Mobility Meets Manufacturing
Mobile Technology’s Rapid Rise and Ongoing Impact on Industry61 min video / 34 minute read View slides
Chief Strategy Officer
Co-Director of Sales Engineering
Director of Automation
Technology Solutions Manager
Industrial Automation Group
About this Webinar
Just over a decade since the first iPhone and Android devices hit the market, mobile technology has truly become ubiquitous. Mobile devices have surpassed desktops in sales, and billions of people around the world now use mobile phones. This trend has changed everyday life – but how will it affect the day-to-day operations of industrial organizations?
In this webinar, Don Pearson from Inductive Automation and a panel of industrial professionals discuss this game-changing trend and specific, real-world use cases of industrial organizations that have successfully incorporated mobile technologies into their processes.
Gain new insights about:
- How different industries are using mobile technology to improve operations
- Issues to consider when implementing mobile projects, such as security
- How mobile can fit into different types of system architectures
- The benefits of mobile HMI and SCADA
- And more
The Rapid Rise of Mobile Technology
Don: With those introductions, let's go ahead and get started. As I'm sure anybody on this webinar is well aware, a lot has happened in mobile technology space quite quickly, and you may think that mobile communication devices as being relatively new. But the history goes back further than you might think, so let's take a little bit of a glance back at the history of mobile technology. First off, Alexander Graham Bell began the whole thing when he invented the telephone in 1876, and immediately inventors started creating a mobile version. And in the first half of the 20th century progress was made in getting mobile communication devices on large vehicles. There was a patent for mobile phone, for calling between boats, trains, and way stations. Some ships began using radio phones. Wireless phones were tested on trains in Germany. And during World War II of course, military use of radio-based mobile telephony increased tremendously.
Don: There was some pretty limited adoption of mobile phones for vehicles. In 1946 AT&T actually introduced a mobile phone service in St. Louis, Missouri. And as you can probably expect, it wasn't rolled out widely because of bulky equipment, limited network, and obviously, pretty high price. Fast forward to the 60s. Mobile devices weren't available to most of the public yet, but the concept was entering the public consciousness. Flip phones were portrayed actually on Star Trek. I guess you could say if you wanted to stretch it that Captain Kirk from the Starship Enterprise was the very first mobile enterprise user. So I apologize, that's the only joke I'm going to make any attempt at this morning, but our first enterprise user was Captain Kirk. And of course tablet PCs were portrayed in the 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Don: The science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote a piece actually, back then for the New York Times called Visit to the World's Fair of 2014. And his quote is pretty prescient of where things were going to go on mobile. He said: "Communications will become sight-sound, and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call, but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth." Now that was 1964 that Asimov made that prediction. Moving to the 70s, those visions started to become tangible. The first mass-produced mobile phones called 0G or Zero-Generation phones arrive. Obviously, as you may recall, many of you, they looked like bricks. They were clunky and bulky, certainly compared to today's devices.
Don: Kick into the 80s, the first generation of wireless cellular phones known as 1G arrived. Voice only communication, short battery life. In the late 80s flip phones hit the market, such as the Motorola Micro-Tec phone. Obviously, the form factor and price point were much bigger back then, as you can see in this photo. Then we move to 1991 and we get to 2G cellular phones arrived, including short messaging service or SMS and multimedia messaging service or MMS capabilities. And you know, they'd send short text only messages that could include pictures, video, or audio content at the time. And then comes the BlackBerry, 1999, first released. At the time they represented a really big leap forward for mobile business connectivity. I'm not sure about you two David and Julio, but you've both been in technology for a long time. Did you order ... Did you all have a BlackBerry, Julio, in your day, early on?
Julio: Yeah, it wasn't the original one, but I did have a BlackBerry at one point. And then I started using a Windows mobile device pretty early on. I was made fun of because of how big it was at one point.
Don: How about you David? You go back to the BlackBerry?
David: Oh, I remember the BlackBerrys. I didn't own one personally, but I do remember them.
Don: Yeah. I was in the publishing business back then, and I remember when they were advertising that son of a gun, and all of a sudden they fell off the face of the earth in terms of their utility and the number of people buying them. But they hit the market heavy in ‘99. Then we moved to personal and business use of mobile phones, and it continued to spread during the late 90s into the early 2000s. In 2003 3G cellular broadband service arrived. And that really enabled smartphones with full internet connectivity, which opened the door of course in 2007, the first iPhone released. In 2008 the first Android device was released. And these two rivals actually to this day still dominate the smartphone market. So most people actually ... they seem to prefer one or the other of those. I'm curious about our panelists here. Which is your personal favorite? David, how about you?
