I guess I did attend the last GE software conference Minds + Machines. However, the reconstituted and independent GE Digital recently held a user conference where it announced a number of upgrades to its IIoT software. These are firmly within the current trends of connecting and mobility.
The product updates include:
- Predix Essentials, which makes it easier for industrial companies to connect, visualize and analyze their data
- Asset Answers, which helps customers to understand the competitive potential of Asset Performance Management (APM) software
- Webspace 6.0, a new HTML5 interface that seamlessly brings automation data to operators across any mobile device
Predix Essentials is an easy-to-use SaaS solution, helping companies connect to disparate data sources, monitor operations, and leverage edge-to-cloud predictive analytics–reducing time-to-value for operational teams looking to reduce waste, lower costs, and increase performance.
Developed in partnership with a number of customers, including silicon chip manufacturer Intel, Predix Essentials is a natural first step for industrial businesses looking to leverage the power of cloud-based Industrial IoT technologies, providing the connectivity, visualization and analysis capabilities that are the cornerstones of a digital transformation journey, regardless of vertical or maturity.
Suitable for industrial companies of all kinds, Predix Essentials is also the foundation of GE Digital’s APM and OPM application suites, providing core functionality and bridging the entire software portfolio by connecting GE Digital cloud-based solutions to on-premises data from its Automation, MES and Historian solutions.
Identifying Maintenance Strategies
Asset Answers is a benchmarking tool that helps customers quickly import and assess data to better understand how their asset maintenance compares with similar companies in their particular domain, or even against their own internal performance across sites.
With this intelligence, customers can determine where best to invest in updating maintenance regimes or capabilities, and ultimately provide a seamless path to products like APM to manage and optimize assets across their business. Asset Answers is available for many sectors, including power generation, oil and gas and chemicals.
Improving Operator Mobility
Webspace 6.0, a web and mobility solution, brings the full visualization and control capabilities from GE’s iFIX and CIMPLICITY HMI/SCADA software seamlessly across devices, including smartwatches, phones, tablets and desktops.
Offering enhanced encryption and new zero-install HTML5 client, Webspace 6.0 improves the way that operators receive and react to operational insights, whether they are in the field, on the plant floor or at a desk, providing them the flexibility to make informed decisions and share their expertise, regardless of location. By dynamically extending automation solutions, Webspace 6.0 increases information sharing across teams, speeds the right operator actions, and improves agility with real-time visualization and control anywhere, anytime.
“GE Digital continues to release innovations that forge the way for industrial customers working on transforming their operations,” said Pat Byrne, CEO of GE Digital. “By continuing to invest across our portfolio of industrial software, and by making it easier than ever for our customers to unlock the power of the Industrial IoT, GE Digital is strengthening its customers’ ability to become more productive, efficient and safe.”
Predix Essentials, Asset Answers and Webspace 6.0 are generally available today as part of GE Digital’s portfolio of industrial software products covering HMI/SCADA, Historian, Asset Performance Management and Manufacturing Execution System applications. Today’s announcements build on a strong thread of recent investments in product innovations, all designed to solve a broad range of industrial customer challenges, including iFIX 6.0; Historian 7.2, Plant Applications 8.0 and Predix Manufacturing Data Cloud for the manufacturing sector; Grid Analytics for the power transmission and distribution market; and APM Integrity’s Compliance Management for the O&G and Power Generation industries.
Moving to sustainable sources of energy to generate electrical power, as Europe has, requires a balancing act. Solar and wind generation provide an imbalance of power since they only operate when proper atmospheric conditions exist—i.e. sunlight or wind. Hydro generation provides a necessary balance, explained Pier-Vittorio Rebba, technology manager power generation for ABB.
But many hydro plants are aging. Management realizes the need to digitalize operations to obtain the best use of Asset Performance Management applications as well as best optimization of plant assets. ABB and its customer Enel Green Power partnered to digitalize operations delivering predictive maintenance solutions that will lower maintenance costs and transform the performance, reliability, and energy efficiency of its hydropower plants throughout Italy.
The three-year contract will enable 33 of Enel Green Power’s hydroelectric plants, comprised of about 100 units, to move from hours-based maintenance to predictive and condition-based maintenance, leveraging the ABB Ability Asset Performance Management solution. With operations in five continents, the Enel Group’s renewable business line, Enel Green Power, is a global leader in the green energy sector, with a managed capacity of more than 43 GW.
