4IR CEO James Burnand Interviews Rene Gamero from Opto 22

In this episode of Heads in the Cloud, 4IR CEO James Burnand interviews Rene Gamero from Opto 22 about 4IR Solutions being an OptoPartner and more on the digital transformation industry.

GI Griffin (00:06):

Heads in the cloud, your source for future proofing your business. Welcome to another episode of heads in the cloud, where we are talking all things, digital transformation, industry 4.0, IIoT, and we have a very special guest Rene Gamero from Opto 22. We're so excited to have you and cannot wait to dive in with some good news about us being an OptoPartner. We're so excited about that. James, did you wanna get into it and go ahead and start the conversation. I'm going to listen back and hear what you guys have to say, but I'm juiced.

James Burnand (00:41):

Hey, yeah, thanks GI. Welcome Rene. I'm glad to have you on the podcast today. I think everyone will notice that that Joe isn't here this week, he's on vacation. So we're gonna do our best Joe impression while he's gone. <laugh> Oh, and to start off, I brought a giraffe with me, so we won't feel alone without Geralt the giraffe being here. But thank you Rene for coming and joining us today and I really do appreciate it and yeah, it's super exciting news. We've just recently announced mutually that 4IR has joined the OptoPartner program. We've been longtime fans of the products. We've used the Epics on a bunch of different projects over the years and we've standardized on the Groove. Epic PR 2 is our standard edge device for FactoryStack and PharmaStack deployments. So yeah, it's for us, you know, we're happy to be a part of the program and excited to be working more closely together with the Opto team.

Rene Gamero (01:38):

It's so great and thanks for having me and I'm going to do my best Joe impressions. So let me try like Kubernetes cloud injectors. Very, very smart.

GI Griffin (01:51):

Accurate. Haha

Rene Gamero (01:52):

That was pretty good. All jokes aside, I'm really excited to have you guys as an OptPartner and more even, even before that was officially launched. I've been waiting for you guys for 20 years. I'll be honest with you, one of the first conversations I had with Joe, it was about a couple of connections to ERP systems. But I remember sitting at a bus to go to the top of a copper mine, like 10, 12,000 feet. And the people there saying, you know, if you could just find a way for your product to speak to SAP, we all of this could be yours. And, and I've been looking for that for 20 years and turns out you guys have had it and it's there and you just flip a switch and have it all going.

And because of that, I spoke with you guys for the first time, but then the whole world opened up about what your capabilities are, and it's much more than that. So I'm just happy that you guys are here. I'm happy that you guys tolerate my very simple questions, but I think I'm not the... I'm very comfortable with asking stupid questions, but my goal is to only ask them one time. And I think in that anyone that's around me is is able to hear some of those hear some of those lessons. So I'm just excited about everything you guys do. I'm, I'm still learning about everything you're doing, just because all of your interfaces, other to cloud injections in the life sciences world, in the ERP world, it's what many of us have been waiting for. And we just don't know that yet. So to be a part of that conversation, I'm very grateful.

James Burnand (03:32):

Yeah. Hey, I appreciate, appreciate the great feedback. you know, we, we're really excited about, about all of the, this digitalization space and the maturity, and, and more importantly, the end users starting to realize the opportunity that, that exists out there and how the ma mature, how the tools have matured in the space. if I go back early in my career, I, I, I can remember quite a few high six and early seven figure jobs just to do simple ERP connectivity and, you know, rooms full of people, trying to deal with some of the complexities of things that honestly really weren't that complex. It was more you know, just challenges with, with interoperability, between systems and, and now that we've moved into this more modern world of, you know, APIs and, and tools that are, that are removing some of the complexity from, from these, you know, highly complicated systems it, it, it just shortens time to value.

