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Manufacturing Hub Episode 1 Stream

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Episode 1 includes Vlad and I talking about our backgrounds. A little bit how we got into Manufacturing. We answer some questions on stream. Get into MES a bit plus Vlad ask Dave how he travels.


Dave Griffith: Sure. So, Hey everyone, if you don’t know me, my name is Dave Griffith. I, you guys can find me again on many of the different parts of the internet. And I have been working in the various automation and manufacturing arenas for at least the last 10 years. And I grew up in it. yeah, I grew up in it as well. And so Vlad and I met and it feels like it could have been 10 years ago, Vlad, but as I’m thinking back, I think it’s probably only been about a couple of years. Again, this most recent pandemic has made those years, feel like dog ears, all the way around. And so a part of what we’re here to do is to tell you guys a little bit more about our backgrounds, a little bit of our thoughts on, education versus self-learned, take some questions from you guys and kind of set up what we hope to be a normal stream and a normal podcast in which we talk about, you know, process controls, manufacturing, automation, the whole gambit of everything.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah. And I think that, sums it up pretty well. The only thing I’d add is obviously having some, maybe even more interesting people than just ourselves here on the podcast that would, you know, share their knowledge because ultimately I think none of us are experts in every single domain. So it’s really great to, to be able to connect, you know, through these different social media channels and ultimately invite them over so that they can, talk about, you know, their experience in the industry. Talk about some of the tech, some of the business side. So hopefully combine all those things together and, bring that to you guys lately. So, Dave, I think, as you mentioned again, the goal for today’s podcast was to kind of introduce ourselves a little bit more because some of, you know, our separate communities obviously kinda know who we are, but ultimately, I don’t even fully know what you do and, you know, would like to know more. And I’m sure some of my viewers over at YouTube and the Facebook would be also very interested. So let me start with a question, you know, tell us a little bit more about yourself, how you got into manufacturing. What have you been up to I’d say over the last five years, but even more interestingly, over the last, you know, couple of six months to a year, that’d be. Yeah.

Dave Griffith: So, so that is a good question, black, sometimes I’m not even sure I know everything that I do, within the industry. I think that it’s always changing and evolving and so, consistently finding new and different opportunities. but as in the kind of broadest sense, the easiest way to describe what I do today is I work as a manufacturing consultant, you know, and then generally I’m helping one of two series of clients, either I’m helping manufacturing facilities go through some sort of organizational change, and that could be an industry, four dot O or a digital transformation initiative, either holistically within a certain area within a certain line. So I’m either helping manufacturing facilities go through one of these, or I’m helping kind of help shepherd these next generation of solutions, into the market. And in my opinion, you know, there are a lot of really good solutions that currently exist in the market, but I don’t know what is going to be a market leader 10 years from now and no one does. And so I’m always looking out to find ways in which I can help some of these new young companies, go and build solutions in order to help continue to push the a in, in order to help, continue to push manufacturing forward.

Vlad Romanov: Cool. Really cool. And what about, I guess the day to day, I’m curious if, you know, cause I know you go out to those facilities, you obviously meet with clients who speak to them online as well, but do you get involved, you know, like, do you see their manufacturing process or are you more kind of, approaching that from a higher level, you know, where you understand more of their like business goals Like what’s your kind of scope.

Dave Griffith: Yeah. So that changes and it has changed, especially during the last year. and as you had mentioned, you know, during the pandemic, so, you know, a couple of years ago I was working at a systems integration company and we were working in the data space. So mostly the MES manufacturing execution systems. And we would focus on, you know, one or two facilities at a time and generally kind of work to expand, what, what those solutions look like. And for me, at some point I realized I wanted to get higher up and help enact more of the organizational change. I had certainly seen a lot of issues, as you go through some of these larger organizational change, methods and in, unless you get everyone on board, like you could go spend a few hundred thousand dollars and still completely fail. And I had seen too many of these, you know, opportunities fail because of organizational.

