Bringing Digital Transformation Into Focus

57 min video  /  50 minute read Download PDF View slides


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Kevin McClusky

Co-Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Kent Melville

Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Today it seems like every company is embarking on a journey of Digital Transformation. While this is a necessary shift, only those companies that see the big picture will succeed at it, which means looking at not only the technological aspect of Digital Transformation but its wider impact on processes, people, and programs.

Successful Digital Transformation calls for a platform that can work with existing industrial processes and software while enabling innovation in those areas. It also calls for a platform that team members across the organization can get on board with and use to collaborate. In this webinar, experts from Inductive Automation will share insights into all this and more, so don’t skip this one!

  • Get more data and do more with it
  • Address common concerns about Digital Transformation
  • Facilitate the free flow of information organization-wide
  • Reap the full benefits of Digital Transformation

Webinar Transcript

Don Pearson: Well, welcome everyone to today's webinar, Bringing Digital Transformation into Focus. My name is Don Pearson, I'm gonna serve as the moderator for today's webinar, and I certainly welcome everyone today. Just a brief look at our agenda. To start things off, I'm gonna just quickly introduce our Ignition software and today's presenters. Then we'll start off our presentation by discussing what Digital Transformation is really all about. That will set the table for a discussion of the role of processes, people and programs in Digital Transformation. Then we'll examine some real examples of Digital Transformation and the features in Ignition that facilitate it. Then we'll wrap up and take a few minutes to answer your questions as we always do. So if you're not familiar with Ignition, it can be a bit challenging for me to just take one slide and try and describe it quickly, but probably the best way to sum it up is to say that it’s the unlimited platform for SCADA and so much more. It not only does everything you'd expect a world-class data solution to do, it also lets you connect, design and deploy without limits. Ignition provides one central hub for everything on the plant floor, so it lets you easily create any kind of industrial application like HMI, MES, IIoT, and really a whole bunch more.

Don: You can instantly web deploy clients to desktops, industrial displays and mobile devices. And with Ignition's unlimited licensing, you can have all the clients, tags and connections that you need for one affordable price. And it really does have the industrial strength, security and stability that today's world is really demanding. And that's why, I would say that it's trusted by thousands and thousands of companies around the world, including 54% of Fortune 100, and I think 40%, 41% of Fortune 500 now. If you wanna learn more about it and try Ignition for free, just... You can visit us at Now, I'll introduce the presenters, Kevin McClusky, Kent Melville. Kevin is the Co-Director of Sales Engineering, and Ken is the Sales Engineering Manager here at Inductive Automation. That's a pretty poor introduction of the two of you gentlemen, so I think, Kent, I'll let you go first, and Kevin, you follow up and give a little better introduction to yourselves and say a little bit about what you do here at Inductive.

Kent Melville: Sure, thanks, Don. As was said, I'm Kent Melville, Sales Engineering Manager here at Inductive Automation. I've been with Inductive for about five years now. I manage two teams here, I get to manage our Application Engineering team that built our online demo project that you guys may have seen, and gets to build solutions for customers, contribute to the Exchange, build really anything we can think of on Ignition. And then also work with the Sales Engineering team as we meet with customers, help them identify what they're trying to accomplish and how Ignition can solve their problem. Certainly, a topic we've been talking about with customers a lot lately has been Digital Transformation, and we wanna show some of the success stories today. So excited to be here.

Kevin McClusky: And I'm Kevin McClusky, Co-Director of Sales Engineering, as Don mentioned, and I've been with a company a little bit over a decade here. Worked with a lot of different companies over the years, and I've been doing Digital Transformation before... Since before it was called Digital Transformation, so lots of success stories as Kent said, we've had with lots of different customers. And happy to be pulling out some of those success stories, pulling out some of the gems and some of the hidden truths that we found along the way. And things that have made folks successful in this journey and be able to share it with all of you here today.

Don: Kevin, thanks, and thanks, Kent. Thanks to both of you for taking the time to join us today. Kevin, I can't believe you said a decade. It's amazing, I didn't realize it was that long, but time does fly, so.

Kevin: Yeah, almost 12 years.

Don: Amazing, yeah. The term Digital Transformation, just to to kick us off here a little bit, it's being used more often in the industrial space. But it can mean different things to different people, of course. So we'd like to start off the presentation by clarifying what Digital Transformation is really all about from our view. 'Cause when we talk about Digital Transformation, we're not just talking about technology or technology for technology's sake, or simply putting technology on top of older technologies, rather Digital Transformation is a little more comprehensive shift. It's a shift in thinking really, and how one does when business too and the impacts it has on every aspect of the business.

Don: So when you think about Digital Transformation, you really have to think about processes, people and programs. We have to look at the roles that each of those areas plays in Digital Transformation. So today we'll bring Digital Transmission to focus by talking about those three areas, and some of the real-life examples of it and why Ignition is an excellent platform for it. So to get us into the people, processes and programs discussion of what Digital Transformation is all about, I think I will turn it over to you, Kevin. Let you start us off on processes.

