The Reminger Report: Emerging Technologies

Rebuilding U.S. Manufacturing with Holistic Tech Solutions

January 13, 2023 Season 3 Episode 42
Rebuilding U.S. Manufacturing with Holistic Tech Solutions
The Reminger Report: Emerging Technologies
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The Reminger Report: Emerging Technologies
Rebuilding U.S. Manufacturing with Holistic Tech Solutions
Jan 13, 2023 Season 3 Episode 42

Zachary Pyers is joined by Adam Ellis, Founder & CEO of Harmoni Solutions, Inc.  Based in Youngstown, Ohio, Adam aims to improve the way that humans interact with machines with Harmoni- a device that revolutionizes the way CNC machine shops track time and performance. 

Highlights of their discussion include:

  • Adam's entrepreneurial journey and early exposure to the manufacturing industry.
  • How Harmoni's technology could increase efficiency and profitability, making American manufacturers more competitive with their overseas counterparts.
  • Trends in the skilled labor workforce.
  • Areas of potential growth and anticipated challenges for Harmoni in the manufacturing industry.

Be sure to check out the video version of this interview on our YouTube page.

Visit our website for information about our legal services related to emerging technologies.

Show Notes Transcript

Zachary Pyers is joined by Adam Ellis, Founder & CEO of Harmoni Solutions, Inc.  Based in Youngstown, Ohio, Adam aims to improve the way that humans interact with machines with Harmoni- a device that revolutionizes the way CNC machine shops track time and performance. 

Highlights of their discussion include:

  • Adam's entrepreneurial journey and early exposure to the manufacturing industry.
  • How Harmoni's technology could increase efficiency and profitability, making American manufacturers more competitive with their overseas counterparts.
  • Trends in the skilled labor workforce.
  • Areas of potential growth and anticipated challenges for Harmoni in the manufacturing industry.

Be sure to check out the video version of this interview on our YouTube page.

Visit our website for information about our legal services related to emerging technologies.


ZBP     Zachary B. Pyers, Esq.

AE       Adam Ellis

 

 

ZBP

            I’m excited today to have a special guest on our podcast, Adam Ellis, who is joining us.  He’s the founder and CEO of Harmoni Solutions, Inc.  Adam, thanks for joining us this morning.  If you could, could you tell us a little bit about your company, Harmoni Solutions, Inc.

 

AE

Yeah, yeah, so Harmoni Solutions, Inc. is a startup in the space of improving the way humans interact with machines, in short.  Our focus today is on CNC machines and how you can kind of improve how operators interact with them and just, you know, really change the way that shops improve their efficiency.

 

ZBP

            Now, for those of our listeners or viewers who may not be familiar with CNC machines, can you tell us a little bit about what CNC machines are for those people who may not be as familiar with the manufacturing processes?

 

AE

            Yeah, of course.  So, a lot of people tend to be familiar with read printers, and I always describe it kind of like, if you take a 3D printer, it’s like laying down material, and a CNC machine is kind of the opposite of that.  You put a piece of metal or something in there and it kind of cuts away the material and you end up with a product.  You would use them, they’ve been around for much longer than 3D printers and used for a lot of the products that you take for granted all day long.

 

ZBP

            Well, any time you, so, and it’s interesting that you talk about just that, that they’ve been around for a long time.  This is, the CNC machine, I mean, I know we’re gonna talk about Harmoni Solutions and your product, but the actual CNC machines have been around, CNC machines have been around for decades.

 

AE

            Right, exactly, exactly.  Lots of different brands, lots of different, you know, technologies involved over the years, but the reality is, the basic premise of how they operate actually hasn’t changed that much in the end.  It’s just been a few adaptations o some of the accessories that kind of go with them.

 

ZBP

            So, tell us, how did, how did you come up with the idea for Harmoni Solutions?

 

AE

            Yeah, so, I’ve been in the consulting space for the past 25 years, working with a lot of these kinds of CNC machine shops largely.  My consulting practices were around ERP systems and how these shops use ERP to, you know, get product out the door basically, and it just became apparent to me in working with them that an awful lot of focus has been put onto the front side of the office, improving operations there and maybe not as much when it comes to touching the machine, and it was a little bit more of a gray area there, and there was an awful lot of meat on the bone to improve how things work.