Dave Griffith: And so today, I, I’m doing a couple of different things. so, and I, I guess I should say one of the things that I’d like to do more in 2021 is I’d actually like to spend more time on site and get a better, deeper understanding of what I’m working with people. So part of, one of my personal initiatives in 2021 is I’m going to do a variety of what I’m calling roadmapping services, where I literally go in and help clients, manufacturing customers mainly, go and take a look at where they are now understand where they need to go and then help quite literally roadmap a variety of phases in order to help them find the best return on investment. And especially for some I’m sure some of these people watching, you know, they’re those controls guys. And, you know, we all spent a lot of time working there and, you know, return on investment is not a sexy thing to say, right

Dave Griffith: It’s one of those, that’s a business thought. That’s an accounting thought as right. So black with a guy getting his MBA is over here laughing, but now, so it’s one of those things that I, as I continue to climb in the industry, I realized that we need to find ways to transact at some of these higher levels. And if we can get the buy-in, then we can do all of the really awesome things, on the lower side. but generally day to day, especially in the last six months, most of what I’ve been doing has been remotely has been online. A lot of what I do is, is through partners. So someone has a good relationship and we’re looking to go and bring some of these other initiatives to their facilities and we work together in order to help bring some of these initiatives into the facilities that they currently have relationships.

Vlad Romanov: Gotcha. I’m curious on the consulting side again, cause I’m, I’m familiar with the field a little bit as well, but, are you working for a specific company or are you more on, you know, working on your own and then you join certain companies that you’re helping, you know, build or is that like a contract basis How does, like what does that look like

Dave Griffith: So it all varies, I guess at the end of the day, you know, I worked for myself, I run a company, the company’s name is Kaplan solutions, in my mind, the, the end goals of what we do and the relationships that we have are more important than, than that particular company. But so we, we work for ourselves and then we have a variety of contracts and our contracts and engagements, can vary widely from the, Hey we’re coming in with a partner to do a roadmapping. And then the partner is going to take over from there to, Hey, and we have a couple of engagements that are coming up starting in 2021 that, you know, we’re going to go and we’re going to roadmap and then we’re going to stay on, we’re going to stay on in those engagements probably for the next three to five years as we go through some of these larger changes.

Dave Griffith: And again, that’s all, you know, based upon the phased approach. One of the things that I like to do is I like to continue to stay engaged. And so this is what I, I cringe a little bit when I call myself a consultant because you think of consultants that they come in in their suits. They’ve never seen a manufacturing facility before. They don’t want to get their shoes dirty, and then they go and they give you, they walk around, they give you a report that says everything is crap. You need to completely rip it out and do it based upon this white paper that I found online and start over, you know, you’re welcome. Please give me a, please give me, you know, my exorbitant, fee. And like that is, that is not how most consultants are, but that is not how I want to be. What I want to do is I want to help people achieve their goals. And again, as we go through these processes, I’ve found that the best way to help enact change is if I stay on board throughout the entire process, and it could be, you know, from a high level, you know, advisor role, or it could be an in the trenches sort of project management role at a, at a variety of different levels. And so kind of all of those are based upon, you know, what works best for the end-user and the facility.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah, absolutely. I think, it’s, I guess the end users are getting that notion more and more nowadays because ultimately you never want a contractor that comes in and just leaves as soon as the project is over, especially when you have, you know, as you call the transformation. But, ultimately you have a lot of different steps that need to be how to say playing together really well before you can call it a success. So there’s really no one party that can just like come in, execute something and then leave. It’s really a very fluid project. And especially, I guess, again, based on my controls engineering experience, a lot of these projects are all custom built. So there’s really nothing. That’s just a, you know, it’s not just putting in like one simple solution. That’s already been tested at a hundred facilities. It’s really something that’s unique.

Vlad Romanov: That’s never going to be working right off the bat. It’s going to take some time to get to the right, you know, a KPI. So it, it, it takes time. So I absolutely agree with your, with your comments there. We did get a question on LinkedIn from Joshua that I think is really interesting. And I think it’s a topic that we’ll for sure explore in a lot more detail down the road, but I do want to maybe toss this out to you and see what you see, what you think. So, right now with productive automation, pushing out the latest release of ignition, it seems to one of the, to one of the industry leader from an it perspective, are these companies going to start focusing more on security And how do you think that will pan out And I guess we can obviously like bundle in inductive automation into this, but I think the whole industry is being, quote unquote shook a little bit by what’s, what’s been happening, right.

