Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

Here I go to yet another IT conference to talk convergence and platform. Salesforce invited me to its summer marketing conference in June and promised an interview with a Vice President. I could take my wife out to a good anniversary dinner, visit family, and go to a tech conference with a good interview all on one trip. Too good to pass up.

This was the Salesforce Connections conference. Not as big as Dreamforce in San Francisco, but still quite large by our standards in manufacturing.

Salesforce is more than the CRM company it was. Many acquisitions later, it has assembled an array of technology. Like all tech companies, it has a platform. In fact due to its open APIs, you could use it, too. Some time ago, I interviewed the CEO of a manufacturing ERP company called Kenandy that was build upon the Salesforce platform. Rootstriker, another ERP company build on the Salesforce platform, recently acquired Kenandy.

Featured in one keynote was an application by MTD, a manufacturer of lawn tractors (Cub Cadet, etc.). No, Salesforce doesn’t run machines. It does help connect the manufacturer with its end customers and then with its dealers with feedback to the manufacturer.

The idea is that customers do online research and so need to be reached in many ways (thus Salesforce marketing). MTD erected an online store on the Salesforce platform (in simplified terms) for direct to the consumer interaction. An order is fulfilled by the local dealer. The dealer still gets margin and relationship and as an extra added bonus, the opportunity for service business. Linking all back to MTD, it gets to know the customer, satisfies the dealer, plus receiving data from the service business feeds back into product development.

Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce VP automotive/manufacturing, told me industry is moving from product centric to system, e.g., autonomous vehicles, mobility services, digital signals; factory automation, geographic expansion, intelligence, vehicle sales. Mobility services lead to transaction service—over air updates, location based services.

He noted that people start online and mostly know what they want before visiting a dealer. Other manufacturing customers tying their whole sales systems back to manufacturing include John Deere and Ecolab.

“State of the Connected Customer” report

Before I went to the conference, Saleforce sent me this interesting report—a survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide that looks at the ever changing landscape of customers’ expectations, the emerging technologies influencing these expectations and the role trust plays in the customer experience.

Customers today are energized by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them. They have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.

These trends impact every company, regardless of whether they sell to consumers or business buyers purchasing on behalf of their companies. In this research, “customers” is an aggregate of both consumer and business buyer responses.

The report dives into the nuances of this tricky customer landscape. Here are five of the high-level findings our research brought to light:

1. Customer experience matters even more than you think

Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A majority take this sentiment a step further by voting with their wallets; 57% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.

2. B2B expectations mirror B2C standards

The concept of “B2Me” isn’t new, but it’s gathering steam. Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves. But only 27% say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, signaling ample room to improve.

3. Companies face new connected mandates

For 84% of customers, being treated like a person — and not a number — is very important to win their business. Another 70% say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).

Even before a purchase, personalization is hugely important; 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to win their business.

While they buy, 78% of business buyers seek salespeople that act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry.

4. Technology sets new benchmarks for innovation

Real innovation, not lip service, is a deciding factor for most customers. 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.

While some emerging technologies are only starting to take root, a majority of customers say these technologies have transformed (or are actively transforming) their expectations: the Internet of Things (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%).

5. Facing a crisis of trust: finding the balance between personalization and privacy

Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago — and nearly half of customers (45%) feel confused about how companies use their data.

82% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for connections between their digital and in-person experiences.

81% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for more consultative help from salespeople.

85% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for proactive customer service.

For 92% of customers, the ability to control what personal information is collected makes them more likely to trust a company with that information.

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Fourth in the series of posts as I digest all of the information I gathered at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2018 in Las Vegas. This post focuses on use cases. Yes, people, there are people some in manufacturing and some not who are using HPE IoT and Edge computing for fun and profit.

First off, a panel assembled by Tom Bradicich, VP and GM IoT and Edge and Ph.D. entitled Intelligence at the Edge.

Nathalie Elad of Comcast- We are an aggregator of data from homes sending this data from local server to cloud. He is working with HPE on virtualization. No, it doesn’t collect individual family usage to sell to others (yes, it came up). But the company does need data to know how to channel bandwidth. The challenge-“we double bits every 18 months and need to flex up and down during the day.” Interesting stat—there used to be 3.3 devices per house, now may be 20 or even 30.

Tim Thai, Tesla- OT—IT is still a challenge. “The Edge is dynamic, wherever business sets up shop.” Regarding IoT, there are “Things” in manufacturing-control and sensors. They incorporate sensors in testing of technology in cars. Not to mention “there are a ton of sensors in a car.”

