SPS Drives Trade Fair in Nuremberg Automation News

SPS Drives Trade Fair in Nuremberg Automation News

I will only be at SPS for a few hours this year to check in with old friends and see some of the latest automation goodies. But I’m glad to be there at all. Thank you to Siemens who is sponsoring a press tour that includes a couple of days of intense cybersecurity briefings and workshops.

Oh, and a trip to Allianz Stadium to see the technology and a Bayern Munchen football match.

Some early SPS news:

  • Avnu Alliance Demonstrates New Conformance Test Reference Tool
  • OPC Foundation promises much news plus addition of Rockwell Automation

OPC Foundation

OPC Foundation has sent a couple of emails inviting us to a press briefing at SPS promising much news. I won’t be in Nuremberg on Tuesday, but I’ll catch up with Stefan and Tom for sure on Wednesday.

The mating dance has ended after a few months. Rockwell Automation has rejoined the OPC Foundation and gained a board seat. OPC Foundation has elected Juergen Weinhofer, vice president of common architecture and technology for Rockwell Automation, to its board of directors. Note that Weinhofer is also the Rockwell delegate to the ODVA board.

Weinhofer’s election to the board extends Rockwell Automation’s engagement in the technical work of the OPC Foundation and its technical advisory council.

“OPC UA has become the dominant open protocol for machine-to-software and machine-to-cloud solutions, and it is becoming critical for companies deploying a Connected Enterprise,” Weinhofer said. “I look forward to helping the OPC Foundation become a leader in machine-to-machine applications and helping OPC UA users unlock more value from their production systems.”

This quote is from the OPC news release. We should note that “Connected Enterprise” (capitalized) is the Rockwell Automation theme. I also note while parsing the comment that Rockwell is still firmly fixed in the factory floor area where Weinhofer specifically states “become a leader in machine-to-machine applications.”

“Rockwell Automation is a proven leader in industry standardization and open information technologies,” said Stefan Hoppe, president of the OPC Foundation. “I welcome not just Juergen’s business and political skills on the board but also the increased technical and commercial contribution that the wider Rockwell Automation team will also bring to the foundation.”

Avnu Alliance

Avnu Alliance, an industry consortium enabling open, standards-based deterministic networking, will exhibit at SPS IPC Drives in the University Stuttgart ISW booth. Avnu Alliance, alongside ISW and Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), will showcase the role of conformance test plans, testbeds and test reference tools in ensuring an interoperable ecosystem of Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) devices.

“We are in cooperation with IIC, IEEE, IEC and others in creating an interoperable ecosystem through a common network foundation that stems from industry open standards and testing,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair. “The market will continue to require multiple application layer protocols for networked industrial systems. The Avnu Alliance charter is to enable interoperability at the network layer, to ensure ‘One TSN.’ We are the organization focused on providing TSN test plans and reference test architectures to anyone in the industry that wants to test for TSN compatibility.”

As such, Avnu serves to support Fieldbus organizations by providing its TSN conformance tests and procedures to ensure those organizations’ interoperability in the wider Ethernet system.

Leveraging the industry-defined requirements for TSN network interoperability, Avnu ensures there is a universal set of test plans for conformance to guarantee interoperability at the network layer. Avnu has developed a baseline test plan in the industrial market that ensures industrial devices, whether end device, infrastructure component or silicon, conform to the relevant IEEE standards, as well as the industrial automation profile being defined by IEC/IEEE 60802 Joint Project working group.

Starting with Time Synchronization, or 802.1AS as the foundation for all TSN devices, Avnu released the first set of test plans at SPS IPC Drives in 2017. Avnu will soon publish additional conformance test plans for end devices, such as enhancements for scheduled traffic.

At SPS IPC Drives 2018, Avnu Alliance will show a new proof-of-concept (POC) Conformance Test Reference Design that offers a single, streamlined way for vendors to test TSN interoperability. The POC Conformance Test Reference Design is designed to automatically test TSN devices for compliance to 802.1AS. The demonstration features a Linux open-source test tool created by ISW in partnership with Avnu. This tool would also allow other protocol organizations to test application stacks on top of a TSN network in a streamlined way enabling one-stop certification at any test house.

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation, Innovation, Funding news from Rockwell Automation, IoT Partners Research, Dell EMC IoT, Schneider Electric Ventures

Rockwell Automation

I started going to Automation Fair in 1997. This is the first year I have missed. I could be in any of four different venues this week. Used to be that Rockwell had the week to itself. No longer. I am not there because I don’t like Rockwell. Business considerations are taking me a different direction. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on IoT, data, solving business problems at the Industry of Things World-East forum in Orlando. I thought about a huge tour of three cities. Then I thought again.

I posted news from Rockwell Automation yesterday about its recent collaboration with PTC. I haven’t seen anything newer coming out yet from my sources.

