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21Apr

Radix Creates a Digital Ecosystem

ARC publishes article about Radix's Digital Ecosystem

Radix creates digital ecosystem

In February 2017, Radix was a silver sponsor at ARC Industry Forum, where the company had the opportunity to share our portofolio of engineering technology (ET), operaitional technology (OT), and information technology (IT) solutions. ARC published the following article about Radix's Digital Ecosystem:

Summary

At our recent Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, ARC Advisory Group had an opportunity to meet with Radix President/CEO Luiz Eduardo Rubião, and Radix US CEO Flávio Niemeyer Guimarães.  These executives provided a briefing on the company’s digitalization strategy to support the process industry. 

Radix develops digital ecosystems with a broad range of capabilities from sensor to boardroom.  To stay abreast of the latest technologies, Radix formed several alliances with leading software technology suppliers.  For example, the company uses the OSIsoft PI System to integrate real-time data from process control systems into SAP S/4HANA. The company also has strategic partnerships with Microsoft and AVEVA.

As we learned, Radix’s experienced workforce has skills in engineering technology (ET), operational technology (OT), and information technology (IT).  This includes process design engineering, software development, automation, process knowledge, electrical systems, instrumentation, safety systems, and industry standards.  The company’s broad capabilities and range of software technology tools enable it to create solutions that integrate ERP, MES, and DCS/PLC technologies.  We also learned about Radix’s ISO 55000-based approach for managing a company’s digital assets in a strategic manner.

Key takeaways from this briefing include:

  • Unlike many other system integrators (SIs), Radix has executed automation projects in the oil & gas and other process industries that include software implementations applications at the ERP level, rather than just stopping at the OPC communications link level.
  • Radix is up to date on international standards (NIST, ISA, ISO, IEC, etc.) and industry trends and has developed new models for supporting IT and cybersecurity.
  • Radix provides its employees with broad training to develop skills that span instrumentation, advanced regulatory control, model predictive control, analytics, MES applications, and database management/programming.

Onboarding Millennials for Process Automation 
The Baby Boomer generation is quickly being replaced with a new generation of tech-savvy workers.  Radix has been busy training a growing Millennial generation of technology workers to be productive in the digital ecosystem applied to the process industries.  Radix’s training system addresses the need to understand process, control, and database software at a fundamental level; while providing technology interoperability training that incorporates new technology and advanced application functionalities. 

Approaches for Multivendor Integration
As we learned, Radix is a member of the Open Process Automation Forum initiative that ExxonMobil initiated with help from Lockheed Martin.  Radix knows that it is critical to lower both the replacement and ongoing lifecycle costs for DCSs and derive more value from automation.  The company has presented a software-centric solution together with Microsoft to address the challenge.

The company uses some innovative technology tools to develop its software-based application solutions.  These include employing CryptoBus technology for interoperability and high availability.

Radix uses CryptoBus application development technology to connect simultaneously to multiple hardware platforms.  According to the company, this allows parallel processing and ensures high availability and performance with secure messages.  CryptoBus does not need specifications for specific hardware interfaces to support multivendor interoperability.

New Sensors and IoT for the Process Industry
By and large, the process industries are already highly automated, with well-established instrumentation and methods to securely transmit instrument readings to control systems.  Real-time process data is routinely collected in historians.  However, with the emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), new technologies, sensors and capabilities are becoming available.  So how can the data from new sensors be made more useful?

Radix developed a real-time logistics system (RTLS) to monitor and control people and vehicle location.  Unlike GPS-based location tracking solution, Radix’s RTLS uses optical (infrared) or acoustic (ultrasound) radio frequency technology in conjunction with cloud storage.

We learned how the company’s new IR sensor technology is tracking people, vehicles, and other assets to provide value.  By equipping people with wearable tags or placing a tag on a vehicle, radio frequency sensors can detect the location of people or vehicles within 50 yards of the sensor.  The solution captures and keeps track of this information in real time to provide digital intelligence that can help organizations improve productivity, safety, and reliability.

Radix has implemented predictive maintenance and machine learning applications for the Caterpillar tractor representative, Sotreq.  The Oil X!pert application for condition monitoring with smart ERP involves more than 6,000 connected assets.  The results reduced laboratory labor by 30 percent and speeded up the dissemination and accuracy of lab results.  Centralized machine diagnosis from several data sources allows information to be centralized and available for sharing.

Radix has developed other asset and condition monitoring systems by combining real-time data with other data.  For example, the company’s experts work with its clients’ own refinery experts to review P&ID drawings and other information to determine the important process and engineering characteristics of each refinery unit.  Radix then documents the key functional requirements and uses analytics to create a condition monitoring system using an asset tree.  According to Radix, the application improves situational awareness for operators and maintenance personnel.

Thinking Creatively about the Digital Ecosystem 
As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, we’re seeing an unprecedented rate of change in digital transformation.  The availability of data from multiple sources opens new avenues for useful applications.  Radix provides a number of systems integration services for the digital ecosystem.  These include:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Mobile Data and Devices
  • Augmented Reality
  • Internet of Things
  • Simulation
  • Autonomous Robots 
  • Cybersecurity

While connectivity and interoperability between varied data sources and applications can yield favorable returns, they also create potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities.  Because of this, Radix integrates cybersecurity into all its projects.

At the same time, end users in the process industries can get trapped thinking only about their own manufacturing process without imagining the fundamentals of converting their raw materials to finished products.  SIs like Radix can look at best practices and how new emerging technologies provide value for both greenfield and brownfield projects.

Conclusion
Radix has worked with many of the major oil & gas and chemicals companies as well as with organizations outside the process industries (such as NASA) on a variety of projects for which it has developed best practices, technology tools, and applications to expedite implementation.

ARC believes that Radix has an entrepreneurial spirit; the company’s people think creatively and integrate new technologies and data sources that can provide value to the end user.  Radix goes beyond the typical system integrator business model of simply implementing PLC/SCADA systems.  By engaging with a variety of partners and thinking creatively, the company has implemented new tools and new digital technologies and applications that improve performance and add value for its customers.