Refinery of the Future Podcast - Episode 1

[Podcast] Delivering Next Gen IIoT: Refinery of the Future
Episode 1 – Building Toward Digital Transformation

Series Description:
With a robust team of industry-leading partners like HPE, Aruba and PTC, CB Technologies is helping Texmark Chemicals modernize their business with advanced Industrial IoT (IIoT). This podcast series is about the creation of the Refinery of the Future (RoTF) and the development of its five core solutions: Predictive Maintenance & Analytics, Video as a Sensor, Worker Safety, Connected Worker, and Asset Integrity. Throughout the series, we’ll discuss how RotF delivers improved process analytics, up-time, customer satisfaction and worker safety.

Episode #1
Rob Schaeffer, HPE Vice President of Channel Sales U.S., joins CB Technologies’ Jason Mendenhall and Stan Galanski to talk about how they are bringing the Refinery of the Future to life. Hear them discuss the digital transformation challenges Texmark Chemicals is facing in their industry and how they are already experiencing immediate benefits as the Refinery of the Future is being implemented.

Full Transcript:

Rob Schaeffer, HPE VP of Channel Sales
Good morning, Rob Shaffer here with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. I have an opportunity this morning to chat with one of our most important strategic partners, CB Technologies, and some really interesting work that they have done to take us into really kind of a brave new world, where we’re looking into forward looking technologies, and helping particular industries with some solution based solutions that CB Tech is taking a really important lead with and in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and others. So before we get started, I’d like to do some introductions. So we have Jason Mendenhall with us. So Jason, if you would introduce yourself.

Jason Mendenhall, President of CBT
Hi, I’m Jason Mendenhall, President of CB Technologies. I have a pretty good background in technology, from software to hardware to services and been spending a lot of time in this space. And today what I’m excited about is the point you talked about Rob, which is this idea of a brave new world where the Edge and the previous infrastructure is coming together in a brand new way. And I think it’s one of the most exciting things we’ve seen in tech in probably 10 to 20 years. So I’m looking forward to talking about that today.

Rob Schaeffer
Great, fantastic. And also with us we have Stan Galanski. Stan?

Stan Galanski, Senior VP of Customer Success
Stan Galinski, I’m the Senior Vice President for customer success here at CB Tech. And I’ve been working with large OEMs, both in sales and pre sales and channels for the past 20 to 30 years. And so I’m very glad to be participating, in representing CB Tech today. Quite frankly, I love this subject because I can see how it’s actually helping customers real time, improve their profits and their safety.

Rob Schaeffer
Yeah, that’s fantastic. So you can see we have a tremendous depth of knowledge here and experience from industry, but also in thought leadership in terms of where the industry is going. So if we think about kind of this whole brave new world, in that there’s a lot of uncertain right, there’s a lot of the shiny object things and how do we really make significant headway into a new industry that delivers meaningful results, both on the business side, that leveraging technology but also on cost management, right, want to leverage on both sides of things? So I’d love to know, kind of your thought process on, you know, how did you kind of take on refinery of the future? Why was that such a meaningful topic at this juncture in our technological life?

Jason Mendenhall
I mean, it’s a great question, Rob. We’ve been following this industry trend, IoT, and IoT has evolved to the point at least from my perspective, that when someone says IoT, it’s like saying the word food. Hey, let’s go get some lunch. What do you want? Someone says food and everybody’s like, yeah, thanks. Yeah, sounds good, let’s do that. I think IoT has evolved to that where we’ve began to really understand this internet of things world is that the core use case for it is this idea of asset intelligence, right. And my assets might be things I own, it might be my team members who are out there. And it all boils down to this idea of how do I get more intelligence out of the things that are out of my building, but critical to my business. And it’s this marrying of operational technology and information technology that is this brave new world we’re talking about that really hasn’t been tackled before. And what we realized is that there were a lot of point solutions out there, there were a lot of ways that a single vendor provided some value in that whole supply chain. But there was really no way that the entire story was being put together. And so we got involved in refinery of the future with Texmark after, as HPE kind of started to facilitate these core use cases around what they were wanting to do. We saw this opportunity because we also recognize that in the industrial space, which is where a lot of this is coming together, the opportunity to try this is very limited. This is not an experimental environment. You know, when you got workers out in dangerous environments, you don’t just go out and experiment. And there were a lot of things sitting in a lab. And labs are interesting. But in so many cases, we saw technologies just sitting in a lab and never making out a lab door. So we said to ourselves, how can we take nothing from something and from something to something real, and Texmark in the refinery of the future became that venue. And we made a significant investment in putting time and energy into that, to take these technologies that we’ve talked about and the sample use cases, and put them in a real world environment for everyone to see so that we could work out all the issues related to making all of these things work together. And we knew that as a boutique system integrator, we could bring a very unique perspective and a unique agility to this that’s necessary for this kind of innovation to happen.