“We are privileged to be partnering with Enel Green Power, a digital pioneer, in their move from hours-based to predictive maintenance utilizing ABB Ability technologies for big data, machine learning and advanced analytics,” said Kevin Kosisko, Managing Director, Energy Industries, ABB. “Predictive maintenance and asset performance management must become a key component of plant operators’ strategies to optimize maintenance operations, minimize risk, improve resilience and reduce costs. The results are more competitive electricity rates, in a more sustainable way.”
Collaborating closely since early 2018, the two companies have jointly developed and tested predictive maintenance and advanced solutions (PresAGHO) via a pilot on five Enel plants in Italy and Spain, including Presenzano, a 1,000-megawatt plant near Naples.
The new contract includes digital software solutions and services that will provide analysis of over 190,000 signals and the deployment of about 800 digital asset models, aimed at improving plant operational performance, reducing unplanned failures and enabling more efficient planned maintenance practices through predictive maintenance. The integration is expected to yield savings in fleet maintenance costs and increase plant productivity.
The ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center for power generation and water will help bring wider benefits of digitalization and engagement, supporting informed decision-making, real-time solutions and cost savings. The center already provides similar digital solutions and advanced applications for more than 700 power plants, water facilities and electric vehicle charging stations globally.
“With personnel retirements resulting in knowledge gaps and more competitive electricity marketplaces, we believe that many power generation customers globally can benefit from this kind of digital transformation around maintenance and operations,” said Mr Kosisko.
Today’s news from the ARC Forum concerns AspenTech and Emerson as we focus on process systems and asset optimization.
Only a few years ago it appeared that AspenTech was destined for some sort of demise—sold for parts or something. It has rebounded nicely since and last week announced enhancements to its production optimization solution and this partnership with Emerson. Collaboration being one of the sub-themes of the conference.
Emerson and AspenTech have teamed up to deliver asset optimization software solutions along with global automation technologies and operational consulting services.
AspenTech’s asset optimization supports Emerson’s Project Certainty and Operational Certainty initiatives. “Emerson’s global footprint, automation engineering services and software, extensive large-scale project execution and consulting capabilities complement AspenTech’s technology footprint. Collectively, these capabilities can be deployed as solutions in both conventional and cloud-based architectures.”
“Emerson and AspenTech are both highly focused on digital technologies and services that deliver measurable improvements and value to our customers’ bottom line,” says David N. Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson. “Together, we are well positioned to help our customers navigate the best path in this era of digital transformation and achieve Top Quartile performance.” Top Quartile is defined as achieving operations and capital performance in the top 25 percent of peer companies.
The alliance will initially focus on three key areas: engineering software, including high-fidelity simulation to help validate project design and train operators before start-up; manufacturing and supply chain software, including advanced process control software designed for highly complex operations; and asset performance management software to improve plant reliability.
“Working with Emerson, we will help more organizations drive higher total shareholder returns with a relentless focus on operational excellence,” says Antonio Pietri, president and CEO of AspenTech. “We look forward to helping make the best companies even better by optimizing the design, operation and maintenance lifecycle with software and insight to run assets faster, safer, longer and greener.”
Meanwhile, Emerson hits themes of security, close to the edge (of the network), and OPC UA among many updates to its process automation system. It is expanding its Plantweb digital ecosystem with the launch of DeltaV version 14, a cybersecurity-certified control system designed to deliver new value in capital projects and make plant operations more connected and productive. The latest release provides significant innovations to the entire DeltaV architecture and was built with customers’ digital transformation initiatives in mind.
This major update to the DeltaV automation system includes several enhancements to eliminate costs and reduce complexity in capital projects, plus improve productivity during operations through enhanced access to production and equipment data, improved usability and greater security.
“More than ever, an integrated plant data environment is essential to achieve digital transformation. With DeltaV, we’re reducing the engineering effort required to securely connect plant, operational and information systems,” said Jamie Froedge, president of Process Systems and Solutions, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Our customers will have more capabilities in their distributed control and safety systems to help them successfully execute capital projects and optimize operations.”
Capital Project Flexibility
Continuing to advance the impact of DeltaV Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs on capital project engineering, CHARM I/O Block takes CHARMs—which achieved more than one million deployments at more than 1100 sites in only five years—closer to the field. Small enclosures with up to 12 CHARMs can now be installed closer to field devices, significantly reducing wiring and overall installation costs by as much as 60 percent and providing more engineering flexibility.
Smart Commissioning, launched in 2016, took one of most engineering intensive operations off a project’s critical path. Traditionally, commissioning has been a manual task that requires more than two hours per device for thousands of devices. Smart Commissioning reduced commissioning time to 25 minutes. Emerson is now expanding these capabilities and reducing device commissioning time to as little as 10 minutes, a nearly 93 percent reduction in costly commissioning time that could save several hundred-thousand dollars in engineering costs.
