Assembling The Puzzle Pieces Of Digital Transformation

Presented by Inductive Automation, Cirrus Link Solutions, Sepasoft, Opto 22, and 4IR Solutions

61 min video  /  52 minute read Download PDF


Travis Cox

Chief Technology Evangelist

Inductive Automation

Kurt Hochanadel

Director of Sales and Marketing

Cirrus Link Solutions

Benson Hougland


Opto 22

Mark French

Director of Design Consultation


James Burnand


4IR Solutions

Digital Transformation is a multi-layered process that requires data and connectivity on every level. Each level of connectivity presents its own challenges and complexities, but you can definitely achieve Digital Transformation when you have the right lineup of solutions.

In this webinar, you will see how to build a scalable system for SCADA, MES, IIoT, and Digital Transformation, step by step. Experts from Inductive Automation, Cirrus Link Solutions, Sepasoft, Opto 22, and 4IR Solutions will explain how their respective software and hardware components fit together to create a seamless automation ecosystem within an Ignition Hub and Spoke Architecture.

Solve the Digital Transformation puzzle by learning about:

  • Opto 22 devices for connecting to field I/O devices and more
  • Data modeling with Ignition Edge & Cirrus Link’s MQTT software
  • Sepasoft’s innovative modules for centralized MES
  • Connecting to the cloud with 4IR Solutions’ fully managed solution




0:00:00.0 Travis Cox: Hello everybody, and welcome to our webinar, "Assembling The Puzzle Pieces Of Digital Transformation." We're so glad that you can join us here today, and we have a really great webinar in store for you. I'm Travis Cox, I'm the Chief Technology Evangelist here in Inductive Automation, but we have some amazing speakers joining me today. Joining me is Benson Hougland, the Vice President of Opto 22. Kurt Hochanadel the Director of Sales and Marketing for Cirrus Link Solutions. Mark French, the Director of Design Consultation for Sepasoft, and James Burnand, CEO of 4IR Solutions. So, panelists, thank you all for being here today. Can you each take a minute and tell us a little more about yourself and your company, Benson, I'll start with you first.

0:00:45.6 Benson Hougland: Thanks Travis. Yeah, as Travis said, my name is Benson Hougland. I am responsible for product strategy and marketing here at Opto 22 and nearing my 30 year anniversary with the company. I just wanna say I'm very excited to participate with this esteemed panel in this event.

0:01:02.8 Travis Cox: Thank you so much, Benson. How about you, Kurt?

0:01:05.7 Kurt Hochanadel: Yeah, I'm Kurt Hochanadel. I've been working with Cirrus Link since 2015, but been doing MQTT since it was invented in 1999. Been doing data production, OT environments for communications for over 30 years. Excited about this call. I think it'd be very interesting information where people are definitely looking to do the Digital Transformation on their data assets, and I look forward to it.

0:01:31.0 Travis Cox: Absolutely. Thanks. Thank you, Kurt. And Mark.

0:01:34.4 Mark French: Thanks Travis. Yeah, pleasure to be here. My name's Mark. I'm the Director of Design Consultation at Sepasoft. I oversee our sales engineering and training activity and looking forward to discussing Digital Transformation in MES. Thanks.

0:01:48.2 Travis Cox: Thank you. Of course. Last but not least, James.

0:01:51.8 James Burnand: Thanks Travis. So, James Burnand. I'm the CEO of 4IR Solutions. I did some math the other day, and this is my 25th year in the industry, working in industrial automation, controls, cloud, all things in this space. I've actually been with 4IR Solutions just over three years, helping manufacturers in their journey to the cloud, and excited to be a part of the panel today.

0:02:09.5 Travis Cox: Absolutely. Thank you all for being here today. Let's go on to look at the agenda here for today. So first, we're gonna be talking about what Digital Transformation is and what it means to you. Then we're gonna talk about how to build robust architectures that can help facilitate Digital Transformation and enable multiple solutions to work seamlessly together. So Benson is gonna talk about Opto 22's edge devices and how we can connect to the edge. After that, Kurt will explain how Cirrus Link's software and MQTT can help you prepare and transfer data across your entire enterprise. Next, Mark will then talk about how Sepasoft modules work with Ignition and enable you to build MES applications using that data. And then James will explain how 4IR Solutions provides an easy way to deploy Ignition and its partner ecosystem into the cloud via a fully managed solution.

0:03:01.8 Travis Cox: After that, we'll have a discussion about how it all fits together and offer other Digital Transformation insights. And we'll finish up with the Q&A to answer any questions that you all might have. If you think of a question during the webinar, please go ahead and type it into the questions area of the GoTo Webinar control panel, and we'll answer as many of them as we can. If we can't get to your question today, though, I encourage you to reach out to one of our account representatives, and we'll get that question answered for you. Also, this webinar and the webinar slides will be made available within the next few days if you want to go over it again or share with anybody else in your organization who wasn't able to make it here today. So you'll be able to get access to the recording and, again, all that slide deck shortly after.

0:03:42.1 Travis Cox: Alright, so first to introduce Inductive Automation for the folks who may not know a lot about our company and our product. Here are a few facts about us. We are a software company, and we make software for problem solvers and we're focused on our software platform, Ignition. We've been in business for 21 years, and we have a very large footprint across all verticals in over a 100 countries. And we're working with 61% of Fortune 100 and 44% of Fortune 500 companies that are using Ignition. We grew from integration roots, and we have a very strong integrator program with over 4000 integrators supporting customers worldwide. Our company is a completely independent, private company, and really, our focus is on providing the best platform that we can for our customers. And that is Ignition. Ignition is a universal industrial application platform to build any kind of application.

0:04:37.7 Travis Cox: HMI, SCADA, MES, IIoT are the common ones, but it can go well beyond what you do from a SCADA or a plant floor into the kinds of solutions you can build. It acts as a central hub for everything on the plant floor, and it allows you to create really any kind of application that is fully web-based, web-managed, and web-deployed. Its licensing model is unlimited; it's fully cross-platform; and it offers industrial strength, security, and stability. And as we'll discuss here today, it allows you to unlock all kinds of powerful solutions both on premise and in the cloud with these really powerful hybrid architectures. Alright, so let's kick it off here to start talking about Digital Transformation. And when we start looking at this topic, there are a lot of general thoughts we have to keep in mind.

