I was so busy during the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum last week, that I just couldn’t find time to write coherently. The keyword was digital supplemented by embedded, edge, IIoT, security, and transformation.
The Forum attracted perhaps not only its largest attendance but also its largest attendance of end users. The things that appeal to me are those that fit into the Industrial Internet of Things the most. Here are two related new product releases. The first one involves embedding HMI/SCADA software and the second involves using that embedded software in addition to many other technologies for an edge device.
First is the announcement from Inductive Automation concerning the creation of its Ignition Onboard program. The program involves device manufacturers embedding Ignition and Ignition Edge software in the devices they manufacture.
The program includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition Edge is a line of lightweight, limited, low-cost Ignition software products which empower solutions designed for edge-of-network use.
“Device manufacturers have joined Ignition Onboard in response to their customers’ demands for an all-in-one solution that contains hardware and software at a reasonable price,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “These are companies that understand the importance of building a strong IIoT, and we’re very happy to be collaborating with them.”
The other announcement came from Opto 22. This is a significant advance in edge devices for industrial and SCADA applications.
The new groov EPIC system from Opto 22 combines I/O, control, data processing, and visualization into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. groov EPIC lets engineers and developers focus on delivering value, not on triaging loosely connected components.
“We are a company of engineers inspired and driven to create products that unleash our customers’ imaginations,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22 CEO. “groov EPIC is a culmination of that mission, a response to industry requests to more wholly integrate IT and OT technologies, simplify development and deployment, and provide a platform for long-term growth now and well into the future.”
Combining reimagined intelligent I/O with an embedded Linux real-time controller, gateway functions, and an integrated display, groov EPIC offers field-proven industrial hardware design with a modern software ensemble, to produce the results that visionary engineers want today.
Connecting legacy systems, controlling processes and automating machines, subscribing to web services and creating mashups, acquiring and publishing data, visualizing that data wherever it is needed, and mobilizing operators—all of these are now within reach. In addition, groov EPIC simplifies commissioning and wiring and helps engineers develop rapidly and deploy quickly.
“The groov EPIC system incorporates in one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data, through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets and other software, to cloud storage and services—and back again,” says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of Marketing & Product Strategy. “This ability to easily exchange data and use it where needed opens opportunities automation engineers have not had until now. This is a truly new system that builds on the past but looks fundamentally to the future of our industry.”
The main point of discussion between Benson and me lately is whether Sparkplug (from the developer of MQTT) is adequate for IoT applications. He favors the lightweight (technical, not pejorative) protocol or I tend to favor OPC UA over MQTT as a better overall solution due to its interoperability. But that’s OK. He and I have had these technical discussions for almost 20 years now. I love pushback, and I think Benson does as well. It raises the energy level.
Human-Machine Partnership. I love that phrase. It is in the title of the recent research report from the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies. I wrote about the technology side of the report in my last post. This post will highlight the human and partnership sides of the report.
Takeaway: The way we work with technology in the near future will evolve into a partnership that can enhance human training and education building a workforce that is effective and focused on continual learning.
Challenge: The optimism in the report needs to be tempered by the question—will this only benefit the few self-motivated youth and those whose parents push them? How can we remake our institutional education (which is now global) such that we can provide mentors and a different way of motivating kids and young adults (as well as us old guys) into continual and self-paced learning?
From the report:
Recent conversations, reports, and articles about the intersection of emerging technologies and society have tended to promote one of two extreme perspectives about the future: the anxiety-driven issue of technological unemployment or the optimistic view of tech-enabled panaceas for all social and environmental ills. Perhaps a more useful conversation would focus on what the new relationship between technology and society could look like, and what needs to be considered to prepare accordingly. By framing the relationship between humans and machines as a partnership, we can begin to build capacity in machines to improve their understanding of humans, and in society and organizations, so that more of us are prepared to engage meaningfully with emerging technologies.
However, it would be a fallacy to assume that technology is making human effort redundant. It’s doubtful that computers will have fully mastered the fundamental, instinctive skills of intuition, judgment, and emotional intelligence that humans value by 2030. Over the next decade, partnering with machines will help humans transcend their limitations.
Human-machine partnerships will enable people to find and act on information without interference of emotions or external bias, while also exercising human judgment where appropriate. They’ll learn to team up with technologies integrated with machine learning tools to help activate and deactivate the resources they need to manage their daily lives. And they’ll partner with AR/VR technologies to develop necessary work skills, blending experiential media with human judgement to perform well at work.
