Acquisitions Bolster Incumbents Further Consolidate Industry

Acquisitions Bolster Incumbents Further Consolidate Industry

The IT architecture of industrial / manufacturing applications increasingly boosts the role of cloud and edge. These technologies have become core to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and improved Software as a Service (SaaS).

These recent acquisition news items reflect the acceleration of the trend. One is from Siemens and the other PTC.

Siemens plans acquisition of Edge technology

In brief:

  • Siemens further expands its digitalization portfolio for industry
  • Technology basis is the Docker IT standard
  • Siemens Industrial Edge ecosystem enables easy and flexible use of Edge apps

Siemens is planning the acquisition of Edge technology from the US company Pixeom. With this action, Siemens is strengthening its Industrial Edge portfolio by adding software components for Edge runtime and for device management. Siemens Industrial Edge provides an ecosystem, which enables the flexible provision and use of apps. This means for example that appropriate apps can analyze data locally at the machine and send relevant data to the higher-level Industrial Edge Management System for global analytics. With this acquisition, Siemens is driving forward the expansion of its Digital Enterprise portfolio and the integration of cutting-edge technologies for the digital transformation of industry.

With the resulting Industrial Edge ecosystem, industrial companies can use production data even more efficiently and react more flexibly to changes in conditions.

Ralf-Michael Franke, CEO of Siemens’ Factory Automation Business Unit, explains: “Cutting edge technologies such as Edge Computing open up new scope for automation. With Siemens Industrial Edge, we are creating an open edge ecosystem which offers benefits for companies of any size.”

Siemens is using Docker standard container technology: the provision of apps in the management system will therefore be just as simple as functional upgrades and updates of Edge devices in the factory from a central point.

Siemens intends to acquire this technology from Pixeom and use it in the Factory Automation Business Unit, which is part of Siemens Digital Industries. Pixeom has sites in San José, California and Udaipur, India and employs 81 people worldwide. Closing of the transaction is planned for the fourth quarter of 2019. Both companies have agreed not to comment on the financial details of the transaction.

PTC Makes SaaS Acquisition

I sat in on the analysts/press conference where PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann discussed the reason for this announced acquisition of Onshape, creators of the “first” Software as a Service product development platform. The company had also just released fourth quarter results. PTC has a little more than $1 billion in revenues, with about 45% CAD and 35% PLM. Interestingly, the IoT business contributes just over 10% of revenues.

Onshape’s product development platform unites computer aided design (CAD) with data management and collaboration tools, for approximately $470 million, net of cash acquired. The acquisition is expected to accelerate PTC’s ability to attract new customers with a SaaS-based product offering and position the company to capitalize on the inevitable industry transition to SaaS. Heppelmann believes that that cloud-based SaaS is the future of CAD. Pending regulatory approval and satisfaction of other closing conditions, the transaction is expected to be completed in November 2019.

Located in Cambridge, MA, Onshape was founded in 2012 by CAD pioneers and tech legends, including Jon Hirschtick, John McEleney, and Dave Corcoran, inventors and former executives of SolidWorks. Onshape has secured more than $150 million in funding from leading venture capital firms and has more than 5,000 subscribers around the world. The company’s software offering is delivered in a SaaS model, making it accessible from any connected location or device, eliminating the need for costly hardware and administrative staff to maintain. Distributed and mobile teams of designers, engineers, and others can benefit from the product’s cloud nature, enabling them to improve collaboration and to dramatically reduce the time needed to bring new products to market – while simultaneously staying current with the latest software.

“PTC has earned a reputation for successfully pursuing new innovations that drive corporate growth,” said Heppelmann. “Building on the strong momentum we have with our on-premises CAD and PLM businesses, we look to our future and see a new growth play with SaaS.”

This acquisition is the logical next step in PTC’s overall evolution to a recurring revenue business model, the first step of which was the company’s successful transition to subscription licensing, completed in January 2019. The SaaS model, while nascent in the CAD and PLM market, is rapidly becoming industry best practice across most other software domains.

“Today, we see small and medium-sized CAD customers in the high-growth part of the CAD market shifting their interest toward SaaS delivery models, and we expect interest from larger customers to grow over time,” continued Heppelmann. “The acquisition of Onshape complements our on-premises business with the industry’s only proven, scalable pure SaaS platform, which we expect will open new CAD and PLM growth opportunities while positioning PTC to be the leader as the market transitions toward the SaaS model.”

