Colton J. Bach, of Machine Saver, joins us at the Turbo Machinery Symposium to discuss their operations for remote monitoring of equipment.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio, texasbusinessradio.com’s website. We are down here, not in our normal studio, we’re down here at the George R. Brown Convention Center at the Turbo Show, which is the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia down here. This is brought to you by the Turbo Lab at Texas A&M University, which is part of the department of mechanical engineering I guess over there at Texas A&M. This is rotating equipment, this is anything that goes round and round which is a big portion of the economy here in Texas, so pumps and turbines and gearboxes and anything that goes round and round.
I had an interesting conversation about some of the new products that are out there in the market and the ability for companies to remote monitor equipment, to be able to analyze their streams of data coming off these probes and be able to extend the life, lower the cost of operating, lower the cost of maintenance of some of these very, very high dollar equipment has really changed the way that this industry is operated.
So very interesting conversations going on around that. I’m your host, Matt Register, I am joined by George Walden, my business partner, what do you think George?
George Walden: Well I love the Turbo Show, it’s a really good indicator of what’s going on in the market around us and a good indicator of what the further is looking like for the next couple of years. When there’s excitement in this room, we’re all excited because it means good things for Texas over the next five years, in my opinion. I’m not hearing anybody talking about slow down, I’m hearing a little bit about, “Well things can’t continue this way,” but I am not hearing bad things. I’m actually very encouraged about the future and what’s going on in business today.
Matt Register: Good. Well we’re joined by Colton Bach who is with Machine Saver. These guys do remote monitoring of equipment, right?
Colton Bach: Yes sir, yes sir.
Matt Register: So welcome to the show. Welcome back to the show-
Colton Bach: Thank you so much.
Matt Register: … we had you on last year as well.
Colton Bach: Absolutely, yes.
Matt Register: So tell us a little bit about Machine Saver, what do you do and who do you do it to?
Colton Bach: Yeah, so Machine Saver started off doing basically vibration sensors, like case mounted sensors for roller element bearings, for pumps, motors, fans all of those not as critical machines, medium level criticality and the reason we got into those, because we’re a very inexpensive solution. Extremely inexpensive and basically what we got going there is we daisy chain sensors together with new digital smart technology and we bring that to a machine gate and it’s our [inaudible] device, that cellularly pushes information to our web portal so customers can access their data and that data includes trends, time wave forms, spectrum, all that good stuff and then it’s also able to automate texts and email them when they have a problem, when their alarm level’s reached so they can manage by exception and get to see which machines they need to go take a look at.
Matt Register: Well this is interesting and we talked to a couple of companies that do remote monitoring of equipment and because the world has changed as far as that goes, where you used to have to send a service tech there, used to take measurements and then he’d go measure another machine and if something changed on that first machine, you’re not going to know it unless the guy’s standing there, right?
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: This not only allows you in real time to monitor all your machines, it allows you to automatically identify an anomaly or something that’s happening that isn’t supposed to happen, right?
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: And it also allows you to historically look at the performance of your machine and be able to tell certain things about it. Talk to me a little bit about how your customers are using some of this data.
Colton Bach: Yeah, well I’ll start with the walk round guys because actually what we found in the years we’ve been doing this, we partnered with a lot of those companies that go out and take readings for customers as a third party analyst and what they’re finding is they’re either pricing themselves out of the market because there aren’t enough of those technical resources to go around, so using our system to bridge the gap and be able to catch all those failures that their customers might have for them, use our system to ping in when it’s time to do that analysis. Sorry, do you have another question?
Matt Register: Well no, I mean I’m interested in the whole process because these are very, very high dollar pieces of equipment.
Colton Bach: Yes.
Matt Register: Right? And anyway that an operator of that equipment can extend the life of it, can lower the maintenance cost of it, can identify preventatively what that maintenance requirements are going to be, you’re talking about a significant amount of money that they’re not spending on breakdowns and failures, right?
Colton Bach: Right, yeah and we do write ups on that all the time for our customers an actually pinpoint what that return on investment is and what we’re finding with our solution that’s in between … well I have some examples that are one week but for the most part it’s in between six months to two years is a system completely pays for itself with what it catches as far as preventing that catastrophic damage-
Matt Register: Sure.
Colton Bach: … and the down time especially. Obviously that’s a big part of what we’re trying to prevent. The other part that’s cool about what we’re doing by having a system on that’s on all the time and watching is is you’re actually able to extend those maintenance intervals. Like you said, the maintenance cost, you don’t have to go out and do a PM on it every three months to six months, to one month or whatever it is. We’re managing by exception and telling you which machines it’s time to go service, which ones are starting to see higher vibration, which ones you need to focus your time and effort on instead of wasting time running around to perfectly well running machines and [crosstalk].
