TechHub: $5 Billion Investment in U.S. Manufacturing, IoT in Water & More

Goldman Sachs, China Team Up to Invest $5 Billion in U.S.Manufacturing

Goldman Sachs and China Investment Corporation (CIC) have announced the formation of a new partnership that will create a $5 billion fund named the China-US Industrial Cooperation Partnership, aimed at investing in U.S. manufacturing, according to the Business Review USA.

Tu Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President of CIC.

The fund will invest into businesses that have or can develop a connection with China, designed to promote market access for U.S. firms in China, in addition to improving the trade balance between the two countries.

“CIC has invested in the US for ten years and is committed to be both an investor and facilitator to develop a stronger China-US investment relationship,” said Tu Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President of CIC.

The fund will create a number of opportunities for American companies to export their products to the expansive Chinese market, with Goldman Sachs acting as the sponsor and investment manager of the fund.

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs said, “The Cooperation Fund will increase Chinese investment in the United States, creating more opportunities for American workers and contributing to China’s economic transition and growth.”

Testing the IoT Waters

Originally Published in CRN

Solution provider GrayMatter is navigating the turbulent IoT waters, using its technical expertise and operational technology background to successfully deploy connected drinking fountains in public places like schools.

“We did a connected smart water fountain [with DC Water] – people think of that as a [classic] IoT application,” GrayMatter CEO James Gillespie told CRN. “That’s a good example because it combines a whole bunch of innovation.”

The Pittsburgh-based GE partner worked with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority to create drinking fountains that monitor water quality and flow in real-time, which gives users more confidence in the water they are drinking while saving money spent on maintenance and testing.

smart fountainsDo you follow us on LinkedIn?

The smart drinking fountains, which will initially be installed in hospitals, daycare centers and schools, are equipped with sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor water quality and flow levels. The sensors then send that data to the cloud and back with alerts if water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

Gillespie said the flow and water quality sensors give an accurate indicator of when the lead filter should be changed compared to traditional filters — like refrigerator filters — that measure flow only.

If water quality begins to deteriorate, alerts are sent by text or email to water managers, while… (Read More).

Data Management Tool Saves Big

A control system that’s responsible for servicing over 150,000 people has multiple applications, each with its own data source, and requires a tedious, time-consuming process of manually sifting through paper logbooks and binder after binder of printed reports when gaps exist in data sets.

This wastes time, money and causes a major headache for plant employees.

The City of Barrie was determined to fix this, saving 60 to 70-percent of the time previously used as a result of digital transformation.

By implementing a new data management tool, e.RIS, it allowed for:

  • Data commenting
  • Workflow for report approvals
  • Tag merge
  • Lab data integration and electronic logbooks

Learn more about e.RIS and catch up on other success stories:

Get More Info

What You Need to Know about the ISA 101 HMI Standard: Empowering the Operator

Updated on April 5, 2017 

A HMI by itself is only a tool.

To be useful, it needs to be used — and that involves an operator. The ISA 101 group understood this, dedicating considerable space in the standard explaining how the makeup of HMIs should be designed to accommodate the operator.

I strongly believe one of the best things we can do in life is teach others how to accomplish a task. Teaching is a noble profession, perhaps the most noble around.

Somebody had to go through the trouble of learning the lesson before passing it on. Imagine how tough life would be if we had to learn and re-learn things over and over, constantly starting from scratch. Imagine if nothing was documented and there was no direction.HMI

If we want to learn how to do something today, we go to YouTube and select one of the dozens of tutorial videos available online. It’s nearly inconceivable to think of Googling a “how-to” problem and nothing popping up on your screen.

It’s because people spend the time to document and upload these lessons in order to pass on the knowledge that they’ve learned, saving the rest of the world from painstakingly trying to start from zero.

The ISA 101 HMI committee, a group formed to establish guidelines for human-machine interfaces in manufacturing and processing applications, published a set of standards for the industrial user interface that does just that.

The standard serves as an exhaustive set of guidelines created to help organizations design, build and operate effective HMIs. According to the authors, the primary purpose of the standard (and its accompanying technical reports) is to “help users understand the basic concepts” of a HMI and “more readily accept the style of human-machine interface that the standard recommends.”