0:05:25.8 Travis Cox: First, we know that all successful Digital Transformation projects are about improving processes through the use of digital technologies. So because every organization's processes and needs are unique, every organization's Digital Transformation will be unique. Also, we should think of it as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Digital Transformation is something that you start, but it's never completely finished because there's always a need to improve and grow. Have you ever heard the saying data is king? Well, that is so true, and it definitely applies to Digital Transformation, is the underpin of Digital Transformation. You can only achieve Digital Transformation if you have access to your data and that your entire enterprise is seamlessly connected and working with that information. A key part of Digital Transformation is leveraging open standards to promote interoperability and to allow organizations to use best-in-class products that work together seamlessly.

0:06:25.3 Travis Cox: Standards like OPC UA, MQTT, and Sparkplug have made it possible to put together architectures and achieve outcomes that seemed impossible before. Organizations are demanding platforms and tools that promote openness and transparency. With modern platforms, organizations are able to avoid vendor lock-in, innovate, solve challenges, and open access to data to bridge the divide between OT and IT. To achieve data connectivity and Digital Transformation, we need a set of compatible technologies that communicate through these open standards from edge to cloud. And this is what we call the "puzzle pieces of Digital Transformation." So here you're seeing an architecture with the Ignition platform working with solutions from Inductive Automation Software. Our solutions partner program Opto 22, Cirrus Link Solutions, Sepasoft, and 4IR Solutions. Our solution partners are solutions and technology providers that make software and hardware powered by Ignition to add MES, IIOT, edge, and cloud functionality as well as seamlessly connect different parts of your system.

0:07:31.8 Travis Cox: Opto 22's devices, coupled with Ignition Edge, enable you to bring Brownfield and Greenfield data together and add context. The data can then be consolidated and communicated with Cirrus Link's MQTT software, and sent to the central Ignition gateway. At the center of the puzzle, Ignition processes and distributes data to the applications that it's hosting, such as Ignition HMIs and visualization, and MES from Sepasoft. Lastly, Cirrus Link modules can further connect your system to the enterprise with application like Snowflake's cloud data platform, and 4IR makes it easy to build and manage the infrastructure needed to make all of this successful. So first, to really talk about how the edge works in architecture, I'm gonna send it over to Benson from Opto 22 to look at that piece of the architecture.

0:08:19.3 Benson Hougland: Great, thanks, Travis. So I will be representing the edge of our architecture, where we'll perform many tasks. But before I get into that, think about when you assemble an actual puzzle. Don't you usually start at the edge? We group all the edge of pieces, we assemble them, and then start filling in the rest of the puzzle. So metaphorically speaking, we'll take a similar approach here. First, we'll identify the assets and devices that make up our operations at the edge. Then we'll connect, collect, control, store, and even structure that data for use throughout our digital architecture, and we'll use Ignition at the edge to help achieve this. So for those of you who are unfamiliar with Opto 22, here's a little background. We are a California-based privately held manufacturer of industrial automation hardware and software with five decades of experience and installed base in the millions at thousands of customers worldwide.

0:09:20.8 Benson Hougland: And we're known for highly reliable, mission-critical USA made products backed by lifetime warranties. But what makes us unique is our engineering philosophy for combining rugged, reliable OT systems with open IT technologies into affordable and versatile products that save you time, money, and effort. But what problems are we trying to solve at the edge of our digital architecture? First and foremost, how do we simplify our edge related systems? As depicted in the image here, there are a lot of pieces and parts stitched together to achieve a desired automation objective. And these pieces cross one or more organizational domains—in other words, both IT and OT domains. Moreover, many of these pieces weren't designed with security and data democratization in mind and certainly not the notion of scale. So while newer edge technologies are entering the market to address these points, they tend to rely heavily on IT-based experts, which proves challenging for the boots-on-the-ground OT folks.

0:10:20.3 Benson Hougland: So how do we solve these problems? Well, again, start with devices on the edge. What if we could combine many of the function specific devices in the top image into one edge device that's simpler, more secure, and manageable? Kind of like how the smartphone transformed the cellular phone market. I mean, think about all the function-specific gadgets you used to carry around that have been replaced by your smartphone: your camera, your music player, your video player, your navigation, flashlight, email, the list goes on. So at the edge, we can simplify the OT tool set down to a single device, connect and protect the system and the Brownfield devices connected to it using onboard cybersecurity technologies like accounts, certificates, firewalls, and even segmented networking. And then we use Ignition running at the edge to collect, process, and model all of that disparate device data into contextual user-defined data types, essentially creating the single source of truth.

0:11:26.9 Benson Hougland: Then we'll securely publish that model data into the digital infrastructure using open technologies our next presenter will discuss, like MQTT and Sparkplug. So wouldn't that be cool? So here's one such edge device you might consider: The Edge Programmable Industrial Controller, or EPIC for short, the groov EPIC combines tons of functionality into a single OT manageable device. Like your smartphone, you can choose to use all the functionality EPIC offers or just the one suitable for your application. For example, you may not need the PLC or IO functionality, but you do need a secure device that can connect, collect, model, and transmit contextual information quickly, securely, and efficiently. But most importantly, this device performs important gateway functions like segmenting your OT or trusted network from IT networks or business networks you may not trust, all the while blocking unauthorized access with its built-in firewall.

0:12:37.5 Benson Hougland: And groov EPIC was designed to be owned and managed by OT while also IT approved for their networks and infrastructure. So here's an EPIC system architecture illustrating how we're connecting OT systems like Brownfield devices and standard IO at the bottom of the diagram to lots of onboard apps like Ignition Edge with Cirrus Link modules and then securely transmitting all the necessary OT data up into the digital infrastructure for consumption by a myriad of applications. Notably, Ignition Standard or Ignition Cloud Edition, Sepasoft MES, or even Snowflake, and also directly to your mobile or computer-based devices. Another option is groov RIO, a remote intelligent IO device with most of the features of EPIC, including Ignition Edge and top-notch security features. And because RIO has 10 channels of software-configurable IO like analog and discrete signals (both ins and outs), thermocouples, and much more, this device is perfectly suited for digitizing older equipment you want to connect to your digital infrastructure through standard IO interfaces.

