IoT Strategy: Firing Bullets Instead of Cannonballs


You’ve been tasked with defining an IoT and automation strategy for your company. It’s a major initiative that will likely span the next decade or more. Where do you start? What’s the right path forward?

Craig Salvalaggio, Chief Operating Officer at Applied Manufacturing Technologies, was in your shoes 18 years ago. In this episode, he offers advice on how to get started with an IoT strategy and the pitfalls to avoid along the way.

We discuss:

- What automation looked like 20 years ago

- Tips for getting started with an IoT strategy

- How building a team can inform internal culture transformation

- How partnerships enable growth

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Some of the technology back in theearly two thousand- very you know industrial robot. You know you wouldhave never thought that in two thousand and twenty one we'd be accepting that arobot and a human could be working in the same collaborative applicationspace. You are listening to over the Air Iotconnected devices and the journey brought to you by vary in each episode. We have sharpunfiltered conversations with executives about their IOT journeys,the mistakes they made the lessons they learned and what they wish they'd knownwhen they started welcome back to over the air. I oftconnected devices and the journey. My name is Ryan Prosser, so very and werejoined today by Craig salvolatile manufacturing technologies amt todiscuss how non IOT companies can can drive user adoption of their IOTproducts. Correct thanks for being on the show Aryan happy to be here. So when, as I've learned about AMT, youknow in some of our conversations, I would definitely describe you guys asan ift company, but I know it's been a journey. You've been there for almosttwenty years. What can you tell us? Well, first of all give us a little bitof your background, but also you know tell us a little bit about amt andworld from an airplane. You know the connected device journey that you'vebeen a part of over there. Yeah Yeah Ryan be happy to explain, amt my career,and you know how we fit in the space. So yeah t is a an engineering solutionsprovider and we develop and design full turn key, robotic systems and alsoprovide engineering services to the industrial automation market, and I'vebeen a pleasure to be here for last eighteen years. Founder, leadorganization like Jacob Sir, her founder, had a vision for creating anengineering company that would allow people to start their careers anddevelop full turn key solutions for the market, and you know a lot of ourapplications. A lot of our technology focuses are robotics and connectedmachines, and so you know myself really got started in the industry. Late S,robots were being heavily adopted by the automotive companies. You knowthey're putting them in automotive body shops or getting into power train, andyou know the application set really wasn't as defined as I was today. Italso really kind of the early stages of adoption of helotic technology. Youknow, then, I really kind of got involved in different areas of thecompany. Help US expand outside of automotive and see other applicationscome to life. As the technology mature became easier to use, it was morereadily accepted by the end user. manufactury market well from therestarted some consulting activities within on an team where we really kindof led customers in a journey of where do you start with automation? So if youare looking automate, you have a lot of manual processes, you're. Looking atyour or lie calculations, you look at it through put you're looking at safety,you know. Where do you start? So we help companies really road map andlandscape. You know what does automation look like in their factoriesand once you got through the conceptual automation and our line numbers Ye? Thequick next step was: How are these machinesconnected? What data are we collecting? What value or we providing from thedata and then how is that fed back in the machines to make them smarter, sohelping companies with her IO t strategy Craig? What what does it look like? So you guys are at the front of thespace you're doing some really cool things. I think people that know amt.Think of you, as you know, leaders in automation. But what did it look liketwenty or eighteen years ago, when you were first getting in you know thespace generally was like in its infancy. At that point, you know give us acandid snap shot of amt eighteen years...