The standard isn’t meant to be an out-of-the-box, by the letter set of guidelines for companies to follow. Rather, the standard is more of a set of criteria that gives organizations direction on how to create a set of standards for human-machine interfaces.

When all aspects and guidelines are taken into account, the ISA 101 group suggests they will contribute to reducing human error.

With respect to the actual device and its environment, the ISA committee included various suggestions ranging from guidelines for ambient lighting to density of displayed information and more.

It also outlines guidelines for user cognitive limits, offering suggestions for dealing with how a HMI’s design could impact cognitive processes that allow the operator to transform, reduce, store, recover and use sensory input.

The ISA 101 standards group committed much time setting up some guidelines for the way an operator physically interacts with HMIs, a practice commonly referred to as human factors engineering (HFE).

The HFE aspect of the standard provides guidance on how to design HMIs with respect to an operator’s needs. This guidance includes, but isn’t limited to, how the HMI functions intuitively, if it supports both normal and abnormal tasks— such as those experienced in alarm situations— and how it provides controls and information appropriate to specific tasks.

The goal of the standard’s recommendations on setting guidelines around how a HMI impacts the operator and vice versa is to improve their awareness of what’s happening in the process now and what will happen in the future. Inadequate situational awareness, ISA 101 group said, is a leading contributor to accidents that are attributed to human error.

Join me for my on-demand webinar, Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

The work is based on decades of experience, includes several suggestions based on best practices and has a number of strong guidelines for specific situations.

Throughout the course of the standard the ISA 101 committee addresses the philosophy, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) for process automation systems. Much time is spent on the user, dedicating guidelines to improve the user’s ability to detect, diagnose and properly respond to abnormal situations.

The 61-page standard was a collaborative effort written by a group of veteran automation professionals including end users, integrators, academics and solution-focused professional services engineers, such as myself.

While the document provides a breadth of knowledge, there are a few important highlights in the document you should know about if you are someone who works with a HMI on a regular basis.

The Big Three: HMI Philosophy, Style Guide & Toolkit

A large portion of the document includes the creation of a system standard for HMIs, which establishes a lifecycle model for packages and provides a roadmap for how they should be developed and managed properly.

This management system serves as a sort of “standards gatekeeper” for HMI display and major system changes. The punch list of guidelines acts as a must-have set of standards, assuring major system changes adhere to agreed-upon guides or the existing pre-ISA 101 HMIs are continuously improved when display changes are made.

The management system is comprised of three parts: HMI philosophy, style guide and toolkit.

1) HMI Philosophy

As it pertains to the managed lifecycle of a HMI, the ISA 101 committee suggests a philosophy that provides “a foundation of concepts” that lets new developers and users understand devices better. The ISA asserts if the person understands the what, why and how of a certain device, that person will in turn create and maintain an effective HMI.

The HMI philosophy should be a strategic document, the standard states, which addresses guiding principles governing the design structure of the HMI. Suggestions for guiding principles are provided such as operational requirements, design standards and guidelines, work practices and more.

2) Style Guide

This provides the guidance for designing and building displays.

The HMI style guide includes the specific standards and guidelines for the design and implementation of the configurable HMI, drawn largely from the specifications set by the appropriate company or facility.

Since the standard is additive by nature, the style guide should incorporate and reinforce the guiding principles in the HMI philosophy, general design rules for displays and their associated applications, as well as provide guidance on usage of scripting, embedded logic and the use of color.

3) Toolkit

The standard lays out guidelines for a HMI Toolkit, the collection of design guidelines for use within a given platform.

The toolkit is designed to meet style guide requirements and includes display templates, pop-ups and faceplates, as well as static and dynamic graphic symbols.

Included in the standard’s document is a roadmap detailing guidelines for the process design, implementation and operation of HMIs.

Empowerment Through Knowledge: A List of Common Terms & Guidelines for Training

The standard suggests organizations should wrap HMI training into its existing training processes and follow relevant change management procedures for adjustments to the instruction just like any other training.

Training is broken into four areas: operations, maintenance, engineering and administration and management.

Operations: The ISA 101 standard recommends outlining training for operational tasks associated with the HMI such as interaction with the control system under all modes of operation, using the alarm system, retrieving historical data and more.

Maintenance: With respect to maintenance, it suggests training plant or site maintenance staff to be prepared to use the HMI to accomplish required tasks, as well as vendor documentation for both HMI hardware components and configuration tools, in addition to other things.