Kevin: Sounds good. Thanks, Don. So if we take a look at processes in general, what does that really mean? Every industrial organization has its own unique processes for making products, supporting its initiatives and running its operations. Basically a process is anything that a company does in a certain way, and every company has a whole slew of processes that are used for their organization. So being able to quickly adjust existing processes and create new processes quickly, is critical for any organization that wants to be agile, but especially so when it comes to Digital Transformation. So let's talk about opportunities and the obstacles that are related to processes, in other words, where are we trying to go and what might make it difficult to get there?

Kevin: So if we look at how Digital Transformation can improve processes, streamlining existing processes to make them more efficient is one of those most common goals that we have here. If you use digital technologies like cloud, edge or machine learning, for example, to re-think existing processes, it can help with companies going through this journey. You might wanna take a look at, for example, go from manual data collection to an automated type of data collection, publishing data to an MQTT cloud broker. The digital technologies that enable the processes are going to be something that we focus on here in a few additional slides, but if you're thinking about how to actually optimize some of these processes in a significant way.

Kevin: Often, technology has a key point in that and can help you think through the processes, what processes are actually possible, how can I optimize some of these things in a way that might not have been available five or 10 years ago or let alone 30 years ago when maybe a production line was originally put in and some of this stuff didn't exist. So when thinking about processes, sometimes there's a bit of a mindset shift that needs to happen in order to be able to accommodate the newer ways of thinking and also to be competitive with other companies that are starting today or who have started recently and are already using some of these newer technologies there. One of the things that is worth talking about here is some of the common obstacles to process improvement. Many people equate Digital Transformation with digitalization, so you have to talk to folks and convince them there's a lot more to it, so you shouldn't just digitalize the process and stop there.

Kevin: If you don't know what digitalization is, basically, that's taking old analog processes or the way that things originally were and just putting it into computers. So taking a form, making it look exactly the same inside a digital platform, having some process that used to be tracked manually, now it's tracked inside a computer inside a database, but it's not really rethinking the process at the same time. So digitalization is just think of it as a lift and shift, you take their existing processes and you make them digital, whereas Digital Transformation has a lot more to it. If you're doing it right, you're going to be re-thinking these processes at the same time. Does it really still makes sense if I'm using technology? Should I be just creating forms here or should I be automating data collection making it so nobody actually has to type anything in or write anything down? Does that make sense at the same time the technology exists? But does the cost trade-off make sense? Is it worth it from that perspective?

Kevin: There's a variety of considerations when it comes to thinking about how do you employ new technologies here, what makes sense for your processes as you're adjusting those processes, and what's even possible, what's not possible. But you don't wanna limit yourself down to just thinking of digitalization as the way to do Digital Transformation because you're gonna be missing out on a lot of the great new features that exist and the great new technologies that are out there. There are a lot of entrenched ways of doing things, so along the lines of what I was just saying, you need to take a look at if it makes sense to adjust or break out of the old ways, and this includes other things as well as just... Instead of just that lift and shift, possibly those entrenched ways of doing things actually are bad.

Kevin: Maybe they have been processes that have been built up over time, and person X did things in a certain way, and now person Y does things in a certain way. It reminds me of a story about someone who learned from her mother to take the ham and always cut off the ends of the ham before you put it in to bake the ham, and then asked her mother and said, "Well, my mom did it and that's how I learned and that's the way to do it." And she talked to her grandma and her grandma said, "Well, the oven wasn't wide enough, so I needed to cut off the ends and put it into the oven." And that's a good example of a lot of things inside this industry where you have somebody who's done something a certain way, and it might not make sense. I mean, the reasons were really good when they originally started doing it, but re-evaluation of these things is important.

Kevin: Locating where the problem is can take time, it can be challenging. Sometimes fixing problems means changing an existing process, and sometimes it means starting a completely new process, and you need to basically decide what makes the most sense for your business. And scaling out processes really can be challenging. Some processes work for a single location or a single person with certain skills. When planning a new process, you should really think about how it can be scaled out for more locations and more people rather than just applying to a single location. So the next piece inside this overall picture is people, and for that, we'll turn it over to Kent.

Kent: Perfect, thanks, Kevin. Yeah, I do wanna talk about people and why they're so important to Digital Transformation, and really the people and the organizational culture that you defined are a huge element in your organization's success. So you have to take the human factor into account in order to achieve Digital Transformation successfully. Like Kevin was saying, it's more than just about digitization of all of your assets, of your data, of those kind of things, to actually have success for something to transform. People have to do that transformation, and so that transformation will only happen if key stakeholders are on board. And so when you're talking to stakeholders at an executive level, you gotta focus on big picture goals and benefits rather than the deep technical details.

Kent: In other words, you gotta know your audience, and staffing is crucial. You need to have the right people in the right positions in order to support your Digital Transformation initiatives. And so you gotta ask yourself if you have the right team to make it happen. And this can be contrary to what a lot of people assume. They assume Digital Transformation is reducing my workforce. I'm having machines and computers and machine learning handle my whole process, and computers are great. I've built my whole career around computers, but at the end of the day, insights are often made by people, not by computers. And so true Digital Transformation is recognizing that we need the right people at the right time to make the right decisions, to make sure that things go smoothly. And so what are some of the opportunities related to people in the organization?

