Steve talks with Jessica Califano and Vaughn Shinall of Temboo about the internet of things and how manufacturers are using new IoT technologies to improve their production, cut costs and eliminate waste.
Steve Melito: So welcome to New York Manufacturing Now. I’m your host, Steve Melito. We are here today with Temboo. We’re going to meet Vaughn Shinall, who is the head of product outreach, and Jessica Califano from the product outreach team. Vaughn and Jessica, welcome to the podcast.
Vaughn Shinall: Thanks, Steve.
Jessica Califano: Thanks for having us.
Steve Melito: Excellent. So let’s get started. How did Temboo get started?
Vaughn Shinall: Great. I’ll take that one. So Temboo’s president and co- founder, Trisala Chandaria, she first set out really to solve the problem of integrating different technology services and how to get them to speak with each other. And that led to the development of our own technology to machine generate code. We created a flexible way to automate the writing of code so that connected different systems to each other and so that software can talk to other software seamlessly. And with the rise of APIs and cloud services, this led to the development of a large library of processes for integrating different software services and what happened then is that in 2013, several different semiconductor companies approached Temboo wanting to use our code generation technology to make it easier to program their chip sets and microcontrollers and other hardware to utilize APIs and other internet services. Semiconductor companies wanted to use our technology to make their chip sets ready for the Internet of Things. And so that’s how we actually got started in the Internet of Things. Companies like Texas Instruments and Samsung and Arduino have shipped our software on millions of their chips and their hardware development platforms and so since then we’ve been working in the industrial Internet of Things space, offering our software tools to manufacturers and also to commercial properties, smart farms, research labs, basically any business that needs better data about their products or machines or physical assets.
Steve Melito: Jessica, is there anything you’d like to add to that?
Jessica Califano: No. I mean, I think that pretty much covers it. I think from where we started to where we are now, it’s been a little bit of a shift from more of a hobbyist platform to now being a real tool that businesses use to help learn more about their systems and their processes. So it’s been a really interesting evolution.
Steve Melito: So this didn’t just happen in a vacuum, of course. What need or gap in the marketplace did Temboo identify?
Vaughn Shinall: Well, a lot of people have said that software is basically eating the world. It’s being used in more and more contexts and in more and more different ways. And as the volume of software and the world is scaling up, there needs to be a way to scale up the writing of software as well. And this is especially true for the Internet of Things when we’re talking potentially billions of devices coming online. And who’s going to be able to program all of those devices, and who actually has the expertise to know not only how the internet works, but also embedded hardware, firmware, networking, and the like? So basically, that’s a gap that Temboo saw and since then, we’ve been really simplifying the building and running of complex software systems at scale by also providing a modern user interface so that people who aren’t software developers, who aren’t computer programmers, but who are bringing in different skill sets can actually play a role in creating and developing software.
Jessica Califano: I think making the Internet of Things more accessible to people without traditional software or embedded hardware backgrounds is something that hasn’t really been a focus in a lot of the tech companies out there. You see all of these software platforms coming out of Silicon Valley, and then you hear about the big major skills gap in manufacturing when it comes to Industry 4. 0 technologies. And it seemed like no one was trying to address that space. So it’s been really focused around developing these technologies, but not as much around, okay, how do we make something that people can actually use and aren’t intimidated by or feel like they need to hire a specialist for? So I think that’s where we came in and really developed a tool that anyone could sit down and figure out and use and hopefully set up in under an hour.
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah. Yeah, I think, to put it in sum, this idea of automating the writing of code so that you don’t have to write it yourself not only kind of solves this problem of just how are we going to write software for everything, but then at the same time opens up the accessibility and enables other people who typically wouldn’t be writing software themselves to have a role in the creation of software.
Steve Melito: That’s great. It seems like a tremendous asset, especially for small to medium manufacturers. And of course, FuzeHub talks to folks in this market segment all the time who don’t have all of the resources in- house necessarily to do this. And it can be expensive to outsource it. So it sounds like you’ve come up with a nice way to get the job done.
