Object Management Group Forms Digital Twin Consortium

Thanks to Terrence O’Hanlon of ReliabilityWeb for cluing me in to this latest open source project regarding Digital Twins on LinkedIn. Somehow the OMG and I missed connections on the press release. Yet another case of cooperation among suppliers and users to promote the common good. Digital Twins form the bedrock of Industry 4.0 and whatever other modern industrial advance.

News in brief: Users to create standard terminology and reference architectures and share use cases across industries

Non-profit trade association Object Management Group (OMG) with founders Ansys, Dell Technologies, Lendlease, and Microsoft, announced the formation of Digital Twin Consortium. Digital twin technology enables companies to head off problems before they occur, prevent downtime, improve the customer experience, develop new opportunities, drive innovation and performance and plan for the future using simulations. Members of Digital Twin Consortium will collaborate across multiple industries to learn from each other and develop and apply best practices. This new open membership organization will drive consistency in vocabulary, architecture, security and interoperability to help advance the use of digital twin technology in many industries from aerospace to natural resources.

Digital twins, virtual models of a process, product or service that allow for data analysis and system monitoring via simulations, can be challenging to implement due to a lack of open-source software, interoperability issues, market confusion and high costs. In order to ensure the success of Digital Twin Consortium, several leading companies involved in digital twin technology have joined the consortium prior to inception. This category of early innovators, called Groundbreakers, includes: Air Force Research Lab (US), Bentley Systems, Executive Development, Gafcon, Geminus.AI, Idun Real Estate Solutions AB, imec, IOTA Foundation, IoTIFY, Luno UAB, New South Wales Government, Ricardo, Willow Technology, and WSC Technology.

Membership is open to any business, organization or entity with an interest in digital twins.

“Most definitions of digital twin are complicated, but it’s not a complicated idea. Digital twins are used for jet engines, a Mars rover, a semiconductor chip, a building and more. What makes a digital twin difficult is a lack of understanding and standardization,” said Dr. Richard Soley, Digital Twin Consortium Executive Director. “Similar to what we’ve done for digital transformation with the Industrial Internet Consortium and for software quality with the Consortium for Information and Software Quality, we plan to build an ecosystem of users, drive best practices for digital twin usage and define requirements for new digital twin standards.”

Digital Twin Consortium will:

  • Accelerate the market for digital twin technology by setting roadmaps and industry guidelines through an ecosystem of digital twin experts.
  • Improve interoperability of digital twin technologies by developing best practices for security, privacy and trustworthiness and influencing the requirements for digital twin standards.
  • Reduce the risk of capital projects and demonstrate the value of digital twin technologies through peer use cases and the development of open source code.

An ecosystem of companies, including those from the property management, construction, aerospace and defense, manufacturing and natural resources sectors will share lessons learned from their various industries and will work together on solve the challenges inherent in deploying digital twins. As requirements for new standards are defined, Digital Twin Consortium will share those requirements with standards development organizations such as parent company OMG.

Founding members, Ansys, Dell Technologies, Lendlease and Microsoft will each hold permanent seats on an elected Steering Committee, providing the strategic roadmap and creating member working groups.

Sam George, Corporate Vice President, Azure IoT, Microsoft Corp. said, “Microsoft is joining forces with other industry leaders to accelerate the use of digital twins across vertical markets. We are committed to building an open community to promote best practices and interoperability, with a goal to help establish proven, ready-to-use design patterns and standard models for specific businesses and domain-spanning core concepts.”

“The application of the Digital Twin technology to Lendlease’s portfolio of work is well underway and we are already realising the benefits of this innovation to our overall business,” said Richard Ferris, CTO, Digital Twin R&D, Lendlease. “The time for disruption is now, and requires the entire ecosystem to collaborate together, move away from the legacy which has hindered innovation from this industry, and embrace Digital twin technology for the future economic and sustainable prosperity of the built world. Digital Twin Consortium is key to the global acceleration of this collaboration and the societal rewards we know to be possible with this technology and approach.”