0:13:45.9 Benson Hougland: We even have a version of RIO named RIO EMU, which stands for Energy Monitoring Unit and check out the free RIO EMU resource on the Ignition Exchange, which makes integrating energy monitoring into Ignition dead simple. So we'll wrap up with the groov RIO System architecture, which appears similar to the EPIC architecture, same concepts, less expensive package, and ideal for smaller jobs with lower point counts. To learn more about groov EPIC and RIO, I invite you to check out our solution partner page on Inductive Automation's website at the URL shown on this slide. Or just go to IA's homepage, choose partners, solution partners, and you'll find Opto there. Thank you all for attending and learning more about the edge puzzle piece. Back to you, Travis.

0:14:31.5 Travis Cox: Alright, thank you so much, Benson, for looking at that at the edge. Now we're gonna look at how we can take that data and then bring it up to higher levels. And for that, over to you there, Kurt.

0:14:44.5 Kurt Hochanadel: Thanks Travis. First, a little bit about Cirrus Link. Cirrus Link is a solely software company. Doesn't do integration, doesn't do any hardware like Opto 22 does. It's very good. It was founded in 2012 by Chris Houghton and Arlen Nipper. Its core focus when Cirrus Link was started was to focus on bringing MQTT connectivity back to the OT world. And this is kind of ideal, 'cause as Arlen Nipper, is our co-founder and our CTO, he is the co-inventor of MQTT. And then in 2015, we came upon a lucky arrangement with Inductive Automation, where we became a strategic partner with Inductive Automation to enable the Ignition Platform to utilize MQTT technology in delivering system solutions for that purpose. On this, there's really three basic core modules that Cirrus Link offers. The first one is the MQTT Transmission Module. This module runs at the edge, like on the Opto groov EPIC, and basically transforms your Ignition data, Ignition tags, Ignition UDTs into MQTT Sparkplug information, which I'll talk about Sparkplug here a little bit.

0:16:04.7 Kurt Hochanadel: Its main focus is to connect to your MQTT server, publish that data off. It also has the capability of doing store and forward without requiring a historian. So if there is a failure on the network connection as an outbound push to a broker, or if your primary Ignition application goes offline, it has store and forward capabilities to store all the data that's being changed at the edge until the failure is corrected. The second module is the MQTT Server Module. So as MQTT is a pub-sub architecture, you need a kind of a post office or a message-delivering mechanism that's called the MQTT server or MQTT broker. Now there are those in the marketplace that you can buy standalone. We sell one called Chariot. There's open source ones; there's other companies like HiveMQ that make them. But in most systems where we're doing OT and with Ignition, it is nice to have everything contained in the same pane of glass.

0:17:07.1 Kurt Hochanadel: And so we developed the MQTT Distributor Module, which runs as an MQTT server on Ignition itself. So you don't need to actually deploy a separate server, and it runs as that broker for you in those types of architectures. The last module is the MQTT Engine Module. This is kind of the opposite of the Transmission Module. It subscribes to MQTT data, whether it's Sparkplug or it could be custom data from a custom topic, and it'll enable you to create tags with an Ignition at a hub and spoke architecture to basically utilize all the data coming from the data producers, from all the edge devices, into a central system that then can be deployed to other applications that we'll discuss further in this webinar. So as we're talking about Digital Transformation and how Travis was saying data is king, I also like to say data connectivity is king and is critical.

0:17:58.7 Kurt Hochanadel: So Ignition is a very important component of this at the edge, to provide a tool set that allows you to connect to your data producers at the edge and allow that data to be built into models. So when you're looking at most of our implementations from different companies, they'll have multiple factories. These factories are been installed at different times. They'll have different types of equipment, different PLCs, and different data producers. So core to that is a platform like Ignition that allows you to connect to all these data assets, and the connectivity is critical. So it might be databases, it might be other MQTT components, it could be an OPC server that you're connecting to. But all this needs to go to a platform that can provide that data connectivity and do the transformation of that data into a data standard that fits your Digital Transformation journey. And this is where you build models or UDTs of that data that you want to push outbound to an MQTT server and then have all that metadata and all that data abstraction layer be benefited upstream to all your applications.

0:19:17.1 Kurt Hochanadel: And this is what Ignition does, and MQTT provides that foundation to publish those models. And then, once published, it provides the efficiency of sending the data as data changes are happening. So to make this happen, to make the Digital Transformation journey be built, you need a data pipeline.

0:19:33.7 Kurt Hochanadel: And as Travis stated and Vincent was stating, it needs to be built on open standards. MQTT is open; it's used in billions of devices in all types of applications, it's very simple to implement. So that's a starting point. And it's basically a pub/sub architecture. And so what MQTT is key in providing, the decoupling of the data. So today, you might have one application that's subscribed to data, and everything's working fine.

0:19:44.2 Kurt Hochanadel: But as we've seen the new invention of different AI components, you know, ChatGPT and other things, you might have other consumers of this data that you don't even know about. So you need to be able to have that data easily consumable by multiple applications. And a pub/sub architecture that allows you to publish data, a one-to-many scenario is key to this, and this is what MQTT provides. The second scenario is the importance of security. Needing data to be securely delivered is critical in any OT application.

0:20:35.9 Kurt Hochanadel: And as MQTT is an outbound connection from your lower level, let's say the factory floor, to an upper level as a data center or a hub architecture, it's an outbound TLS connection that is secure and encrypted. So you don't have to have any ports open on the factory floor and allow the data to be pushed in a secure, encrypted manner. Another key component that MQTT provides with the adventation of Sparkplug is very efficient communication. So once you send the data up and you wanna publish the data, you wanna be able to publish it in an efficient manner and do report by exception technologies with MQTT provides data efficiency. So you're not sending all the data all the time, like you do in a poll response network.

0:21:20.0 Kurt Hochanadel: You're only sending data that's being changed based upon your dead bands you set on Ignition and the scan rates that you're scanning your data. So it's very, very efficient, which can be cost-effective when implementing these new strategies of consumptions of applications in the higher-level side of the Digital Transformation. Now, in order to do this Digital Transformation and what we've developed and provided to the marketplace is Sparkplug.

