Excelerate Innovation 2020: The Power of Listening

solumina iseries

One of the secrets of iBase-t’s continued success is the importance we place on the power of listening by maintaining open communications with our customers. That philosophy was on full display at the Excelerate Innovation 2020, our annual business conference that was held virtually this year on October 6th and 7th 2020. If you missed it, you missed a lot.

For two days, some 400 customers and guests came together to learn about the new Solumina iSeries, and how it can simplify and accelerate the move to digitally transform complex, highly engineered manufacturing operations. Customers heard directly from our executive team, other Solumina users, and industry leaders. They didn’t just hear from these speakers. They were able to interact with them over two days, asking all the questions they wanted in follow-up and break-out sessions that were very well attended – in fact, better than we even expected!

Watch this short video clip to better understand the power of listening from our recent Excelerate Innovation event:


It was a fitting way to present our new version of Solumina iSeries as it is a direct result of listening to the needs and challenges of our customers, over many years. As I shared in my opening statement, “iBase-t is listening. We want to hear from you. We want to find new ways to adapt and meet your needs in today’s ever-changing environment.”

We’ll be writing more about the new cloud-native iSeries in future blog posts, but here are a few of the highlights I was most proud of from the first day of our Excelerate Innovation event:

  • Keynote speaker Dr. Didier Bonnet, Executive VP of Capgemini, and professor at IMD Business School challenged us to strive to become a “digital master” to reap the rewards of achieving up to 50 percent better financial performance than your peers
  • Sung Kim, CTO at iBase-t, gave us an intimate look into the research and development behind Solumina iSeries so you can better understand how it works and how to best leverage this exciting new, cloud-enabled version of Solumina
  • The iBase-t’s Product Management team, moderated by Tom Hennessey, VP of Marketing & Business Development, led a panel discussion taking a closer look at Solumina iSeries performance, and the combination of people, technology, and processes that can make it happen
  • Executive networking followed where we answered questions and talked about how to best plan your upgrade path to Solumina iSeries

The second day focused on product, technology, professional services, and partner updates that the iBase-t team has been working on over the past 18 months. This information took 12 different breakout sessions to cover – and we could have offered more! It is a good thing every session was recorded as I doubt everyone was able to find time to watch everything live as it was presented. 

Concluding our “deeper dive” into these updates, we hosted four roundtable / Q&A sessions which were all well attended. I can’t tell you how grateful our team was to hear all the constructive feedback, which will be incorporated as we map out our future product and technology roadmaps. 

For those interested that still need to watch these recordings, here is a direct link.

Thank you again to all who attended and participated in this event. Excelerate Innovation 2020 gave our customers deep insight into our vision for the future of digital transformation. Just as importantly, it gave us input from you that will help guide our decisions as we move forward.


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Connected Workers Promote Manufacturing Operations Excellence with Smart Glasses

Connected Workers Promote Manufacturing Operations Excellence with Smart Glasses

At Excelerate Innovation 2020, Michelle Krogmeier and I jointly presented our new Smart Glasses solution now available as a partnership offering between iBase-t and Proceedix. During this presentation, we shared the first look at our joint development efforts for enabling connected workers on the shop floor. 

In a COVID-19 impacted economy, businesses are looking for new ways to empower workers, keep them safe, and improve their productivity. Much of the industry hype today is about augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) changing the way people interact and work. The iBase-t/Proceedix approach with Smart Glasses has been to focus on the shop floor worker and enable what we are calling “informed reality.” By leveraging Proceedix’s experience with Google Glass and other smart glasses offerings, iBase-t has demonstrated what the next generation user interface to the Solumina iSeries could look like.

Read more about the Proceedix & iBase-t partnership announcement.

Smart Glasses on the Shop Floor

There are several options for bringing AR/VR to the shop floor ranging from 3D animations delivered on tablets to immersive environments displayed on VR headsets. In many cases, these approaches prove difficult to deploy on the shop floor. 

Full VR headsets are relatively heavy so can fatigue a wearer after a short time. They also can block the view of the actual environment. Tablets can overcome both of those problems but can be misplaced, dropped, or distracting. Lightweight display devices such as Google Glass, however, offer a suitable alternative. This was one of the reasons why iBase-t opted to partner with Proceedix to deliver this Smart Glasses solution. 

Read the Smart Glasses datasheet.

Operators can readily adapt to these devices. They can be used with safety glass or prescription lenses while being easily transferred among operators at shift change or as required.

Going Handsfree

The Smart Glasses solution that is being delivered is currently a prototype that provides the following capabilities:

  • Heads up display of work instructions
  • Hands-free operation and data collection
  • Built-in statistics to track and improve the shop floor process

The benefits of using Smart Glasses have been proven in several field trials. One of the unexpected benefits to having work instructions and the relevant data collection “attached” to the operator is the significant reduction of idle time as operators no longer need to go look at a terminal or display, return to the workstation, perform the task, and then turn back to the terminal/display to input required information. 