Vlad Romanov: there’s been news of multiple factories getting hacked with ransomware, where essentially those of you who are not familiar, the ransomware gets in into even controls equipment. And then those companies may proceed to demand payments of, USD or even Bitcoin. So cryptocurrency that is a lot more difficult to trace back. So, it really becomes a challenge, right Because once the factory goes down, we ultimately know how much it takes to restore production, but also what it costs. And sometimes that could be, you know, it could be hours, it could be days, but it could also be weeks in certain cases. So what do you think Dave, what’s the cybersecurity shift in the industry

Dave Griffith: You know, so I’ve been, I’ve been talking and looking and working in a very small instance on the like industrial control system, cybersecurity for, you know, a number of years and going back, you know, four or five years, you, you start to hear about people getting hacked and three or so three or maybe four years ago. I was working with a client and they through fishing, which is generally what happens, how people get in. They had basically their entire, you know, five, six, eight sites across the United States shut down for basically the better part of a quarter. they ended up not paying the ransomware. And then by the time they backed up, they had lost about a quarter worth of production. And they had gone down, through this process of backing up all of their stuff from their most recent backups, which was a quarter before.

Dave Griffith: And so basically all their financials was six months out of date. So I would say that everyone needs to be more cognizant of ICS cybersecurity, especially with the solar winds. as you guys may or may not have seen, it’s one of those things that I talked to Pete, you know, you talk to manufacturing facilities, and a lot of people have solar ones on the it side, and it’s not enough on the ICS cybersecurity side. And people think that if the, it folks have something covered, they automatically have the OT side covered. But in my experience, very few, it, people want to commit to owning the entire OT network, right We’ve got all of these protocols, we’ve got all of these different languages, you know, the way that things happen on the it side of things is very different than the way things happen on the OT side of things. And so no one wants to accept that responsibility. So I think that we’re, we’re seeing more of like this OT engineer, so, and we’re seeing more OT engineers. And so, more of that operational technology side of that understand what networks is the people that understand more of that, you know, historical it side. And we’re going through to try to find a way to bridge the gap and kind of meld between the, those two, the, the, excuse me, the carpeted area, if you will, and the unincorporated area.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah, definitely. And I guess if I may add to that, I see a very similar dynamic in most of the plants that I’m at right now. There’s kind of like this passing the ball around of who’s going to ultimately handle cybersecurity, but no one, I would say really has it figured out. and I can give you like a concrete example where some of the projects by the OT side were actually driven by their budgets so that they could shift the responsibility over to it. Right. So they would set up infrastructure that would be ultimately owned by it just because they not only didn’t have the capability to deal with some of those things, but they just didn’t want the hassle, I guess, to, to figure out cybersecurity. So I think to answer the, the underlying question, there’s going to be a lot more focus on cybersecurity in the upcoming years, and especially with, you know, the different platforms that are coming out.

Vlad Romanov: So in the past, your PLCs were completely often network and all, they were just standalone machines. And of course that has been already like decades ago, that changed. But as we progress more and more on that hardware, I think it’s merging to be more and more essentially just a computer that’s running, you know, a robust the West. That’s going to be executing your process and even running in the cloud versus being a very dedicated controller. Right. So even the micro logic’s PLCs, I think there’s, there’s one right there. if you open it up, it’s actually running on Mel. I forgot, I think it’s nine, 9,000, microcontrollers. So it’s not as easy or the same, let’s say like hacking principles as a computer for, for which those methods are a lot more widely available. But, I think, I mean, it brings obviously challenges, but it also brings opportunities.

Vlad Romanov: And I think in terms of, if I kinda mentioned the job market a little bit, I think control systems engineers are now expected to know at least the basics of networking. So on a day to day basis, like you should be expected to be able to set up communications between your PLCs, but also through your SCADA systems to be able to send data between the two, be able to understand some of the basic features. I would say at least like at the very least of, you’re switching equipment, that’s going to be controlling the packets. but like, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities, I think, regardless of where you go. and then on the it side, I think, and I’ve had a little bit more of a challenge with this, but I don’t know if the, it folks are going to become more of a, you know, PLC programmers and understand systems, because obviously that requires a, an understanding of the process as well, but hopefully there will be some blend of some, you know, synergy between the two. So that’s a, that’s kind of my view on that.