ABI Research

In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programs and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.

In fact, 65% of listed organizations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organizations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analyzed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.

Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.

The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.

FogHorn Partners With Dell EMC OEM Solutions

Speaking of partnerships, this came in today. FogHorn, a developer of edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, announced a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions to deliver end-to-end Industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing solutions. This collaboration allows industrial and commercial customers to leverage the power of the edge quickly with an out-of-the-box solution for their Industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments – providing real-time insights to streamline operations and improve business outcomes.

By integrating FogHorn’s Lightning edge computing technology to solutions from Dell EMC, industrial and commercial customers now have access to preconfigured gateways and other devices that simplify IoT deployments. These “edgified” solutions allow clients to deploy edge computing at various end-point locations quickly, wherever the power of edge computing is needed.

Schneider Electric Ventures

Schneider Electric, who also has an event this week, has announced “Schneider Electric Ventures”, which identifies, nurtures and supports innovations that will make a major contribution to future sustainability and energy efficiency. Several major projects are underway and ready to be deployed.

‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ nurtures tomorrow’s transformational and disruptive technologies according to the press release.

The company spends €1 billion a year on R&D; and EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform is at the cutting edge of connected energy management and industrial automation.

A few months ago, the company created “Schneider Electric Ventures”. The mission of this initiative is to identify, support and nurture companies and entrepreneurs whose innovations will transform the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories.

Schneider Electric Ventures supports innovation through:

  • Funding
  • Incubation
  • Partnerships

At its Innovation Summit North America, Schneider Electric announced some projects developed by “Schneider Electric Ventures”. These projects include:

  • eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing “Electric Fleet as a Service ” to large commercial fleets.
  • Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia, where 1.8 million homeowners have installed solar panels to help manage their energy bills. The market is forecasted to grow with additional 134,000 homes by 2021.
  • Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.

Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:

  • Sense, the leader in load disaggregation technology
  • Element Analytics, a leader in industrial big data analytics
  • Habiteo, a 3D specialist for new residential housing
  • QMerit, the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend
  • KGS, a predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance
  • Claroty, the leading Cybersecurity company for industrial OT networks

Schneider Electric has committed to invest between 300 and 500 million euros in the coming years, in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.

Rockwell Automation and PTC Launch Collaborative Offering

Rockwell Automation and PTC Launch Collaborative Offering

Wondering what Rockwell Automation is going to net out of its $1B investment in PTC that also netted John Genovesi a major promotion within the company? I have been. And here is the first release.

The companies have launched FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, a software suite that enables companies to “optimize their industrial operations and enhance productivity by providing decision makers with improved data and insights.” The new suite delivers visibility of operations and systems status from one source of information inside the organization. The collaborative offering is the first to integrate technologies from both companies following the strategic partnership announcement in June.

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, improves connectivity to operational technology (OT) devices on the plant floor, natively supporting the rapid, scalable, and secure connection of the most commonly used industrial equipment. Combined with data from information technology (IT) applications and systems, decision makers can now gain a complete digital representation of their industrial equipment, lines, and facilities from anywhere in the enterprise.

“Our offering is unique in its ability to improve how companies capitalize on the IIoT by combining expertise from industry, technology, and plant-floor professionals,” said John Genovesi, incoming senior vice president, Enterprise Accounts & Software, Rockwell Automation. “Now we’re bringing innovative solutions from PTC together with leading analytics and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) from Rockwell Automation for a differentiated industry solution.”

“We’re moving the needle on how leading-edge technology is applied in industrial environments,” said Catherine Kniker, Head of Strategic Alliances, PTC. “Manufacturers have seen digital technology rapidly change, but their execution continues to follow practices established for the legacy business. This bundled offering will help organizations accelerate time to value and reinvent how they compete by breaking down barriers across their operations through a comprehensive approach to operational intelligence.”

Included in this collaborative offering are the FactoryTalk Analytics and MOM platforms, as well as PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform, which includes industrial connectivity from Kepware, and the Vuforia augmented reality solution.

Key features of applications within the new collaborative offering include:

Intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that give users a view of the operations by combining data from multiple IT and OT sources and tailored to their role. An operations manager, for instance, can view overall performance of a facility, or multiple facilities, before researching the performance of specific equipment or factors impacting OEE.

Automated advanced analytics of IT and OT sources transform massive amounts of raw data into actionable or proactive information to improve performance and reduce the impact of downtime. Leveraging powerful artificial intelligence (AI) technology to simplify complex analytical processes, users can now proactively respond to issues ahead of any critical failures.

Augmented reality (AR) delivers more efficient and effective ways of looking at digital information within the physical world. AR enables more efficient training, wider knowledge sharing, and better first-time fix rates. Through the bundled offering, maintenance, for example, can receive digitized work instructions containing real-time performance and service history information so technicians can better diagnose and fix equipment correctly the first time.

