Suppliers of manufacturing software, some from surprising places, are putting sizable investments into products that will help customers reap the rewards of digitalization. Today, I’m looking at both ABB and Emerson Automation Solutions. Previously I checked out GE Digital and Rockwell Automation. Each has taken a slightly different course toward the goal, but notice the common thread of enhancing software products to help customers prosper.
ABB enhances manufacturing management technology
The new version of ABB Ability Manufacturing Operations Management will offer new features including:
- Enhanced user experience based on new HTML 5 web client;
- A new smart interactive dashboard application that provides greater visibility and collaboration;
- A new statistical process control (SPC) application, to determine if each process is in a state of control;
- A new Batch Compare application – for advanced batch analysis.
“ABB Ability Manufacturing Operations Management is a comprehensive, scalable and modular software suite that optimizes visibility, knowledge and control throughout the operations domain,” said Narasimham Parimi, Head of Digital Products – Product Management, Process Control Platform. “This release provides a range of rich new functionality and a new enhanced user experience that enables operations to become more productive and responsive.”
ABB Ability Manufacturing Operations Management is designed to simplify production management by enabling performance monitoring, downtime management, and maintenance support, as well as providing statistical production analysis tools. It provides solutions and tools to facilitate the collection, consolidation and distribution of production, quality and energy information via the plant’s web-based reports, trends, and graphs.
A new, self-service dashboard application promotes increased collaboration, providing visibility from shop floor to top floor and spanning IT and OT environments. It increases data connectivity to all apps and modules within the MOM suite, combining historic and manufacturing data and providing the user with improved customization capabilities. Dashboards can be shared amongst users, further promoting collaboration between teams. Trends and events are displayed together, which enables customers to identify issues and opportunities enabling informed and timely decisions.
The new common services platform features an HTML 5 web platform that runs across all suites ensuring customers have a seamless user experience, so that applications can be viewed on different devices right down to a 10-inch tablet.
Statistical data process control (SPC) is used in manufacturing to determine if each process is in a state of control. The new SPC application works across all the different apps and modules and helps the user to improve quality and production related performance.
In addition to the existing Batch View and Batch Investigate features, a comparison option has been added to the platform’s batch analysis applications, allowing different types of comparison.
Cyber security remains one of the key issues in the advancement of Industry 4.0, and the new features in MOM include enhanced security.
Emerson Expands Analytics Platform
Plantweb Insight platform adds two new Pervasive Sensing applications that manage wireless networks more efficiently with a singular interface to the enterprise.
Emerson has added two new IIoT solutions to its Plantweb Insight data analytics platform that will enable industrial facilities to transform the way they manage their enterprise-level wireless network infrastructure.
As digitalization and wireless technology adoption continue to rapidly expand in industrial facilities throughout the world, the need for greater visibility of network infrastructure performance is key. These new Plantweb Insight applications provide a quick-to-implement, scalable IIoT solution that helps customers advance their digital transformation strategies and achieve greater operational efficiencies.
The new Plantweb Insight Network Management application provides continuous, centralized monitoring of WirelessHART networks. This first-of-its-kind application provides a singular, consolidated view of the status of all wireless networks in a facility, with embedded expertise and guidance for advanced network management.
A key feature of the Plantweb Insight Network Management application is a configurable mesh network diagram, providing visualization of network design and connections along with device-specific information. It also provides an exportable record of syslog alerts, network details outlining conformance to network best practices and more.
While the new network management application provides a holistic look at wireless networks, the Plantweb Insight Power Module Management application drills down to the device level, allowing facilities to keep their wireless devices appropriately powered so they can continuously transmit key monitoring data. By aggregating power module statuses, users can evolve traditional maintenance planning and implement more efficient and cost-effective practices.
“We were able to infuse a decade of experience with wireless technology into these new offerings,” said Brian Joe, wireless product manager with Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “Our customers will now be able to manage and improve hundreds of networks through a singular interface, realizing significant efficiencies in individual network and wireless device management and maintenance.”