David: I'm an iPhone user, through and through.
Don: Through and through. How about you Julio?
Don: Through and through.
Julio: Technically, that Androids offer a lot more openness, but we do have Apple as corporate standard, so I am also an iPhone user. But I also enjoy playing around with Android devices and Arduinos and Raspberry Pi, just anything that I can get my hands on.
Don: Anything you can get your hands on. That's great. Well, that opened the door obviously for the next stage in mobile development, which is 4G service, and it became available in 2008. And then 4G was there and supporting high speed services. Now we get into gaming and HD mobile TV and video conferencing and 3D TVs. 2010 Apple released the iPad. Now granted, it was not the first tablet ever released, but it was the first mass-market tablet to catch on with the public. And a couple years later we saw it cross the barrier here, or a benchmark in the world, where sales figures indicated there were 1 billion smartphones in use worldwide. 2016, we cross the line: Mobile devices surpass personal computers as the dominant type of computing device in the world. And fast forward here to 2019, over 5 billion mobile phone users are around worldwide, and growing every day.
Manufacturers Start to Go Mobile
Don: So if you think about that, that's a snapshot of the evolution outside of the manufacturing space, but let's take a look at how this has actually affected manufacturing. Here are just a couple of broad trends. First off, remote monitoring. Operators, managers, can check on a factory floor process while being miles away. For example, you have an offsite engineer, and he needs to confirm the temperature inside a warehouse on a portable device, without having to supervise it on the site at all. And mobile HMIs. They're an increasing trend among industrial organizations. Instead of buttons and switches operators can tap or touch smartphone or a tablet to access controls or gain instant access to HMI data. Then after strong initial consumer sales of tablets began to drop off, the tablets found a real strong niche in the professional market. Really they're an amazing productivity tool for medical professionals, insurance experts, lifeguards, surveyors.
Don: It's amazing. People used to think in the public sector space that if they gave people laptops and let them work outside the office, they wouldn't work as much. And the statistics show just the opposite. You give someone a laptop and all of a sudden they're working more at different times. So it goes into every area from surveyors, construction managers, and many other fields. Industrial users, of course, seem to have a little bit of a liking for rugged tablets. And this proliferation of billions of mobile devices has fueled a vision from leaders in the industrial space for the power of the industrial Internet of things and what it could mean by embracing mobile technology. So that's kind of the big-picture trends. But to really see how mobile technology's impacting manufacturers, let's zoom in on some specific industrial mobile use cases with our panelists today.
Mobile Use Case: Prima Frutta Packing Co.
Don: The first case study we'll look at is Prima Frutta Packing. Prima Frutta is based here in California in Linden. They have the largest cherry production line in the world. Prima Frutta achieved that status in 2016 when they installed new equipment and overhauled the cherry lines. This product was done by Industrial Automation Group, and Julio's here from that group. IAG serves food and beverage industry. They're based in Modesto, California, but they have additional locations in California and in Nevada. What was the challenge here? Well what did they need? Prima Frutta needed a new control system. They'd been using Allen-Bradley PLC and HMIs, which were costly.
Don: A larger HMI. IAG recommended using Ignition, which they already had in-house. To be able to fully utilize all their production lines and to increase their efficiency and productivity without increasing their labor costs. What they ended up was with mobile solution, the production line is now controlled using tablets, they run Ignition and provide full SCADA control. They use Moxa wireless access points to communicate with the tablets. And the tablets have stationary holders but can also be carried around the plant. So that's a snapshot of the need and the solution, but Julio, you were involved in the deployment and implementation. I know you guys chose out-of-the-box consumer-grade tablets instead of rugged tablets. Can you talk about how those work with Ignition. Can you talk about some of the challenges you faced in helping Prima Frutta meet their needs.