Rob Schaeffer
Yeah, it’s really interesting that you make a couple of points there around partnership. Each and every one of these partners get aggregated to the total solution in making it real, finding those use cases. We’re looking at real world scenarios, and can have a deliverable through Texmark, through this aggregation. From Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s point of view, we’re investing $4 billion in the edge solution set, which is taking things outside of the data center. And I love how CBT is always kind of one step ahead, always looking for what’s next, what’s real and deliverable, but also staying aligned to what customers really can do and deliver today what they need today, but also with our partnership that we’re doing this together.

Jason Mendenhall
That partnership piece is key.

Rob Schaeffer
So Stan I’d be interested in your point of view, on the cost model, the deliverable solution set that we deliver to through refinery of the future with Texmark, with your partnerships, and how you built that aggregated system that provides safety, which is really important to to all refineries, but predictability and kind of the manageability of risk, but also doing that in a in a cost managed scenario.

Stan Galanski
I was very excited to be involved in this because I wanted to solve what the customer needed. And they didn’t need a point product, they needed a real solution. And in the oil and gas industry, it revolves around two areas: profitability and safety. And believe it or not, they’re quite interrelated. Because if you don’t have safety, you probably have an unsafe condition. And an unsafe condition could lead to a catastrophic event, which could bring a plant down and cause them to lose money. So you can’t say they’re separate, although they’re distinct, they are interrelated. So the program was centered around five solutions that the customers, ie the oil and gas industry said it was important to them. It was to be able to predict the lifespan and the productivity of their equipment, knowing when it was going to fail, predicted failure time and to be able to replace it without having to bring a plant down unknowingly. They also needed to understand long term analytical assessments of, Hey, can I be able to run my plant at double the speed or double the production? What if I do this? And if you don’t have the data collected using IoT technologies, you can’t make those predictions very accurately. Secondly, they wanted to be able to determine, is there anything happening in the plant that might be unsafe? And one of the ways you can tell is to either outfit the worker with sensors to understand their biometric activity, but also their location, whether they’re vertical, horizontal or where they are in the plant. So we’re looking at putting in sensors on the worker and putting video analytics with cameras to determine their location. That takes care two and three of those use cases. The fourth one is very much centered around productivity, which saves money. And that is how can we have the operator work more efficiently out in the plant in less severe conditions? Well, let’s bring data to them so they don’t have to use antiquated equipment to communicate with their comrades back in the operations center. So we found a way to using various communication networks and data transmissions wireless and so forth, to bring data right to the hands of the worker when they’re in a volatile environment, to be able to make assessments and make adjustments to equipment and get in and get out. Lastly, as Jason alluded to, the industry told us they needed to know everything about a piece of equipment, should it fail. If there was a catastrophic event or if something broke, they needed to know when was it last maintained. When was it installed? Can it be fixed in a short time frame? And you can’t do that without an asset integrity program. So when you think of asset integrity, location based processing, you pull that all together, and that’s asset management. So these were all very key functions that the industry needs to know about, and we’re getting a chance to test them and drive around.