The anticipated benefits of having work instructions available in real-time and being able to collect data at the source in an existing implementation yielded significant results including:

  • Reducing final inspection time by 30%-32%
  • Reducing defects by 25%
  • Reduced cycle time of 40%

Together, these benefits yielded a 77% increase in production capacity in four weeks.

Looking for Development Partners

Currently, iBase-t has developed the necessary API’s to implement the Smart Glasses interface with Solumina iSeries. We are now looking for customer partners that are interested in helping carry this project through to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) status.  iBase-t can accept Solumina G-Series customers into the project, but additional work would be required to build appropriate API’s. 

The need for improved operator performance is only going to increase. By investing in technology to empower the connected worker, iBase-t believes we can deliver our customers a solution that will help them going forward. 

Existing iBase-t customers can view a recording of our joint Smart Glasses presentation from Excelerate Innovation 2020 once again by using your login credentials.

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iBase-t to Sponsor MOM Institute Webinar: Picking the Right MES

iBase-t to Sponsor MOM Institute Webinar: Picking the Right MES

WHAT: This “Picking the Right MES” webinar will explore the concept that not all Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solutions are created equal. One size doesn’t fit all. Different MES applications have specialized capabilities suitable for specific industries. Choosing the right MES depends upon what production and quality processes are performed as well as customer expectations in today’s digital world.

Manufacturers operating in today’s digital ecosystems need to understand how MES solutions differ. This knowledge can then be leveraged as part of performing a vendor shortlist selection process. Recovering from a flawed process could defer their digital transformation journey for years, putting them at a big disadvantage compared to their peers.

WHO: Jan Snoeij, President and Sr. Business Consultant at the Manufacturing Operations Management Institute (MOMi), will lead the decision on this topic. He will draw upon his many years of experience to provide thoughtful insights on how best to evaluate an MES in the context of a digitalization manufacturing strategy. Jan is actively involved in MESA International as a member of the International Board and various working groups.

WHERE: Register here: https://info.ibaset.com/webinar-picking-the-right-mes 

WHEN: Live 30-minute broadcast will occur on Wednesday, November 18 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. PDT / 11:00 a.m.  – 11:30 a.m. EDT.


About iBase-t
iBase-t is a leading provider of manufacturing, quality and MRO solutions that enable digital continuity across the enterprise. With 30+ years of experience in highly engineered, regulated industries, iBase-t simplifies the complex by empowering customers to gain real-time visibility, take control, and drive velocity across operations. The iSeries, powered by Solumina, has a cloud-native microservices architecture with open APIs that extends a digital ecosystem to drive innovation, simplify hardware and software systems integration, and deploy advanced technologies. iBase-t works closely with many industry leaders, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and Textron. Learn more at iBase-t.com

Microservices are a Manufacturing Software Must Have

Microservices are a Manufacturing Software Must Have

Current economic forecasts put the economy on a recovery path in 2021 but it is likely to be 2022 before GDP grows beyond 2019 levels.  Likewise, manufacturing and retail sectors are expected to continue to shed jobs.  At the same time, global business consultancy McKinsey is observing that COVID-19 is driving the adoption of Digital Transformation strategies at unprecedented rates.  

Given this scenario, manufacturers must put agility at the top of their survival plans.  The question now facing manufacturing leaders is how to accomplish this objective as part of existing digitally transformation programs in such a way that maximizes the agility of their operations.  Their top question is often “Who should I work with and what software will allow me to accomplish these objectives?”  

The answer isn’t as simple as just identifying the right application such as a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) or Quality Management System (QMS) but must also factor in what platform for these solutions makes the most sense.  The answer that will give the best results?  Start by selecting a solution built upon a microservices architecture to ensure sufficient flexibility is embedded in your IT/OT infrastructure.

Read this article for other insights in selecting an MES solution, 3 Critical Factors Often Overlooked During an MES Evaluation Process

Here are 5 Reasons Why Microservices Make Sense for Manufacturing Applications

1. Manufacturing operates as a system. As one examines the evolution of software applications in general, and in manufacturing specifically, an overriding trend is the blurring of functional boundaries between application providers.  Virtually every major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provider has added MES functionality to their suites. The same is true for QMS providers who now offer sustainability and EH&S functionality.  Likewise, MES providers have greatly expanded their footprint into quality and reliability/maintenance. 

The reason is straightforward: Manufacturing operates as a system; all the parts are interconnected.  Therefore, the applications that support such an interconnected system need to themselves be interconnected.  This leads to the first reason microservices are the right choice for manufacturing applications going forward: Microservices provide a scalable platform.

2. Microservices’ scalability eases interconnectivity.  Despite the efforts of some enterprise application suite providers to provide every functionality, the truth is that innovation continues to emerge from smaller providers. Therefore, companies looking to stay on (or closer to) the leading edge of technology and functionality will likely always be integrating new applications to well-established transaction-based back-ends.

3. Microservices make the most of Cloud infrastructure.  They provide the ability to spread load across multiple servers and data centers.  This can ease compliance with local data security issues when properly managed, reduce response times by putting user-facing services closer to endpoints, and simplify platform support.