Kent: You know, people can be used to improve communication and collaboration across the organization, and so, we know the equipment should be to connect and talk to each other. That same concept of having an interconnectivity between all of your equipment, as we get into big data and Industry 4.0, all those kind of things, the same concept applies to people. We want to get all the data in front of all the right people so that we can empower them, we can improve decision making through a wider availability of that data and take data up the chain instead of keeping it siloed. And so, using digital technologies to improve user experiences, we can give data to people in a way that they can easily digest it and understand it.

Kent: And as we get more data to people, they inevitably need to spend some time looking at that data. They may need to learn some new skills. They may need to change how they've been doing things for a long time, maybe not cut the ends off the ham as Kevin is saying, but as they have those new skills develop, then Digital Transformation becomes a transformation of your workforce as well. And with that data, they can revolutionize your processes, and so it kinda goes hand-in-hand with these processes, that as the processes develop, the people develop with it, and that leads the people to change the processes again, you keep growing. We find that Digital Transformation is not an overnight thing, but transformation is a continuous process.

Kent: And so, what obstacles do you face as you try to do this? Well, people are kind of, at times, like old technology, and it's hard to implement new systems, and how do I get them to all talk nicely to each other. People are resistant to change, and so you can fix a lot of that with education and empowerment, and it can take away some of these negative perceptions about change. Because people might say for Digital Transformation, it's too time consuming, it's too difficult, it's too risky, maybe it has a steep learning curve. And people might resist the need to change and learn new skills or maybe they're just saying, I don't want more data flowing throughout my organization, I'm already worried about security. And so, all these cyber security concerns can prevent people from wanting to do Digital Transformation.

Kent: And so those concerns, we really want to talk about in a little bit here, how using the right tools can help prevent this from being so time-consuming and so difficult, how you can leverage the appropriate training materials that can help reduce that learning curve, how you can implement things in the right way so that cyber security... You end up becoming more secure, not less secure as you do this transformation. But part of all of that process is all about not just the people, but also about the programs that you put into place. And so for that third portion, programs, I wanna turn it back over you, Kevin.

Kevin: Thank you, Kent. So, why programs are important for Digital Transformation? Once again, when we're talking programs, as was mentioned at the beginning, we're talking the actual applications, we're talking the technology, we're talking the whole basically technology stack that exists inside any sort of Digital Transformation that folks are going through if it was... If programs were not involved, it wouldn't be Digital Transformation, it would just be transformation. Digital Transformation specifically has to do with the technology, it's one of the important linchpins here. So when we're talking about these programs, we're really talking about the technology that is behind the things and is supporting your initiatives.

Kevin: Any new technologies are going to be important for this. The new technologies really are the linchpin of that Digital Transformation. Employing modern software programs is necessary to really realize all the benefits that Digital Transformation can bring. Any new technology that you add needs to work alongside the technologies that you have in place, very important for brownfield situations, and almost everybody finds themselves in a brownfield situation at some point, it's... We don't live in a greenfield world. We're not all able to have completely new things that are being built. Most of the time, Digital Transformation is transforming something that already exists.

Kevin: And so it's really important that the technologies that you choose are going to interoperate with the existing systems, are going to play nicely, are going to be able to be installed alongside, and you're going to be able to get value from this as they're running right next to the existing systems that are in place, that you're either moving away from are going to keep in place. Either way, it's important that there's interoperability, and modern technologies make this a lot more possible than it used to be. Digital Transformation opportunities that are related to the applications is pretty much everything across the board, just picked out a few nice highlights here.

Kevin: One of them, improving operational efficiency, that one is pretty clear. Why that's important? Some folks are using advanced technologies for those types of things where the operational efficiency can be tied to machine learning and algorithms and things that folks have written in order to do, let's say, align optimization or process optimization or across... Pretty much every industry, there's things that can be optimized and improving that operational efficiency can have a real impact on the bottom line as well, which is the time and money savings right there. Time and money savings can come from other things, in addition to efficiency as well, of course, the duplication of things, changing out processes for completely different processes, the idea of running things at specific points, all of that.

Kevin: And if we were to go into all the examples for all the different industries, we would... That would be a webinar in and of itself. We have some really nice examples that are coming up in a second here, so I will be excited to talk to you about a few folks who are doing a lot of this and have gone through a Digital Transformation training themselves. Of course, the opportunities also present themselves when it comes to removing limits imposed by outdated technology.

Kevin: So it's very common to have a conversation, if you're sitting there as a supervisor talking to someone or a Plant Manager or anyone inside an organization saying, "Why don't we change it to do this? Why don't we do things this way?" It's pretty common, and in my experience working with lots of folks, the answer often comes back, "Well, we just don't have the technology to do that." And normally that answer is actually couched in that's too hard, or that would take too much effort, or that is something that would be tricky to accomplish. If you have the right tools in place, a lot of those NOs or a lot of those things that normally would come back with a high cost associated with them, that can come back with a much lower cost, because outdated technologies make a lot of things really hard, and new technologies make a lot of things, a lot easier than they would be otherwise.

Kevin: So if you move to a new technology platform, if you have these newer tools in your tool belt, then it can enable a lot of this transformation that you want to be doing. Some obstacles related to programs have to do with risk of downtime or disruption, of course, you don't want to have more downtime than you need, and if you're a 24/7 operation, you don't wanna have any downtime. Compatibility issues between existing and new programs is very important to evaluate, and integration can be hard, whether you're trying to upgrade or just increase interconnectivity, integration absolutely can be hard, there are a lot of technologies protocols to be dealt with. These types of issues, they can be mitigated with the right software and the right approach, fortunately. You'll be able to see in the examples that we have coming up pretty much right now, that we're going to talk about, you're going to see some examples of integrations of some of the ways that folks have solved these exact difficulties and obstacles that we're talking about right now. So with all of that, Don, I will turn this back over to you.