For customers, the SaaS model enables faster work, improved collaboration and innovation, with lower up-front costs and with no IT infrastructure to administer and maintain. For software providers, the SaaS model has been proven to generate a more stable and predictable revenue stream, increase customer loyalty as customers benefit from earlier adoption of technology innovations, and enable expansions into new segments and geographies.

“At Onshape, we share PTC’s vision for helping organizations transform the way they develop products,” said Jon Hirschtick, CEO and co-founder, Onshape. “We and PTC believe that the product development industry is nearing the ‘tipping point’ for SaaS adoption of CAD and data management tools. We look forward to empowering the customers we serve with the latest innovations to improve their competitive positions.”

Onshape will operate as a business unit within PTC, with current management reporting directly to Heppelmann.

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.
Acquisitions Bolster Incumbents Further Consolidate Industry

Where’s The Edge with IIoT–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.

The Secure First Mile–IIoT and the Edge

A panel discussion assembled and led by Emerson’s Director of Connected Plant Mike Boudreaux, discussed Industrial Internet of Things in relation to “Where is the Edge”. The blend of IT and OT on the panel was refreshing and informative. Most instructive was how far each has come toward understanding the entire picture broadening from each’s silos.

Attila Fazekas, ExxonMobil, stated that IoT connects to Level 4 of the Purdue model. He is part of the IT organization taking the view from that side of the divide. He noted that his company tries to have a hard line between the IoT (IT) and control systems, although he admitted that occasionally the line becomes blurred. He was a strong proponent of  IT governance, notes they have a hard line between IoT and control system (although in effect the line sometimes gets a bit smudged).

Peter Zornio, CTO Emerson Automation, relates IoT and Edge to “a giant SCADA system.” He reflects those who come from the plant where intelligent devices are connected to an automation system, which formerly was the single point where data was collected and then passed through. I have talked with Zornio for years. Few people in the industry are as knowledgeable about the plant. He is beginning to adjust to the IT world with which he’s going to have to work in the future. Especially given Emerson’s expanded strategy into digital transformation and “Top Quartile Performance.” He sees security helping drive Edge applications to divide systems providing a firm break between control systems and IT systems.

Jose Valle, CTO Energy/Manufacturing at MIcrosoft, brought another IT view to the panel. For him, The Edge becomes a place for security with a separation of functions. He  also brought an emphasis on provisioning devices through the cloud.

Rich Carpenter, Executive Product Manager, Emerson Automation / Machinery (former CTO of GE Fanuc/GE Intelligent Platforms), discussed a new Edge computer from Emerson (GE). It uses Hypervisor to run RTOS and PLC control on part of chip segmented by firewall from regular PC chip running Linux for IoT functions. Noted that for the latter, they’ve discovered it better to use Node-RED and Python for programming. Congratulations  to Rich for landing at Emerson—he’s another long-time contact. And thanks for mentioning Node-RED.

Overall, the panel expressed concerns about providing security with the IIoT and Edge devices. The best part was Boudreaux’s assembling a panel split evenly with IT and OT and there was no acrimony or “you think this, we think that” nonsense. They are all trying to solve bigger problems than just IT or OT only. Businesses are driving them together to solve “digital transformation” challenges. Good stuff.

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Manufacturing Simulation Software Competitive Assessment

Industrial Internet of Things plays the starring role in the new digital transformation theater, but digital twin is the supporting actress without whom there would be no drama. Simulation comprises an important element of this whole digital enterprise scene. ABI Research has been releasing some interesting research reports, and this one just hit my inbox that is quite interesting.

The Manufacturing Simulation Software Competitive Assessment analyzed and ranked seven major vendors in the industry – Siemens, Dassault Systèmes, Arena (Rockwell Automation), AnyLogic, FlexSim, Simio, and Simul8 – using ABI Research’s unbiased innovation/implementation criteria framework. For this competitive assessment, innovation scores examined the technical capabilities of the vendor’s software and implementation scores focused on the vendor’s commercial ability to deliver their solution around the world across a variety of manufacturing verticals.