Dave Griffith: No, no, completely. No, thank you for the question Joshua. Well, I’m glad I, I feel like I have bogarted, most of the questions so far, so, for everyone that doesn’t know you, can you let us know a little bit about how you got into manufacturing and what part of the crazy journey you’re on now, because I know you’re involved in a bunch of different things, right

Vlad Romanov: yeah, sure. So I got my electrical engineering degree back in 2013, graduated right here in Montreal, out of Concordia university. And to be quite honest with you, I didn’t really have a set path of where I wanted to go. So I just, you know, started out applying, looking at different fields. the first company that I joined was, Mitsubishi electric. And I ended up being like the field, feel the engineer. So essentially trying to figure out the electrical problems on different elevators and escalators systems, which, I’d say the job itself was interesting, but was not enough, like hands-on for me. So like I would typically come out to the site then because of the union workers, I would have to essentially tell the guys to measure a voltage for me. So they would actually go there and I would write it down on my, notepad, like a typical engineer slash consultant, as you had mentioned.

Vlad Romanov: But, I ended up getting an offer really quickly from a Procter and gamble out of their facility in Maine. And so that opened up essentially they flew me out to visit the facility. I, I essentially like fell in love cause they have all these servers, they had FANUC robots, they had KUKA robots, they had all kinds of different, custom made machinery. And so they gave me an offer to, to become a PC and I, so process control and information systems engineer. So I joined P and G I essentially picked everything I had up in Los Angeles, moved all the way across the country, went to, to Maine. And, that’s where I essentially learned all the PLC programming HMI programming. I will send to the Rockwell courses at some point. And I learned vision and systems as well. So I ended up staying a few years there, I guess, learned everything I could really love the company still have really good connections, but, just I guess the scene, having grown up in really large cities wasn’t really for me.

Vlad Romanov: So I decided to move back to Los Angeles, again, started working for crafts, doing the exact same thing, but more on the, on the maintenance side. So it’s a different plant. They had a bit less, you know, of an R and D scope. They had more of a, just maintain what we’ve got. And then that’s where I found my current boss who was a consultant slash electrical engineer. So extremely smart guy as well. Who’s, you know, who’s done it all. I think he’s got 30 years of Rockwell experience. So he taught me the ropes as well. So I was able to learn quite a bit more, be able to redesign systems. And he brought me on board now it’s been almost three years. So I joined him and we’ve been doing all kinds of different projects from very small system rollouts to upgrades, to, like full plant integrations.

Vlad Romanov: And, while I was doing that while I was, you know, traveling to different sites, sleeping in hotels, I thought, you know, it’d be really cool to start sharing some of that experience and knowledge with the community. And I’ve done this in the past. So I had some Ardwino videos and I had some raspberry pie videos. And, so I had the, kind of the technical experience to leverage some of the learnings on the PLC and HMI side. So I’ve developed a few courses and now I’m essentially working full time, still integrating projects. And on my spare time, I’ve developed a few classes, been somewhat Mia due to a new home purchase the last few months, but, you know, that’s, that’s just how life goes. So

Dave Griffith: No, no, that that’s, that’s fantastic. And I know a lot of people are probably watching this, based upon some of those great classes that, that you’ve put together flat. And I think, I think when we first connected or one of the first times we had a conversation was after I think I had put together a video talking about basically good places to learn how to program PLC’s are good places to learn how to get into, you know, the various automations and someone mentioned what you’re doing over at Solus PLC. And I think that it’s a, it’s fantastic. I’m sure that you’ve helped a lot of people, with that. And I know that you and I have talked about one of these next streams. We want to kind of go through a little bit more, and, and kind of help guide people in, you know, some paths of how they too can break into, to the automation industry.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah. absolutely. I mean, I’d like to take some credit for that. I certainly don’t consider myself to be the best in programming. I’ve met engineers who are, you know, sometimes my level, but I think that everybody can certainly have an expertise. And if you’re willing to share what you’ve learned, what, you know, then you can create value for those who are maybe not necessarily less knowledgeable, but just behind in terms of time. Right Because at the end of the day, I think it’s about spending the time to, to look at these systems, to learn these protocols, to understand what it takes and ultimately practice in the field. And I think with manufacturing in general, what I feel is really difficult is because all of the hardware and software is extremely closed off from, not only engineering students, but everybody in general, you know, like there’s no opportunity to go and practice or get some hands-on learning on some of these control systems.

Vlad Romanov: And I think that’s where some of these quote unquote like modern solutions come in because they allow you to not only, let’s say virtualize the software, but also have like a full experience on like PLC and H in my development that, like let’s say I never had, like in my university degree, obviously it’s not, you know, it’s not MIT, which might have those resources, but they just, they couldn’t afford the PLC systems to software. the licenses for which are extremely expensive, right So you just can’t learn them on their, on your own without, any of those resources. That’s really a challenge.