It creates creates a new level of opportunities for folks that maybe it was out of reach for before. So yeah, we're super excited about everything that's going on in the industry and hoping to latch on to to some of the momentum around the growth of data and digitalization and looking at the opto products as an enabler for that in many different scenarios. My personal experience with, with the epic has probably been the strongest part of my experience with things and it's ability to do so many things well is, is unprecedented. I don't know of another another PLC out there and, you know, if anyone's listening to the podcast and can tell me, but I I'd love to hear it, but I haven't seen it that can do ignition edge and ignition and you know, node red and Coess, or local HMIS or web-based. I mean, it, it's amazing the pack control and packed view. It is just an incredible piece of piece of technology that I honestly think has been a bit of a secret. And I don't know why, I don't know if that's just, you know, the loyalty that a lot of companies have had to the big automation companies over the last 20-30 years, but the opportunities have certainly been flowing recently. So I'm, I'm excited.

Rene Gamero (05:50):

Yeah, no. And you listed basically all the features I love talking about, but yeah, I think because we're a private.

James Burnand (05:56):

Company probably missed a few too. <laugh>

Rene Gamero (05:58):

A few of them, but but you know, you hit on all the key ones. The point of the matter is it's a company of engineers and it's stayed private. So the original founders had companies sold them off sold some off and saw what that did to people. So it no longer was the company to produce widgets, to provide value to the industry. It became, you know, you gotta meet your quarterly numbers now, and that completely changed the face of it. So up to 22 has been that beacon of no, we're gonna keep it private. We're going to do what's right by people and doing by right. What's right by people. Isn't, what's going to shoot you in the billion dollar stratosphere in the short term, because we're talking about Opta is only 48 years old, but in that time it's really done well, and the reason I brought that up is because if we were subject to those stakeholders to those, make your numbers this quarter, there's no way we'd put all of those features into a controller.

They're like, what are you talking about? This is 10 different products you have here. You make a cess one, you make this. So when you look at it, and when we compete in those spaces, people come, people look at it and say, well, I'm this, your PLC is three times the price. And it's like, well, first, you know, it's not just the P that's like 10% of what it is. You have a firewall built in, you can plug in a monitor, keyboard and mouse in here, and now this is your operator, workstation, you, everything else that you mentioned, you have databases on board, you can ignition edge, you have your pro, you have all of these capabilities to it. And they still kind of nod their head like, yeah, okay, fine. They buy the other system, put it in a box and then they have to buy a separate firewall.

Now they have to buy a separate industrial PC. Now they have to buy all the components together. And then they're coming back to us sometimes years later. And those are usually our best customers, actually the best customers, some of the best customers we've had, we've lost those projects once or twice because I don't know if there's only so much that you can do with saying all of these things that are included, that I'm just such a pleasure to hear you appreciate from other places are like, mm, I don't know if we need all that. I think we need something a lot simpler. And so I, if more people came at it from the approach of like, I have all these tools to get my project and to make my customer happy. Yeah.

James Burnand (08:27):

So do you think be golden, do you think right now that, that some of the recent momentum and some of the change that's been going on in the interest industry is because of things like the cloud? Because I mean, from my perspective, we've built a business model around how we manufacture and automate inside of the cloud environment or hybrid cloud environment. Are you seeing that as well in in, in your business?

Rene Gamero (08:51):

I think it's just cloud absolutely just cloud, I think is number one. Number one right now, because it's ubiquitously known at all levels of tech at all technical levels. So I can speak to, I belong to a local rotary club to Las Vegas rotary club here. So most of them are retirement age and they, they understand that, okay. Putting that's how I explain what I do for a living. I sell hardware equipment that puts factories in the cloud. They can understand that at the same time, I have friends of mine who are in the cybersecurity space or cloud engineers that run circles around me, technically that we can have that same type of conversation as well. So people are understanding the cloud from a ton of different perspectives, even for people, my younger brother's age that have a t-shirt that says, you know, the cloud is just someone else's computer. I mean, it's, it's starting to be as part of the culture. So a absolutely. And as more people become educated as to what their piece can be in this cloud culture, future everyone wa and, and the fact that you guys help us make it so much easier to, to integrate those components. One of my favorite parts of your presentations are always your architecture diagrams that show that pretty clearly.