 

ZBP

            You already talked about your background a little bit in the consulting space, but you’ve been, I mean, you’ve been working kind of in this manufacturing space for more than just a couple years.  I mean, this has been a, a bigger chunk of your career.

 

AE

            Right, yeah, I’ve been, you know, what you, I guess, consider a serial entrepreneur.  I’ve really kind of always been interested in having my own business, actually going all the way back to being a kid.  You know, me and my brother used to sell produce door to door, then we started a lawn mowing business, then a __________

 

ZBP

            I, I had, I had one of those as well when I was a kid.

 

AE

            You had one of those, too?  Yeah.  It’s a great way to make some money when you want to save up for a stereo or something as a kid, you know?

 

ZBP

            Mine was actually, mine was actually a car, but yes, I.

 

AE

            _______, even cooler.  You know, and then, you know, that really progressed me.  As I came out of college, I did briefly take a job at a manufacturing shop, which was great for me to get that experience in the terminology and just the way a business operates, then kind of went back to starting my own thing then.  Went to a consulting practice after that where we focused initially on generic IT consulting, setting up serves and throwing network cable and all that stuff and then quickly realizing that ERP was, you know, this much better way to make money, and we, you know, doubled down on that and built a practice that at our highwater mark, we had 24 folks working for us doing ERP customization work all across the world really, and that’s what really, you know, got me going in, in this direction.

 

ZBP

            Now, one thing that I want to mention or at least talk about is, Harmoni Solutions, Inc. is actually part of the Youngstown Business Incubator process, is that, is that correct?

 

AE

            Yeah, that, that’s right.  We’ve, you know, set up with them earlier this, last year, and they’ve been super helpful.  It’s, it’s kind of a great resource in the region for having something that’s focused on this kind of technology.  You know, there’s lots of folks that might be interested in a pure sass kind of solution or something like that, but you know, we represent something that’s a little bit more difficult – the hardware component.  It’s talking about, you know, production machinery, things like that.  A lot of folks don’t want to have that expertise around that.  YBI doubles down on that, and we really appreciate working with them.

 

ZBP

            Well, I mean, and I think it’s, it’s interesting, too, right.  At least I find it interesting because I’m originally from Northeastern Ohio and I still have family up there, but you know, Northeastern Ohio has long been, had a large manufacturing presence.  I mean, for, for, for decades and decades and decades, and I know that, you know, economic cycles have dipped and raised over the, the years, but I think it’s interesting to see that, you know, a company who is kind of helping to revolutionize what was the backbone of that economy, I at least find it interesting and I’m always excited to talk to another, you know, Ohio business entrepreneur, so you know, again, we’re happy to have you here.

 

AE

            Yeah, thanks.

 

ZBP

            If you could, tell me, when we talk about Harmoni Solutions, what was, kind of, some of the problems you were identifying in the manufacturing process that you saw that you thought, hey, you know, this is something we as a company can really improve on?

 

AE

            Right, well, there’s, there’s been several things and, and a lot of it kind of it is anchored around that ERP consulting background that I had.  You know, if you think about ERP for a lot of, you know, midsize companies, it is the system of record for them.  It is where they define what was sold to a specific customer, you know, down to the revision of the part basically, how that should be manufactured and then how you understand the costing of that as it kind of is analyzed after the fact and then how you bid that the next time, a similar part.  And, you know, one of the challenges we, that I saw time and time again was that they only had half the story to work with, that a lot of times in the current world, they are relying on operators to either use paper timesheets or shared timeclocks on the shop floor to record their time on specific jobs, and then that’s what’s kinda rolling out into their ERP software and that’s how they’re, you know, informing their decisions in the future.  The reality is, that data is only as good as the person inputting it, and when it's really tedious to go back and forth from your machine to a shared timeclock machine or a piece of paper, you know, for tracking it, you tend to not be super-accurate in what you’re doing, so really, it’s garbage in, garbage out.  If we can improve the way that that information is tracked by making it more convenient to enter that time and also to boil together with the, the actual data coming off the machine itself to validate the accuracy of the data, that would be a big thing, so that was one of the first, you know, ideas that kind of came with it.  The second was, like, how do you, it's the ERP system of record and it knows part and revision, which again is the key thing of what you’re selling, how can you use that key information to help prevent things going awry from the beginning, you know?  Making sure that the operator has the right instructions, they got the right drawing, they got the right program loaded on the machine, all the settings are pre-configured right on the machine.  If we could somehow tie that back to ERP, then, you know, we would save a lot of, you know, scrap costs but also wasted human effort and all other sort of stuff.  And then lastly, you know, there’s a lot of players out there that are involved in the world of monitoring machines to improve efficiency purely by the virtue of taking all this data and analyzing it.  If we can blend that together with ERP, we can improve efficiency with that real time data, and we can do it in a better way than other folks are because of our tie-ins to ERP.  Those were the nexus of the problems we wanted to solve kind of going into it and kind of how we arrived at wanting to make Harmoni in the first place.