Dave Griffith: I think it’s one of those things where getting in you, you need enough experience to convince someone that you’re worth the shot. And one of the things that I’ve learned, you know, one of the things that my dad told me, you know, growing up every time he hired someone, every time I went to take a new opportunity is in most instances in the general, you know, automation, manufacturing, you’re probably a good T if you do not have it in your background, you’re probably two years from your start date until you actually know what you’re doing and can go do a project or can go sell a solution by yourself. And if you have any idea of the direction you’re supposed to be going in within the first year or so, you’re, you’re, you know, you’re doing fantastic because there’s just so much that you have to learn so many things that you have to understand. It, it’s a very complicated, it’s a very complicated industry. And I would agree with you that if we could get more of these products into the hands of people, so that they could have a better idea as to how you can learn to program PLCs, even if it’s just programming PLCs, then it would be a much more straightforward process to get people into these jobs. And a lot of the times you see, you know, companies and facilities are always looking or always need to hire more people.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you said it really well, it takes a lot of time to, to master and learn some of these skills. And I think people sometimes underestimate, you know, the, the extent of like, when we say PLC programming, it really kind of envelops all these different fields that may take years to master. Like, I guess I wouldn’t even consider, like we were talking about cybersecurity. I would never even say that I’m a, an expert in that domain. You know what I mean Like, so it’s going to be working with all these different individuals, but ultimately understanding the process takes a long time as well. So if you’re working at a specific factory or you’re even like a corporate engineer that sits on the global office, then it’s going to take you, I don’t want to say years, but I want to say months at the very least to just understand the process, how it functions before being able to make certain decisions.

Vlad Romanov: And of course that’s done in a gradual step at the, at the workplace. You know what I mean Like your first couple of months you might be programming some like very, very basic changes, but it takes, it will take you a long time before you can implement new solutions. It’s just, it’s just the nature of the, of the work. And I think people sometimes forget, you know, that there is a vast difference between some of these systems. And again, like behind me, I only have controllers, but you can have vessels. You can have chemical plants in which, you know, making one mistake costs you, hopefully dollars, but you know what I mean Like it could cost a much more than that when it comes to, to safety. So it’s not something that’s taken lightly and it should, it is a process that takes a long time.

Dave Griffith: No, completely. I would agree with that. And I would say that I, I’m not, I am almost never the, the, the end-all be-all expert in something. I just always know who to call because, you know, you spend enough time here. You, you know, who the good people in the industry are. It’s more of knowing who to call and them willing to pick up the phone. That is that, that is one of the important parts is knowing, know your limits and play with any. And if there is an industrial ICS cyber security issue, there are a couple of people that I could pick up the phone and call, and we would figure out what that looks like, because that is what they spend all day, every day doing. And many times you just, you need to pull in the experts. Yeah, yeah,

Vlad Romanov: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s, that’s a very important point in the industry as well. So even if you are the engineer, a certain facility, a lot of your time is not going to be necessarily just spent behind a keyboard. You also need to learn how to call people and get answers. So a lot of times, like I would call the OEM for a specific product and ask them like, how is this implemented Why does this, like, why is this work in a certain way, but not in a different way. Like, it’s just, it’s just the nature of the work. It’s not about just knowing everything, but it’s being resourceful enough to be able to figure out some of those challenges. And I guess the example that I can use as, since a lot of things evolve so quickly, even my boss called me the other week to help him flush the firmware on a newly installed PLC.

Vlad Romanov: And again, he’s got 30 years of Allen-Bradley experience, but because I’ve been dealing with some of these installs more recently, it was, I guess, a challenge to install the firmware with all these new softwares that came out on a control logic’s PLC, even though like, like I said, he’s dealt with them for decades, but just like one thing changes like that. And then you have to relearn or just like, see the interface. And there could be very tiny details that you need to go through. And again, like make the call that you’re not going to be able to resolve it through. You’re going to call somebody else to help you out. No,

Dave Griffith: No, no. Very much so completely. And I would say that that is one of the most important things is being willing to go out there and figure out the answers to your questions, but also realize that at some point it makes more sense just to pick up the phone, especially in call someone on your team, as opposed to waste 20 hours trying to, trying to struggle through and figure it out. Because how many times did you run into something flat that wasn’t in the documentation and you spent, you know, two, yeah. You spent two days of your life working on it. And you’re like, man, I’ve tried everything. And then you ask the guy down the hall from you and it’s like, Oh yeah, it’s never been in the documentation, but this is just the way we do it.