Rob Schaeffer
Question, you bring up a lot of really critical points when we talk about in the industry, this concept of solution selling, that products don’t answer the question right there. They’re part of a total solution, which is intelligence and history experience. There are smart people that can also work towards predictable things in the future, which includes a lot of hardware. Because in the end, we do need resources to do that. I really love how you’ve outlined each the five solutions, the elements of the solution, and how you bring that together in that aggregated solution. Which leads me to a statement and a question around our partnership, Hewlett Packard Enterprise in CBT, and why we have selected to partner with you guys. And why it’s so important that the depth of talent and skills that CBT has passed a VAR, but really talking about a solutions integration company based on intelligence and industry, deep intelligence. What might you have to say about that?

Stan Galanski
One of the things I failed to say in the last comment what ties it all together is the technology that HPE provides. The fact that we have edge line and edge compute systems that we can put out on the platform, that can collect signal information, process it in a real time mode very quickly and be able to determine if is there going to be something that needs to take place immediately, or can it be postponed. And having that information then transferred from the locale in the plant to a centralized processing center that’s more secure over a wide area network or over an wireless network, which in case we would use HPE Aruba at the present time, which is proving quite satisfactory to get those signals back to the data center. And then into the processors using again edge line equipment that fits very conveniently in a HPE micro data center. The micro data centers are proving to be very attractive because they can be moved about the plant and be mobile and also contain all the necessary equipment storage, compute, and networking all in one. It is also quiet, such that it can be put in the operations building or can be put in the admin building and their mobile enough that they can be duplicated for backup and recovery and separation if there’s a catastrophic event.

Jason Mendenhall
I think it’s even bigger than that too, because as Stan was talking about bits and bytes moving across the air, the only thing going through my head was nerds. Like that was the only thing. I think there’s a bigger story here actually on why we need each other, and why the partnership is so key to all the things that Stan said. To make all of this work, there has to be an underlying infrastructure to further the communication platform. That’s kind of that’s the rule of anything, right? If you make a building work, you have to have a great underlying infrastructure that starts at the foundation. The stuff that we’re talking about when you get into worker safety, predictive maintenance, asset integrity, sensors that detect what’s happening in the environment; they require that but the partnership that we have between each other is much bigger than just that technology piece. Because here’s the issue in this brave new world, no one person has the entire story. HPE has an element, our partner National Instruments has an element of operational technology, RealWear has an element of how a worker might connect, and PTC with their ThingWorx application has some software that helps enable this. But nobody we’ve seen yet comes to the table with the complete story. And this is where our partnership is key. Without the innovations from HPE, the underlying infrastructure doesn’t exist. Without us as a partner who can then aggregate all these other disparate, vertical pieces of the story into one complete area, it’s not successful. I think that’s what we’ve learned here. With the activity out of refinery of the future, what we’ve learned is that the partnerships with someone like us and someone with HPE and the other partners in the ecosystem is the only way this works. And if you don’t have someone like us, who has deep experience in each of those technologies, you’re doomed to fail. And I think that’s the thing that we’ve learned from all of this. And the best part is our CEO and founder Kelly Ireland, has been aggressive in making an investment in our team becoming up to speed on this. Because if anybody comes to you today, and says, we know every one of these technologies and we can do it, I can tell you they’re lying. There’s probably only a few of us that do and even we are still just barely scratching the surface. But here’s what we’ve done with refinery of the future, which I love. We got a test bet and a showcase where we can show we made it work. We made the guy out in the plant, using a wearable device share data with a data center sitting somewhere else in the plant. And we figured out how the machines actually work with the operational technology platforms from their DCs platform, which is controlling the plant and how that data is coming together. We’ve worked all that out. And very few people have really figured that out. I think that’s the unique relationship and partnership we hear that goes above and beyond the technology platform, but more making sure we’re bringing the right people can deliver the necessary solution to solve the business problem.

Rob Schaeffer
Yeah absolutely, talk about predictability. And that’s a question that I was going to, and I’m glad you did. Because one of the things is we use words like partnership. And so if you could expand upon, how do you take a group of technology companies and partners like RealWear, PTC, and the ones you mentioned, and place the balance for who should be the lead? How do you balance all of those egos, to actually make sure we set aside all of those elements and to craft the partnership that delivers the meaningful result and outcome? And not just Texmark, but really to bigger than an oil and gas in refinery of the future. We need to look at what’s the next industry, because this really looks at a bigger picture. And having been associated with CB Technologies and knowing some of the stories along the way, I’d love for you to share with the audience. You know, how did you guys put that together? Because you had to do that with not only those but systems integration companies and the like that also think that they’re kind of the lead dogs.

