Industry Panel: ICC 2023

61 min video  /  49 minute read


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Arlen Nipper

President & CTO

Cirrus Link Solutions

Chris Polarine

NA MES Integration Manager

Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials

Jeremy Bunch

Automation and Controls Engineer

Kohler Co.

Micah Weber

Engineer, SCADA Control & Instrumentation

NGL Energy Partners

Pugal Janakiraman

Industry Field CTO - Manufacturing


Mike Flores

Director Operational Technologies

Howard Energy Partners

While each industry faces unique obstacles and requirements, each passing year reveals more opportunities for cross-industry solutions. Hear from a panel of thought leaders from various industries as they explore how enterprise-wide solutions have led their companies to a new level of growth. They’ll also answer your questions about large-scale Digital Transformation and other topics


Don Pearson: Thanks. You guys all set? Ready to go. This is our final session for today and I really look forward to being able to share it with you. Our "Industry Panel." I think we're going to have a really good discussion today. We've got some folks who have already spoken at different presentations who are going to be participating in the panel so we can get to a bunch of your questions also as we go along. My name is Don Pearson, I serve as Chief Strategy Officer with Inductive Automation and I will be moderating today's panel and appreciate the opportunity to be able to do that. I'm going to bring out our panelists like one at a time. I'll say a little bit about them and then they can walk out. And then after I do that, I'm going to go back around and let them actually do some talking a little bit more about the brief introduction I gave them, to tell a little bit more about their background, their company, and some of what they're engaged in, which will also allow you to maybe get a little bit of some ideas going on, questions. I certainly have questions for the panel, but I also want to say that it's going to be your time here to ask them questions. First is Chris Polarine, she's North America MES Integration Manager at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials. Mitsubishi Chemical provides diverse solutions through its three business domains: performance products, industrial materials, and healthcare.

Don Pearson: And please welcome Christine. Thank you. Next we have Micah Weber. He's the SCADA Engineer at NGL Engineering Partners. NGL is a diversified midstream oil and gas company that provides multiple services to producers and end users, including transportation, storage, blending, and marketing of crude oil. They were featured in an Inductive Automation case study along with Texas Automation Systems. So thanks for being here, Micah. Welcome. Next is Jeremy Bunch. He's an Automation and Controls Engineer for Kohler Co. Kohler is a global leader in design and innovation of kitchen and bath products, luxury cabinetry, tile and lighting, distributed energy solutions, and a whole bunch more besides that. So please welcome Jeremy. Jeremy, thanks for being here too. Got a fan club out there, Jeremy. Arlen Nipper. He was on the last group here and spoken a couple times already, but he's President and CTO of Cirrus Link Solutions, a Strategic Partner with Inductive Automation. Arlen's been designing embedded computer hardware, software and solutions for 47 years. In 1998 he co-invented MQTT, which is a widely adopted IIoT protocol that's designed to optimize and make use of data for both OT and IT sides of the house. Throughout his career he's been an industry leader advancing SCADA technology including hardware design, software design, overall SCADA infrastructure solutions, and Arlen Nipper, please come out. Welcome.

Don Pearson: Pugal Janakiraman is Industry Field CTO for Manufacturing at Snowflake, an Inductive Automation Alliance Partner. Pugal drives solutions' vision by mapping Snowflake's technology components to build higher order solutions in manufacturing. He drives partner strategy for manufacturing works with strategic C-level manufacturing customers as a sponsor for key Digital Transformation initiatives with those customers. For the last two decades, he worked with the world's top auto trucking, heavy machinery, aerospace, OEMs, along with healthcare, oil, natural gas companies, including companies in China. Please welcome Pugal. Thank you, Pugal. We also have Michael Flores. He's Director of Operational Technologies at Howard Energy Partners. Howard Energy Partners, or HEP, is a diversified energy company that provides innovative midstream solutions. HEP owns and operates natural gas, crude oil pipelines, natural gas processing plants, refined product storage terminals, facilities specializing in deepwater dock and rail, fractionation, hydrogen production, renewable diesel logistics, and other midstream assets in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Mexico. Thank you, Michael. Those are brief introductions. We have a lot of talent here and we have a topic that is of high interest and certainly been covered from different angles in the conference so far.

Don Pearson: But I'm going to actually start with you, Christine, on my immediate right. And last, I'm going to just ask each of our panelists to just talk a little bit more about what you do, what your project is, a little bit about your company, maybe how you have heard about Ignition. And we'll just kind of, that'll give us some questions going for some of our folks that are in the audience.

Christine Polarine: Sure. I've worked as an integrator years past, plenty of years of experience with that and then have more recently worked at Dupont as well as Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials as a division of Mitsubishi Chemical Group. And within the last seven years have been working with Ignition. Selected Ignition because of the reason why we're here. It's just terrific and very configurable and you can do whatever you'd like. So been working with our North America team, deploying Ignition at our factories. So we have 10 sites in the US. And in the Americas and then 10 just for the performance coatings division. 10 outside of the US. But Mitsubishi Chemical Group has 252 group companies, so we're very large and looking forward to expanding our use of Ignition.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Christine.

Christine Polarine: You're welcome.

Don Pearson: Okay, Micah.

Micah Weber: Like Christine, I too came from an integration background. Worked for an integrator for seven or eight years, doing mostly oil and gas projects with Brandix, HMI and PLC platforms. In 2016, my company sold my now current company NGL on Ignition and I was put on that project. We built the HMI system from the ground up and we're testing out some MQTT possibilities. Didn't really like where it was at the time. So settled on Modbus, and currently we're in the process of transitioning all of our Modbus data from our sites to our control center at MQTT using the Cirrus Link modules. Really excited to get that project wrapped up and deployed into production and been with my company for five years now and really enjoy working with all the folks that I work with.

