Things Will Never Be The Same

There is no escaping discussing the effects of the Coronavirus / covid-19 / SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease. Almost everyone in the world is affected in one way or another.

The meme of the week seems to be working from home advice. The Rework podcast lately is a two-part Q&A with Basecamp leaders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Basecamp has always had a remote work culture and this podcast captures the excitement. I’ve been working at home for more than 25 years. Almost all of the advice I’ve heard will get you on the right track. If you have questions, you can comment or send me a note. I’ve convinced a few companies of the benefits of remote workers.

So, whenever anything happens, pundits crawl out of their burrows and speculate about what all this means for the future. “Everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same,” constitutes their collective mantra.

The truth is that every day something happens that changes the way we live, work, or think. Sometimes just a little thing; sometimes a bigger thing. Will this crisis change the way we work and live? Probably a little. But I bet we return to handshakes and hugs when things pass over. It’s a natural urge for most cultures. Probably the same for our supply chains. And our health care systems. In other words, we seldom learn and apply from a previous situation in order to prepare for the next one.

It’s like travel. “We’ll never fly again. Either it will be a virtual meeting or we’ll drive.” I’ve heard that one. But as soon as the crisis passes, we’ll rediscover the value of the face-to-face meeting.

I’m seeing one conference after another announce moving to a virtual meeting format. There have been many technologies used for virtual conferences over the past 20 years. I’ve even participated in one or two. Tried to listen to a few. These are tough. It’s hard to set aside 2-3 days while you’re still in the office to devote the time to a computer screen whether listening to a keynote or to a panel. I can last through a half-hour presentation. More time than that is difficult for me.

It has gotten to the point for me that when I go to a conference most of the value comes from 1-to-1 discussions and casual conversations in the hallways, coffee shops, and bars. Perhaps there is a speaker at a session I’d like to hear. Sometimes a keynote is excellent. I mostly do not like the panel format, but there are times when it is a worthwhile discussion rather than four 5-minute presentations (that run over time) followed by routine questions. The virtual conference is a poor substitute.

Culture, fashion, experiences seem to be described over time more like sine waves than straight lines up and to the right. Or, I prefer the model that French Jesuit paleontologist, philosopher, and priest Pierre Teilhard devised-a spiral looping upward each trip around similar to the last stage yet building on it to a new reality. Things are the same, yet different.

In a few weeks, we will all be back at work—but with cleaner hands. And perhaps a better appreciation for how we spread germs and viruses.

OTOH Don’t Get Ready to Travel Too Soon

Yesterday’s notice was from an IoT event in Barcelona in October. Maybe the situation in Spain will be better by then. On the other hand, a message just came in from the Deutsche Messe people announcing that Hannover Messe will not be held in 2020. The city of Hannover has ruled that the city will not be ready for the trade show until its next regularly scheduled event in April 2021.

From the press release:

HANNOVER MESSE cannot take place this year due to the increasingly critical situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Hannover region has issued a decree that prohibits the staging of the world’s leading tradeshow for industrial technology. From now until the next HANNOVER MESSE in April 2021, a digital information and networking offer will provide exhibitors and visitors with the opportunity for economic policy orientation and technological exchange.

The world of industry will not be able to meet in Hannover this year. Comprehensive travel restrictions, bans on group gatherings and a prohibition decree in the Hannover region make it impossible to stage HANNOVER MESSE. At the same time, the corona crisis is affecting the economy, and the manufacturing industry – HANNOVER MESSE’s core clientele – is already struggling with serious consequences of the pandemic. Demand and sales in German industry are declining, resulting in supply bottlenecks, production stops and reduced working hours for employees.

“Given the dynamic development around Covid-19 and the extensive restrictions on public and economic life, HANNOVER MESSE cannot take place this year,” says Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Board of Management, Deutsche Messe AG. “Our exhibitors, partners and our entire team did everything they could to make it happen, but today we have to accept that in 2020 it will not be possible to host the world’s most important industrial event.”

It is the first time in HANNOVER MESSE’s 73-year history that the event will not take place. However, the organizers will not let the show completely vanish. “The need for orientation and exchange is particularly important in times of crisis,” says Köckler. “That is why we are currently working intensely on a digital information and networking plattform for HANNOVER MESSE that we will open to our customers shortly.”

Various web-based formats will enable HANNOVER MESSE exhibitors and visitors to exchange information about upcoming economic policy challenges and technological solutions. Live streams will transport interactive expert interviews, panel discussions and best-case presentations all over the world. The online exhibitor and product search is also being enhanced, for example with a function that enables visitors and exhibitors to contact each other directly.