These new applications further enhance the Plantweb Insight platform, a set of pre-built analytics primarily focusing on monitoring key asset health. Other applications in the platform include pressure relief valve monitoring, heat exchanger monitoring and steam trap monitoring.
Digitally integrating and aligning manufacturing operations with the rest of the enterprise has been an elusive goal for perhaps 20 years. It was a promise of ERP. Easy to say; hard to accomplish. Then we went through all the IT/OT stuff. Here’s another take–aligning sales and operations. Speaking from bitter experience, have faster and more accurate feedback from sales would have made our lives better in operations.
Salesforce just announced Manufacturing Cloud, a new industry-specific product for manufacturers. Manufacturing Cloud brings sales and operations teams together around a unified view of market and customer demands to more accurately forecast, plan, and drive predictable business performance. With Manufacturing Cloud, companies can now better meet commitments and run a more streamlined business while improving customer satisfaction.
Here is the rationale from Salesforce: The manufacturing industry depends on predictability, as its capital-intensive businesses often have complex physical operations that cannot be quickly or inexpensively modified to meet changing customer demands. Unfortunately, operations teams aren’t always aligned with sales reps to ensure they have a single, real-time view of all aspects of their customer relationships.
Critical customer insights are siloed across spreadsheets and multiple ERP systems, which can negatively affect account performance and ultimately the ability to accurately predict demand. The resulting inventory stockouts, buildups and warehousing costs reduce operating margins and negatively impact revenue. In order for manufacturers to provide a seamless customer experience, they need a solution that helps them better understand customer needs while improving visibility across the entire value chain.
“In the manufacturing industry, changing customer and market demands can have a devastating effect on the bottom line, so being able to understand what is happening on the ground is imperative for success,” said Cindy Bolt, SVP and GM, Salesforce Manufacturing. “Manufacturing Cloud bridges the gap between sales and operations teams while ensuring more predictive and transparent business, so they can build deeper and more trusted relationships with their customers.”
Introducing Manufacturing Cloud
Manufacturing Cloud, the newest industry-specific product from Salesforce, delivers a new level of business visibility and collaboration between the sales and operations organizations of a manufacturing company. This allows them to have a better view of their customers through powerful new sales agreements and account-based forecasting solutions, providing visibility into their customer interactions while enabling them to generate more robust sales forecasts.
Salesforce has collaborated with major manufacturing and sales companies through the product pilot program, including Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. – Engines Division, Hitachi Chemical, CF Industries, Mipox, GELITA and more.
Manufacturing Cloud features include:
- Sales Agreements allow manufacturers to unify their run-rate business with data housed in ERP and order management systems with the contract terms negotiated—including planned volumes and revenues—so both operations and account teams can have a 360-degree view of the customer. If any changes to the agreement are needed, they are immediately incorporated into the existing sales agreement, ensuring there is always a single source of truth. This allows account teams to manage the full sales agreement lifecycle and have visibility into committed and actual order volumes, the performance of the agreement against the forecast and other time-phased custom metrics. This also simplifies the renewal process, ensuring account teams continue to bring in revenue while increasing margins.
- Account-Based Forecasting provides manufacturers with a complete view of their current business alongside future opportunities. This allows sales, finance and operations teams to develop more accurate forecasts while breaking down internal silos. Account teams can also add updates on changing customer needs or market demands, allowing the team to collaborate and adjust forecasts in real-time, helping to make business transactions, profits and revenue margins more predictable.
In addition to Manufacturing Cloud, Salesforce is also releasing new manufacturing-specific innovation across the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform to help manufacturers deliver greater transparency, streamline collaboration and grow their businesses.
- Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing provides account managers with access to an intelligent experience with out-of-the-box KPIs into account health, demand insights, product penetration and sales agreement progress. By centralizing and analyzing key data sources, account managers can proactively engage clients that are at highest risk for churn. In addition, by identifying key trends within an account, account managers can proactively grow their relationship by recommending relevant upsell and cross sell opportunities.
