I can still remember the meeting to discuss technology, although I’m hazy on the exact date now but sometime in 2003. We had a new magazine. This was when ISA still had relatively large trade shows. My publisher called me. Seems there was a guy in our booth looking for the editor. He had some kind of revolutionary new software built on Java and was IT friendly.

OK, many CEOs had talked to me even in my brief career as an editor with something revolutionary. They are mostly long since exited from the market.

Steve Hechtman was different, but it took a bit of time for me to be certain. He told me about his new company Inductive Automation. It was SCADA/HMI software. I put it in a mental bin along with Wonderware and Intellution at the time. He talked about using standards that were friendly with the IT people and pricing models that would blow away the competition.

And all these years later, Inductive Automation is still thriving. They’ve built quite an ecosystem. (Yes, they are a long-time sponsor, but this is not an advertisement essay. I just happened to see this summary.)

The event that prodded me to write this brief essay was a conversation with a start-up CEO (more news coming next week about that) who had identified an underserved market niche that could be filled quite nicely. I thought about the market I principally write about and how Ignition fit. I wonder, given the maturity of the large automation companies and stagnant market, if perhaps there are other niches opening for enterprising visionaries?

This information came to me. Since I’ve often written about building products on open standards, I thought a little story of how it actually works would be instructional.

  • Ignition is a practical and affordable industrial automation platform based on open technology standards that are safe to trust and easy to support.
  • Based on IT standards — like SQL, Python, MQTT, and OPC UA — and works with practically anything.
  • Based on the open source Java platform and modern technology languages like HTML5 and CSS to keep implementation dependencies to a minimum.
  • Ignition is a system in which your equipment all plays well together and you can implement processes freely without extra fees or royalties. 
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