 

ZBP

            So, we’ve kind of talked about the problems you identified.  Tell us, how does Harmoni work to fix those problems?

 

AE

            Yep, so first we, you know, we, we know, the lot, especially manufacturing.  You gotta be pragmatic first.  You have to start with something that is going to give immediate _______.  So our first thing is, how do you save time?  How do you basically take that, that time walking back to the ERP terminal and leverage that in something that pays for the solution right out of the box?  So we save time through several techniques.  One is leaning heavy into the use of RFID technology, and I’m talking long-range RFID stuff.  I’m not talking the, you gotta go up and tap some sort of reader like you might use to get into a door or something like that.  I’m talking, you walk up to a terminal and by the time you’re there, it knows who you are, what you’re working on, what parts you have, what tools you have, just gather all that based off of these inexpensive stickers that you put on the back of anything that you might want to identify.  These stickers cost pennies each nowadays.  You know if this, we would have built this, you know, a decade or two ago, they wouldn’t have either existed or they would have been so expensive it would have been, you know, just not reasonable.  Nowadays you can buy these for pennies each, so we leveraged that to automate input of data and guarantee the accuracy of that data that’s being input.  We then take the next level to that to pair that with the contracting so that stuff they’re walking back and forth to the ERP terminal for the timesheet, we’re saying, okay, I’m gonna take this sticker and I’m gonna basically flip the script here and basically say, hey Adam, I see you’re holding this part, is that right?  Yes.  Now I’m tracking your time.  I saved you a few minutes there per job change basically, which can really really add up when you’re talking, you know, the, you know, the cost of the operators, the cost of the machine not running, all that other sort of stuff.

 

ZBP

            So when you’re talking, when you’re talking that scenario, you’re actually talking about using it to track the operator?

 

AE

            Track the operator and, and then you know, that, the terminal is at a machine, so it kinda has a feed of data coming off the machines or kinda it will pair machine and operator.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            Right.  Yep, that’s right.  And then, you know, the last bit is using that same sticker to help look up all of the stuff that the operator may have needed to do their job, so instructions, drawings, all that sort of stuff, the sticker just pulls it up.  You’re not flipping through a binder, you’re not, like, shuffling through paperwork.  We just got it right there, so saving time is kind of the first, you know, tier of what we get into.

 

ZBP

            Yeah.

 

AE

            But then, and this kind of just ties into that last bit, is reducing scrap and adding safeguards and setting up machines to _______, because, because, we’ve pulled up the right instructions and the right programs, we’ve inherently reduced a point of scrap occurring.  You know, you don’t have a chance of loading the wrong program file from a network drive because you missed that the _____ changed, you have to look for a different file name or you don’t accidentally pull up the lefthand side part drawing instead of the righthand side part drawing because you missed an “L” versus an “R” or something like that.  We, you know, cut that off at the beginning, and there’s no choice.  It’s just presented immediately for you on there, and you know, when, when we take not only loading the program but also on the machine, applying all the settings to it automatically via our interface, you’re just, you’re keeping that machine running more which ends up, like, just turning into, like, real money in the end.  And then lastly, the monitoring side to it.  You know, we’ve captured the beginning of the process, what the operator is doing, the job, the person, the machine, and off that machine, we’re getting a live feed of all this cycle data - the one, the off, the stop, the start, I’m waiting for an operator, all the, what tool is in use, what speed is it running at, all that sort of stuff.  We, we’re capturing all that and we’re blending it seamlessly with the job information that was put in on the front side, which gives you this crazy, you know, ability to not only monitor what’s going on in real time but analyze in the aggregate and, and understand, you know, your profitability and everything else.

