In Its 30th Year, ICONICS Promises a Sweet Future
Did you ever think your HMI software could deliver your favorite candy using gesture-based control in a mixed reality environment? ICONICS, with some help from a Comau Racer 3 robot and IoT-ready OPC Unified Architecture (UA) technology, is showcasing just that and much more at this year’s SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg, Germany. And to think it all started 30 years ago in a modest basement in Foxborough, Massachusetts…
Iconics was founded in June, 1986 by Russ Agrusa, President and CEO of the company. Its initial product, GENESIS for DOS V1, was ICONICS’ first PC-based control software, featuring visualization, trending, alarming and control in an easy-to-use, icon-based interface. Since its inception, ICONICS has been witness to, and integrated its solutions with, a succession of technological breakthroughs, including the introduction of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the emergence of the Internet, the rapid adoption of mobile computing and many others. Over 30 years, ICONICS has grown into a global provider of automation software with over 350,000 customers in over 80 countries.
Today, the company remains at the forefront of integrating automation software with the latest technologies, such as wearable and holographic computing devices (such as Microsoft’s HoloLens), advanced analytics solutions that integrate with Microsoft’s new SQL Server 2016, and cloud services for Industrie 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
- From the mid-80’s with Microsoft DOS through the 90’s with the advent of Windows, to our early involvement and adoption of OPC technology and today’s web, cloud and IoT trends, we are always prepared for the next breakthrough, says Agrusa.
- We have consistently proven our ability to be an early adopter of technologies that have had great benefit to our customers and partners for over 30 years. I would like to personally thank everyone who has been involved with our success throughout the years, and I am equally excited about where we are headed in the future.
Developing Automation Software for HoloLens
At SPS IPC Drives 2016 in Nuremberg, Germany, ICONICS is redefining “HMI” by introducing the first 3D holographic machine interface, featuring its integration with Microsoft’s HoloLens self-contained holographic computing device. ICONICS invites attendees to experience firsthand HoloLens’ augmented reality features in conjunction with its automation software, showcasing state-of-the-art holographic machine interfaces and data visualization.
ICONICS immediately saw potential in the use of devices like HoloLens in the automation software industry. The company was interested in the hardware’s augmented reality features, which enhance a real-world view within a work environment (rather than virtual reality, which creates an immersive artificial environment, disconnecting users from the reality of a production facility). Users can easily work with the HoloLens in a company facility and call up needed data with simple hand gestures or even voice commands, according to the relevant processes in a specific location. When integrated into an alarm management system, it could help quickly visualize a detected problem, saving in maintenance time and costs.
If a problem cannot be immediately seen, the HoloLens, connected to a robust HMI/SCADA system, makes the invisible visible. For instance, imagine a building’s ventilation system. Once you arrive at the area that’s in a fault condition, you take a look at the office’s drop ceiling. Nothing out of the ordinary there. However, after donning the HoloLens, a three-dimensional representation of the contained hardware appears, superimposed on your “real world” view of the ceiling. You can see right away that the fan is operating as it should, but notice that the connected power supply is the culprit.
Of course, that’s just one simple example. Imagine the complexity of the ever-growing number of processes in manufacturing or building operations. Engineers equipped with multiple HoloLens devices will be able to communicate and collaborate in real-time with a shared view in front of each user in order to share best practices. Maintenance workers could call up schematics, equipment manuals, operating procedures or repair instructions that can remain in view while performing required tasks. ICONICS is continuing to innovate in this area, as it has done for each major technology breakthrough over the past 30 years.
Compatible with SQL Server 2016
ICONICS recently announced its compatibility with the new SQL Server 2016 which, according to Microsoft, is a “secure, scalable database platform that has everything built in, from advanced analytics to unparalleled in-memory performance,” and “the biggest leap forward in Microsoft data platform history with real-time operational analytics, rich visualizations on mobile devices, new advanced security technology and new hybrid cloud scenarios.”
The benefit to software developers, such as ICONICS, is the ability to deploy “sophisticated analytics and machine learning models in the database resulting in 100x or more speedup in time to insight, compared to deployments of such models outside of the database,” according to Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President, Data Group, at Microsoft, writing in the company’s SQL Server Blog.
ICONICS has integrated support for SQL Server 2016 into its GENESIS64™ HMI/SCADA and Building Automation platform, AnalytiX® solutions for operational excellence, Hyper Historian™ data historian and MobileHMI™ app. The company also continues to support earlier versions, including SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2005 in multiple products.
