David McKee with Slingshot Simulations

Industrial Talk is onsite at IoT Solutions World Congress and talking to David McKee, Founder of Slingshot Simulations about “Deploying simulations to optimize your sustainability strategy”.  Learn about Simulations along with David's unique insight on this Industrial Talk interview!

Some key points from David's conversation at IoTSWC:

  • Simulation is a powerful tool that can be used to make better decisions about the places we live and work.
  • However, simulation can be expensive and complex, which limits its use to large organizations.
  • Newer simulation platforms are making it easier and more affordable for small businesses and cities to use simulation.
  • These platforms use data from a variety of sources to create realistic simulations that can help users make better decisions.
  • One important aspect of simulation is engaging with the people who will be affected by the decisions that are made.
  • This can be done by using simple and easy-to-understand platforms, as well as by getting input from people who live in the area.
  • Simulation is a powerful tool that can be used to improve the places we live and work.

Here are some specific examples of how simulation is being used to make better decisions:

  • A city in the UK used simulation to help them plan for Net Zero. They were able to use data on traffic, energy use, and other factors to determine the best way to reduce emissions.
  • A small business in the UK used simulation to help them decide when to open their shop. They were able to see how traffic patterns and weather conditions would affect customer flow.
  • A charity in Africa used simulation to help them determine the best way to provide clean water to farmers. They were able to see how different types of water treatment would affect crop yields.

These are just a few examples of how simulation is being used to make better decisions. As simulation platforms become more affordable and easy to use, we can expect to see even more innovative applications of this technology.

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Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


Alright, thank you once again for joining Industrial Talk. And thank you so much for your support. Because we're building a platform that is dedicated to industrial professionals all around the world that you because you're bold, you're brave, you dare greatly you collaborate, you solve problems you make the world a better place because of your passion. That's why we celebrate you on this podcast as well. You can hear by the buzz in the background, we are broadcasting on site IoT solutions World Congress 2023, it is a an event that you need to put on your calendar for next year. If you're not here. You need to put it on the calendar next year because we get people like David McKee right there in the hot seat. Sit, Slingshot Simulations is the company. So, let's get cracking on this conversation. Yeah, David, this is this is the second time and he's got a cough. So don't don't start saying he's got he's got a cough. Don't tell me. He's got a cough, but it's okay. Because we'll survive. You don't?


Well, good. Well survives the first three days of the conference. So we're doing good.


At the end, you can just see people who are just, you know, the, they work the conference, then all of a sudden, the energy starts. And of course, it's Barcelona. And of course, they eat at one o'clock in the morning, and you got to eat


with your problem. Now. Is this the first time I've sat down all day? I don't think I can get up. You're going to


you're going to sit there and just doze off. Now. He's snoring. Now he is all out. Yeah, no, I hear you, man. Yeah. Are you over? What are you doing over there? Yeah,


we're overly digital in consortium pavilion with OMG. Yeah,


there's no seats.


No, this instead, it's all it's all barstool type thing. And there are two of them. And we're a team of four people


and note to self. Do more chairs more comfortable.


Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Of course, you know, I have to be a good boss. So that my team sit down. You do? Apparently,


you do. You have to without a doubt. All right. For the listeners. Let's do a level set. Again. Give us a little background, David, as well as just sort of a rundown on sling shot. That would be good. I like that. Give us a background on you. And sling shot.