Don Pearson: Thank you. Go ahead.

Jeremy Bunch: My name is Jeremy Bunch. I am an Automation and Controls Engineer at Kohler Company. My first journey with Ignition began about six years ago at a small company in North Texas. We initially leveraged Ignition to replace and transition from factory talk and Wonderware HMI systems. And then we eventually expanded that into broader SCADA systems and applications. A bit later on, I moved to Kohler Company and part of their Wisconsin operations engineering group. There we deployed Ignition to set up some process monitoring for key performance indicators and critical control variables for various processes. Later last year, I moved into the global group where I began to lead Ignition deployments for new construction facilities in greenfield. One in Monterey, Mexico, another in Casa Grande, Arizona. And also I began assisting with some of the brownfield or existing facilities helping bring them online with Ignition, address any questions that they have and support them in their deployments.

Don Pearson: Thanks Jeremy. Arlen.

Arlen Nipper: Well, let's see. How did we get started with Ignition? We were...

Don Pearson: Yeah, how do you start with Ignition?

Arlen Nipper: No, it's a good question. So we were working, when Cirrus Link started. We kind of had to bootstrap the company. We were working on a project at Plains Midstream. They had an Oasis DNA system from Telvent. It was interesting. Telvent forgot that they had actually done MQTT for Phillips 66 in 1999. We had to remind them that they actually did have MQTT but we had no way to look into the data. I mean, there was a black box that either worked or it didn't work. And at the time they said "Hey, have you ever heard of Inductive Automation and Ignition?" And we hadn't. So I flew out here. We had a couple of days meeting with Travis [Cox] and the team, flew back and that's when we did the first MQTT Engine Module. And we had talked to other industrial automation companies about being able to take what we knew and integrate it in. But it just didn't seem to fit there. They really weren't a platform. They were a hard-coded piece of binary code that you loaded on a computer and you hoped it ran. And if it didn't, you got another download. So we were able to take that and leverage that into the MQTT modules that we'd done for Ignition. So after that, the last eight years have been fantastic. We've been able to leverage the power of the Ignition platform in all sorts of vertical industries and applications I would have never even thought of.

Don Pearson: Sure, I heard a rumor, but I don't know if this is true. The story as I tell it is you got the MQTT Engine Module working over the weekend after you got home.

Arlen Nipper: Yeah I have... Well, the guys won't, they'll, I still have comments in the code that I wrote, but that's about it. But yes, I did have it working over the weekend.

Don Pearson: Yeah, I said you advisedly, you got it working over the weekend.

Arlen Nipper: Well did. It was me. It did work.

Don Pearson: Yeah.

Arlen Nipper: Yes, you're right. Yes, it did work.

Don Pearson: Yeah. It's a little different now, but it did work.

Arlen Nipper: Yeah. I had to show Chris that it actually did work.

Don Pearson: Yeah.

Arlen Nipper: Yeah.

Don Pearson: That's good. Great Pugal.

Pugal Janakiraman: Thanks. Again. My name is Pugal Janakiraman, Field CTO for Manufacturing. Again, as Don mentioned, my responsibility is to build higher-order solutions for manufacturing. Whether it is around anomaly detection, predictive maintenance, quality solutions to accelerate any customer's journey around Digital Transformation. That's what I do in Snowflake, 10 months in the role. Before that, I ran the worldwide industrial IoT and manufacturing practice for Amazon Web Services, globally for four years. Similar responsibility. Not that different. Before that, 22 years with Siemens. Been working with pretty much all the autotracking, heavy machinery, aerospace companies in the world and pretty much all of them. Again, my background with Inductive Automation, I think it started around, I think, late 2018, reinvent when I met Arlen, introduced by my AWS ex-boss. "Hey, you should meet this gentleman. He invented, co-invented MQTT, and they're doing some fun stuff with Ignition." I didn't know about Ignition at that point in time. So I think the first meeting, five minutes in reinvent, maybe over a beer or whatever, and I was sold. I think this is what we need to be doing. That's how the journey started around getting the OT data moved to the cloud. I think that's how the journey started.

Pugal Janakiraman: Hundreds of hundreds of meetings after that. We have been in middle of it. Arlen, in the earlier session we mentioned, when I took this role in Snowflake, the first person I called was Arlen and said, "Hey, I think this is the time we need to fix this complete OT-data ingestion to the cloud scale point of view, cost point of view, fidelity office data point of view. We need to build the best-in-class integration." Here we are. It would not have been possible without, again, amazing Inductive Automation Ignition team. Obviously, I always have to give a shout out to Benson [Hougland] from Opto 22, deeply working with us to provide that edge platform which we never had. We are a cloud company. So again, proof is in the pudding today. You know, the amount of engagements we are in the middle of even before we launch, the amount of people who reached out to us to get this data to the cloud, insane amount of engagement so yeah.

Don Pearson: Fantastic. And Mike.