Jessica Califano: Absolutely. That’s the goal.
Steve Melito: So let me play the devil’s advocate a little bit. You know and I know the Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things is a really big deal and the digital transformation that manufacturers choose to undergo will make them more competitive. But many studies say manufacturers want to get to this point, but it’s not a priority enough to get it done. Why should small to medium manufacturers care about Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things?
Jessica Califano: Yeah. So I think we’re on sort of the brink of a fourth industrial revolution. I don’t think we’re completely there yet, but these technologies are becoming more and more ubiquitous. And in reality, there’s a good business case for implementing a Internet of Things system. Something like lowering the costs on your plastic injection molding machine by being able to predict when that machine is going to fail, and so thereby reducing your downtime and increasing your productivity. Things like if you have a refrigeration system and you want to monitor the temperature level and get alerts if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to prevent spoilage and prevent product loss.In terms of other business cases, there’s new business models that small- to- medium size manufacturers can implement, whether it’s around customer service, being able to remotely diagnose machinery from far away instead of having to, for OEMs, instead of having to send someone maybe across the country to fix a machine or diagnose a problem. You can gain insight into that machine’s performance from your desk at work. There’s also the connected product angle. So if you sell lighting systems, you can add on a software as a service element to your product. And that’s a whole other stream of revenue. So you’re not just selling someone a product one time, you’re now having monthly income from your connected product.
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah. And in addition to the opportunities to both lower costs and increase revenue through new revenue streams that the Internet of Things can offer companies, I think an important thing to think about really too is just your competition. And your competition is looking into these technologies, is exploring these technologies. And there’s a sense that if a manufacturer, if a company fails to invest or start getting a handle on the Internet of Things, you’re going to be outpaced by your competition because suddenly you’ll be competing against companies with lower costs or additional revenue streams that aren’t available to your company.
Steve Melito: I like how you can talk in the language that manufacturers understand about cost and efficiency, and you’ve got some examples. The example of injection molding, of course, is one that’s going to make sense to a lot of people, industrial refrigeration, even commercial refrigeration, all opportunities for a cost savings. So as a business, what’s a challenge that Temboo has overcome?
Vaughn Shinall: At Temboo, we work with a lot of companies and we see that a lot of companies, they have this challenge of how do we get started in IOT? And so our challenge has, in many ways, been how do we help other companies overcome the challenge of getting started with IOT? And that’s really I think one thing that we’ve focused on, especially with our Kosmos system for industrial IOT. With this system, our customers can use any computer with a web browser to set up IOT systems on multiple devices in under an hour.
Steve Melito: So let’s talk more about the Kosmos IOT system and the Temboo Toolkit. I’ve read about it on your website. What do they include? What are some more details you can share?
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah, sure. So the Temboo Toolkit machine generates code in over 10 programming languages and for multiple hardware programs, and it offers a lot of pre- built integrations for thousands of public and private API processes. And this is what our customers have been using since 2013 when we entered the Internet of Things space.
and more recently, we’ve launched our Kosmos system for industrial IOT, which I’ve just mentioned. And the Kosmos system is, again, built off of our same code generation technology, but it really provides an end- to- end experience and system for linking multiple devices together into complex IOT applications. And Kosmos, what it does is really creates complete application program files for every device in your IOT system so that customers don’t even need to interact actually with any code directly. Beyond enabling customers to program and configure a number of devices in under an hour, Kosmos also gives you dashboards of live data, automated alerts, over- the- air updates to modify applications, and then even machine learning models built off of the data that’s collected by Kosmos. And then these models can help automatically identify anomalous operations or predict future problems and ultimately make recommendations for how to optimize a system.
Steve Melito: What is a dashboard like? Is it a tablet, is it on a tablet that a worker carries around, or is it a display that’s hanging from the ceiling or on the wall?