- Community Cloud for Manufacturing will deliver a new pre-built template specific for manufacturers that extends sales agreements to channel partners, allowing them to easily collaborate together on leads and opportunities.
- MuleSoft Anypoint Platform unlocks data from any application, data source or device—whether that data is on-premise or in the cloud. By enabling organizations to connect Manufacturing Cloud with other systems, sales and operations leaders can automate the complete order-to-cash process, create a comprehensive forecast view and drive business process automation across all sales channels.
Partners Accelerate Expansion
Salesforce has a comprehensive ecosystem of partners that will extend the power of Manufacturing Cloud. Key partners were instrumental in the development of Manufacturing Cloud, and will power digital transformation for customers in the manufacturing industry.
- Accenture: As a pilot partner, Accenture’s global experience with industrials is providing new ways to apply Manufacturing Cloud to deliver transformational value through practical, connected, cloud-enabled solutions.
- Acumen Solutions: As a design and pilot partner for Manufacturing Cloud, Acumen Solutions collaborated with Salesforce to identify personas, use cases and requirements of customers in the manufacturing space to inform product development.
- Deloitte: Cloud4M, an ISV Managed Package, was built on Manufacturing Cloud by Deloitte Digital, Deloitte’s creative digital consultancy and a Manufacturing Cloud pilot partner. Cloud4M is a pre-configured, multi-cloud software solution designed to simplify decision making in B2B sales agreements and throughout the end-to-end customer engagement process, tailored for manufacturers and industrial product companies.
- Rootstock: Rootstock’s ERP system, built on the Salesforce Platform, feeds actuals from its ERP to Manufacturing Cloud to track compliance against sales agreements. Additionally, Rootstock’s planning engine consumes sales forecasts from Manufacturing Cloud to improve the quality of production, procurement and distribution plans.
Manufacturing Cloud, Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing and Community Cloud for Manufacturing will be generally available in October, 2019.
This week saw the annual incarnation of the Ignition Community Conference from Inductive Automation in Folsom, CA focused on application of manufacturing software. The level of user conversations and idea exchanges is higher than anywhere else I attend.
I entered the building walking down the hallway amongst the exhibits of partner companies. Immediately the strength of MQTT, Sparkplug, and embedded Ignition stood out. The stands of OEMs Opto 22, Wago, EZAutomation, Moxa, Bedrock Automation, and Stratus Technologies swarmed with curious engineers.
MQTT is a light-weight messaging protocol that is now an open standard. Originally developed jointly by IBM and Arlen Nipper, now CTO of Inductive Automation partner Cirrus Link, MQTT is also widely deployed in IT applications.
Family obligations cut my stay, but I got a sense of what is important. Last year’s focus was Ignition 8, a major update to the core product. This year’s focus included the various aspects of the ecosystem that has sprung up through some patient nurturing by Inductive Automation executives.
Free training has been a hallmark. Examples cited included college student interns at customer sites taking the online class and then developing a significant application–all during their summer internship. It’s that easy to learn and develop.
Inductive has expanded its university partnerships for additional training and has also greatly expanded its international presence. Partnerships include a growing number of OEMs who package Ignition within products and systems integrators out solving interesting problems for their customers.
This is called the “Community Conference” because of the intense community of users.
By the way, customers often tell me that the product is rock solid, but what convinced them to change software suppliers–not an easy undertaking–is the innovative pricing model originally developed by founder (and president/CEO) Steve Hechtman. The model drives cost of ownership down for customers, and, while Inductive Automation is a private company and does not release financials, when I pump Steve for information, he smiles broadly.
Oh, and competitors are trying to find a way to compete with their pricing. That should be interesting.
Many, if not most, companies I cover are earnestly trying to build an ecosystem of partners. Inductive Automation patiently assembled an impressive one.
