Friday, May 30, 2014

Ubisense In Action

Ubisense Canada (+ friends) enjoy the wilderness with a mountain bike adventure.      
Meeting of the Minds: myWorld Development Team

Our IT Team is brilliant at fixing all of our problems. Pictured: Cio Esparza, US Team

FME World Tour Recap: Using Data to Connect, Transform, and Automate Applications

By Edson Enohi

FME World Tour is an event happening around the world in more than 50 cities from April through May bringing the most recent information about data connecting applications, transforming, and automating. This year, for the first time as part of this FME World Tour, FME partner Geoplan (Ubisense), together with FME creator Safe Software, organized the event in Japan. Around 100 attendees participated at the event held in Tokyo and Nagoya.

In the first half-session of the event, top academic researchers from Tokyo university (Kato professor), Nagoya university (Kawaguchi professor), and OpenStreet Foundation Japan (Furuhashi leader) were invited as keynote speakers to talk about their recent works related to OpenData. In the second half-session, FME use cases were presented by the end customer (Pragmatica company, Iijima-san) and FME products were introduced by Geoplan and Safe Software to the audience.

Conference opening by Takushi Oda (master of ceremonies)
The Kato professor, a specialist in natural disaster studies for big cities, pointed out the preparation needs in Japan for disaster prevention and the lessons learned from the past earthquakes. The studies of the cities’ damages were explained depending on the intensity of earthquake and illustrated by several thematics on the maps. Opendata is providing great contributions, visualizing and sharing the data to better understand the local area, identify new issues, and locate houses of elderly people, which might help to save more lives during critical situations.

On the crisis management, the following three points become important: self-help, mutual assistance, and public body assistances. The professor emphasized the importance of keeping sustainability of these points.

The Kawaguchi professor, a specialist in location services, information pointed out cases of using collected big data of people moving around Nagoya station area. The data were analyzed by different times of the day, combining the location data inside the station and the outside data. Depending on the day and time, different services might be offered, and big data analytics provide good information for that.

The Furuhashi leader from OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan pointed out the increase of people interested in OpenStreetMap, made the audience learn the word “CCBY,” which means free to copy, print, and reuse. Displaying “CCBY’ is the only requirement to use OpenStreetmap. The Haiti earthquake was illustrated as a case of the OpenstreetMap community helping to create maps for Haiti in a short time, supporting the UN rescuers’ logistics during the disaster.

FME helps to move data from hundreds of different formats enabling use and sharing. Iijima-san from Pragmatica explained cases of transforming data by reprojecting, aggregating, summarizing, extracting coordinates, translating data, extracting, transforming to raster, etc.

FME Introduction by Edson Enohi
The new FME 2014 is supporting new formats for data reading and writing from Amazon Cloud Services, Google Cloud services, Revit (3D/BIM), etc. Among these formats, Google Maps Engine (GME) formats were highlighted, and cities like San Jose and Edmonton are loading several datasets into Google Map Gallery and sharing it with the public for better services. As an example, search Google for “Edmonton map gallery” to find around 80 datasets street project constructions, soccer fields, tree species, etc. Vancouver and San Francisco are also proactively using FME to open their data from several input sources into their web sites.

The 3D/BIM session also attracted the attention of the audience, with Kevin from Safe Software highlighting cases of using cityGML, IFC, Sketchup, and Revit format . For example, from complex BIM data, visualize it on the FME inspector, routing the data per floor, extracting spaces, or volumes from data.

In summary, Opendata, Big data, data analytics, cloud, and 3D/BIM are hot topics from the Geospatial market. New business opportunities are just starting from these segments, and the audience was eager to get the latest information from the event.

I am already looking forward for the next year FME World Tour!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leveraging Location Data to Uncover the Hidden Factory

Written By: Darcie Cousins, Technical Sales Consultant, UK

By consuming location data in real-time and transforming it into visible, actionable information, Ubisense solutions reveal the ‘hidden factory’ and empower managers and executives to improve production processes, improve product quality, and automate key business processes to make their operations leaner and more efficient. 