James Burnand (10:18):

Yeah. Appreciate that. Yeah. I think when I look at, I actually compare the journey that I think the industry is on back to early in my career, because I've been around for a few years to virtualization. I remember distinctly having conversations with clients early on using the analogy of, "Hey, are you gonna buy, you know, one central air system for your offices? Or are you gonna have a window unit in every single one because buying a server for every single application is kind of like buying a bunch of window units that you now have to maintain and deal with, and they're less efficient than you have if you have a big rooftop unit that supplies the whole zone. But conceptually it took a long time for folks to really understand and appreciate what even just moving to a virtual machine versus a bare metal server installation would save them.

I think the, the savings and the interoperability and the availability of data moving to more cloud centric or cloud native technologies is way more valuable and provides a whole lot more simplicity in the long term. But I think that the industry at large is on that same journey again where some folks are gonna have to be early adopter. Some folks are gonna wait till it's more mainstream. And from my perspective, I can clearly see what the benefits are and what the long term is gonna look like, but not everyone's there yet. And that's I think just part of educating the, the marketplace

Rene Gamero (11:46):

And, and you reminded me of something said too about; seems like a kept secret. I think one of those reasons is we've been knocking on all of those doors. We've sat in those conference rooms at these gigantic fortune 100 fortune 50 companies. But the issue is it's like, it's a new product. It's a private company. It's not one of the big 800 pound gorillas. So essentially people feel like they have to stake their career on this. Like this all looks like it has everything I want now, do I now, do I stake my career on installing it and running it? And, and I don't blame them. The majority of people have said no. And it's the same reason of, you know, in past lives. Other other salesmen I've been that I've been friends with selling computer parts saying, no one's ever gotten fired by buying IBM back in the day; back in deals, you just didn't get fired.

Why? Because you did what everybody else was doing. So if you buy what everyone else is buying, and that project fails, you have a ton of different, you know, fingers. You can point the heat is off you, but if you buy the opto gear and something doesn't work, which by the way, we have excellent free support and we would get it working. But you know, you have to think about it from their perspective is they have to take that leap of faith. If it doesn't work now it's them. And they have a family. They have, you know, so it's been a lot of that fear, but in in each of those situations, the people that understand it technically like that understand, really understand the technology. See it for what it is. We're just a tool. Can you do what we do with other equipment?

Yes. Will it be harder, more expensive and more cumbersome also? Yes. So that's what we do. We get all of those tools, make it as easy for you as possible just to buy one item and go to the races and the people that can understand it. There, it takes knowing more intimate technology than a lot of people will show at those conference rooms. But I think we're getting there and the cloud's doing that too, as far as democratizing all of those democratizing all of those really smart software guys, cuz at the end, those really smart software guys are working on the cloud. So if you can toss your data there, all this magic is starting to happen and that value of the cloud really showing itself. Yeah.

James Burnand (14:02):

Yeah. And it's funny you talk about kind of the traditional 800 pound gorillas and you know, the majority of my career was spent working with big, big organizations that, that they were, hard spec, hard standard on those, those software and hardware platforms and you, they've got a big mountain to climb and it's not the same for everyone, but there's a lot of technical debt in the software products. So there's big acquisitions going on. There's a lot of software rewrites, a lot of a lot of work that has to be done to make things more flexible, more cloud centric or cloud native.  

Rene Gamero (14:40):


James Burnand (14:41):

I feel like it's, if you look at kind of I'll call it like the ignition sphere of, you know, different partners and companies that, that are all kind of connected and working in that ecosystem. I feel like that the growth, the capabilities and kind of how things have progressed in the last couple of years is a, is a truly compelling case cuz you know, you see companies that were, would've never even entertained it before now, moving to spec on hardware and software from vendors that were considered non-traditional a couple years ago. So I think the opportunities there and, and the fact that those vendors and opto in particular has such great tools for natively connecting to cloud it just creates a lot of potential value for folks that one of two things either were big enterprises that were too slow to move and, and couldn't potentially take it on because it was too big of a leap to make.