Don: Totally appreciate that, Kevin. Thank you Kent and Kevin, and yes, we have some examples here, we need to look at here, real world examples of Digital Transformation, that was a great overview of the people, processes and programs. But there's nothing that paints a picture quite as well as a really good case study. So now let's... We're gonna take a look at three Digital Transformation case studies. And one of those focuses on edge computing, one focuses on plant floor and one on the enterprise, so Kent, can you talk about the first case study? Over to you.

Kent: Yeah, thanks, Don. So the first example we wanna talk about is about a project that DSI did... Was one of our Premier integrators specifically for Ennis-Flint. Ennis-Flint is a leading maker in pavement markings solutions. And so Ennis-Flint had developed a new continuous mixing process, for a material that is produced in single-batch kettle mixers. And for this batch, they use up to 20 different raw material feeders, to continuously feed the mixer at the correct ratios, so any fluctuations in this feed rate, or any of the feed rates could result in a bad product. And this presented a few challenges for them, how do they assist their operators with running a process with so many variables? How do they monitor those mixers to avoid fluctuations?

Kent: All that kind of stuff, and they realized that they needed to take advantage of some things like Digital Transformation to try to make this go smoothly. And so they were able to leverage Ignition as the program for that, one of the programs. And so what they did, they connected the Ignition to each of the feeders and started recording trends on all of the outputs. And they put these trends on HMI screens where many people could easily access the data, it's like, "Okay, that's pretty basic, just throwing things up on a trend screen and put it in front of people." Turns out as they did so they found that feeder five, was recording small momentary increases in weight when the feeder should have been losing weight. And as a result, the PID loop controlling the flow out of the feeder would overfeed the materials causing a spike and agitator current and resulting in the bad product at the end of the day.

Kent: And so these small bumps in weight were determined to be the root cause... The root cause of this was the motor current faults, were resulting in a bad product. And so there was an issue with the shield grounding that was discovered, and they made some changes within the PLC modification to make up for this, and they made the system less susceptible to bad weight data. And this was all easily identifiable, because they put all this data into Ignition and started visualizing it, and that led them to the resolution of the issue. And as part of this, you say, "Okay, well, that's easy," but it took them some steps to get there. Because these are all remote mixers out in the field, and so how do they get all this data up in front of people? Well, they were able to leverage a hub and spoke architecture, they used Ignition Edge running locally, they had three of these sites and they had a PLC at each, and they were able to connect Ignition...

Kent: Sorry, they had Ignition Onboard from these OnLogic IPCs. So they had Ignition Edge running locally, and they were able to take that data and publish it up to a central Ignition gateway in the cloud. And by doing this, they're able to create a much more heavily automated system that lets the customer automate the flow of recipe information and material consumption in their ERP. Because then they took that central gateway and they connected it to their ERP system, which was SAP, and now they're able to manage their whole process from a single interface rather than having a bunch of disparate systems. So what did this project look like? Well, they had about 4,000 tags that were logging about two million rows of historical data per day to two cloud databases that we're a Microsoft SQL server with always on availability, and they had about 10-20 users, clients looking at this data daily.

Kent: After they've got all that infrastructure in place of how we have data collection at the sites, we push that data up to a centralized system, we integrate it with other software as need to... Then it was about "We've got these 10 to 20 people who wanna look at it, what are they looking at?" They leveraged the Perspective Module because they really wanted this to be mobile-responsive and dynamic, and they wanted to allow people to pull this up on their phones, any type of screen, and Perspective allowed them to do that. They were able to build it in a completely dynamic fashion, and then based on the equipment located on-premise, it allows rapid addition of new equipment with little or no changes to the Perspective application and the design allowed for cost-effective scalability as well as a cleaner and more consistent product. This new infrastructure also allowed Ennis-Flint to add new mixing systems into the Perspective application in hours, instead of days or weeks as I was taking them previously.

Kent: And so the Perspective application was built using native theming, leveraging reusable elements for styling the product, if you go actually watch their case study, they also talk about being able to switch between a light mode and dark mode, it helped people buy into this because people are particular about how they like to view things and just to switch to a dark mode made some of their users happy and actually allowed them to use the product, but throughout all of this, we get the data to centralized system, how do people actually access it? How do you secure that when it's going to a phone? And Perspective allows for that too. So any authenticated employee was able to securely access this project from anywhere using any device, and I won't go too much into their security paradigm here, but when you're going into the cloud, you can create DMZs, you can have reverse proxies behind load balancers, you can have all these different things to secure that data and of course, using role-based security and zone-based security and all those other standard features of Ignition to make sure that you're not letting bad actors access this data. But once they had put all that in place, employees could check the same details at home with their phone or tablet without losing any application functionality, and they no longer needed to be in their office or on their laptop to respond and oversee things.