What does that actually mean? Well, here is one analogy that might help, and it’s all about location.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to get from Point A to Point B, you probably pulled out a paper map of the region you were traveling in. You may have had to take some time to locate your start and end points if you weren’t already familiar with where things were. Then you would assess your various route options and plan the best possible route according to your priorities – fastest, shortest, most scenic, etc.

It was time consuming and somewhat risky. Your map probably didn't show road construction and if it was out of date your planned route may not have been the most efficient – newer, larger roads might have been built that would have been a better option had you known about them. If it was a long journey, the map may have had some service stations marked but for the most part finding places to stop or eat along the way was all part of the "mystery" and "adventure" of the fabled road trip.

Once you set off, you were never sure what was just around the corner. How many times did you sit for hours in bumper to bumper traffic because of an accident or road construction? How many greasy diners did you eat at, not knowing your favorite healthy restaurant franchise was just one mile away? Did you ever really know what ETA to give your anxious relatives waiting for you? Have you ever spent a nervous hour driving through the desert hoping to find a service station with the fuel gauge dropping lower and lower? I have.

Kids today have no idea what this was like – it is the 21st century equivalent of the "walked ten miles to school with no shoes" stories our grandparents told us. This is because today we have smart phones, and these phones are running location aware applications.

Have you ever thought about how many of the apps we use daily are using location data to make our lives better and easier? My phone lists dozens, including apps for fitness, bird watching, shopping, weather, public transportation, parking, and travel. Now when I want to take a road trip I load a crowd sourced navigation app. It offers me multiple route options to choose from and displays trip distance, time, and current traffic conditions along the way. It lets me send my ETA to a friend, and even provides a link for them to monitor my trip progress in real time. Other users enter information about traffic conditions, accidents, or hazards in the road in real time, and the app will offer me a new route to help avoid them. 

All of this functionality makes travel much more efficient and pleasant than it used to be. It eliminates a lot of wasted time, effort, and energy by giving me all the information I need to make the right decisions according to my goals and preferences – and all in real time.

Ubisense Real Time Location Intelligence (RTLI) solutions are designed to bring the time and money saving features of these applications we all take for granted in our personal lives and apply them to business environments. Using the Smart Factory product set, manufacturers are able to answer important questions about the current state of production using information provided in real time. 

The system consumes location data that can come from various sources – Ubisense sensors and tags, handheld barcode readers, passive RFID tags and readers, PLCs, and so on – and transforms it into business intelligence. Businesses who have invested in this technology are now able to understand the secrets that were previously hidden in the factory:
  • Where is Product123 right now?  
  • How far through the production process is Product123? (Is it running on time?)
  • Are there any known quality issues on Product123? (Is it in rework?)
  • When is Product123 likely to be finished? (Is it at risk of exceeding the target production time?)
  • What tools have been used to assemble Product123? (Does this match the bill of materials for that product?)
  • What is the average time that products are spending in process step 4? (Is this in line with our performance goals?)
  • Does process step 4 take more time for some types of products than others? (Let’s look into why.)

Smart Factory includes a powerful rules and events engine that is able to monitor for specific situations and proactively alert production leaders to events they are interested in:
  • The Ageing WIP KPI is in danger of being exceeded for product123. (It needs to be prioritized.)
  • Workspace 4 can only accommodate three vehicles, but four have been parked there. (This carries an increased risk of paint damage.)
  • A vehicle with an unresolved electrical fault just entered the Pass to Sales area. (It must be repaired it before it leaves the site.)
  • A part that is vulnerable to corrosion has been in a workspace longer than it should be. (It must be protected to prevent scrap.)
  • Part123 just deviated from its defined production workflow. (It needs to get back on track.)

Smart Factory can add value to production processes on its own, or act as an ‘enabling’ technology augmenting existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), or Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) systems. It provides the location intelligence that takes manufacturers out of the age of paper maps and brings them into the age of smart applications. Just as technology as made travel safer and more efficient, Ubisense RTLI solutions make navigating your business more efficient and cost-effective. 