Yeah. But more importantly, the folks that couldn't afford it before the folks that, you know, Hey, I want to tie my ERP system in, but I don't have 400 grand to spend on a project to do that now with the technologies and the tools that are available, you don't have to anymore. You have the ability to do small pilots, low cost startups you know, things that are allowing you to gain the value of some of these, these things that were reserved for the, the big guys before big guys and gals, I should say. But you know, you just couldn't reach them. Now. You can,

Rene Gamero (16:07):

That's a great example. And speaking a little to the ignition ecosystem there. I was with opto from, I actually, I interned with them in 1998 and then I came on full time in 1999. But then in, we at 2010 I went somewhere else. And then I came back in 2021. So last year, so I missed like a good decade of, of all of this. So my, one of my biggest shockers was when I came back, they said, oh yeah, we have this partner ignition now. And you know, they're like us, it's up software. I'm like, that seems like a great match. One of, of the most surprising things about this was in those last 10 years. And I was just talking about this with someone else earlier. I've had partners that I've worked with for years that I never knew the end customer's name.

Like I never knew who the company was. Like, we would always work in these kind of nebulous kind of projects where I would never know their name now with ignition. Usually that's the first or second question. Well, who's the customer blank, <laugh> you? And that's part of the normal conversation. And that just goes to show the collaborative spirit of the ignition community which to me is refreshing, but still shocking to me. I'm like, this is still something. And it's, it depends. I do a lot of international work, so it depends on the country and how much they let you know, but still as domestically and throughout the Americas, that just goes to show you that we're all here at the table. We want to succeed together. Your success is my success. And honestly that, that is, that allows you to grow because you don't have that, that those really, those bad habits and a big shout out to you for using the word technical debt, I'm going to use that a lot more for the next year. I'll give you full credit.

James Burnand (18:01):

<laugh> I, I appreciate that. And, and you know, some of the systems that have that technical debt, they're operating on code bases that are 20 years old in some cases. So yeah, technical debt is a great way to describe that unfortunate scenario. And it's, you know, it's unfortunately not a faster and easy sort of thing to dig out of, especially when you have a big install base. So yeah, I can imagine that and just, just hypothetically, there's probably a lot of folks that are under a lot of pressure inside of some organizations right now, you know, rebuilding or rearchitecting or looking for the next acquisition to allow for allow for things to move forward in a more future friendly way. But it's definitely, I mean, probably the biggest thing that changed that forced that was that we all got iPhones and we all got Android phones and all of a sudden, yeah, you know, my dad is really upset about this, that nothing comes with the user manual anymore.

<laugh> so he has been very vocal to me that, that he wants user manuals. I just bought him a, a Mac book recently a couple months ago and he's like, well, where's the book. I'm like, it doesn't come with a book. I'm sorry, that's not how things work anymore. But people have gotten so used to native user friendly intuitive interfaces that it's no longer acceptable to be deploying interfaces that require a 50 page users manual, just to be able to figure out how to run a piece of equipment or to, to stop or start a motor. It's a fortunate and unfortunate thing at the same time in that it, you know, inductive in their foresight in the way that they put together their products and the invention and inclusion of perspective as a part of their modules, made them into someone who really was leading the industry in that regard. And a lot of the other folks are scrambling to catch up still.

Rene Gamero (19:52):

Or inductive university, you know, making that is easy to go through and click through. That was my introduction to ignition. And yep, I feel like kind of the opposite of your dad now, just because one way my wife can convince me to do anything is with three words... there's an app <laugh>.