Matt Register: I tell you, we’ve had guys on this show that talk about all of the buzz words you’re familiar with, the internet of things, machine learning and things like that. I promise you, the future of the internet of things has nothing to do with your refrigerator and when you need milk. The industrial side of the internet of things, the industrial side of the machine learning, the value that can be created there is phenomenal, right?
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: The ability to remote monitor all this stuff, ability through machine learning to identify … have pattern recognition and identify preventatively based on a lot of machines running, not just the machines that one particular customer owns, changes everything, right?
Colton Bach: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative), 100%. That’s really the future I see in five years to 10 years, we should have some sort of really good … someone’s going to come out with a really good machine learning algorithm and the challenge there is there a lot of different types of machine. So which types of machine do you focus on? How much data is there? How good is the data is really important as well because I can give you tons and tons of garbage but if it’s garbage in, it’s garbage out as far as-
Matt Register: Sure.
Colton Bach: … data and predicting. So what you want to find is more data, more samples, all that kind of thing. That’s really where the future is and what we’re trying to do with our sensors as well.
George Walden: So allow me to ask. I know you’re trying to be predictive in this. If I heard you correctly, you’re saying that not only are we predictive, we have the ability to tell you, look, now is not the time to take this part and fix it, it’s going in that direction, but you can sustain much longer before it’s going to fail-
Colton Bach: Right. So extending the life cycles and the maintenance cycles right, that’s a big part of what-
George Walden: I just find that fascinating.
Matt Register: Well a manufacturer is going to give you a predicted life-
Colton Bach: Exactly.
Matt Register: Right? Over a piece of equipment-
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: … well it’s a bell curve, some of them they say this will last 20 years, well some may last 28 and some may last 10, right?
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: On that bell curve. But being able to get the actual data out of that equipment and being able to say, “Okay predictively this is when this equipment normally fails, these are the readings we normally get before this things fails.” You’re going to identify, “No I don’t have to shut it down and replace it in 20 years, I can go to 25.” Right? Is that-
Colton Bach: Right.
Matt Register: That’s what we’re talking about?
Colton Bach: Yeah but that’s becoming kind of an archaic way of doing it and here’s why. Because you have to look at the whole process. So we’ll give you an example, let’s take a centrifugal pump for an example. If you have flow problems up the way on the liquid that’s going into the pump and you get off the curve, like you have a lower level of liquid, or too high of a level of liquid, or you have temperature problems with that liquid that caused those … well I’m getting [inaudible].
Matt Register: Yeah, no, no.
Colton Bach: That kind of thing that ruins your impeller, a preventative maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer of that pump is really not going to help in that-
Matt Register: Isn’t going to help you.
Colton Bach: Right. So you want to be able to monitor that real time, to be able to say, “Okay, something’s changed in the process,” maybe it’s not even something that’s wrong with the pump in that example but you want to be able to monitor that 24/7 to be able to catch that kind of thing.
Matt Register: Interesting stuff. Machine Saver is the company, machinesaver.com is the website, Colton Bach is the guru we have here in the booth. Thank you very much for joining us man.
Colton Bach: Absolutely, can I get one more shameless plug real quick?
Matt Register: Yeah, go ahead man, quickly.
Colton Bach: Machine Saver just bought proxprobes.com, it’s under new management so we’re also manufacturing the proximity side now, the actual-
Matt Register: Sensors and stuff.
Colton Bach: … we use them [crosstalk] and all that stuff, yeah. The actual prox probes, so I’m pretty excited about that.
Matt Register: Yeah, interesting stuff.
Colton Bach: Yeah, so thank you guys, appreciate it.
Matt Register: Yeah, no problem. Guys, we’re down here at the George R. Brown at the Turbo Show, 47 Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia. In the meantime, check us out on social media, go to the website, see the whole show in beautiful high definition video at texasbusinessradio.com. We’ll take a quick break, we’ll return right on the other side of the break with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio, from down here at the George R. Brown, we’ll be back.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.
George Walden is a Managing Director and Principal in Corporate Finance Associates’ Houston office with twenty-five years experience as a middle-market investment banker. George is a member of CFA’s equipment industry practice group and an expert in the precision machining industry with special emphasis on manual machining, CNC precision machining, and gun drilling services and has been responsible for several industry-leading transactions. You can learn more about George HERE.