Mike Flores: Thanks for having me here. So I'm Mike Flores, the OT Director for Howard Energy Partners. And I've been with Howard for about one year. But my background before that is I worked for an integrator in San Antonio, there in Texas, and I served different oil and gas clients, tier-one automotive suppliers, and was in manufacturing as well, and worked with clients in all the different vertical markets there. And my hands in Ignition have been spanned the last 7-10 years working in the platform. However, this is my first time at ICC, and I don't know why I hadn't come before. Maybe we were busy working, but this is a great opportunity. And right now, when I look at what we're doing at Howard Energy in this last year, I'm very proud of the fact that in a six-week time period, we launched Ignition there, ultimately replacing a larger DCS platform, saving Howard hundreds of thousands of dollars, not just in licensing, but in overall costs related to the facility. And so what that did was it really sparked a Digital Transformation strategy for us that has propelled us. And right now, today, as we speak, we have a half dozen Ignition projects that are happening, overlapping each other in the next 90 days. So Howard as a whole, operationally, is seeing the value of Ignition as a short time to value. And so it's allowed us to push that out and leverage it.

Mike Flores: And then going into 2024, one of the exciting things is really leveraging the OT data, getting our UDT structure set, and then moving that over. And we've already teamed up with our friends, of course, at Cirrus Link and Snowflake to start leveraging the IoT Bridge [Module]. And so you'll hear some exciting things, hopefully in a year, about what Howard is doing in the cloud. So I'm very excited about what we're doing with Ignition.

Don Pearson: Welcome. And I know I just met, I got introduced to you through Arlen, and he said he heard you talking at the last Oil and Gas Collective as sort of the last comment at the end. And he said, you might want to meet this guy someday. So I'm glad you were able to fill in. And I did hear your oil and gas presentation, so I'm glad we're able to share with a larger audience. Maybe there'll be some questions. I was impressed with some of the speed to result, shall we say, that you were able to accomplish with some very demanding timelines.

Mike Flores: Thank you.

Don Pearson: So those are our panelists. Now, I do want to say it isn't that I don't have some questions, but I do want to say that this is your panel discussion. So we did something a little different that I had a couple of folks who've been involved in the deployment side of it that are industry domain experts with Pugal and Arlen on with you folks in manufacturing, to have a little combination for some of the questions that might come our way from the audience. But I think I might ask a question, and it's not that everybody has to answer every one, but I'll start with the industry specialists here from the companies in terms of your journey. Talk a little bit about the journey and a little bit about where you see you're at on your journey and also a little bit about the company, do you have, what's the sales pitch like inside a company, what's the transformation challenge that isn't on the technical side and do you engage in that? And maybe, Jeremy, I'll just pick you out of a crowd and ask you to give us your thoughts on that question first.

Jeremy Bunch: I think a lot of where we've came from, Ignition from the operations standpoint, comes down to what the needs of the manufacturing facilities themselves. Oftentimes you have these devices that have parameters and collecting data, not even necessarily collecting data, but just that can display and portray key process parameters that can equip your local engineers with the ability to quantify certain data points with issues in their manufacturing processes.

Don Pearson: Cool, thanks. I'm going to come over to you, maybe Christine, and give you your thoughts on just what got you guys started on the digital journey and maybe some of the challenges that you've run into in the scale and scope that you're dealing with for a large company to move it forward.

Christine Polarine: We had a large challenge right before COVID we were attacked with a ransomware, which really, we were advancing very well. And that, as you can imagine just took us to our knees and, so we needed to, well, in retrospect, it kind of was a blessing because we were very flat structural infrastructure and we're able to change and start from scratch. So in that way, it was a great blessing, but it was something that was just on top of the COVID and working remotely and trying to get the infrastructure in place and in some instances, just get the factories working again.

Don Pearson: Yeah.

Christine Polarine: Just operating again. It was quite a struggle. But happily, we're beyond that now and just continuing to improve now our base.

Don Pearson: Yeah.

Christine Polarine: And we got involved because we wanted to get OEE, we wanted to have data, we want to be paperless. The whole digital need is there. The business sees that and that's kind of a charge that we have.

Don Pearson: Yeah. And as far as adoption, you were motivated by a pretty big significant event in terms of getting attacked and...

Christine Polarine: Very significant.

Don Pearson: That's a serious motivation to better do something differently. So how did the organization respond? Not even just the technical side, but the organization beyond the technical people?

Christine Polarine: Yes. It was a bit of a struggle to get the folks on the IT plant side to communicate with, the OT people talking with the IT people. But then we had common kinda objectives that kind of brought us together. And it just as a matter of deciding what is our best method to deploy. And we went to the standards, Purdue model and segmentation, VLANs, VMs and a lot of rules, firewall rules to make sure that that would never happen again, and safe proofing, deploying [Ignition] Edge so that we have the, we're gathering the data as close to the PLCs as possible, and also communicating up, getting the schedules down from the ERP and writing our counts and such up to the ERP 'cause we wanted to get that back.

Don Pearson: Sure. Sure. You moved pretty fast from start to where we're sitting right now. I'm curious, Mike, if you could share a little bit about what was the motivation in the organization to make... I'm not trying to criticize industrial organizations, but they aren't known for their speed of change necessarily. So what was the motivation to be able to get a person in the OT space to have that much buy-in across an organization to get that level of rapidity of change?

Mike Flores: Sure. So I think, so think for Howard, the challenge, the motivation was, when I started at Howard we fell into a project that had a short timeline originally to expand a progressive timeline of 12 weeks to get this facility online, that moved the, a large amount of animal fats that's ultimately processed into batched to create a for our partner. And because of contract negotiations, that timeline moved from 12 weeks to six. And at the time we had a DCS system that wasn't connected. And so there were lots of issues there. When we think of Digital Transformation, we see all the things coming to bear: siloed data, things that were not connected, you had that needed to happen. And so the motivation that began this was standing up Ignition, I say standing up Ignition without permission, standing that up and immediately connecting. And then once we connect, we were able to integrate lots of different technologies or lots of different equipment there at our rail facility. And that propelled us into a digital conversation that reached our executive team that reached... I think I'm having a problem with the microphone.