Jason Mendenhall
It’s no easy feat. And I think what it came to is this. The lesson learned, and why Texmark and refinery of the future is such a powerful use case for not just oil and gas or petrochemical but for other industries, is that we got in and we failed. We failed early and we failed fast. And we iterated in certain cases. One of the things that allowed all that to work and happen was, to a certain extent, sitting back and letting those failures happen in those individual areas. And then letting people realize, if we don’t have somebody who sits here and watches all of this and keeps an eye on it, then it’s not going to work. You know, even with some of the big integrators that were involved in the project, they quickly realized that if they just worked on their one space but didn’t take into account how the back end infrastructure, how it worked with their control system for the plant, or how it interface with the humans, it didn’t matter. And so a little bit of that failure is the learning thing. And that’s what we’ve learned if you don’t have someone who sits at that level. We don’t proclaim to be the experts in every vertical. We’re the experts on how those verticals work together. And that’s the difference.

Stan Galanski
Early on, we start started looking at these five solution sets individually. We thought, okay, we’re going to build a 3-D image of the plant. And we’re going to be able to tie all the information related to those assets and the plan to that 3-D model. Well, that’s great. But we realized that it can’t be separate from trying to track the worker, where he is in the plant with his wearables. So it became obvious that we wanted to take the coordinate systems and overlay them so that we can have a real time location based capability. And yeah, if we’re going to track that individual, then let’s put sensors on. So all of these solutions started to interact with each other. But we were assigning partners and companies to work on this solution separately. CBT recognized we need to integrate this, otherwise we’re going to take twice as long doing this. We’re going to trip on each other. And let’s bring a consortium of meetings and bring folks together and say how do we share data? We start recognizing API’s needed to be written, data needed to flow back and forth. And now it’s starting to become a program rather than six individual stories.

Jason Mendenhall
Our super secret sauce is Stan Galinski.

Rob Schaeffer
That’s fantastic, well done, Stan. So I think what I took from that was the willingness to try and go down the path, and Kelly’s drive to always make CBT industry-leading, unique, different and customer-centric. We’re going to make the decision. And we’re going to partner with not only Hewlett Packard Enterprise, but also other partners that were willing to fail in and have learnings from the failure together.

Jason Mendenhall
And their investment too was investment on everybody’s part. Our investment was on bringing everyone together and tackling a few of the use cases ourselves, because we didn’t want to be naive. We didn’t want to not understand what they were going through. So we took the lead on several of the use cases as well, so we knew what they were going through internally. And then at the same time figuring out how we bring all this together. And I think that’s the beauty of this. And I think what Texmark is starting to see as well is that there’s real value to this environment. And the benefit to the industry is that Texmark’s opened up their doors to say, hey, we’ve invested in this as well. We want the industry to improve and if you would like to come see how this is working, come visit us. And by visiting the facility with the team that’s been working on it; all of these use cases may not apply to somebody. But one of them probably is something they’re trying to tackle and in many times they ask themselves the question, why can’t my team do this today? The challenge is most internal teams are burdened by keeping the lights on large scale projects that take long periods of time. These are innovation of projects that have to have a different team and a different approach. And they have, but they have to be done with the idea that of scale in mind. Our experience has shown that when we talked to most of the innovation teams in the industrial space, they’re only good at testing technologies in the lab, and they never really quite understand how something scales. I think one of the unique features we bring is the ability to do both. Can we innovate? And then can we understand what things need to be in place so that they can scale? It’s got to be real; it’s got to go from nothing to something and from something to something real. And we have a whole methodology that helps us do that, that we deliver to our customers.

Rob Schaeffer
And at what point does the executive sponsor at an organization really step in, because this is forward-leading things with ideas and concept. Oftentimes when you get to the executive that’s going to be the sponsor, or financial controller, they start to say that’s really great, but that’s really going to cost us more, and it’s really not going to help us in the drive for what we do as a as a living here.

