The Plantweb Optics platform continues to advance in the mission to securely and efficiently connect and collect global operational technology (OT) data from manufacturing and process control applications & systems, and from IT systems to contextualize and transform this data into actionable information for decision-makers made available on any device, anytime, at any location.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Emerson’s Alessea Lane and Michael Tworzydlo in this podcast to discuss the most recent release of the Plantweb Optics platform and Plantweb Optics Analytics software applications.
There are lots of advancements including greater connectivity to other applications, more reports, enhanced filtering, more asset templates, and more advanced analytics to turn the wealth of data into useful information for driving improvements in safety, reliability, and efficiency.
Have a listen and visit the Plantweb Optics section on Emerson.com for more on the capabilities and use cases for improving your operational performance and the Guardian site for existing Plantweb Optics users.
Jim: Hi everyone. I’m your host Jim Cahill and welcome to another “Emerson Automation Experts” podcast. You may recall from earlier podcasts that I did separately with Alessea Lane and Michael Tworzydlo, we discussed driving reliability improvements by using organized and accessible data using the Plantweb Optics Platform. Today, we’ll be discussing enhancements to the platform that are just released. Welcome, Alessea and Michael.
Alessea: Thanks for having us, Jim.
Michael: Thanks, Jim.
Jim: All right. Alessea, I’m going to pick on you early with questions, and then we’ll turn it over and pick on Michael a little bit. So let’s begin by discussing the upcoming Version 1.8 release of Plantweb Optics. Can you share with our listeners some of the main enhancements for Plantweb Optics, such as the common data repository and connectors?
Alessea: Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve been very excited for this release for a while now. So this is really all about integrating the platform. So we have Plantweb Optics, Version 1.8, now built on a common and flexible data repository, so we can handle structured and unstructured data, just really expanding on the different types and different ways that we’re able to connect to data. So with that, we use a variety of different connectors. So we have the native Emerson Connectors that are available, which give you that pre contextualized data. It allows you to leverage your existing infrastructure through different software platforms like the AMS Software Suite with AMS Device Manager and AMS Machine Works. We also have connectors to other Emerson products like Plantweb Insight. So a really great starting point to get more information out of your existing investments and then provide that automatic insight. But beyond just that, we also have a lot of standards-based connectors. So giving you more flexibility to add other sources that we may not have a native connector for, but we can use those industry standards, things like OPC UA, we’ve recently added Modbus, ODBC that connect to SQL Databases. So a long list of different connectors, I won’t go through the whole thing on this podcast, but definitely lots of options for getting data into the platform. And then also some focus around the dashboarding. So the options for visualizing your asset health, different KPIs, driving collaboration, so a lot of enhancements across the board with all those different areas.
Jim: Wow, that sounds like being able to connect to more things and visualize it to be able to see. So what does all that mean for our existing Plantweb Optics customers?
Alessea: Yeah. So we’re absolutely encouraging all of our existing customers to upgrade at their earliest convenience. So they can work with their local representatives to figure out that upgrade path and schedule a time for that. But definitely encourage everybody to take advantage of the new features and upgrades so that they can see some of these new additions that we’ve added to the platform.
Jim: Okay. So what’s new with the connectors to other Operational Technology, or OT connectors?
Alessea: Yeah. So I touched on this a little bit, but we added some new connectors. So we added Modbus as a new data source to Plantweb Optics. And then we’ve also integrated with those Emerson connectors, so adding those into that common data repository to give you that one single source of all of your data. And along with that, we’ve added some improvements to those. So the Emerson connectors that we have, we’ve already had a lot of that contextualization available, but we’ve added some things like automated hierarchy synchronization. So if you’re using different sources, and you have your asset hierarchy that’s set up in multiple different places, we’ve added some new features to be able to keep that in sync so that you don’t have to manually consolidate that hierarchy and it gives you that central place to combine all of your hierarchies from other systems. So that’s one thing we’re really excited about. We’ve also added support for data diodes. So that’s something that we see with some customers always being concerned about security and making sure that data goes one way. So we have added that as well with this release to be able to support those customers that have a little bit tighter security needs.
Jim: Yeah, that sounds like a one-way flow of data will help some of the security-minded folks as they should be security-minded. And also Modbus, wow, that just opens up, you know, the whole world of some of this OT technology, PLCs, and other things into it. That’s great. So what are some optimization improvements and how will these benefits users?
Alessea: Yeah. So one thing that we’ve really kept in mind is just the scalability of the platform and I know Michael will talk a little bit about this on the analytic side as well, but just really across Plantweb Optics as a whole work keeping that in mind to be able to add more connectors and handle that more gracefully and add more users so that you can expand to that enterprise-level deployment that a lot of our customers need. So that was one thing that we focus on here was just adding the capabilities to support additional connectors, more data, more users, and all that.
Jim: Okay. Yeah, scale abilities and great thing as you bring in more and more and sort it all out and getting it to the analytics to make sense of it all. And I guess I’ll wind down before I pick on Michael here a little bit, what are some enhancements made in the dashboard views specifically?
