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.”

Perhaps a Case for IT and OT Convergence

Perhaps a Case for IT and OT Convergence

Ever wonder about the need for the elusive IT/OT convergence? Rockwell Automation announces Factory Talk Network Manager software for its Stratix line of managed (Ethernet) switches. Rockwell OEMs switches from Cisco built to its specifications. Cisco builds good equipment, but it is famous in the networking world for somewhat, shall we say, complex management software.

Control engineers and plant-floor technicians who have growing Ethernet networks to connect all this Internet of Things stuff need something that is closer to their language.

By the way, I still have plenty of catching up to do with things I learned both at Hannover (where I spent many hours with Hewlett Packard Enterprise) and the following week at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas. I’m finally home and getting organized.

This new management software enables engineers and technicians to monitor the health of their Allen-Bradley Stratix managed switches, troubleshoot switch issues, and quickly configure new managed switches all from one easy-to-use software interface.

“Many plant-floor personnel struggle to piece together information about managed switches and devices from different sources,” said Lorenzo Majewski, product manager, Rockwell Automation. “With the FactoryTalk Network Manager software, they can access this information in one collective spot. In addition, real-time alarms and events from network switches can help them conduct faster, more precise troubleshooting.”

FactoryTalk Network Manager software automatically discovers assets, their associated IP addresses, and creates a topology of these connected devices. The software’s intuitive interface offers grouping of equipment along with dashboard information, so users can organize devices into specific areas or analyze them individually.

The software also uses user-created configuration templates to get new switches up and running faster and more efficiently. These templates can be shared across an organization, or with OEMs and system integrators to further ease network deployments, commissions and maintenance efforts.

The FactoryTalk Network Manager software provides role-based access control with auditing capabilities to help track user-specific activities and changes. The software supports multiple protocols, including Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), Modbus, BACnet and PROFINET. Access to the web-based platform is available via a personal computer in a control room or a mobile device on the plant floor.

Internet of Things and Conference News To Start 2018

Internet of Things and Conference News To Start 2018

This year has opened more strangely than usual. Looks like I’ll be emphasizing a lot more IT/OT intersection plus digital transformation and Internet of Things. Part of the strangeness is that several of my good friends are on the lookout for new positions. The end of 2017 was harsh for many people. If you need a good sales and/or marketing professional, I can put you in touch with some top people. In fact, my business also sort of tapered off the last part of the year. I thought things were supposed to be good (well, my investment accounts are looking good).

There was no other way than to just string together a number of news items in the Internet of Things and Industrial software space.

• Conferences

• Honeywell Data

• Schneider Award

• Bluetooth at 20

• RFP for IoT Software Platform

Conferences

I am a media sponsor for a couple of upcoming conferences. The strange thing is that I haven’t heard from either one for a while and neither has sent an ad png for me to display.

News also seems to be a little slow. But here are a number of things I’ve compiled over several days along with some upcoming conferences. Hope to see you at some of those.

The 22nd annual ARC Industry Forum in Orlando from February 12-15 on Digitizing and Securing Industry, Infrastructure, and Cities is a great industry meeting place. https://www.arcweb.com/events/arc-industry-forum-orlando

I see ARC Advisory Group, like many of us, must branch out from control and automation in order to find a big enough market to survive. My own practice has shifted from market and industry research and analysis in that space to greater focus on IT/OT, IoT, and digital transformation.

Also on my calendar is the Industry of Things USA (I’m also a media sponsor of the September one in Berlin) from March 7-9 in San Diego. This will be its third year. The organizing group from Berlin (Germany) has been outstanding. This is becoming a place for IT to meet OT. http://industryofthingsworldusa.com

Hannover Fair this year is April 23-27. I’ll go there depending upon sponsorship. Always a great place to meet many influential people.

The Control Systems Integrators Association is meeting from April 24-27 in San Francisco. I have never been to a CSIA meeting. Maybe this year I can slip one in if I don’t go to Germany.

The MESA International USA conference held in conjunction with the Industry Week Manufacturing and Technology conference in Raleigh, NC will be from May 8-10.

Maybe I can make it to the Rockwell Automation annual software bash in San Diego from June 10-15.

Siemens Industry in the USA is holding its automation summit in Marco Island, FL from June 25-28.

If I can afford all the travel, this will be a busy 6 months.

Honeywell

In the realm of industrial software, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) today launched its Honeywell Connected Plant Uniformance Cloud Historian. This software-as-a-service cloud hosting solution for enterprise-wide visualization and analysis, helps customers improve asset availability and increase plant uptime.

It claims an industry first by fusing real-time process data analysis of a traditional enterprise historian with a data lake, enabling the integration of production, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other business data coupled with analytics tools to provide business intelligence. “This allows enterprise data to be analyzed instantly on a scale not previously possible using tools and functions already in use at sites and plants,” says the media release.

“Uniformance Cloud Historian brings the full power of cloud and big data to Honeywell’s traditional process historian for the first time, connecting even the most complex multi-site organizations effortlessly,” said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. “The solution makes it possible to leverage insights found at one plant across all plants, allowing smarter, more strategic decisions to be made and action to be taken.”