Julio: Sure thing. So yes, Prima Frutta was a great project. It was developed and managed by Automation Group. It was a phased approach. Prima Frutta was very into the latest technology. They are one of the most advanced cherry and apple processing facilities I've ever seen. And this project was a combination of installing a new line and retrofitting the existing ones. And we definitely opened their eyes and helped them see the possibilities that Ignition could offer them. Not only do they have the ability to use Ignition as an HMI, a standard HMI standalone, but also utilize the leverage Ignition to not only show it on HMIs and screens that are on the plant floor, but also in smart TVs throughout the facility, anything from 27 inches to 32 to 60 inches. And these TVS are throughout the facility and as well as leveraging the mobile capabilities, we're using Dell off-the-shelf tablet PCs with stationary holders.
Julio: But they could also be removed and carried around the plant. Now it gives them the ability to not only have visibility, but also respond to any alarms or emergencies that they might have. They might need to reference or jog devices, or just gather reporting information with these mobile devices. The tablets do have full SCADA control locally, and they are leveraged by multiple IDFs equipped with wireless access points to maintain connectivity throughout the facility. So the operators could literally take the tablet with them and carry them around, walk the line, make sure everything's running correctly, and then even do testing and troubleshooting on site next to the machinery as well.
Don: That's great Julio. Just on this slide here, I just thought ... You mentioned it in passing, but maybe a couple other comments. So obviously they can have as many as 120 users between monitors and other users on screens around the facility at any given point in time. How has that impacted them in terms of their productive as a feedback loop to the folks really working the line?
Julio: Well, we had really positive feedback from the customer. They really took the unlimited clients ...
Don: They took it to the limit, even though there's no limit.
Julio: Oh yeah. There's no limit right, but they literally took full advantage of it, and they're still doing it to this point. So again, they're not only using the data in the desktops, but clients are spread out throughout the facility. They're using it at their desktops and industrial PCs mounted to control panels. Again, the Dell tablet devices, and the smart TVs throughout the facility. And it's all about giving the information that they need in order for them to become more effective and to address any issues that come up to maximize efficiency. So again, it's having the information available so you could make better decisions and address any issues, and also even do a changeover, or actually see your efficiency of how you're running gives you a clear insight on the processing world.
Don: That's great. This last bullet point ... I know we're focusing on mobile today, but maybe you just make a comment on it, because I think it's something that IGA are using and it's very effective. You mimicked Prima Frutta's Ignition's service system by building a digital twin in your office so the application could be developed and in a working environment, and then made the implementation very quick. Do you have any quick comment on that and how that worked?
Julio: So yes. So part of our ... We are a CSA Certified integration firm, and we follow unit testing and Factory Acceptance Testing and simulation. So we were able to basically simulate not only the PLC functionality, but also the Ignition functionality within our facility to make sure that everything was running properly. And we invited the customer over to our facility to be able to not only see the control panels, but also take this system through our test drive. That way we meet all their expectations and their system requirements, and we were able to make a successful deployment when we're on site.
Don: That's great. Thanks. Let's glance a little bit at a couple of the results. Because it saved time and money by having those Ignition on the tablets and on the larger monitors. Providing the line data to employees led to a productivity increase of 50%. Very smooth update process. There were no issues after the update, unlike other software packages they'd had trouble with in the past. And the project was completed on time and under budget. Any final comments you want to make to tell us more about the results and how Prima Frutta and IAG expanded their use of Ignition.
Julio: Well yes. There's being in the controls industry as an integrator, you deal with a lot of customers on both sides of the spectrum. Those like Prima Frutta that embrace new technology and are eager to push the technology to the limits. You also encounter some customers that are very cautious about adopting new technology in their process. They go with the, if it ain't broke don't try to fix it. And they do increase their productivity and their production but at a slower rate and capacity. But I am seeing the shift happen now with the ... Thanks to consumer electronics and how technology plays a part in our daily lives, I'm seeing more and more companies leverage the consumer technology in the industrial arena, and that's very exciting to see how there's all these innovation and these customers that willing to take the step to enter into the 21st century and take advantage of these, not only Ignition and its great capabilities, but also in the hardware and the mobility side of things and lose fear. Thanks to IT and other safe ...
Don: Sure. Yeah, it really is making a difference to see, when one talks, at least in the theory of OT and IT convergence, it opens up a lot of possibilities for organizations if they're really looking at their topology from the edge all the way to the enterprise level, and it does ... You're right, the hardware and the software clearly were very interested in Inductive Automation in playing a role with our platform to try and empower that kind of transformation for companies, and Prima Fruit is clearly moving rapidly with your recommendations in that direction.
