How HPE and PTC Join Forces to Deliver the Best Outcomes from the Combined OT-IT I4.0 Productivity Revolution
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How HPE and PTC Join Forces to
Deliver the Best Outcomes from the
Combined OT-IT I4.0 Productivity
A discussion on how the latest data analysis platforms bring operational technology benefits to
the edge for real-time insights in manufacturing.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of
the Customer podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor
Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on digital transformation
Our next edge computing trends discussion explores the rapidly evolving confluence of
operational technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT). New advances in data
processing, real-time analytics, and platform efficiency have prompted new and
impactful OT approaches at the edge.
We’ll now hear how such data analysis platforms bring data-center levels of OT benefits
to the edge for real-time insights for manufacturers.
To hear more about the latest capabilities in gaining
unprecedented operational insights where they are
needed most, please join me in welcoming Riaan
Lourens, Vice President of Technology in the Office of
the Chief Technology Officer at PTC. Welcome, Riaan.
Riaan Lourens: Hey, Dana. Thanks for having me.
Gardner: We are also here with Tripp Partain, Chief
Technology Officer of IoT Solutions at Hewlett Packard
Enterprise (HPE). Welcome, Tripp.
Tripp Partain: Hey, Dana. Thanks a lot. I appreciate the
Gardner: Riaan, what kinds of new insights are manufacturers seeking into how their
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Digital revolution in business
Lourens: We are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is really an
extension of the third, where we used electronics and IT to automate manufacturing.
Now, the fourth is the digital revolution, a fusion of technology and capabilities that blur
the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
With the influx of these technologies, both hardware and software, our customers -- and
manufacturing as a whole, as well as the discrete process industries -- are finding
opportunities to either save or make more money. The trend is focused on looking at
technology as a business strategy, as opposed to just pure IT operations.
There are a number of examples of how our customers have leveraged technology to
drive their business strategy.
Gardner: Are we in some sort of a golden age -- by combining what OT and IT have
matured into over the past couple of decades? If we call this Industrial Revolution 4.0,
(I4.0) there must be some kind of major opportunities right now.
Lourens: There are a lot
of initiatives out there,
whether it’s I4.0, Made in
China 2025, or the Smart
Factory Initiative in the
US. By democratizing the
process of providing value
-- be it with cloud
capabilities, edge computing, or anything in between – we are inherently providing
options for manufacturers to solve problems that they were not able to solve before.
If you look at it from a broader technology standpoint, in the past we had very large,
monolith-like deployments of technology. If you look at it from the ISA-95 model, like
Level 3 or Level 4, your MES deployments or large-scale enterprise resource planning
(ERP), those were very large deployments that took many years. And the return on
investment (ROI) the manufacturers saw would potentially pay off over many years.
The opportunity that exists today for manufacturers, however, allows them to solve
problems that they face almost immediately. There is quick time-to-value by leveraging
technology that is consumable. Then they can lift and drop and so scale [those new
solutions] across the enterprise. That does make this an era the likes of which nobody
has seen before.
Gardner: Tripp, do you agree that we are in a new, golden age here? It seems to me
that we are able to both accommodate a great deal of diversity and heterogeneity of the
edge, across all sorts of endpoints and sensors, but also bring that into a common-
platform approach. We get the best of efficiency and automation.
By democratizing the process of providing value
– be it with cloud capabilities, edge computing,
or anything in between – we are inherently
providing options for manufacturers to solve
problems that they were not able to solve before.
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Partain: There is a combination of two things. One --
unusually so, because typically technological advances
start either in government/military or the business side --
because of the smartphone evolution over the last 10
years, the types of sensors and chips that have been
created to drive that at the consumer level are now at
such reasonable price points, you are able to apply these
to industrial areas.
To Riaan’s point, the price points of these technologies
have gotten really low -- but the capabilities are really
high. A lot of existing equipment in a manufacturing
environment that might have 20 or 30 years of life left
can be retrofitted with these sensors and capabilities to
give insights and compute capabilities at the edge. The capability to interact in real time
with those sensors provides platforms that didn’t exist even five years ago. That
combines with the right software capabilities so that manufacturers and industrials get
insights that they never had before into their processes.
Gardner: How is the partnership between PTC and HPE taking advantage of this new
opportunity? It seems you are coming from different vantage points but reinforcing one
another. How is the whole greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to the
Partnership for progress, flexibility
Lourens: For some context, PTC is a software vendor. Over the last 30 years we
targeted our efforts at helping manufacturers either engineer software with computer-
aided design (CAD) or product lifecycle management (PLM). We have evolved to our
growth areas today of IoT solution platforms and augmented reality (AR) capabilities.