Awesome. was great to be here. I mean, eight months ago, we had the chat and we just just like, don't have that what I thought was yesterday. Now it's gonna be 16 months coming up. Yes, absolutely. Cool. Well, yeah, just a bit of intro me. So, I'm Dr. David McKee. I'm the CEO CTO and Founder ready to put the doctor odds Okay, I'll remind you later. It's fine. No one else puts in front I have to go to school. I went to school I invested four years of my life doing that blimp and PhD. But anyway, go ahead runtime of Docker run type of doctor my wife tells me I'm a founder at Slingshot Simulations, where spin up from university, we really focus our passion is helping people make decisions from data quicker. You know, whether it's the number of people who walk past your shopfront. You might run a launderette or whatever, well, why do you open at 9am, maybe it should be 830. Because the next 1000 people walk past or maybe shouldn't close at 6pm, it should be 615. Particularly in our post pandemic world, everyone moves around slightly differently. Or you might run a warehouse, you know, you could run a multinational company, there's lots of data, and making decisions with it is hard. So a slingshot. It's all about taking data, bringing it together provide context. So it's actually how does this piece of information augment that? So that, you know the number of people who are watching, we know we're in Barcelona, what does that mean about that? We know the weather, all those other bits of information? What does that mean? Bring it together, we feed that into simulations, analytics, machine learning, all that cool stuff. And then the most important bit, at the end of it, is we answer questions for people. What is it that you want to know, to help your business to help make your life better to make your city better and cleaner, etc?


Yeah, I'm a I'm a big, big proponent of simulation, because I always want to run simulations. I, I don't, I never feel comfortable with the original or the decision. And then all of a sudden, I just want options. I want to be able to say, what about this? What about this?


When you have a phrase called auctioneering?


Yeah, there you go. But it is, but it because as as you go through that process, right? You you even begin to sort of understand and what's taking place and how it's evolved. And so if I were to approach I'm sorry. I If I was to say, okay, David, I'm interested, I know what's going on, I contact you, I have a business. What are you going to do for me?


So I was just sort of saying that I would first of all, ask you, what do you think are your biggest pain points right now what you're struggling with, as a business owner? And it's normally come round to your operational efficiency? Something like that? Yeah. You know, and depends on your business. If your shop owner is like, Look, I need more customers. And you're a warehouse operator, and goods getting broken, or it's going to be there's some common trends. So I'd ask that I do my research, obviously, beforehand. So what are those in plain English? It's not good tech, you know? What are those questions that you need to answer about your business? Then I asked another question. So what data do you have right now about your business? And where is it in SharePoint? Is it in Google Drive? Do you have sensors? Maybe you do? IoT conferences? Right here? You probably do. What are you doing with it? Do you know what that data looks like?


I get I guarantee you just get a bunch of Well, for me, if you were asking me that question. One, it would be blank. Yep. And then the second one would be no.


Yeah. Well, that's, that's actually really good. Because then it leads to things actually, would you like me to show you what your data and what your business looks like? And we'll we'll load up, we've got a SAS web platform, that allows us to quickly visualize on a picture, put it on a map, typically, what your data of your business looks like. And we typically do that for free. Because it's actually that's the bit where we can start telling stories to help you tell a story to us about your business, in a way you've never been able to do before, because never seen it. See this.


This is cool. Again, a big, big fan of simulations got it, I see this such a great value. Is this a solution? That is not just for the big and hearty businesses, but isn't it can't can't small and mid and all of that stuff? participate in this? Because if we're talking sustainability is one thing over here. But it's got to be, you know, the ecosystem as a whole?


Yep, absolutely. And, you know, simulation has been the purview of the, you know, the billion dollar companies, historically, it's expensive. People like me are expensive. So we focus on two groups of people. You have your cities and your public bodies, they don't have that much money in the scheme of things. And it's taxpayer money. So we don't want to spend it or spend very little of it. So the question is, how do we help them make decisions for the places we live really quickly? They don't have engineers. But they've got a heck of a lot of data. We've got data on you and I, they've got data on all the traffic, all the shops, everything. And they're all planning for Net Zero. They're all looking at how do I put read up on the next bus route. And I need to put it in right now, because that affects the businesses and so forth. So that's one group of people that we target, because it's about helping them make better places to live really quickly. The other side is the SMEs, the small businesses, where I often talk about in the UK, we have fish and chip shops, which are probably the epitome of the small business. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I love myself some good fish and chips.


