AI Research For Tomorrow’s Production

While at the Hannover Messe Preview last week in Germany, I talked with the representatives of a German consortium with the interesting name of “it’s OWL”. Following are some thoughts from the various organizations that compose the consortium.

Intelligent production and new business models

Artificial Intelligence is of crucial importance for the competitiveness of industry. In the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL six research institutes cooperate with more than 100 companies to develop practical solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. At the OWL joint stand (Hall 7, A12) over 40 exhibitors will demonstrate applications in the areas of machine diagnostics, predictive maintenance, process optimization, and robotics.

Prof. Dr. Roman Dumitrescu (Managing Director it’s OWL Clustermanagement GmbH and Director Fraunhofer IEM) explains: “Our research institutes are international leaders in the fields of machine learning, cognitive assistance systems and systems engineering. At our four universities and two Fraunhofer Institutes, 350 researchers are working on over 100 projects to make Artificial Intelligence usable for applications in industrial value creation. With it’s OWL, we bring this expert knowledge into practice. In 2020, we will launch three new strategic initiatives worth 50 million € to unlock the potential for AI in production, product development and the working world for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

In the initiative ‘AI Marketplace’ 20, research institutes and companies are developing a digital platform for Artificial Intelligence in product development. Providers, users, and experts can network and develop solutions on this platform. In the competence centre ‘AI in the working world of industrial SMEs’, 25 partners from industry and science make their knowledge of work structuring in the context of AI available to companies.

Learning machine diagnostics and ‘SmartBox’ for process optimization

The Institute for Industrial Information Technology at the OWL University of Applied Sciences and Arts will present new results for intelligent machine diagnostics at the trade fair. Using a three-phase motor, it will be illustrated how learning algorithms and information fusion can be used to reliably identify, predict, and visualize states of technical systems. Patterns and information hidden in time series signals are learned and presented to the user in an understandable way. Inaccuracies and uncertainties in individual sensors are solved by conflict-reducing information fusion. For example, motors can be used as sensors. Within a network of sensors and other data sources in production plants, motors can measure the “state of health” and analyze the causes of malfunctions via AI. This reduces scrap and saves up to 20 percent in materials.

The ‘SmartBox’ of the Fraunhofer Institute IOSB-INA is a universally applicable solution that identifies anomalies in processes in various production environments on the basis of PROFI-NET data. The solution requires no configuration and learns the process behavior.

With retrofitting solutions of the Fraunhofer Institute, companies can prepare machines and systems in their inventory for Industrie 4.0 applications without major investment expenditure. The spectrum ranges from mobile production data acquisition systems in suitcase format for studies of potential to permanently installable retrofit solutions. Intelligent sensor systems, cloud connections and machine learning methods build the basis for data analysis. This way, processes can be optimised and more transparency, control, planning, safety, and flexibility in production can be achieved.

Cognitive robotics and self-healing in autonomous systems

The Institute of Cognition and Robotics (CoR-Lab) presents a cognitive robotics system for highly flexible industrial production. The potential of model-driven software and system development for cognitive robotics is demonstrated by using the example of automated terminal assembly in switch cabinet construction. For this purpose, machine learning methods for environ- mental perception and object recognition, automated planning algorithms and model-based motion control are integrated into a robotic system. The cell operator is thereby enabled to perform different assembly tasks using reusable and combinable task blocks.

The research project “AI for Autonomous Systems” of the Software Innovation Campus Paderborn aims at achieving self-healing properties of autonomous technical systems based on the principles of natural immune systems. For this purpose, anomalies must be detected at runtime and the underlying causes must be independently diagnosed. Based on the localization it is necessary to plan and implement behavioral adjustments to restore the function. In addition, the security of the systems must be guaranteed at all times and system reliability must be increased. This requires a combination of methods of artificial intelligence, machine learning and biologically inspired algorithms.

Predictive maintenance and digital twin

Within the framework of the ‘BOOST 4.0’ project, the largest European initiative for Big Data in industry, it’s OWL is working with 50 partners from 16 countries on various application scenarios for Big Data in production. it’s OWL focuses on predictive maintenance: thanks to the systematic collection and evaluation of machine data from a hydraulic press and a material conveyor system, it is possible to identify patterns in the production process in a pilot company. The Fraunhofer IEM has provided the technological and methodological basis. And successfully so: over the past two years the prediction of machine failures has been significantly improved in this specific application by means of machine learning methods. The Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) has already been reduced by more than 30 percent. The Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) is now six times longer than before. A model of the predictive production line can be seen at the stand.