Kent: So it's about getting the right data to the right people at the right time so they can make intelligent decisions. And to do that, Ignition helped them collect the data securely, publish it data to the cloud and then provide a secure interface for people to access that data wherever they are. And then one other comment about this project, DSI wanted to make sure that the development of this program went really smoothly, and traditionally, people had to be on site for development or they have a VPN tunnel in, but maybe they're doing development against production systems with production data, and if you do something wrong during that development, it can cause downtime, things like that, and so DSI actually used Docker to create several Ignition images that can rapidly deploy and recreate the whole customer's environment so that developers can spin up an exact copy of the customer's environment locally and test changes and fixes thoroughly before introducing into a staging environment and then migrate those to a production environment.

Kent: And so Docker drastically reduced the overhead development time, 'cause it gave everyone on the team the same ease of access to the entire project, and then when moving into staging, no one had to worry about the naming convention schemes or connection paths that may be different between the simulated environment and the production one, because they made them all exact matches, and so this makes the system more reliable and ensures that when the change passed on to production, they're ready for prime time. And they talked a lot about making this a digital twin that all the simulations, all the things in the background where exact matches. So this whole project by DSI really shows the importance of edge and Digital Transformation collecting the data where it's at making sure that you're bringing the right data up to a centralized system, and then there you can make these decisions and so really excited about what DSI and Ennis-Flint were able to accomplish with that I'll turn it back to Don to show how Digital Transformation can improve things on the plant floor.

Don: Thank you very much. That was great. Really appreciate you going through the detail on that. The plant floor, SugarCreek. SugarCreek is a package food manufacturer, and they've got 50 years of growth and success to their name, and their growth has been accelerated in the last several years, and Ignition supports and keeps up with that company's sort of rapid and new growth demands. For example, SugarCreek needs plant floor data to identify and solve problems across its six manufacturing sites, and before Ignition the information they had was usually a day-old, which can be really critical, it was really hard to get real-time data, but Ignition allows them to have information in a usable context and format, it actually gives them full visibility to everything going on at each manufacturing line and all of this in real time, so this data access actually helps SugarCreek and its managers to make data-driven decisions and save costs and improve their efficiency. As we've mentioned earlier, really, but you get to the people end of it, it's people that end up doing these insights and people that end up making the decisions, they can really improve efficiency working with programs and processes, so it really gives them a lot of useful data that they can share with their customers.

Don: Additionally I would say that Ignition has really helped SugarCreek with a continuous improvement approach in their OT-IT convergence. In fact, the company's IT directors said "Ignition gives us a shared platform, so it's easy to share information" when they started out in the very beginning, they actually... They showed Ignition to the management team, and the OT team really just downloaded Ignition trial, they modeled a production line in trial, no cost, and they showed them what the capabilities were before they even had to buy anything, so SugarCreek has constantly expanded the Ignition role across its company. It's now used in virtually all aspects of the operations, and since adopting Ignition SugarCreek has reach record productivity is in 100% improvement in OEE just over the seven months, and in talking with Dan Stauft from SugarCreek he sees the continuous movement of that and continuous improvements in productivity as they continue to go on their digital transformation journey.

Don: And in addition to that when you talk about people, their cultures also evolved, they've seen ideas and engagement and innovation coming from more people in the company than ever before, people who really haven't been involved in problem solving before are now getting involved in problem solving, which really increases the capability of the company, 'cause they're taking advantage of all that expertise of the team that they have assembled there, and that's what's real... In my word, if you want real successful Digital Transformation, that's what it looks like. It really digs into the people, the processes and the programs in combination to accomplish that overall goal, and I think you could, say, really get a good look at this also with our next case study. So, that's, kind of, SugarCreek and the plant floor, but Kevin, why don't you take it over and talk about the next one.

Kevin: Sure thing. This is one that I'm excited about. I've worked with these guys for a number of years actually, and their story is an interesting one. So, this is RJ Reynolds, which is now part of British American Tobacco and they're a great example of enterprise Digital Transformation. So doing it on a really large scale, a lot that's happening, but they didn't always, you know, they didn't start large. The company, basically, faced many serious challenges including a shrinking market, intense regulatory scrutiny, and negative perceptions about their industry. This really put pressure on the manufacturing side of the company to deliver superior results.

Kevin: They built a vision for a digitally connected enterprise with a large infrastructure that connect and controls MES and ERP with heavy automation between the layers. Eventually, Reynolds became aware of Ignition and were impressed with it, but they thought there had to be a catch. They weren't really sure, exactly, how to implement it and what to do with it. They then got some new machines to manufacture new products, but the machines had constant problems. The machines... The maintenance and engineering teams were working on them every day, but the problem was persistent. The company's Director of Technology, Technical Services was told to figure out how to get data from the machine so they could determine where the bottlenecks were. He was given one week, a PC, and $12,000 to buy an Ignition license. Within a week, they collected data, built rudimentary screens, and helped them see where the bottlenecks were. That's when they realized that Ignition was not just an HMI or historian, and they could do a lot more with it.