The challenge that manufacturers face today is not just a software problem. It requires a
robust ecosystem of hardware vendors, software vendors, and solutions partners, such
as regional or global systems integrators.
The reason we work very closely with HPE as an alliance partner is because HPE is a
leader in the space. HPE has a strong offering of compute capabilities -- from very small
gateway-level compute all the way through to hybrid technologies and converged
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Ultimately our customers need flexible
options to deploy software at the right
place, at the right time, and throughout
any part of their network. We find that
HPE is a strong partner on this front.
Gardner: Tripp, not only do we have lower cost and higher capability at the edge, we
also have a continuum of hybrid IT. We can use on-premises micro-datacenters,
converged infrastructure, private cloud, and public cloud options to choose from. Why is
that also accelerating the benefits for manufacturers? Why is a continuum of hybrid IT –
edge to cloud -- an important factor?
Partain: That flexibility is required if you look at the industrial environments where these
problems are occurring for our joint customers. If you look at any given product line
where manufacturing takes place -- no two regions are the same and no two factories
are the same. Even within a factory, a lot of times, no two production lines are the same.
There is a wide diversity in how manufacturing takes place. You need to be able to meet
those challenge with the customers to give them the deployment options that meet each
of those environments.
It’s interesting. Factories don’t do enterprise IT-like deployments, where every factory
takes on new capabilities at the same time. It’s much more balanced in the way that
products are made. You have to be able to have that same level of flexibility in how you
deploy the solutions, to allow it to be absorbed the same way the factories do all of their
other types of processes.
We have seen the need for different levels of IT to match up to the way they are
implemented in different types of factories. That flexibility meets them where they are
and allows them to get to the value much quicker -- and not wait for some huge
enterprise rollout, like what Riaan described earlier with ERP systems that take multiple
By leveraging new, hybrid, converged, and flexible environments, we allow a single plant
to deploy multiple solutions and get results much quicker. We can also still work that into
an enterprise-wide deployment -- and get a better balance between time and return.
Gardner: Riaan, you earlier mentioned democratization. That jumped out at me. How
are we able to take these advances in systems, software, and access and availability of
deployments and make that consumable by people who are not data scientists? How are
we able to take the results of what the technology does and make it actionable, even
using things like AR?
Lourens: As Tripp described, every manufacturing facility is different. There are typically
different line configurations, different programmable logic controller (PLC) configurations,
Ultimately our customers need
flexible options to deploy software at
the right place, at the right time, and
throughout any part of their network.
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different heterogeneous systems -- be it legacy IT systems or homegrown systems -- so
the ability to leverage what is there is inherently important.
From a strategic perspective, PTC has two core platforms; one being our ThingWorx
Platform that allows you to source data and information from existing systems that are
there, as well as from assets directly via the PLC or by embedding software into
We also have the ability to simplify and contextualize all of that information and make
sense of it. We can then drive analytical insights out of the data that we now have
access to. Ultimately we can orchestrate with end users in their different personas – be
that the maintenance operator, supervisor, or plant manager -- enabling and engaging
with these different users through AR.
Four capabilities for value
There are four capabilities that allow you to derive value. Ultimately our strategy is to
bring that up a level and to provide capabilities solutions to our end customers across
four different areas.
One, we look at it from an
intelligence perspective; the
second is intelligent asset
optimization; the third, digital
workforce productivity, and
fourth, scalable production
So across those four solution areas we can apply our technology together with that of
our sourced partners. We allow our customers to find use-cases within those four
solution areas that provides them a return on investment.
One example of that would be leveraging augmented work instructions. So instead of an
operator going through a maintenance procedure by opening a folder of hundreds of
pages of instructions, they can leverage new technology such as AR to guide the
operator in process, and in situ, in terms of how to do something.
There are many use cases across those four solution areas that leverage the core
capabilities across the IoT platform, ThingWorx, as well as the AR platform, Vuforia.
Gardner: Tripp, it sounds like we are taking the best of what people can do and the best
of what systems and analytics can do. We also move from batch processing to real time.
We have location-based services so we can tell where things and people are in new
ways. And then we empower people in ways that we hadn’t done before, such as AR.
