ICC Lead the Way Day 2 — Keynote Address

ICC Lead the way… the big announcement today? Ignition 8 is ready… you can view it in action by going to demo.inductiveautomation.com

Don Pearson (Community and Trends)

  • Where did the ‘Inductive’ in Inductive Automation come from?
    • Carl, Colby and Travis thought it sounded cool
  • Ignition has the led the way for OT/IT convergence

    • From the very first days of FactorySQL

    Ignition was built on three core principles

    • Workability, Results, Inclusion

    Steve was the OT guy

    Carl, Colby and Travis were the IT guys
    Solutions need to work for the entire enterprise
    Ignition is a modular, cross-platform platform

    • Don’t buy the modules you don’t need

    IA takes feedback from customers and SI’s, in a feedback loop to continually improve the platform (see later announcements from Colby and Carl)

    Industry 4.0 sea change is real
    The innovator’s dilemma
    There is a shift from proprietary platforms to open platforms

    • ‘Innovation without permission’

    Anecdote about Arlen and Ignition

    • Innovation
    • Sparkplug Specification
    • Since ’16, MQTT is up and HTTP is down for IoT

Steve Hechtman (The future of IA)

  • Reference the mission statement —
  • The 100 pain points
    • Technical
    • Licensing
    • Business Practices
    • Ethical Short Sightedness
  • Added about 30% staff since last December

    Added 400 new integrators since last year — 1800 total
    Training of new developers has exploded this year
    Triangle of success

    • Community
    • Ignition
    • Inductive Automation

Carl and Colby (Ignition 8–HTML5 and the new environment)

  • The new release… Ignition 8
  • Buzz driven development doesn’t work in the industrial space–Colby
  • What’s new vs. What’s familiar
  • There’s no such thing as ‘vintage software’ — Carl
  • Ignition 8
    • Most ambitious and powerful release ever
    • A new beginning &&
    • A continuation of what they’ve been doing from the beginning
    • Completely revamped tag system
      • UDTs are twice as efficient as flat tags now
      • Tag changes are faster and with no real impact on the system
      • Tag system is just faster
      • New Scripting API
      • Subscription and Data Model
      • Extendable
      • Dynamic UDT Parameters
    • Project System
      • True project inheritance
      • Allows the merge of global templates with projects at the site — overrides are permissible
      • Much more flexibility
    • Source Control

      • Modified the project resource system to support external source control tools **Yay**
      • Templates can be stored in a repository and managed
      • Improved the way designers interact with each other working on the same project

      Ignition 8 is fully backward compatible

      Mobile

      • Ignition Perspective (Vision Sibling)
      • HTML5 for Industrial Applications
      • The universal runtime (The web browser)
      • Pure web — no plug-ins, no java
      • Native IOS and Android apps
      • Secure — cutting edge
        • 2 Factor Auth
      • JSON based property model

        Docking system
        Web enabled navigation strategies
        Extendable — 3rd party and custom
        Looks AWESOME!!

    Travis Cox

    • Can try perspective now
    • Demo.inductiveautomation.com
    • IOS and App in the stores
    • Treasure hunt at ICC to get a free T-Shirt

I spent a few hours playing with the demo… it is everything we hoped for and more. Ignition 8 and the Perspective Module are going to change the way we develop with the platform. This isn’t just a re-invention of the industrial software platform, it is a wholesale redefining of how we interact with IOT and IIOT across all platforms. Ignition 8 and Perspective open up Inductive Automation to new revenue streams–including commercial and consumer (think home automation, building automation, HVAC, etc). The announcements today are, simply put, the biggest announcements in the history of Inductive Automation. **Tip of the hat**

I have to head back to Dallas early so I’m grabbing a flight through LAX and will get back late tonight. The rest of the team is going to stay and enjoy the conference. If you see Tonya, John, Maddy or Andrew… please say hi. (Tomorrow, the 19th, is Tonya’s birthday… give her a hug and a high five!)

Thanks for reading!

AI Manufacturing and SCADA Technology Summit Day 1

Day 1 is in the books… here are some stats and info on the conference (in case you’re considering attending in the future).

  • ~200 Attendees this year
  • ~20 exhibitors
  • This is the first year they’ve combined AI Manufacturing and SCADA Technology into one conference
  • 2 tracks
    • AI — New tech and case studies in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
    • SCADA Technology — New tech, the future of SCADA and its role in the Digital Factory
  • This is a very small conference but well represented across the industry.  Siemens and Rockwell are here, but the folks who stand out are companies with emerging technologies and methodologies

Sessions

I attended two sessions during the day and then spent the rest of my time meeting with vendors and potential partners.