Vlad Romanov: No, absolutely. And we’ve got, we’ve got a few comments on, on YouTube from a colleague of mine and a very close friend who worked with me at a facility in, in Fullerton, California. And I can, I can tell you one quick story on how we, we had one of these Emerson drives on, which actually wrote a post on, not on LinkedIn that had failed. And the, this thing came on, on a very, I guess, old manual, but ultimately in the manual as we opened it together. And this was only three years ago, when we opened the manual, it was written that the software comes on 16 floppy disks. Right. And of course, you know, in this, in this day and age, like I don’t have a computer that takes floppy disks. No, nor does the facility, or like anyone nearby.

Vlad Romanov: So, to your point, like we had to figure out like all these different solutions, like download softwares and all that while the factory or that specific production line was down. Right. So it’s, to, to come back to the main topic that we were talking about, it’s all about like being resourceful. It’s not just about having the knowledge, but it’s being able to absorb the knowledge that’s in the manual. But, to that story, we ended up spending like three days. We were, you know, obviously like on the software side, that was a challenge, but also on the hardware, we were running wires, we had to splice in cables. We had to go from a DB nine connector back to like the parallel port. I don’t know if you remember those like really big, plugs. They used to go in your printer. which, you know, I’ve only seen when I was a kid. So it was quite a bit of a, of a challenge to figure that out. So it’s, it’s always, and I think that’s, what’s interesting about the industry. There’s always something to figure out. There’s always something to learn, but ultimately you shouldn’t be scared of the, the learning curve. I think that’s one of the most rewarding processes, at least for me again.

Speaker 4: Yeah.

Dave Griffith: I would completely agree with that. The ability to come across to question and then go through the process of figuring it out is something that you’re one never going to forget. And two is one of the most fulfilling things for me. And like throughout my career, I can tell you, one of the themes is like, how do I go find bigger questions How do I go, but find bigger problems. And then how do I solve them And that is that very much kind of helps propel me to a tee to the next question, to the next problem, to the next, you know, facility and solution. So I would completely agree with that flat.

Vlad Romanov: I don’t know how much I would agree about the never forget part though. Cause I forget things all the time and then I have to like, there’s this, like I would essentially respond to somebody’s thread, you know, in the form, there’s a Q and a forum for a PLC programmers, PLC talk. And so I would respond to the forum after I figured out the solution and then six months down the road, I’d be like, man, I’m like, how do I send the message Because obviously I get these, I get these tasks that are not like repetitive. So then I would go back and try to figure out like, how do I send this message How do I set up this path So then I would Google that again and like stumble upon like my own answer on that for a minute and be like, Oh, I gotta, like, this is how it’s done.

Dave Griffith: Good. It’s the forethought to put that out. And so I find that like, as I write blogs and as I find other people that write blogs, you know, on those very particular technical things, it may be you write it. So that six months or five years down the road, you can go back and figure out how you did that thing as opposed to going and trying to dig out the paper notebook.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah, I think unfortunately in our industry that it’s not as well. how, how to say it, like perceive to document your work. And of course, like some facilities have a handle on that a little bit better than others, but you know, in the software world, in the traditional like software development life cycle, I think it’s much more, rudimentary to document your process every step of the way and, you know, comments, your S your things in a certain way, because there’s a lot more standards versus when you go to some of these plants, you know, you, you might have some comments in your PLC logic, and sometimes you’ve got none. So it’s really difficult to figure out not only the solution to the technical challenge, but even what is going on or what’s being done. So that’s also, I think, a very important, critical part of the learning curve.

Dave Griffith: Yeah, no, I would completely agree with that.

Vlad Romanov: No, go ahead. Go ahead.

Dave Griffith: Oh, no, I was going to say, I was going to say, I don’t think that we have, I think we’ve answered all of the questions. We’ve got a bunch of comments. Thank you, everyone for, for continuing to comment, but I, I think we have kind of worked through those questions.