“Dell Technologies is proud to be one of the founding members of Digital Twin Consortium. As the rate of digital transformation continues to accelerate, industry-standard methods for Digital Twins are enabling large scale, highly efficient product development and life cycle management while also unlocking opportunities for new value creation. We are delighted to be part of this initiative as we work together with our industry peers to optimize the technologies that will shape the coming data decade for our customers and the broader ecosystem,” said Vish Nandlall, Vice President, Technology Strategy and Ecosystems, Dell Technologies.

“The Consortium is cultivating a highly diverse partner ecosystem to speed implementation of digital twins, which will substantially empower companies to slash expenses, speed product development and generate dynamic new business models,” said Prith Banerjee, chief technology officer, Ansys. “Ansys is honored to join the Consortium’s esteemed steering committee and looks forward to collaborating closely with fellow members to further the Consortium’s success and help define the future of digital twins.”

Digital Twin Consortium members are committed to using digital twins throughout their operations and supply chains and capturing best practices and standards requirements for themselves and their clients. Membership fees are based on annual revenue.

Digital Twin Consortium is The Authority in Digital Twin. It coalesces industry, government and academia to drive consistency in vocabulary, architecture, security and interoperability of digital twin technology. It advances the use of digital twin technology from aerospace to natural resources. Digital Twin Consortium is a program of Object Management Group.

A Decade of Digitalization

A Decade of Digitalization

I give up. To me, the end of the decade is next year figuring there was not a year 0, then the beginning of the new calendar was year 1 and the end of the first decade was year 10. Oh, well, mainstream media just can’t wait to jump into wrap-up frenzy. So, me, too.

The last 10 years in industrial technology was busy with new buzz words—heavier on marketing than on substance in many ways. We breezed through Industrie 4.0 with its cyber-physical systems. Then we had Internet of Things borrowed from the consumer, largely iPhone, space. But borrowing from GE advertising of the “Industrial Internet”, the “Industrial Internet of Things” became originally the European counterpoint to Germany’s Industry 4.0 and then grew into general adoption.

Not finished with all this buzz, the industry discovered “digital”. We had digital twin (derived from cyber-physical systems). But these had to be connected with the digital thread. And all led into a digital transformation.

Let’s take a look at some specific topics.

Innovation

Much of the foundation was laid in the decade before. Maybe I should say decades. The industry started digitizing in the 1980s. It’s been building ever since. Through the first decade of this millennium great strides were made in control technology, usability, sensors (both sensitivity and communication), networks moving from analog to digital and through field buses to Ethernet.

In this decade, most companies grew by acquisition of smaller, innovative companies and start-ups. The remaining automation giants pieced together strategies based on visions of which companies to acquire and what customer solutions were required. Looking ahead, I’m considering what additional consolidation to anticipate. I think there will be more as the market does not seem to be growing dramatically.

Most innovation came in the realm of data. Decreasing costs of memory, networking stacks, and other silicon enabled leaps in ability to accumulate and communicate data. Borrowing software advances from IT, historians and relational databases grew more powerful along with new types of data handling and analysis coming from the “big data” and powerful analytics technologies.

Another IT innovation that finally hit industrial companies was adoption of “cloud” with the eventual development of edge. Instead of the Purdue Enterprise Reference Model of the control/automation equipment being the gateway of all data from the processes, companies began to go sensor to cloud, so to speak, breaking down the rigidity of PERA thinking.

Digital Everything

It is now old news that digital is everywhere. And, it is not a sudden development. It has been building for 30 years. Like all technology, it builds over time until it’s suddenly everywhere. The question is no longer what is becoming digital, nor is it speculating over marketing terms like digital transformation.

The question about digital everything is precisely how are we to use it to make things better for humans and society.

Sensors—At least by 2003, if not before, I was writing about the converging trends in silicon of smaller and less expensive networking, sensing, processing, and memory chips and stacks that would enable an explosion of ubiquitous sensing. It’s not only here; it is everywhere. Not only in manufacturing, but also in our homes and our palms.

Design—CAD, CAM, PLM have all progressed in power and usability. Most especially have been the development of data protocols that allow the digital data output of these applications to flow into operations and maintenance applications. Getting as-built and as-designed to align improves maintenance and reliability along with uptime and productivity. And not only in a single plant, but in an extended supply chain.

