Build Custom Predix POCs and Apps in Days - Without Coding
This page provides content related to a webinar hosted by Edge2Web in January 2018 entitled Build Custom Predix POCs and Apps in Days – Without Coding. The goals of this webinar were to discuss the need to for visual app builder tools to operationalize IIoT analytics, review essentials of GE Digital’s Predix industrial cloud platform, and demonstrate Edge2Web’s visual tools accessing data from Predix Asset and Predix Timeseries.
Webinar Questions & Answers
- Can your tools access plant data without using Predix?
Yes, Edge2Web currently supports direct access to on-premise data via Kepware’s KEPServerEX (with IoT Gateway plugin installed). KEPServerEX supports access to popular industrial protocols such as GE iFIX and OPC UA, as well as older protocols like OPC DA, OPC HDA, and OPC AE. More information about KEPServerEX can be found here.
To achieve connectivity to KEPServerEX (and its supported resources), you will need to install the secure Edge2Web Agent into your infrastructure and configure it to access KEPServerEX’s client endpoints. Once you have connected the Edge2Web Agent to your KEPServerEX environment, your industrial metadata (e.g., assets and tags) and data will be accessible in Edge2Web Director using the same editors and property sheets shown in the Edge2Web/Predix demo (see video beginning at 17:52).
Please contact us if you’d like to build a POC or app using our KEPServerEX integration. We’d be happy to show the software to you and coach you through the set-up steps.
- Please compare your tools with Webalo and Predix Studio
We have looked briefly at these tools, but we do not know them in detail – so the answer provided here should be supplemented/corrected by your own research.
Our general impression is that the mentioned tools are well suited for building dashboards that monitor plant assets and processes. Like Edge2Web Director, they provide good Predix connectivity and a range of data visualization choices, while also supporting page linkages that enable users to drill into data while maintaining navigational context.
In our opinion, dashboarding solutions are necessary but insufficient for achieving transformative changes in most industrial environments. They provide visibility into current operations and can even raise alerts when issues occur, but they add little value when engineers must take action based on those critical events. For example, what should a control engineer do when a vibration anomaly occurs? Diagnose the condition further? Automatically schedule a service call? Take the equipment offline for unscheduled maintenance?
In addition to providing tools for easy asset and process monitoring, Edge2Web Director enables non-programmers to build a vast variety of interactive web apps that guide users to take appropriate actions when problems arise. In addition, Director’s flow engine integrates a wide range of systems and datastores – automating the flow of information across the industrial enterprise. So, in response to a critical operating condition, a Director-based app might bring the control engineer through a domain-specific diagnostic process, automatically schedule a high priority service call through the organization’s service management system, and update the finished goods inventory forecast for possible product delays.
In summary, Edge2Web Director provides all of the tools needed to build a range of dashboards and monitoring applications, and it also provides the power to build device responsive, interactive web apps that guide users to take precise actions – and automate the flow of those actions throughout the enterprise – when critical conditions occur. We believe visual IIoT app builder tools must be capable of handling the full range of industrial enterprise needs, and Director does so in uniquely powerful ways.
- Can I build POCs in your tools without having a live data connection?
Yes, and in fact this is the pattern we recommend for organizations that do not yet have an industrial cloud infrastructure in place.
Imagine a scenario where you need to do a Predix POC, but you have yet to integrate your back-end OT data with Predix Asset and Predix Timeseries. Your alternatives are:
- Wait until your Predix “first mile” connectivity and data flows are in place before before building your POC app.
- Build your POC app in parallel with implementing your data connectivity and flows.
Our observation is that the single biggest point of friction associated with Predix POCs is waiting for data connectivity. Using Edge2Web, you can overcome that obstacle by executing on parallel tracks (alternative 2 above). The parallel approach breaks the “first mile” data dependency and compresses the time needed to deliver functional POCs, allowing you to engage users and iterate with them early in your implementation plan.
Assuming you prefer the parallel path, Edge2Web gives you three choices for the data that initially drives your POCs:
- Load a meaningful subset of your asset and timeseries data into flat files (Excel or csv), upload those files into your free Edge2Web instance, and build your POC on (your own) static data. The benefit of this choice is that your users will see data they recognize when you show them your POC dashboards and apps. The limitation is that your data will be static, so users may not get a complete sense of how the POC apps will behave when deployed into production.
- Use the live test data that comes with your free Edge2Web account. Our live test data includes time series arrays, temperature and volume metrics, process stages, a batch counter, and alarms/events data. Although the source use case for this data is a chemical batch production (SCADA) system, you can easily re-purpose the data elements to represent meaningful elements of your POC use case. The benefit of this choice is that your users will see POC components executing in “real-time”; the limitation is that some of the data may not look familiar to users who are familiar with your production systems.
- Do a combination of 1 and 2, where you bring infrequently changing data (e.g., asset hierarchies) in via flat files and selectively re-purpose our live test data (e.g., timeseries). This choice allows you to show data your users will recognize while also giving your POC apps a dynamic, real-time flavor.
If you are embarking on a Predix POC (or any industrial POC for that matter), we invite you to open a free Edge2Web account and build your apps using Edge2Web Director. Your free account includes an extensive library of pre-built sample dashboards and apps. You can view these apps in runtime and use our visual editors to quickly learn how we built them. And, of course, if you would like us to help you plan and execute your Edge2Web projects, we invite you to contact us to schedule a demo and POC strategy session – that’s free too!