Well, maybe there is, but I love it to


actually move my wife's looking. She doesn't like fish. No, no, we we live in Yorkshire in the UK, which is like one of the homes of fish and chips. It's a sad. Hopefully, she's not listening. Anyway, but, you know, there things tend to be really small shops. Yeah. So they don't have much space inside your counter, maybe five people, no parking. But what is it and they've just had 18 months where they've been shut because of a pandemic? Yeah. So the question time is, how do they survive and get people through? And you need to give them the tools to say, and we did a bit of a experiment, local fish and chip shop, or the local champions, we call it and we said, You know what? There's 10,000 People drive past your shop every day, because you're on the main High Street, out of the big city. Well, hang on a minute, but you don't open till about 6pm. They've gone. Yeah, what if you're going to have four? Because you know, what if I'm queuing in that traffic, and it's, you know, halfway on a Friday afternoon, I smell the fish and chips. You're getting hungry? Yeah, no, you're someone will stop you. And if it's 10,000 people, you don't need that many to stop. And it's suddenly transformative to their business. And that is how you answer that traffic simulation. They don't need to know that it's traffic simulation. They just need to answer the question of when do I need to open my shop to get more people through? Or how many people are driving past my shop? And that's the thing that matters to them. So we have to hide all the magic. So I don't talk about simulation


No, no, no, you definitely don't want me to see this how the sausage is made, because that'll be all overwhelming and all that. But you're, you're, you're talking about when we start talking about simulations. It's it's, it's not bound by little four walls, there's data in the four walls, but then those, there's the other the community data that you also pull in your, you're pulling in pretty much a lot of Oh, yeah, sources for that little fish and chips shop to optimize the opportunity for success. Let's just be honest here. And, and bring in. And not only that, if that individual that cup, that business gets a accurate representation of what's taking place from a data perspective, that I'm going to order, or fish or figure out how to, you know, bring in my inventory off of real actual data.


Absolutely. Yeah, you're absolutely right. And we would say, so I'll give an example that we did recently. And there's a webinar from back in November that the digital twin consortium did on this where this was about helping a city turn rather in Northamptonshire in the UK, it's about 50 miles north of London, helping them on their net zero strategy. So they don't have to draw money. I said, Well, where do we need to put electric vehicle chargers? Where do we put solar panels, where to put wind turbines? Where do we need to put new bus routes? Where do we put the next housing estate? All those questions, and there's about 12 questions. And they had 100 sources of data. Of that about 90% was public government sources and so forth. And then about 10% was kind of stuff that they collected, they'd gone, people on the ground, counting cars, that kind of stuff, and taking measurements, and we brought it in, and we help them answer those questions. And we worked with a local consultant, who knew the area was passionate about Net Zero, they're not there, we're not for profit. So kind of really investing in answering that problem. And we gave them there was this wonderful wires and boxes really complicated. You can look at it. And it was great for the engineer. And it kind of they're like that wow factor. It gives us the confidence and the complexity there, which is quite important. But in the end, they have this beautiful webpage with dials. That basically says, right, oh, if I had 10% more electric vehicle charges, this is how much co2 I'll reduce in five years time. And we pull it like demographic information, because actually give one example. If you put electric vehicle chargers in a community where they can't afford electric cars, why are you doing it? Right? You'd be better off putting on the bus. And that trade off? Yeah, simple. But actually, that's another simulation type. An example we had a conversation this week is, as a common theme is, how many types of simulation do you need to do to figure out how you're going to travel from here in Fira, Barcelona to go to dinner tonight. Because when it comes to simulation, they all tend to be really technical, really specific to the type of thing you're doing. And you know, there's 1000s of people walking around here, and you simulate the jostling of the elbows pushing through the tube. That's one type of simulates crowd simulation, then have transport simulation for catching the car catching the metro. And then you have pedestrian simulation because we walk on the sidewalks, three different types of simulation. But you don't want to know that. You want to know, what's the best way for me to get from here. In fact, I can't get a taxi because everyone's captain's exit. Yeah, you know, I went to dinner last night. i It was half an hour.