Their ability to evaluate talent will also be bolstered by VR/AR technology, which will increase managers’ ability to evaluate a worker’s aptitude for gaining new knowledge or learning new skills and applying this knowledge to a new scenario.
By 2030, populations’ needs and resources will be orchestrated by self-learning, digital technologies, allowing humans to take the role of digital resource conductors. Technology will work as an extension of people, helping orchestrate, manage, and automate many day-to-day activities. And because the technology will be woven into everyone’s lives (some will even be implanted), and personalized to the individual, some needs will be met often before people even realize they have them. These digital technologies will be integrated with machine learning to create a population of digital orchestration systems, harnessing technology to arrange and direct resources to produce a desired result.
By 2030, many will be savvy digital orchestra conductors, relying on their suite of personal technologies, including voice-enabled connected devices, wearables, and implantables; to infer intent from their patterns and relationships, and activate and deactivate resources accordingly.
By 2030, expectations of work will reset and the landscape for organizations will be redrawn, as the process of finding work gets flipped on its head. As an extension of what is often referred to as the ‘gig economy’ today, organizations will begin to automate how they source work and teams, breaking up work into tasks, and seeking out the best talent for a task.
As the transfer of knowledge will be increasingly offloaded to emerging technologies, individuals will shoulder the burden of using these new technologies to acquire necessary skills to demonstrate proficiency. As a result, people will need to know how to access information and learn through immersive and experimental media such as AR and VR. (Big fear, can we restructure education so that we lessen the divide between digital haves and have nots? Or do we continue to stratify society?
INDIVIDUAL SKILLS & TRAITS
- Contextualized intelligence: nuanced understanding of culture, society, business, and people
- Entrepreneurial mindset: applying creativity, learning agility, and an enterprising attitude to find workarounds and circumvent constraints
- Personal brand cultivation: a searchable and favorable digital identity as basic work hygiene
- Automation literacy: the nimble ability to integrate lightweight automation tools into one’s own work and home life
- Computational sensemaking: ability to derive meaning from blended machine and human-based outputs
ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS & TRAITS
- Business-driven security: embed security as a business strategy
- Eliminate latencies: exceed consumer expectations for real-time delivery
- Algorithmic branding: ensure algorithms align with organizational values
- Diversifying value of work: reset assumptions behind the value of work
- Inspire innovation: incent workers to deviate from machine-learned systems
Are we too old to be creative? I don’t even know you, but I know the answer.
When I reached 30, I was really bummed. Over the hill. No great mathematician, so they said, ever had a significant discovery after age 30.
But then, I was no mathematician. But still, was life over?
Actually I have never been more creative and productive than over the past 20 years. And I’m way past 30, now. And The New York Times this month ran an article with some proof that creativity does not necessarily end at 30. It leads with a 94-year-old inventor.
It states, “There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. Similarly, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who studied data about patent holders, found that, in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.
Keep reading. Try new things. Learn a different language. Go for new experiences. Ask questions.
Speaking of geniuses. Did you hear about the TV advertisement that instructed your Google Home (OK Google) to search for ingredients of its sandwich? There is another reason not to have one of those devices that is always listening to you. The other being Amazon Echo (Alexa, buy a book…). I do not have one installed. There is one disconnected in my closet. Here’s a New York Times article on the ad and one from TechCrunch.
The question is how obnoxious do you need to be to be an effective marketer?
I hate, Hate, I say, those pop-ups on Websites. And all the other tricks I see to get you to click. Ever seen those things at the bottom of the WeatherBug app? Even the marketers know that most clicks are due to error. People are frantically trying to click the vanishing X that makes the ugly thing go away. Then they click the ad and get carried off to some place they don’t want to go.
But Website owners need money. Marketers will pay well even for obnoxious, accidental click ads. The poor users, well, we just get a degraded experience. No wonder we don’t go to the Web like we once did.
Can HMI/SCADA Software Be the On Ramp to the IIoT Digital Thread?
Craig Resnick, vp at ARC Advisory Group wrote a provocative article on the role of HMI/SCADA and the IioT.
These are interesting comments about the state of manufacturing software, “The Digital Thread often combines manufacturing software that provides real-time, role-based HMI dashboards with Ethernet networking technology, using Big Data, HMI/SCADA and analytics software, sensors, controllers, and robotics to help optimize industrial asset performance and availability in an edge to cloud world. This enables end users and OEMs to collect and analyze asset performance and operational data in the network, often from connecting disparate systems, from the factory floor to ERP, providing an ‘industrial-strength’ data analytics solution that combines role-based manufacturing HMI dashboards with real-time manufacturing KPIs for decision support.”