Mobile Use Case: California Family Foods
Don: Let's go to another case study, which also includes you Julio, some work that IAG did. This one was California Family Foods, or CFF. They're a leading rice mill and storage facility in Arbuckle, California. For those who don't know, that's just north of Sacramento, about an hour less.
Don: CFF dries and stores more than 200 million pounds of paddy rice each season. In fact, they handle about 10% of California's rice crop every year. What did they need? Well CFF had some needs for supervisors to be able to see what was happening on the plant floor without having to be in the control room. They needed a comprehensive software package that could run processes across several departments while collecting and analyzing data and a smoother receiving process and easier way to manage their reports. Mobile solution is, they gave tablets with control capabilities to the operators.
Don: The tablets allow them to always see what's happening on the plant floor. Tablets let operators show others what they see, whether it's in another part of the plant or during a meeting or in a conference room somewhere. So with that Julio, when did ... You know when we did this CFF case study, they were planning to leverage tablets even more into the future. Can you tell us a little bit about how the project went putting in the tablets, and has there been some expansion of tablet use since the initial deployment?
Julio: Yes certainly. So California Family Foods was one of those customers that wanted to jump into the arena of new technology and leveraging again, the capabilities and the functionalities that Ignition had. When we introduced Ignition to them, they were very excited about the functionality and capabilities. Right now they are ... Being a rice mill you have different floors. So most facilities expand horizontally. These facilities actually expand vertically because of the different silos and everything. They were able to use to use the tablets to basically strap them on their shoulder and go up ladders or elevators and have access to that information and to the machines and equipment, no matter where they're at in the facility.
Julio: So by using mobile devices, they actually maintain visibility and control through their facility and their process, regardless of what floor they're in or what kind of machine or line they want to look at or control. They're also ... One of the things they're leveraging, both in the traditional client and the mobile client is the ability to do reporting which they've seen improvements on their process and their quality with the information gathered using the reporting model in Ignition. Utilizing all these different modules that Ignition provides in order to make their process a lot simpler and more efficient, and providing them with the information that they need at a finger ... Touch of a finger.
Don: That's great. That's great. Thanks. Here's a couple of the points that you made when we did the case study. I know that they're obviously getting some other parts of the solution. You mentioned reporting right there, machinery control and data acquisition, tank-level control, flow, throughout the mill, which means the vertical point you talked about of strapping a tablet to their back and going up a ladder or something. Receiving department uses barcode scanning system, helps trucks get routed to the proper receiving pit. So let's just glance a little bit at some of the results. Increased mobility and flexibility, better data access, greater capabilities for data analytics, fewer manual processes, less human error, centralized and simplified reporting, as you mentioned. No more Excel spreadsheets or Word documents. Food safety improvements. God knows how many Excel spreadsheet and Word documents exist out in industry right now, that's for sure.
Don: So all in all Ignition's helped CFF. Be a little more prepared to handle massive volume and have a smooth workflow throughout the facility. So as you look at these results you guys were very engaged in that and continue to be engaged with CFF. Any final comments on this from your viewpoint?
Julio: Well yeah. Ignition is a big part of creating that facility. And it played a key role. And again, they're able to not only use the mobile devices and the information in the plant floor, like you mentioned Don, they actually take these tablets and hook them up to the projectors during meetings and actually bring other people involved in different departments, and give them a real-world view of the process and it just basically provides that synergy with other departments, and they're able to share more information and the process a lot more efficiently using mobile capability. And they're also planning to ... They're already communicating but they're also using Ignition right now, integrating it with their ERP system.
Julio: So again, it's just a ... It's like a seed. You plant a seed and it just organically grows throughout the facility and more departments want to get involved and leverage the platform.
Don: Yeah, I have to say that we certainly had no concept, our CEO once said that he had no idea what would happen serendipitously with integrators like yourself and end users like CFF when we gave them unlimited licensing and unlimited tags, and unlimited projects and clients. You just start doing it all over the facility. I think it's good to see those kinds of solutions expand within the challenges of these industrial organizations. So thank you Julio for those comments.
Mobile Use Case: PROS Inc.
Don: I'm going to shift over to David and another case study in another area. Well talk to David about Tyrion Integration's project at PROS Inc. A little bit about PROS: They specialize in oil well production, testing and manufacturing. They manufacture all their own equipment, provide additional services. They have three offices in California, one in Utah.
