Internet of Business speaks to Asavie CEO Ralph Shaw on the company’s goal of helping manufacturers get their products IoT-connected – quickly, simply and securely.
When Dublin-based Asavie launched its Industrial IoT Accelerator Kit at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, chief executive Ralph Shaw was confident of a positive response to the offering – but even he was impressed by the immediate results the company achieved.
“Within an hour, we had orders coming in from several Fortune 100 companies,” he says.
That points to a situation, he believes, where many manufacturers of industrial equipment are interested in equipping their products with IoT capabilities, but are held back by what they perceive as the complexity of providing connectivity and securing data.
Asavie’s Industrial IoT Accelerator Kit seeks to address those concerns by combining the company’s own PassBridge IoT connectivity management platform, with the Dell Edge Gateway device and industrial sensors from specialist EpiSensor.
This means that companies can innovate, iterate and deploy their IoT project without having to change their network infrastructure from the prototyping to final production phases. At a cost of around $1,000, Shaw adds, the accelerator kit also means they can get started fast.
“Essentially, you’ve a lot of very big businesses, manufacturing lifts or chainsaws or whatever, and they definitely recognize the benefits of having their devices connected, but a lot of them don’t know where to start. If you can give them a starting point, where they have everything they need to get connecting something, that helps them quickly establish a better handle on how, where and why they might also deploy IoT technology,” he says.
“You’re removing the fear factor,” he adds. A successful prototype is a much better way to get the boardroom conversation on IoT moving along than a request for budget based on not much more than guesswork. “If you start small, you can actually accelerate adoption faster,” says Shaw.
PassBridge at its heart
Established in 2004, Asavie is now a 130-person company with eight offices around the world and some €20 million in annual revenues. Despite its ambitious expansion plans, it has enjoyed 22 consecutive quarters of profitability.
The company’s PassBridge platform provides on-demand, pay-as-you-go network services that enable companies to provide a secure connection from the IoT edge to the cloud (such as Amazon’s AWS services) or alternatively, to their own on-premise servers. So even without the third-party add-ons that come in the Industrial IoT Accelerator Kit, PassBridge represents a fast track to IoT enablement for many companies.
PassBridge is the technology, for example, that provides a leading coffee shop chain with the ability to monitor coffee-making machines and predict when they may require maintenance work and helps Glanbia, a manufacturer of dairy products and nutritional supplements, to monitor its supply chain operations as products are transported from the point of manufacture to retail stores, says Shaw.
“Many of the end-customers who use are products are basically looking at digital transformation projects, although they may not state it in those terms. They want to take something that’s generally been a manual and often paper-based process and digitize it – and that digitization required information to travel between an end point such as a device or machine to a cloud or on-premise server. But they want a platform that can provide that easily and securely, so that they can get on with whatever it is that their own business specializes in,” he says.
In many cases, that involves Asavie working with network operators (it currently works with around 20 including AT&T, Telefonica, Vodafone and Three) as well as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
As many of those OEMs looking to IoT-enable the products they make are based in Asia, it makes sense that the company recently opened a new headquarters for that region in Kuala Lumpur.
Says Shaw: “A lot of IoT projects get stalled because companies can’t get connectivity up and running or find they can’t do it in a secure and scalable fashion. They’re looking for a specialist to handle that on their behalf, so they can focus on their core business, which is where we come in. What’s more, we offer the secure and scalable connectivity in a way that enables companies to get to market faster and to generate revenues sooner.”