...ago, yeah it's as it was definitelydifferent. You know, you know, robots had vision systems, but you had towrite sophisticated code to make those vision systems do things. So, forexample, you know the automotive really pioneer and standards in the industryrelated to you know how machines were built, how software was written andthose kind of things are very valuable as you get into markets and andorganizations that don't have those are less mature with their automation,strage but eighteen years ago it was, it was old, school out of motive. Youknow it was. It was a different demand. It was a different application andindustrial robots were going into factories, and you know companies weretrying to mature technology. It was acceptable that you know it took longto configure devices and devices didn't talk to one another and ease of usewasn't really a thing where today that's a driving factor, you know: howquickly can you get something set up? How quickly can you get the data? Youknow? How can you connect to the machine in the earlydays? You know youwere writing specific drivers. Everything was custom and as theapplications matured and as new industries adopted the technology. Youknow companies really kind of got along and said you know in order for us to beunique in order for us to put in more automation, you know, how can we lookat the technology and say? Can we make things easier? Can we write software er?We write interfaces that are intuitive to the end user, which is typically anoperator has to keep that machine running all day long, and you know youcome back from where we started and where were at today, where we got, youknow, user interfaces of three screens or less. You know, factories that weremonitoring and collecting data and machines that we could monitor theassets and understand you know some predictive analytics on when the assetmight fail and then just overall you know how is your machine running andyou know some of the technology back in the early two thousands were, very youknow: Industrial Robot. You know you would have never thought that in twothousand and twenty one we'd be accepting that a robot and a humancould be working in the same collaborative application space ifCraig from two thousand and twenty one could get in a time machine and go allthe way back to two thousand and three and deliver a piece of advice. What'ssomething that like what about the world in twenty one, as you see it, I'mtalking about like through the Lens of automation, AMT Iot. What's a piece ofadvice that Craig from two thousand and three would have said: okay, futureCraig has been drinking. There's no way. That's true! I am. I am not going to doanything with that information that doesn't that just doesn't make senselike what about the world you're operating in today. Is it that humanrobot interface piece is that the prevalence of cloud you know vMainframe yeah, like what piece of information would be so hard to stomachthrough the lens of two thousand and three Craig that he would be likely todiscount it away? Yep, I think, there's there's two threads there. You know oneis the the human elaboration with robotic technology, so you knowunderstanding that the robots would be used in such a way that they could beplaced on a mobile, manipulator and Amr autonomous mobile robot or could beused in leverage and conjunction. You know with you, no human workers, it wasalways you know. How do you get the robot in a cage so that it wasprotected so the human was protected, including safe, stop in hard stops anddistances. You would have never thought that safety would be controlled bycontrol, reliable safety circuits and that he wounds would be workingtogether in the same collaborate space. The second piece is, I would have neverbelieved that you know we could be sitting in your living room on your onyour IPAD and be able to actually collect data and look at your factoryand understand if the equipment was meeting. It's required up time. Roy Ecalculations, something to understand...

...if you are a plant manager and usermanufacture, and you were responsible for the equipment and that facilitywe've always collected data. You know back in the historical automotive days,but the accessibility of it and the real time nature of it is really kind of game changing. So one of the things that's uniqueabout your background and caused us to be, you know, pretty excited abouthaving you on the show is the tenure that you've had an amt and you've taken.You've been a part of you know major journey there, it's cool it's unusualand if someone in our audience was saying okay, his his eighteen years,look like my next eighteen years, I'm an executive at a company, that's beentasked with driving and automation strategy withyou know, figuring out our IO IOT strategy. You know put yourself in theposition of your a couple of beers and you're catching up with this old friend.That is the situation. They find themselves in they're, saying Craig.What does my next eighteen years look like? where? Where does this story evenstart for me like taking the experience that you'vegained? What are some of the questions? Youwould ask them to that that you know to get you and them thinking about whatwhat are the the correct path forward? You know likewhat are the things they need to be thinking about opportunities andthreats, and things like that. No, that's a that's a great question.You know one of the things that's benefited me. You know beyond educationand the network that I have really is is learning from other people. You knowthat's the biggest thing that I've gained out of my career is learningfrom other leaders that like to share a d and really kind of like to be welleducated and well read. I think you know by reading and understandingdifferent authors and different topics, you know as being well red means you'reinvesting in yourself and you're. Investing in your future, so o biggestpiece of advice is, you know, really be asking you know: how are you investingin yourself? The second is, really you know: What's your vision, do you have avision and I mean a longer division. If you go back to you, Jim Callan, Mihara,Asius, full sent really large goals. You know anticipate if everything wentright. You know what is completely possible and the other piece to that is you know.Everybody's really has a sales aspect to the rule and I think you ascompanies grow and they mature as a leader of that organization, you reallygot to understand. How do you keep that single thousands mentality and youreally think like an owner- and you know, be frontline obsessed with thecustomer and get that day to day feedback, but when companies get toofar removed from the voice of the customer, they start to solve problemsthat don't really exist and you want to operate a speed in velocity, meaningyou have a known trajectory, an it's a vector and as two components of it adirection and speed and resist that bureaucracy- and you know the the lastthing I'll talk about is is really you know, team building. You knowsurrounding yourself with the team members that are going to take youforward we're a highly engineered company, very technical audience, butthere's a piece I took recently from Pat Lanion's work, which he talks aboutthe working genius Pote. It is the idea of building teams that are well rounded.They talk about insuring that somebody on the team is got wonder or invention,meaning. You know your idea, you're looking at new ideas and saying what ispossible. What if we did this, you know what if anything was right and then you compliment that withsomeone who's more of an evaluators they discern and they galvanize Bein.They kind of analyze the topic to see if it's right for the company or thegroup and then the third piece, the...