Don: And about Tyrion Integration. They're based in Central California, San Joaquin Valley region. They develop and promote SCADA as a service for their clients with their own patent pending technology to increase data exposure. They provide data output to customers wherever they are, so they have 24-hour data access for timely decisions. PROS Inc, they have a process for well testing to bring a ... What they do is they bring a test vessel to the client's well, and they run the production through it while monitoring and measuring the flow of oil, water, and gas.
Don: Each test vessel must be monitored for proper functionality and collection of data. What PROS needed was an accurate, efficient way to collect and store that data. Solve this. To meet this challenge, Tyrion provided a cloud-hosted web application for real-time remote monitoring and control of each unit. Accomplished with the use of provided Tyrion's Nucleus IIoT gateway, and a combination of Ignition gateways. So David, I know you can explain that a whole lot better than I did. You were involved in creating it. So would you tell us the major challenges there were in creating this solution and about how the pieces in this architecture all work together.
David: Yeah, certainly Don. No, that was a great description. Just to reiterate, what PROS does is it, they'll go to an oil production well and they'll have all their test equipment on a trailer. They'll drive it out there, park it, and run test and reports, monitor flow rates and pressures, and give their client, the owner of that well, some feedback on how well that unit's performing and maybe even suggestions on how to improve the performance, get a little better production out of it. So these wells are typically located in quite remote locations where there is no existing communication infrastructure. And so prior to Tyrion Integration coming on board, the way they ran their business, they didn't have any choice but to drive their trailer out there and park an operator next to it to sit there and write down values manually, 24/7 while it ran. And they did their tests and when they were done, they'd use their handy dandy Excel file, drive it back to the office and clean that report up and send it off to their client, a day or two later.
David: They really needed a way to optimize that process. There's three main consumers of the data that PROS is generating. One is the operator that's there on site that needs to monitor things as they're happening, make adjustments, write down values. And then the second would be a PROS manager, someone who's coordinating multiple units at multiple different clients' locations and making sure that those operators have everything they need, things are going smoothly, they know where units are deployed and what their status is. And thirdly was PROS clients, the end user, the owner of the well. And they ultimately wanted the results of all of this test, some summary data, some trends, and unfortunately, they usually had to wait a couple days before they got it.
David: So the solution to improving this process that Tyrion reduced was putting all this data in the cloud and leveraging cellular technology to do that. So each of these units were outfitted with solar panels and batteries, so they had their own power system. And then they were equipped with a Nucleus, which we mentioned earlier that would monitor all the I/O and would serve a local interface for the operator on site and then also serve up all of that information to an Ignition gateway that we had running in the cloud. So we're able to deploy a gateway on the Nucleus, which then synced up with the Nucleus, sorry, with the gateway we had running in our cloud. And we had ... Let's see here. We had two things that we got from that. Excuse me. There was the availability for the operator locally, but also the availability for those managers that were back at the office to log in and see that data at any time.
David: And also for their clients to log in to that gateway in the cloud and see their data as it was coming in, rather than waiting a day or two. So some of the challenges that we faced with this, one of them was developing an interface that would meet the needs of two totally different types of consumers. One is an operator that's in the field, decked out in safety equipment in the bright sun, trying to go back and forth between turning valves and looking at some sort of a screen. And then the other consumers were those managers and the engineers that own the well that would be sitting in an office with better lighting conditions and bigger screen and want to see more data at the same time. So Ignition really allowed us the flexibility to create almost a parallel application for both the users.
David: We were able to serve up traditional desktop clients to those that wanted it, but we were also able to develop a more responsive web application that was served up for people on their phone, or on a tablet, be able to connect with that and see that on a smaller screen with different kind of contrast, easier to see. And then a second challenge that we faced was getting all that data over a cellular connection back to that central cloud server. It's just a lot of data to move. So we had to experiment with several different methods to overcome that, and Ignition really provided the means to, and the flexibility to implement several different techniques and experiment with those things.
David: So the flexibility was fantastic. Then we ended up settling on a combination of utilizing MQTT and several synchronized SQL databases to keep all that in sync. So overall we were able to expose that data to all these different consumers in real time, from anywhere and really cut down the delays of that data, increase the availability of that data and overall, streamline that whole process.