0:21:46.4 Kurt Hochanadel: And Sparkplug is a standardization of using MQTT, you know, meant for this purpose. The nice thing about MQTT and its ease of use is that you typically can publish any topic with any type of data. You can publish waveforms, you can publish XML, JSON, any kind of byte arrays. The payload is agnostic. You can send anything. The problem with that, it doesn't allow for, you know, self-awareness and of efficiency of use, or actually be able to learn stuff on the fly without explicitly knowing what the topic is and what the payload is.

0:22:20.5 Kurt Hochanadel: So in order to bypass this, Cirrus Link developed Sparkplug with our 25 years of experience of OT environments MQTT as a foundation of delivering data in OT environments for Digital Transformation and operations. It's an open standard, it's an ISO standard, and it provides the foundation to basically self-learn, and it's self-aware as a new site comes along or as you change it. It's an auto-discovery mechanism on MQTT, so if I'm a host and a new site comes online and it publishes, you basically learn all the data, all the models, everything on the fly, and it allows that Digital Transformation to happen. So the self-learning auto-discovery is critical. It also provides a stateful management and mechanism that knows that the device is online in case of outages or OT operations.

0:23:08.0 Kurt Hochanadel: The last thing it does, it does provide that foundation to do the unified namespace enablement. So as you build out your data models within Ignition and your folder structures that might follow the ISA-95 model of enterprise site level, core area, those same levels can be put into your Ignition folder structures, of which all that UNS structure is sent along with Sparkplug so that as the applications are subscribing to this data, they will know exactly where it came from and it's self-described of its data. So the UNS is enabled through MQTT and Sparkplug. So we look forward to any questions at the end, and thank you for attending this presentation. Back to you, Travis.

0:23:54.0 Travis Cox: Thank you so much, Kurt. Okay, to continue on in our journey, we've now talked about how to connect to the edge. We can bring that data up to our central applications via MQTT and Sparkplug. Now we're gonna look at the application layer itself. And for that, I'm gonna send over to Mark to tell us a little bit about the puzzle pieces of MES.

0:24:15.9 Mark French: Thank you, Travis. Yeah, so thus far we've been discussing these enablement technologies for Digital Transformation. And so I'd like to take a minute and talk about the opportunities for Digital Transformation at the MES layer and what that means, talk about leveraging Digital Transformation, and then the future of Digital Transformation for MES.

0:24:36.0 Mark French: So one of the last places that typically sees this transformation is that gap between the automation systems of the plant floor and business systems. And this is exactly the gap that we live in with MES. So usually that's a manual and paper systems, maybe custom in-house apps, but disconnects are quite common. We wanna show that those opportunities afforded by Ignition and Sepasoft MES can be leveraged with the enablement technologies to really bring about transformative change for your manufacturing business. But notice that when we're at this point, we're going to impact how people do their work. So we're bringing data to bear on the processes directly, improving performance, quality, and documentation.

0:25:19.6 Mark French: So what are we talking about here? We're talking about workflow management, batch control. We're talking about material traceability and inventory. We're talking about KPIs and performance metrics, real-time quality statistics, and much, much more. So these are the opportunities. There's several key areas. Obviously, we're doing a high-level overview. We're not gonna do a deep dive. But this is really brought about through the Ignition ecosystem.

0:25:47.4 Mark French: Next slide. So how are we accomplishing this? This might be a little bit more for the technical members of the audience. But you can see on Ignition and with the partner ecosystem, we have this incredible communication capability, both up and down. And then what are we doing with it when it comes to manufacturing execution systems? Well, we're providing the capability to define, track, control, and report on those industrial processes in real time.

0:26:16.6 Mark French: So we've heard a lot already about modeling. And so the models involved are critical for process definition, the bills of material, the bills of process, recipes, quality samples, and so forth. So we provide out-of-the-box tools for those that can, of course, be extended for the need circumstances of a given application. We also provide live monitoring and analysis in the context of Ignition. So we're leveraging Perspective. We're leveraging the alarming system and bringing to bear on that MES-specific data, material traceability, electronic batch records, and more.

0:26:55.6 Mark French: For process control, of course, we have scheduling, production execution tools, again, batch-related execution items, WIP inventory, and more. And then we want to be able to expose that information in a context that makes sense to other consumers in this very open architecture that we've seen so far. So we need to share data appropriately to ERP, to engineering systems like PLM, and, of course, clean contextual data to our higher-level analytics, AI, machine learning, and business intelligence tools as well.

0:27:29.9 Mark French: So you can see a sampling of the technologies displayed there. So these are the opportunities for Digital Transformation, replacing those paper or point solutions. But what does that mean, leveraging it? What does it mean to the folks on the floor? Let's go to the next slide and see a quick example. So when we're leveraging Digital Transformation, we can make a direct impact to the folks on the floor by delivering them the information they need in the correct context in real-time.

0:27:56.3 Mark French: Here you can see some productivity and KPI information in a user-configurable dashboard, thanks to Perspective. Of course, when it comes to workflow and recipe, we need to make sure that the right tasks are carried out in the right sequence, the right data, the right people, equipment, and materials, et cetera. So here you can see a graphical tool for configuring that workflow, and we have the same type of feature for runtime viewing, making sure that we have the right information and that we're carrying out our processes properly.

0:28:29.2 Mark French: We'll see a genealogy tree, so we can see where the material went, what equipment did it get processed at, what quantities were consumed, what was the status of the material, who touched it last. And then we can assess things like, "Did we get the electronic signature for that exception, for that quality that was on the bubble, but we determined it was okay to use the material?" and so on and so forth. So we can answer these questions in real time and also report on them afterwards.

0:28:58.6 Mark French: So we've seen a number of quick examples of leveraging. Here on the last slide, we'll take a look at the future of Digital Transformation for MES. So with Ignition's communication capability, we're ready to share data bidirectionally with future tools, and I think that's critical. We all have an idea of what we think is next, but we don't really know. So we need to stay open, and that's really a core tenet of the Ignition platform. Further, we need to represent that clean contextual data to higher-level analytical tools, and that's what we do with our MES products. Lastly, we need to provide a place to apply any insights, optimizations, or learnings from those higher-level systems, and that's the point of execution. That's manufacturing execution systems. That's what we're here for.

