Automation, Innovation, Funding news from Rockwell Automation, IoT Partners Research, Dell EMC IoT, Schneider Electric Ventures
I started going to Automation Fair in 1997. This is the first year I have missed. I could be in any of four different venues this week. Used to be that Rockwell had the week to itself. No longer. I am not there because I don’t like Rockwell. Business considerations are taking me a different direction. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on IoT, data, solving business problems at the Industry of Things World-East forum in Orlando. I thought about a huge tour of three cities. Then I thought again.
I posted news from Rockwell Automation yesterday about its recent collaboration with PTC. I haven’t seen anything newer coming out yet from my sources.
In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programs and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.
In fact, 65% of listed organizations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organizations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analyzed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.
Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.
The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.
FogHorn Partners With Dell EMC OEM Solutions
Speaking of partnerships, this came in today. FogHorn, a developer of edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, announced a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions to deliver end-to-end Industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing solutions. This collaboration allows industrial and commercial customers to leverage the power of the edge quickly with an out-of-the-box solution for their Industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments – providing real-time insights to streamline operations and improve business outcomes.
By integrating FogHorn’s Lightning edge computing technology to solutions from Dell EMC, industrial and commercial customers now have access to preconfigured gateways and other devices that simplify IoT deployments. These “edgified” solutions allow clients to deploy edge computing at various end-point locations quickly, wherever the power of edge computing is needed.
Schneider Electric Ventures
Schneider Electric, who also has an event this week, has announced “Schneider Electric Ventures”, which identifies, nurtures and supports innovations that will make a major contribution to future sustainability and energy efficiency. Several major projects are underway and ready to be deployed.
‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ nurtures tomorrow’s transformational and disruptive technologies according to the press release.
The company spends €1 billion a year on R&D; and EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform is at the cutting edge of connected energy management and industrial automation.
A few months ago, the company created “Schneider Electric Ventures”. The mission of this initiative is to identify, support and nurture companies and entrepreneurs whose innovations will transform the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories.
Schneider Electric Ventures supports innovation through:
At its Innovation Summit North America, Schneider Electric announced some projects developed by “Schneider Electric Ventures”. These projects include:
- eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing “Electric Fleet as a Service ” to large commercial fleets.
- Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia, where 1.8 million homeowners have installed solar panels to help manage their energy bills. The market is forecasted to grow with additional 134,000 homes by 2021.
- Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.
Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:
- Sense, the leader in load disaggregation technology
- Element Analytics, a leader in industrial big data analytics
- Habiteo, a 3D specialist for new residential housing
- QMerit, the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend
- KGS, a predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance
- Claroty, the leading Cybersecurity company for industrial OT networks
Schneider Electric has committed to invest between 300 and 500 million euros in the coming years, in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.
Wondering what Rockwell Automation is going to net out of its $1B investment in PTC that also netted John Genovesi a major promotion within the company? I have been. And here is the first release.
The companies have launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, a software suite that enables companies to “optimize their industrial operations and enhance productivity by providing decision makers with improved data and insights.” The new suite delivers visibility of operations and systems status from one source of information inside the organization. The collaborative offering is the first to integrate technologies from both companies following the strategic partnership announcement in June.
FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, improves connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor, natively supporting the rapid, scalable, and secure connection of the most commonly used industrial equipment. Combined with data from information technology (IT) applications and systems, decision makers can now gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines, and facilities from anywhere in the enterprise.
“Our offering is unique in its ability to improve how companies capitalize on the IIoT by combining expertise from industry, technology, and plant-floor professionals,” said John Genovesi, incoming senior vice president, Enterprise Accounts & Software, Rockwell Automation. “Now we’re bringing innovative solutions from PTC together with leading analytics and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) from Rockwell Automation for a differentiated industry solution.”
“We’re moving the needle on how leading-edge technology is applied in industrial environments,” said Catherine Kniker, Head of Strategic Alliances, PTC. “Manufacturers have seen digital technology rapidly change, but their execution continues to follow practices established for the legacy business. This bundled offering will help organizations accelerate time to value and reinvent how they compete by breaking down barriers across their operations through a comprehensive approach to operational intelligence.”
Included in this collaborative offering are the FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms, as well as PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware, and the Vuforia augmented reality solution.
Key features of applications within the new collaborative offering include:
Intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that give users a view of the operations by combining data from multiple IT and OT sources and tailored to their role. An operations manager, for instance, can view overall performance of a facility, or multiple facilities, before researching the performance of specific equipment or factors impacting OEE.
Automated advanced analytics of IT and OT sources transform massive amounts of raw data into actionable or proactive information to improve performance and reduce the impact of downtime. Leveraging powerful artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simplify complex analytical processes, users can now proactively respond to issues ahead of any critical failures.
Augmented reality (AR) delivers more efficient and effective ways of looking at digital information within the physical world. AR enables more efficient training, wider knowledge sharing, and better first-time fix rates. Through the bundled offering, maintenance, for example, can receive digitized work instructions containing real-time performance and service history information so technicians can better diagnose and fix equipment correctly the first time.
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.
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.
The company that organizes the successful Industry of Things conferences in the late winter in San Diego has launched Industry of Things East to be held in Orlando November 14-16. I will be speaking at a break out session on Thursday afternoon that week. Come and heckle me.
The event will include more than 40 interactive sessions and case studies, as well an IIoT Bootcamp. Here are all the formats you will be able to take part to:
IIoT Bootcamp: our partner MESA will take you on the journey towards Smart Manufacturing on November 14
4 Icebreaker sessions round tables on the evening before the first conference day
A Panel session on Society 4.0 – Engaging industry, policy makers, educators and institutions for a harmonious technological future
Over 25 Case studies from MIT, Monsanto, Continental, Siemens, Praxair and many more
12 World Cafés moderated by experts from Covestro, Merck or The Internet Association
2 co-located events: Pharma MES USA and Pharma TRACKTS! USA will gather 300 Manufacturing experts from the Industrial IoT, Pharma MES and serialization communities in one place.
Make sure to have a look at the event program to tailor an agenda fitting to your needs.
I have attended all three of the events in San Diego including participating as a moderator and table leader. This is the premier Internet of Things conference in the country. They also organize events in Berlin, Germany and Singapore.
The company is offering a special rate: simply sign up online before October 24* to take advantage of the $995 special.