Networking—The emergence of fast, reliable, and standardized networking is the backbone of the new digital enterprise. It is here and proven.

Software—Emergence of more powerful databases, including even extension of historians, along with data conversion protocols and analysis tools provides information presented in an easily digestible form so that better decisions may be made throughout the extended enterprise.

IT/OT

Industry press have talked about IT/OT convergence until we are all sick of the phrase. Add to that stories of in-fighting between the organizations, and you have the making of good stories—but not of reality or providing a path to what works. As Operations Technology (OT) has become increasingly digital, it inevitably overlaps the Information Technology (IT) domain. Companies with good management have long since taken strides to foster better working relationships breaking the silos. Usually a simple step such as moving the respective manager’s offices close to each other to foster communication helps.

New Entrants

Speaking of IT and OT, the modification of the Purdue Enterprise Reference Modal to show data flowing from the plant/sensor level directly to the “cloud” for enterprise IT use has enticed new entrants into manufacturing technology.

If we are not forced to go through the control system to provide data for MES, MOM, ERP, CRS, and the like, then perhaps the IT companies such as Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Hitachi Vantara can develop their compute platforms, partnerships, and software to provide that gateway between plant floor and enterprise without disturbing the control platform.

Therefore we are witnessing proliferating partnerships among IT and OT automation suppliers in order to provide complete solutions to customers.

Strategy

Remember—it is all meaningless unless it gets translated into intelligent action to make the manufacturing supply chain more productive with better quality and more humane.

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.

Survey Sees 4th Industrial Revolution Moving From Buzz to Reality

Survey Sees 4th Industrial Revolution Moving From Buzz to Reality

The popular saying holds that the future is here just unevenly distributed. According to a survey released by PWC and The Manufacturing Institute, that thought is certainly true about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (which PwC labels 4IR but many others label Industry 4.0). This research confirms my observations that many manufacturers have projects at a variety of stages, while many others have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

The report notes that fourth industrial revolution has been met with both enthusiasm and fence-sitting. While sentiments and experiences have been mixed, most business leaders are now approaching 4IR with a sense of measured optimism. Indeed, larger systemic changes are underway, including building pervasive digital operations that connect assets, developing connected products and managing new, real-time digital ties to customers via those products.

While manufacturers recognize the potential value of advanced technologies and digital innovation—particularly robotics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, advanced analytics, 3D printing, and virtual and augmented reality—they are still deliberating how and where to invest and balancing the hype with their own level of preparedness. Meanwhile, they’re also well aware of the significant changes 4IR will bring to a new manufacturing workforce—that is, one that is increasingly symbiotic and increasingly beneficial for many workers and manufacturers alike.

This narrative is reflected in a new survey of US-based manufacturers carried out by PwC and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and thought leadership arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. We see a definitive—and, indeed, inevitable—shift to 4IR as companies seek to integrate new technologies into their operations, supply chain, and product portfolio. At the same time, they acknowledge that scaling, justifying 4IR investments, and dealing with uncertainty surrounding use cases and applications usher in a new set of challenges.

Some key survey findings include:
• While the sector as a whole is making assertive forays into 4IR, many manufacturers still inhabit the awareness and pilot phases. Nearly half of manufacturers surveyed reported that they are in the early stages of a smart factory transition (awareness, experimental, and early adoption phases).
• Manufacturers do expect the transition to accelerate in the coming years—73% are planning to increase their investment in smart factory technology over the next year.
• While we see a number of fence-sitters, the bulk of manufacturers are indeed prioritizing 4IR, the digital ecosystem, and emerging technologies. 31% report that adopting an IoT strategy in their operations is “extremely critical” while 40% report that it’s “moderately critical.”
• About 70% of manufacturers say the biggest impacts of robotics on the workforce in the next five years will be an increased need for talent to manage in a more automated, flexible production environment and the opening of new jobs to engineer robotics and their operating systems.