One, we look at it from an enterprise
operational intelligence perspective; the
second is intelligent asset optimization; the
third, digital workforce productivity, and
fourth, scalable production management.
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Are we at the point where we’re combining the best of cognitive human capabilities and
Partain: I don’t know if we have gotten to the best yet, but probably the best of what
we’ve had so far. As we continue to evolve these technologies and find new ways to look
at problems with different technology -- it will continue to evolve.
We are getting to the new sweet
spot, if you will, of putting the two
together and being able to drive
advancements forward. One of the
things that’s critical has to do with
where our current workforce is.
A number of manufacturers I talk to -- and I’ve heard similar from PTC’s customers and
our joint customers -- is you are at a tipping point in terms of the current talent pool, with
those currently employed and those getting close to retirement age.
The next generation that’s coming in is not going to have the same longevity and the
same skill sets. Having these newer technologies and bringing these pieces together, it’s
not only a new matchup based on the new technology – it’s also better suited for the
type of workers carrying these activities forward. Manufacturing is not going away, but
it’s going to be a very different generation of factory workers and types of technologies.
The solutions are now available to really enhance those jobs. We are starting to see all
of the pieces come together. That’s where both IoT solutions -- but even especially AR
solutions like PTC Vuforia -- really come into play.
Gardner: Riaan, in a large manufacturing environment, only small iterative
improvements can make a big impact on the economics, the bottom line. What sort of
future categorical improvements value are we looking at? To what degree do we have
an opportunity to make manufacturing more efficient, more productive, more
Tech to bridge skills gap, talent shortage
Lourens: If you look at it from the angle that Tripp just referred to, there are a number
of increasing pressures across the board in the industrial markets via the workers’ skills
gap. Products are also becoming more complex. Workspaces are becoming more
complex. There are also increasing customer demands and expectations. Markets are
just becoming more fiercely competitive.
But if you leverage capabilities such as AR -- which provides augmented 3-D work
instructions, expert guidance, and remote assistance, training, and demonstrations --
that’s one area. If you combine that, to Tripp’s point, with the new IoT capabilities, then I
think you can look at improvements such as reducing waste in processes and materials.
We are getting to the sweet spot of
putting [cognitive human abilities and
machine capabilities] together and being
able to drive advancements forward.
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We have seen customers reducing by 30 percent unplanned downtime, which is a very
common use case that we see manufacturers target. We also see reducing energy
consumption by 3 to 7 percent at a very large ship manufacturer, a customer of PTC’s.
And we’re generally looking at improving productivity by 20 to 30 percent.
By leveraging this technology in a meaningful way to get iterative improvements, you
can then scale it across the enterprise very rapidly, and multiple use cases can become
part of the solution. In these areas of opportunity, very rapidly you get that ROI.
Gardner: Do we have concrete examples to help illustrate how those general
productivity benefits come about?
Joint solutions reduce manufacturing pains
Lourens: A joint-customer
between HPE and PTC focuses
on manufacturing and distributing
reusable and recyclable food
packaging containers. The
company, CuBE Packaging
Solutions, targeted protective
maintenance in manufacturing. Their goal is to have the equipment notify them when
attention is needed. That allows them to service what they need when they need to and
focus on reducing unplanned downtime.
In this particular example, there are a number of technologies that play across both of
our two companies. The HPE Nimble Storage capability and HPE Synergy technology
were leveraged, as well as a whole variety of HPE Aruba switches and wireless access
points, along with PTC’s ThingWorx solution platform.
The CuBE Packaging solution ultimately was pulled together through an ecosystem
partner, Callisto Integration, which we both worked with very closely. In this use case,
we not only targeted the plastic molding assets that they were monitoring, but the
peripheral equipment, such as cooling and air systems, that may impact their operations.
The goal is to avoid anything that could pause their injection molding equipment and
Gardner: Tripp, any examples of use-cases that come to your mind that illustrate the
Partain: Another joint-customer that comes to mind is Texmark Chemicals in Galena
Park, Texas. They are using number of HPE solutions, including HPE Edgeline, our
micro-datacenter. They are also using PTC ThingWorx and a number of other solutions.
[The customer’s] goal is to have
equipment notify them when attention is
needed. That allows them to service
what they need when they need to and
focus on reducing unplanned downtime.
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They have very large pumps critical to the operation as they move chemicals and fluids
in various stages around their plant in the refining process. Being able to monitor those
in real time, predict potential failures before they happen, and use a combination of live
data and algorithms to predict wear and tear, allows them to determine the optimal time
to make replacements and minimize downtime.