Don Pearson: Yeah you are. Come help him out Paul. You guys are gonna have to hold for the rest of that answer okay? Yeah a little bit of a microphone, that's okay. So I just wanna reference that I know there was discussion about elevating the enterprise that we've been talking about ourselves here. So in terms of taking that same kind of question and how it's gone through, I will see if your mic works and I'll come over to you and ask you the same question that these folks have already kind of responded to.

Micah Weber: So, yeah. Like I said, in 2016, we kind of reworked existing HMI systems into Ignition. And when I, when I joined on with the company, I already had kind of a background and posture of increasing cybersecurity and using some DevOp technologies to make it easier, mainly on myself. Because at the time, I was a one-man team, using integrators to assist and really working with our IT department to help bridge some of those technology gaps. Trying to knowledge share what the OT side of the fence needed from IT and what they needed from me. I would say that, as far as the enterprise goes, the business side and marketing and all that, I always feel like I'm maybe a little step behind. I had a conversation with one of our groups and they said, "Listen, I need this kind of information to do monthly reports."

Micah Weber: And I said, "We can get that to you with MQTT." And at the time, IoT SiteWise was the main method of doing that. And they said, "Oh, well we just bought this piece of software to handle some of it." So it's a little bit behind there, unfortunately. And I'm really trying to get ahead of that and try to make people aware of some of the technologies that are happening in this space, and particularly that I've heard about at ICC over the last several years 'cause this is my fourth or fifth ICC that I've been to, really to get that knowledge sharing out there and leverage the new technologies and what we are already using in the field to get that data from the closest point to the PLC or the devices.

Don Pearson: Cool. Thanks. So I know Colby [Clegg] talked a little bit this morning about elevating the enterprise. It happens to be our theme for the whole conference. So I'm going to maybe throw this to you two guys in terms of Pugal and Arlen. Start with you Arlen. How has, I mean, when you think about edge to cloud and you think about the role that cloud plays, you just spent some time talking about it on this stage last hour. How is it helping? How does it help the enterprise to elevate, to play the game differently, to really transform? Where is the role of cloud in this whole evolutionary process?

Arlen Nipper: I've been thinking about that. So I was gonna put together a, we've got a digital twin problem. I didn't quite get it all put together, but the digital twin problem that I see is that if I look at, if you go back in technology back in the '80s and '90s when we all got microprocessors and we got to wire wrap them and burn a EPROM and write machine language and put a boot loader and we built computers 'cause it was pretty cool. And we had all the parts that you needed to do that. But today we don't do that. We go out and we buy a computer with an operating system, we turn the switch on and it boots up and we're ready to go.

Arlen Nipper: When Chris and I started Cirrus Link, we went to all of our oil and gas customers still remember, so what, 10 years ago. And we said, "What are you gonna do with cloud?" And they said, "We'll move the cloud over our dead bodies." Right? And now, well, what about five, six years ago, everybody started moving to the cloud and wow, that was pretty cool. We've got containers and we've got data buckets and we've got Lambdas and we've got these functions you can run and they can go to Glacier storage. Why? But if you look back, why are we doing that? We're an oil company or we're a chemical company, we shouldn't be having a whole IT staff taking care of our boot loader and our EPROM and our RAM on our CPU board. And I think that's where we look to services like Snowflake because they've abstracted that away and we can get back to doing our job. So just like Ignition is a platform that fits out in the field and Inductive Automation only do one thing, it's the Ignition platform, and then you marry that with something like Snowflake, which is a data cloud platform, then you're able to leverage all of that and then do your actual job that you were supposed to. That's my take on it.

Don Pearson: Yeah, I think, I think that take really hits the nail on the head in terms of, we talked, even talked earlier today about we're trying to unleash domain expertise for you that have domain expertise to apply that to an industry problem and solve a problem.

Arlen Nipper: Right, exactly.

Don Pearson: Why should you have to work with these other abstractions?

Arlen Nipper: Exactly.

Don Pearson: Just gimme the darn tools and let me do it. So your comments, Pugal, on that point.

Pugal Janakiraman: Yeah. Again, I think Industry 4.0 or Digital Transformation around manufacturing, you need a hybrid architecture. You cannot do everything at the edge nor you can do everything at the cloud. It's a right mix of both edge and the cloud has to be brought together. There's a whole bunch of rationale behind on how you take the decision on what goes to the cloud, what remains at the edge. The first and foremost thing is your business use case. What is the business outcome you are trying to drive? And is it possible you have enough compute power at the edge? And is it possible you have algorithms like AI and ML which can be executed at the edge? If it is possible, do it at the edge.

Pugal Janakiraman: Another major bunch of reasons, we also, we have talked about this extensively with whole bunch of customers. There is also cost reasons, compliance reasons, on what can go to the cloud or what cannot go to the cloud. Every one of it has to be accounted for when you build this hybrid architecture. Central to everything is the business outcome. And after that, only everything else falls in place because you don't move the data from edge to the cloud because you can do a lot of stuff with it. But first, determine what that stuff is going to be, what percentage of savings you are going to provide for that manufacturing facility, or you're going to reduce unplanned downtime by x percentages. We have done this together at state of Indiana. The goal was to reduce 10% of energy consumption across the state, around 8,000+ manufacturing facility. That's an easy conversation with a business customer. They get that. That's how you do this.