0:29:43.3 Mark French: Well, thanks for your attention. If you'd like to learn more about Sepasoft and the other solution partners, please take a look at the Inductive Automation Solutions Partner webpage. Back to you, Travis.

0:29:54.4 Travis Cox: Thank you so much, Mark, for talking about the application layer. And as we look at that at stack, being able to bring that data up into the application layer, whether it's your SCADA application, your MES application, there is important data, that fundamental data from your plant floor, your machines, your assets, and being able to bring it to any kind of application, that source of truth that gets brought up is really important.

0:30:20.0 Travis Cox: It helps us build these applications in a much more robust way. But as we all know, there's more to it in the architecture than just the applications. There's the infrastructure this has to run on. To talk more about the infrastructure, I wanna hand it over to James from 4IR to really show how to best put the architecture together so that we can deliver the information from on-premise to the cloud to build these robust architectures. So over to you, James.

0:30:49.8 James Burnand: Thanks, Travis. Seeing the power of all these technologies together really is inspiring. The tools and the use of open standards makes it possible for you to tackle your digitalization goals, whether they're small or whether they're large. So to talk a little bit about 4IR Solutions, we're an Inductive Automation's Solution Partner with a focus on managed infrastructure. Everything you've seen today is a part of an infrastructure. So our goal is to make it easier and more secure to deploy and operate the types of solutions that we've been talking about. So with that, I'd like to introduce you to our platform, FactoryStack.

0:31:23.9 James Burnand: What is FactoryStack? It's OT-as-a-service. We can deliver this either as a SaaS (software-as-a-service solution) which means we host any cloud-based resources in our tenant, or as a PaaS, or platform-as-a-service, which means we deploy those cloud-based resources in your tenant and manage them on your behalf. Our customers benefit from faster deployments, unlimited scalability, built-in security, automated capabilities with things like backups, certificate monitoring, updates, and, of course, 24 by 7 support. So to talk a little bit about the ecosystem, I think it's important to describe how FactoryStack fits into that. So first, it's important to think about what is the platform that we're all talking about today, and the host of this particular webinar is Ignition and Inductive Automation.

0:32:11.3 James Burnand: So several versions of Ignition that are used for different purposes. Ignition Edge for capturing and processing data at the edge, Ignition Cloud Edition for your cloud-based applications, and Standard Ignition, which can be used in a variety of different use cases, as has been shown in the diagram, additionally to that, there's modules. So we've already heard from our friends at Sepasoft and Cirrus Link with their modules that extend the capability and the functionality of Ignition to provide communications and provide MES capabilities built in. And then on top of that is where you build applications. This can be systems integrators or end users, and is really the place in which the value is driven by Ignition.

0:32:50.8 James Burnand: So this is how you solve your very specific business problems. This isn't the entire stack, though. The entire stack always includes additional parts and pieces. So what we have shown on the right here is a very small sampling of some of those additional services, but they're all, you know, there's many more that could be included in this diagram, but what we've shown here is a couple that are pretty typical. So things like databases, things like authentication services. We're showing a time series database here, which is TimescaleDB, which is that little tiger logo.

0:33:21.1 James Burnand: Monitoring and management tools, source code, and DevOps capabilities, and we're showing a logo here for orchestration. All of these parts and pieces are what has to fit together from an infrastructure perspective for you to be able to implement your digitalization system. So what we at 4IR do is provide all of that as a service. I'd also like to point out the logo for PharmaStack on here. You can see it on the left side, where I'm mousing right now. It performs the same functions and has the same core architecture as FactoryStack, but it has extended features for use in the pharmaceutical industry.

0:33:55.3 James Burnand: So this includes things like built-in data retention policies, data integrity, and a starter project that shows you how to implement 21 CFR Part 11 compliant digital signatures. So I think it's important to talk a little bit about how FactoryStack actually works. So on the left side of this diagram, you'll see a set of different software applications, what we call our curated services catalog. So this includes all editions of Ignition and the modules from partners at Sepasoft and Cirrus Link included as a part of that. Different database options, so SQL Server, Postgres, Database, Timescale, applications from other organizations from like Flow. We have a Git application that we include, and then we also support external brokers from folks like Cirrus Link who have their Chariot broker, which would be the version of MQTT that you would need for operating on a much larger scale than the module.

0:34:49.6 James Burnand: You'll also notice on the right that we support other custom containerized and virtual applications. So really, it's up to you to pick what are the applications you need to solve your specific needs. And obviously, you can start small or you can start large, but conceptually, it's really up to you to determine what your FactoryStack's capabilities are today, and then they can grow as your needs change in the future. So in the middle part of this diagram, you'll see another bunch of logos here that is really the core of what FactoryStack provides. So we handle integrated authentication and enforcement of multi-factor. We enable DevOps, so enabling development, testing, and QA servers with enforced workflows and approvals between each one of those environments.

0:35:32.5 James Burnand: We provide security following the best practices from cloud providers and the Ignition Hardening Guide. We have automated SSL, public SSL certificates, and we use Enterprise Secrets Management. We also provide regular updates and patches, and each update is not just an update of a version of Ignition, but also all of the other related items and applications that are a part of a FactoryStack instance. So this includes things like cloud services, network configurations. And we test all of these components together before deployment into any customer system to ensure there's no surprises when you're performing an upgrade. We actively monitor and alert on all of our systems and take advantage of some automated self-healing technologies to ensure your system is reliable and available, and of course we provide 24 by 7 support for any issues you may face. So the bottom layer of this diagram is really the deployment target.

0:36:24.5 James Burnand: So this shows that we can deploy in our tenant or in your tenant. We can deploy onto hybrid edge hardware, or we can deploy into bare metal. If you'd like to learn more about how 4IR can help you accelerate your digitalization initiatives, please check out our website at or check out the partnership page on the Inductive Automation website. Travis, back to you.

0:36:45.0 Travis Cox: Thank you so much, James, and thanks everybody for coming together here and showing us the puzzle pieces. It's really impressive to see all these solutions coming together, but of course it does beg the question, and a lot of people might have here is: I see all this; it makes sense, but how do I get started? So panelists, what are your thoughts on that?

