Mr. Jason Spera with Aegis Software talks about solutions to Automating Adaptive Manufacturing

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Jason Spera, CEO and Co-Founder of Aegis Software about “Automating Highly Adaptive Manufacturing”.  Get the answers to your “Manufacturing Automation” questions along with Jason's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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manufacturing, digitization, jason, manufacturer, factory, talking, ai, industry, system, frankly, companies, industrial, customers, data, absolutely, software, ages, technology, route, personalization


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 Alright, once again, thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast where we celebrate industry heroes such as yourself, you're the dream makers, you are the miracle workers, you are creator of hope, because you're bold, you're brave, you're dare greatly. you innovate, you solve problems, you never stop thinking. That's why we celebrate you on this podcast, because you deserve it. And we love you, thank you for what you're doing. And thank you for making my life easier. All right. in the hot seat, we've got a gentleman by the name of Jason Spera. He's with a company called ages, we are talking about automating highly adaptive manufacturing. That's automating personalization, that is taking manufacturing, and then making it so adaptive that it can switch on a dime. They've got the platform, let's get a crackin. Yeah, I want you to think bigger. No, no, not not. No, I want you to think bigger than that. I want you to, once again, change the world. And that requires big, doggone thinking, that requires you to say why not? What if, and, and we highlight so many individuals, so many companies that fall into that category, where they're just saying, Well, why can't it be done? Why not? What if, and I chess, love the energy, you know, this platform is all dedicated to education, industrial education. And as a participant as you are participated, you contribute to the platform that's ever growing, ever expanding in the world of industrial education. It's an exciting time. And he should just be so happy to be in industry, and what you're doing. Look at the IoT look at industry for Dido, look at all the stuff that's taking place, and everybody that we highlight on this particular podcast. All right. Again, we want to get our lives back in order back to whatever normal looks like, right? So we have a couple of events that I want you to put down on your calendar. Again, IoT solutions. We're on Congress, October 5 through the seventh. And this is in beautiful Barcelona. Lovely, lovely town. I'm telling you right now put that on your bucket list, brought to you by industrial internet consortium and Farah, Barcelona, been broadcasting live there for the past couple of years. It is exceptional, exceptional event. And it brings about some of the biggest thinkers within this world. That is challenging, you know, edge cloud AI, you name it, digital twin, it's happening out there, quantum computing. It's happening at the IoT solutions World Congress, October 5, through the seventh already. The second one that we have here is the manufacturing technology show, Cleveland, Ohio. If you've never been to Cleveland, you need to be in Cleveland. It is a great location, great place for the manufacturing technology show that is November 9, through the 11th. I'm going to be broadcasting live there. We're going to be highlighting incredible individuals once again, that are in the manufacturing and technology space. It will it I'm telling you right now, it will not disappoint outside of the fact that people are just absolutely beautiful and wonderful there outside of the fact that the food is exceptional, and wonderful as well. You got to make yourself go to this just Cleveland baby, just Cleveland pop out up there. Great airport. No excuses. Let's get our life back in order. All right. Jason Spera. I'm telling you this, this whole innovation, this whole digitization, this whole ability to be able to adapt your manufacturing process quickly to respond to market demands and and it's exciting, and and ages has that'll platform the technology to do so. That all right. Enjoy this interview with Jason Spera. Jason, welcome to the industrial talk podcast absolute honor that you have joined the number one industrial related podcast in the universe. I don't think I'm overselling that am I? Thanks. So Scott, thank you. There it is, folks. I'm not overselling it. Jason said so. All right, Jason. We're gonna have a great conversation listeners. We're going to be talking a little bit about


which I'm Pretty, pretty geeked about, um, you know, I get geeked about this stuff. We're talking about automating highly adaptive manufacturing, and really automating personal personalization. I don't know what that means when I do, but I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna step in on in Jason's toes, Jason, for the listeners out there, give us a little 411 on who you are, and why you're such an incredible professional. Well, I don't know about the latter part, but I can say who I are. Come on, don't be so doggone humble.


