Helping Customers Build Factories of the Future
Altix Consulting has been working with a small startup in the Cincinnati area, IoT Diagnostics, which comes from a fluid and power background. It is a company that understands the hydraulic market, and they understand the mechanics of hydraulic pumps and valves. They have a profound knowledge and understanding of the industrial and mobile hydraulic environments.
“They realize that while they prepare their future products with intelligence and IoT capabilities, there is a big market out there of industrial hydraulic equipment,” Schilly explained. “They have products like the PumpMD™, the FilterRX™, the FluidMD™ and the IoT Clinic™ which are used to help clients upgrade their equipment to build access to the capabilities of IoT without buying new expensive hydraulic pumps.”
This is a significantly less expensive way to get to IoT and predictive analytics integrated faster and more efficiently that replacing all your equipment.
“They have a fascinating business model and fascinating products and are one of the few companies in the marketplace having real hardware products ready for the market to support their clients,” Schilly said. “They approached us a year ago with several challenges. First of all, they are a small organization with limited management capabilities dealing with a fast pace growth. One task was to design scaling strategies in terms of products and services—scaling in the R&D environment, scaling in a startup organization environment, and scaling into new markets. They also wanted help understanding how to promote these products in additional markets outside the U.S.”
This is one of example of how in the world of pumps and valves, small companies are working on IoT advancements alongside the giant corporations.
“You do not have to be a multi-billion company to benefi t from Industry 4.0,” Schilly said. “We have seen crazy things in the past few years. Companies like Airbnb take over the market valuation from giants like Hilton. Companies like Tesla, who start from zero, are outpacing the car industry and revolutionizing the automotive landscape. Companies like Netflix have completely taken over an entire industry. We see the same thing in the music industry. I think we will see similar movements in industrial applications. Small companies with smart business models are competing with big brands in established industries. With the internet and the new economic environment and new technologies combined with the power of people embracing smart networks, and with what I call collaboration 4.0 models, small companies can outpace established industries. This is really exciting because in the end it is great for the consumer.”
The drive toward smarter equipment is moving fast.
“We are in an acceleration curve of innovation and speed,” Schilly said. “The wheel is turning faster. As an individual or as an organization, to stay at the top of the game, you must permanently innovate and challenge the status quo and put the customer at the forefront. Companies are forced to excellence. It is not by choice anymore. You must be excellent, or you will not be in the market very long. Sometimes this is a painful process because it is linked to cultural change, working on the DNA, and permanently looking at the organization to be at the top of the game. The winner takes it all in so many industries. There is a race and you better embark on it if you want to be in business in 10 years.”
Advice for End Users
With more innovation comes more jobs. Schilly advises young end users to keep a learning attitude if they want to compete in the global, growing IIoT environment.
“After school / college you do not stop learning. That is when you really start to learn,” he said. “There is so much we do not know, and you should be open to the learning attitude and embrace other cultures and diversity. Combine good people skills and communication skills with the hard skills of engineering. Be accountable and reliable and always be open to new technology.
“If you look at the evolution of the factory of the future, there is no way to ignore what is going on with technology. Anticipate how new technologies will impact your industry. Companies who have missed sensors, PLCs, computers, and automation will not stay long in the market. Even if it seems scary, ignoring artificial intelligence can also reduce your life in the market. But it is not only about the technology, it is also about the people mastering the technology. The synergy between people and technology and process is what matters.”
Schilly said he is a strong believer that humans are stronger when they work together. “In the past, one was strong at farming and one was strong at hunting and in the end together they made a better life for everyone in the village,” he said. “Now we can use that image in the industrial world. We cannot have all the competencies we need in one individual or one organization. For Industry 4.0 it is absolutely critical to know what we know and to master what we are great at and work with the best partners we can find for the rest. Then we do not waste time and money finding things out on our own. Working with best-in-class partners is critical. In my opinion, Collaboration 4.0 is the secret sauce for the future of Industry 4.0.”