Ranked as the top manufacturing simulation software vendor, Siemens scored highest in implementation and topped four of the ten scoring criteria. Dassault Systèmes came in a close second, having scored the highest in innovation and topped three of the ten criteria.

A key judgment criterion within the innovation category was digital twin capability, the software’s ability to align end-to-end physical processes with a dynamic digital representation that provides two-way feedback and ongoing optimization. Vendors were also judged according to data ingestion, the software’s ability to utilize high volumes of real-time data from a variety of sources, including industrial equipment and sensors on the factory floor. Further assessment included UX, data modeling and analytics, and virtual commissioning capabilities.

ABI Research chose these vendors for the assessment due to their simulation capabilities in discrete manufacturing specifically, where software is used to simulate physical processes digitally to optimize engineering, planning, and operations on the factory floor.

Siemens scored strongest overall due to its ability to integrate simulation with the widest range of adjacent industrial software and hardware. This integration provides the most robust end-to-end product offering to manufacturers. Another major strength of Siemens is virtual commissioning, delivered through its Simcenter and PLC Sim Advance tools. These tools allow simulation capabilities to extend to the machine control level, where individual machines can be virtualized and modeled to improve equipment efficiency and reduce failure rates. Dassault Systèmes very closely followed Siemens and topped the innovation category due to outstanding digital twin capabilities and analytics performance via the company’s impressive 3DExperience platform. These two companies stood out from the field and were therefore named Leaders in the report.

“It is no coincidence that the two companies with the strongest end-to-end software offerings across the smart manufacturing value chain have emerged as Leaders in this report,” said Ryan Martin, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Siemens and Dassault Systèmes can leverage their broad service offerings and industrial expertise to feed innovation and to implement complete solutions that equate to powerful and reliable simulations in discrete manufacturing.”

Three companies- Arena (Rockwell), AnyLogic and FlexSim- were named as Followers in the report. While these companies lack the full range of simulation capabilities of the Leaders, especially at the machine and equipment level, they have strong modeling and analytics capabilities. They, therefore, provide effective solutions for simulating factory floor layouts to optimize discrete manufacturing performance according to key metrics such as product throughput, machine downtime, capacity, and inventory levels. Arena, owned by Rockwell Automation, topped the Followers category due to strong performance in data modelling and analytics. Arena’s complex variability modeling capabilities and its strong installed base within the market contributed to a strong score in implementation.

“Ultimately the companies that scored best in the ranking can go beyond high-level factory layout simulation by also accurately modeling and commissioning industrial equipment on the factory floor and incorporating product design into the simulation environment. This means the way machines behave and how they are used to manufacture actual products is considered more comprehensively, a key factor in generating more reliable simulations. For this reason, Siemens and Dassault Systèmes stand out as market leaders in discrete manufacturing simulation software,” concludes Martin.

Improve IIoT Deployment

Improve IIoT Deployment

The Industrial Internet of Things by definition is all about connections. Connecting hundreds of devices which often have differing protocols is a huge challenge. In an attempt to facilitate IIoT deployments, ioTium has announced an alliance with Telit. The agreement allows Telit deviceWISE gateway technology on the ioTium Edge App Store for single-click deployment.

After wading through a couple of paragraphs of marketing generalities, I found the best explanation with this quote. “With the cooperation of Telit, customers can now rapidly connect different communications protocols like BACnet, OPC, Modbus or even proprietary protocols to various IoT cloud offerings such as Azure IoT, Siemens MindSphere or private cloud end points,” said Sri Rajagopal, CTO, ioTium. “All commissioning, data mapping, and contextualization can now be done remotely, dramatically reducing the time and cost of flying technicians and data scientists to the site to remediate in person.”

Then the obligatory quote from the partner. I’ve talked with Fred Yentz for many years about connecting data. Here’s his thought on this announcement. “Our alliance with ioTium establishes a best-in-class approach for digital connectivity in the industrial world,” said Fred Yentz, president Strategic Partnerships, Telit. “Together, we are providing industrial enterprise customers a secure, plug-and-play way to connect any machine to cloud-based applications to capitalize on the benefits of Industry 4.0.”

Solving this problem is mainly what the various platforms are attempting. I would be interested in hearing what is actually working out in the field. Comment or send me an email. Something is working, because engineers are doing this.