Jason Mendenhall
Stan can probably speak to this because he’s been working with the team there. But really, at the customer site, the executive sponsor has been key. Because believe me, there’s other use cases besides these five that have been presented. And you know I’ll have 25 ideas in a day, but only one of them’s worth anything, right? The other 24 you can throw out and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. And so I think having that executive sponsorship and the commitment from Doug Smith at Texmark, and his senior team, to really thoroughly be willing to listen to these opportunities and then say to themselves, that can add value, that probably won’t. Even that kind of vetting right out of the gate is really powerful. And you need to have the executive sponsorship at that level. Because ultimately, the end of the day this is going to turn into something that’s going to have an ROI or cost associated with the business, and the business has got to understand it’s not technology for technology’s sake. This is trying to solve real world problems. And the interesting thing is, for the first time, it’s becoming available. The idea that you could bring a wearable compute device into an industrial plant environment is brand new. Like let’s not forget, some of these things are relatively new, to be able to have a hands free compute platform available to you in an industrial environment that has certain safety standards. This is new. So people haven’t been here before yet. And we’re figuring it out.

Stan Galanski
I also want to give a compliment to HPE in the very beginning. They brought a pool of partners into the room and said, this is what we want to try and work with. Texmark was there and says, we’re here on board with you guys. And here’s the cooperation we’re going to give you, but it’s going to be a long haul. We’re going to have to make our plant operational while you’re doing these tests, and you’re going to have to be able to be patient with us sometimes. But the fact that every partner in that room had to make a decision, an executive level decision, am I in for the long haul? Or am I not? Some of them said, thank you, but no thanks. But others were very committed. And those are the ones that are part of the consortium as we speak. So the fact that HPE walked in early and said, who is ready to make this commitment, this is what’s going to be required under these conditions, and laid it out. What you had is everybody started cooperating. Nobody went in with any fantasies of hey, I’m going to be able to take this over, I’m gonna get this accomplished, and I’m going to leave. Everybody stayed in, kept contributing, they started to see the benefits, and now they’re trying to look for the way to expand it and scale it.

Rob Schaeffer
Yeah, that’s fantastic. And it kind of leads me to that thought, is because we’re all really competent organizations with a lot of competent people. Stan you’re closest to this, at what point did Hewlett Packard Enterprise have that aha moment that we have the right partners in the room, we have the right partners on the team, and that we really could take this large step forward. When we think about what Jason said, that this is new stuff, this is innovative stuff. Where does HPE say, we need this aggregated solution team. And where was our aha moment?

Stan Galanski
I would say it’s probably about six to 10 months into the program. It wasn’t right at the beginning. Everybody was kind of feeling themselves out and fearing, who’s good at first base, who’s good at playing second, who’s good at pitching. And once that was determined, and everybody got into their will well, then things started to click. And once information started flowing, there was cooperation. There is folks being able to get the security and training to be out in the plant with the workers, which took time and effort. And then seeing where, especially when things broke, and how people came together from multiple companies to solve a problem. At that point, when you started solving problems, you start seeing the cooperation, especially HPE and the customer, step back and say, I think we’ve got something here.

Rob Schaeffer
And then confidence really starts to bleed and it breeds into kind of the next where else can we go from here? What else can we do?

Stan Galanski
It snow balled in a positive way.

Rob Schaeffer
So you know, if we think about wrapping this up, because it’s been a really good journey that the solution set. I loved how you talked about collaboration and communication and commitment to making this work, because it’s easy to sign up early on. Because of the enthusiasm, we talked about the brave new world, we want to talk about the Internet of Things, what does it all mean? We’re all looking for and trying to drive together in this collaborative world on how do we deliver a real life solution that is meaningful, that changes the way that people live and work through digital disruption. And I’m just super honored to be partnered with CB Technologies. And for us to kind of think about IoT in real terms, that you are delivering as a leader, an industry leader, a thought leader, and an innovative leader to industry specific solutions on what can be. But knowing the process on how to get that from this concept and this idea to now having a collaborative group of companies and people working together to deliver to an end using customer and the lives of individuals’ employees. You think about safety, and about the predictability of what can be as a result of technology. To go to each one of you individually, how would you summarize this journey together, and where we think Internet of Things are going to go as a result of what you’ve done with the refinery of the future.