0:37:07.4 Benson Hougland: Well, in the spirit of starting at the edge, well, I'll go ahead and kick this part off. Here's what I recommend. Start small, get a win, and you do that by focusing on outcomes. Find a pain point, a problem you need to solve. Maybe that's something that's holding up production or a gap in the information you need to make a decision, something that will drive a measurable outcome.

0:37:32.5 Benson Hougland: And in many cases, that journey does start at the edge, on the production floor, on a remote asset, or perhaps on a peripheral system or process. The challenge is to find a set of tools and technologies that allow you to start small. And as your idea or solution starts to take hold, and, of course, you notch that win, you'll find you'll need to scale that solution up pretty quickly.

0:37:56.3 Benson Hougland: To use a community phrase, land and expand. Connect to some devices, collect the data, store and analyze, then visualize that data to all stakeholders from the shop floor all the way up. Then identify the patterns, report on that, and start solving problems. And that's why choosing the right tools or puzzle pieces is what this webinar is all about.

0:38:20.1 Benson Hougland: Now, by all means, do your research and choose whichever technology partners you like. Just be sure those partners are part of a broader community that embraces open technologies, that fosters innovation, and provides a path to get started without asking for a fat PO first. And try your best to avoid vendor lock-in. Look for products and technologies that play well with others, which generally means open. That gives you choices if you find yourself backed into a corner. Look for technology partners with a proven track record backed by published case studies, freely available documentation, free trials of their software, and a willingness to help you along with all the support you need.

0:39:00.9 Benson Hougland: And that's really what getting started is all about. Start small, get that win, and choose the right technologies. And I think what we've done throughout this webinar is expose some of those capabilities and an ecosystem of partners all on the same bandwagon, all part of the same ecosystem, to help you be successful.

0:39:21.4 James Burnand: That was very well said, Benson. And really, to maybe just add kind of a cautionary word to this is, what I see are, sometimes folks will be attracted into a point solution that solves a very specific problem, doesn't really have that data availability, interoperability, the concept of unified namespace and democratizing data, and making data king really does allow you for not only the ability to solve the first problem but also to build the plumbing that you need to solve all your succession problems following that. And that, I think, is kind of the key to start small and grow, from my perspective.

0:40:03.4 Kurt Hochanadel: Yeah, James, I'd like to echo what Benson you're saying. First off, obviously, I think picking a problem and a lot of things that something we did for the Indiana project with Benson is, starting off energy management, and quickly, you can start building the framework, build the framework out, and just deploy some simple tools to start managing your energy data on your different applications, provide actually a lot of data for operating your plant floor. But I think the other thing that's key is kind of what you hinted on is data standardization. I don't know how, it's very, very critical as you have different assets and different types of data across your enterprise and different solutions is that you kind of start with a tag naming convention and a structure of data that can be utilized going upstream and going through that process is, you know, sometimes very time consuming a little bit to actually look at all your data assets and try to figure out how we wanna represent the data, but doing that work upfront and having that data standardization done to where you identify your modeling, your different data aspects.

0:41:08.7 Kurt Hochanadel: And as you don't know necessarily where all your Digital Transformation journey is going to go, it provides that foundation to make it easily done. If you do a point solution that's kind of proprietary and doesn't really look at the data, what will happen is you might solve one little problem, then you try to scale, as Benson says, you want to have open standards in the scale. The scale just doesn't happen because you don't have the data foundation done. So data standardization is pretty critical.

0:41:34.4 Mark French: Yeah, just real quick, following up on something Kurt said and something that Benson implied is really getting requirements down upfront and taking the time to lay out that problem statement well. So you can solve the problem well. And like everyone said so far, we're going to start with the end in mind as well. So good advice all around, thanks.

0:42:00.4 Travis Cox: Yeah, great discussion around that question. And actually, somebody in the audience, Francisco, made a comment here saying that you need a plan before you do anything. Most Digital Transformation projects or programs go off track because of the lack of vision, which dovetails perfectly into the second question, which is "Besides technology, from your perspective, what else does my organization need to do to succeed at Digital Transformation?" Yeah, please, panelists, what's your thoughts on this question?

0:42:29.3 James Burnand: Yeah, I'll maybe start if no one else wants to. So I think the biggest thing I've seen is really organizational alignment. When it comes to these projects, they're always cross-functional. They're always things that require cooperation, and people from different parts of the organization to be all singing from the same song sheet to be able to make these goals successful. What happens when you don't do that is you create projects that lack support or end up becoming abandoned over time because IT wasn't aware of this or we never got buy-in from our quality department, or whatever the case may be. So really, I think the concept of starting small and proving value is absolutely huge, but it's kind of important and in parallel to be creating this alignment with the different parts of the organization and ensuring that the right players are involved and excited about their part of the project. So that can be, on the OT side, that can be defining the unified namespace in the model. And on the IT side, maybe that's implementation of some AI or some big data technologies that they've already made investments in or extending those technologies.

0:43:40.9 James Burnand: There's lots of different ways to kind of go about this, but the leadership really needs to be the one driving the cross-functional reporting and team to make sure that the alignment from the organization as a whole is correct.

0:43:56.6 Benson Hougland: Yeah, I'm with you, James. That's spot-on. And I love this recent quote by Dylan Nefrain. He's a member of the automation community and a very active member. You'll find his posts on LinkedIn and articles, and so on. They're really good. But this one quote really struck to me. He says the essence of Digital Transformation isn't just technological; it's fundamentally human. It demands a shift from isolated competence to collective intelligence, to James' point, where communication's not just a bridge, but the very foundation of progress. And progress is what we're all trying to achieve here. Another way to say it is, steal and butcher an election season quote from decades ago. It's the people, stupid. You gotta get everybody on board. Share your successes with others. Make them champions along with you. Get everyone involved, and let them be part of the journey and the collective success of those efforts.

0:44:51.5 Travis Cox: Well said, well said. Any other comments here in the panelists?