 

ZBP

            Now, I mean, you’re talking a lot here about efficiency and cost savings, increasing profitability and ROI, all of which I know businesses are interested in, and I know over the last, well I don’t know if it, it seems like it’s been almost my entire, my entire life, there has been this discussion about making the manufacturing processes herein the United States more competitive with other areas in the, in the country, or not country, but in the world who have lower costs of production because they’ve got lower labor costs and they’ve got, you know, different sets of regulations.  Do you see, I mean, your products as it relates to, you know, implementation in U.S. markets as, as helping to aid, you know, in competitiveness with those U.S. entities?

 

AE

            Absolutely.  You know, in the end, the way we see it is that, you know, the machinery is the same all over the world, you know, so, we, in fact, we probably have access to some higher tech stuff here stateside, so the differences are exactly what you mentioned.  You know, you’ve, you’ve got, you’ve got wage differences although that’s coming up in the world as well, currency manipulation regulations, the way districts are specialized and things like that.  There’s a lot of things that make it, that have, you know, enticed things to move overseas, but when it comes to high, high precision parts in particular, you know, we’ve, we’ve, we continue to have the advantage here.  We’ve got the kind of skilled workforce that is really, you know, ideal in making a lot of that sort of product, and you know, the other thing is, like, we’ve also seen, you know, the challenges of putting all your eggs in this basket of an overseas market when you have some of the supply chain disruption and the global pandemic and all that sort of stuff, so I think there is an interest in how do we do it here, and I think a lot of that just gets to be, how do you close the gap, you know?  Where do we take the parts that make sense to make here and make them here, and you know, continue to refine it in a way that makes it, you know, as effective as possible.  You know, I think about that movie Moneyball a lot.  I’m not sure if you recall that film.

 

ZBP

            I do.

 

AE

            You know, it, it was really this idea that, you know, about you, you had this disadvantage in a baseball team that couldn’t compete with the Yankees who had, like, this massive payroll, and we still have that today, and of course we’ve got the Cleveland tie-in here, you know, with, you know, the analyst that came up with this concept being with the Cleveland Indians at the time, and you know, their thing was basically, you know, forget trying to compete on, on money, you know.  Try to compete on analyzing the data of it, and how do you basically pick out what makes the most sense to, you know, to, to, to form a winning, a team, and I think that, you know, that concept can be applied to what we’re trying to solve here basically.  You know, if you’re trying to look at it, if you have the data to be able to analyze and to be able to optimize and know what makes sense to do here, that’s how we win.  I think that’s how we close the gap.  I think that’s how we, you know, really take things to the next level.

 

ZBP

            You know, one of the things you talked about in, in that response and also was the skilled labor force and how, how we have, meaning the United States kind of has the advantage with regards to precision-related parts because we’ve got a more skilled labor force.  Do you see trends or changes or, you know, predictions on the horizon as it relates to the labor force that’s currently operating these CNC machines?

 