...really strong piece of that isimplementation, meaning to someone, have enablement and tenacity to getthings done, that he can accomplish the work. And although we have highlytechnical teams, it's good to understand the working behaviors assome of those folks and make sure that you're surrounding yourself with teammembers that can look at the big picture, evaluate if you're doing theright thing and that's a little bit about when we went through or io tstrategy. I can tell it talk a little bit more about that is. We went throughthose phases over about a ten year period as far as what was possible inwhat we take it to and you had to. He had to fail a little bit to reallylearn and pick things up and get to the next step to say what do we really wantto do here? So, let's there's a lot there. Let's pick on two pieces of it,one is the you know. You mentioned the this idea of like vector, okay, sodirection and speed, and so within that, let's I just want to like follow up onthe direction piece which feels a lot like what we call product market fit.You know, picking the correct direction is like what okay, what you know unmetcustomer need. Are You trying to solve Aka like we're going to take thecompany in this direct and XYZ direction of solving that problem ofproblems, as you guys were on your journey, you know I'm putting myself inthe position of that that front two Beers in so I say craig great got itthe vector matters a lot. I have followed questions on the team piecemore on that in a moment, but on the vector piece. How do I know what tobuild? You know how do I know if I'm building the right thing? Can you talkabout you guys this journey and how I mean here. You are eighteen years lateryou guys have built this, this amazing company. How did you know along the waythat you were building the right things and also I cannot allow you to escapewithout pointing at at least one example of building the wrong thing.You know so, what's a thing where you went down the wrong path, you got thescar tissue to show for it and what could your friend you know, learn fromthat process as well? No, that's a that's a great question and you know,as it relates to connected machines- and you know the connected factorystarted six seven years ago, looking at really what was I o t and you know Iwent to you, know many conferences and- and nobody really could tell me what itwas you know they give you an architectural diagram. They can tellyou you're doing some asset Monetti, but it wasn't really clear. Nor was itclear to the folks that you're describing it to got to look at some ofthe technology maturity of some companies, not everybody's comfortable,talking about ipad dresses and understanding where things are at. Wetalk about data security or plant security in connected machines andbeing vulnerable and data. I P and all that stuff. You knowit can be technically confusing. So part of all we learned in the journeyis education and the way we did that is through firing, bullets versus cannonball, so meaning making some small objectives before putting a lot ofgunpowder into some bigger pieces, and we set up a technology council and weinvestigated different platforms that were out there seen in S, Allen,Bradley others and really kind of fan, a kind of a a product of their fieldthat was in its research stage. Yes, so we kind of set out of a journey toreally kind of understand the different technologies and their maturity thatwere out there, and you know really. If I can tell you the three platforms thatwe picked six seven years ago, currently don't exist, they've beencannibalized by their own internal product investments, and we did notunderstand the market enough to understand where that fit where we wererecreating a product for the market. Were we trying to apply the pieces thatwere out there that already existed you're trying to get all the way to theend of the gold before we really understood what technology was reallyavailable and at the end of the day we said, let's take. Let's do something,that's different. Let's make something:...

It's unique that allows empty to lookuniquely different from other system integrators, just deploying capitalequipment, putting into the market and moving on to the next- and we said,let's do two things: Let's create a machine that we can connect to. Let'sminimize service calls let's remote, connect in and put some parametersaround safety and motion uploading, a downloading program so that you caneducate the customer on what a remote connection would look like. Then wesaid, let's just tie into our own system, to look at our own performancevariables. Let's look at our own machines and when we walk a customerthrough the building, could I show them that we care so much about theequipment that we put in that we're willing to put up the performancemetrics on the lobby conference room to show which machines were monitoring, and that takes it to a unique levelwhere it's telling the customer that we care about our equipment? And if youcare about it too, you can have access to that data and will provide you thatinformation. So you can see what the status of your equipment is, and youknow it it's a lot about. Do you care about what you're doing and can youshow that and when we reset our strategy, and so let's get back to thebasics? Let's pick some simple platform and technology and let's just create aself certain piece of equipment that shows that we're providing value wecare about the equipment as we're educating our customers, let's startthere and then we'll take it to the advent level, analysts and trendpredictions. You know once we get a little more mature, you mentionedpeople a few times in their. You know. Going back to that advice to the friend.You know one of your things was he build a strong team around you. I it makes perfect sense to me. Youknow your a person is embarking on a multi decade journey to massive deal.You know this digital transformation. Iot Strategy like these are difficultinternal culture transformations as much as technology. Can you expand on the people side ofthings? You know what team should they be thinking about building and what aresome opportunities in your opinion or your experience to find partners, you know versus buildingeverything on day one internally. No, I think that's it's a great avenuethere kind of too composed to that is again. As I mentioned, you know whenbuilding teams you want to make in sure that you're hiring for for culture isthat they match the culture of the company, the speed of the company, theenvironment that they're working in in the leadership. You know at MTA, veryflat, organizational structure, you know everyone's opinion counts and youknow egos are checked at the door and that allows the team to fundamentallycome up with good ideas and ideas that are theirs and ideas that are come from.The team versus or executive driven are much more widely accepted and leveraged,and so rounding out the team. You know, we've even had you know a person, that's not technical! Look atour HM ice creeds to say if you were to walk up to this machine. Could I showyou how to program it in ten minutes or less? Just like you would anytechnology, that's in your home device. Eighteen years ago, it was acceptableto have a very complex machine interface and now it's to a point where,with the Labor challenges there there, if you want operators to use and acceptthe equipment, you got to create a machine, that's that's very easy andsimply simple to use, and then the use of partners is critical. We've alwayshad that philosophy. You know we can't be great at everything. You know we'relooking at various different technologies, and you know we recentlypartnered with a company that does vision technology, that's allowing usto solve applications, non machine learning, algorithms and it's allowingus to find applications in a different market segment. That's not defined, buthas huge upside potential for growth...