Oh, thank you, Jason Spera. As you said, I am the CEO of HP Software. And what we do is basically manufacturing automation systems used to be called MEMS. Now, it's manufacturing operations management, large software systems for doing digitizing everything basically within the boundary of the factory walls. And that's, that's what we do. I used to be a manufacturing engineer and a defense factory. And that was a quarter of a century ago. But that was where the idea for this product actually was born. And then over the years, it has obviously grown in scope to encompass all the main functions that a manufacturing operations needs, from where the handoff from PLM and the design to the manufacturing engineering office, that's where we pick up so we transform the designs and the bills of materials and data for mi RP into everything needed for production. And we support the execution of the process, gather the data from the machines, manage quality, and test, and then all the way out to the shipping dock. and everything in between, basically. And it's been, it's, you know, having come from manufacturing and engineering myself, like you, you said, you like talking about this stuff, I still very much love it. And the engineering group kind of can't keep me out of their knickers, I stuck in that side.


Well, you know, it's interesting, because there's been a lot of changes taking place within manufacturing. And I think that it's an exciting time. I think the future's bright. I think that companies that recognize this digital transformation, this journey, this ability to be able to leverage technology, and help their manufacturing be successful going forward and more resilient, whatever you want to call it. I really love it. Now, I have to ask the question, what's PLM product lifecycle management, sorry, I get to the alphabet soup, we're gonna try to avoid that, because you're talking to somebody that's truly a butter knife in the drawer, I'm not gonna watch it. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna sit there. And I'm gonna stub my toe on all of these acronyms. Because I got to know because I'm geeking out. So let's, let's lay this foundation a little bit, outside of the fact that if you go out to his stat card on LinkedIn, you will be impressed. He is a Villanova alum. And looks like he's got major street cred when it comes to this stuff. Now. Let's talk a little bit about automating highly adaptive manufacturing. The way I look at it today, is that if I order a part, it just goes through the manufacturing, and then it's shipped to me. What does that mean? What are we talking about adaptive manufacturing? What is that?


Well, it's a bit of a broad subject, but I agree with you. It's exciting because, um, and again, using all the buzzwords I mean, industry for Oh, if you get 100 professionals in the room about what the fourth industrial revolution is, you will get at least 100 different definitions, which is become a problem. Everybody knows. It's great. And it's here, and it's coming or coming. But the definition so I just like the first throw out what, what we think at ages, and I personally think it really is in I would say layman's terms is that the concept that a factory or manufacturing operation is no longer such a hassle. In order to be efficient, it has to build 100,000 units of the exact same thing a month, because we've already got that down. Henry Ford established the expectation that if you build a lot of something that isn't customized, you can do it efficiently, right. And we've lived with that mentality for a long time. I think industry four oh means that we can get those efficiencies. But with single piece flow, meaning the customer wants something completely specified by them, where every unit moving down the line is effectively either a totally different type of product or a customized personalized product. And yet it doesn't come with that price tag. It's done at the same efficiency of the the mass production line. And that to me is the dream of the fully adaptable factory that I personally believe is the dream of industry for so it's that it's that idea that it's a it's like a fully digitized factory that you can effectively throw anything you want bill at it and it will without a loss A lot of human involvement, effectively figure out how to build that for you efficiently. So it's, it's bespoke production at a high volume efficiency.


See, that's dead sexy. I like that definition in a big way. And it's just absolutely, that's actually somebody in light with of what you just explained. applied it to tennis shoes, right? There, you go out there, there's like a ton of different than not me, trust me, not me, I'll go down and I'll grab my tennis and I'm running off. But some people like customized tennis shoes, and to be able to apply that ability to these customers, without a burper snarl and being able to, from a customer centric perspective, receive those cool tennis shoes. Because it's, it's, it's adaptive manufacturing, I like that a lot. Now, let's talk about I mean, you brought it up, and there's a there's a possibility of a stodgy type of mindset when it comes to manufacturing. We do it this way. And this is the way we do it. And I'm going to continue to refine that manufacturing process accordingly. Now you're talking about something that is really unique and special and, and maybe cause pain, how does somebody a manufacturer say I like it, I'm adapting it to my customers needs. What do I do?