- ICONICS has had a working relationship with Microsoft for nearly three decades, and, as such, has benefitted from early exposure to technological breakthroughs such as the recently released SQL Server 2016. Its faster analytics capabilities will certainly enhance our shared customers’ experience, says Melissa Topp, Director of Global Marketing at ICONICS.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Initiatives, Driven by Industrie 4.0
Also at ICONICS’ SPS IPC Drives 2016 booth, the company will highlight its most recent Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. The company’s new IoT Gateway Suite, when installed on a compatible IoT gateway hardware device, allows for publish/subscribe communication with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and services (or to other cloud-based services). The Azure IoT Hub then acts as a message broker between the hardware gateway and connected subscribers (consuming applications such as ICONICS GENESIS64, AnalytiX, Hyper Historian and MobileHMI), making ICONICS’ IoT Gateway Suite a perfect fit for edge-to-cloud applications.
ICONICS’ IoT Gateway Suite is the company’s launch pad for a new software architecture for its visualization, analytics and mobile solutions based on Microsoft Azure Service Fabric and microservices. With Service Fabric, ICONICS is utilizing Azure as a true platform as a service (PaaS) to deploy and scale applications for the new era of Industrie 4.0 and IoT deployments.
In addition to integration with BACnet, Modbus, SNMP and Web Services protocols, ICONICS made sure to include OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), allowing for a standard model of plant floor integration with the enterprise. ICONICS is a charter member of the OPC Foundation and has assisted the foundation over the years by providing source code and hosting interop studies, as well as serving on the board of directors for the foundation.
The emergence of OPC UA was a technological breakthrough in that it provided a means for disparate industrial equipment and systems to communicate. Today, the wide acceptance and use of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) represents an even bigger paradigm shift, but one for which OPC UA technology is very well positioned. Adopters of OPC UA can utilize cloud integration to scale operations when necessary, ensure against IT hardware obsolescence, and provide global access to connected systems. Integrating OPC UA with the IIoT helps companies to visualize, analyze and mobilize their data without incurring additional IT infrastructure.
ICONICS IoT Gateway Suite delivers multiple benefits for industrial automation customers including equipment monitoring, predictive maintenance and operational efficiency solutions for manufacturing, water & wastewater, oil & gas, automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceutical and many other industries. It enables rapid access to operational dashboards with real-time key performance indicators (KPIs) for OEE, downtime, quality and production.
ICONICS has also initiated an IoT Alliance Partner Program (www.iconics.com/IoT-Alliance), which is geared toward device manufactures and provides end users with the ability to select from a number of hardware platforms from preferred partners. ICONICS and Alliance partners provide cutting-edge IoT Gateway Suite software technology for the industrial automation, smart buildings and energy markets, delivering ready-to-go communications infrastructure and reducing costs. ICONICS works with IoT Alliance partners to create a fully-tested IoT Gateway solution that is ready for customers to deploy, pre-loaded with standard industry drivers. At the company’s SPS IPC Drives booth, ICONICS’ IoT Alliance Partner hardware will be on display in an interactive kiosk, demonstrating the end-to-end IoT Gateway Suite solution for show attendees.
- We started the ICONICS IoT Alliance Program to help partner members take advantage of the wide, rapid expansion of the Industrial Internet of Things,” said Oliver Gruner, Director of Cloud Business Development at ICONICS. “Our shared customers will increasingly seek low-cost integrated hardware and software that allows them to quickly and securely connect their applications to the cloud. IoT Alliance Program partners will gain an advantage in meeting these unique customer needs.
ICONICS’ IoT Alliance Program offers the following benefits:
- Market pull-though will boost Alliance Partners’ IoT Gateway sales
- Alliance Partners can sell industry-specific solutions
- Ready-to-use IoT gateway with preinstalled industrial protocols
- Pre-tested and approved by ICONICS in cooperation with Alliance Partner
- Featured in ICONICS online directory
- Co-marketing opportunities at ICONICS-sponsored IoT seminars and events
- Option to include a plugin for your native communications
In addition to maintaining its own IoT Alliance Program, ICONICS, itself, works in close collaboration with IT hardware manufacturers as a member of their own IoT alliances, in order to help developers test and recommend IoT gateways that customers can rely on for high-performance operations.
For more information or to enroll, visit http://www.iconics.com/iot-alliance.