Jessica Califano: So in the internet- connected device, you can view your dashboard on, whether it’s your phone or a tablet or your computer. If you have something that has access to the internet, you can look at your dashboard and see in real time anything that’s happening on whatever you’re monitoring it is. So if you’re monitoring temperature, you can look and see what the temperature is on your machinery, or if you’re monitoring humidity levels in a bakery, you can see that in real time, or however often you have it set to send sensor readings to Kosmos. But you can see that basically any internet- connected device.
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah, that’s a big advantage with Kosmos is that you don’t have to download a bunch of software to your computer or even install an application. It just works through any web browser for setting up an IOT application or viewing the dashboards of an IOT application that you’ve already set up and running.
Steve Melito: That’s great. So it’s really hardware agnostic, you’re neutral on the hardware. As long as it’s internet- enabled, you can use it for this.
Vaughn Shinall: Exactly. Correct.
Steve Melito: That’s great. That’s great. So I’ve got to go back and ask a question. I think I got this wrong before because I skipped ahead. As a business, what’s a challenge that Temboo has overcome?
Vaughn Shinall: So as an IOT business, one of the challenging parts is just working with hardware. We are a software company and unlike some other IOT platforms, we’re not building our own hardware or our own custom hardware that is designed with Temboo in mind. So a challenge for us is really how do you get Temboo working on a variety of different hardware systems and devices?I think the way that we really overcame that at first was through our product partnerships and product integrations with hardware companies and semiconductor companies that we started working with around 2013. So that would be Texas Instruments and Arduino and then later on Samsung. And what was really useful in that was basically being able to work with those hardware companies directly to learn more about the underlying architecture of their systems and how Temboo could work within those systems and be either part of the firmware or part of the developer environments, the software that would be used to program those systems and through integrating our software through those different product partnerships where our software was then shipped on those development platforms, that really gave us insight into how are these hardware systems designed really at the chip level. And being able to work with multiple different companies that closely not only gave us a lot of distribution to just get our foot in the door in this space, but then gave us insights into, okay, how can we make Temboo work and be versatile with a lot of other different types of hardware and devices even when we might not have that close of a partnership with the maker of that device? And it really kind of helped us basically architect the system in a way that it could work with lots of different types of hardware and chip sets.
Steve Melito: We’ve talked about a challenge. What’s an achievement that you’re especially proud of as a company?
Jessica Califano: So one recent one that was really exciting is we recently won the award for manufacturing technology from the Institution of Engineering and Technology. And they do their innovation awards every year. And we were a finalist in two categories, actually. One of them was their sustainability category and the other was manufacturing technology. So we won innovation of the year for our code generation technology. And that’s pretty awesome. The IET is I think the second largest or one of the largest engineering organizations in the world. So to be recognized by them was I think a big achievement for the company as a whole.
Vaughn Shinall: And I think a lot of what we tie that achievement to is it was for our code generation technology. But also what’s innovative about that, I think goes back to the accessibility angle that we talked about earlier. For example, one of our customers has been a food manufacturing company called Monginis Food, and we worked closely with a plant manager there named Hashim. He was trained as a factory technician, but he didn’t know about software development or the Internet of Things. But he was able to use Temboo with its code generation technology to connect and upgrade existing machinery on their production lines at the food manufacturing plant so that things like their machines that scan the production lines for impurities in their foods would automatically log that data and send alerts to their quality assurance team. Hashim also then started creating other applications with Temboo’s technology, things like retrofitting their commercial refrigerators and ovens with temperature and proximity sensors so that they would now be logging that data and issuing alerts if the temperatures went out of range or if the proximity sensors detected the doors being left ajar on an oven or a refrigerator. And Hashim was able to build all of these applications himself using Temboo without any prior IOT experience. And then he was able to roll out these applications to multiple factories for his company and ultimately, Hashim got hired by another company as an IOT engineer. And this really showed us how accessible and powerful tools can really upskill people. And it’s something that Temboo cares about as a company. And to that end, we’ve also developed a New York state certified, a professional development hours course for licensed engineers that’s about upgrading physical systems with internet- connected sensors. And a lot of that kind of work has led to us being recognized as an innovative company and to be able to win awards like the IET one that Jessica talked about.
