GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

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

Edge-to-Cloud Accessibility

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.

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

Updated News from the Wonderware Software Conference

I have heard from friends (non-editors) who attended the Wonderware software conference. I have edited their news items into what I hope is a coherent post. This news includes some significant information that I have not seen elsewhere, yet. I should get my friends to report more. Getting the point of view of users is valuable. I hope you agree.

This also shows what I was talking about Monday where an industry leader under attack can push the envelop a different direction in order to remain fresh and offer customers more.

1) “It’s getting really cloudy.”

They showed off a number of tools, some old, some new that are all based around a cloud platform or at a minimum communication with the cloud. They are continuing to push really really hard the Wonderware Online and Smart Glance products. Talking with Saadi Kermani, the main evangelist for them, they are in continual release mode and have a long list of planned features that will be rolling out over the coming months designed to keep them up with, or exceed, competitive offerings.

“Also the new version of Smart Glance is really nice and very modern look and feel.” The best part about something like smart glance is that it’s a relatively simple product to get up and running for your org. And pretty cost effective to boot. “My personal analysis is that what will make Wonderware Online super valuable is an ecosystem of partners building sophisticated apps in cloud platforms like Azure and others.”

Some other big cloud stuff. They previewed Wonderware Development Studio online. Now you can log on with a web browser, stand up an environment picking and choosing which machines you want, what software is installed on each, how the redundancy is configured, etc. Hit go and in some amount of time..maybe an hour or so… the machines are ready for you to login via remote desktop running on Azure. This seems like a really awesome setup for integrators that don’t want to maintain a bunch of different environments and versions. Supposedly there was no cost to have then configured. “My only concern is the pricing and how easy it might be to run up a $1K bill before you know it. I did ask about the idea of buying the IP and underlying system that did the automation so you can run it on premise. If I remember right the person I was talking to said it might be possible but wasn’t on the current roadmap.”

2) Hello IOT

A guy from Microsoft had a nice presentation on Monday afternoon talking about Azure and how Azure fits into the IOT space. It was a bit high level but I think we need all the education we can get right now.

During the intro sessions on Tuesday John Krajewski discussed a little more about IOT and specifically talked about their new MQTT OI Server. OI Server is the new name they have given to IO drivers. They are doing some different things with packaging and scalability but that’s incidental to the IOT discussion. Back to IOT, they have written a server that can talk MQTT natively so you can seamlessly push and pull data to/from System Platform with other devices talking MQTT just like you would a PLC.

Alvaro Martiniez the product manager admitted it was early Alpha stage for the product but I hope it opened some people’s eyes to possibilities. “I can’t wait to get my hands on it.”

An integrator presentation to a standing room only crowd discussed multiple aspects of IOT. It was really broken into three parts. The first was an overview of 5 of the major protocols one might come across when getting into the IOT space. Next was a technical deep dive on one of the protocols, MQTT. [Gary’s note: At the Inductive conference, I attended a session by one of the developers of MQTT. This is an important protocol, riding atop TCP/IP stack, that can standardize IoT messaging.] Next were 4 or 5 demos showing the use of MQTT inside or integrated with System Platform and the Historian. “My personal favorite was showing how you could build a simple set of code that read MQTT data and sent it directly to the Historian… which in theory means you could have 100% cloud infrastructure for piping device data straight over to the Wonderware Online historian.”

3) Next Gen

They have been working on revamping the System Platform look, feel, and function for the last few years. The 2014 releases have made some pretty big shifts in the functionality space but nothing major expected until the next release. Tim Sowell’s comments about a unified operations center are dead on with the vision.

The biggest change you are going to see.. and they talked about this very publicly so I don’t think I’m giving anything away, is that InTouch is no longer the shell for visualization. It is now essentially a compiled stand-alone app that is build from many panes that you create and configure from within the System Platform Graphics platform. The visualization engine will use the context of the graphics and objects to make navigation easier. “But the bigger concept is that this is now an operations center, not a simple HMI.”

Longer term there should be a play for higher end integrators and pure software plays to develop Apps that plugin to the operations center and provide additional value and context.

Lots and lots of discussion of context. When these apps are run inside the operations center they will automatically know what’s being displayed on the screens and can automatically adjust. A simple example is that you pull up a graphic with a tank farm. Maybe you have a video feed app with live cameras on the tanks and it automatically swaps to the correct camera view. Or you have another pane with customers orders from the ERP so you know what tanker trucks you should be expecting in the next few hours. “While this has technically been possible before I think the key is that they are going to be adding a lot of functionality to make these otherwise standalone functions a first class citizen within the Operations view.”

They are also making big changes in the development environment trying to make the engineering experience more user friendly. To me this is a clear play to make System Platform look a lot less intimidating and make the 15 minute demo a lot easier and more obvious. For high end engineers and integrators this new layout and development method will probably be a turnoff but I think it will help Wonderware tell the System Platform story easier and get newer, less sophisticated, customers on board.

GE Digital Updates IIoT Software

Wonderware Industrial Software Conference

While I was attending the Inductive Automation conference this week, two other conferences were in session. Carl Henning commented briefly about the Profibus/Profinet meeting. Hopefully more later.

I didn’t hear about the Wonderware industrial software conference until the first of August, and that information was sketchy at best. Received an invitation in mid-month. Too late for planning.

The press team released a couple of press releases around the conference. The main one being an update to Wonderware Intelligence–an analytics engine essential for making the Internet of Things useful.

Aaron Hand had a report yesterday at Automation World on Sr. VP (was president before the Schneider acquisition when they put a French guy in charge, now, who knows) Ravi Gopinath’s “keynote.” Interestingly, organizers put the keynote last instead of first. And the pre-show focus was on a keynote by Terry Bradshaw.

Gopinath took 15 minutes according to Hand to try to allay fears that the pending spinoff of Wonderware (and SimSci and Avantis) into the new company run by Aveva but 51% owned by Schneider would be bad for the company and for users.

Evidently there was no Q&A time for editors (any that were there, anyway) to probe the meaning of the layoffs we’ve been picking up from LinkedIn and other sources. The editor rumor mill has it that there will be continuing high-level (and other) layoffs periodically for some time.

Gopinath continued the party line that Schneider is still investing in product development. But he acknowledged efforts continue to bring all the disparate elements of Schneider’s acquisitions together.

Meanwhile a friend who attended as an integrator told me that from the integrator point of view it was a useful conference.

A member of the Software press relations team suggested that maybe if we had cloning perfected, then I could make all these. Now that’s a scary thought!

deployCamp Innovative Manufacturing Software Conference Cancelled

deployCamp Innovative Manufacturing Software Conference Cancelled

I’m sorry to report that the deployCamp conference has been cancelled. I heard from Elliot and Andy. There wasn’t enough early uptake on it.

That is too bad. Conferences are hard work, but I’d love to see an independent developers conference. Company conferences are fine if you’re all customers and want to learn the latest. But a place for developers to come and talk freely and learn cool techniques would be valuable for our space.

Maybe we can get a few more interested people to back it.

The Silicon Valley model was good, but there is such a critical mass of people within a 50-mile radius. There is no central locus for manufacturing software. We’re scattered all around the country.

If you have any ideas, pass them along.

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