Artwork for podcast The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
Aravind Kumar with Belden
15th August 2023 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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Industrial Talk is onsite at the OMG Quarterly Standards Meeting and chatting with Aravind Kumar, Digital Automation Consultant with Belden about "Digital Automation - Digital Insights for Improved Tactical and Strategic Decisions". The following are some key digital automation takeaways for our conversation:
  • Focus on shop floor connectivity as a foundational layer. This means connecting to all of your machines, regardless of their age or make, and bringing the data together in a central location. This will give you a foundation for future digital transformation initiatives.
  • Start with simple use cases. Don't try to do too much at once. Start by automating simple tasks, such as sending alerts when a machine goes down. This will help you to see the value of shop floor connectivity and build momentum for further investment.
  • Get buy-in from all stakeholders. Shop floor connectivity is a team effort. Make sure that you have the support of your operators, maintenance team, and management team before you start.
  • Use the right tools. There are a number of different tools available for shopfloor connectivity. Choose a tool that is easy to use and that can scale to your needs.
  • Be patient. It takes time to implement shop floor connectivity. Don't expect to see results overnight. Be patient and persistent, and you will eventually reap the benefits.

Here are some additional thoughts from the conversation:

  • The human factor is important. Shop floor connectivity is not just about technology. It's also about people. Make sure that you involve your operators and maintenance team in the planning and implementation process. This will help to ensure that the solution is successful.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for shop floor connectivity. Experiment with different approaches and find what works best for your business.
  • The future of manufacturing is digital. Shop floor connectivity is essential for any manufacturer that wants to stay ahead of the competition. By investing in shop floor connectivity, you can improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2023. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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data, digital transformation, machines, operator, connectivity, call, technology, industrial, omg, layer, linkedin, years, foundational layer, great, belden, solutions, Aravind, vendor, industry, pull


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get


right another episode of industrial talk a platform that is dedicated to industrial professionals all around the world. Because you're bold, brave, and you dare greatly, you're making my life better, and you're making the world a better place. That's why we celebrate you on this, this podcast because you're great. You're wonderful. And we are broadcasting on site. We are at q1 OMG meeting. And it is in Reston, Virginia. And, and I'm just geeking out on all of the great people that I get to talk to. And I'm just going to encourage you as a loyal listener to look Get engaged, see what they have, because you need to be a part of this rapidly changing world that we are living in from a technology perspective. All right. Ottomans in the hot seat. Belden is the company let's get cracking. Boy, it's noisy down there. Are we missing out on something like drinks, free drinks or something like that? Because I'm missing out? How are you doing? Doing? Well? Are you doing? Well? Yeah. How long? Have you been a part of this organization?


Actually, only a couple of weeks,


Shut the front door. And you're, you're on the number one industry related podcast in the universe and you've been on it for? That's an amazing, look at you taking advantage of everything. Why did you get involved?


So I believe firmly in this digital transformation. So I have about 10 plus years of experience leading digital transformation. I have led digital transformations in finance in content management and product lifecycle management, and then in operations and manufacturing shop floor. Right. And the value that I see that technology can truly drive that value is incredible. Right? It the I thoroughly enjoy going in giving people something that makes their day to day life better, right? Everybody thinks of digital transformation as that big shiny new thing AR VR. Yeah. But but these are day to day small things, right? When you have data that's pulled in that you can see on the floor, the shopfloor guy, the operator is not fighting with the maintenance guy, right? He's not they're not fighting over who was called when was it reported? Nothing, it's all out for you to see. These are small, small things that improve people's life. Do you find


that? It's there's a cultural component? It's it's exciting. I've been around it. Yeah. But it's it gets down to the people, right? And it gets down to that that individual or that organization that says yes, this is where we're going. And then be able to have the that grit to just sort of work through the challenges and but and recognize the, the opportunity, right?


l the operators are guys with:


See I again I always get excited about the future I wish I was younger because I think that there's there's a lot of change. And I love change taking place within industry. And a lot you know what the challenge for me is and I would imagine for you well no, you're smarter. So it's for me for for this simple guy is there are a lot of topics out there a lot of digital trends, like the digital transformation, the the actual topic is just it just contains everything. And I don't know where to go. I don't I don't even know where to start. Help us sort of go with that.


That's a great question, right? Because I, in my previous role, I was a, I was part of 110 plus year old manufacturing company, right. And they had 20 Plus plants globally, every plant manager was being bombarded by 10s of vendors offering something or the other. And then like, what do we do? So I actually, I got a Kools role, I was a manager for digital transformation. So I got a cool role to take a step back. And they said, Here is a budget, take a year, figure this out, and come back and develop a strategy for us to move forward, right to find the smart factory strategy. So when I took that step back away from all the noise, I actually started to play with all these different technologies, use them, try them, see what worked, what didn't. But eventually, it all boiled down to one simple thing, right? In my mind, the first step is connectivity. Right, right to connect to the machines bring that data in. And then the question becomes right in, it's not just that there is a whole plethora of options. The problem is every six months, something new comes up. Yeah. If you take manufacturing, they're used to making decisions with a tenure, running period. So the technology doesn't last that long. So how do you reconcile? Right? So so that I was wrestling with it? And the way I came up with the solution for for that company? What I did, what we did was we said, okay, here is what we'll do, we have machines that are 40 years old, two machines that are bought last year, yeah. So what we will do is, we will design the machine connectivity ourselves, we will bring that data through, it will put it together will bring that data into a uniform layer, like a data aggregation layer, you may have heard the term unified namespace. And then I can send the data out to wherever right today I have XYZ is the greatest and newest in my area, I send the data there. And what that does is it builds a foundational layer that lasts you much longer, that is closer to your factory, and it doesn't affect so today, for example, you have a vendor who comes and says, Hey, I have this I had this experience. Personally, a vendor would tell me, Hey, we have this shiny new tool built for your particular industry. You know, in five days, I can give you 10% improvement in uptime or something like Right, right, right. Right. And, and I'm like, I don't know enough to judge is that worse? Is that? Right? So I tell them, Okay, come take my come and give me that 10% improvement in five days. And the guy says, give me your data. And I'm like, No, I need help getting data out. Right. And nobody said, we can advise you, but we can't help you do it. So I had to figure that out. And by the time I did it, we put together like a reference architecture for the company, a proper technical architecture, we rolled out to a plant that had like 300 machines to another plant that just wanted eight machines. So it was a flexible, scalable, modular ot data aggregation layer. Right? When I finished those two plants, I got a call from Belden saying, Hey, we are starting this new group that is focused on solutions. And on shopfloor connectivity focus. So Belden started a new division about two years ago, that that's focused on pre ingestion solutions, as they call it. So before it goes to the cloud, whatever you do within the four walls of your factory, those are the solutions that Beldon is trying to provide. And Belden has, like 120 years of history, providing connectivity products. So we have an order from Edison, where he ordered our wires and cables for his light bulb and all that. So, yeah, so so we have history. So we have all the products Beldon has all the products. And now my group puts all those products together and provides a solution to the customers.


So for that, that example, when we you're just trying to get data. That's it. That's it, I want to collect data, I want to do it as efficiently as I possibly can. I want to be able to see my floor, whatever I'm, I'm a manufacturer, I want that motor, there's whatever I identify the assets I want to begin to pull data from. So are we are we talking about IoT devices? What are we talking about to get that what are the strategies? What what do you embrace for a strategy to get that data?


So it depends. So we'll start off with what primary focus first for us is when we go in, we don't want to turn your world upside down.


Yeah, good real quick.


Yeah, so so we have protocol converters, we have physical boxes, we have software protocol converters that we can use to connect to most of the PLCs in the market. Right right pills. So We'll pull from PLC as much as we can, we'll add standalone sensors. And we'll take data from your different sources that are sitting here, you have so many data silos you're Yeah, so we'll pull from that. And we'll bring it together. So with minimal impact to your day to day operations, we want to try and pull as much data as we can, right. And when that comes in, it's very simple, right? Just for the operator to see how he or she is doing, compared to the target for the hour, instead of having to write on a piece of paper for somebody to pick up. Right, so what generally happens, somebody writes on a paper every hour, how many they made, and then they write, when did the machine go down and did it right, and then a supervisor walks by picks it up, enters it into Excel, morning somebody comes in. So it's like such a common process. Exactly. Right. So if we automate just that one step, even if it reduces 10 minutes of headache every hour, it makes a big difference. And it's not very complex, it's just showing the data on a screen. So it


really is, it's just the focus of being able to collect all the data that you possibly can collect in an in your environment, in your whatever your business, and then that decision can be and be able to make it normalize it or whatever it might be, and get it in a way that positions it for the ability to be able to start running some analytics, whatever, but you got to get it all starts with getting the data and getting the data accurately and efficiently and all of that good stuff. Right,


right. So getting the right data at the right time to the right person. All three matter. Yeah. So if I can get that data out, and let's say all you're doing now is just based on the data now, instead of having to call the maintenance guy, the screen, he gets an alert instantly saying this machine is down, go take a look. He also can see what fault tags were triggered in the PLC right away. So he doesn't have to go and he spends less time he's more efficient. He comes in and does it, you do this for the first three to six months, you will start to see significant value being added. Then you take that same data now you have six months of data, right? You take that data, you have all the reasons the machine failed, then you layer in your predictive maintenance. Oh, yeah. Right. So So shopfloor connectivity is a foundational layer. Not only is it giving you setting you up for the future, you can get immediate value,


you bring up a good point. And I think if fundamentally, when we start talking about digital transformation, we talk about it quite, quite often. And and people don't I think this is sort of a, a great starting point, just saying, hey, just collect the data. I mean, a manufacturer or business owner, I could I could put my arms around that. Okay. Are you asking a lot for me, please say no, you can get the data, get it in such a way, then it gives me the ability to be able to make other strategic decisions on what's that next step? Yes. And then creating that business that is resilient, in a sense, and be able to to adjust. I like it. I don't have any arguments here.


Yeah. And then a lot of other things that come around with it, right? There's a lot of friction between different groups, just because you don't have steady data, reliable data,


you're spot on on that one. It always gets down to the human component.


ce guy says I got the call at:


God, I mean, if you had a magic wand, and you would say, yeah, and let's let's deal with all of the the human side, because the technology is a technology. I don't think you have you ever had a situation where you saying I can't get that data?


Because no, you could get it right. Yeah. Yeah. See?


No reason Exactly. Technology exist. It's just Are we able to use it in the right way?


Are we in a way that is appetizing to everybody on the floor, and put it together? And you hit on the key point, right? All we are able to do is provide the tools. See, but that's that's a big deal. Yes. And if you're providing if you're providing the data, and it's somewhat well, it's transparent, but it's painless. Yes. And you're not. You're not asking, you know too much for me, you're not saying oh my gosh, God, I need for you to hop on one foot. And yeah, it makes no, you're just saying get the data, get the data, clean it, do whatever you need to do. And then and then you begin to develop that history, then you could be starting looking at how to really be able to sort of leverage that right. Yeah. And


what that does is if you build that layer, well, next time a vendor comes to you and says, Hey, I have this shiny new toy that I've built Just for you, in I will in five days, I will give you a 10 person implemented like, oh, yeah, is that so? Give me your IP, I will send you my data come back in five days with the improvement otherwise don't talk to me. Right? Look at you, man. It what that does is it starts to pull that balance of power on to the customer. Because you know your business process best. Yeah, you don't know the technology. But if you've solved a proper connectivity layer, then you you start to do things that you're good at. Yeah, I


have to ask the question. And the question is, so it makes sense. I understand it. What What, why is your any pushback, you have a conversation? What is it?


Different reasons, some investment, right? So at least many times, they're like, oh, volumes are really high. We need help you go there, like volumes are too high. We don't want to touch your machines, right? Sometimes volumes are low. We don't want to invest. Now there are different reasons. I think the biggest pushback is that still, the business folks are not able to reconcile with this complex environment of digital transformation. They're still trying to figure it out. Right? Because what I'm talking is not fancy is not showing. No it's not. It's basic stuff. But without this you can do nothing else. With this your setup even if nothing else works. Just this alone. So much value


I get it. Yeah, again, and you had we had hell Oh, man. I mean, I was just telling you that. I really I do get it. And I think it's a it's a it's brilliant. And I and I'm I'm all in. I just I just want people to just sort of, let's put it this way. You got to do it. Eventually. Competition is doing it. Yep. And don't Don't Don't be left out in the cold. I wanted to get a hold of you.


So I am on LinkedIn. Yeah. Aravindd Kumar, Ara vi N D, R k u m, ar, you can reach me on LinkedIn.


I liked it. You were great. And you're passionate about this stuff. I can tell if I like it. Now, right. Yeah, I love doing. I'm walking away with a spring in my step about digital transformation. And no one it's in good hands. You are great. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. All right, listeners, we're gonna have all the contact information for our friend our event, our button, Aravind. Okay, I got it. I got it. And it's gonna be out in industrial talk, I'm gonna have his LinkedIn, I'm also gonna put his email address. I hope that's okay. And so reach out to him. He a part of OMG You get to greet be great people like our friend here. So thank you very much. We're gonna be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


All right, right in front of me, our event, his stat card, LinkedIn, reach out to him. That is your call to action, also will have his email address out there on industrial talk. The reality is, is that you need to begin collecting data. You need to be able to analyze that data, you need to begin to automate as much as you possibly can create these businesses that are resilient. It's a must, but really, probably far more important than that. Find trusted individuals, trusted professionals that are truly committed to solving challenges, your challenges. And I think that to create this resilient business, for long term success, that digital strategy must be at the center of every one of your conversations. All right, there it is. Okay, we're going to have more conversations coming from OMG you need to get engaged Be bold, be brave, daring, greatly hanging out with our friend Aravind, and you'll change the world. We'll be back



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