[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is my major sponsor, but I’m not paid to be anything but my usual objective, analytical self observing the industry.]
Manufacturing is tough, says FactoryFour, a startup in the MES space. Managing it shouldn’t be, it follows up.
Param Shah, co-founder and CEO of FactoryFour, told me that he and his partner researched build-to-order and configure-to-order manufacturing in the orthopedic device market they discovered that manufacturing planning was done by a combination of paper and spreadsheets.
Further research showed that typical MES platforms required the manufacturer to configure its processes to conform to the workflows and parameters of the software. People really didn’t want to do that. They would simply ignore the cumbersome software and opt for something familiar and flexible.
FactoryFour’s simple value statement goes like this:
Today’s manufacturing software is manual and complicated. Manually managing the 100 little tasks that go into pushing products out the door causes unnecessary production errors and delays.
Managing it shouldn’t be complicated. Simple and automated. The freedom to focus on improving processes, eliminating bottlenecks, and growing revenue. Everything else is automated.
The manufacturing Shah studied was highly manual. In the orthopedic space where custom pieces are manufactured, order process errors are common. Employees find it hard to keep track of where products are in the manufacturing system.
FactoryFour uses native cloud technology. It customizes order intake, using it to inform the manufacturing system. In that system, engineers configure workflows, draw it up then put in software. Therefore the software conforms to the manufacturer’s workflow. The use barcode, RFID, etc., to track the process. FactoryFour connects to other software systems as required.
The Workflows allow rules and an “if this then that” process. It can, for example, integrate with shipping apps and APIs. If shipping stage goes active, it will call up software and generate shipping documents, find UPS tracking number, send to customer automatically. If error is called, it will notify and assign tasks.
Its API connects data to SAP, Epicor, Oracle, and the like. It tracks human labor through scans.
The company’s focus is on custom manufacturing and configure to order with high traceability needs. Channel includes consultants, SIs, and hardware companies.
I asked about usability. “Our first hire was UI UX person,” Shah told me. “We are extremely visual, using colors and designs effectively. Screens are intuitive, geared to technicians with only one or two buttons on a screen not 60.“
This is a young company that just completed its A round of financing looking to shake up the MES market.
Data is the new currency.
I heard that somewhere. There is much truth buried in the thought. That makes software and connectivity key technologies. I hear this everywhere. I am thinking through what I learned at the Rockwell Automation event while at an enterprise computing event in Spain. Enterprise IT has discovered Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Silos are collapsing everywhere.
Still, it is surprising that Rockwell Automation, the quintessential hardware company, emphasizes software. This has become the key component of the Connected Enterprise. There must be sales dollars here, also. Theory is nice, but sales are nicer.
By the way, here is proof I was there. A “Robot Selfie” from the Innovation Booth.
The Rockwell software portfolio has been growing a step at a time. This year it looks like it has most of the pieces assembled for a full manufacturing software suite. And this is not only MES. That is a component, for sure. But also there is connectivity, historian, databases. And now what appears to be a robust analytics application.
John Genovesi, Vice President of Information Software, told me during our interview, that the company had made a couple of small acquisitions (in Silicon Valley they call it “aquihiring”) last March and already the new team has written an analytics engine that forms the guts of the new application.
Project Scio (see-oh, from the Latin to know) is the next step. To make decisions when and where they matter most, new capabilities offered through Project Scio reduce hurdles to unleashing information. These capabilities open up access to ad-hoc analytics and performs advanced analysis by pulling structured and unstructured data from virtually any existing source in the enterprise. Project Scio can also intelligently fuse related data, delivering analytics in intuitive dashboards – called storyboards – that users can share and view. Users then have the ability to perform self-serve drill downs to make better decisions, dramatically reducing the time to value.