Vlad Romanov: Well, there’s a, there’s a question, but I did want to kind of get back on the topic of learning about each other, ultimately, and I did want to ask you, I think we talked about this a little bit off stream, but, your different travel patterns, like I want to understand like how that works into your schedule and the, for those who don’t know, like Dave travels quite a bit, which is, I think really cool. Cause you get to see a lot of really interesting places and I think you showcase a lot of them on your website, but ultimately how that combines all together into your work environment. And I guess let’s take it like pre pandemic, right. Because everything I think went online now, but how did you manage that workflow before the,

Dave Griffith: Yeah, yeah. So I, I guess, to, to go back, we’ve got to go back almost five years ago now. we had my, my wife and I, Beth, we had moved from where we had lived previously in Western New York city in the Buffalo area down to Baltimore, Maryland. I had spent a couple of years working for a manufacturers rep and distributor throughout the mid Atlantic. And it was really good. It was, they were a great group of people, but every weekend and every long weekend we could get, we would spend it driving somewhere and we were camping and we were going to kind of go and enjoy all of these other places. And at some point we kind of had driven everywhere. We could realistically within a two or three day weekend to be able to enjoy it. And it was like, well, this remote job thing, right

Dave Griffith: So the, the ability to work, not in one place is becoming, you know, slightly popular and quite honestly glad, like we spent a year ish kind of figuring out what those next steps would be and finding remote jobs. And we kind of took this leap and we sold a bunch of stuff. We put a few things in storage. We bought this old vintage transit bus and we started traveling mostly up and down the East coast. I was working for a systems integration company and about once every month to six weeks, I would get on an airplane and fly wherever I needed to fly. it was, it was national customers again, kind of at that manufacturing execution system level. And so it was a, you go where the work needs to, needs to take you. And so it was a finding a way to work, you know, and then travel around the work.

Dave Griffith: And we would go to a different place, you know, every two to two weeks to maybe two or three months and we would work and then we would just be able to go and explore. and then since that point, a couple of years ago, we downsized. And so we moved in, we will, I should say we converted a van into a camper van and we have kind of been hopping around between a couple of sites that we like friends and family. And so like right now we’re in an Airbnb and about once every quarter or so, we’ll find an Airbnb, we’ll stay here for a couple of weeks or a month, depending upon what re rates look like. And, and kind of have a little bit more space and again, kind of go and enjoy the areas that, that we have. I have certainly talked at least personally on like work-life balance. And sometimes it goes, well, sometimes it goes poorly. I, Jim Gavaghan had, introduced me to the concept of work-life excellence. And one day I hope to get to work life excellence most days, I hope just to have kind of work-life balance. And so it’s

Vlad Romanov: A principle, if you don’t mind me asking,

Dave Griffith: the, the work-life excellence, it’s not just having a balance, it’s, it’s exceeding in that. So both the work and the rest of your life benefit from some, some sort of symmetry, if you will.

Dave Griffith: And so that is kind of been my goal of looking to do that. And then as well, I, I guess I’ve flown significantly less since the pandemic. I have not been on an airplane since March. the first week of March, I was coming back from a trade show, as the world was getting ready to, to shut down. But, a lot of it is the, you know, we’re still doing work generally being hours. And then, because we’ve got the flexibility. If we do a good job scheduling, we can maybe go spend a Wednesday afternoon out doing something, or maybe we weave what we’re doing and, you know, put work away at some point on Friday and we head out to do what we’re going to do. So it just gives us a little bit more flexibility and then trying to continue to work, to continue to work on that flexibility, to go enjoy and see, and go do the outdoor things. And, you know, the reason why we started traveling, to begin with

Vlad Romanov: You guys compelled as well. I guess that’s been a, a question on my mind as well, cause I need to do a lot of hiking and trails and you see some of the very cool mountain tops in, in the us. Do you guys like stay there as well

Dave Griffith: So, so we, we do, so we built out the camper van so we could have the bed in the kitchen and a lot of our stuff with us. and then, I guess so, but before the van, we did a lot of nights intense and we bought and built the van because we were tired of spending time intense. We, we we’ve gotten, had gotten blown away one too many times. So the last night we spent in, the tent before we bought the van, we were on the outer banks. It was cold, it was very windy. we go to try to set up the tent. The tent continues to get blown over. We pull everything we have out of the back of the car. We try to weigh it down. It continues to get blown over. and then I have a picture of Beth laying a top the tent cause it had blown over and was starting to blow away.

Dave Griffith: And the moon is the moon is above her. And, I’m not sure what we did to eventually get ourselves in the tent. when we woke up the next morning, there was about 20 pounds of sand in the tent and we had snapped a couple of the fiberglass poles. And that was of that sign of maybe we should not spend so much time in a tent. So, so we, we do do some camping. I will spend some time, on trail sleeping, intense, or sleeping under tarps because that, that is something that I enjoy too, that I enjoy doing less. So a lot less. So Beth, but, but no, we do do a lot of, we do a lot of camping and especially out West, it’s nice to be able to take what amounts to most of your home with you.