Kevin: Since then, Reynolds has done a tremendous number of big Ignition projects across the enterprise. They've deployed Ignition at more than 10 plants, with more than one million tags on more than 200 clients. Ignition helps Reynolds achieve its critical success factors, such as compliance with technology standards, security, scalability, and dealing with legacy control solutions. I can't emphasize enough how important security is inside that list, as well. It's one of the things that is easy to overlook as an organization, but for anyone who's doing things at an enterprise scale, having a technology standard that has a strong focus on security is a really important piece and something that supports modern security standards and can play nicely with the policies that are already in place rather than having to carve out special security rules for unsecured networks, specifically around a control system or a SCADA or IIoT system, or an MES system.

Kevin: Despite the challenges that they faced, Reynolds has scored big wins, such as, cost savings, reduction in waste and product rework, they've established a platform for growth and innovation, they have an agile... They have the agility to work with new technologies that are coming to the forefront, and they've had stellar financial results. In fact, at one point, their stock had gone up about 600% in 10 years. In short, Ignition has become a critical enterprise technology for Reynolds. It helped them transform themselves into a world-class operation, even more so than they were already. So now I'll hand it back to Kent to tell us why Ignition is such an ideal platform for Digital Transformation.

Kent: Yeah, thanks Kevin. And you know, we've been hinting at these things along the way, but we wanna get a little more specific for you. So let's take a few minutes here to talk about the features in Ignition that can make it so helpful to companies like Ennis-Flint, SugarCreek, and RJ Reynolds in their Digital Transformations. First of all, Ignition works well with your processes because it's modular, you can customize it to any existing industrial process, but more specifically, you build an application on the Ignition platform to fit your process, instead of vice versa. You know, it's not that we have all these pre-built things that you need to now modify your processes to match the Ignition software, instead the Ignition software can be customized and massaged to match your processes. And then, as your process changes through Digital Transformation, Ignition has the flexibility to change with it.

Kent: And so, it can grow with you and can augment your processes as well. It's a single unified platform installed on virtually any industrial device or server on site or in the cloud. It's extremely scalable, fits architectures of all sizes and types, and you can install Ignition wherever your data and processes are. Whether that starts at the edge, whether it's at the plant floor or the cloud or all of the above. You know, and allows you to, like I said, continually add new processes such as DataOps, as well. And we talked about common concerns people have, fortunately, Ignition has some great answers to those questions. We talked before about adopting a new solution can seem time-consuming, difficult, or risky. And Kevin talks about that a little bit with this, as well, and Don, as well. People are resistant to change at first, but I love the story of SugarCreek, of them taking a week and playing with Ignition, and that's one of the advantages of the Ignition, we do have the free trial from our website. You can just download it and start using it. It's easy and fast with little to no risk, and you can quickly show what you could do in a small area of the plant and then build from there. So you already prove its value before you've invested any money into this.

Kent: Another concern we talked about was the learning curve, and we try to make that a lot easier, as well. Make it easier for people to learn, and we have two main things that help with that, the first one is Quick Start mode. So, when you install Ignition for the first time, it'll prompt you and say, "Do you want to enable Quick Start mode?" And if you say yes, it'll create some simulated device connections for you, it'll create a basic project with basic functionality for you, it'll spin up a database for you and connect to it. All to just kinda give you a sense of what's possible in Ignition and how it's configured, and then from there, you can keep what you need to lead other things and build that into your final system.

Kent: So Quick Start mode really helps you get started right out the gate. The second thing is Inductive University. People need to be able to quickly find information that's free and readily available to help them do the types of things they need to do. And so we have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to create Inductive University, which has hundreds and hundreds of videos online that you can go through to learn about, how Ignition connects to different devices, how to build screens, how to connect to different databases, specific design principles of how to make your screens look good, and work effectively, all that information, you don't even need an account, and you can just go and access those videos any time.

Kent: And lastly, we keep emphasizing security, security is a big deal, and Ignition can help address cybersecurity concerns by allowing data access while supporting first class security infrastructure. So you can let everyone who needs to see the data see it without adding an additional cost, but role-based security features let the company control who sees what, and who can access it, and you can integrate with modern identity providers like Okta, or Duo, do multi-factor authentication, take advantage of modern security best practices, all those kind of things. You also are taking advantage of we're collecting data at the edge, publishing it up to the plant floor, or publishing to the cloud, maybe the cloud is read-only, you can, with MQTT, set up access control limits within the gateway network, you can create read-only connections. You can do all these kind of things to make sure that you're only putting the right data in the right hands.

Kent: And yeah, Ignition also works with other programs as well. That's something that's been part of who we are from the very beginning, as we started being cross-platform, running on any OS, and then leveraging open standards like SQL, HTML5, OPC UA, and MQTT, and from there we build connections to various OT, IT, and ERP systems, and this makes it easy to access, cross-reference, and analyze all the data in your company's various programs, and empowers the OT and IT collaboration. We also have modules for integration with cloud services in AWS, and Azure, and other cloud platforms. And so if you wanna leverage cloud-based analytics, process optimization, machine learning, Ignition can be the glue between those. It provides the access, the visualization, as well as some processing capabilities of its own.

Kent: And we're gonna do a quick demo for you. So what you're looking at now is an Ignition Designer. So this is where you go to build an application inside Ignition. And we're starting from scratch, so some things is you're looking for variables, or for data points that are coming from your devices. I don't have any points right here that are called tags, tags in my system. Also, this is a screen. There's nothing on my screen yet, except it says, "Hey, this is data from plant B." Okay, cool, but there's nothing there. And so the company, or the situation that we're gonna be representing through this quick demo is actually a company that I worked with a while back, that made metal sheeting, and for these metal sheets, they had these laser thickness gauges that would measure the thickness of the sheet of metal, because they were selling these sheets, and they have gauges for how thick they are, and you have to sell them based on the thinnest point of a sheet.