0:44:56.8 Kurt Hochanadel: I'll just echo a little bit. As we've done projects over and over, it is kind of interesting. That's over the last 10 years, how there was always that gap between OT and IT, and there's still somewhat of a gap, but it's almost like OT and IT departments are converging together. But as long as I think that alignment of having those two aligned is critical for your transformation journey, If they're not aligned, it's almost a guaranteed failure.

0:45:24.1 Travis Cox: Very, very true. Mark, anything for you?

0:45:27.5 Mark French: Yeah, sure, thanks. So I think, Benson and James, Kurt, we're singing from the same song sheet here, that organizational change can be very difficult. And so being purposeful about it is necessary, and changing the way that people work is never easy. I know we have a lot of case study material on the Inductive Automation website, showing successful Digital Transformation projects, and many of the interviewees speak specifically to this. So if someone's wondering, "Hey, is this just talk from these guys?" No. You can hear it from our customers as well. On the Sepasoft website, we have a blog post, I think it's "14 Steps to Successful MES Implementation," but it's touching on these things. So if you want, like, a checklist about this subject, that's for free, and you could grab that off the website. Thanks, Travis.

0:46:23.2 Travis Cox: Perfect, well, thank you all so much for the insight there. I think it really should give everybody some thoughts to think about as they're potentially in their Digital Transformation journey, or if they're starting their journey. So with that, I'd like to, if you'd like to start connecting the puzzle pieces of Digital Transformation yourself, we invite you to learn more about all of our Solution Partners and our Strategic Partners here: Opto 22, Cirrus Link, Sepasoft, and 4IR solutions. And you can see that on the website, there's some links on the slides that you can access. We've also mentioned our Inductive University, which is a free online training website with hundreds of training videos.

0:47:02.5 Travis Cox: You can learn Ignition step-by-step at your own pace. There's also a very comprehensive online user manual that you can refer to at any time from all of the partners that you see here, really great documentation systems that are out there, and great support from each of the vendors. I also wanna tell you about the 2024 Ignition Community Conference. It's taking place from September 17th to 19th in beautiful Folsom, California. The website is now up. You can see the link at the bottom. You can go and register, and you can get your ticket here today and see what the schedule and the agenda and what that looks like for the conference.

0:47:37.6 Travis Cox: It's really an incredible experience where the greatest minds in automation get together to build relationships and learn about the latest industrial topics and technologies. And this year we'll be unveiling news about Ignition 8.3. We're really excited about it, and think it's going to be the best one yet. Theme is Breakthrough, breakthrough to your next big idea, breakthrough to what's possible. It's really what the cornerstone of this year's conference is about. If you can't make it in person, there's also a livestream pass that you can get, so you can view sessions wherever you are. So we hope that you all join us for ICC in just a few months here. For those of you outside of North America, we want you to know that we have a network of international Ignition distributors who provide business development opportunities and sales technical support in your language and time zone. You wanna learn more about that, please visit the websites you see on the screen here, or you can contact our international distribution manager, Yegor. If you'd like to speak with one of our account representatives at our headquarters here in California, you can see the number on the screen, as well as all the reps that we've got.

0:48:42.6 Travis Cox: If you wanna reach our office in Australia, our new office that we opened up last year, the number is at the bottom of the screen. So I think it's now time to get to the Q&A, and as a reminder, you can type any questions you have into the questions area of the GoTo Webinar control panel. We'll get to as many as we can here in the next 10 minutes. Okay, so I wanna kick things off. In this journey, we talked about how we are building out data from the edge and bring it to applications, going into cloud, and there's been a number of questions regarding security here from this, in terms of what are we putting in place from security standpoints? Do things comply with, for example, 62443? So I wanna kind of open up this topic security to the group here. Maybe, Benson, we start with you, because it is an important thing to think about at the edge.

0:49:31.5 Benson Hougland: Yeah, no question about that. It's a big part of what Opto has tried to incorporate into these edge devices. We know that there's so many Brownfield devices out there, and this notion of rip and replace to achieve your Digital Transformation goals is a non-starter. The problem is, of course, that there's a lot of those systems out there that are simply not secure in any way. If you have access to the network, you're going to get access to a lot of devices out there that are running machinery, are running processes, and so on. And so we think it's really important to be able to leverage some of the IT technologies that have been used for decades to secure these types of systems. And we wanna build those in as close to the edge as possible and get that kind of technology as close to those unsecured devices as possible. So a lot of that stuff is accounted for is built into these edge systems. And that's part of the problem, right?

0:50:26.3 Benson Hougland: When you talk about cybersecurity, part of the problem is protecting these unprotected assets. But the second aspect of that is be able to take that information that you're collecting from these edge systems and get them through the rest of the enterprise, through the rest of the digital infrastructure, in a secure fashion. And again, we take a page from the IT side of the world. And when I say IT, I mean literally all business systems that exist on the internet or on virtually any network today. And that's this notion of being able to take the data and encrypt it to make sure that we're avoiding things that are like man-in-the-middle attacks and so on. And so if we encrypt all these messages so they always are going to the right location through authentication procedures, through encryption and so on, then we know that we've essentially created an environment that is inherently secure. And then we compound that with, again, more technologies relative to account management.

0:51:20.7 Benson Hougland: I heard James talk about identity management, two factor authentication. Each of these are, kind of in their own way, their own puzzle pieces that allow us to create this secure infrastructure. And then, as we combine all those things together, yes, maybe you want to employ some of the directives under 62443, or a big part of this is just working with your IT department, because they have likely put in a lot of their own cybersecurity principles that you'll need to abide by. And for that reason, you'll wanna be able to choose technologies like the ones discussed during this webinar that indeed fit into the way that your IT departments are addressing security today. Using the same tools, the same management tools, the same deployment tools that they're using, and that's how we start to really kind of close that divide between IT and OT.

0:52:08.1 Benson Hougland: I mean, one of the things we hear more than ever is if somebody wants to put something on the OT network, and the first thing they do is they call IT and say, "Hey, I need a static IP for this device that IT has no idea about." And we all know that department, you know, that IT is the department of no, they don't know anything about that device. But if you are using edge devices, using other systems, other technologies that IT is very familiar with, you're gonna go a long way closer, get a lot closer to your goals of making sure that we're moving this data around in a secure way.