“The Digital Thread has, for example, driven the convergence of HMI/SCADA and MES platforms. Increasingly, these converged HMI/SCADA and MES platforms help users visualize both key automation and business metrics and KPIs, such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and energy savings, to help maximize the productivity and profitability of their businesses.”
This idea of things converging around MES is intriguing. There are so many applications gaining traction, along with interesting standards for data transfer, databases, analytics, visualization. All this, and I’m not sure where the money-making places are right now. Maybe writing smaller communication apps and mobile apps that can be sold to big companies?
One under-the-radar trend in industrial automation and software is the development of a marketplace. Several companies have one type of marketplace or another. I think it’s going to prove to be a powerful concept. Here is a take on it from Advantech.
Advantech, a leader of the global industrial computing market, launches the WISE-PaaS Marketplace, an online software shopping website that features exclusive software services provided by Advantech and its partners. The WISE-PaaS Marketplace provides diverse WISE-PaaS IoT application software, including WebAccess/SCADA, WebAccess/HMI, WebAccess/IVS, WebAccess/IMM, WebAccess/NMS, online IoT cloud services, and IoT security services. The WISE-PaaS Marketplace is a sharing platform to integrate with IoT solutions developed by solution partners to provide the building blocks for customers to upgrade existing business systems to Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 quickly and easily.
Share Success, Grow Business, and Innovate Services
The Wise-PaaS Marketplace is aimed at diverse solution offerings that provide cloud infrastructure services, security services, integrated WISE-PaaS IoT software services, and domain-focused applications for simple and rapid deployment. The WISE-PaaS Marketplace is a value-sharing platform/ecosystem that enables customers to market unique IoT applications and services, increase business opportunities and growth, and maximize returns under the profit-sharing system.
Ongoing Innovation for Future IoT Trends
Customers can subscribe software services via Wise-PaaS Marketplace with WISE-points included in the WISE-PaaS VIP membership packages to access numerous IoT solutions and create IoT innovations for future IoT trends.
HMI SCADA software builds the platform of the Industrial Internet of Things. Yet, many of the traditional companies apparently are not pursuing it as actively as in the past as they spend more time on somewhat “higher end” software—business intelligence and analytics.
So, is there money to be made in this business?
To that end, I have been watching the growth of Inductive Automation for more than ten years. It has introduced the Software as a Service, or cloud-based application, to the industrial space greatly lowering costs for customers. At the same time, everything it builds is IT-friendly. So the OT people can make friends with the IT people.
Well, business has been good enough that Inductive Automation has purchased a building for its corporate headquarters that’s 2½ times larger than its current space. The fast-growing company will remain in Folsom, and will move into its new location in July.
Inductive Automation makes industrial automation software that’s used in virtually every industry and in more than 100 countries. The company’s key product is Ignition by Inductive Automation. Ignition is an industrial application platform with fully integrated tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The company has grown rapidly since its inception in 2003. Since the launch of Ignition in 2010, Inductive Automation’s revenues have grown at an average annual rate of more than 60 percent. The company’s growth has been fueled by powerful software and an unlimited licensing model, which together remove economic and technological barriers for industrial organizations seeking more data from their operations and processes.
“We’re committed to Folsom,” said Steve Hechtman, president and CEO of Inductive Automation. “When we first moved here from Sacramento, we had 20 employees. Now we have more than 100, and we look forward to continuing our growth at our new site. The larger building will allow us to expand to about 300 team members, as we continue to serve the global marketplace in industrial automation.”
Folsom community leaders are very happy with the company’s decision to stay in Folsom. “We are pleased that Inductive Automation calls Folsom home,” said Evert W. Palmer, city manager for Folsom. “We celebrate their success, and we are thankful for their contributions to Folsom’s strong and growing ecosystem of industry-leading technology companies.”
“Inductive Automation is a shining example of strong leaders with a well-defined vision to grow their company strategically and profitably,” said Joe Gagliardi, CEO/president of the Greater Folsom Partnership. “Their commitment to stay in Folsom and build their business is adding energy to the already-strong job growth we are experiencing in 2017. All segments of the Folsom economy benefit from the success of Inductive Automation.”