Internet of Things Edge Products Unveiled at ARC Forum

Internet of Things Edge Products Unveiled at ARC Forum

I’m tackling Internet of Things Edge computing in the first of many posts as I finally have some time to gather my notes and thoughts after an intense four days in Orlando at the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum.

Announced during the Monday press conferences and later at a special breakfast presentation, Inductive Automation announced a series of products designed to take more power to the edge of the network. Certainly much work has been done regarding computing at the edge for the past couple of years.

So, Inductive Automation announced a March release for a line of products built on an embedded version of Ignition—Ignition Edge. Inductive Automation was recently in the news with an announcement that growth has been so good that it bought a building to house its growing workforce.

Ignition Edge by Inductive Automation is a line of lightweight, low-cost Ignition products to be embedded into field and OEM devices at the edge of the network. Ignition is designed to work on central servers and deploy to multiple clients, while Ignition Edge products can be installed on devices at the edge. With Ignition and Ignition Edge together, organizations can build scalable and affordable enterprise-wide systems.

Don Pearson, Inductive Automation, discusses Ignition Edge“To truly have IIoT, industrial organizations need a new architecture,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “A big part of that involves collecting data near the source, at the edge of the network. It means polling as close to the devices as possible, rather than from the SCADA system. Ignition Edge is a very affordable way to get data from the edge and into a database so it can be leveraged for analysis and better decision-making.”

One of the products features embedded MQTT protocol. Cirrus Link Solutions is based in Kansas City, Kan. Arlen Nipper, president of Cirrus Link, is a co-inventor of Message Queueing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). MQTT is a lightweight pub/sub messaging transport that’s perfectly suited to the IIoT. MQTT provides fast, bi-directional communication in a very simple manner, so it requires minimal network bandwidth.

Nipper co-invented MQTT with Andy Stanford Clark of IBM specifically for real-time, mission-critical SCADA systems. Ignition Edge capitalizes on MQTT for more efficient, easier access to data. “Having the power of Ignition extend down to edge devices in the field offers a disruptive approach to how industrial network infrastructures are designed, deployed, and managed,” said Nipper.

Ignition Edge Panel enables creation of local HMIs for field devices. It enables edge-of-network HMI functionality with robust Ignition features, including one local client, one remote web client for mobile access, and alarming features including email notification. It includes one week of data buffering for trending and local client fallback for mission-critical applications.

Ignition Edge Enterprise acts as an Agent Gateway in a multi-Gateway Ignition system by leveraging the Ignition Enterprise Administration Module (EAM). So it requires that the EAM be installed on the central Ignition Gateway. It’s got powerful features such as remote backup, restoration management, centralized monitoring of performance and health metrics, and remote alarm notification. Edge Enterprise comes with up to a week of data buffering, and it can synchronize local tag history to a central Ignition historian for store-and-forward.

Ignition Edge MQTT by Cirrus Link was developed by Cirrus Link Solutions, a strategic partner of Inductive Automation. Ignition Edge MQTT enables publication of field device data through MQTT. It turns virtually any field device, such as a touch panel or a client terminal, into a lightweight, MQTT-enabled edge gateway. Ignition Edge MQTT uses MQTT to transmit data to any MQTT broker and supports the Sparkplug data-encoding specification.

ARC 21st Industry Forum Returning to Orlando in February–Industry in Transition

ARC 21st Industry Forum Returning to Orlando in February–Industry in Transition

It is time to begin planning your trip to perhaps the only automation industry general gathering. Here is a teaser from ARC about its upcoming event.

arcbanner-300x250Presenting the 21st Annual ARC Industry Forum Industry in Transition: Realizing the Digital Enterprise February 6-9, 2017 – Orlando, Florida. How will disruptive technologies change existing products and plants? How will open source solutions impact traditional software and automation domains? Is cybersecurity a threat to digitalization and, if so, how can the risk be mitigated? How ‘smart’ are smart machines, and what benefit will these bring? How do Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics enable operational change? How do connected products create opportunities in aftermarket services? What software capabilities are needed to achieve transformational change? Which industries are already changing? What steps can organizations take to foster innovative thinking? Join us at the 21st annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida to learn more about how the digital enterprise will be realized and the benefits that this can bring. Discover what your peers are doing today and what steps they are taking in their respective journeys.

I plan to attend for the 20th time. The only industry people not there are competitive analysts. There are representatives from most suppliers, foundations and associations, as well as from forward thinking end users. Most of the industry trade media will also be present. Suppliers began setting up press conferences several years ago. For a while it was quite a marathon where we would see a new presentation every half-hour for more than five hours! Then it was time for snacks and wine.

The sessions are usually interesting. ARC strives to have mostly users talking to users discouraging vendor sales pitches. One problem with that is that the vendors are the technology developers. If they would let their technology people speak, then that would really round things off. But marketing people being marketing people, they just can’t let an opportunity to be in front of prospects and customers go by without a pretty blatant sales pitch. So, ARC cuts that off in order to attract good discussions and quality attendees.

Start setting up appointments soon! Hope to see you there. Maybe we could organize a meet up.

Manufacturing and Industrial Videos and Podcast

Manufacturing and Industrial Videos and Podcast

While I was at Dell World last fall, Dell Chief Research Officer Shawn Rogers interviewed me on Internet of Things. The video has been posted.

Meanwhile I have recorded a YouTube video report from the recent ARC Forum. I made a podcast of the recording for those who download from iTunes and listen while driving or exercising.