Such uses cases are one of the advantages when customers come and visit our IoT Lab
in Houston. From an HPE standpoint, not only do they see our joint solutions in the lab,
but we can actually take them out to the Texmark location and Texmark will host and
allow you them see these technologies in real-time working at their facility.
Similar as Riaan mentioned, we started at Texmark with condition monitoring and now
the solutions have moved into additional use cases -- whether it’s mechanical integrity,
video as a sensor, and employee-safety-related use cases.
We started with condition monitoring, proved that out, got the technology working, then
took that framework -- including best-in-class hardware and software -- and continued to
build and evolve on top of that to solve expanded problems. Texmark has been a great
joint customer for us.
Gardner: Riaan, when organizations hear about these technologies and the opportunity
for some very significant productivity benefits, when they understand that more-and-
more of their organization is going to be data-driven and real-time analysis benefits
could be delivered to people in their actionable context, perhaps using such things as
AR, what should they be doing now to get ready?
Lourens: Over the last eight years of working with ThingWorx, I have noticed the initial
trend of looking at the technology versus looking at specific use-cases that provide real
business value, and of working backward from the business value.
My recommendation is to target use cases
that provide quick time-to-value. Apply the
technology in a way that allows you to start
small, and then iterate from there, versus
trying to prove your ROI based on the core
Ultimately understand the business challenges and how you can grow your top line or
your bottom line. Then work backward from there, starting small by looking at a plant or
operations within a plant, and then apply the technology across more people. That helps
create a smart connected people strategy. Apply technology in terms of the process and
then relative to actual machines within that process in a way that’s relevant to use cases
-- that’s going to drive some ROI.
Apply the technology in a way
that allows you to start small, and
then iterate from there, versus
trying to prove your ROI based on
the core technology capabilities.
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Gardner: Tripp, what should the IT organization be newly thinking? Now, they are
tasked with maintaining systems across a continuum of cloud-to-edge. They are seeing
micro-datacenters at the edge; they’re doing combinations of data-driven analytics and
software that leads to new interfaces such as AR.
How should the IT organization prepare itself to take on what goes into any nook and
cranny in almost any manufacturing environment?
IT has to extend its reach
Partain: It’s about doing all of that IT in places where typically IT has had a little or no
involvement. In many industrial and manufacturer organizations, as we go in and start
having conversations, IT really has usually stopped at the datacenter back-end. Now
there’s lots of technology in the manufacturing side, too, but it has not typically involved
the IT department.
One of the first steps is to get educated on the new edge technologies and how they fit
into the overall architecture. They need to have the existing support frameworks and
models in place that are instantly usable, but also work with the business side and
frame-up the problems they are trying to solve.
As Riaan mentioned, being able to say, “Hey, here are the types of technologies we in IT
can apply to this that you [OT] guys haven’t necessarily looked at before. Here’s the
standardization we can help bring so we don’t end up with something completely
different in every factory, which runs up your overall cost to support and run.”
It’s a new world. And IT is going to
have to spend much more time with
the part of the business they have
probably spent the least amount of
time with. IT needs to get involved as
early as possible in understanding
what the business challenges are and
getting educated on these newer IoT, AR, virtual reality (VR), and edge-based solutions.
These are becoming the extension points of traditional technology and are the new ways
of solving problems.
Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We have been discussing the rapidly
evolving confluence of OT and the IoT. And we have learned how data processing, real-
time analytics, and platform efficiency are all prompting new OT approaches at the very
edge of manufacturing.
Please join me in thanking our guests, Riaan Lourens, Vice President of Technology in
the office of the CTO at PTC. Thank you so much, Riaan.
Lourens: Thanks for having me, Dana. It’s been a pleasure.
IT needs to get involved as early as
possible in understanding what the
business challenges are and getting
educated on these newer IoT, AR, virtual
reality, and edge-based solutions.
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Gardner: And we have also been joined by Tripp Partain, Chief Technology Officer of
IoT Solutions at HPE. Thank you so much, Tripp.
Partain: Yes, I enjoyed it. Thank you very much.
Gardner: And a big thank you to our audience as well for joining this BriefingsDirect
Voice of the Customer digital transformation success story discussion. I’m Dana
Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of
Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored interviews.
Thanks again for listening, please pass this along to your IT community, and do come
back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
A discussion how the latest data analysis platforms bring operational technology benefits to the
edge for real-time insights in manufacturing. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2019. All
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