Mobility and User Experience
DeltaV Live Operator Interface is a modern, built-for-purpose operations experience that is easy to understand and modify. The HMI comes pre-engineered with the industry’s best practices for user experience including ISA 101.01 and is based on research with the Center for Operator Performance, a consortium of vendors and academia focused on human factors engineering. The HTML5 interface enables scalable graphics and gives operators the flexibility to adjust their displays to focus on process data that is most important for each situation. The new operator interface helps improve overall situational awareness and decision-making speed. Emerson is helping companies prepare for the shift to mobility with DeltaV Live by building a foundation for graphics to be transferrable across desktops, laptops, and mobile devices—all without additional engineering or custom scripting.
A Secure, Connected Plant
DeltaV will offer its users a new level of confidence and protection from cybersecurity threats by being one of the only systems to have a top-to-bottom cybersecurity certification. DeltaV v14 will be certified ISASecure SSA Level 1 by the International Society of Automation (ISA), signifying that Emerson developers are trained to write secure code and the system as a whole is hardened against cyber threats.
Emerson is making connecting a plant’s OT systems with IT systems seamless by expanding OPC UA access in its DeltaV hardware and software offerings. DeltaV is the pathway for most plant data and now using the IIoT’s most prevalent protocol, OPC UA, DeltaV applications and servers can securely share data to cloud analytics applications, remote monitoring solutions, and third-party technologies.
GE Digital continues to build out its platform and ecosystem of applications while new GE CEO John Flannery confirmed his commitment to the digitalization strategy begun under his predecessor.
The sixth Minds + Machines conference featured about 90% growth in attendance from last year. Begun five years ago not long after the company began assembling its digital strategy as a thought leadership gathering, the conference has evolved into a substantial user conference. Attendance was reported at about 3,700 filling much of Moscone Center West in San Francisco.
I’ve summarized the announcements from the event below. My initial takeaway for the biggest news of the day was GE’s emphasis on building a partner ecosystem. As the company built out its Predix platform, it seemed to be on a track for keeping everything close to home. Saying that they could move more quickly to market, they talked about working more with partners. One executive told me that the partnership with Microsoft for Predix on Azure was the most significant announcement of the week.
This is my first time here and reinforces the idea that GE Digital is a major player in the industry segment begging comparison with Siemens. Some thought also ABB (they should not have forgotten Schneider) also.
Most of my discussions involved Asset Performance Management, the new Operations Performance Management (see below), and helping me understand Predix.
Following is a summary of announcements:
Flannery touched on some statistics from a survey concerning the “digital gap” of perceived importance of a digital transformation and how far along companies are.
GE Digital Industrial Evolution Index
The inaugural Index reflects a total score of 63 on a scale of 100 and indicates that while outlook for the Industrial Internet is very strong, scoring 78.3 (out of 100), company readiness significantly lags, scoring 55.2 (out of 100). This disconnect – between outlook and company readiness – presents both a challenge and opportunity for companies seeking to benefit from the IIoT. 86% believe digital industrial transformation is important to the competitiveness of their companies, with the majority (76%) rating the ability to provide higher quality services as the foremost outcome of digital industrial transformation.
GE unveiled expansions to its suite of edge-to-cloud technologies and industrial applications.
Edge-to-Cloud Intelligence on Any Industrial Asset, Anywhere
GE Digital is expanding its Predix Edge capabilities to help run analytics as close to the source of data as possible. Predix Edge gives customers with limited connectivity, latency limitations, regulatory or other constraints a way to deploy applications closer to the originating data.
• Predix Edge Manager allows customers to support large fleets of edge devices – up to 200,000 connected devices from a single console.
• Predix Machine enables microservice-based applications to run at the edge on customers’ virtualized data center infrastructure or on server-class hardware from GE or its partners. This also supports Predix Edge Manager, which was previously available only as a cloud service.
• Predix complex event processing (CEP) allows for faster and more efficient analytics and other event processing at extreme low latency, available at the edge in Q1 2018.
Predix Platform on Microsoft Azure
Announced last year and available generally in 2018, GE Digital and Microsoft partnership extends the accessibility of Predix to Microsoft’s global cloud footprint, including data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities and advanced developer and data services, enabling customers around the world to capture intelligence from their industrial assets.
Alongside its Asset Performance Management (APM) software, the core application, GE Digital introduced Operations Performance Management (OPM), a solution helps industrials optimize the throughput of industrial processes.