Don Pearson: Sure. So Mike, I'm gonna give you another chance. Okay. You were in the middle of an answer to the question roughly of how did you get so much agreement fast moving from an OT side of the house, as an OT manager, from the overall enterprise to move at the speed that Howard's doing?

Mike Flores: Alright, let's make sure. Am I working?

Don Pearson: No.

Christine Polarine: No.

Don Pearson: Let's...

Mike Flores: Can you guys hear me?

Christine Polarine: Okay.

Mike Flores: I'll stand up. How about that?

Don Pearson: Stand up and project.

Arlen Nipper: That'll work. That'll work.

Mike Flores: So I think for Howard, I dropped into Howard in that first year and we were replacing this DCS system that wasn't connected. It was pretty siloed, entered Ignition, and if I went to any meeting in an organization, nobody knew what the heck is Ignition. So that was my reality. When we talk about that, that was the reality for Howard was, what the heck is Ignition? We stood up Ignition. OPC UA, a quick connection, began to collect the data and then started making connections with different applications that were out there. At this time we had a rail facility that we needed to connect to, and that thing had to be up and running in six weeks. And so I was the one-man person of an experimental group in OT. And so now that we've got this OT group person, we had to bring to bear the different types of people.

Mike Flores: So we put together a quick team to do this, and we saw immediate results, not just from the way the licensing was structured to save money, but the way we could reduce the overall staff it took to run this mile-long rack of offloading animal fats in order to refine this to renewable diesels and then bringing that back and all that's involved in doing that on the control side. So we brought a quick time to value, immediately from that, it spawned a conversation into Digital Transformation. And I became not just the subject matter expert, but I became the technical evangelist for what was going to happen for Ignition. So the question became, and what you're asking is, well, great, you had challenges, how did we get so much quick traction? Number one is because the organization saw quick results on a time to value with a product like Ignition immediately. The minute that as soon as that happened, we saw other brownfield opportunities that do it and greenfield opportunities that Howard was now involved in.

Mike Flores: And we also had to change the way Howard was thinking at the time because we had to go to these executive team meetings and management-level meetings and reiterate that just because you're growing doesn't mean you're scaling. And as the minute that that came out, it resonated with the chief executive team, the executive team, as well as the plant manager. And that type of mind changing is really what helped us propel projects going into Ignition. And now I can't move fast enough. Now it's, "Hey, we want to deploy Ignition at this site, at this site." So in some instances, we are wholesale rip and replacing some of the SCADA systems and antiquated pieces that are out there, revamping those networks, creating our enterprise. And so the challenge for us was a cultural one where it required a mindset change.

Mike Flores: And remember at Howard, we are a midstream company, so we have this growth opportunity where Howard is wanting to grow its EBITDA over the next five years, double it. But we can't do that by doubling the number of employees, which means scalability has to be an option for us and Digital Transformation was the only way to do that. And so I'm excited about where we're going with that. So the challenge is culture, it's changing minds about what we can do quickly and creating true transformation opportunities. We also had to rethink what we thought, and I'll keep it short, but traditionally in oil and gas, it's midstream mindset. I move liquids and gas. I pack it, I send it, I balance it, I send it to my customer. We had to rethink things now and look at things from the perspective of manufacturing, OEE, availability, quality, performance, those types of metrics now mattered when I'm at a rail facility. So it really had to change our minds and a lot of that was not technical, it was cultural.

Don Pearson: Cool. I don't think your mic was working before, but like you said, you installed Ignition without permission. I might steal that phrase a bit.

Mike Flores: We did.

Don Pearson: I'm always looking for another marketing phrase, so that one I kind of liked. Okay.

Mike Flores: Yeah, we did.

Don Pearson: Just do it without permission. No, I want to open it up to this audience here. It isn't that I don't have more questions, but really this, as I said, it's your time. So anybody who has a question, we have mic runners, so a mic can be taken to you. So raise your hand and I will... Right down here is the first question and here comes your mic.

Audience Member 1: I've got three, but I'll...

Don Pearson: Three questions. Okay.

Audience Member 1: But they're split. So Arlen, I wanted to ask you about the outlook. Well, now that we have the Sparkplug B 3.0 spec defined and the qualification kit. Like what's the outlook on adoption of Sparkplug B specification for... You would have much more insight into that than most people. Like what's the adoption looking like, that one?

Arlen Nipper: I think, I think it's very good. I mean, if you look pretty much everybody, every booth in here in one form or another are doing Sparkplug B, there are OEMs that I know about, it's under NDA, but they are adopting Sparkplug B. I think the more adoption that we get, people are seeing that it just works. And really we've got two choices right now. And I don't want to get into OPC UA versus Sparkplug, but that, those are the two things, and I think they each work in their own space is what they're really good at and what they probably shouldn't be used for. But I think with the Eclipse Foundation and with the, we even have more people joining the Eclipse Foundation, I think we're getting to the point where it's, the adoption is almost going viral and it kind of sits on top of MQTT. If you look at just MQTT itself, there are billions of devices. It's amazing, but there are billions of devices that do MQTT now, but they're all discovering the same problem that I did is that, "Hey, MQTT. The great thing about MQTT is you can publish anything you want on any topic, but the problem is you can publish anything you want on any topic." I think the more people realize that, the faster it'll be adopted.