Engineering and Administration: On the engineering and administration side, training for the implementation or modification of the HMI should include familiarity with operation functionality, diagnostic tools, system backup and recovery procedures and more.

Management: The standard touches on management training by suggesting education of access to high-level production and plant-operating information.

Common HMI Terms & Acronyms

Included in the standard is an exhaustive, long list of industry terms and acronyms. From “alarm” to “yoking,” the document contains 46 terms with detailed definitions and another 16 acronyms.

While the list might seem a bit excessive for veteran automation professionals, its thoroughness plays a dual role. Both sides support the purpose of the standard.

Defining a term provides an accepted, agreed upon set of terms for the things we use on a daily basis that can provide guidance to newer engineers. It also clearly explains what the term means in simple, straightforward terms. This states what the term is, but more importantly defines what it is not.

It­­ spells out the 16 most common acronyms automation professionals encounter in the industry, providing a much-needed reference for the abbreviations that color so many conversations like HMI, SCADA, I/O and more.

Again, defining an acronym goes a long way towards clearing the confusion between automation and general computing. An example is the acronym “FAT.”

FAT translates to “Factory Acceptance Test” in an automation conversation, and means “File Allocation Table” when referencing the file system structure in general computing terms.

Apart from providing clarity, the definitions included come from a place of experience. So, it’s a far better reference for knowledge than an internet source with no attribution, such as Wikipedia.

Even with the intuitive design of most modern HMIs screens, the navigation and usage can be daunting for those new to the industry. The ISA guidelines on training users helps spread knowledge in an effort to create and empower all operators to be the best operators.

Looking Towards the Future: ISA 112 SCADA

The newly formed group ISA 112, SCADA Systems, is expected to release a series of ISA standards and technical reports in the not-so-distant future.

It will provide guidance on system design, implementation, operation and maintenance of SCADA systems by showcasing case studies of best practices within a range of industries.

The focus will be on companies and utilities within water and wastewater, power, oil and gas, as well as other industrial organizations that rely on SCADA systems.

Currently, there is no set release date as it’s still in the drafting process. I’ll be providing more information once it’s available in early May after the ISA Spring Leaders’ meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.

With the popularity of the Industrial Internet comes pressure that you have to change now to survive.

Embracing data and analytics as the driving force of your transformation is key, and that’s where I come in to help.

Transformation is Now

I’m looking forward to helping you take the first steps to becoming a digital, industrial company.

Join me for my on-demand webinar Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

Let me demystify the beginning of the digital journey for you. Through my expertise, I’ve helped guide some of the most innovative companies through digital transformation.

Curious about how the GE Transportation Brilliant Manufacturing project started? How about the biggest mistakes companies make in the beginning, or what the next step is?

Getting insights that unlock unprecedented efficiencies and allow for process optimization is the goal of all industrial companies.

Everybody wants to thrive in the digital world, let me help you get there.

Reserve My Spot

 

3 Lessons from the Unsung Hero: HMI/SCADA

Unsung hero (noun). One who does great deeds but receives little or no recognition for them.

While in the midst of a changing industry, data revolution, and shift to focusing on operational efficiency, it’s no surprise that something like the HMI/SCADA landscape could be overlooked as the driving force behind efficiency.

In fact, in a recent guest post for ISA Interchange, Matt Wells, general manager of Automation Software Solutions at GE Digital declared HMI/SCADA as the unsung hero of eliminating unplanned downtime.

“Some engineers have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, without realizing that continuing to use obsolete systems to collect, connect, and act upon vast amounts of production data from anywhere will inevitably lead to higher, hidden costs associated with big repairs and unplanned downtime,”  said Wells.

Take Microsoft’s Windows XP that was launched in 2001. A large amount of control systems were launched with the platform because it was secure and stable. But as with many forms of technology, it became outdated and is no longer supported– making it extremely vulnerable to malware.

But Wells said this vulnerability and others can be avoided, as long as organizations reap the benefits from new technologies. Unplanned downtime can be avoided with HMI/SCADA.

Here are three important lessons from Wells’ post:

HMI/SCADA: The Gateway to the Industrial Internet

According to Wells, many HMI/SCADA developers have embraced OPC Unified Architecture, meaning their software can communicate with hundreds of different devices. With the strengthened security and multi-platform support, leveraging the Industrial Internet is made possible.

