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4 Tips for Writing a Successful Automation Project RFQ

Why is it when you send out a request for quotation (RFQ) to potential vendors, you end with a stack of widely different prices and proposals that are about as comparable as apples and oranges? You’re probably not going to accept the highest bid with its extraneous add-ons, but if you choose the lowest bid, there’s a strong likelihood you’ll end up with multiple change orders after the project begins. What’s the secret to setting up your automation project for success right from the start?

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Applying Big Data Analytics on the Plant Floor

Back in 1834, Samuel Taylor wrote a poem titled “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that is still famous in part for its line “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Much like those ill-fated mariners, our manufacturing enterprises accumulate ever larger oceans of data, but we struggle to squeeze a drop of information from them. Data analytics to the rescue! From looking at what happened in the past to predicting what might occur in the future, knowing how to effectively apply big data analytics techniques on your plant floor can provide numerous time, cost, and resource saving benefits.


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MES is Ready for You, and it is Attainable

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) have been the secret advantage of large manufacturers since the early 90’s, and they have reaped the benefits of lower manufacturing costs and higher profits. The good news is that everything has changed in the last decade. Whether you call it a technological revolution, Industry 4.0 or some other buzz word, it can’t be denied that a change is occurring. Software and protocols have improved drastically, automated data is available from all areas of the facility, and the financial entry point for MES systems has become attainable. 


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Counting the Cost of Manufacturing in the Cloud

According to the IDC market research firm, public cloud services and infrastructure are forecasted to become a $277 billion worldwide market by 2021, with discrete and process manufacturing as two of the top five industry consumers. Cloud computing is not just a passing trend. It’s a foundational technology that has the power to improve product quality, accelerate decision making, and cut costs – all scalable to your business’s needs.

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SCADA Software or Industrial Data Platform?

For decades now, SCADA software has been an indispensable monitoring, control, and diagnostic tool for plant operators. SCADA software has almost entirely replaced mimic panels, push-button stations, circular chart recorders, and the like, and most plants would not operate for long without it. As the evolution continues, modern SCADA platforms are uniquely positioned to transition beyond the plant floor to center stage as the Industrial Data Platform for digital manufacturing enterprises.

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Siemens Automation Summit 2018

Another Siemens Automation Summit is in the books, and it was a great one this year! Digitalization, connectivity, and security were the hot topics. Vertech was one of over 60 presenters with Calvin Hamus presenting “Extending WinCC OA with Web Technology.” The Tech Café presented Siemens product offerings like the TIA product family and MindSphere IIOT offering along with partner solutions from companies like Seeq (data analytics) and Claroty (ICS cyber security). Siemens provided great networking opportunities as well like the welcome reception sponsored by Siemens Solution Partners and the pirate-themed customer appreciation event on Wednesday evening.

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Getting Started with Siemens MindSphere IIOT Platform

Siemens MindSphere is a cutting edge industrial Platform as a Service (PaaS) product that takes a lot of the work out of building and deploying IIOT applications. Siemens bills MindSphere as "the cloud-based, open IoT operating system from Siemens that connects your products, plants, systems, and machines, enabling you to harness the wealth of data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) with advanced analytics." Vertech recently became a MindSphere Solution Partner, and here are a few beginners tips our developers learned as they got started using the platform.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Security

How to Securely Get Plant Data into an Azure Database Via a Site-to-Site VPN.

Data that is generated and resides in the plant can be extremely useful for the continued success of the company, but it often resides in a highly protected and regulated environment. Rather than pushing the information to a database on the enterprise network, many people are moving toward cloud-based data processing and analytics for greater accessibility and expandability. So how can we get the data out of that environment securely and allow the business to start further increasing the value of that data? 

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Tips for Using Python in Ignition SCADA Software

Python is a popular high-level programming language known for its readability and performance. Typically, when you code in Python, you’re using the standard Python implementation – CPython – which is simply Python written in C. When scripting in the Ignition SCADA software by Inductive Automation however, you’re actually using Jython – a flavor of Python that runs in the Java Virtual Machine. With Jython come a few tips that you should know. 

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Integrating Slack with WinCC OA SCADA Software

In a previous post, I shared a method to send data from the Siemens WinCC OA SCADA software package to the Slack messaging service. I then thought about how cool it would be to do the same thing but to send messages from Slack to WinCC OA.  Using a bi-directional connection, WinCC OA can push things like event notifications, periodic production information, or maintenance requests to Slack, and then recipients can acknowledge receipt and take action. This could even be used for alarm acknowledgement, and that's the use case I'll focus on in this post.

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