ore operation in Western Australia – Roy Hill. By implementing Schneider Electric’s Mining industry software solution, Roy Hill has been able to consolidate end-to-end operational visibility and optimize its mining value chain.
  • Drives Digital Transformation in Food & Beverage with New Industry Solutions: Schneider Electric announced three new solutions –  Energy Performance, Advanced Process Control and Label Assurance – all aimed at solving industry challenges from growing environmental and sustainability regulations, higher energy costs, consumer demands and product quality and safety standards. The solutions empower F&B manufacturers to simultaneously improve efficiency, quality and performance by delivering real-time visibility, control and intelligence across operations and functional areas.

APM Offering

Schneider Electric announced a new partnership with MaxGrip that will enable a more comprehensive asset lifecycle management offering that includes assessment services and risk-based maintenance capabilities. This expanded offering will be available as part of Schneider Electric’s Enterprise Asset Performance Management (APM) solution.

This solution delivers a comprehensive view of asset health as a first step of an asset reliability strategy that takes into account business context to benchmark current performance and identify areas for improvement. Expert consultants will address a number of key areas of evaluation such as HSE (health, safety and environment), cost control, resource allocation, use of OT/IT systems and asset utilization. These insights will be translated into a pragmatic action plan to optimize production and improve margins while ensuring regulatory compliance.

As a result of this partnership, Schneider Electric can offer enhanced APM capabilities that allow customers to better strategize and optimize maintenance execution according to asset criticality for optimal business results. Risk analysis, what if analysis and asset management strategic review can provide detailed insight into asset reliability and performance, facilitating long-term strategic planning. Users can optimize operations by eliminating reoccurring incidents with root cause analysis, inventory management and strategy simulations to identify hidden inefficiency and drive value across the enterprise. An extensive library of asset reliability data and templates allows up to 90% faster time to deployment.

Subscription Access Across Industrial Software Portfolio

An expansion of the company’s subscription license model – Subscription Access – includes greater value, new benefits and access to more industrial software applications. Customers choosing this offering can benefit from reduced upfront costs, ease of license fee management, access to exclusive products, bundled capabilities and a lower total cost of ownership. Subscription Access is now available when purchasing Engineering, Planning, Operations and Asset Performance, as well as Control and Information software solutions.

Expands Cloud Platform with New Performance Module

Continued expansion of its cloud platform, Insight, powered by Wonderware Online, with new Insight Performance module that provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) monitoring, asset utilization analysis and downtime tracking in the cloud.

This Software as a Service (SaaS) offering offers the following capabilities:

  1. Light-weight applications that are easier to install, configure and maintain
  2. Virtually no on-premise servers or hardware requirement

Enhances Manufacturing Operations Management Offering for Mining Industry

The company announced enhancements to its Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solution for the Mining industry. This initiative can help optimize the mining supply chain, drive efficiency and maximize utilization of all operating assets, resulting in better profitability.

This data, when made available to domain-specific decision support tools and integrated with supply chain and enterprise resource planning systems, unlocks new levels of intelligence to drive continuous improvement. Eliminating manually entered production values while breaking down pervasive operational data silos can minimize time, errors and costs associated with manual and duplicate data-entry, further enhancing agility and efficiency.

Select improvements of Schneider Electric Software’s MOM solution for the Mining industry include:

  • User selectable point in time feature for ‘Inventory data reprocessing’
  • Data reprocessing has improved performance by 4X
  • New “Calculated Inventory” feature to define custom calculations on captured inventory data
  • Ampla Planner, Gantt Chart usability and user experience enhancements
  • Client response times has improved performance by 2X
  • Wonderware Online InSight connectivity

Powers Roy Hill’s Remote Operations Center

The company announced the success achieved at Roy Hill, an independent iron ore operation in Western Australia. Roy Hill implemented a Schneider Electric Mining industry software solution to consolidate end-to-end operational visibility and optimize their mining value chain.

Roy Hill built a greenfield iron ore mine and mine process plant in the Pilbara region, a heavy haul railway system from mine-to-port, new port facilities in Port Hedland, and a Remote Operations Center (ROC) in Perth. Each of these infrastructure components were designed to meet its capacity of 55 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore.

Most leading mining companies have historically evolved with organizational silos, usually between mines, processing facilities and logistics. In the age of increasing automation, data, and digitalization, these silos often prevent end-to-end visibility and optimization opportunities to realize resource to market potential. Through its efforts, as no small accomplishment, Roy Hill has been able to avoid these pitfalls with the help of its ecosystem partners, including Schneider Electric.