Monday, May 19, 2014

We Are Now a Google Enterprise Maps Authorized Partner

Ubisense has become an Authorized Partner of solutions based on Google’s Enterprise Maps for Business technologies. This new designation from Google enables customers to more easily assess Ubisense’s expertise advising on and deploying Google products. In conjunction with this strategic partnership, Ubisense today formally announced Ubisense myWorld 2.0, an intuitive location intelligence platform that integrates Google Maps for Business technologies and provides unmatched visibility into an enterprise’s operations, significantly enhancing operational awareness and enabling businesses to operate more effectively.
Ubisense provides location intelligence solutions that address unique enterprise visibility challenges, and as an Authorized Partner, Ubisense can now provide Google Maps for Business integration and OEM licenses to its customers in a simple and cost-efficient manner. Ubisense myWorld brings critical enterprise information together into a single application that can be accessed via any standard web browser on any smart device. Ubisense myWorld incorporates network asset data, work orders, customer information, and other critical operational data from a variety of spatial and enterprise systems vendors. Additionally, Ubisense myWorld can be integrated with Google Maps for Business solutions, including Google Maps, Google Search, Google Earth, Google Elevation and Google Street View with Ubisense myWorld.
“Google Maps give our customers a smart, simple, and fast way to view complex business operations so they can quickly understand the state of operations and make better and more informed business decisions,” said Jay Cadman, vice president of business development, Ubisense. “In, say, an outage caused by a natural disaster, having this detailed view of an organization’s operations in real time enables our customers to respond to safety issues, such as downed power lines, with the right equipment and safety precautions the first time. They can keep their employees and customers safer and restore services faster. Every telecommunications and utility company in the world strives for that and now we’re able to deliver a solution that enables them to achieve both goals.”
Google Streeview being shown in myWorld
Using Ubisense myWorld with Google Maps technologies, Ubisense customers can realize a number of benefits that can significantly impact an organization’s bottom line and improve customer service. Ubisense myWorld customers gain the ability to react to issues and potentially harmful situations sooner and are better prepared to solve issues faster, work more efficiently, and enhance their customer service and support. Rapidly gaining traction among telecommunications and utility companies, Ubisense myWorld is already used by 26 customers spanning five continents. Ubisense customers are using Ubisense myWorld for many critical business processes, including storm damage assessment, network operations, gas leak surveying, field mobility and customer service.
Google Maps for Business brings the power of Google Maps to an organization, providing simple, familiar mapping technology to the workplace. Users can layer their data on top of Google’s base map and create their own maps and geospatial applications that can be used by anyone — anytime, anywhere. By using any of Google Maps business solutions, including Google Maps Engine, Google Maps Engine Pro, Google Maps Coordinate or the Google Maps APIs, organizations and their employees can rely on maps that are comprehensive, easy-to-use and always up to date.
The Google Maps Partner Program includes companies globally that sell, service and customize Google Maps for business solutions for their customers. As a part of the Google Maps Partner Program, Ubisense receives training, support and deployment tools from Google.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

21 Ways to Chase Waste with Smart Factory

Ubisense Smart Factory can help you monitor inventory, reduce wait time, improve processing, identify movement, and eliminate defects.

Cambridge, Paris, and Denver Offices are Hiring!


We are looking for experienced consultants, project managers, and software engineers. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Latest 3D Measurement Technology

Written by: Langley Willauer

The SPAR Conference is all about 3D measurement technology, so when the annual show came to Colorado Springs last week, Ubisense was there scouring for technologies that would help our customers.

Applications included architectural preservation, inside-building models for SWAT teams, crime scene investigation tools; all manner and form of data collection for engineering and design projects.

First, scanners. Since being invented years ago, the technology has diversified and expanded. Indoor and outdoor scanners were on display with various accuracies and ranges. There was a lot of buzz about the scanner mounted in a prototype phone as part of Google’s Project Tango. And there were scanners that clipped onto iPads which created little mapping machines.