I was Yeah, I was, I might have been fighting to pass it with you. Because I was able to say, oh, man, I'm stuck here. Yeah, get back.


Yeah, I mean, we actually, you know, various members of my team have used our own simulation platform and to actually look at their commutes, for example, into work. Because they say, actually, I keep getting stuck on this row, why I actually want to take a different route.


This, this is a great segue into the question I have, is that you prior to our podcast, you mentioned something I thought it was very important. And as that as we look at these communities, as you start running the data as you do all of this great work, and I identify areas of efficiency or where we can improve. There is that other component of Well, I'm a person and you need to get that input into it. You need to be able to sort of mine that information because the bottom line I would be the one upfront to if I'm getting impacted in a negative way, I'm not happy and that just goes with anything. If you're playing around with my power, and it flickers Forget it. Yeah, I'm on I hear you guys. And when that happens, try to get me back try to regain my confidence that you know what you're doing. That's absolutely a


pain in the butt. And I was on a panel earlier today talking about sustainable technologies, sustainable digital twins. And one of the aspects of that is the societal piece, you know, we talk about ESG environmental, societal governance and society at all that means you have to account for diversity, inclusion, equality and equity. And so how do I engage you? How does a city who might use this platform engage you to get your input? Because no one knows your area better than the people who live there. I'll give the example. They just down the road from where I live, they built a new roundabout and that slip road. First time I went down, I thought that's right. You're short. I was I thought, I bet they'll change that. Six weeks. Six weeks later, it was coned off. They were digging it up on changing it.


Oh, that's, that's a cost. That's just it's like,


it's there. Isn't that engagement? And that's the key thing. And one of the things that we're doing next month in March, we're actually engaging with some local schools around actually because kids are even better, partly because they'll tell you exactly what I think.


Yeah, they don't make sure it's that's good. Yeah, that's good.


So it's actually what does that mean? Yeah, engaging with that, and involving that. And you have to make platforms that are easy to understand. Yes. And really, really obvious. And also, that means in particularly in, you know, countries, we're working, submit some projects, for some of the pourers is World wellsprings for charities. And it's really hard because they don't need to have computers. But most people do have a mobile phone. So how do you get that? How do you manage the data? How do you manage all of that, but also help them make decisions? And I found an interesting fact, which I was told, and it was soon he told me said, Duh, of course, just some of the best information is they said, you know, what, we have all these charities come for clean water? Have they asked the farmers what they need? And it turns out, it depends on the type of farming they do. They actually quite like wastewater, because it's a really good fertilizer. Yeah. Which is like, of course, because that Yeah, but they get rid of it all. And you like, that's, you know, and there's a clear there is clearly a change in conversation there. But then that engagement of data, people and place is a really hard thing to do. And that's part of it. And you know, when you think we do a lot of work is, you know, with the rainforest trust, yeah. And they're big, you know, everything is about preventing deforestation. But sometimes I do think it's also unsustainable, why is it happening? Because it's not always, you know, the big guys coming in and plowing it down, sometimes local people in the only library to sell in that word. So actually trying to understand what is it? Why And What else do you need to do? Because you can have the best ideas, but it's not economically sustainable for the local people. It doesn't matter.


