Emerson marketing called us together for a virtual press conference and demonstration of its take on Augmented Reality (AR) integrated with it Plantweb Optics asset performance platform. I’ve seen many demos of AR over the past many years. The technology inspires imaginative thinking, but somehow companies have just not managed to make it ready for prime time.
Emerson’s evidently is. Not only could they show a demo, it is due to be released later this summer with the next release of Plantweb Optics software. Better yet, it does not require glasses or other peripheral equipment other than the smart phone or device people are already using.
The tag line from Emerson: Analytics and live remote assistance improve productivity and safety.
What does it do, really? Well, it delivers enhanced access to real-time diagnostics and analytics, as well as live remote assistance, to industrial plant workers responsible for maintaining and optimizing plant equipment. With AR technology integrated into Plantweb Optics, companies can improve productivity, collaboration and operational performance, without being limited by shortages of skilled workers or travel restrictions.
“Successful digital transformation programs that lead to Top Quartile performance have people and work practices as a key focus. Adopting innovative technology like augmented reality and institutionalizing best practices enable workers to add more value than ever to operational and business performance,” said Stuart Harris, group president for Emerson’s digital transformation business. “With these new Plantweb Optics technologies, customers can experience significant improvements in equipment reliability and the safety of their facilities.”
Plantweb Optics leverages artificial intelligence, machine learning analytics, and data contextualization to provide real-time visibility into plant reliability and operational performance. Unlike standalone AR solutions that require custom engineering, AR is integrated into Plantweb Optics, providing immediate access to a wealth of data and translating into easier, less costly implementation and a faster return on investment. For use by manufacturers in the life sciences, food and beverage, chemical, metals and mining, power and water, pulp and paper and energy industries, Plantweb Optics is part of Emerson’s award-winning Plantweb digital ecosystem of technologies, software and services.
Augmented reality for Plantweb Optics transforms the way field technicians accomplish complex tasks through enhanced situational awareness, live remote assistance and analytics delivered in context of the plant. As a field technician walks an industrial plant with a mobile device, Plantweb Optics uses spatial computing technology to map assets and provide technicians with critical maintenance information relevant to their location. Plantweb Optics overlays real-time analytics, equipment health status and technical support documentation on their field of view, so technicians can safely resolve issues sooner.
The augmented and virtual reality market is projected to grow annually at 40% from 2017 through 2025, according to multiple research reports. Much of this spending will come from manufacturers around the globe using AR technology to help upskill their workforce for digitalized operations.
With live remote assistance, field technicians can be virtually shadowed by experts, either on-site or off-site, from Emerson, their own company or another service provider. Experts can talk, type or augment the technician’s mobile display with graphics to guide the next action. Live remote assistance enables technicians and experts to collaborate for safe troubleshooting and repairs, regardless of location and without travel costs. Live remote assistance sessions, best practices and notes from experienced engineers and step-by-step troubleshooting procedures can be logged into a knowledge library for use by all engineers at a site. The knowledge library is a resource for companies to standardize procedures and ensure engineers of all experience levels understand an asset’s history and are using best practices for safe, efficient operations.
Keynoters have a tough time with originality these Digital Days with everyone emphasizing Digital Transformation. Steve Lomholt-Thomson, chief revenue officer of AVEVA, took us on a Digital Journey this morning. Setting the tone of the three days of AVEVA World Congress (North America edition).
Three technology trends to watch: an IoT boom; cloud/empowered edge; and, AI / ML. The theme is digital. The Digital Organization discovers its Digital DNA, figures out how to build that Digital DNA through people who challenge the status quo; and then figures out how to track talent flow.
Which all starts us on our Digital Journey. On this journey, we unify end-to-end data, connect data silos taking an wholistic view of the business, and then visualize our assets and supply chain. I believe implied in all this is the company’s product AVEVA System Platform. The company touted six customer stories with at least five of them (and probably the sixth) all leveraging System Platform.
Oh, and the only time the “W” word was used referred to past tense.
Other areas of the company were highlighted:
Focus on assets–asset performance management including how to use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive analytics (predictive maintenance.
How to combine it all into a Digital Twin–bringing the design lifecycle and physical lifecycle into congruence.
Recently hired head of North America business, Christine Harding, interviewed customers from Campbell’s (soup/snacks), Quantum Solutions (integration project at St. Louis/Lambert airport), and Suncor (Canadian oil sands).
I have the rest of today and then tomorrow to take deeper dives into many of these topics. If there is anything you want me to ask, send a note.