“We firmly believe that nothing can replace direct, person-to-person contact and we are already looking forward to the time after Corona,” says Köckler. “But especially in times of crisis, we must be flexible and act pragmatically. As organizers of the world’s most important industrial trade fair, we want to offer orientation and sustain economic life during the crisis. We are doing that with our new digital offering.”

Thilo Brodtmann, executive director of Germany’s Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), said, “The cancellation of HANNOVER MESSE 2020 is an unfortunate decision, but it is the only correct one. The mechanical engineering industry must now concentrate on minimizing the consequences of the pandemic in its own operations so that it can start up again. In April 2021, the engineers will be back in Hannover in full force.”

Wolfgang Weber, Chairman of the ZVEI Management Board: “The fact that Hannover Messe 2020 cannot be hosted is a bitter loss, but it is the right decision. For the electrical industry, the fair is the showcase to the world, which unfortunately remains closed this year. So our companies will use the time until 2021 to manage the considerable consequences of Corona. Next year, they will then present themselves with the latest products and solutions for Industry 4.0 and the energy system of the future.”

HANNOVER MESSE 2021 will be held from 12 to 16 April 2021.

Getting Ready to Travel?

With all this staying home protocol going on, are you missing the travel scene? Some pundits are doing a linear extrapolation from a limited data set and predicting a “new normal” where all conferences are virtual. Have you heard that before?

October might be a good time for IoT people to consider a trip to Barcelona. This announcement just arrived from The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) concerning a call for papers for IoT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC), the global reference for industry IoT and the annual meeting for end users to discuss new IoT projects.

In its sixth year, IOTSWC runs from October 27-29, 2020, in Barcelona and is co-located with the AI & Cognitive Systems Forum, the Barcelona Cybersecurity Congress and the Wireless Global Congress. 

“IOTSWC continues to be the place to go to hear from industry IoT users,” said Deloitte Global IoT Lead Helena Lisachuk. “Industry leaders can learn a lot from one another and this year we have shifted our track titles from industries to major solutions and use cases around IoT. This maintains our focus on end-user stories, but will enable IoT leaders across industries to more easily identify where they can best learn from their peers.” 

Last year, a record-breaking 16,000 visitors from 120 countries attended the Congress. The three-day event featured 300 top-level speakers discussing digitalization for businesses across industries. This year, potential speakers are asked to share the essential ingredients necessary to harness the transformative potential of IoT, highlighting use cases or business cases that demonstrate how IoT is: 

  • Reshaping the way enterprises execute business processes

  • Achieving tangible business outcome metrics such as improved efficiency, reliability, asset management, remote monitoring, increased productivity, decreased downtime, increased profits, etc. 

  • Creating new revenue streams

  • Making new business models possible

  • Enabling synergy with other advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, digital twin, robotics and more.

“IOTSWC is an industry-leading technology conference bringing together best-in-class solution providers with real-world users,” said Leila Dillon, VP Marketing & Communications at Ameresco.  “This conference highlights the solutions that are in the global market today, showcases how they are making a measurable difference and gives end-users a blueprint for success in their own implementations. Driven by a relentless focus on customer use cases, IOTSWC is not to be missed.”

“IoTSWC gives me an opportunity to catch up on the global landscape of industry IoT every year. The speakers share their wealth of practical knowledge and are open to professional networking and open dialog about their challenges and successes,” said Shyam V. Nath, Oracle, Director IoT and Cloud. “It always surprises me to see how end-user companies work hand-in-hand with IoT solution providers to tweak solutions for industry-specific problems such as quality control of industrial manufacturing and ensuring adequate food production via smart farming.” 

The Five IOT Solutions World Congress Tracks 

  • Security – Enterprises are in need of security solutions to prevent data breaches into their systems. As more information is available through IoT devices, enterprises need to protect their data network properly. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Trust through Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Digital Certification, Cloud Data Protection Gateways and Data Encryption.

  • Connectivity – With the global roll-out of 5G, enterprises are in the need of finding connectivity so providers can offer flexible plans for implementing IoT devices. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: 5G, Edge Computing, Autonomous Vehicles, Traffic Management, LPWAN, eSIM vs uSIM and Vehicle Telematics.

  • Business Optimization – IoT enables companies to identify gaps and potential risks thanks to available data in the value chain. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Digital Twins, Virtual Reality, IoT Cloud Platform, Big Data Analytics, Augmented Reality, Additive Manufacturing – 3D, Remote Operating Center, Smart Metering, Workplace Management, Tracking Assets, Predictive Maintenance, Fleet Management, Inventory Management, Digital Thread and Fog Computing.