But how do you how do we start David, I mean, it's like you're doing it, I get it. And there's just so many opportunities, options out there, you know, small midsize businesses, communities, rural areas, farming this and it's like, it has everybody has to be sort of the rowing in the same direction in some way, shape or form. It doesn't make sense that somebody's like, God, I, that's tough. I don't I don't even know how you take this tiger by the tail and say, Okay,


so, um, I think for us, it's, first of all starts with collaboration and partnership. Yeah. And so we will work with almost anyone who's willing to work with us to make this world a better. So that's, that's the first piece Yeah, like that. So particularly, particularly small, your smaller consultants who really know the spend a livelihood building this become an expert in their area, their whatever, that's one piece. But then as a business, we have to focus, we have to absolute focus. And so we therefore do three things, we focus on helping cities and regions and counties plan for Net Zero, they've got to 2030 targets, okay, help you do that. And do it quicker, saving millions of dollars, getting that down from a three year planning process to literally three months. And that's what and then we look at the more complex and mobility questions of how do you and it's called active multimodal transport is the technical name for it, which is saying how do you particularly get people who currently can't access amenities? How do you give them access? Because like we just talked about in that example, how do you get from A to B, when you have to go via X Y, Zed? How do you solve that is quite complex problem, and how do you involve the community? So that's the other secondary with both very specific problem, specific way of answering it so that's useful. And then the the final third one is that SLA EPS were specifically around operational efficiency. So we've taken one piece is one small piece, and it means we build an expertise around that because they have to


because I mean, again, I think that you're on to something pretty spectacular and that is the simple fact that we talk about sustainability we talk about all that that's great. That's fine. It has to happen. We got my Big Beef is was always okay then what now what how how do you do that? In the world of up Power. How do you do that in farming? Are all of the, you know, mining? I don't care how do you do that? And and do it so that it doesn't kill the business? Yeah.


That's hard.


I mean, yeah. And you don't, I mean, you need the economy, we need to be able to do that. But we also need to be able to sort of, what's that balance? And I think you bring that with, with your solution and, and your team. All right. How do people get a hold of you?


So reach via the website, or at Slingshot Simulations.com. And you can also reach me on LinkedIn. And actually Google Search David McKee put leads after that, you'll find me? No way.


Really? Yeah. A Google powerhouse. You are great as always, never disappoints. I like that. Alright, listeners, we're going to have all the contact information for David out on Industrial Talk. So if you're not, you will be able to get a hold of him. We've already had a conversation with him in the past. It's easy peasy lemon squeezy. But he's got him and his team are onto something very special. So reach out to him, you need to know this information. Again, we are broadcasting from IoT solutions World Congress, this is day three, day three, and it is wrapping up, you need to put this on the calendar because you need to connect with people like David and others to solve problems, and have a collaborative conversation on how to do this. So anyway, we're going to have it all out there. We're going to wrap it up on the other side. Stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to The Industrial Talk, Podcast Network.


All right, thank you, once again, for joining Industrial Talk and your continued support, we're going to have another great conversation coming from IoT solutions, World Congress, David McKee, in the hot seat, delivering some value propositions for you to consider from your sustainability perspective, you got a big, big fan of running simulations, what ifs, do this, I don't know. And then be able to really dial in your sustainability strategy. That's what Slingshot Simulations can do for you reach out to David, you will not be disappointed because, you know, he knows a lot. And it's, it's always a great time to be able to have a conversation with David. All right, you need to put I O T solutions World Congress 24 on your schedule. It is a must attend event. You get people like David and others that are just really passionate about solving today's challenges. And to do that in an innovative and, you know, direct way. It's a fabulous event and the people who put it on absolutely wonderful, do that. Put that on your calendar, it's in Barcelona, it is in may go out to Industrial Talk to find out more. There's a there's a little button there. Go think, you know, find out, you know, get in and get engaged. Look me up. We're going to be there. We're going to be talking we're going to be speaking with some of the best in industry, about innovation at that event. And if you want to have a conversation on site, you got to look me up. All right, just go to Industrial Talk. All right. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly. You hang out with people like David and you will be changing the world or going to IoT solutions World Congress and you will be changing the world. We're going to have another great conversation coming from that event shortly. So stay tuned.

Industrial Talk is onsite at IoT Solutions World Congress and talking to David McKee, Founder of Slingshot Simulations about "Deploying simulations to optimize your sustainability strategy".  Learn about Simulations along with David's unique insight on this Industrial Talk interview!
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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