Don: That's great David. Thank you for digging into that. I think you've covered a lot of these points on the results as you went along, but greater process visibility. Managers in the office can look at the same real-time data as operators in the field. Well test data is available immediately, as you point out. Clients can see tests as they happen, instead of waiting days. Increasingly challengingly oil business, for sure. Just if you have any final comments on how your customer received that. How was the solution received by PROS? And is in increased their competitive advantage or success?
David: Oh yeah. Absolutely. As I mentioned, before their systems required a person sit at a unit 24/7 as long as it was there. And now they're actually ... They've got so much visibility and availability they can park that unit and leave it unmanned, and monitor it remotely and just go to it when there's an issue and still collect all their data, see everything. So that really cut down on the manpower required to run this. They could get more things going at once. They've got consistent measurements coming in. So overall, it's fantastic for their operations. And also, it gave them something that no one else in their field could offer, and that was instantaneous feedback on these tests. Everybody else had to wait a day a two to summarize all that and send it off. So definitely an advantage for them.
Don: That's great. That's great. Thank you very much for digging into that and giving a good picture of that example. I don't think it would be enough to go into a discussion of mobile without at least some concept of mobile security issues. So I have with me here Kevin McClusky, who is our co-director of sales engineering, so I think since you deal with this stuff every day, I'm going to just let you grab this slide and just share a little bit with folks about mobile security and that whole topic, Kevin.
Kevin: Sure thing. So if you take a look at the landscape of mobile devices, because they're such a big possibility, big security vector of attack, if you will, if people are trying to get into a system or a company, mobile devices are something that they're often going to target. There are a lot of different techniques that have ... When mobile devices started out, there weren't a lot of options. At this point there are a lot of options that are out there that do a really good job with securing different devices. Some of them are enumerated right here. So multi-factor authentication, actually doing two-factor auth through the system, tying to identity providers. Setting up appropriate firewalls, mobile device management that is centralized. So IT departments set up mobile device management software that can remotely install anti-virus, can remotely configure VPNs and tie right into any of their SIEM systems.
Kevin: And so these systems are systems that track events. They're systems ... It stands for Security Information and Event Management, and it track everything that's happening essentially, in the devices that are tied to these systems. And then those systems have patch management technology as well. So any time you're using mobile, if you set up these types of systems, that's going to give you the best shot at doing a good job at securing mobile devices.
What’s on the Horizon for Mobile?
Don: Thanks, Kevin. Also just to let our attendees know, Kevin's with us through the Q&A so he will be able to help answer questions, along with David and Julio. So just a quick look at what's on the horizon, because things are constantly changing. Let's take a quick look at some of the things going forward with mobile. We talked about 0G, 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. And 5G, as you all know, is on the way. Supposedly 340 million 5G connections are expected as soon as 2021, according to CCS Insight. Speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, up to a thousand times faster than 4G. According to InformationAge.com, 5G will, "Provide enterprises with greater mobile and remote working capabilities, enabling staff members to work faster, more efficiently, and more productivity across various locations." Information Age also comments that 5G, "Will enable organizations to fully take advantage of IoT solutions," ... Excuse me. ... "70% of which will run on cellular technology by 2022."
Don: Another rising trend, mobile edge computing, also known as multi-access edge computing, or MEC. Whereas most mobile applications currently do their computing in storage on remote servers, mobile edge computing enables cloud computing at the edge of the mobile network. Main benefit, it's certainly going to reduce congestion on mobile networks. According to InformationAge.com, “this combination of 5G, IoT and mobile edge computing will undoubtedly drive further innovation in this space.” There's a number of other emerging trends just in passing, from facial recognition, augmented reality, virtual reality features on mobile devices, of course, more durable smartphones, longer battery life, wireless charging. The number of connected devices is set to reach 100 billion by 2025.
Don: So it looks like we've only seen the beginning of this technology. So, panelists, this is the final question. Any thoughts about the future capabilities like 5G, mobile edge computing, virtual reality, so forth, and how they might be used in industry, or how you might imagine using those features in your own job. Let's start with you Julio, and then I'll finish up with you, David.