OPM uses real-time and historical data – along with advanced analytics – to help customers make better operational decisions. The solution provides an early warning if industrial processes deviate from plan, arms operators with the information and time to troubleshoot operational issues and helps them take preventative actions to meet business goals. GE Digital’s OPM software initially targets the mining industry and will expand to additional industries early next year.
Enhanced Field Service Management Solutions
With service technicians looking to embrace technology to improve their productivity and deliver a better experience for customers, ServiceMax from GE Digital announced several enhancements to its FSM suite – enabling even greater efficiencies and bringing advanced analytics to service operations.
• Artificial intelligence-enabled predictive service times now integrate the Apache Spark AI engine to improve service time estimates.
• Additionally, a new application integration solution enables service providers to launch and share FSM data with third-party mobile applications installed on the same device.
• New capabilities in schedule optimization allow for dependent job scheduling between work orders for multiple visits aimed at improving first-time fix rates.
GE Digital also introduced Predix Studio to help companies build and scale their own industrial applications and extend its Asset Performance Management (APM) suite. Available in Q1 2018, Predix Studio simplifies the development process by giving customers the ability to extend applications and empower industrial subject matters experts to build apps in a low-code, high-productivity environment.
Digital Twin Analytics Workbench
A solution that applies a library of algorithms and templates to make it faster and easier for companies to build their own digital twins on Predix. The Analytics Workbench, currently a technology preview from GE Power, can be used to augment existing digital twins with new data streams. For example, power producers using drones to inspect wind turbine blades, pipelines or fuel reserves can integrate visual inspection data into the digital twins they already use to manage generation assets and grid infrastructure.
It is time to think beyond the unit process to asset optimization. Two press releases have come my way in the past couple of weeks from companies who are seeking to expand their product portfolios into ever broadening circles with the theme being adding emphasis on asset optimization.
This release is from Aspen Technology announcing general availability of aspenONE Version 10 software. “The latest Asset Performance Management, Engineering and Manufacturing & Supply Chain software release supports the company’s evolution from process optimization to asset optimization, the next frontier of optimization that makes the best companies even better by driving increased financial return over the entire asset lifecycle.”
If this sounds familiar, Schneider Electric’s Peter Martin has been writing and speaking on this for years. He’s an acknowledged industry visionary. I’ve worked with an industry organization MIMOSA also interested in organizing standards around asset lifecycle. Maybe we’ll begin getting a critical mass around the subject.
Where AspenTech tries to go beyond is to link in design with process and equipment. [Click on the “ad” in the right column of this Website for a white paper describing doing this with standards. We are getting there as an industry.] The aspenONE Version 10 software release includes aspenONE Asset Performance Management (APM).
The integrated suite of APM analytics provides prescriptive guidance to address multiple levels of asset performance:
- Site-Wide Risk Analysis with Aspen Fidelis Reliability software helps identify asset availability and utilization risks through reliability modeling and simulation.
- Process Analytics include Aspen Asset Analytics software to assess the root causes of process disruptions, predict future occurrences and prescribe actions to avoid them. Rapidly configured and deployed, prepackaged analytics for column troubleshooting use ensemble modeling to provide operational guidance. Included as well, Aspen ProMV software improves process reliability and asset uptime using advanced multivariate process analytics for continuous and batch monitoring.
- Equipment Performance Analytics with Aspen Mtell software provides machine-learning analytics that predict when failures will occur, understand why they will occur and prescribe what to do to avoid the failure. aspenONE Engineering Suite Highlights The latest version of aspenONE Engineering software enables asset design optimization across capital, energy, controllability, environmental impact, safety and yield, empowering collaborative workflows that drive sustained profitability.
- Specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals companies are making significant investments to rapidly develop and deliver new products to market. Aspen Plus software in aspenONE Version 10 extends modeling from continuous to batch and semi-batch processes to help companies accelerate new product development and optimize production to compete more effectively.
- Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) companies need to accelerate projects and reduce risk to compete effectively. The new web-based Aspen Basic Engineering streamlines data integration in FEED preparation and improves collaboration across globally distributed teams.
- Process plants are faced with frequent operational changes and risks to asset utilization. Faster calibration of model to plant data in Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS software for operations support reduces operating costs and increase yields.
aspenONE Manufacturing & Supply Chain Suite Highlights Building on the PIMS-AO engine, the new Aspen Unified PIMS features a modern web-based architecture with scalable high performance computing that enables better collaboration and improved insights into model performance.
The first of a family of Unified products envisioned to unify the production workflow from planning to scheduling and performance monitoring, Aspen Unified PIMS will initially be targeted at a specific set of customers identified by the company for the aspenONE Version 10 software release.