…While adopters have identified clear signs of success. Though most manufacturers are still climbing the 4IR adoption curve—albeit at different speeds—those that have made progress are reporting a modicum of performance boosts measured by productivity gains, reduced labor costs, new revenue streams from IoT-connected products and services, as well as improved workforce retention and worker safety. Those that have effectively defined their use cases with a focus on outcomes rather than technology are seeing early wins, and are looking for ways to generate even more value.

The Takeaway
Manufacturers are seeking to balance 4IR hype and reality. And most acknowledge that sitting back and waiting for the inevitable may not be an option.

The road may be longer than the hype would have companies believe, but preparing for and embracing change is a muscle many of today’s manufacturers are ready to flex. Those that can build on their ad hoc pilots and prioritize investments and strategies with their long-term desired business outcomes will be better positioned to create lasting value for their organization.

Survey Sees 4th Industrial Revolution Moving From Buzz to Reality

Survey Shows Humans Perform 72% of Manufacturing Tasks

My response to automation and robot dystopian writers is that for the most part these technologies have removed humans from dangerous and monotonous manufacturing work. Humans are freed to do things using their heads as well as their hands. This report from A.T. Kearney and Drishti further contradicts hype about accelerating factory automation; demonstrates the need for greater investment in the human workforce.

According to new data released today by A.T. Kearney and Drishti, humans still perform 72 percent of manufacturing tasks. This data, from a survey of more than 100 manufacturing leaders, suggests that despite headlines about robots and AI replacing humans in factories, people remain central to manufacturing, creating significantly more value on the factory floor than machines.

Respondents also noted that there’s an almost universal lack of data into the activities that people perform in the factory. This analytical gap severely limits manufacturers’ ability to make informed decisions on capacity planning, workforce management, process engineering and many other strategic domains. And it suggests that manufacturers may overprioritize automation due to an inability to quantify investments in the human workforce that would result in greater efficiencies.

“Despite the prominence of people on the factory floor, digital transformation strategies for even the most well-known, progressive manufacturers in the world remain largely focused on machines,” said Michael Hu, partner at A.T. Kearney. “This massive imbalance in the analytics footprint leaves manufacturers around the globe with a human-shaped blind spot, which prevents them from realizing the full potential of Industry 4.0.”

While manufacturing technology has seen increasing innovation for decades, the standard practices for gathering and analyzing tasks done by humans – and the foundation of holistic manufacturing practices like lean and Six Sigma – are time-and-motion study methodologies, which can be directly traced back to the time of Henry Ford and have not been updated for the digital age.

“The principles underlying these 100-year-old measurement techniques are still valid, but they are too manual to scale, return incomplete datasets and are subject to observation biases,” said Prasad Akella, founder and CEO of Drishti. “In the age of Industry 4.0, manufacturers need larger and more complete datasets from human activities to help empower operators to contribute value to their fullest potential. This data will benefit everyone in the assembly ecosystem: plant managers, supervisors, engineers and, most importantly, the operators themselves.”

Additionally, the survey respondents noted the significant overhead needed for traditional data gathering methodologies: on average, 37 percent of skilled engineers’ time is spent gathering analytics data manually.

“Humans are the most valuable asset in the factory, and manufacturers should leverage new technology to extend the capabilities of both direct and indirect labor,” said Akella. “If you could give your senior engineers more than a third of their time back, you’d see immediate gains. Instead of spending so many hours collecting data, their attention and capabilities would remain focused on the most critical decisions and tasks.”

The survey also revealed the flip side of human contributions to manufacturing systems: Survey respondents noted that 73 percent of variability on the factory floor stems from humans, and 68 percent of defects are caused by human activities. Perhaps as a result, 39 percent of engineering time is spent on root cause investigations to trace defects – another manual expenditure of time that could be greatly reduced with better data.

“The bottom line is that better data can help both manufacturers and human operators across the board,” said Hu. “Data illuminates opportunities for productivity and quality improvements; simplifies traceability; mitigates variability; and creates new opportunities for operators to add even greater value. Humans are going to be the backbone of manufacturing for the foreseeable future, and the companies that improve their human factory analytics are the ones that will be best positioned to compete in Industry 4.0.”

To view the full report, click.

A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries.