4IR Solutions Introduction (Heads in the Cloud Podcast)
In this episode of “Heads in the Cloud”, James and Joe talk about 4IR, industry 4.0, and where the industry is going as well as how manufacturers can approach digital transformation.
Welcome to the heads in the cloud podcast, the first episode of the series. We're so excited to be here. This is GI from four 4IR Solutions and we also have James Burnand and Joe Dolivo, and we have some really cool news to break into. We want to break down a little bit about 4IR, what we're doing, and how we're making our mark within Industry 4.0. So, if you want to go ahead and introduce yourself, James, and then we can get to, Joe as well.
Hi everybody. I'm James Burnand, CEO of 4IR solutions. We've really been at this and this new part of our venture FactoryStack and PharmaStack for just over a year. Things have obviously been progressing pretty well. We're, we're excited about where we're heading with the products and what our roadmap looks like. A little history about me, I spent the last 20 years of my career working for Grantek systems integration in a variety of different roles from sitting on buckets upside down at three o'clock in the morning fixing production systems to starting the first US branch for Grantek back in 2005. Also, operations and sales, and a whole bunch of other different parts and pieces. Glad to be here.
Awesome. Hey folks, I'm Joe Dolivo, the CTO of 4IR Solutions and have been doing this for a few years. I think a lot of people in the ecosystem know me as kind of the SAP guy, but I've done a lot of enterprise integration over the last year and a half or so and moved more heavily into the cloud and DevOps space which I'm getting pretty excited about. I'm looking forward to chatting with you all about it. During the course of this series, I'll also be joined by my other co-host here, Gar the giraffe who's got his own mic and he can't introduce himself, but he's here as moral support. So nice to be chatting with you all.
That's the DJ right there. He's going to get the party going.
That's right. <laugh>
I love it. So essentially for, for this podcast what we're going to be talking about is technology based, but within Industry 4.0, IIoT, digitalization, digitization, and figure out how you can bring your business from where you're at currently, into the future and take advantage of going into the cloud, taking advantage of the new technologies that are available, and that way you can actually end up saving money. You can make your operation much more efficient, more productive, and you can save on some of those resources. That is the goal of this particular show, where we're trying to help you save money, of course, but also transition your business from where you're at into the future, so that you can compete with your competitors.
And I think digital transformation as a term is widely used because it doesn't just refer to manufacturing. It refers to everything inside of a business from process to customers to supply chain. The whole world of digital transformation. If you think about it, it is figuring out how to apply the value that can be gained from embracing digital technologies and processes, across the business, and across the enterprise; whatever that business might be. So, you know, I can guarantee that every major corporation and a lot of the smaller organizations now are all undergoing some sort of digital transformation, whether they've dedicated a department and leadership to it, or whether it's, just doing small things like, "Hey, I'm going to start using video chat and teams to enable more remote workforce". That is a part of a digital transformation initiative for a lot of folks. Of course, our interest centers around the manufacturing part of things because that's where our expertise is and that's where we have lived our careers. Certainly, when you talk about digital transformation as a whole, it's a much bigger, much wider sort of a term.
Nice. And that's actually the perfect transition into talking a bit about 4IR, how we got started, and what we're trying to do; what we're trying to change within the industry. James, you want to start with that?
Sure. So 4IR in its current iteration is really focused around Factorystack and Pharmastack, the two products that are out and under released today. It really started with Joe and I having some conversations over Teams about the art of what's possible. Looking at some of the innovations in the industry and in particular Ignition from Inductive Automation was the first major SCADA platform to be released with docker containers. That by itself doesn't sound like it's a really big deal, but what it enables is for us to use a completely different stack of technology to be able to execute the workloads that were fundamentally installed in servers and virtual machines. Before that from an idea to a proof of concept into a fully functional platform as a service product or managed service, that's the journey that 4IR started 18-24 months ago when we first had that conversation. I'll kick it over to Joe. Joe mentioned he was the SAP guy, and it was really focused around that part. So Joe, if you want to describe what 4IR's other line of businesses that we service.
Yeah, for sure. And we started out, you know, kind of trying to productize some expertise around connectivity to enterprise systems like SAP and other ERP systems. And so we partnered with another inductive strategic partner, Sepasoft to develop the Sepasoft business connector and the interface for SAP ERP modules. So we provided a lot of thought leadership around that, a lot of the design decisions, and basically a lot of the stuff outside of the actual core programming. We continue to support that module, do training for that module documentation, and all that kind of stuff. So I still spend a good part of my days working with that, demonstrating some capabilities in that space, and helping customers with that. And really, we say cloud and DevOps and our new stuff is kind of on this side, and the business connectors on that side, but really they're all aligned in terms of enterprise strategies.
So, you look at companies that are adopting MES capabilities that want to integrate with their ERP systems, they're undergoing digital transformations. You look at even companies right now who are upgrading SAP from older versions to HANA, they're looking to the cloud for deploying those workloads. So we're seeing a lot of different technologies that manufacturing and other companies are using right now that are starting to explore and use in some form in the cloud. Why not take other workloads that would also benefit from the same things you get from putting your enterprise systems up there, like scalability, like flexibility, like security, and be able to bring those pieces of value to the rest of your organization. So that's kind of how we're fitting in, and it seems like a natural evolution of 4IR as a company to start moving the industry into that realm as well.
I love it. And you guys are talking a lot about innovation and where the industry's going. What's your thoughts in terms of where the industry's currently at and where it's potentially going next?
So, where the industry is at is kind of a wide question because the industry is a really, really big place. If you look at, more specifically, the technology stack that we've adopted and where we see growth in the industry is adopting cloud, the benefits of cloud, and the strengths of cloud in the manufacturing space are things that there's lots of different use cases for. There's lots of different stakeholders trying to figure out exactly what the best play for it is and what we realized is that not all of them are thinking about it from a what's going to be best for the end user perspective. A lot of them are looking at it like "Hey, there's a business problem out there that I can solve with this piece of technology".
Maybe it's a smart sensor, or it's an ML model that can optimize a specific process or a specific thing that we do. Those solutions certainly will create business value for the end customer, but what they don't do is they don't necessarily enable the customer for a wide integration of data, and they don't create the scenario for them to be able to continue to build on and grow that platform. That's where, where our thoughts and the way we approached this problem came into line is; what we realized is that the skill sets necessary to build these kinds of systems maintain and grow these sorts of systems inside of the manufacturing space. Specifically for plant floor applications are not terribly common there; there's not a huge group of people out there sitting unemployed that understand how to operate plant floor workloads and optimize cloud-based manufacturing systems. So we realized that the opportunity for us to help drive the market in that direction and to be able to demonstrate and show intelligent choices of technology, vendors, and blending things together in a way that makes it easy for the end user and service providers to take advantage of. It was a space that no one else was occupying and that we thought we could bring value to.
I also think when it comes to innovation, I think innovation's relative, right? And it's going to be relative to different industries and you look at the stuff that we're doing. I think within the manufacturing space, things like cloud and DevOps and version control really are innovative, but what's nice about it is that we're not first to market If you look outside of manufacturing and you look at software companies, for example, who have been doing version control for decades. So there's a lot of proven best practices. There are established ways of doing things. There are established technologies like GIT, and we're basically bringing some of those capabilities into manufacturing. We're getting to build on the backs of other folks who have figured out the best way to do this. As you're seeing this convergence of these technologies, let's say it OT convergence, you're starting to see companies like Inductive Automation and others who are embracing some of these technologies as a part of their core essence.
And it makes the stuff that we're doing now possible. This wasn't possible 5-10 years ago because the vendors hadn't caught up now that they're starting to move in that direction. It creates a lot of exciting opportunities for us, and we want to help bring the industry forward and help out folks who want to do this kind of stuff. And maybe they don't have the experience outside of manufacturing, so we can take care of those parts and let them focus on what they do best, which is op running and optimizing their plants, giving them the data and capabilities. They need to do that and not have to focus on the underlying plumbing so to speak, which is where we want to come in.
I love it. I love it. So that about wraps up this episode of "Heads in the Cloud" from four 4IR Solutions. If you want to check us out, make sure you go to 4IR.cloud. You can also see us on LinkedIn and don't be afraid to stop by and say hello. You can talk to Joe and James. We're very friendly. And that way we can get you the info on how to make sure that your future-proofing your business. So all things IIoT, Industry 4.0, and technology; this is the place to be for that. Any other things you guys want to add before we sign off?
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening.
Alright, guys, thank you. Appreciate it. See ya.
Audio Podcast: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/gzLK3xcPMsb