AE

            Yeah, yeah, it, it’s a bit of, it’s a challenge for us to overcome definitely as a, as a country.  The average age of a lead machinist today is in the mid 50s, you know, and we don’t have this sufficient backfill of, you know, the folks kind of getting into the trade to kind of fill those shoes, so we’ve gotta do something about that, and that’s, of course, a big nationwide problem to solve to a certain extent, to get people interested in trade and understanding this is a, a great business to be in.  You know, so we, we kind of see Harmoni as, as having a piece to that in a few different ways.  One you can imagine, when I’ve talked about some of these safeguards that we put in place with the terminals, that helps the newer folks to get, you know, into the business and, you know, not have to have all this stuff in their head that the machinists in the mid-50s has, you know, learned over all this time.  How do we facilitate that knowledge transfer into digitized work instructions, into videos and all that sort of stuff that can be pulled up automatically and help just prevent mistakes from happening and, and, and bring people confidently into that work force.  Also, you know, one of the things that Harmoni is, we have the same Harmoni terminal at every machine.  It could be a 30-year-old _____ CNC machine or a brand new DMG _____.  They could all have this same interface at them, and it really makes it where you have a more adaptable workforce to basically know how to use, how to interact with this machine to start with.  Of course, there’s going to be nuances at the machine level itself, but at least we’ve given them a consistent interface for all the stuff that we can assist with.  And then, you know, lastly, it’s, it’s really just, you know, easier onboarding, and again, this kind of ties into the documentation aspect to it, but if you can basically make it where you can put these safeguards in where I’ve got this grainer operator, they’re not yet certified on this machine, they need to follow the work instruction, they need to make sure they read the whole thing, you know, we can basically put some guardrails around that to really just help, help bring them in, so you know, it’s a, definitely a trend, but it’s one I think we can, we can help to improve.

 

ZBP

            Well, and I, you mentioned another point that I think is interesting, that your technology works across the spectrum of CNC machines.

 

AE

            Right.

 

 

ZBP

            So it’s, it’s, it’s not as if, you know, you, we, we would have, that an operator, if I became an operator, that I would need to become familiar with all of the different machines in order to operate them.  I would just really need to become, and I’m not, I don’t mean to over simplify this ‘cause I know there still has to be, as you indicated, there’s still a machine-level aspect of this that the operator needs to be familiar with, but a, a big chunk of that can be kind of ______ by my familiarity or training on your, on your solutions, on Harmoni, the Harmoni solutions product.

 

AE

            Yeah, yeah, that’s absolutely right.  You know, it’s, it’s definitely, we try to do as much as is reasonable from our end to, to, to, you know, to bridge that gap and, and you know, talking to all machines, it was, it, it has continued to be one of the biggest challenges in making a product like this.  You know, you’re talking machines that at the low end of the spectrum have no digital outputs at all.  It’s purely a, we have to talk to it in an analog level, reading voltage, to kind of the stuff that was maybe the, like, 90s-ish stuff where maybe it had serial ports and we’re able to talk to them that way to, you know, the early 2000s stuff where okay, maybe there’s an ethernet port but it’s definitely nothing like what our modern stuff would have.  I mean, you got the brand new stuff which is, like, you know, great, but you know, the reality is, no company is gonna have the exact same set of machines across the board.  That’s just not the way they do things.  You just don’t throw it out like you would a computer every few years.  It’s too expensive, you know, so you use it until you really can’t use it anymore and/or it makes sense to upgrade, so it.

 

ZBP

            Now, is it possible for you to, I mean I see behind you one of the machines.  Is it possible for you to just give us, to walk through and give us a little bit of a demonstration.

 

AE

            Yeah, absolutely.  So, yeah, you see behind me here a Harmoni terminal that’s mounted next to, this would be a CNC control simulator, so this is a fan which would be a kind of CNC control.  It’s kind of the brains of the CNC machine, and what you’ll notice right off the get-go is we mount directly to it and we kind of have this screen size, it’s approximately the same.  This is meant to be just an accessory screen.  It’s not meant to kind of get in the way.  Just you put it up there and it just kind of acts as this, like, bonus, like extra monitor almost, but it does a heck of a lot more than a monitor would, obviously.  And this is kind of a close-up view of it here.  You kinda see, it’s a touch-screen device.  We have a, along this side of the board, we have all of our, maybe, old-school analog connectors on this side where you might be reading voltage and things like that, and then on this side, we’d have all the more modern digital connections.  It has a long-range RFID baked into it as I mentioned, has a camera.  It has this light up here.  This light is actually very clever.  It’s not just whether the machine is working or not.  It is actually also show, it's telling you about the efficiency of the machine as it’s operating, so you, operations can just look out across the floor, and they’ll see sequences of lights that let them know they need to go focus their attentions out there.

 

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            So, and, and then obviously a touch-screen sorta interfaced on here, so the way I best demonstrate this typically is, you know, it’s impossible for you to kind of see this screen from here.