Well, that's a great question. And that is, I think, where industry finds itself right now is literally in that question. So say, there's two ways you can go. There's the way the mega companies win. And frankly, I have a feeling I know what manufacturer you're talking about with the shoes. And I'm aware of how you know that was done. And it really is amazing. But they do it with customization of software, because frankly, let me back up a moment. Add volume, if you want full personalization, you can't simply throw humans at it. Because then it just becomes too expensive. And in frankly, with the volumes, factories producing products these days, it's just not even really possible anymore. So you you are talking about digitization. So let me establish that kind of as a baseline. So how do you do the digitization, there's only two routes. There's, if you're a very large manufacturer, and you have an army of IT people and integrators, the tendency is for them to build a custom solution to handle it. And in the situation of the shoes, that's viable, because it isn't somewhat static product line. And within it, it's high customized, you can build something that will work for that line. The other route is out of the box software. And I think that's where the new frontier is, that's what we're really proud about is that you literally have an MLM system that's running the factory that is not customized. And yet it can intercept that configuration of each piece the customer is ordering, and figure out how to make that factory produce that product. So it's either the out of the box approach that's highly adaptable, or the custom software approach. Both work, we personally believe that the out of the box is more cost effective and future scalable than just constantly because you know, it does become well frankly, there's a reason why mid market manufacturers haven't done personalization, because traditionally, they haven't been able to afford the army of engineers to build the custom solution to do it in what we think is democratizing ability. So any manufacturer can do it via an off the shelf system like ours is why we're so excited about it. And we think that will proliferate the concept of consumer personalization, even in mid market products into areas that couldn't be done before.


You know, I love what you're saying. Because it really what you're doing is you're opening up of me as a consumer, you're opening up greater options for me to whatever whatever my desires and wishes, my preferences, whatever it might be, and, and trickling down into the mid-market and I like that, but how do you take up a digital solutions such as ages, and take a manufacturing line and connect those two solutions together? I mean, how


that it's that and it actually is a credit to our CTO and Co-Founder because his concept for this actually goes back two decades is that he never thought that this system, it would never work well for the breadth of customers we hope to have and that we now have if it was in any way rigid or requiring coding to wrap it around the process. Because frankly, if you're creating a system like ours, that's the easier way to do it. The route that he went was that you need to architect the system. So that Everything in it is adaptable through the user interface by the lay person, meaning that the manufacturing engineers that are configuring it or whatever, you don't have to get it involved. And it is the second part of it, that's the kind of the architectural skin of it, you have to do. The other one is that the idea of a virtual process versus the physical process, I can talk, I can drive you to death with boredom on this, but this system hours was always separated the physical assets of the factory from the virtual process, which now some others are starting to do that as well. But when you do that, it enables your technology to change the routes, change the process, change everything dynamically, without having to say like systems that say, it'll go from machine X to machine, why the workstation. So you know, those are very rigid and hard to instantaneously adapt, he came up with a concept of separating the virtual concept of the process from the physical assets that are needed to fulfill it. And when you do that you can actually automate I mean, we have our system is such that if I say a fourth operator on line three simply calls out sick, it will, without human intervention can actually change the work instructions, the route to compensate for the lack of that one workstation immediately. And that's a very simple example. But that can't be done if your system is looking at everything as these are my routes, frankly, the way er p does you know, it the RP just looks at workstation routes, Rs looks at it in a bit more sophisticated level, but not because for the sake of sophistication, it's for the sake of adaptability that it does that.


Is there an AI component, you mentioned something that is sort of this learning capability or, or an adaptive capability, is there an AI component to this particular process?