  • SCADA and Cloud Computing (Anna-Maria Preta from Siemens)

This session had a lot of potential… but as is customary, it was more a sales pitch from Siemens.  I did get to have a more in depth discussion with their team after this session.  Questions I asked:

  1. Other major players like Rockwell Automation have made it clear that a unified architecture is their goal for their products.  The market is clearly and loudly asking for open architecture.  Where is Siemens moving?
  2. Will Simatic support protocols like MQTT?
  3. Does Siemens want to own the eco-system or be a part of it?

The truth is, no one really could answer my question.  It sounds like Siemens might be moving toward supporting an open IIoT architecture with their products, but it remains to be seen.  Anna-Maria is going to get back to me.

  • IoT Case Studies in Automotive Manufacturing (Isaac Bennett from Maxion Wheels and Mo Abuali from IoTco)

Mo gave some background on his company  IoTco and their product PDX.  They’re basically a systems integrator/consultant that has sister companies and offers products–fairly traditional structure.  What I can say, is that Mo gave the very first presentation that I’ve heard in more than 3 years that actually resonated with me and our mission at Intellic Integration.  These guys are definitely like-minded thinkers when it comes to the value of the Digital Transformation (from paper and sneakerware to digital operations and data consumption).  Isaac gave a quick rundown of the approach they are taking to transform digitally at Maxion Wheels… Mo touched on the ROI of using AI at Toyota–predicting robot failures (50% success rate) to save about $4M in downtime for year 1.  This was a good session… but not overly informative… the big take-away is that II might reach out to IoTco and ask them about their product, PDX.

Exhibitors

Here is the quick rundown of the vendors that impressed… I’m going to save the details for more in depth analysis that I’ll post next week while I’m at ICC.

  • Bedrock Automation is releasing their new Secure OSA Remote PLC.  This is IIoT ready (MQTT Sparkplug) and is significantly less expensive than their inital offerings (about $3-5k each).  It sounds like their big announcement will be next week at ICC in Folsom

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  • TatSoft’s FactoryStudio is the new kid on the block in Industrial Software solutions.  Built by the same team that developed Indusoft (that Invensys bought), this new platform is really awesome.  They have SaaS and Perpetual licensing, multiple tiers… AND their completely unlimited package is more cost effective than Ignition.  I received a dev license last night and had a dev environment up and running in 20 minutes, I had an IIoT project built in 1 hour.  Its fully .NET and looks amazing.  I’m going to build a full demo and profile here with video and step by step, but y’all should take a look at this platform, now!

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  • Deep Vision Data (See Featured Image) was demoing a really slick automation simulation using an Oculus Rift… I will have more info on this solution later (don’t want to spoil it)

 

Take Aways

I’m glad I came to this conference… its small, but I’ve met some amazing, like-minded thinkers and we are walking away with some solid leads and potential partnerships–both on the vendor and client side.  I won’t be going back to the conference today–I have much work to do, but I will likely return next year.  I’m going to have some follow up posts that expound more in detail on the bulleted items above.  But for now, check out TatSoft, Deep Vision Data and Bedrock…

 

Thanks for reading!

Walker

 

 

AI Manufacturing and SCADA Technology Summit 2018

Intellic Integration is in Chicago, Illinois, today and tomorrow (9/12 and 13) for this year’s AI Manufacturing and SCADA Technology Summit.

Over the next two days, we will be live blogging the cool things we learn and discuss at this year’s conference.

My Schedule for today is:

  • The Role of SCADA in Cloud and Edge Computing
  • View the Exhibits
  • Digital Transformation Power by the Industrial IoT: Case Studies in Automotive Manufacturing
  • Giving Mobus the Gold Watch (finally)
  • Reception

Of course… there is work still to do, so I’ll be spending some time in project meetings as well.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Walker

 

Ignition and Java News

Inductive Automation made a major announcement yesterday (May 8, 2018).  This comes on the heels of Oracle dropping a major announcement about their plans for supporting Java SE going forward (May 5, 2018).  This is major news affecting the Ignition Community.

I hadn’t planned on writing about this, so forgive me as I throw together this message.  This will go out to all of my clients and followers as a way of helping get the word out about what these announcements actually mean and how folks can expect Ignition to change going forward.

Major Changes Affecting Ignition Users–announced by Oracle

  • Oracle has announced that they will remove support for Java Web Start from future releases of Java.  This means that they way that Ignition users launch their projects is going to change.  This isn’t a major issue… and for those who currently use the native launchers (download the launcher from the Ignition gateway) this won’t be an issue at all.  The solution?  Use the native launcher available as a quick download from your Ignition gateway.
  • The second announcement has to do with Oracles decision to no longer offer updates to older versions of Java for commercial use unless customers have a support contract.  What does this mean for users?  It means, they shouldn’t be using Oracle’s distribution of Java.  Users should put together a plan to switch their Java installations to OpenJDK (my choice) or Azul Systems’ Zulu.