Honeywell’s new offering collects, stores and enables replay of historical and continuous plant and production site process data and makes it visible in the cloud in near real time. The historian combines a time series data store, which empowers plant and enterprise staff to execute and make decisions, with a big data lake, which enables data scientists to uncover previously unknown correlations between process data and other business data in the enterprise.

Schneider Award

Last week I wrote about an interview I had with Cognizant, the Indian company that acquired Wonderware’s (Schneider Electric) R&D center. This week, an announcement about an award to Schneider Electric (not sure that these are the same it just reminded me of the Indian connection).

Schneider Electric announced its India-based Software Delivery Center (SDC) was appraised at Level 5 of the CMMI Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). With this designation, Schneider Electric’s SDC becomes part of a small group of companies with a CMMI Level 5 assessment in the industrial software industry.

An appraisal at maturity level 5 indicates that the organization is performing at an “optimizing” level. At this level, an organization continually improves its processes based on a quantitative understanding of its business objectives and performance needs. The organization uses a quantitative approach to understand the variation inherent in the process and the causes of process outcomes.

Select achievements include:

• Attaining a schedule variance of less than 1%

• Maintaining effort variances of less than 3%

• Delivering an industry-leading client satisfaction score

Bluetooth is 20

Are you listening to music on your wireless headset while working at the coffee house? Thanks to Bluetooth. Did you know that the technology just turned 20?

Today, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) kicks off its 20th anniversary year from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Formed in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG started with a handful of companies focused on wire replacement for mobile voice and data. Today over 33,000 member companies are part of an organization dedicated to perfecting and advancing a flexible, reliable, and secure wireless connection solution.

IoT RFP Platform

Here is one that I think merits a deeper dive:

Three of the biggest software vendors in IoT – HPE, PTC, and Wind River (Intel) – have agreed to join the IoT M2M Council’s (IMC) fledgling template RFP Program for IoT Software Platforms, which will be presented at the IMC’s conference at CES.

Using input from many vendors and more than 100 software buyers in an open-source process, the IMC developed a template reference document that will ease buying of IoT software, and later, hardware and connectivity solutions. HPE, PTC, and Wind River have agreed to have their platforms assessed by the IoT M2M Council which represents 25,000 enterprise users and OEMs that buy IoT solutions.

The RFP program will simplify sourcing of IoT platforms for buyers by providing reference documentation and demonstrating capabilities of established software platforms, and for participating vendors, it will ultimately shorten the sales cycle.

The IMC developed a template RFP document earlier this year in a wiki-based, open-source process with input from more than 100 IoT buyers, and has now retained a third-party consultancy to validate vendors against the RFP. The validation process, conducted by UK-based Beecham Research, includes surveying vendors for responses to the RFP, contacting their customers anonymously for references, and a hands-on analysis of the platforms for ease-of-use.

“No other industry group or major consultancy is talking to buyers at scale and looking at the actual IoT sales process. My staff spends a lot of time responding to RFPs. The IMC’s RFP program gives us a report from a credible third-party that allows us to respond to RFPs more quickly, as well as a place to send potential buyers where they can access a template RFP document and learn more. If this program reduces my sales cycle, even just incrementally, it will be well worth it,” says Volkhard Bregulla, VP of Global Industries, Manufacturing, & Distribution at HPE, with a seat on the IMC board.

IMC rank-and-file membership comes from 24 different vertical markets on every continent, and a plurality self-identify as “operations”, meaning that they are unlikely versed in communications technology. “The template RFP provides a non-technical reference, and can go a long way in establishing a common language for IoT technology among people actually doing the buying,” says Bregulla.

Podcast 170 – Rockwell Automation Open and Scalable

Podcast 170 – Rockwell Automation Open and Scalable

Last week was Rockwell Automation week. I have one more major manufacturer show for the year—Discover Madrid with Hewlett Packard Enterprise next week.

I recorded a quick podcast recap of the week. I have so much material to digest, that I am still working through it.

Three quick points:

1. There was no discussion of the Emerson proposed acquisition of Rockwell. [My view after a few hallway conversations-very few-is that David Farr, Emerson’s CEO, needs to do something drastic to improve his performance. Emerson has been divesting lately, and his performance is below that of his legendary predecessor. He catches Rockwell with a CEO who have been in office just a little over a year. Maybe he thought he could surprise Moret and get a steal? What if the board prefers Moret to run the combined Emerson Rockwell company? Farr as chairman and Moret as CEO? Weird but interesting thought.]

2. Rockwell’s training is rigorous and thorough. I’ve been through at least 5 classes myself (controls, PLCs, drives, motor control centers, software). I know. Interesting and moving presentation on a joint effort of Manpower and Rockwell training veterans for second careers.

3. Open and scalable. I spent an hour learning about Rockwell’s new adoption of OPC UA. Then at least 1.5 hours on Rockwell software where the key word is scalable. The new analytics application appears to be well done and powerful (I only saw a demo during the keynotes and had some conversations, but it looked good).

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Overcast or you favorite pod catcher. I’d really appreciate a good rating and some referrals. It has a good audience considering the size of the market.

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