I guess I did attend the last GE software conference Minds + Machines. However, the reconstituted and independent GE Digital recently held a user conference where it announced a number of upgrades to its IIoT software. These are firmly within the current trends of connecting and mobility.
The product updates include:
- Predix Essentials, which makes it easier for industrial companies to connect, visualize and analyze their data
- Asset Answers, which helps customers to understand the competitive potential of Asset Performance Management (APM) software
- Webspace 6.0, a new HTML5 interface that seamlessly brings automation data to operators across any mobile device
Predix Essentials is an easy-to-use SaaS solution, helping companies connect to disparate data sources, monitor operations, and leverage edge-to-cloud predictive analytics–reducing time-to-value for operational teams looking to reduce waste, lower costs, and increase performance.
Developed in partnership with a number of customers, including silicon chip manufacturer Intel, Predix Essentials is a natural first step for industrial businesses looking to leverage the power of cloud-based Industrial IoT technologies, providing the connectivity, visualization and analysis capabilities that are the cornerstones of a digital transformation journey, regardless of vertical or maturity.
Suitable for industrial companies of all kinds, Predix Essentials is also the foundation of GE Digital’s APM and OPM application suites, providing core functionality and bridging the entire software portfolio by connecting GE Digital cloud-based solutions to on-premises data from its Automation, MES and Historian solutions.
Identifying Maintenance Strategies
Asset Answers is a benchmarking tool that helps customers quickly import and assess data to better understand how their asset maintenance compares with similar companies in their particular domain, or even against their own internal performance across sites.
With this intelligence, customers can determine where best to invest in updating maintenance regimes or capabilities, and ultimately provide a seamless path to products like APM to manage and optimize assets across their business. Asset Answers is available for many sectors, including power generation, oil and gas and chemicals.
Improving Operator Mobility
Webspace 6.0, a web and mobility solution, brings the full visualization and control capabilities from GE’s iFIX and CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software seamlessly across devices, including smartwatches, phones, tablets and desktops.
Offering enhanced encryption and new zero-install HTML5 client, Webspace 6.0 improves the way that operators receive and react to operational insights, whether they are in the field, on the plant floor or at a desk, providing them the flexibility to make informed decisions and share their expertise, regardless of location. By dynamically extending automation solutions, Webspace 6.0 increases information sharing across teams, speeds the right operator actions, and improves agility with real-time visualization and control anywhere, anytime.
“GE Digital continues to release innovations that forge the way for industrial customers working on transforming their operations,” said Pat Byrne, CEO of GE Digital. “By continuing to invest across our portfolio of industrial software, and by making it easier than ever for our customers to unlock the power of the Industrial IoT, GE Digital is strengthening its customers’ ability to become more productive, efficient and safe.”
Predix Essentials, Asset Answers and Webspace 6.0 are generally available today as part of GE Digital’s portfolio of industrial software products covering HMI/SCADA, Historian, Asset Performance Management and Manufacturing Execution System applications. Today’s announcements build on a strong thread of recent investments in product innovations, all designed to solve a broad range of industrial customer challenges, including iFIX 6.0; Historian 7.2, Plant Applications 8.0 and Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud for the manufacturing sector; Grid Analytics for the power transmission and distribution market; and APM Integrity’s Compliance Management for the O&G and Power Generation industries.
Moving to sustainable sources of energy to generate electrical power, as Europe has, requires a balancing act. Solar and wind generation provide an imbalance of power since they only operate when proper atmospheric conditions exist—i.e. sunlight or wind. Hydro generation provides a necessary balance, explained Pier-Vittorio Rebba, technology manager power generation for ABB.
But many hydro plants are aging. Management realizes the need to digitalize operations to obtain the best use of Asset Performance Management applications as well as best optimization of plant assets. ABB and its customer Enel Green Power partnered to digitalize operations delivering predictive maintenance solutions that will lower maintenance costs and transform the performance, reliability, and energy efficiency of its hydropower plants throughout Italy.
The three-year contract will enable 33 of Enel Green Power’s hydroelectric plants, comprised of about 100 units, to move from hours-based maintenance to predictive and condition-based maintenance, leveraging the ABB Ability Asset Performance Management solution. With operations in five continents, the Enel Group’s renewable business line, Enel Green Power, is a global leader in the green energy sector, with a managed capacity of more than 43 GW.