That for us not as yet. And that is a subject of great research, because we think AI has a lot of amazing applications. And I'll tell you why. Our systems in larger companies are aggregating an unbelievable amount of data from all the IoT feeds we're getting and the processes. And what has happened is, and it's it's disappointing to us as we have all our real time dashboards and reports and alarming systems and everything that customers like using, but they're not. The body of data is getting beyond the human ability to look and see patterns in it. Like process deviations, and so forth. And we feel that AI one of the many applications we're looking at right now is that AI is good at that AI is looking at it is great, and looking at huge amounts of incoming data and seeing patterns that humans just simply get bored or can't see. So like when when things are bone piles are forming, that the human might not even realize or a process is deviating or there's been a pattern across 15 work orders that a human just would never see it stuff like that. We want to apply AI to the data, we already have to help making prescriptive suggestions to the customer rather than just dashboards and reports and things. So to us, that's actually really exciting. Yeah,


you're absolutely right. It's always that that tsunami of data. And it's never been an issue of being able through the the the IoT devices and whatever devices that exist out there. There's data is easy, because it's, it's when you try to figure out what that's good data. It's not so good data, and be able to have that in humans can do that. And I think that that's a that's a bright opportunity. They can crack that code that that'd be great. Speaking of bright opportunities, where where do you see this going? What, what is the ultimate objective? You know, what, what is that driver? What's that simple driver?


The ultimate objective right now that we are seeing, there's probably two main ones and you've touched on one with the AI customers are beginning to there's a I'm in a lot more conversations that are, I would say have tipped over from the science fiction conversations about AI to the more practical we're now in the face talking about literally what is the right way because there's a million ways to apply it. And we're in that phase with customers talking about how best to apply it which I think is very exciting. But the goal gets back to what I said earlier is I think the completely adaptive factory that is not built on custom software is the goal where industry fluro capabilities that that single piece flow at high efficiency is something that can be acquired by a company of almost any size, not just a mega corporation that has 1000 cut you know it people to work on building custom software. That that's the goal were the digitization of the factory is available to almost any size manufacturer. And then they can start providing personalized production and things like manufacturing repair and overhaul, which is typically relegated to the really high end manufacturers only that too becomes democratized.


Jazz, that's cool stuff. Because now all of a sudden, me as mid-level, whatever that whatever that looks like, I'm able to compete with the big people and, and be able to, to manufacture and very efficiently very, very competitively, and very adaptively. That's a word adaptively to meet market demands and preferences. And I like that a lot. Now, what's the problem? How come I'm not doing it? What's my Roadblock,


that the roadblock is that I sympathize with all these meetings I'm in with prospective customers and so forth is these technologies and the options are, they're getting, it's a shame because it is getting complex. And there are customers and manufacturers that have put together say continuous improvement teams and so forth, that are thinking in the more abstract way about where the company needs to go in terms of operations, digitization, those projects, and the journey towards industry for over them, I see tends to go nicely. Then there are the other approaches, which are looking at it as very large committees of people that have legitimate and real lists of needs, but they're looking at it in as a matrix of huge matrix of needs, and that you lose the forest for the trees and digitization when you do it that way, because then that leads to well, we could get a pile of integrators to build this, we could patch something together with an app based tool on top of VRP. And, you know, while you can do that, I don't think it's the optimal approach to factory digitization, because it's sort of just a new form of customization. Whereas platform approaches, and not just ours, you know, there's other ones out there, if you know what's going with a proper platform, I think those companies are going to wind up looking back in five to 10 years and saying, we're very glad we did this, because look at how efficient This is, we are not constantly re customizing this. It's just working and it's evolving. And you know, from the vendor, not from our own it grew. So for


sure that that's, I like that. What if I was a manufacturer? What is the risk if I don't say I hear what Jason saying, but I like the old way, Mo, I'm a legacy guy,