4. Microservices allow developers to be more responsive.  As a rapidly changing economy necessitates frequent operating changes, applications built on microservices can be very quickly adapted to new business models and demands.  Large teams building, testing, and deploying massive product releases will become a thing of the past.  Solutions built on a microservices architecture can quickly evolve with your business, and typically at a much lower cost.

5. Microservices provide for futureproofing.  Manufacturers cannot accurately project what their operating requirements will be in the future.  Nor can they afford to rip and replace applications every 5-10 years as they have done in the past.  With microservices, manufacturers have a platform to evolve their software footprint as they move their business going forward.  With the advantages of Cloud, interconnectivity, and a platform approach, microservices extends the life of end-users’ software investments.

Manufacturers can learn from other industries that faced similar scalability and responsiveness challenges in the past. Prior to 2020, the need for manufacturers to have a great deal of operational agility certainly existed but the pain was not as acute. The last six months have transformed many parts of our lives. For manufacturers, the need to respond quickly has never been so elevated as a requirement for not only profitability but survival. Fortunately, microservices-based applications are now available, coming at a point that coincides well with the industry’s need for a better approach to this persistent challenge.


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Q&A from IT/OT Convergence Webinar

In September we had the opportunity to hear from Jan Snoeij during an IT/OT convergence webinar. Despite all that has been written on this topic, considerable confusion still exists on the importance of this concept when pursuing a digital Industry 4.0 strategy. If you too are a bit unclear on what this concept really means and its importance as part of achieving a digital transformation, it might be worth 30 minutes of your time to watch this presentation.

Listen to this on-demand presentation, What is IT/OT Convergence webinar?

As a result of broadcasting this webinar, several questions came up worthy of sharing, as detailed below.


Has the Internet of Things (IoT) changed how IT/OT convergence occurs? Will the IoT eliminate this challenge?

The IoT has made it possible to collect far more data today than ever before. With all this accumulation of data, new performance improvement is now possible by analyzing operational information that can be a source of contextual manufacturing intelligence. One example is the use of Artificial Intelligence or machine learning to better predict when equipment will fail or when products should be serviced to avoid part failure. These examples do not necessarily have an impact on changing how IT systems must seamlessly integrate with Operations systems, but do point to the need for more focus on enabling real-time integration. When accelerating the automation of data collection, the only way to capture the full potential is to act upon it in real-time. In this regard, you would not want your IT/OT integration to be the weakest link and delay access to time-critical information.  


Based on this IT/OT convergence webinar, will local IT staff will no longer be required in the plant, with all work being done from corporate?

Better real-time integration between plant operations systems and enterprise IT applications will result in less time spent on manual tasks, completing trouble tickets, or responding to inquiries to run custom reports. In this regard, yes, less staff will be needed locally at a plant. Other matters, however, will still likely require assistance, just at a lower volume. Consequently, these resources can be better deployed in more of a centralized role where their skills and expertise can be applied on a broader scale. This strategy can then unlock greater ROI from a company’s IT investments by improving systems integration across many more users than previously possible. 


With a Center of Excellence, could this be the same group that assesses all systems running in the factories, to provide consistent alignment across the enterprise? 

Absolutely. In fact, this would be a best practice. By concentrating a single team on best understanding data, knowledge, and systems integration requirements across your organization, then as issues arise, a more comprehensive solution can be identified. What can then result is greater performance improvement from every solution considered. 


Could you provide a governance model for a COE? I am unclear how that would come together.

The most important concept to keep in mind with a governance model is that review, approval, and audit processes have an expanded scope of coverage. A change to how data is collected or approved at the plant may now have a repercussion on how a report is interpreted by a different department using this information as part of their decision support process. For example, if the definition changes of when a part is considered faulty, then a more comprehensive review must be done to understand how all future reports might be impacted by this change. 


What is your experience on ROI models for these projects? How feasible/accurate is it REALLY. 

One could argue that any ROI model is only as good as the assumptions made when creating it (GIGO). A good rule of thumb is to use ranges of possible benefits versus specific data points in your assumptions. If a project makes sense based on even the most conservative assumptions, then the ROI model has done its job. In the case of IT/OT systems integration, part of the ROI might be based on avoiding lost opportunities or greater productivity from your IT team – thereby freeing up resources to pursue new cost cutting or revenue generation opportunities. Identifying an ROI value on these “soft” costs might not be easy but is a very real business benefit and a “REAL” reason to invest in better systems visibility and integration. 


Do you cooperate with other maturity models, such as Acatech, ADMA, etc? 

Speaking to the Acatech maturity model, as organizations deploy more resources to their Industry 4.0 programs, they move closer to achieving all desired objectives from such a strategy. At the core of this and other maturity models is “connectivity” whereby the data must be collected and shared. With this then follows the ability to extract knowledge and predictions on Why, When, and What will happen. Look at IT/OT convergence as one of the foundational building blocks for any of these maturity models. Without access to accurate, contextual, and real-time data, none of your other Industry 4.0 objectives can reasonably be achieved. 


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