The digital twin is an important prerequisite for increasing the potential for efficiency and productivity in all phases of the machine life cycle. Companies and research institutes are working on the technical infrastructure for digital twins in an it’s OWL project. Digital descriptions and sub-models of machines, products and equipment as well as their interaction over the entire life cycle are now accessible thanks to interoperability. Requirements from the fields of energy and production technology as well as existing Industrie 4.0 standards and IT systems are taken into account. This is expected to result in potential savings of over 50 percent. At the joint stand, Lenze and Phoenix Contact will use typical machine modules to demonstrate how digital twins can be used to exchange information between components, machines, visualisations and digital services across manufacturers. Interoperability proves for the first time how the combination of data can be used to create useful information with added value for different user groups. For example, machine operators and maintenance staff can detect anomalies and receive instructions for troubleshooting.

Connect and get started – production optimization made easy

The cooperation in the Leading-Edge Cluster gives rise to new business ideas that are developed into successful start-ups. For example, Prodaso—a spin-off from Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences—has developed a simple and quickly implementable solution for the acquisition and visualization of machine and production data. The hardware can be connected to a machine in a few minutes via plug-and-play. The machine data is displayed directly in the cloud.

Prodaso has succeeded in solving a central challenge: Until now, networking machines from different manufacturers have been complex and costly. The Prodaso system can be retrofitted to all existing systems, independent of manufacturer and interface. In addition, the start- up also provides automated analysis and optimization tools. This enables companies to detect irregularities and deviations in the process flow at an early stage and to initiate appropriate measures. The company, founded in 2019, has already connected approximately 100 machines at companies in the manufacturing industry.

Software Partnerships Boosts Digital Engineering

Software Partnerships Boosts Digital Engineering

Next to acquisitions, partnerships are driving actions among major digital industrial supplier players. With today’s announcement, Aras, who labels itself “the only resilient platform provider for digital industrial applications,” announced a strategic partnership with ANSYS that includes the licensing of the Aras platform technology to enable the next generation of digital engineering practices.

When we last saw ANSYS on this blog, Rockwell Automation had announced a partnership to enhance its digital twin and simulation offering.

ANSYS will leverage the underlying Aras platform technologies such as configuration management, PDM/PLM interoperability, API integration, and add simulation specific capabilities to deliver highly scalable and configurable products that connect simulation and optimization to the business of engineering — creating new ways of exploring and improving product performance.

Organizations increasingly expect to leverage simulation throughout the product lifecycle to interoperate with their existing PLM, ALM, and ERP applications. Additionally, customers must address scale and complexity challenges with data and process management, traceability and availability of simulation results across the lifecycle.

ANSYS is leveraging Aras’ resilient platform services combined with its simulation domain expertise and technology for new product offerings to improve productivity and maximize business value from simulation investments. ANSYS will deliver commercial offerings for simulation process and data management, process integration, design optimization, and simulation-driven data science.

“With our open ecosystem approach, this unique collaboration combines the strengths of ANSYS’ industry-leading multiphysics portfolio and the resilient platform from Aras for digital connectivity to dramatically enhance customer value,” said Navin Budhiraja, vice president of cloud and platform business unit, ANSYS. “As simulation technologies impact every product decision, we see the ability of ANSYS solutions to interoperate and link with heterogeneous systems as an important step to accelerate the digital transformation for our customers.”

“We believe that simulation is essential to developing tomorrow’s next generation products, and that better data and process management of simulations is required to enable the digital processes of the future which will support these products,” said Peter Schroer, president and CEO, Aras. “We see the ANSYS and Aras partnership as a potential game changer in connecting simulation to engineering processes for traceability, access and reuse across the product lifecycle.”

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

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.
Software Partnerships Boosts Digital Engineering

Presentation Skills for Career Success–Emerson Exchange

Presentations abound at Emerson Global Users Exchange. Attendees can choose to take deep technical dives into Emerson products, get overviews and trends of technology and the industry, and even personal development. Yes, there was even a 6 am fitness time with either running or Yoga.

Where’s “The Edge”? Yes, you can use good presentation skills for career success. Building Your Personal Brand through Digital Transformation–or social media an networking. Here’s a recap of the 2019 Emerson Global Users Exchange based upon several sessions I attended led by people I’ve known for a long time–Dave Imming, Mike Boudreaux, and Jim Cahill.

Presentation Skills for Career Success

Dave Imming, VP for QC at Emerson presented (well) about making good presentations as essential for career success.

First off–It’s important. Even in your first years as an engineer, you may be presenting ideas to management or even presenting at conferences. These help you become recognized and show your knowledge and ambition.

There are three steps to developing and presenting.

First, you must create a story. I’d emphasize even in a technical presentation making it flow. As you create your story, first you must determine the objective of the presentation. What are you trying to convey? Note: do this with pen and paper. Don’t create slides, yet. Next determine your audience. You must have a clear idea of whom your are talking to. The presentation will be different for your engineering team and for management. Hint: don’t create slides, yet. Now, determine your Key Points. [When I prepare, I use PostIt Notes so I can arrange them easily. Hint: stay away from the computer and don’t create slides, yet. Now you can construct your Story Line. How are you going to develop your ideas. [This is where I arrange and rearrange the PostIt Notes.] Oh, yes, don’t create slides, yet. You can research the Rule of 3 or 7 basic plot lines to help. Now Outline  and still don’t create slides. FINALLY create your slides. Do not use text heavy or dense charts. Text should be 30 point. Find interesting and illustrative pictures with maybe a few words superimposed.