FactoryTalkInnovationSuite.com

Rockwell Joins the Digital Factory and IT/OT Convergence Fray

Rockwell Joins the Digital Factory and IT/OT Convergence Fray

So I decided not to make a cross country trip to San Diego for Rockwell Automation’s RATechEd event this year. I have cross country trips coming up the next two weeks followed by family time. So, I’m doing a one-day business trip plus taking my wife out for dinner in Chicago this week. Anyway, they had informed me that they wouldn’t be setting up interviews but that I’d be welcome to sit in any sessions I wanted. I passed.

Then I see a tweet from PTC today. Blockbuster news. Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise just became connected. It has invested $1B in PTC for an approximate 8% ownership. PTC has [ERP], PLM, and IIoT (Kepware and ThingWorx). By connecting with these technologies, Rockwell now has the possibility of a technology convergence rivaling its rivals in Europe.

There are three of my questions about Rockwell answered:

  1. Other than a refreshing change of culture, what else was Blake Moret going to do to put his stamp on the company?
  2. When was Rockwell Automation going to really connect the enterprise like its slogan has held for several years (about the time I came up with Manufacturing Connection for the new title for my blog)?
  3. How was Rockwell going to answer the digital manufacturing and Industry 4.0 moves made by its European competitors Siemens, Schneider Electric, and ABB?

This is far from an acquisition and just a partnership right now. But it is a big step in the right direction.

Here is the press release I downloaded from Business Wire.

PTC Inc. and Rockwell Automation, Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for a strategic partnership that is expected to accelerate growth for both companies and enable them to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.

As part of the partnership, Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC, and Rockwell Automation’s Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret, will join PTC’s board of directors effective with the closing of the equity transaction.

The partnership leverages both companies’ resources, technologies, industry expertise, and market presence, and will include technical collaboration across the organizations as well as joint global go-to-market initiatives. In particular, PTC and Rockwell Automation have agreed to align their respective smart factory technologies and combine PTC’s award-winning ThingWorx IoT, Kepware industrial connectivity, and Vuforia augmented reality (AR) platforms with Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk MES, FactoryTalk Analytics, and Industrial Automation platforms.

“This strategic alliance will provide the industry with the broadest integrated suite of best-in-class technology, backed by PTC, the leader in IoT and augmented reality, and Rockwell Automation, the leader in industrial automation and information. Our combined customer base will benefit from two world-class organizations that understand their business and deliver comprehensive, innovative, and integrated solutions,” said Jim Heppelmann, President and CEO, PTC. “Leveraging Rockwell Automation’s industry-leading industrial control and software technology, strong brand, and domain expertise with PTC’s award-winning technology enables industrial enterprises to capitalize on the promise of the Industrial IoT. I am incredibly excited about this partnership and the opportunity it provides to fuel our future success.”

Blake Moret, Chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation, said, “We believe this strategic partnership will enable us to accelerate growth by building on both companies’ records of innovation to extend the value of the Connected Enterprise and deepen our customer relationships. As IT and OT converge, there is a natural alignment between our companies. Together, we will offer the most comprehensive and flexible IoT offering in the industrial space. Our equity investment in PTC reflects our confidence in the partnership and the significant upside we expect it to create for both companies as we work together to profitably grow subscription revenue.”

Rockwell Automation’s solutions business will be a preferred delivery and implementation provider, supported by a robust ecosystem of partners that both companies have established. The strength of both companies across geographies, end markets, and applications is complementary.

Terms

Under the terms of the agreement relating to the equity investment, Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC by acquiring 10,582,010 newly issued shares at a price of $94.50, representing an approximate 8.4% ownership interest in PTC based on PTC’s current outstanding shares pro forma for the share issuance to Rockwell Automation. The price per share represents an 8.6% premium to PTC’s closing stock price on June 8, 2018, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement. Rockwell Automation intends to fund the investment through a combination of cash on hand and commercial paper borrowings. Rockwell Automation will account for its ownership interest in PTC as an Available for Sale security, reported at fair value.

Software, Robots, Friday Updates, Automation and Ethics

Software, Robots, Friday Updates, Automation and Ethics

It’s Friday before Memorial Day and I’m catching up on a number of items I’ve read this week concerning automation and ethics.

  • GPR
  • AI (Eric Schmidt / Elon Musk)
  • Robot Market
  • Automation Tsunami
  • Rockwell Automation OPC UA
  • Schneider Electric Triconex
  • Peaceful Fruit

GDPR

Marketing people lust after your information. Trust me, I was in the business. If a magazine or website can collect your email address and provide (sell) it to a marketer, fantastic. If they can add name, company, address, and telephone number(s), all the better.