USERS NEED TO START PLANNING NOW

  • You can view Oracles road map here:  in a nutshell, if you are using Java 8, you have until January 2019

Major Changes Affecting Ignition Users–announced by Inductive Automation

  • Starting with Ignition 7.9.11, Inductive Automation will be packaging Java Runtime within Ignition itself… this means that users will no longer need to download Java to run Ignition clients or designers.  This is a great new feature AND it has the added benefit of easing the burden of managing our Java installations (making announcements, like these, from Oracle moot)
  • You can view Inductive Automation’s announcement here:
  • You can view Zack Scriven’s quick video about the announcement here:

 

Anyway… that’s it… if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.

 

Blessings,

Walker

State of Intellic–2017 End of Year Report

Transparency, Authenticity, Humility, Expertise, Faith-Based Servant Leadership

It is that time of year again… we closed out Fiscal 2017 on December 31 and have spent the past few weeks finalizing our books and end of year reports.  Each year, we set goals and targets in January and at the end of the year, we take stock in our achievements before we set the goals and targets for the upcoming year.  We finished up our last round of meetings with the lawyers, accountants and HR just this week and now it is time to report.

Many folks ask me why I insist on sharing so much about our organization… especially considering few, if any, other organizations in our space do the same. The answer is simple… all decisions at Intellic are weighed against our core values above… and we believe that sharing the health of our company lives up to all 5 of our core values–especially transparency.

So, with that out of the way… lets get to the details.

The state of Intellic, I am very happy to say, is very good!  The sections below highlight our goals and achievements for 2017 and touch on our plans for 2018 (a more comprehensive look at 2018 will be in next month’s post).  We are very proud of the year we have had, and we extend our sincerest appreciation to all of our partners who helped make 2017 a record breaker for Intellic Integration.

2017 Actuals vs. Goals

  • Sales
    • We changed the way we manage our pipeline and sales strategy in 2017. By narrowing our focus to specific sectors of the market—MES, IIoT, SCADA and PLC/Controls Migration—we were able to focus our sales and marketing efforts toward our strength areas.  This resulted in a much higher efficiency and performance by the sales group.
    • Actual Sales beat the 2017 Sales Goal by 27.2%
    • 61.02% close rate
  • Revenue
    • We shifted our operations model from growth to profit-centered. 2016 was a year of fantastic growth in our organization and that brought with it all the challenges of a growing organization—shrinking space, high demand for our services, stretched infrastructure and very long hours.  In 2017, we made the strategic decision to shift our focus more to profit over revenue in order to generate the capital needed to build up our infrastructure.  Our clients saw improvement in our already high performing service levels while beating all of our key goals. We accomplished this through a strategic decision to focus our efforts on our strength areas.  This is where our team is most efficient and it showed up in our client delight scores and on the P&L.
    • Actual Revenue beat the 2017 Revenue Goal by 19.3%
  • Profit
    • At Intellic, every member of our organization shares the benefits of profitability. 15% of our NET profit is split up evenly among our employees twice per year—in May and in December.  This keeps everyone’s eyes focused on our bottom line… which keeps us running efficiently.  Our clients benefit from this approach because we don’t allow bloat at Intellic—every hire is questioned, every purchase scrutinized by all members of the organization.  This keeps us as lean as practical and that is good for everyone.
    • Actual Gross Profit beat the 2017 GP Goal by 13.2%
    • Actual Gross Profit % missed the 2017 GP % Goal by 6%
  • Human Resources
    • At Intellic, we are incredibly focused on the engagement and satisfaction of our team. We believe that in order for any organization to truly shake up the market, they have to retain their top talent (not rocket science, I know… but it is amazing how few organizations truly understand it).  We demand a lot of everyone in our organization… so we run the risk of high turn-over if we are not careful in the way that we approach hiring and retention.
    • We added 16 full-time and 1099 resources in 2017
    • We retired 5 full-time resources in 2017
    • Each team member had
      • 2 weeks of paid vacation
      • 1 week of personal time
      • 10 paid holidays
    • As a team we took off three additional paid weeks
      • The week of July 4th
      • The week of Thanksgiving
      • The week of Christmas
    • We expanded our benefits to include
      • 401k with a 100% match up to 3%
      • Long-Term and Short-Term Disability
    • The average utilization of a billable engineer in 2017 was 91% which beat our goal by 9%
    • Labor costs made up 46% of our revenue which beat our goal by 4%
  • Capital Expenses
    • While we were focused on profitability, we still made significant capital investment in our organization. In February of 2017, we began renovations on a new satellite office in Ithaca, NY.  Those renovations were completed in June and we opened the office for business in July.  Our disaster recovery hardware are located at this location… which contains sleeping quarters and office space for up to 5 engineers or staff.
    • We made significant capital investment in 3 products that we are taking to market in 2018. The first product, ii/MES has just completed beta testing and is in the marketing and sales stage. The second product is an Ignition module that will be presented at the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando (February, 2018).  The third product is ii/ERP for Systems Integrators and will be launched at the CSIA Conference in April.
  • Notable achievements in MES, SCADA and IIoT
    • Intellic completed 59 projects in 2017… in Automation, MES, SCADA and IIoT.  Below is a small sampling of the more impressive achievements we had.
    • Completed development of an enterprise class MES/SCADA system for a large Tier-1 Automotive supplier based in Southeast Asia
      • This solution is a Manufacturing Execution System built in Ignition, using Sepasoft’s OEE/Downtime module.  This implementation was completed using our Intellic MES Framework that included our custom track and trace solution and is designed to scale across the entire enterprise
    • Completed Releases 1 and 2 of an enterprise class MES system for a large organization in the connectivity space
      • This solution is a Manufacturing Execution System built in Ignition, using Sepasoft’s OEE/Downtime and SPC modules.  This implementation is a combination of the Intellic MES Framework and custom development completed by the client’s internal development team.  This solution includes an interface to SAP, Changeover Management, Document Management and Retrieval, Andon and Notification, Dynamic and Configurable Operator Screens, Custom Scheduler and Recipe Management as well as a host of other features.
      • This solution also includes streaming vision and edge data to Azure IoT hub, Kafka, and AWS over MQTT using Cirrus Link MQTT modules and Ignition… as part of a machine learning initiative.
    • Completed development of a protocol converter from Amocams to MQTT for a large Oil and Gas client