...and that we've also partner with acompany that allows us to do different, grasping technologies that we canleverage, robotic material handling differently in arbitrary object.Picking and the combination of those two partners is what allows us tocreate an ideal system that then creates an application that we candefine for industry and solve new challenges,and just like we'll be sitting here twenty years from now, setting in agrander vision of what what robotics can help solve in the space of industryand ensure that they're working alongside and ensuring that companiesare being more profitable in gaining markets here, because they can properlydeploy those types of applications. What so bringing you back to to today,so I think, like there's a lot there. I think there's a lot that you know.That's some extremely helpful advice, bringing it back to amt specificallyempty and the future guy. So you know we've kind of unpacked like some of thetricks that Craig is used over the last couple decades to be successful anddrive success at Mt. what's next, for you guys like what are we going to see?You know as twenty one turns into twenty two, not asking you to you knowreveal secret sauce here today, but you know, can you give us a little lookunder the hood about what you guys are thinking about how you're viewing youknow the world as this, this new decade in front of US unfolds, yeah so kind of going on that lasttopic of technology partners? You know one of the things we're going to bedoing, and we already in the process of doing with some of our investments is reallylooking at how we can solve some of the challenges related to box manipulation,so o warehousing logistics is a very growing space. You know it's notheavily populated by robotics currently, and we have identified application in atechnology set that will likely allow us to solve a very difficult materialhandling challenge in those industries in that application market, and youknow we think, by partnering with a company to help us solve some vision,algorithms that were able to really define new application, setswithin the warehousing logistic space and follow up question and we're almostout of time today. But I always love to ask you know where you and I and ouraudience were all kind of stewards of this iot space. You always love to givea little hat tip to others out there doing good work who who, in the in Io tland you know in the broadest sense. However, you would want to define it isout there. You know it so Mt Stories, amazing, who else is doing good workthat you think nobody's talking about that you want to throw throw a shoutout to yeah one of the companies we've been recently just early stage. Working Partnershiptogether is they've created some some grasping technology that really changesthe way you pick conter objects and some of their algorithms with machinevision been pretty interesting and would allow you know, new applicationssat to be really you know driven forward and the company's Sophronie is,is a great company to take a look at takeloth their technology, and you cansee how that would apply to robotics and robotic applications. Coop soft, robotic SINC,congratulations Craig! I really appreciate you being on the show forpeople that are following this story and they're they're, saying man. Craigis a font of knowledge on this I'd love to keep up with them. How can someonekeep up with you out on the inner web yeah? You could find me like in just tosearch for Craig's Hevila or it applied, manufacturing, applied, m,F, Gom and be happy to have a...

...conversation and just learn from oneanother. Great thanks. Thanks a lot craig- andthat's that's it for today. Folks, if you'd like to be a guest on this, showemail us at podcast it very possible. Otherwise, that is all she wrote fortoday. My name is Ryan prosser. Thanks for listening, and we will see you onthe Internet. You shouldn't have to worry about IOTprojects dragging on or unreliable vendors. You've got enough on yourplate. The right team of Engineers and project managers can change a pivotalmoment for your business into your competitive edge. Various close knitcrew of ambitious problem, solvers, continuous improvers and curiousbuilders know how to turn your ideas into a reality on time and up to yourstandards, with a focus on mitigating risk and maximizing opportunity willhelp you build an io t solution that you can hang your hat on. Let's bringyour Iot idea to life, learn more it very possible com. You've been listening to over the AirIot connected devices and the journey. If you enjoy today's episode, make sureto hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player and give us a rating.Have a question or an idea for a future episode. Send it to podcast at verypossible com. See you next time. I.

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