Julio: Yes, it's a very exciting time. Right now, again, since consumer technology is infiltrating industry, it opens up a lot of opportunities. One of the low-hanging fruit is ERP connectivity. So just like we could have ERP connectivity to our regular clients that then translates into having real-time access to historical data, sharing production KPIs in meetings, utilizing process information in the more executive and management meetings. The one that really excites me however, it's field ops. So field ops is very, very common, not only in food and beverage but in also other like oil and gas, and having the ability to leverage the instrumentation that is built into the device, such as the barcode reader, the camera, near-field communication sensors, and the GPS, it actually adds a different layer to the information.
Julio: By taking pictures of grapes or cherries, or out in the fields in the crops or making sure that the loading tickets, the barcode scanners ... The trucks are going to their right places and avoid user error. And then again, having near-field communication or RFID in order to validate, or to verify ingredients being loaded to a vessel, that the operator just grab their mobile device and just do a barcode scanner on the ingredient in the vessel, and then verify the move and add it to as a log in the system. So again, it's very exciting times where we're now leveraging, not only photo eyes and drives and all these stationary devices, but now having the ability to use the technology available to us in mobile devices can definitely modify the landscape and give both operators and users and companies a lot more power and flexibility.
Don: Thanks Julio. Final comment from you, David?
David: Yeah. I just want to, I guess, reiterate all these upcoming things are extremely powerful. In reflection, just the idea of wireless technology, it's pretty much the only way we can use the word anywhere. When if you say, access your data anywhere, it's going to have to be wireless. And thinking too about all of the emerging cloud analytics and artificial intelligence, the machine learning. All these things, they offer great insights that can't otherwise be obtained about your process. And then thinking about augmented reality, virtual reality, I mean those things can combine data from your field and internet available data in ways that ... Context that we never had that before.
David: But I think the biggest challenge of both of these is they require moving a lot of data, a lot of data. And that data can be anywhere, and it's on the other side of a cellular network. So there's only one or two things has to be done. One, that cellular pipeline has to be bigger, and that's where 5G comes in. We need to move more data faster. That's going to really help. And number two is to lessen the amount of data that has to move from one edge of the network to the other, that's where that edge computing and IIoT comes in. That data can be filtered and massaged at the source to lessen the amount of communication has to go on. So yeah, all those things combine are all moving in a place where way more amazing things going to be possible, and I can't wait to see what happens.
Ignition Perspective Module
Don: That's great, David. Thanks for your comments too. You know, as you two were both finishing up with your final comment I was looking at some of the questions, so I cannot neglect the fact that there are a number of questions for us at Induction Automation about this little product called Ignition 8. So, since we're looking ahead at mobile developments, I'm going to finish up with just a peek at one of the exciting new features of 8, which happens to be the Perspective Module. But to one of the questions that's right there in the middle of our question queue there is, we will be opening the beta, the public beta on Monday. We will be at a conference, ARC Conference, Monday at a press conference on Monday and releasing that. You will have Ignition in April.
Don: I think it just went north of a thousand companies involved in the beta, industrial organizations across all industries. We're so pleased with all the participation. The beta will be public, as I said, on Monday, and you'll be having the product to work with at the beginning of the next quarter, in April. So that's just to answer that question and get it out of the way. A couple things about Ignition Perspective, because one of the biggest features of Ignition 8 is the Ignition Perspective module. It's the next generation visualization systems for industrial applications and it is the first truly mobile-first SCADA solution. You can use it to create really cool, beautiful mobile responsive applications. They run natively on any mobile device and web browser. Couple of bullet points here. Two versions at the launch, mobile and browser to use on their own or together.
Don: Totally mobile-responsive. Automatically fits any size of screen, harnesses the power of your mobile device. Touch inputs like in GPS and cameras and sensors so you can create all new types of smart industrial applications. It's going to give you real control of your processes with a swipe. Runs in any web browser with HTML 5. Clients run on any major OS, and run natively on iOS and Android with the Ignition Perspective app. Works together with other Ignition modules, which includes, of course, the Vision Module. As we discussed earlier, Kevin made some points, security is very important. Ignition 8 will include simple and safe identity management. Use single sign-on with existing corporate credentials to access all your accounts and applications in one place.
Don: Centralized identity management through trusted federated identity technologies. Integrated with corporate identity infrastructures that use two-factor authentication. So we've really taken security seriously with this product. And by the way, you can download the demo now from Apple Store or Google Play. Try it, just download it, play with it. Open beta begins, as I said on Monday, and the release will be there in April. So that's a snapshot of that, to answer those people's questions.
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