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The Link Between Asset Management and Skills Gap Mastery: A Q&A with Tim Butler

“… there really is a sociological aspect to all of this, where some companies will spend tens of millions of dollars on a new system that ultimately fails because the workers on the edge won’t use it.”

In a ranging conversation with Ian Wright at Engineering.com, Tego’s CEO Tim Butler touches a litany of vital considerations when it comes to building an APM strategy that drives business metrics that matter. From quality assurance, to productivity, to workforce engagement, it is not just about connecting assets together. It is about making them smart.

In other words, enabling things to be smart means putting data about a given asset on the asset itself. This can be its birth records, maintenance history, operating instructions, or any other information about how, when and why employees have interacted with it. The asset becomes a repository for information, not just an endpoint that’s flowing information to the cloud. Instead, information can be read from and written to the asset throughout its life, without requiring any cloud connectivity.

That is what makes an asset smart.

Highlights from the conversation include:

The real change with the introduction of PCs was an increase in flexibility. Does that apply in this case as well?

Yes. Think about what we learned in the last 30 years: suddenly, we’re walking around with tablets and phones that have levels of connectivity that were unheard of a few decades ago. Now, I can walk up to an asset and interact with it using my phone or tablet. I can query it and get information from it or write information to it; I’m using the functional and analytic capabilities of those tools to actually do analytics right there at the edge.

Cybersecurity is a major concern associated with the IoT. Does the kind of pervasive asset intelligence you’re talking about introduce new security risks?

From our perspective, it actually provides a new layer of security because all these assets are off the grid. We can enable up to 16 different types of access, where some employees have read/write access, others can only read some types of information and still others can only access  a different set of information. So, you can partition the information in ways you couldn’t before. The technologies we’re familiar with—in terms of password protection, encryption and authentication—can all be applied here, now that we have the storage to be able to do it.

Do you believe this technology can help address the skills gap in manufacturing? If so, how?

If you’re wondering how manufacturers are going to get the next generation of workers—who typically don’t use pen and paper—to actually use digital information, one of the critical elements is having that information at the source, or the edge.

It’s all about automating the process so that people can do it more easily and efficiently—which brings training costs down—making the information as accessible as possible, and it’s about making the information transferable and usable across the organization.

If you’re giving your workers something that basically turns them into automatons, you’re going to have trouble. The flip side is that you still need to replace them in the next ten years. But, if you enable real data on the edge, you’re starting that digitalization, but the knowledge and experience of your technicians feeds that. Now the older workers are saying, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to replace me. I’m actually going to be able to show people how smart I am, because now it’s much easier for me to broadcast that across the company.’

Read the full article here.

To learn about Tego’s asset intelligence platform for high-value edge computing, visit this page.

To schedule a demo about Tego’s role in local data strategy, contact us here.

Can gamma-proof data stem the tide of aseptic manufacturing deficiencies?

In news that’s starting to sound like a broken vinyl record, instances of voluntary recall and FDA warnings continue to plague the aseptic manufacturing industry. To wit:

Baxter issued a voluntary recall for more than 427,000 units of sodium chloride injection and 54,528 containers of dextrose injection, citing “a lack of assurance of sterility” as the driving mechanism. (Read more on FiercePharma).

The FDA cited Tubilux for “deficiencies that include improper equipment use, insufficient laboratory controls, and problems with the company’s sterility assurance program.” (Read more on PharmTech.com).

And most recently, Rugby Laboratories just issued a major voluntarily recall for Diocto Liquid and Diocto Syrup. (Read more on Pharmaceutical Processing).

Even as the global market for environmental monitoring is estimated to reach $19.56 Billion by 2021, factors such as high costs of current proposed solutions, complicated implementation procedures, and high export barriers across emerging countries are restraining market growth.

How can gamma-survivable digital intelligence help? In an aseptic manufacturing environment, it transforms the very assets already in place into smart aids that keep better track of moment-by-moment conditions and process controls, to produce a more complete and verifiable record of sterility assurance.

The assets we’re talking about are those that monitor airborne particulates, active viable air, passive viable air and equipment surfaces, and facility personnel themselves. Whenever a drug or biologic goes through a given process or stage of production, these components gather digital records and time-stamped details about the manufacturing procedure, location or condition of the environment, which of course includes chain-of custody and information needed for regulatory compliance. These assets become embedded with a literal digital thread, to help downstream operators collect, manage, and report every stage of production including initial sterilization. The data then feeds the manufacturing clinical laboratory database and, quite simply, personnel are put in position to perform their jobs better. Operators, laboratory technicians, managers — even executives — can digitally access and sync component data, and call up production or sterility details about any individual unit at any time, even after a batch has been released to the market.

To learn about Tego’s gamma-proof intelligent solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturing, please visit this page.

To schedule a demo and see how Tego can improve your aseptic manufacturing processes, contact us here.

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