Some companies have treated you (us) like a commodity to be harvested and sold. Now in the wake of the European GDPR regulation, companies have been flooding us with emails telling us that, while in the past they may have done all that to us, in the future they’ll do less of it—maybe. Makes me wonder about all of them.

As for me—I have an email list of people who have signed up for my occasional newsletter. I use them only for that. No one besides me sees it.

Artificial Intelligence

Remember the old Groucho Marx line, “Military intelligence is an oxymoron”? Well, how about adapting the phrase to modern times? “Artificial Intelligence is an oxymoron.”

I wrote a little about that yesterday. Scanning my news items today, I see Eric Schmidt contesting with Elon Musk on the subject—“Elon is just plain wrong.” Yep.

Robot Market

According to Tractica, a market intelligence firm, Consumer Robots, Enterprise Robots, Autonomous Vehicles, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are expanding their share of the $52.7 billion annual robotics market.

A new report finds non-industrial robots represented 70% of the $39.3 billion robotics market globally in 2017, growing from a 64% share in 2016. By the end of 2018, the market intelligence firm expects that non-industrial robots will rise to 76% of the total market, which will have grown to $52.7 billion by that time.

Tractica’s analysis finds that most robotics industry growth is being driven by segments like consumer, enterprise, healthcare, military, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and autonomous vehicles.

The epicenter of robotics continues to shift from the traditional centers of Japan and Europe toward the emerging artificial intelligence (AI) hotbeds of Silicon Valley and China. ”

Tractica’s report, “Robotics Market Forecasts”, covers the global market for robotics, including consumer robots, enterprise robots, industrial robots, healthcare robots, military robots, UAVs, and autonomous vehicles. These categories are further segmented into 23 robot application markets. Market data within the report includes robot shipments and revenue segmented by world region, application market, and enabling technology. The technologies included in the attach rate analysis are machine vision, voice/speech recognition, gesture recognition, and tactile sensors. The forecast period for this report extends from 2017 through 2025. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’’s website.

“Automation Tsunami”

Steve Levine in Axios Future of Work newsletter reports, “There is barely a peep from Washington in response to a widely forecast social and economic tsunami resulting from automation, including the potential for decades of flat wages and joblessness. But cities and regions are starting to act on their own.”

What’s happening: In Indianapolis, about 338,000 people are at high risk of automation taking their jobs, according to a new report. In Phoenix, the number is 650,000. In both cases, that’s 35% of the workforce. In northeastern Ohio, about 40,000 workers are at high risk.

Check it out on his website. I have mixed feelings on the issue. On the one hand automation has replaced humans in dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks. And…we are facing a coming labor shortage if demographic data suggestions hold out and politics inhibits immigration. On the other hand, we do have short term crises for people who can’t find work. That is a very real social and personal problem.

Rockwell OPC UA

I’ve written a couple of times lately about how Rockwell Automation has switched direction and adopted standard technologies OPC UA and TSN. It has just informed me that its FactoryTalk Linx software allows OPC UA communications across industrial IoT technologies from different vendors.

Companies can now take advantage of the OPC UA standard in Rockwell Automation products to achieve interoperability among their industrial IoT devices. Support for the vendor-neutral standard is provided through the FactoryTalk Linx communications software, which allows Rockwell Automation and third-party products to exchange data.

Schneider Electric Tricon update

Schneider Electric has released Tricon CX version 11.3, the most powerful version of its EcoStruxure Triconex safety instrumented system. This version embeds cybersecurity features within its flagship process safety system.

Peaceful Fruits

I am interested in good products, ethically produced, that perform a social good. I’ve invested in a local coffee house that buys coffee from a distributor/roaster who buys directly from the farmer. Not only does the farmer (and his workers) earn a living wage, the coffee is ethically grown, and also tastes great.

A message came my way this week about Peaceful Fruits. This young man joined the Peace Corps and worked every day for two years to make an impact on people’s lives in the Amazon rainforest. Living in the Suriname jungle, he worked jointly with indigenous tribes to build systems to preserve independence and sustainability.

It was here that Evan first tasted the acai berry — which grows naturally in the rainforest — and he decided to take the first step in helping to make advances in the food industry.

As the founder of Peaceful Fruits, an Akron, Ohio-based company specializing in whole fruit snacks, Evan speaks to this generation’s pursuit of nutrient-friendly, label-accurate, and eco-sensitive food. And with childhood obesity skyrocketing, it’s a great time to revisit which snacks our kids are eating on a daily basis. “The snack industry is slowly lurching forward because of increased consumer demand for healthier and more responsible options — and this is an opportunity to teach the next generation of kids that everyday food can be tasty, healthy and sustainable.”

His goal beyond changing the food industry is to educate and empower young people to pursue big goals that have big consequences. “Sure, I’m in the healthy fruit snacks business, but I’m really in the business of promoting wellness, sustainability and a cultural shift in how we think about what we put in our bodies.”

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