And what do get from a scanner? Well, a point cloud. Cool sounding, trendy even, but not very useful in and of itself. So there were software and service providers on the floor too, companies who, with varying degrees of automation, could turn a point cloud into a 3D model that an engineer would recognize.

For example, a Company called New Spin was doing prototype work with one of our customers, American Electric Power. They were placing their scanner at various locations inside a substation, a process that eventually led to a functioning 3D model where engineers could safely take accurate measurements and try “what if” scenarios with their designs in the existing model.

But scanners aren’t cameras. So every deployed scanner seems to also have a companion camera for capturing the image that can be “draped” over the scan. Those iPad scanners appeared to be able to do this on the fly, going from waving the thing around to a working, full-color 3D model of the 10 feet around you in a few seconds. Very compelling technology, to be sure.

Handheld scanners that clip onto iPads are the latest thing
Where does this all fit in? Some utility customers are already employing scanning companies to map poles, wires, and roads. Helicopter-based scanners have been flown in transmission-line corridors for years, mapping tree clearances. For our manufacturing customers, this technology could map indoor spaces quickly and speed up deployment of location-based technologies. For our natural gas customers, a gas leak investigation is similar to a crime scene investigation, so why not adapt this technology for field workers; and certainly exposed pipe deserves to be mapped as closely as possible before it’s covered up again.


Watch this space!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ubisense in Action: Hannover Messe


Picture: Dr. Andreas Schurzinger demonstrating Smart Factory at

We are now on Google+



Ubisense Smart Factory installed at Daimler

Since the beginning of July 2013, Ubisense Smart Factory is in production on the Mercedes S-class assembly line in Sindelfingen, Germany. In a pilot phase, the system was tested and integrated with the DC tools in two line segments. The remaining stations were then equipped and all the DC tools were integrated in the subsequent step, which went live in July.

Smart Factory is used in the Sindelfingen plant to identify vehicles and assets on the final assembly line and to control tools based on their position. Linked to the vehicle ID, the real-time tracking data is also transferred to other systems in the production facility, so machine operators always know which particular vehicle is arriving at a station—even on those line segments where conventional vehicle sensing systems cannot be used. Cumbersome, manual scanning processes are thus eliminated, vehicles and tools are matched automatically and the correct tool programs are loaded at the respective work stations. As a result, unproductive assembly time is reduced significantly and errors that can occur with manual processes are avoided.

Smart Factory is integrated seamlessly with the car manufacturer’s PLUS manufacturing execution system and allows for a direct control of the DC tools via the Atlas Copco Open Protocol. In the full roll-out, devices and tools provided by other vendors are also controlled via the real-time location data. The system was implemented by Ubisense together with Atlas Copco, who have a strategic partnership since 2009.

Ubisense and Savi Technology to Provide Location Intelligence Systems to U.S. Government Agencies in RFID-IV Contract Win

Ubisense has been selected to provide its real-time location intelligence systems to U.S. government agencies by Savi Technology which was awarded a multi-million dollar, five-year contract by the U.S. Army Contracting Command. Savi and Ubisense will provide indoor/outdoor location intelligence systems that enhance global asset planning and logistics tracking to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), coalition partners and other U.S. government agencies.
Ubisense’s indoor location intelligence systems report the precise location of tagged items in real-time (indoor GPS), and also provide real-time alerts, process monitoring and reporting. This ability to gain complete visibility inside facilities enablesorganizations to radically optimize operations logistics, manufacturing and MRO operations, consistently resulting in higher quality, faster delivery and improved reliability.  
“We have put together a world-class team to serve the needs of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies,” said Bill Clark, president and chief executive officer at Savi.  “Combining Ubisense’s expertise in real-time location systems with Savi’s leadership status as the premier provider of military RFID systems provides the U.S. military and our allies with unmatched global asset planning and tracking capabilities.”
The demand for Ubisense’s location intelligence systems is rapidly growing globally in commercial sectors, based on results achieved by existing clients, such as Amtrak, BMW, PACCAR, Caterpillar and Cummins, to name a few. Ubisense has also worked with the U.S. Army to develop indoor training systems to better prepare soldiers for urban terrain combat, and welcomed the opportunity to expand its footprint in the federal government arena.
“This contract signals a valuable opportunity for government agencies to significantly improve a variety of asset planning and logistics-related functions, and we are grateful to be part of this Product Director Automated Movement and Identification Solutions (PD AMIS) mission,” said Richard Green, CEO, Ubisense. “We look forward to working with Savi Technology, a trusted and proven vendor within the government sector, to demonstrate the plethora of benefits federal agencies can achieve using this technology.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ubisense in Action: Global Teams Unite in Cambridge for 2014 Kickoff