Kent: And so they have all these different places that they measure the thickness, and whatever is the smallest measurement is gonna be what they have to set the gauge as for the sheet, so that they can sell it at the appropriate price. And so obviously, they don't want to be measuring too thin, they want it to be nice and thick, so that they could get those higher gauges, higher prices. And so they were doing that, and they had a system for viewing the thickness from their four-gauge sensors, and they would take the lowest, and they would apply it, and that was fine. And then they said, "Digitization. We want to just start collecting that data, and bring it into a system." And so, how would you do that with Ignition? Okay, well, I did connect up to a PLC here, and I've got just some tags here that are my four gauges, that are measuring laser thickness. And so I'm gonna go ahead and add them to Ignition here, and now I can see the values, and I have a new sheet, in my case, going through every five seconds, and so I can see these values update every five seconds, with the thickness at various points.

Kent: Okay, cool, I added tags. They wanna visualize that, so we come into Ignition and we say, "Hey, you know what?" I'm gonna drag out just a basic shape here, and I'm gonna say, "This is my metal sheet." I'm just gonna represent that. Could we make this look prettier? Yeah, maybe. We'll put this up top here. We're going quick for today's demo. And then we'll say... I'm gonna put some icons on here. Not a smiley face. Let's change which icon. Let's say... We'll use this one here. And so I've got this icon that represents where I'm measuring the thickness, and we'll say... There's four of these, right? So they measure thickness, not just in the corners, but we're representing it today. And so great, I've got these different measurements of where I'm coming through, and if I wanna actually show gauge A on here, I can say, "Alright, I wanna show this as a label." And so now I'm saying that, "Alright, this is the A thickness, this is the B thickness, this is the C thickness here." And then I've got my D thickness.

Kent: Cool, now I've got a really simple screen here where I'm seeing my sheet, I'm seeing the different thicknesses, and I can see the value of each one. Maybe I wanna take it a step further and I say, "Well, yeah, but I need to know, well, which one is the lowest each time it scans." And so I pull out another label, and I say, "Okay, I want the value of this to be an expression." And so I'm gonna say, "I wanna take the min of my different tags here." So I say, "Alright, I'm gonna grab this tag, and I'm gonna grab this tag, and then I'm gonna, there we go, grab this tag... And my last tag here... And I just want the minimum. Say okay. Cool, now this is showing me the current minimum.

Kent: So it's looking at all these and it's a minimum, maybe I then set this up to write to a label printer and I'm printing off a label, and slapping that on here, and that's gonna be the gauge that this gets sold at. Cool, I've made a process, but what insights do I have here? Not much yet. I see my different values, a different one is the lowest at each time, cool. But to take this a step further, if I just say, "I'm gonna start storing history for all these tags," I'm gonna come in and say, "For all these tags, I'm gonna store history just to my demo database here." and say, "Okay." I'm now storing history for all these tags, and what I'm gonna do now, is actually pull out a component that we have here, and I'm gonna pull out a power chart, and this is just a built-in component inside Ignition. This isn't anything too crazy. And so if I add this here, then I can start to view historical trends on screen. And so I could come in here and say, Well, I only just started logging data, so I'm only gonna grab the last one minute of data, let's say, and what data do I wanna grab? Well, from my demo DB there, I can see that I've now been logging these four tags, so I can come and let's see... Select all these, add my selected tags, and so now I can see the history that we've been doing over the last minute. And it looks like okay, cool, they're pretty bunched.

Kent: So let's take it a step further, and I could come in and say, for my axis here, instead of auto arranging this data, I want to view everything between 1.05 and 1.35, let's say. And so now I can see my data, and okay, so I see that, it seems to be semi-random here of the thickness of different parts, it fluctuates, but no immediate red flags necessarily. And so what have I gained? Well, maybe somebody starts watching this trend a little bit longer, we get this data in front of more people, and they come here and they say, "You know what? I actually notice that this orange line, gauge C actually tends to be the lowest, pretty consistently." And then they're like, "But I don't... Maybe that's just me. I need numbers to back that up." Well, then they come in here and they look and they see, "Alright, I've got my different gauges here, this is auto calculating the min, the max, and the average for me, and if I look at the average here, most of these are above 1.2, but the average of gauge C is actually 1.18, fluctuating between 1.17 and 1.18, and they say, "This should be random in our process. One shouldn't always be lower."

Kent: And so then they go, and this was a real world example that somebody did this. They created a screen like this, they came and they looked, they looked at the map and they said, "You know what? It is almost always gauge C, that is our lowest, and we've been billing based on that, when really... " They then went and looked at the equipment, and they found that gauge C was actually just calibrated incorrectly, and it wasn't really the low point every time, and so then they were able to change that calibration, the numbers became the same, and they were able to save money because now they're able to sell the appropriate gauge level. And so that's a really basic example of somebody who came in and they took their data, and they brought into a system, but then they put it on a screen, put it in front of people, started doing some mathematical calculations, and they're able to make an insight that immediately affected their business, it was low hanging fruit that they're able to change.