Philip Rostle, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 racing, discussed F1 race car as the edge. There are lots of channels coming off the car during a race. They measure performance versus predicted. You think you have connection problems, he described connection in race as “variable”. Every car has a GPS. They track all cars in the race trying to predict status of the other cars. They run scenarios, analytics, quickly at the edge during a race to help determine strategy. Took “moonshot” server power to the edge so that they get maximum performance within the rules of F1.

In a special breakfast session, we talked with the CTO of the Ryder Cup and European PGA Tour. Think you know golf? Ever wonder about some of the stats that the TV announcers can quote during an event? Well, the tour requires a lot of data. And to get that data, they need connectivity. Golf is also an entertainment event. There are 50,000 spectators at the Ryder Cup. They all expect WiFi to access real-time information about the tournament.

First the data. Every shot has a dozen parameters to capture for every golfer. These are logged on the course. To connect, they use Aruba wireless networking devices. There are 30 switches and 700 access points. They collect 20K data points for scoring; 140K data points for other shot information. “Data drives insights that leads to performance for golfers.” They can track each golfer and also track spectator traffic patterns. An untold story, they lay 18km of fiber cable each tournament; ready to go for Wednesday morning and tear down beginning Sunday evening.

Mike Orr, director of digital transformation at Murphy Oil, uses Edgeline on oil platforms. He noted that his biggest hurdle was working with IT mostly due to its legacy software systems. He made this technology economics point—when oil went from $140 to $20, company laid off many workers. The only way he could get his work done was with technology.

I’ve already discussed the Texmark Chemicals “Refinery of the Future” use case, but I learned a few additional points at this conference.

Intel supplied streaming video analytics—used for physical security/monitoring, open gate for railway access allowed humans and critters into the site, monitored for exception to alert operators.

Deloitte is developing an IoT practice. It assembled an ecosystem including NI, Allied, ThingWorx, OSIsoft, SparkCognition AI for pumps. It also developed the operator dashboards for the project.

All together there were 12 partners in the ecosystem that completed the project that included predictive maintenance for two critical pumps and the video surveillance system.

HPE coordinated the entire project.

The insurance company was impetus to do something to upgrade the technology. Texmark kicked off the project by renting a party bus and taking 15 employees to the HPE IoT lab in Houston. They saw a demo of a pump with FlowServe monitoring and analytics. Employees discussed and picked the initial project targets—two critical pumps in the process plus the “video as a sensor” for the railway access. Getting early employee involvement was the key factor for successful implementation.

Asset Performance Management and Service Apps Optimize Operations

Asset Performance Management and Service Apps Optimize Operations

Have you been wondering about GE Digital and such products as Predix Asset Performance Management since the announcements of the new GE CEO reducing the group and throwing it into turmoil?

Well, just when I realized I had not heard anything for a while, this press release appeared. I don’t usually write about the announcements that come daily about sales “wins” or about success stories. But I felt this was significant in that it was news that GE Digital is still out there and that here is a user that is not a GE company. Also it reflects a trend of collaboration among companies. Plus another trend—one of the original hopes for the Industrial Internet of Things, that is, adding ability for OEMs to monitor their equipment at the customer’s site and provide service and support.

Here, GE Digital and SIG, a leading provider of packaging systems and solutions for the food and beverage industry, announced a strategic partnership to power digital innovation in food and beverage packaging.

SIG will deploy GE Digital’s PredixAsset Performance Management (APM) and Predix ServiceMax industrial applications across more than 400 customer factories worldwide to drive new levels of efficiency, create intelligent solutions and enable new possibilities for its customers.

The food and beverage industry is ripe for digital transformation, with consumers increasingly seeking innovative, convenient products that are not only safe and sustainable but also affordable and differentiated. At the same time, producers are facing competitive pressures, supply chain complexities and ever-shorter production cycles – creating an increased need for technologies that can enable producers to quickly identify, predict and act on changing consumer and market demands.

The unique combination of GE Digital’s APM and ServiceMax applications will enable SIG to build an end-to-end digital platform that will bring a new level of insight and data-driven intelligence to its customers worldwide – helping them and SIG transform how they predict, manage and service the entire lifecycle of SIG filling lines. By automatically collecting and analyzing asset data – tapping into billions of data points across its operations globally in real time – SIG and their customers can move beyond traditional asset monitoring and predictive service models to reimagine their supply chain, enhance quality control technologies and evolve their portfolio mix.