Jason Mendenhall
I think the core of the question that you asked is if I’m on the other end of this podcast, and I’m listening to this, I’m going this all sounds wonderful. What the heck do I do next? Right? It is the what do I do next? And I think the what do I do next, if I’m an operator today is I guarantee you, there’s someone in your organization, maybe even yourself that knows there’s an operational technology, that you have a gut feeling that is going to transform the way that you’re doing things today. Don’t try to bite off all of it. This is what we’ve learned. If you try to do the entire shooting match right out of the gate, in some massive digital transformation project, it will fail. But there’s something you know that’s going to have an impact, pick that something, it is very likely that it’s gonna be close to one of the five use cases we’re doing at refinery of the future. I would get on a plane and I would come out, right. And I would sit down and listen to HPE and CBT talk about, with Texmark, about how we tackled it and what we were able to do. And then I would kick off a project. And I would say I want to do an innovation project around this area. And with the idea that you’re not necessarily going to say we’re going to solve the whole thing, just today, I want to get something that’s demonstratable that I can build a business case around and validate my ROI metrics around, pick one of them. In the course of doing that, you will then uncover the technology gaps that might exist within your organization that make it unable to deliver. And from there, you’re going to know how to scale this and build on the next one. Now the nice thing is these use cases build upon each othe. At Texmark, one of the first ones we tackled was mechanical integrity. That asset integrity aspect of their business actually produce savings for them right out of the gate, where they avoided an increase in their insurance premiums. Immediate savings right away. And these other ones are starting to produce immediate savings and means productivity once we get as we move down the pathway, now we’re seeing that. And I think from my perspective, if I’m sitting on the other side of this, I’m going let me make sure I find a partner that understands this ecosystem that I can work with who has other people saying, no we did the following three or four things with them. That’s who I’m going to try and work with right now. And I think that’s how we’re going to tackle this because the future of this isn’t massive projects. The future of this is small innovation, quick hit, demonstratable business value that allows us to move forward, and I think that’s going to be the key.

Rob Schaeffer
And don’t be afraid to start.

Jason Mendenhall
Don’t overthink it. The nice thing is we proved it out in a real environment. We know what the gotchas are. And that is easily translatable into a lot of different places. And that’s what’s exciting for me.

Stan Galanski
I’m just going to springboard off what he said in a lot of different places. They can be transferable based on folks that have already come to visit the plant and ask questions. We know these solutions have value, both in the downstream part of oil and gas and we know it has value in the upstream side, out in the drilling sites. We also know that it’s valuable in the utilities industry, for folks that are working on transmission lines out in the field. The asset integrity aspect of it transcends multiple industries, aerospace, automotive, wherever, any process oriented industry has probably got the same problems.

Rob Schaeffer
Yeah, that really big builds a platform and a foundation to springboard far and wide, right. But to Jason’s point, we got to start small, but we can always be thinking big. Hey guys, so we’ve talked a lot about really great things today, and I’m sure that our audience today their minds are going fast and furious about their individual opportunities or what potential discussions they’d like to have with our customers? How would we get in contact with you guys?

Jason Mendenhall
Yeah, so we’re easily reachable on the website for sure, www.cbtechinc.com. And there you can read about the projects we’ve been working on, our thought leadership, our team members, and what we’ve been doing. There’s a contact us page there, just quickly fill that out and our phone number is there as well. And you can reach our team and anyone would be happy to talk to you. But most importantly, we’d love to have you come out to Texmark refinery of future and see what’s going on. That’d be a great way to engage.

Rob Schaeffer
Congratulations for great work, for making the challenging seem simple, but certainly make it real for our joint customers. Thank you both for your time today. Thank you very much for your partnership, and leading and winning with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Thanks, guys.

Stan Galanski
You’re welcome.

Jason Mendenhall
Thanks, Rob. Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

If you enjoyed that episode, check out the second installment in our series: RotF Podcast, Episode 2 – Connected Worker!

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