 

ZBP

            Right, absolutely.

 

AE

            So what I do is I’ll flip on a screen share here real quick.  Are you able to see able to see that if I turn on the screen share?

 

ZBP

            I believe so.

 

AE

            Alright, let’s try that.  So here is just a, a screen-share from this terminal here basically.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            The way that it operates is the screen has multiple different sections to it.  An operator typically would start their day on this section here which is the people screen.  The people screen is whenever I showed you earlier, I had that sort of badge where I put a sticker on the back of it.

 

ZBP

            Yes.

 

AE

            That, that would be representing these badges.  So right now it sees the three sticker, the three badges I have in my hand, but you want to kinda see this RFID in action.  If I clear the screen here real quick, as soon as I move these badges within range, the terminal is going to pick them up and present them on the screen for me, so you’ll see that it just pops them on the screen as soon as you walk up to it.  It’s an adjustable range, but the typical would be about 15 feet would be as soon as it starts to see them.  From there, the operator will tap their name, and from here, this is where they’ll clock in for the day so they’re starting their day at the machine basically.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            All they do is they tap the button for clock in and you’ll see they’re immediately clocked in.  Now, this transaction is going immediately into the ERP system if the company has an ERP, by the way, so you would know that the operator is there from all the other systems that you use as well.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            Next they’re gonna say what they’re working on.  They go, from here, they go to Start Activity, and similarly to the job badges, or the, you know, the employee badges.  The paperwork might have these little stickers on them, too.  So you can see the antenna has picked up these two jobs that are nearby, and I can say, alright, I’m gonna work on Atlas Left.  I just tap Run and the operator will be clocked onto that activity now.  So you know, again, this is a, something that’s going live into ERP now, so we’re capturing the cost of this operator’s time right now basically is what we’re doing.  and what they’re gonna do next is, we would anticipate the operator would want to know how to do the task, so they would click this little icon of a book here.  This is the digital work instructions.  This shows you how to do your activity, and we do have, you know, the screen is, you know, is, might be a bit small to read this for some kind of activities, so we do have an ability from here where you can actually take this and pop this out onto a big TV or a tablet or something like that.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            So this is where you might view the drawings or the setup guides and things like that.  You just pull that all up from here.  What’s key is the operator didn’t pick this.  This was picked for them.  It knew the right instruction for the part, for revision, even down to the machine possibly.  I mean, you could have a different instruction for a different machine.  We just do, figure that out for them and just present it here.  Next you get to the program level which is this little kind of code-looking button here.  This shows you all the programs that are associated with this machine and this, or the, this part rev machine, so from here, they can either just load ‘em all right now or they can tap into a specific program and see the G-code for it and then _____ it from there, so it’s just as simple as tappin’ the Load button and what that does is the Harmoni device just transfers it onto the control and you’re good to go.  Again, you’re not picking this from a network drive or something like that like they’re doing today or a USB stick.  We’re just doing it from right here.  We also get into a lot of times the paperwork.  There might be notes and comments and things like that that will evolve over time.  We have a screen in here where you can see for all the jobs that are nearby, all that information that you might want to know, drill into the different, you know, steps of the job, things like that.  Then the last piece where this all ties together would be on the home screen here where you can kind of see the operator, what they’re clocked onto and this bar chart down here at the bottom.  So what you’re seeing here is, the bottom is we’re seeing the machine’s cycles, whether it’s running, stopped, interrupted means it’s waiting for the operator to do something.  You’ll see them all presented on this little rowing chart down here.  I actually have the machine running right now, so I’m actually gonna turn it, turn the feed rate up on it now which is a CNC term there, and we’ll actually see it stop here within a few minutes by the time I’m done talking about it.  But then at the top part, you’ll see the operator’s time, and this is your first visual indication of when there is a disconnect on what’s going on.  I’ve kind of exaggerated it for the demonstration here where I have the operator who is clocked onto an activity for hours, right, you see this giant green bar here.  You have the machine.

 

ZBP

            Yeah, and I, I’m assuming, I’m, if I’m reading that correctly, that’s like, eight and a half hours.

 

AE

            It’s like eight and a half hours, right.