“Providing analytics at all levels of the enterprise – on the edge, on-premises or in the cloud – helps users have the ability to gain insights not possible before,” said Genovesi. “When users gain the ability to fuse multiple data sources and add machine learning, their systems could become more predictive and intelligent. Scio puts analytics to work for everyone. By its addition to the scalable and open FactoryTalk Analytics Platform, Project Scio gives users secure, persona-based access to all data sources, structured or unstructured. And a configurable, easy-to-use interface means that all users can become self-serving data scientists to solve problems and drive tangible business outcomes.”￼
Key attributes of Project Scio include the following:
- Device Auto-Discovery: Manually mapping software to each plant-floor device can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. Project Scio can auto-discover Rockwell Automation devices and tags, as well as third-party device data, to save time and help reduce risk. Additionally, the auto-discovery process gives users access to more detailed information than is typically available through manual mapping, such as device name, line location and plant location.
- Leave Isolated Analytics Behind: Rather than leave data at its source and take database snapshots, Project Scio brings data into a centralized location and can continually refresh that data. Additionally, connections to data sources only need to be established once. This connection allows users to create custom analytics and refresh them at their preferred rate without the support of a data scientist.
- Flexible Machine Learning (ML): Use the right ML algorithm for the right use case. Project Scio is configurable to support many industry-leading algorithms, including SparkML, MLLib and Python.
- Closed-Looped Analytics:Using either ML or predefined settings, Project Scio includes capabilities that can monitor operations and automatically trigger control adjustments if processes start to fall outside allowable parameters. This can help users optimize control, improve product quality and consistency, and reduce scrap and waste.
- Applications Marketplace: Rockwell Automation will introduce an applications marketplace for applications developed in-house and by third parties. The ability to access any data source and create custom analytics for each user’s application is a central feature. However, users can also take advantage of pre-engineered FactoryTalk Analytics applications from Rockwell Automation. These applications allow users to monitor common KPIs, such as OEE and quality, in a standardized way and without any configuration.
- Open Architecture: Industrial producers cannot be expected to rip and replace all their legacy control and information systems before gaining value from analytics. These scalable and open-architecture capabilities are designed to be extended to a full ecosystem of IIoT data sources. The quick connection to the full range of systems that feed data into a Connected Enterprise includes controllers, MES software and edge devices.
In addition to these Information Solutions, Rockwell Automation offers a range of Connected Services which helps provide customers the ability to ensure network integrity, security, infrastructure design and maintenance, and remote monitoring of equipment including predictive maintenance. These services can help customers with every aspect of their Connected Enterprise journey, including developing an IIoT infrastructure and strategy, and providing remote monitoring and analytics.
New OPC UA Support
Rockwell spokespeople made sure that I understood two things with this year’s message. Scalable. And Open. The company is adopting open, interoperable communications. Notice above that the self-discovery is not only Rockwell’s products, but also those from other companies.
Another interoperable standard that Rockwell has not supported much for years is OPC United Architecture (UA).
Interesting quote from the news release, “We actually helped develop the OPC UA specification, and we’re now adding OPC UA support into our portfolio.”
The initial offering on the software side includes OPC UA client/server functionality in the FactoryTalk Linx software, which it will be launching in early 2018. There also are future product-line extensions planned for both software and hardware portfolios. Second, the FactoryTalk Linx Gateway provides an OPC UA server interface to deliver information collected by FactoryTalk Linx from Logix 5000 and other Allen-Bradley controllers to external OPC UA clients. This permits third-party software to coexist with FactoryTalk software.
For example, custom-built MES applications can interact directly with the control layer to better coordinate production. The FactoryTalk Linx Gateway also will include a new FactoryTalk Linx Data Bridge software service that will transfer sets of tag data from one data source to another at a user-defined rate. This permits movement of data between servers and, more importantly, enables Logix 5000 controllers to indirectly interface with OPC UA servers. Among its many uses, this software could allow Logix 5000 controllers to interact and control a robot, weight scale or similar automation device using OPC UA.