Roy Hill implemented Schneider Electric’s industrial software offering tailored for the mining industry, which included the following specific solutions:

  • Demand Chain Planning and Scheduling (DCPS)
  • Inventory Tracking and Quality Management (ITQM)
  • Delay Accounting (DA)
  • Capacity Simulation Model (Pre-CAPEX Analysis)

Drives Digital Transformation in Food & Beverage

Three new Food and Beverage manufacturing solutions were announced as part of the company’s ongoing effort to drive operational excellence, efficiency and performance while enabling regulatory and food safety compliance.

Food and Beverage and Consumer Packaged Goods manufacturers face a number of challenges, which are potentially impacting profitability. Growing environmental and sustainability related regulations are resulting in higher energy costs. Product yields must continually be improved to meet an increasingly diverse set of consumer demands. Each of these industry challenges must be addressed while maintaining product quality and safety standards to avoid product recalls and ensure continued consumer trust and confidence.

Three new industry solutions from Schneider Electric can help manufacturers to address these challenges:

  • Energy Performance – provides improved visibility into energy usage, enabling opportunities to reduce consumption and costs
  • Advanced Process Control (APC) – allows manufacturers to improve yield and product quality by minimizing unpredictable variations in the drying process
  • Label Assurance – ensures compliance through 100% label inspection checks; reduces recalls

These solutions empower Food and Beverage manufacturers to simultaneously improve efficiency, quality and performance by delivering real-time visibility, control and intelligence across all operations and functional areas.

Recognizing Digital Transformation Does Not Equate To Achieving It

Recognizing Digital Transformation Does Not Equate To Achieving It

Two research studies have crossed my inbox recently regarding management knowledge of and actions toward Digital Transformation and the Industrial Internet of Things. Suffice to say that there is a disconnect.

Get smart: Humans have perceived for millennia the disconnect between knowing and doing. These research surveys show that even when managers acknowledge the importance of modern digital technologies they cannot get the job done.

Big Thought: Implementers have realized significant cost reductions and increased speed of product development.

**

The first study was conducted by enterprise business solutions provider, HSO. It found 54% of managers in the manufacturing industry believe that their company is not effectively using predictive engineering technology, despite the technology being billed as a leading industry trend.

In an era that has been dominated by the rise of IoT and predictive analytics technology, it was also surprising to find that only 15.2% of those polled placed predictive engineering as a business priority for the next five years.  In addition to this, a quarter of the 250 managers involved in the study feel that a lack of integrated technology across different departments is the main reasons that firms do not implement predictive engineering.

However, the study did reveal that more than four in ten managers in manufacturing feel that the rise of IoT technologies is crucial to help drive predictive engineering, with artificial intelligence and machine learning also being rated as important factors.

Out of the manufacturers that are using predictive engineering to help make their processes more efficient, over half (55.6%) stated that they are benefitting from significant cost reductions while 44.8% are seeing an increase in the speed of product development.

A second study by IFS, and enterprise applications provider, found lack of integration stands between companies and digital transformation benefits of IoT. According to a survey of 200 IoT decision makers at industrial companies in North America, only 16 percent of respondents consume IoT data in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. That means 84 percent of industrial companies face a disconnect between data from connected devices and strategic decision making and operations, limiting the digital transformation potential of IoT.

The study posed questions about companies’ degree of IoT sophistication. Respondents were divided into groups including IoT Leaders and IoT Laggards, depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them to consume IoT data—as well as Digital Transformation Leaders and Digital Transformation Laggards depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them for digital transformation.

The two Leaders groups overlapped, with 88 percent of Digital Transformation Leaders also qualifying as IoT Leaders, suggesting IoT is a technology that underpins the loose concept of digital transformation. Digital Transformation Leaders made more complete use of IoT data than Digital Transformation Laggards; Leaders are almost three times as likely to use IoT data for corporate business intelligence or to monitor performance against service level agreements.

Digital Transformation Leaders were more likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in applications used beyond the plant floor. They were more than four times as likely to have access to IoT data in enterprise asset management software, twice as likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in high-value asset performance management software, and almost twice as likely to be able to be able to use IoT data in ERP.

The data suggests a real need for more IoT-enabled enterprise applications designed to put data from networks of connected devices into the context of the business.

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