Anything we buy I'm like, I don't know, honey, would that be like, and there's an app, it's like, okay, fine. We'll try it then that as I'm downloading the app to try it and figure it out. And there's so much stuff now, too, that I'm using even in my everyday in my everyday work life, that all depends on how easy, how easy is it? Can I point and click my way through this? And from my perspective, it's, it's a outta be completely honest... It's a outta being lazy. It's like, no, is there a YouTube video that I could, that I can watch that can show me what I need to do, but also because my experience is gonna be my customer's experience. So if I'm gonna go through it and have a difficult time, I don't want, I don't wish that on anyone, but meanwhile, if I can go through inductive university, learn how to do you know, learn how to use perspective or learn how to start to use perspective, learn how to do all this. And I end up with a great certificate at the end, then that that's something I definitely wanna encourage others to do. And, oh man, the, the presentation that Joe gives on SAP where he is showing, you know, the little, the arrows and connecting that, I'm looking at that and saying, how many people haven't, how many people haven't stopped their project because they couldn't get here spending six or seven figures. Yep.

I'm glad you guys are here.

James Burnand (21:38):

<laugh> we appreciate, and I can tell you that Joe personally, and me personally were involved in several of those painful projects in our history. So that's part of where part of where that perspective comes from for us is we've unfortunately, for kind of the future state, yeah. Is we've actually had to go through some of those things and it helped us to be able to articulate and build out what we think is a easier way to do things. So, yeah, we're excited, you know, knowing that too, we've got ICC coming up, that's that's gonna be a super exciting thing for for us and for you guys. I know we're I think we're gonna be ne next door neighbors is is what I've heard.

Rene Gamero (22:23):

All I know is the B the biggest brains at Opta 22 are crunching away because of the booth that they're going to have next to you. So I've been told nothing, and I think they just don't want me to spoil it, but I know it's gonna be big, and I know it's gonna be fun to experience.

James Burnand (22:41):


Rene Gamero (22:41):

So if you can tell me something, I can go and, you know, tease them a little like, oh, James told me you're gonna have you know, floating.

James Burnand (22:48):

I had to sign a non-disclosure I'm not allowed to talk about it, so

Rene Gamero (22:52):

Okay, good.

GI Griffin (22:53):

There will be a live giraffe. I'll just tell you now, when you get rides, you can feed it. You have to sign a waiver, because if it bites you, that's not our fault.  

James Burnand (23:03):

Do you guys remember April the giraffe? My wife watched April the giraffe, which was five years ago, maybe six years ago. It was a giraffe that was supposed to give birth and there was a live feed and she watched it for two weeks straight.

Rene Gamero (23:18):

Did it give birth?

James Burnand (23:19):

Eventually just leave it there. Even eventually April did give birth, but like there was my wife was glued to her phone watching this live feed of this giraffe, just walking around its pen for hours and hours and hours a day. And I was like, man, I don't understand.

GI Griffin (23:33):

And, and speaking of the giraffe... Renee, if we get you your own shirt, your own opto 22 with the giraffe shirt, will you rock that on one of your opt minutes?

Rene Gamero (23:45):

Is there an app?

GI Griffin (23:46):

Yes, of course.

Rene Gamero (23:47):

Yes. Okay. Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

GI Griffin (23:50):

Yes. <laugh> all right, then it's a done deal. Yeah. So guys, we're going to go ahead and wrap this up, but we appreciate you so much. Rene Gamero here from Opto 22, a great guest. And I have to ask, are you okay with coming back another time and just continuing this conversation? Because it was fantastic.

Rene Gamero (24:07):

Anytime. Yeah,

GI Griffin (24:09):


Rene Gamero (24:10):

What do you guys need? I'm here for you as, as much as I feel that you're certainly there for all of our customers. You're you're amazing.

GI Griffin (24:17):

We love it. Thank you. So you're listening right here to the Heads in the Cloud podcast with ver Rene Gamero from Opto 22, as well as James Burnand. Make sure you guys check us out 4ir.cloud.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51h5tY5S7ew

Audio Podcast: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/gzLK3xcPMsb

Blog: https://www.4ir.cloud/blog

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