H Machine Learning

Tips for repurposing digital solutions to grow alongside your customers

Nov. 11, 2020
A Q&A with Banner Engineering's Ty Fayfield.

Banner Engineering's Ty Fayfield

The last time we caught up with Banner Engineering, they were announcing their new SmartSolutions—IIoT kits of sensors, wireless solutions, and LED lighting built to bring predictive monitoring and maintenance data online.

Today, we catch up with CEO Ty Fayfield to explore automation in response to the pandemic, repurposing digital solutions and growing alongside customers. Take a look…

Smart Industry: How has the pandemic changed industry / your industry? 

Ty: More and more companies across all industries are looking to leverage solutions to increase their productivity and quality, decrease time-to-market, and generally respond faster to the changing realities of today's manufacturing world. Strong demand from non-traditional markets has also offered us an opportunity to expand and adapt our solutions well beyond our more common factory floor environments.

Smart Industry: What longstanding ramifications on automation, in a general sense, will this pandemic have? 

Ty: Automation is a key element for many to remain operational, productive, and dependable. This is particularly true for customers in mission-critical industries struggling to remain viable. Our objective is to develop automation solutions that can easily be reapplied to provide value in other ways, once the pandemic is no longer a factor.

I believe it is critical throughout this challenging period to continue developing and launching new products that address pressing needs in key growth areas of the global economy. This approach will help speed our way through the pandemic and position us all for a quick return to productivity.

Smart Industry: Describe the call for products outside of the normal industrial-automation realm. 

Ty: One good example is our occupancy-monitoring solutions, which combine wireless sensors, controllers, and local display units with a bright wireless indicator light to keep running totals of customers or workers in a defined space. The lighting serves to help individuals know if it is acceptable to enter an area during this time of limited occupancy. Data gathered by this system can then be kept in a configurable dashboard in the cloud. The kit is designed to help companies comply with local regulations but can also be repurposed after the pandemic to evaluate traffic patterns for staffing or substantiate point of sale accuracy.

Smart Industry: How is the digitally transformed enterprise better suited to respond to periods like this than their more-traditional counterparts? 

Ty: Companies cannot afford to delay essential digital transformation. It can mean the difference between surviving and thriving for small-to-medium size companies, which should be careful to avoid expensive missteps that can consume resources and fail to succeed in their space. Manufacturers should also be particularly vigilant about downtime during this period, and continue to prioritize programs for asset maintenance to mitigate bottlenecks in manufacturing.

Smart Industry: What products / solutions are newly in-demand and will this continue when we emerge from this trying period? 

Ty: Customers are seeking ways to help automate and maintain a cleaning schedule to lessen risk to their workforce. They want systems that automatically indicate when maintenance or sanitation of common areas are required, including full reporting to visualize progress.

And these solutions are often applied more broadly than their initial application. For example, companies took our automation products and broadened the utility for use on the production floor. The lights and sensors communicate status in a configurable way, so they use the application to identify and resolve machine or work cell quality or inventory issues. The lighting alerts supervisors and accelerates problem resolution with either a wave of the hand over a non-contact sensor or a simple touch of a button. Data captures and reporting is available, solving that immediate call-for-parts, or call-for-support need while providing insights on patterns that can be later addressed for improved workflows.

Smart Industry: What excites you about the near future of digital / data-driven manufacturing?

Ty: Response speed and the ability to quickly build new solutions. We are always looking for ways to use our engineering expertise and our automation portfolio to grow along with our customers’ needs and expectations.