Brian Vance (USA), Scott Casey (USA), Kristel Faris (USA), Aubree Topai (USA), Dave Harris (USA), Jim Stippich (USA)
Stefan Schwiers (Germany), Meike Porrmann (Germany), Karsten Schultz (Germany)
Andy Schuerzinger (Germany), Darcie Cousins (UK), Hubert Peyre (France)
Kendall Truitt (USA)
Corey Holland (USA)
Aubree Topai (USA), Kristel Faris (USA)
Janice Kok (Asia), Scott Casey (USA), Bill Riva (USA), Brian Vance (USA)
Adrian Jennings (USA), Jon Heathcote (UK),  Jay Cadman  (USA)
Entire Ubisense Global Sales Team (Germany, France, Asia, Canada, USA, UK) 

"Big Challenges Off the Road" by Automotive Manufacturing Solutions

The volumes may be lower and the unit size larger, but the logistical and manpower issues involved in off-highway manufacturing are similar to the automotive industry
CaterpillarThe manufacture of huge off-road vehicles follows many of the same processes found in automotive production. Most of these models are made using flow line processes with line-side kitting and sequenced logistics; the main difference comes in the sheer size and weight of the components and subassemblies.

The Caterpillar Peterlee facility in Durham, UK, is the worldwide manufacturing location for Caterpillar Articulated Trucks and currently produces a six-model range, four with different engine variants that tip the load and two which eject it. Phil Handley, facilities managing director, explains: “We make vehicles with a capacity starting at 25 tonnes right through to a 43-tonne machine. We have machines that we sell into regulated countries from an emissions perspective – tier 4 compliant machines – and we have machines that we can sell to the rest of the world where the emissions regulations are not quite as tight.”

Product variation is quite limited. Unlike their automotive counterparts, off-road vehicle manufacturers generally do not face the constant churn of new models on an annual basis which necessitates re-tooling and significant line changes. “Our cycles are very different from automotive models and lately they tend to be emissions driven,” states Handley. “We are just going through the launch of the tier 4 compliant product along with most of our competitors,” he says, adding that elements of a base model tend to be updated before a new generation is launched.

In addition to the narrower model range, paintshop is less taxing; the majority of construction equipment is yellow, although specific colour schemes for off-highway vehicles such as military camouflage are sometimes requested.
 

Scope as well as scale
Handley refers to the manufacturing philosophy at Peterlee as “flat plate to gate”, with only the drivetrain not manufactured on site. All the drivetrains feature Caterpillar components (gearboxes, axles and engines) that are brought into the plant in sequenced line-side deliveries.

“We receive flat sheet steel and then go through the standard processes where we cut, bend, weld, paint,” he explains. “We then have a single piece flow line where we assemble various models. It is not actually a physically moving line such as you would find in an automotive assembly plant, but we use product movers to index move the machine along the line as it grows.”
 

There is only a small amount of automation. “We use laser cutting technology and we use robots for welding,” says Handley. “We have an automotive paint plant, but that is not automated. There is more automation in the fabrication process as there are more repeatable processes that we can modular-build.”