Lessons Learned

One of the beautiful aspects of life is that we continually learn and grow if we allow ourselves to.  This is especially true in business.  Some key lessons learned are listed below… these are, by no means, meant to be all inclusive.

  • Vendors can sometimes operate like the mafia and expect us to put our client’s best interest after theirs
    • It is amazing to me how often I have to remind some vendors that Intellic does not work for them–we work for our clients.  Using tactics that sometimes border on unethical (perhaps illegal), some vendors do their best to tell us how to run our business.  Its simple… we do what’s best for our clients, always…
  • There really are not a lot of Integrators out there who are innovating
    • We are continually stunned at the level of development we see in the marketplace.  More than half of our work in 2017 was centered around coming in behind another firm and delivering for the client what they actually needed.  There are great integrators out there, yes… but we don’t come across their work very often
  • Retention is absolutely critical to an organizations success
    • This one is a no-brainer, I get it.  But… it is obvious that not everyone else does.  Our core group of developers and engineers have been working together for many years–uninterrupted.  The secret to our success?  Our core principles (especially transparency and authenticity) and a commitment to keeping our team excited and engaged
  • The most successful projects are those supported by an internal subject matter expert who speaks our language
    • This is key… at Intellic, we do not strive to go deep and stay long… our goal is to get in, get the ship righted, the projects completed and then turn the new system over to an internal SME who will then own the project.  There is no question… the most successful implementations are when the client has their own resource on staff who can learn with and from us and then take the ball and own the solution

Summation

2017 was a phenomenal year… in all aspects.  Whether we are talking about business, operations, project management, sales or engineering, our team exceeded expectations on all fronts.  I am so very proud of what we have built here and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to climb into the fox-hole with this amazing group of people every day.  Together, we are changing the industry and the world for the better… and there is no better feeling.

Thank you for a profound 2017!

Blessings,

Walker

EZLogix Sparkplug B Beta Testing

This weekend, I had the pleasure of beta testing EZAutomation‘s new firmware for their EZRack PLCs.  This firmware is SparkPlug B compliant for MQTT (read about SparkPlug B here) in addition to supporting OPC-UA and string based MQTT publishing.

The testing went very smooth… I ran into no issues… Vikram and his team at EZAutomation did a great job with their dev.  After building the dev environment, I wrote a PLC program that would help scale out the topics so I could slowly ramp up and benchmark the data across the wire, configured Ignition as my MQTT broker using Cirrus Link modules, wrote a small piece of Python code to automate the testing and then sat back and watched.

To say that I am impressed with the results would be an understatement.  You can get a taste for what is to come in the final release of the firmware as well as the results of the testing below.

**Store and Forward is currently in development and should be ready for testing after Thanksgiving**

Blessings,

Walker

EZLogix PLC

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Designer Software (Beta Version for Sparkplug B)

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MQTT Topics Published in Ignition from EZLogix

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Benchmarking Resultings in Ignition (Broker)

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