0:52:43.7 James Burnand: Yeah, very well said, Benson. And just to kind of add on to the top of that and more focused on kind of the data as it leaves is, you know, encryption in transit encryption at rest, rotating your SSL certificates, we do it every 30 days automatically, and ensuring that, you know, secrets aren't stored in plain text, there's a variety of different security principles that are, and again, as we start to look at these architectures, they blend from what has traditionally been a factory floor only to a factory floor and cloud. And you really have to kind of make sure that the architecture takes both the IT-centric and the OT-centric security principles into play. One thing that may not be completely obvious to folks is thinning of operating systems is actually a big security boost. So when you go from running a full version of a Windows server to running a container that is disposable, and that container only having the services that is required for you to run Ignition, you're actually reducing the surface area from your operating system significantly, and you're also creating a much more scalable and manageable operating system set by using those containers.

0:54:00.1 James Burnand: So, I could talk all day about this; I'm not going to, but I guess I would just say that one of the things that we've seen as a best practice from some of our clients has been to thin or remove as many operating systems from their factory environment as they can, because those tend to be some of their most vulnerable targets. So, I'll let someone else.

0:54:17.6 Travis Cox: Perfect, and I'll add from the Ignition side that Ignition is platforms employing all the latest and greatest security practices. We're also compliant with 6443-4-1 from our software development lifecycle. We're at maturity level three now with that, and continuing that journey to ensure that between us and our partners, we're putting our best foot forward when it comes to cybersecurity. With that, let's move on. Next question here, and this question is gonna be for you, James, which is: "Does 4IR provide services? For example, they have a hyperconverged on-premise infrastructure. They'd like to establish the underlying software infrastructure to support their Ignition deployment, things like CIDC orchestration, et cetera," but again, on-premise there.

0:55:05.9 James Burnand: Yeah, that's part of what the solutions we provide are, and that can go as either an existing Kubernetes cluster that's already in place if you already have that, that can be dedicated hyperconverged hardware, something like a stack HCI from Microsoft, or it can be installed inside of the boundaries of a VM. So if you're running like a vSphere setup or Nutanix, you can essentially install FactoryStack just inside of a virtual machine. So there's a variety of different deployment options that depend on kind of the availability level that you're looking for, but conceptually, being able to take that same automation and same capability that we do in cloud and deploy on-prem is what we think is pretty useful for a lot of folks.

0:55:52.5 Travis Cox: Okay, perfect. The next question it's kind of funny; we talked about this architecture, talking about the edge and MQTT and then how they get brought to the MES side there, Mark. And so the question is: "Can we have MES in the cloud?" It was in there a couple of times.

0:56:09.3 Mark French: Yeah, so fortunately we're at a place with the Ignition platform where whatever architecture someone's considering, it's already been done, right? And you can install the Sepasoft MES modules on your Ignition instance in a public or private cloud. So, short answer: yes. For a longer answer, feel free to jump on the phone with James, myself, Travis's team, and we're happy to review the architecture with you. But yeah, we're in a really good place for just a variety of architecture supported on Ignition.

0:56:37.5 Travis Cox: Oh, perfect. Okay, so Ben, I got another one for you, which does the groov EPIC eliminate the use of a DMZ and firewalls from Cisco or Fortinet? I guess, just kind of understanding, as you're talking about the multiple uses of it, like the smartphone analogy, maybe answer that question there.

0:56:56.1 Benson Hougland: Sure, and I would never say eliminate the need for other technologies, but I will say that we try to build as many of those technologies into that hardware edge platform as possible. And it's a great place to start, and as your needs expand or you need some advanced functionality, there's certainly, there's lots of options there. But we wanna get a base layer of well-known industry proven technologies that allow you to provide that secure front. And by that, of course, we are talking about firewalls on the devices for all the interfaces on it. We do prefer to publish data in through the DMZ to the broker for a myriad of reasons, not always necessary, but certainly a best practice. And the same thing with certificate management, as James talked about, making sure certificates are updated, those are all, James helps with, we've had a couple of applications with 4IR using these edge technologies along with certificates, and so on. So that was kind of a long answer, but the short answer is we put a lot of those basic needs right in there that are very, very functional and get you started very quickly, but you can certainly expand among those services for each of the unique environments you might be in.

0:58:12.8 Travis Cox: Perfect, I know we're a minute over here, but Kurt, some questions really about MQTT were in there, and especially in terms of, you mentioned the outbound connection and this security around that and how that can be delivered to the cloud. Can you maybe elaborate saying why this is secure and why so many people have kind of done that, and what MQTT uses for security there?

0:58:36.4 Kurt Hochanadel: Yeah, so we try to follow the ISA Purdue model, ISA 95, where you definitely have a demarcation at each level where data is going, and you don't wanna have any higher level connect to the lower level and get the data. So when you have layer three and below, it's kind of your OT layer, and you'll have a business layer or a cloud layer going up. We use MQTT to do an outbound push of TLS encryption. So it does an outbound push to the higher level and publishes to a broker that is the higher level on a port 8883, that's just the TLS encrypted port for MQTT. And the benefit of that, and as we talked to all the IT professionals, they like it very much because there's no open ports on the lower level. So it allows that encryption and connection of the certificate data to go to the higher level. And we actually have had instances where they do that, publish and subscribe to multiple levels across four or five levels for companies using MQTT and all that.

0:59:38.1 Kurt Hochanadel: The other thing that's a benefit is MQTT allows you to actually, from a credential standpoint on a broker, enables what data goes to what consumers and what those consumers can do. Can they enable any commands, or they disable that process? They only can see a certain subset of data. So it provides a nice layer of not only just a defense mechanism of sending data up each level but also a defense mechanism on what a particular client can actually see or do of that data. So it's been pretty successful.

1:00:08.6 Travis Cox: Perfect. Well, thank you, everybody, for attending. Thank you for all the vendors here. We're gonna be back next month with another Ignition webinar, but until then, stay connected with us on social media and subscribe to our weekly newsfeed email. You can also stay up-to-date through our blog, our articles, case studies, and more. There's a ton of helpful content out there for you to explore on our website, so be sure to check it out. And again, I really hope to see all at ICC. Thank you so much for joining us here today, and have a great rest of your day. We'll see you next time.


Posted on June 3, 2024