Don Pearson: There's your first question, second question.

Audience Member 1: Okay. Second question is for Pugal, correct? And it's just, could you provide maybe a timeline and maybe it's sort of a high-level understanding of the feature set that would be involved with this like the Snowpark Container Services that as you mentioned earlier. I mean, I don't know how much you can talk about that now, but if you can.

Pugal Janakiraman: Sure. That's our AI and the ML capability. Snowpark is our marketing terminology for AI and ML capability, what we provide. Again, when we started the journey, it started as at a data warehousing company. Pretty much bring in data from various sources and run analytics. That was Snowflake's claim to fame. But when the run, when they had to do analytics, even like a year or two years back, you take the data somewhere else, Power BI or you export it to some other AI and ML capability, whether it's SageMaker or somewhere else and run the analytics. Last year we reinvented ourself as a, or a year before, as a cloud data platform. It's not just a data warehousing company. So in one single location, you not only can bring in various data sources in the most cost-effective fashion, large volumes of data, minus ETL. I think that's, again, that's our major feature where you don't need to move the data around, which always creates security issue, governance issue.

Pugal Janakiraman: Because a good example is if you want to share your calendar with somebody else, you don't copy your calendar to somewhere else and then share it. You refer to that and that's how you pick a time slot which works for you. We are no different from that approach. So without moving the data over, we can still refer the data and run analytics. And in addition to just bringing the data and running it on reports and stuff like that we also launched our AI and ML capability. I think that's pretty much what, in a simple terminology, our capabilities are. Snowpark is all around that. There again, I think you can bring your own model, execute it there, or you can build a model within our Snowpark services and then deploy it there and go from there. All those options are on the table.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Pugal. Your third question.

Audience Member 1: Last one, I promise. Okay. So like this is probably more for the members of the panel who are manufacturing. And I know that this is gonna just be your perspective 'cause you can't speak for your whole company, but from y'alls perspective, what are you guys doing to create the infrastructures that are gonna be needed to sort of take advantage of these new and emerging technologies? Like what are you guys doing specifically to create those types of infrastructures?

Don Pearson: You may or may not all want to comment, but let's give it a try. Do you want to comment on that and then we'll kind of maybe just go down the line.

Christine Polarine: Yeah. Well what we did in what we're doing is deploying a lot more edge so that we can have store and forward, really live up to the cloud. I would like to get up to the cloud. We're not up there yet and so had plenty, plenty of conversations with the folks here on stage as well as out on the floor. Making sure that you have physical servers at each of the sites so that in the event that we would have a ransomware attack or the cord to IT got cut that we would still be able to function and make product is really, really important because we learned that lesson firsthand. So making sure that there's firewall rules and security and secure remote access to get into the OT environment. All of those things we've taken into account as we've reconstructed our infrastructure.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Christine.

Christine Polarine: You're welcome.

Don Pearson: Micah.

Micah Weber: Yeah, same deploying more and more edge devices, getting that data as close to the PLC or the end devices we can and really rethinking our UDTs or data models to be flexible for future advancements, whatever those may be. I mean, right now we maybe aren't using Snowflake or anything in the cloud, but it doesn't mean we won't move there. So just trying to think about setting it up for success in the future if we ever did move towards that.

Don Pearson: Thanks Micah. Jeremy.

Jeremy Bunch: So the, is my mic on? You guys hear me right?

Christine Polarine: Yeah.

Jeremy Bunch: The topic of infrastructure within Kohler has been something that has been quite a bit of a nuanced approach. Kohler has over 54 plants worldwide, all with varying types of infrastructure. One thing we did not want to do is limit the plant's use of Ignition. So we've set up what we like to refer to as guide rails that we would deploy Ignition within, whether that's setting up Ignition on a VX rail that stood up, or maybe a sister plant that's nearby with the appropriate deployment of firewall settings. Using transitioning from like HTTP to HTTPS for secure connections, things like that.

Don Pearson: Thanks Jeremy. Mike, you're up.

Mike Flores: Oh man. I think the main thing I would say is get your data ready for context. UDTs, like you mentioned earlier, I think that is the biggest driving piece so that you can contextualize and see that. The second main thing I would say is find a time-to-value project on the plant level that you can jump into right away and set up an environment where you can fail. That's the best way to do it. Start like that and get those UDTs ready. I think those are the things I would say.

Don Pearson: You just said that really fast, but you commented on it in your other presentation. Set up an environment in which you can fail.

Mike Flores: Yes.

Don Pearson: I think that was a really key point. It's like unleash, get rid of the fear of failure, and make that environment where it happens 'cause you get better solutions out the other end.

Mike Flores: Howard had a 2023 initiative, we called it "Unleashed and on Point" and one of the things we, that it was funny, we had this event, but the one they didn't want to hear was failure. And I think that in our business, whether you're in oil and gas or manufacturing, I think you have to set those environments and test them. An example, Arlen Nipper has done a good job of coming up and doing these presentations. And Ignition as a whole has made an effort to allow the community to place data in places where we can play with it. And I think it's incumbent for all of us to create those environments, test them, play with them, put them out there in the [Ignition] Exchange and that's okay. And as long as you fail quickly and you learn, we can make lots of progress.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Mike. Next question out here.