“Our ability to harness data is central to delivering on our promise of opening up new opportunities for our customers,” said Rolf Stangl, SIG, CEO. “By tapping into information in new and innovative ways, we will be able to deliver an unmatched level of performance, security, transparency and creativity across the entire food and beverage supply chain – through to the end consumer.”

SIG’s customers fill more than 10,000 unique products into SIG packaging across 65 countries worldwide. In 2017 alone, SIG produced 33.6 billion carton packs for its customers. Through this large-scale partnership, SIG and GE Digital will co-innovate packaging solutions and technologies to address the industry’s two biggest needs today:  improving asset performance and optimizing service delivery.

The new digital service model will also enable SIG to deliver new solutions and business models based on advanced performance metrics, including as-a-service delivery, performance-based and subscription solutions.

The initial deployment is expected to go live in July 2018 with the global rollout anticipated to begin in January 2019.

Easy to Build Reports from Automation Data

Easy to Build Reports from Automation Data

Data are worthless without the ability to put it into a context and present it in a simple way to decision makers—no matter where in the company they reside. Enter Ocean Data Systems (ODS) and its product Dream Report.

Note: Dream Report obviously is an advertiser on this blog. However, I’m not a trade magazine, so writing about advertisers isn’t mandatory. I’ve known the Marketing VP for almost 20 years, and he has always represented quality products. I pass this along not as a reviewer but because I think it’s useful.

Ocean Data Systems (ODS) announced that Dream Report version 4.82 is posted and available for download. Along with a broad array of Customer Software Change Requests (SCRs), this release delivers on a theme of Partner Connectivity. Dream Report is now the official solution for the Aveva – ClearSCADA solution and version 4.82 includes drivers to access historical values, historical messages and real-time values. This release also includes new connectivity for the OSIsoft – PI Historian and Asset Framework. Enhanced connectivity is also delivered for the Aveva – Wonderware Online InSight product and the Dream Report – Advanced ODBC Driver for time series data in SQL Databases.

General features and benefits improvements include an enhanced Automatic Statistic Table to add flexibility for ad-hoc analysis, new access to Table Footer data delivering the ability to enhance report calculations using table footer results and support for .xlsm (Excel File Format) to support macros.

“Each new ‘Purpose Built’ Driver added to Dream Report enables Dream Report to ideally support a new market segment and lets those customers benefit from Dream Report – Compliance Reports, Performance Dashboards and Ad-hoc Analysis,” explained Roy Kok, VP Sales and Marketing for Ocean Data Systems. “We always include enhancements that benefit our entire installed base and this release is no different. The Dream Report release notes, in the documentation directory, will detail all changes.”

Founded in 2004, Ocean Data Systems develops software solutions for industrial compliance and performance; reports, dashboards, and ad-hoc analysis and troubleshooting. Dream Report delivers both local and Internet connectivity to all major HMI/SCADA, Historian and business data sources through either proprietary or industry standard drivers. Dream Report’s markets include process, hybrid and discrete; with special functionality for Life Sciences (Pharmaceutical and Biotech), Water, Wastewater, Heat Treat, Building Automation, Energy Management and Manufacturing Operations.

These are the main features of Dream Report:

1- DATA COLLECTION
Dream Report integrates a robust communication kernel to collect data and alarms from multiple real time and historian sources. It uses OPC, OLE, and ODBC standards to connect and collect Data from different suppliers. Moreover, ODS develops custom drivers to leverage native history from SCADA systems, DCS, RTU and more….

2- DATA LOGGING
Dream Report integrates a powerful historian module to log clean and accurate data in any standard database such as SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Access…
This unique feature position Dream Report not only as a reporting tool, but also as the ideal solution of field Data integration for enterprise applications.

3- DATA EXTRACTION & ANALYSIS
Dream Report integrates a user friendly object library to extract Data statistics and analysis to be displayed in multiple views like tables, Bars, Pies, Charts and more…

4- REPORT DESIGN
Dream Report’s studio integrates an intuitive graphical editor to create and save state of the art reports as templates.

5- REPORT GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION
Dream Report enables to generate reports manually and automatically. The automatic mode enables to execute report on event and on schedule. When ready, reports can be automatically printed, emailed, stored and published over the web.

Dell’s Commitment to a Legacy of Good Technology Plus People

Much time was devoted last week at Dell Technologies World to Dell’s Legacy of Good highlighting people and companies doing some really cool and worthwhile things. I’m especially impressed with the AeroFarms people (see photos below) who are using IoT to find a better way to grow wholesome vegetables. Hey engineers–maybe there’s a thought in here to spark your next creative interest.