the razor call, we call it shadow costs. I would certainly never say the names. But there are a lot of very, very good companies out there that I do not believe they're seeing manufacturers that I do not believe their CEO knows how much shadow cost in the IT overhead of these custom systems is actually costing that enterprise because it becomes a quiet thing that no one looks at and all of a sudden you look back in five years, you're like, Oh my gosh, why is this group five times the size it was when we embarked on this project right now. And then it gets to be a runaway cost. And that's the downside. The other downside is there's a convergence of a lot of very difficult technologies going on right now. Custom systems have trouble with the IoT connectivity to the automation layer. And they are running into walls in that area. And then as the what I see also is Russian say I see it I've been told by manufacturers who chose to say we're not going to keep going this custom route. The big thing you said is expectations are so high now. Only 10 years ago, an internal group that was really sharp could stay ahead of their own companies requests for we need an update to the MLS system, we need an update needs to be able to do this, they could stay ahead of it. The expectations now as to what digitization is, is outstripping the ability of even these large groups to stay ahead. And so I think that's the risk Scott is that they're going to hit the point where they hit an asymptote beyond which they can't go because they're just it is getting too sophisticated. An issue to run it to digitize an entire operation. Yeah,


I like that you're absolutely spot on and the speed at which digitization for data, whatever you want to call it is absolutely lightning and I don't see how outside companies like yours And others, that that manufacturers can keep up with it. But I think the risk is, if you're not in the game, if you're if you're a manufacturer, and you're not in the game and thinking about this and trying to figure out how to create resiliency in your business and thinking about this, you're going to be left behind because of that speed. Because if you're not in it, boom, you're already way behind in the curve. That to me is the risk.


Absolutely agree. And I hate to say this, because it sounds dramatic, but I think those that don't get their, their mind and their Corporation culturally wrapped around digitization soon are going to be relegated to commodity manufacturing. Because that will be the only thing that their factory infrastructure will be able to handle at any efficiency. And that's, that's unfortunate.


That I have to ask a question commodity manufacturer, what


do you mean, where you're building a high volume static products? You know, where your margins aren't dying, right? And frankly, where the barrier to entry to doing it is non existent. So it's, you know, that's not where anyone wants to, they don't know.


And that's, that's pretty common within any business. You don't want to be commoditized you want to be able to and I think your your approach is absolutely spiffy. I love it. I love what you're talking about. I love the future, quite frankly. I do. So it's just me. Alright. How do people get ahold of you, Jason? Are you saying, hey, Jason speak in my language? How do I get it?


Well, certainly, directly from our website, is one way as you mentioned, LinkedIn, I certainly have a presence there. And then ages software, you can find us on the web and certainly get in touch with me and i got


i hope came through a mess. I


love as you do. God, I love talking about this. It is really, it is really fun and engaging with the companies that are that are, you know, really on this journey and say we've got to transform the way we manufacture. We love being part of it.


I'm all giggly inside. I like to maybe it's my pre workout. It's all giggly inside, but I'm giggling inside right now.


But the I do love though that I have to admit spiffy. That's the first time that has been said in reference to our attack in our in our market. So thank you.


I think if


you can run with it, I'll send you a an invoice on on the term spiffy again or not. All right. That's Jason, Sparrow, CEO of ages, you were absolutely spectacular. Thank you for being on the industrial talk podcast. Now you're telling yourself, Scott, I want to make sure that I get in the contact information, right? Fear not. It will be out on industrial And we will wrap it up on the other side. Thank you very much for joining. Stay tuned. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network. Bob, big hearty thank you to Jason spare for being on the industrial talk podcast and dropping some chest incredible solutions. For the wonderful listeners of industrial park, go out and check out his stack card out on LinkedIn. That's Jason Spera that SP e Ra. And then you can bounce to ages you could go anywhere from that particular location. Go to LinkedIn reach out, you will not be disappointed. All right, again, we've got two events that are got to be put on your calendar ones in Barcelona, October 5 through the seventh industrial internet consortium affair Barcelona put on an incredible, incredible show. The next one is the manufacturing and technology show. This is November 9, through the 11th. Cleveland Ohio is the location. Let's get our lives back in order. All right. You are the dream maker. You are the miracle workers. You create hope because you are in industry. People Be brave dare greatly, as I always say hang out with people who are bold, brave and daring greatly change the world. We're going to have another incredible interview right around the corner. So stay tuned.

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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