Kent: Now, it's not always gonna be this easy that the mathematical calculation, the pattern that they're looking for, is just a low average. But instead it may be a little more complicated, but rather than using the neural net of people's minds as they're looking at this data, you push data into the cloud, and you let machine learning and analytics look for these patterns, look for these anomalies, and then they can give that data back to you in a way that you can then take action on that and see real change. And so that's kind of the goal here, it may be low hanging fruit that's simple, your operators can just see it by looking at a really basic screen, it may be that we take that raw data, we push it into the cloud, and then it provides insights that we can then figure out what's going on and take action on, but Ignition can be a tool to help you do all of that. And so, we're quickly running out of time, so Don I'll stop building something here, and I'll pass it back to you so that you can finish this out here.

Don: Appreciate that. Very good though Kent, totally. I know it's a quick one, but the whole point is to really show how you can begin to get improvements and efficiency, in a way that works to build the organization better, but it involves the people involved in that process too. So I think that's a really big point. I wanna book in before we go into a little bit of Q&A with a few minutes we have left, kind of book in today's discussion with a little conclusion. Appreciate your comments Kent and Kevin. I think we can sort of summarize the message today, by saying that Ignition, does really help you connect processes, people, and programs by facilitating the free flow of information across the organization. This improves your visibility into what's happening, the communication between departments, the insights into processes, and collaborative problem-solving, and all of those things result in more innovation.

Don: So lastly, there's one more big reason to choose Ignition, it really connects to a whole ecosystem of other solutions, such as software, hardware, services that really help you successfully navigate your digital transformation journey. So we're talking about more than... Just a simple approach, a more complex ecosystem approach, we'll talk more about ecosystem on future presentations, and our account representatives are really glad to help you if they can, any time with any questions you may have. It was already mentioned that the trial is free, but if you're new to Ignition, just download it, you can download it for three minutes, use it as long as you'd like, create a whole process, share it with other people in the organization as SugarCreek did and move forward in a way that works best for your plants.

Don: Kent already talked about it, Inductive University he already talked about Quick Start, but it's also true that we have a very good online users manual that you can use any time you want to. I gotta at least mention this 'cause we have ICC coming up, and we really want everyone here to know that we are currently taking project submissions for ICC Conference 2022, all of them are due by April 30th. There's an online submission form, would be available soon, so mark your calendar and think about what Ignition project you want. If you have any questions, you can email us at ICC right at the bottom there, Also, we have a lot of people from around the world here, for those of you outside of North America, I just wanna let you know, we have a network of international distributors, they provide business development opportunities, sales and technical support, in your language, your time zone, so you can learn more about distributors in your region, if you want to contact, go on on our website to contact International Distribution Manager Annie Wise.

Don: So basically, I'd say we just have a couple of minutes. I might throw a couple of questions at people and then we'll wrap up here in a minute. These are contact points you can use, if you want to contact an account person or wanna just call us in overall and schedule a demo. Kent, you mentioned Docker. I just wanna get a quick answer from a person here who want to know is Docker... You mentioned Ignition Docker images, but the question here is, is Docker an Inductive Automation product? So why don't you give a quick answer to that.

Kent: Sure, so Docker is not an Ignition product, so there is kind of a new way to deploy applications that is through containers, and so instead of just installing an application on a computer or even on a VM, you can have a really light weight instance called a container that can run an application that are easy to spin up and deploy and utilize less resources than a full operating system that would be running, and so we do have special ways you can deploy Ignition. We have a Docker hub, well we have Ignition up on Docker hub, and so you could check it out, but no, it's not an Ignition thing, it's an IT thing, but certainly is something that is worth looking at and can be leveraged within Ignition pretty easily.

Don: Thank you very much. A quick question, maybe I'll throw your direction, Kevin, do you have success stories of using Ignition in a validated environment such as pharmaceutical and drug manufacturing, maybe someone wants to know, do we have a case study with 21 CFR Part 11 is there a... Can you just give a quick answer and point them in the right direction, 'cause I know we got stuff on our website.

Kevin: Sure, yeah. A quick answer is yes. So 21 CFR Part 11 is a good example. We do have case studies, I think we have several at this point that have reference to that in addition to that, just running inside validated environments is certainly something that most of our customers who are running inside life sciences environments, drug production and manufacturing, they normally have validating systems to go through the validation steps and create validation package and all of that at the end as they're doing deployment. And we have a number of integrators who are very experienced at that whole validation process, so... Quick answers, yes.

Don: Thank you very much. And then I'm gonna do two quick answers and then we're gonna end off here. One is from a student who's looking to enter automation and control engineering field, and how important would you say knowing Inductive Automation is? Well, I hate to say it, but I'm a little bit biased here. I think it's vital. You definitely need to, Ignition is becoming more and more a platform in industrial automation transformation as you saw, it fits in as a glue as it was said, bringing things together. So that's one part of the answer. The second one gets to another question is: Can we use it as an IIoT platform? The answer is absolutely yes. With that, we are out of time, I thank everyone for their participation today. Have a wonderful day, and please join us next month for the next, in our webinar series.

Posted on February 14, 2022