Vlad Romanov: Yeah. That makes sense. We do have an interesting question from Joshua again, thank you for all the questions that you’re submitting. So when it comes to solutions like ignition compared to solutions, such as modules built into SAP in your experience are accompanied is more, I think it’s eager to go with ERP solutions as your truth or integrate a mess with ERP. Hmm. So I guess, we can unpack that a little bit. and I guess really briefly my company is trying to implement a custom built solution. That’s going to be a module for SAP, but I know that there’s, there’s obviously like different ways of, of doing things, but, what are your thoughts, Dave And I know there’s many companies that are currently in that arena because I think SAP has been, I don’t know if stagnant is the right word, but, I guess like less positively seen by the technical industry than what it’s initially was intended for, which was, you know, accounting and finance. And, obviously it has all the current features for a mez ERP booked.

Dave Griffith: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And so Joshua, I don’t know if you know, and I don’t know if anyone’s still watching the stream knows. I spent a lot of time building MES solutions on the ignition on the ignition ecosystem, generally built upon the SEPA us solutions and supple soft is a third party strategic partner or their strategic partners of, of ignition. So I spent a lot of time working on that part of the reason why I have kind of continued to try to find a way to get above that is basically because so many people have a variety of, of MES solutions. generally I would say having an MES solution is better than not having an MES solution, but it’s difficult to get that process data into your ERP without some very large number of dollars sort of integration. And so I would say some sort of MES that lives on the process side and then integrating that into an ERP and kind of pushing the data up is what I’ve seen works best.

Dave Griffith: although that’s not always the easiest to convince the end users because they can just buy, like if it’s a, we can buy an SAP module for $25,000 or we buy a custom solution for 150 grand after it’s built and integrated. Sometimes at $25,000 looks a lot better. And you don’t understand kind of the difficulties of if, if you’re going through the process of determining that you want to measure the data, going through the process and saying, Hey, I want to mention the data. I want to build a baseline. And then I want to work off of that is always important. You really have to look at what you get. And I am certainly not in MES expert on the SAP platform. I’ve run across it a couple of times. but beyond that, I, I am certainly not an expert of that and I know flat, you’re going to comment, I will comment to Joshua Joshua, if you want to drop me a note, I would be happy to kind of walk you through that, if that becomes, if you guys are going through that and I could possibly help you guys, down that process, I would be happy to have a conversation with you.

Vlad Romanov: Cool. Yeah, I think, those are all the questions that I’m seeing right now. do we want to, close off, I guess I think our initial goal was to keep these between 30 and 45 minutes. We’ve been a little over, but I guess what the initial start-up time that is acceptable. I mean, I do want to mention that we, we hope to continue doing these in the future and we’ve talked about a schedule, but, that’s obviously still a little bit in the air, but we will be making announcements on all those social media channels before the stream goes live. And hopefully we’ll give people a little bit more of a notice this time, going forward. But, they’ve, you wanna see any clothing, closing thoughts and words, and I guess re mentioned where people can find us if they need to reach out to us.

Dave Griffith: Yeah, no, no, thank you for that. Thank you everyone for joining us. again, if you guys, you guys can find both flat and I on LinkedIn, I will go ahead and once again, kind of drop all of these places in the comments of, all of the different streams. You can find Vlad, NAI, both on LinkedIn. You can find [email protected]. I also am going to do some streaming, both with flat, as we talked about, and I’m going to try to put together kind of like a weekly stream, as we go through this. So you guys can feel free to check me out and all of these places, as well as Twitch. If you guys know what Twitch is, feel free to feel free to come from. I actually think both flat and night are on Twitch. We might be the only two people on LinkedIn who know what Twitch is, but, you can find both of us there. They could Joshua

Vlad Romanov: For feedback. You just said, well you’ll have at least one person, I think this was great. And again, I think we’ll, even ramp up the quality with the, you know, with some of the in-depth topics that me and Dave kind of put together for the following streams. And ultimately once we bring in the experts, they will be able to answer some of these like very specific questions in a lot more detailed than, either of us can. So I think, definitely appreciate the kind comments, the questions, and we’ll see you guys next time.