Refine and Rehearse—Do this verbally, aloud, several times. First with yourself several times, then to a friend

Stand and deliver—Most important is to have confidence, even while experiencing normal nervousness. Preparation breeds confidence. If you know the key points per slide-especially the first few to get into the groove-then your confidence will grow. Move with intention, do not pace like a caged animal. Make eye contact with one audience member at a time and hold for at least 5 seconds. That establishes connection with the audience.

Cloud-Based Enterprise Resource Management Optimized for EPC Market

Cloud-Based Enterprise Resource Management Optimized for EPC Market

I devoted a lot of time over several years working with an organization trying to construct a manufacturing IT platform that, using internationally adopted standards, would allow data to move seamlessly from engineering to construction to startup to operations and maintenance. Worley had key members on the team and provided time and effort to proof of concept work. The idea was to close the loop of as-designed to as-built to as-operated such that maintenance technicians could easily locate all necessary data about components and systems during startup and operations.

The project was under the umbrella of MIMOSA, of which I was chief marketing officer for a year. I still believe in the reason for the project, but for many reasons it just didn’t seem to take off. One reason was reluctance of major automation suppliers to sign on for a standards-based approach. With this announcement, it appears the work will be done through one supplier’s proprietary approach.

AVEVA announced that Worley has selected AVEVA’s Enterprise Resource Management solution as its preferred materials management platform. The partnership combines Worley’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) knowledge with AVEVA’s industrial software expertise “to deliver the first cloud-based Enterprise Resource Management solution optimized for the EPC market.”

Like many businesses, today’s EPCs are challenged with reducing project costs while keeping pace with changing IT environments. However, as EPC projects operate as mini-enterprises, on-premises configuration and hosting of enterprise projects within private networks is not only costly, but restrictive and unsustainable in an industry undergoing mass consolidation. For global EPCs to remain competitive, the move from an on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based enterprise resource management is necessary.

Worley sought to help its customers find a way to streamline their materials management to deliver on these challenges while also creating process improvements, increased efficiency, ease-of-use and the ability to deliver in-house training. After reviewing AVEVA’s Enterprise Resource Management solution, which had historically been used in marine settings, Worley and AVEVA committed to developing the AVEVA solution to become the industry’s first cloud-based enterprise resource management platform purpose-built for EPCs.

“The EPC market is undergoing a period of change and our customers are looking to us to help them find solutions in this new world.  The advances in technology and digital disruption have provided us with an opportunity to rethink our approach to materials management. We needed to deliver an efficient, cloud-based solution customized for the nuances of our market,” said Andrew Wood, CEO Worley. “With AVEVA, we saw a commitment to developing this solution together to create something best-in-class for engineering. We believe the AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management solution marks a step forward for productivity, efficiency and effectiveness that will drive the EPC industry forward.”

The cloud-enabled solution from AVEVA and Worley is the first of its kind and will be fully optimized for the EPC market. By embedding Worley’s subject matter expertise in EPC supply chain management, major updates to the AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management solution for EPCs includes:

  • Project-specific functionality: Enabling EPCs to view and work on projects in AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management as standalone entities
  • Updated catalogs and specifications module: Migration of Worley’s legacy corporate catalog and specifications to create a robust, easy-to-use model for EPCs
  • Training solution: Allowing EPCs to streamline internal training on the new solution

In April 2019, Worley and AVEVA kicked off the final stage of a four-phase program to develop the AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management solution for EPCs. Phase one included design, while phase two incorporated the solution build, moving onto phase three integrations and catalog readiness, and now into phase four—project go-live and decommissioning of Worley’s legacy solution.

As part of the program, AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management reduced training time across engineering, procurement and project controls by 23%. Participants noted the solution was easy to use, provided quality training materials and the right functionality for EPC projects.

“The construct of the co-managed project team exceeded all expectations. We set up stringent delivery benchmarks and executed the project in phases to ensure alignment between the teams remained in place. A transparent and open working relationship with a keen focus on the success of the initiative played a crucial role in adjusting to all project challenges, and this solution is something we are proud to have delivered together,” commented Craig Hayman, CEO AVEVA.

The first official project roll-out for Worley on the AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management solution for EPCs will begin this month. Worley will use AVEVA Enterprise Resource Management and AVEVA Everything3D innovative plant project execution software in tandem, and the two companies have agreed to work to continually mature enterprise resource management for the EPC market.