When it comes to capacity, line speed and throughput, Handley is somewhat cagey. “We have got capacity in place that meets industry demand and we are continually investing in that capacity,” he states. “We are flexible with our working patterns; we can move people in and out of the process to match the seasonality or cyclical demand, so we can manage peaks and troughs with our process.”

Tackling the size issue

From an automotive perspective, the major difficulty with off-highway vehicles is their sheer size. “The scalability is certainly a challenge,” Handley says. “But you have to bear in mind that, compared to some of the large mining trucks that are manufactured elsewhere within the group, our product is not particularly large; you would fit our completed truck inside the body of one of those [trucks].”

Nonetheless, Handley admits that the scale of moving the parts is certainly a challenge. “But we make our own trolleys and stillages and we have huge cranes to move the components around,” he states. “The actual dump body sits on a special stand that can be raised by a fork-lift and moved to a required position.”

Along with the size and scale of the components, there are ergonomic issues to be addressed. “You need the people who are involved in the manufacturing process to be safe and to be able to move and manipulate heavy components,” explains Handley. “So that can become a challenge and we have had to develop some bespoke equipment that we use to fit various components to the machine.”

A further complication caused by the size of the vehicles, components and assemblies is the space needed for line-side logistics. When working on a flow line, modules need to be available at the right point and at the right time. According to Handley, some of the order-specific, sequencing activities where various options are matched with the product as it moves along the line mean that a large area is required. “We don’t have a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong as we are moving through the manufacturing process, as realigning products is difficult.”


The active tags used in Ubisense’s Smart Factory System transmit data several times per second
Manpower and ongoing needs
Another key challenge faced by Caterpillar and other heavy vehicle manufacturers is staffing. “Along with the process, it is the skills that are our biggest problem,” confirms Handley. This means attracting, developing and retaining the skills that are needed across the full range of positions: welders, fabricators, painters, electricians, manufacturing engineers and design engineers.

“It is quite a challenge attracting young, talented people into the industry,” states Handley. He believes the problem is particularly acute in the off-highway sector: “Maybe automotive companies don’t find it so difficult, but at this end of the market we do." He explains that heavy manufacturing is "not always viewed as an attractive career” because it is seen as a “dirty, dark and dank type environment” – but that this is far from the truth. Peterlee, for one, is a high-tech facility with a clean environment despite the heavy fabrication.
Placing progress in real time
At the AGCO factory at Marktoberdorf in Germany, a recent installation of a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was being hampered by incorrect data entry during the assembly process. The company opted to automate this activity using the Ubisense Smart Factory System. Over the 4,000m2 area, AGCO fitted 76 sensors and 200 real-time location system (RTLS) tags. By precisely tracking the tags on each gear assembly as well as on each subassembly, the company achieved real-time progress monitoring.

“Typically, manufacturers are relying on an operator manually typing in information on a workstation about the job in process,” says Terry Phebey, Ubisense vice-president of marketing. For instance, a gearbox assembly would come into the bay and at a quality control point a worker would have to type information into a terminal or scan a barcode. By instrumenting the area, AGCO was able to eliminate the human data input. The entry of the assembly into the space automatically sends intelligent data to the MES, entirely machine-to-machine.

“All that is required is that at the start of the process the tag is fitted to the part or assembly and an association is made between that part and the serial or bin number,” explains Phebey. “The Smart Factory System uses high-precision UWB real-time location technology combined with GPS for outdoor applications,” he adds. “Users only need three components: active (battery-powered) transponders or tags, designed for different applications; sensors; and software.”

The tags have a unique ID and can, for example, be associated with production data and transmit location radio signals to sensors, which detect the signals and calculate the positions of the tags several times per second. The Ubisense software stores, processes and displays the location data in real time for the user as well as generating events for IT or shop-floor systems.
Customers usually start with a small zone and just a few sensors as proof of concept, then, when they are happy with the ROI and quality metrics, the system is rolled out across the entire assembly process.