Alessea: Yeah. So we have Plantweb Optics Portal as our native dashboard, it’s mostly pre-built, so there’s not a lot of effort that you need to get it up and running, which is really great out-of-the-box support for that. So, along with that, in this release, we’ve added some new pre-built reports. So some more reporting capabilities to be able to see things like your out-of-service assets, and also any bad actors and track the status, how long they’ve been a bad actor, how many alerts are coming in, so some new reporting capabilities there. We’ve also added some better ways to handle the system and user messages. So Plantweb Optics portal is really focused around being able to collaborate with other users and drive that efficiency to resolve issues early. So, we’ve added some better handling for the messaging, just make it a little clearer to be able to see when there’s a message directed at you. So, for example, we’ve added support for user tagging, so if I’m working with Michael on an issue, and I want to tag him and say, “Hey, Michael, go check this out super urgent,” Then I can tag him and he’ll get that increased visibility to know that that specific message was directed at him aligned with a lot of the productivity tools that we use every day. So consistent look and feel for that.
And then we’ve also added some enhancements for the filtering. So persona-based filtering, making sure that everything you’re looking at in Plantweb Optics is tailored for your specific persona, you only see the information that’s relevant to you and it makes it a little easier to focus your attention. So we’ve added global filters, which means that an admin can go in and they can create different shared filters so that if you have all of your I&E technicians, for example, and they all want to look at a specific area of the plant or assets with specific failure effects, then you can set up a global filter that can be shared. So makes it a lot easier to ensure that people are looking at the right information for their persona, whether that’s based on location, or like I said, the failure effects could be one lever or asset classes, let’s say you only want to look at your compressors, you don’t really care about the instrumentation, criticality, so a number of different levers there just to increase that focus and make sure that you’re looking at the most relevant information for you.
Jim: Well, that makes a lot of sense with the, you know, additional connectors, more data flowing in the importance of getting those filters to tailor it to just the things that you’d be interested in. Sounds like, those two really go hand in hand there. So, Michael, now, turning to the Version 5.4 Release of Plantweb Optics Analytics, what’s coming in the way of improved data connectivity?
Michael: Well, Jim, what we’ve added here is really a bridge to Optics to leverage its data management capabilities. So everything that Alessea was just talking about, that’s something that we really wanted to connect to and be able to bring into Optics Analytics. You know Optics has a lot of different connectors, that third party and the Emerson connectors, so gaining access to this data will really help Analytics users have more data to run more analytics on. And it’s really the first step in the larger integration of our platform. That’s really our goal is to have this cohesive Optics platform to help customers and this bridge is really a step in that direction.
Jim: Well, that’s great. I’m saying more data, more filtering of that data, and more analyzing of that data for everything. Yeah, to get it to where it makes sense. Can you share some of the improvements from a scalability perspective?
Michael: Yes. As thinking about more analytics, you’re going to want to have more assets and more processes to monitor. So to do that, you really need a strong well-performing platform. And so, improving our speed and performance has really been a priority for us. And as part of this, we’ve really rebuilt our engine, which is where all those calculations analytics actually run in our software. So, we’ve added an option to really use decomposition here and what that means is taking a project and breaking it down and be able to run that project in parallel agents versus having one engine that’s working on all those at once. So what does that mean for the customer? Well, we found great improvements here on the update rate, so rather than updating every one minute, we can update times every five seconds, we can also handle a lot more assets with the same infrastructure overall, just by changing the way our engine works. So making it really more scalable.
Jim: Yes, it sounds like these parallel agents divide and conquer approach or something to improve the performance of it.
Michael: That’s right.
Jim: So what changes are there in the asset templates?
Michael: Sure. So plus some new exciting changes for asset templates, just as a reminder of what those asset templates really are preconfigured analytical models for common industrial assets. And they come with the software right out of the box. And it’s really about giving a jumpstart for analytics on the health and performance monitoring of your assets. And we’ve added a number of new templates, adding new templates all the time. Some of the new ones include boilers, air handlers, tanks, and cooling towers. But one of the really cool things that we’ve added is really this root cause analysis that’s embedded in our templates now. So essentially, this is incorporating Failure Mode and Effect Analysis into the templates to find out, you know, if I have a deviation, health, and performance, what’s causing that. So we are currently adding that to five assets, which include pumps, centrifugal compressors, steam turbines, heat exchangers, and blowers and we’ll continue to add that more in the future of our releases. So that’s just really a great example of taking domain knowledge and embedding it right into the product in order to make it easier for users.
Jim: Wow, sounds like, you know, we’re connecting to more by having these being able to get that domain knowledge and get people up and going a lot quicker. So, sounds like, if you already have Optics, then you need to get quickly with your local sales guys to figure out how you can get your hands on the upgrade to benefit from that more.
Jim: So if people want to learn more about these, because we’ve just spent the last 12 minutes or so, you know, chatting at a high level, Alessea, where can our listeners go to learn more about these releases and who can they contact to discuss this further?
Alessea: Yeah, absolutely. Great question. So a great start is always the emerson.com/plantweboptics website. So that is going to bring you to a hub of all of our information. So you’ll find additional details, like datasheets, flyers, and videos, and all of that. So that’s a great starting point but of course, you can also contact your local Emerson office or business partner, and they’re always prepared to help with any use cases or give you more information as needed.
Jim: Well, that’s great. And I’m also gonna link to your LinkedIn profiles where they can shoot you a note, for any specific questions. But this has been a great overview about…I can see why you’re excited with this release out and everything happening. And I want to thank you both so much for joining us today and sharing a bit about this exciting release that’s coming out.
Michael: Yeah. Thanks for having us, Jim.
Alessea: Yeah. Thank you.
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