Let me take you on a photo journey through the prominent booth at the DT World Expo floor highlighting a number of projects.

Plastic waste floating in the ocean is fast becoming an environmental catastrophe. Here is someone doing something about it.

How about genetic mapping improvements for fighting rare diseases?

A bug’s eye view with drones to help the honeybee population.

All kinds of wild robot science fiction stories are hitting main-stream media. How about a reality check?

Oh, another main-stream media hype fest–AI. In reality is can be a boost to business not in a scary way.

Here is a manufacturing product lifecycle story.

And the AeroFarms story.

 

Innovation and The Future of Inventory Management

Innovation and The Future of Inventory Management

Innovation springs from small and new companies, so holds Andrew Johnson, CEO of ShelfAware, a software startup in the what could be called the MRO commodity business. His family business, Oringsales.com, is a master distributor of those crucial but often overlooked components called O-rings. Suppliers to maintenance shops and OEMs have been tackling vendor managed inventory and other inventory tracking processes for many years. But how do you economically track something as small as an O-ring?

The brothers running the distributorship business figured out that RFID tags were becoming inexpensive enough to warrant use in small bags of these small components. They wrote an application, embedded RFID tags on the bags, and established a workflow. Originally for their customers of O-rings, customers soon demanded the system for other small components, as well.

The key proposition—remotely monitor consumption of small parts. He calls it get “the dudes in trucks” off the streets to better utilize their time rather than driving around counting parts.

Johnson is entrepreneurial and evangelistic. He told me, ”I’m reaching out to you because I have a message I would like to send to our USA manufacturing friends that I think they would find very interesting. The time is now to innovate our manufacturing infrastructure if we intend on bringing manufacturing back to the USA in a big way. Its easier than ever before to take the tech leap with many Internet of Things systems popping up every month that don’t require integration into your ERP systems to achieve a big ROI. It’s literally plug and play technology for manufactures.

This is his innovation story.

I am a young entrepreneur (32) that has grown up in the industrial manufacturing industry as a member of a family run industrial parts distributor. I spent many summers of my childhood inspecting o-rings, gaskets, and other seals… very exciting summer job. Now I am working with my 3 brothers in our family business as we try to innovate the industrial landscape. We recently invented & patented an intelligent inventory supply chain that is powered by passive RFID technology. We deployed our Internet of Things supply chain system at 3 Midwestern manufactures last year (Eskridge Mfg, Energy Mfg, Oilgear Mfg) and the system is performing better than we could have ever imagined.

Very simply put, our system, ShelfAware, monitors the consumption of commodity inventory in real time using RFID chips that are embedded into the product packaging. This consumption data, Big Data, is then analyzed and fed to the manufacturer’s supply chain partners to guarantee no stock out, lean inventory, and lean inventory pipe-lines which all means the right parts, at the right time, cheaper. Our three key questions we practically chant while working with our system are: Is this Accurate?, Efficient?, Effective?

Yes, RFID inventory systems have been around for years, but never really applied to the consumable commodity products, aka “small parts”. The main tech advancements that have made a system such as ShelfAware viable now are:

  • RFID tags are getting really really cheap, sometimes less than $0.05 each
  • The internet has allowed the software driving the system to be flexible and easily accessible
  • RFID hardware is much less expensive and now highly reliable

The business plan, a bit audacious, announces “The Opportunity to Disrupt a Marketplace with a Collaborative Platform”.

The traditional large industrial supply incumbents who offer vendor managed inventories (VMI) have expanded their product offering horizontally leaving them spread too thin. They are good at some product groups, but great at very few product groups. This has created vulnerabilities related to product expertise like sourcing, engineering, and general product support. ShelfAware intends on exploiting these vulnerabilities by giving many niche product vendors the ability to collaborate on ShelfAware’s IoT Inventory Platform thus creating a more efficient crowd sourced inventory supply chain.

Objective of ShelfAware as a company states “To create an IoT Intelligent Inventory Platform that can support multiple independent product vendors who collectively support large supply chains demanded by Large or complex OEM’s. ShelfAware will create value in the industrial supply market by revolutionizing supply chain theory through the use of a collaborative IoT, RFID Intelligent Inventory Platform.

The Platform must fulfil two primary roles for this supply chain model to be successful with emphasis placed on the IoT vendor collaboration software.

  • Deploy an intelligent inventory management system inside manufacturing facilities.
  • Deploy a Vendor Side supply chain cooperative system.

I am intrigued by the whole concept. And it seems to be working now, even in its infancy.

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