 

ZBP

            Yeah, okay.

 

AE

            And the machine was actually stopped that entire time, so this is the nexus of the garbage-in, garbage-out problem, right, where this is the cost going into the ERP system and that does not align with reality, what was actually happening, and you could only know that if you’ve seamlessly paired that up in the way that we do it here.

 

ZBP

            Okay.

 

AE

            So you can kinda see that that’s kinda building this out.  We’ll actually see the cycle stop here once the program is done running, but while I’m waiting for that, let me show the next bit which is our cloud platform.  So this is where all of this information gets to be kind of consumed and used, and you can pull this up in a web browser.  You could pull this up on a tablet, whatever else.  What you see here is a set of dashboards to help you to understand what’s going on in your shop, and we break it down into, you know, kind of smart little buckets here, so we have, for example, Alerts.  These are things are like, hey this machine is offline right now, things like that.  We also have things like Insights.  Here would be an Insight for the machine I’m looking at right now where this machine has actually not run for 9.5 hours today.  Okay, maybe that’s a, a thing to draw attention to, or this is probably the bigger one, it was running without a labor ticket for 8.5 hours today.  That was that big red span versus the, the green span there.  Something to quickly draw your attention to it, and you can refine this over today, week to date, month to date, kind of help you to, these kind of just are the quick tips we give you to kind of steer you in the right direction.  From there, you can actually look at the individual machines and know, okay, well, what’s going on?  Okay, here’s this machine here, here’s the operator, here’s the utilization on this machine, and I can drill into it and see that similar view like I saw on the machine itself but break it down even further into, like, you know, understanding which operators were responsible for the amounts of time on the machine that were, like, unallocated and things like that.  There’s obviously a lot more to drill into in here.  We have lots of reports and exports and all that sort of stuff to, to consume this data.  That kind of gives you a high-level flavor of what we’re all about with, with the platform here and kind of how it, it ties together.  By the way, you can kind of see here that cycle just stopped, so.

 

ZBP

            Yeah.

 

AE

            Kinda that indicator.  So we’re all about this, you see all of it but then consume it in an intelligent way.

 

ZBP

            So, I’m gonna ask a kind of a question.  Is, I mean this just looks to me like a lot of data that maybe some of your customers just didn’t have before.

 

AE

            That’s right.

 

ZBP

            Do, are they, do you find that they have, and maybe you haven’t experienced, do you find they have trouble kind of analyzing and, and reacting or predicting based upon the amount of data they’re, they’re getting, or, or how are they adjusting, I guess, to that process?

 

AE

            Yeah, so, you know, it, you, you’re absolutely right that we’re providing a data point they don’t have today.  A lot of times when they’re bidding a new job today, they know just as well as anybody does that they have to kind of make a bit of an educated guess when it comes to the machine time on things because it’s really two disjointed systems that they have to know, okay you got machine utilization over here and you got the labor charge over here, and when you’re trying to bid a new project out, you just don’t have all the information to say with a hundred percent accuracy, and what, and, and beyond that, then you don’t have a great ability to understand, okay if I run it on this machine with this operator, how much is it likely to take versus this machine with this operator, how much is it likely to take.  There is a large amount of information that they gain from implementing Harmoni, and you know, the reality is this.  One of the challenges of, you know, that, that, that we, as we see customers, you know looking to implement this.  Their immediate reaction sometimes might be, wow, this is a lot.  This is a big change.  I don’t know if I’m ready for this yet.

 

 

 

ZBP

            Well, I mean, because, I mean, one of the things we talked about, right, is this industry hasn’t changed or at least not significantly in decades.

 

AE

            Right, right, so, you know, what we really will, will push back on that with is that we’ve implemented, we’ve applied Harmoni in a way that you can take baby steps with it, that you basically don’t have to go all in with this immediately and use every feature day one.  Let’s start with the low hanging fruit.  Let’s start with, you know, let’s take it in the, the most extreme example, the, the basic time tracking.  Let’s bring the time tracking to the machines.  You’re saving those few minutes walking back and forth per job change.  That adds up.  That’s a big deal, and what you’re getting for free as a side effect of that without any extra effort is all that, you know, seamlessly paired machine data.  If you’re not ready to start, you know, digging into that yet, you know, it’s, maybe that feels like a big step, that’s okay.  It’s there.  The most important thing is the record button is turned on, and you’ll have that data when you’re ready to consume it because like all big data, it only actually gives you insight as it’s been collected over a long period of time in and out, so that’s the most important thing.