In other words, using the data that’s being collected by your SCADA allows you to identify more areas for efficiency improvement– whether that’s faster troubleshooting, lower operational costs, or increased energy savings. It’s the pathway to successfully leveraging the Industrial Internet.

Test Now, Save Later

No one is immune from security threats. And running through risk assessments once a year just isn’t going to cut it.

Wells urges the importance of regular risk assessments incorporated into schedule. Of course, the frequency of assessments might differ based on industry and plant apps. However, by starting small with a conservative goal, this can be accomplished.

According to Wells, there are a few things to remember when making strides toward more regular risk assessments.

  • Update your software with the latest patches
  • Employ secure technologies and methodologies
  • Follow the guidelines for maximizing security provided by your software partners

Don’t Forget to Upgrade Your HMI/SCADA

We couldn’t discuss avoiding unplanned downtime in a plant without acknowledging the importance of upgrading a SCADA.

“This can be addressed in a step-by-step approach that will not only increase uptime, but provide a range of benefits for your processing facility while preparing your plant for the future, a future where the Industrial Internet of Things is a reality,” said Wells.

If your software is more outdated than it should be, make a plan now to upgrade securely. Wells assures there are many benefits for modernizing your system.

  • Enhancing the security of your systems
  • Avoiding obsolescence
  • Leveraging the Industrial Internet and Real-time Operational Intelligence
  • Benefiting from new functionalities
  • Being able to mobilize your application – quickly and easily

And here’s a few other notable stories from the week:

Mapping the Road to 5G: The Network for the Internet of ThingsSONY DSC

Information Age said this week that the move from 4G to 5G is inevitable– especially in an age fueled by data, video, and mobile browsing.

According to the article, 5G is being defined by new radio access technology, multi-layered networks that can handle high throughputs and data volumes at very low latency.

“5G was born not only because of the user applications demanding high throughputs and high bandwidth, but also the increasingly popular trends of connected smart devices that will flood global markets in the near future,” said Ben Rossi of Information Age. “With the increase in wearable technology, motion-based sensors, voice command and eye movement sensors, 5G use cases are being driven by low latency and high-reliability requirements of these sensor-connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices.” 

Reliability will be vital in the 5G/IoT network, and “insights-driven, customer-centric service level assurance will play a big part in ensuring reliability and the promise of 5G networks.”

Cars, Trains, and the IoT

According to Hannah Augur of Dataconomy, the public transit in London made various strides toward the Internet of Things about a year ago, and other major cities are exploring new ways to use technology in this area as well.Unsung-Hero-HMI/SCADA

While driverless cars are exciting and often talked about, there are many other examples of connectivity in modern travel. But Augur suggests three specific areas where we might actually see this change take shape:

  • Usage-based insurance
  • Micronavigation
  • Connectivity

Read the full article for more insight on future “smart transit”.

HMI Interfaces: A Renaissance

The human-machine interface (HMI) is in the midst of a “rejuvenation,” thanks to touch-screen technology seen in smartphones and tablets, according to Al Presher of Design News.

By throwing powerful microprocessors and connectivity options into the mix, there are more possibilities than ever.

“The emergence of mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets is having a greater impact on HMI development,” said Jen Vacendak, product support engineer and trainer for B&R Industrial Automation. “As new engineers enter the picture, they are accustomed to using those types of devices and we’ll be seeing more of a merger between the two technologies.”

Presher predicts a key trend in the HMI renaissance to be remote monitoring, and the ability to view screens on mobile devices–providing valuable insight into any issues, any where, any time.

“Other interesting developments are the continuing miniaturization and improved power efficiency of electronics,” said Presher. “We may see the HMI mounted on the surface of the enclosure or the machine with just small hole(s) in the panel for power and communications instead of having to cut a rectangular opening in a panel to mount the HMI device.”

 

Media We Link To:

“The Unsung Hero of Eliminating Unplanned Downtime: HMI/SCADA” – Matt Wells, ISA Interchange 

“The rise of 5G: the network for the Internet of Things” –  Information Age

“Cars, Trains, and the Internet of Things” – Dataconomy 

“Human-Machine Interfaces Are Undergoing a Renaissance” – Design News

Contact GrayMatter

Get in touch with us!