Audience Member 2: This is my first time attending ICC, I'm DeMar Karia from SJ Industries, SJ Renewable. It's amazing discussion. Heard lot thing about data transfer and everything. My question is a little bit different towards the display. My question to Mike and Micah for oil, I'm from oil and gas, so I'm going more on a oil and gas display side. Have you guys looked at CRM API 1163 display standard or anything anybody can share on what is your path forward for display standard displaced, like grayscale? Because I know midstream is using lot of display standards and any changes you can share something on that area.

Mike Flores: Are you referring mostly to the 1165? You mean APRP 1165 for screen development?

Audience Member 2: Yes.

Mike Flores: Okay.

Audience Member 2: Sorry. I mixed up the number.

Mike Flores: Yeah. Okay. So yeah, so 1165 is of course, the study that was put out by the National Transportation Safety Board in relation to control room management. I think that plays an important piece in what you're developing. I would say that they're pretty good standards. I think it's one of the compliance pieces if you're running a regulated control room and I can tell you that the study is a little old but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow it. I think there's great opportunities in your screen development, especially right now with the application development using Perspective. One of the key things I saw is that one of the integrators, the guys from edge that are doing card-style displays, which I thought was really a great implementation, you can see that pushed in Perspective as well as on the screens. And it's okay to do that and then just comply with some of the 1165 pieces. In fact, I think if you read 1165, you have five to seven different metrics you wanna follow. Other than that you can get creative. So in terms of 1165, there's still lots of opportunity to create great graphics and designs and then carry that over into Perspective.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Mike.

Micah Weber: Yeah, to piggyback off that real quick, you know, we actually are just going through an internal audit and looking at API 1165 and using some of those standards to guide our process and build a design guide really for any future development. And we don't strictly adhere to the grayscale, high performance, a lot of our main pieces are that, but also taking that a little bit further and blending that a little bit with our old system. So when we first transitioned that our operators weren't left in the dark as to what does light gray versus dark gray mean? So I mean, we've got a little bit of color blend in there, but still using a lot of those things for compliance and such to make sure that we're not gonna get hit with any fines later on.

Don Pearson: Thanks. I wanna squeeze in a question for you that's maybe a little bit granular, but I was interested, you talked about the Purdue model. You talked about MES evolution. What were some, we, we talk a lot about pain points back to our founder making lists of pain points that were technical, non-technical business model licensing, and the solving of pain points. What were some maybe some MES pain points that motivated the move with Ignition that you might be able to share with the audience?

Christine Polarine: One of our lines at one of our plants was sold out and it was a man-paced process. So of course operators have been there for a long time. They have certain ways that they like to do things. And we were asked by the improvement team to get some data and make standards for standard rate and get everybody on board with doing things a certain way, one way, so that we could make improvements. So that was a bit of a struggle with the operators. It was a little struggle with even the engineers and getting everybody on the same page with the improvement people. After we got that foundation with Ignition deployed and we had standards put in, we were again asked, possibly we thought we're doing well now, we'll put a little more squeeze to that and see if we can get a better rate.

Christine Polarine: And we were able to do that. When we had the ransomware attack and Ignition went away for a time, those operators that were not initially on board were asking, "When can we have Ignition back? We really like Ignition." So that was really great. Even with the stretch that we asked them to do after the initial deployment and we were not sold out anymore and we had room to breathe, they really wanted to have Ignition back. They saw the value of it, so even on the floor. So that was great.

Don Pearson: That's great.

Christine Polarine: Yeah, that was great.

Don Pearson: Yeah. Thanks. Other questions out here? There's one right here in the very front. Got a microphone coming to you, Phil [Turmel].

Audience Member 3: From the end users, all four of you. I'm very interested on how you're handling technical staffing issues nowadays. And to the extent that you're doing so, how you are bringing new blood up to speed with Ignition and the target technologies that you're after right now?

Don Pearson: Why don't we start in the middle? Jeremy, can you make any comments on that and answer Phil's question?

Jeremy Bunch: I can't speak quite too much to the staffing side. I know controls engineers is a lot of what our facilities require for support. I do know that Inductive Automation through Ignition, as we all know has Inductive University is a great resource for those. And with any staffing issues that we have had, we've been able to work through those either with my support or some of the few other engineers that are part of the global automation group to support the facilities there locally and walk them through any issues that they have.

Don Pearson: Cool. Thanks. Mike, how about you?

Mike Flores: Like I said, when I started, it was a team of one and it took three years for me to get the second guy added in. And I had him run through Inductive University. He's actually out in the audience right now. And then I threw him to a project we needed to develop a suite to help do some of our control room management side of things, alarm review, etc. And I said, start building it in Perspective. Just get to it, ask questions as you go. If you have any problems, let me know. I'm more Vision geared 'cause that's what I came up with, but more than happy to help where I can. So I mean, that was, that was really it, just essentially throwing him to the wolves and he spun out a great product. I'm really excited about it.

Don Pearson: Cool. How about your answer to that?

Christine Polarine: Yeah, we initially started with integrators and I had quite experience with integrators and writing specs and going with the sales guy and selling it and all that kind of stuff in previous life. And so we started with them and all keeping in mind, that we would wanna have at each of the sites, a local person who would be able to make screens, get the tags in, maybe not do all the scripting in the world because it really is a special breed to have someone who is a controls engineer who can also do Python scripting and SQL queries and all of that kind of stuff and connect it to the ERP also with the API, restful APIs and such. We had some interns that came to our site and worked with me.