Steve Melito: That’s fantastic. Congratulations on the award. And I think you’re almost too humble when it comes Monginis. I’ve read they have 14 factories that you’re in, is that true?
Vaughn Shinall: That’s correct.
Steve Melito: Wow. Are they all in one general geographic location or are they spread out?
Vaughn Shinall: They’re mostly in India, but they have also some locations in the Middle East.
Steve Melito: Okay. Wow. Very impressive. Can you tell us about some other companies that you’ve helped?
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah, sure. So besides Monginis, there’s Europe’s largest lawnmower company. It’s called STIGA, and they’ve used Temboo to measure engine vitals, basically what’s going on inside their engines to manufacture quieter self- driving lawnmowers, which is pretty cool. There’s also Electrolux, the large appliance company. They use Temboo for connected air quality monitors for their humidifiers and air conditioners. There is an aviation company called Skysmart in the UK. They’ve used Temboo for compliance purposes to automate the collection of environmental data from their storage facilities for airplane parts and equipment.There’s also research context that Temboo has been used. So there’s some scientists at UC Berkeley that have used Temboo to develop bioelectric sensing bacteria. So this is effectively bacteria that itself can be used as a sensor to measure solutes and solutions. And we also have a federal research agency that’s using Temboo to automate data collection for some of their lab research on health.
In addition to that, we have several smart building and smart factory projects right now that involve things like monitoring pumps or cooling tanks, elevators, injection molding machines, and other equipment.
Steve Melito: So you’ve got real- world success stories in the private sector, universities, government research institutions. Is there anything else you’d like New York state manufacturers to know about your company and the offerings and the ways that you can help them?
Jessica Califano: Yeah. I think one thing that is part of all of the benefits that come with the Internet of Things and Industry 4. 0 is the effect that you can have on the sustainability of your manufacturing system. So by reducing waste or monitoring your energy consumption, you’re really contributing towards a more sustainable system. And in turn, that’s a really great thing to use as sort of a marketing angle as well. I think more and more people are starting to care about the sourcing of their products and the sustainability of the things that they’re buying, whether that be businesses or consumers. And being able to say, ” Hey, we’ve reduced our CO2 emissions through using Industry 4. 0,” that, one, shows you’re on top of the latest technology, but also shows that you are making an effort to contribute to the sustainability of the planet and from there, I think you get other benefits like attracting new workers who care about working at a company that isn’t contributing to global warming, or finding ways to make your factory more safe through monitoring different processes. And I think all of those things kind of tie back into the business case.
Vaughn Shinall: Yeah. Definitely. Because lots of times when you’re implementing Internet of Things technologies or connected- sensor technologies, you are, by the very nature of it, finding some way to increase efficiencies or reduce waste or reduce product loss, which is obviously good for any business. But at the same time, you kind of get for free the fact that you’re minimizing your environmental footprint as well. And I think that’s something, as Jessica said, for companies to think about as well.
Steve Melito: Hey, one last question. Temboo is a really cool name. Where did it come from?
Jessica Califano: I have no idea.
Vaughn Shinall: It’s top secret.
Steve Melito: It’s top secret. Okay. All right. And how can people find you online? Is it temboo.com?
Vaughn Shinall: Yes.
Jessica Califano: Yes. That’s temboo. com. Send us an email at [email protected] temboo. com if you’re interested in learning more.
Steve Melito: All right, that is fantastic. Vaughn Shinall and Jessica Califano both of Temboo, thank you for being on the podcast. Again, you’ve been listening to New York Manufacturing Now. I’m your host, Steve Melito. If you would like information about Temboo or about the Internet of Things, FuzeHub is a tremendous resource for small to medium manufacturers across the state and we’d be certainly pleased to speak with you. So give us a shout. You can give us a call, or if you’re online right now, just go to our website at fuzehub.com, fuzehub.com. Look for a link up in the top right hand corner where you can reach out to the solutions program and submit a request for assistance and you might even get a call from me.