  • Intelligence – The combination of IoT and technologies, such as machine learning, provide humans with the tools needed to interpret relevant, but sometimes non-structured data. Topics include use cases on solutions such as: Artificial Intelligence, Collaborative Robots and Deep Learning Platforms.

  • Customer – IoT provides valuable customer data so companies can deliver quality improvement solutions to clients while improving the customer experience. Topic areas include use case presentations that focus on solutions such as: Remote Health Monitoring, MHealth, Tracked Ingestible Sensors and Smart Parking. 

All submissions must be use-case/business-case-focused, with business outcome metrics clearly highlighted. Priority selection is given to use-case oriented submissions that include an end-user speaker. The deadline to submit to the IOTSWC 2020 CFP is April 30, 2020. Click hereto apply.

The conference sessions for IOTSWC are built by a program committee responsible for developing the strategy for the congress, the overall content and bringing together industry leaders. Sessions illustrate how companies are realizing positive business outcomes from implementing IoT and how they collaborated with their solutions teams to make it happen.  The committee is comprised of a cross-section of industry and technology leaders who build the program covering multiple industries, technologies, standards and applications. 

Industrial Leadership—Beyond The Buzz

Have you heard “digital transformation” until your ears ring? Every supplier, every analyst, every consultant promises to take you on the digital transformation journey.

Pause and reflect. Aren’t you already using many digital tools in your business and production processes?

Are marketers and gurus trying to induce panic in you with FOMO (fear of missing out). These days we have plenty of people inducing panic and fear with health concerns. Do we need to add to that with fear that when production returns we will be left in the dust by the digital few?

What I have seen as I tour manufacturing and process plants is a triumph of good leadership using sound management and judicious application of technology to solve problems that improves the business. And treats people well at the same time.

In my own journey, I learned about the importance of sound data from the ground up. And working with people to improve processes. Later, I learned about computer applications and digital technology as I implemented an early MES system that improved processes and life for inventory control and cost accounting. These savings paid for the system. And we had barely tapped the potential.

Then as a quality assurance manager I studied W. Edwards Deming and and the work behind the Toyota Production System pioneered by Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda, Japanese industrial engineers, who developed the system between 1948 and 1975.

What we learned was good leaders working with all people involved identified and solved problems adding digital technologies into their tool set as they helped solve problems.

The worst thing was when engineers wanted to apply technology just because it was new and cool. It has been several years since I’ve seen or heard of “over automation”—at least until Elon Musk blamed his Tesla production problems on it.

People like me who are not beholden to a particular supplier or type of solution can help find the way that works for what your culture and problem require. It’s important to consider both. Trying to change everything at the same time is a recipe for certain disaster.

As we sort through the sickness mess we’re in now, we also need to remember that startups after a prolonged shutdown never go smoothly. Machine problems that were previously hidden by continuous running suddenly demand immediate attention. People take some time to return to speed and focus.

If you are still in production or trying to develop a product or process specifically for this outbreak, remember that it is hard for you and all your employees and contractors to maintain focus when fear and worry linger in the recesses of their minds. Anti-stress breaks and encouragement for nutrition and sleep help build the immune system and keep them in the race.

And rather than focus on social media negativity and panic, check out some of the positive sources for information such as Peter Diamondis.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay focused on solving problems.

Inductive Automation Expands Again, Buys Land for Two New Buildings

How about some good news? Based on many conversations within the industry, I’ve longed pegged Inductive Automation as a growth company among a field perhaps not so active. Here is more evidence of solid growth for the company—and most likely also for this type of software.

Inductive Automation announced March 17 it has purchased land near its headquarters, with plans to construct two new buildings. The significant expansion comes 2 ½ years after its previous expansion, when the company purchased a building that allows it to grow to 285 employees. With the two new buildings, Inductive Automation will be able to triple its number of employees. The company will continue to use its current building, which is only 350 feet from the new site. Groundbreaking for the first new building is scheduled for September.

Inductive Automation makes industrial automation software that’s used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries. The company’s strong revenue growth is driving the need to expand. For the last 10 years, Inductive Automation’s revenues have grown, on average, 55 percent each year.

That phenomenal growth has been due to the popularity of the company’s key product, Ignition by Inductive Automation. Ignition is an industrial application platform with numerous tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition software, along with its unlimited licensing model, is allowing organizations to build the systems they really want.

“We’re very excited to be expanding again,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Most industrial organizations are trying to pull more data from the plant floor, so they can analyze it and make better business decisions. With Ignition, they can access data, analyze data, and control processes better than ever before. All this leads to a much stronger bottom line. Our customer base is expanding rapidly because we provide the tools that help people do all this in a very cost-efficient manner.”

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