“We are privileged to be partnering with Enel Green Power, a digital pioneer, in their move from hours-based to predictive maintenance utilizing ABB Ability technologies for big data, machine learning and advanced analytics,” said Kevin Kosisko, Managing Director, Energy Industries, ABB. “Predictive maintenance and asset performance management must become a key component of plant operators’ strategies to optimize maintenance operations, minimize risk, improve resilience and reduce costs. The results are more competitive electricity rates, in a more sustainable way.”
Collaborating closely since early 2018, the two companies have jointly developed and tested predictive maintenance and advanced solutions (PresAGHO) via a pilot on five Enel plants in Italy and Spain, including Presenzano, a 1,000-megawatt plant near Naples.
The new contract includes digital software solutions and services that will provide analysis of over 190,000 signals and the deployment of about 800 digital asset models, aimed at improving plant operational performance, reducing unplanned failures and enabling more efficient planned maintenance practices through predictive maintenance. The integration is expected to yield savings in fleet maintenance costs and increase plant productivity.
The ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center for power generation and water will help bring wider benefits of digitalization and engagement, supporting informed decision-making, real-time solutions and cost savings. The center already provides similar digital solutions and advanced applications for more than 700 power plants, water facilities and electric vehicle charging stations globally.
“With personnel retirements resulting in knowledge gaps and more competitive electricity marketplaces, we believe that many power generation customers globally can benefit from this kind of digital transformation around maintenance and operations,” said Mr Kosisko.
One of the most important technologies for successful implementation of an Industrial Internet of Things program involves moving more computing and storage power to the edge.
GE has been in the news more often than it would like over the past year—my broker just called and in our discussion I mentioned writing an article about GE and he groaned.
However, GE Digital despite rumors to the contrary still lives and released some new products. One is an edge solution and the other an on-prem server solution.
Predix Edge aims at simplifying edge-to-cloud computing. GE Digital also introduced its Predix Private Cloud (PPC) solution, an on-premises deployment of the Predix platform, which gives customers the privacy, security, data sovereignty, and data isolation provided by a private cloud infrastructure.
“More than 70 percent of industrial companies are stuck in pilot purgatory – that is, they are either still at the start or unable to further advance their IIoT initiatives,” said Eddie Amos, Corporate VP, Platform & Industrial Applications, GE Digital. “Companies often face unexpected complexities in the solution design or integration, steep costs or security vulnerabilities. The custom, one-off solutions that tend to grow out of pilot projects further burden companies with ongoing maintenance, patching and upgrading over time. Realizing the full impact of IIoT requires moving beyond the pilot stage with scalable, interoperable solutions – and GE Digital helps lead them through that journey.”
The offerings GE Digital unveiled help companies bridge this gap – and offer businesses flexibility when and where they operate.
Predix Edge securely captures, processes, and analyzes data that can be managed locally or pushed to the cloud, executing the most demanding workloads at the edge and producing insights in near real time. With new functionality to help businesses accelerate the IIoT, Predix Edge provides:
Simple deployment and management capabilities out of the box, allowing users to remotely monitor and manage all their edge devices and heterogenous industrial data from a centralized management console.
Rapid time to value by supporting edge application development for almost all programming languages – such as Java, C++, Go and Python – and coming pre-integrated for use with GE Digital’s leading industrial apps like Asset Performance Management (APM) and Operations Performance Management (OPM).
Support for data storage and analysis online, offline or with intermittent connectivity in remote environments, such as offshore oil rigs or disconnected use cases where internet connectivity is never available. Predix Edge then transfers key data back to the cloud when re-connected.
Edge-to-cloud security and compliance to protect data and operations. The hardened, embedded edge operating system helps manage connected devices and remotely deploy patches, giving users the ability to control security at a deeper level.
Low latency application deployment closer to the originating data, to enable companies with limited connectivity, regulatory requirements or other constraints a way to accelerate time to value.
Processing data and applying analytics close to the device can dramatically reduce downtime, optimize maintenance schedules, and add operational value, all while reducing network and cloud costs. Predix Edge and the Predix platform work seamlessly together to provide distributed IIoT processing and analytics where they’re needed most.
To further help simplify the IIoT process, GE Digital also unveiled Predix Private Cloud (PPC), an on-premises deployment of the Predix platform and portfolio, that offers companies maximum levels of security and privacy.
Already commercially available, PPC enables IIoT connectivity, data, analytics and applications – such as Predix applications or custom applications – to be hosted on-premises, providing customers with multiple ways to deploy the Predix platform. The on-premises offering helps companies operating in high data volume scenarios access data securely in near real time and also manage edge and disconnected environments. PPC is specifically designed to meet privacy, security, data sovereignty anddata isolation requirements based on a customer’s industry, region or country.