Christine Polarine: We had some site people that started to get a handle on things. We had them come to training here. We actually also had Ignition trainers come to our site and I brought 23, 25 of our people from all the different places to get them at least basic training and what are we doing here, which was very advantageous. And now we are to the point where we have quite a few really good programming and PLC resources controls engineers at the various sites and there are different levels, but just giving them the opportunity to make some additions to the process. We have sandbox-type gateways where they can do some experimental-type screens and such, read-only so they can't break anything. And then we move it over to development system and then move it over to the production system. So we try to control the chaos as much as we can.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Chris. You've come a long way. So I think at the other end of the panel there's a gentleman who just started a few weeks ago and he's a full team of one. So Mike, why don't you answer that question? Maybe a different answer than where Chris is at right now.

Mike Flores: Sure. For us, and now in the beginning, of course we've got some integration teams that are working with us, but we're doing three main things at Howard. Number one is that we're upskilling our staff there. So our analytics team, our OT group and our IT group all have familiarity and training with Ignition. Even our accounting team has training with Ignition. So the goal is to create that enterprise experience and to say this is an integrated part of the business. So we're upskilling. The second thing that we're doing is we're launching our, of course, our training initiatives for 2024 to impact every group. So alongside your training for Power BI, you get training for Ignition and those integration pieces. And the third thing that we're doing is we're in '24 is we're adding additional staffing and working with, like you said, just a group of folks that we wanna get in and onboard them. And so Ignition becomes a natural part of the onboarding as you would any other platform in the organization.

Don Pearson: Thanks, Mike. We only have a few minutes left, less than five, so I'm gonna basically ask a question of the panelists. Everyone doesn't have to answer, but it'll give you two guys a chance to maybe comment on this. There are people at all different stages of a digital journey. We've certainly seen Ignition be a sort of seed and grow kind of thing. It's pops in there. And then I know I've heard Ted [Williams] from Sherwin-Williams talk about what happened to scope creep once he got its first Ignition thing. Everybody wanted a project when they found out they could unlimit and get into it. So if you were giving advice to anybody at a different stage of this Digital Transformation journey, what will you tell them about getting started and how to do it and where to go? I know that you certainly are moving fast at the beginning and accelerating in your area. People start at different levels. So I'm gonna sort of open that up to the few minutes we have left before we head over to headquarters for some dinner and some band music from the Ignition band [the IA Dept. of Funk]. So advice parting to the audience here on Digital Transformation journey. Any, first person who wants to respond?

Arlen Nipper: Well the way Pugal said a while ago, it's, "Don't eat the elephant." And especially with Ignition technology, you can pretty much go do it for free, right? You can download it, you can run it in trial mode, don't eat the elephant. Find a problem to solve first. We've got so many customers that are pumping terabytes of data into data lakes and you go back and you ask them, "So what are you doing with the data?" "Nothing." And I think that's actually very detrimental. I mean, Mike, I think you said the same thing, is that it actually then tears down the trust on what the heck are you trying to do in the first place of getting Digital Transformation. So find a problem, start small, and execute it.

Don Pearson: Good. Thank you. Next person.

Mike Flores: For me, I think it's finding a short time-to-value project in whatever part of the organization you're in, and you can resolve that with Ignition for free. So you can really do that, you can apply that and find that short time-to-value project, they exist in your organization everywhere.

Don Pearson: Cool. Any final thoughts you'd like to share, Chris, from your viewpoint?

Christine Polarine: I think one of the biggest things that we have found is, especially in our group that North America, we've become the standard in connectivity from the plant floor up to the ERP and that's just been terrific. And how do you start, I mean, you just get trend data from the PLCs, what do you need? What do you wanna look at? And then people start asking, well, "I would like to do recipe. I would like to do OEE. I would like to have a report that does this because I'm already doing it in paper." And then once you get that quick win and people see the power of the information that's available to them, then you're gonna get funding and interest and people are gonna be asking for more and more.

Don Pearson: Sure. Jeremy. Kohler, didn't it come through Global Automation and Engineering Group at Kohler? I think maybe Ignition came to that group, maybe I don't have that right. But what, so how does Kohler start? I mean, how does it get going and how would you say you might give advice to others on how to get started?

Jeremy Bunch: Yeah. Depending upon the facilities that we've implemented at, a lot of it came from, like what you had said with solving a specific problem. I think that's a very good approach to go with it because oftentimes you can get in with like, refer to analysis paralysis with the sheer amounts of data that Ignition can pull. But how we got started in one of our facilities was visualizing an electroplating line, just kind of understanding certain variables of the process and tying them to product defects and things like that and other areas they're wanting to understand, cycle times of processes and truly get to understand what their process is doing.

Don Pearson: Cool. Well, we're kind of running out of time, but I leave the mic open for anybody who has any final comment or final advice or any final thoughts you wanna share with our audience this afternoon before we end the day at ICC.

Micah Weber: To answer your question I'd say kind of like Mike and Howard Energy are doing, knowledge sharing cross training. I mean, the more that more people know, the easier that you can collaborate and get the data in the right hands and the right context and figure out how it can be used to increase efficiencies or speed up processes or anything like that.

Don Pearson: Thank you. Thank you, all of you. So we've come to the end of the day at ICC. We've come to the end of our "Industry Panel." Can you please join me in acknowledging the panel.

Don Pearson: Thank you. So I do understand that Kevin McClusky is gonna be playing some music with the band here. I heard rumors that there's not one band, but there's two because the distributors have decided to get active. So we've got a double band thing going on right now. I'll be sort of welcoming people over there, but please head over to Inductive Automation headquarters and let's have a good evening. Hope you had a good day today. That's it for today. Thank you.

Posted on November 6, 2023