 

ZBP

            Now, as you guys, I mean, as you guys move forward, Harmoni moves forward, do you see any areas of growth either in the near term or the long term that you’re experiencing or you’re seeing as trends in the industry?

 

AE

            Yeah, so, you know, today, where we’re, you know, where we’re, we’re seeing the most immediate growth for Harmoni is in the hybrid CNC machine shops, the folks that, you know, we’re seeing a lot in the aerospace and defense side of things where, you know, they basically, a lot of what we’re talking about with Harmoni speaks to problems they’re trying to solve today.  You know, we’re trying to squeeze more juice out of a lemon.  We also know that a network drive of CNC programs is not proper revision control.  We’ve been burned by it.  We need ways to, like, turn it into a proper database that properly pulls up everything, so for those folks, that’s our most immediate, like, we’re resonating deeper with them and we’re having a lot of success in that world, and you know, we’ll, we’ll probably continue to serve them for, for, for a long time to come.  There’s, there’s a lot of them out there that, that really care about solving these problems.  In the long term, though, you know, we do see Harmoni as a product that goes beyond even CNC machines.  You know, we, we want this product to be the, you know, we have always referred to it as the nest of industrial IoT devices and, you know, and an IoT device to a, you know, to a manufacturer today might sound like a scary concept, but you know, the reality is this.  You think about, like your Nest thermostat you have at home.  It was an easy thing to install.  You just plus two wires into it, you know.  It didn’t cost too much.  It did something super useful you that was better than your old thermostat,  You could control it from your phone and stuff like that.

 

ZBP

            Right.

 

AE

            It was just a, a, a no-brainer for you, and that’s what we shoot for with Harmoni.  We want to make a device that’s simple to drop in, that doesn’t require tremendous expense up front.  You know, we have, have kind of a model that makes it where it’s super easy to get started with Harmoni and provides an immediate tangible ROI, and we want to do that for all machines long term, all machines where you have an interaction with a human where we can kind of improve that.  We can cause chain reactions amongst machines, people or towmotors, all that sort of stuff to, like, bring all this together.  I think, you know, we want to be something that’s just ubiquitous throughout manufacturing where you want to just tie up the processes perfectly and neatly and just bring this all together.

 

ZBP

            Now as you’ve kind of, you know, are, we talked about the areas of growth.  Do you see any challenges that you either are currently facing or you’re kind of think you’ll be facing in the future as, as you kind of expand or seek to expand to get this kind of widespread adaptation?

 

AE

            Yeah, I mean, it really goes back to the framing the fear of change for a, for a lot of folks.  I think that that’s really our number one, you know, when we talk to people and we’ve got that pushback.  You know, most places we’ve gotten any sort of pushback, that has been it largely where it’s, wow, I don’t know if we’re ready for this yet.  So we need to continue to frame this solution in the way that we are, in a, in a way that, like, makes it where it’s easy to try, it’s low risk, it’s, and, and, and that, that’s kinda where it, really where it starts for us at.  And everything else, it seems like, you know, we’re, we’re in a, a field right now that is very receptive to the concept of it.  When I’ve showed this to most folks, you know, it’s really cool to get that.  Wow, this is amazing.  Like, I, I’ve never seen nothing like this.  So, you know, we definitely have that wow factor, and I, you know, we’re gonna continue to, you know, leverage that, so as long as we can kind of frame it in a way that, that, you know settles down the, the fear of, of, you know, change, then, then we’re in good shops, new place, you know.

 

ZBP

            Yeah, absolutely.  Adam, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today.  I, I look, I look forward to seeing Harmoni’s future growth and success in the future.  I’m always excited to talk to an entrepreneur from Ohio who is doing some really cool stuff, so I appreciate you taking the time today.

 

AE

            Alright, thank you.  Nice talking to you, Zach.