As I stated in the video and podcast information, “Gary reports from Orlando at the ARC Advisory Group 20th Annual Industry Forum. No surprises that Internet of Things and cyber security were headliners. The real surprise was the amount of Keynote space president Andy Chatha gave to an ExxonMobil initiative of engaging Lockheed Martin to essentially drive an open-specification DCS. Reception by technology suppliers was lukewarm at best. Reception by peers was difficult to gauge because so few were in attendance. But the conversations were intense.

Enjoy.

A New Distributed Control System?

A New Distributed Control System?

The undercurrent talk of the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum this week in Orlando was how ARC’s Andy Chatha promoted the ExxonMobil/Lockheed Martin initiative to develop a new type of distributed control system.

I have to dash this initial thought off since I have about 20 minutes to get to my plane home. My week has been non-stop meetings from 7 am until at least 11 pm all week. This morning was a bit of a breather. Lots of stuff going on.

However, the ExxonMobil initiative provoked much discussion, rumors, speculation, whatever.

Part of the problem is that the program has just been announced and therefore is not defined.

The basic problem seems to be that Exxon is operating with very old DCS technology and has a great need to upgrade. But “ripping and replacing” would be very expensive. From conversations that I can report without naming names, I gather that they are looking for a software-defined distributed control residing above the current hardware control layer. The further wish is that the hardware layer would include parts interchangeable from supplier to supplier.

It hopes that this would be an industry-wide consortium that would drive standards for the software and the hardware. It has requested cooperation from technology suppliers as well as its peers in the oil & gas industry.

There are pieces of this that look very interesting. And, of course pieces that stand probably the proverbial snowball’s chance.

“Software defined” is of course developing in several industries (think Ethernet switches?).

My experience is that this sort of industry-wide standards development takes so much time that the technology it envisions is obsolete.

I’ll have more later after giving the idea more thought.

Meanwhile, I have announcements from Inductive Automation, Honeywell, Bentley Systems, Yokogawa, ABB, Bedrock Automation, and more coming tomorrow when I get a chance to think and write.

ARC Industry Forum – Digital Tech in Manufacturing and Production

ARC Industry Forum – Digital Tech in Manufacturing and Production

ARCbanner-300x250We are closing in on February and time to start thinking about the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando. I went to my first one in 1998 and have my airline and hotel reservations for this edition.

Given the demise of general industry trade shows, there are precious few opportunities to see a large cross section of the automation and control industry. This is one.

I have 2 or 3 appointments set. If you are there, ping me. Maybe we can do a “meet up” in the lounge before everyone splits for dinner or something.  Or stop me to chat during the week. ARC has once again planned an afternoon of press conferences for its sponsors. I’ll arrive in time to listen if you are presenting.

The 20th Annual ARC Industry Forum has the theme, “Industry in Transition: Navigating the New Age of Innovation”.

The conference is February 8-11, 2016 at the Renaissance Sea World in Orlando, Florida.

ARC says, “New information technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Smart Manufacturing, Industrie 4.0, Digitization, and Connected Enterprise are ushering in a new age of innovation. These concepts are clearly moving past the hype, where real solutions are emerging backed by strong business cases. Expect to see innovations in smarter products, new service and operating models, new production techniques, and new approaches to design and sourcing. Join us to learn how this industrial transformation will unfold and what other companies are doing today to embrace innovation and improve their business performance.”

Questions they expect to address:

  • How will inexpensive, easy-to-install sensors change existing products and plants?
  • Will cyber security concerns impede disruptive innovation?
  • What kind of intelligence will machines have and what value will this bring?
  • What role will Wi-Fi and LTE play?
  • How do Big Data and predictive and prescriptive analytics enable operational change?
  • What is the opportunity in aftermarket services?
  • What software capabilities are needed to achieve transformational change?
  • Which industries are already changing?
  • What steps can organizations take to foster innovative thinking?

Forum’s Keynote Presentations

Michael Carroll, Vice President, Innovation & Operations Excellence, Georgia-Pacific

Michael joined Georgia-Pacific in 2010 to focus his technological and entrepreneurial talents on innovation and leadership. Prior to that he and a partner formed McTech Group, a company focused on innovative products for the building products and construction industry. In addition to his Executive Vice President responsibilities, Michael formed a Joint Venture designed to sell consumer “DIY” products to big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Previous positions include Director of Operations at Riverwood International, CEO of North and South American Operations at Shepherd, and Principal Change Agent at Mead Paper.

Sandy Vasser, Facilities I&E Manager, ExxonMobil Development

Sandy has been with Exxon or ExxonMobil for over 35 years and has been involved in a number of Upstream projects covering offshore facilities, onshore facilities, and cogeneration facilities. He currently manages a team of about 120 electrical and I&C professionals responsible for the design, installation, and commissioning of electrical generation and distribution systems, process control systems, and safety instrumented systems for all major ExxonMobil Upstream capital projects. This team is also responsible for developing, promoting and implementing strategies, practices, processes, and tools for successfully executing project automation and electrical activities.

Rob High, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Watson Solutions, IBM Software Group

Rob has overall responsibility to drive Watson Solutions technical strategy and thought leadership. He works collaboratively with the Watson engineering, research, and development teams across IBM. Prior to joining Watson Solutions, Rob was Chief Architect for the SOA Foundation and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. He championed an open industry architectural definition of the principles of business and IT alignment enabled by SOA and business process optimization, as well as ensuring IBM’s software and services portfolio is architecturally grounded to enable for efficient SOA-based solutions. Rob has 37 years of programming experience and has worked with distributed, object-oriented, component-based transaction monitors for the last 26 years.