Mr. Jon Smith with Hydromax USA Talks About Transforming the Subsurface Infrastructure through Digitization

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Jon Smith, CEO at Hydromax USA about “Transforming the Subsurface Infrastructure through Digitization”.  Get the answers to your “Subsurface Asset Optimization” questions along with Jon's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

You can find out more about Jon and the wonderful team at Hydromax USA on transforming subsurface infrastructure through digitization by the links below.  Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2020. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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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 get alright. Welcome to the industrial talk podcast, a platform that is dedicated to celebrating industry heroes such as yourself, because you are bold, you're brave, you're daring greatly. You solve big Dawg God problems, and you're changing lives and you're changing the world each and every day. That is why this platform is here. And it is for you. And it is about celebrating what you do. All right, in the hot seat, we have a gentleman by the name of Jon Smith, j o n is his first name Jon, he is the CEO at Hydromax, USA. And we're going to be talking about subsurface infrastructure and you're saying to yourself skylight that whatever, you know, there's a lot of stuff underneath the ground. And over the years over and over. And over the years, we've just lost track, they've got technology that says, yep, I can map it, let's get cracking.


So when I was lined in a long time ago, we would have we would call


underground service alerts because there was stuff in the ground and you just didn't put the auger in the ground and start digging, you just didn't, you had to make sure that where you're digging was free and clear of potential challenges.


And over the years, I mean, you just everything goes underground. And over the years, you've got this big old massive infrastructure on the ground, and people just lose track of it. Some things are being used, some things are idle Hydromax, USA has a great solution for mapping that out. And if we're gonna get optimization out of those assets, he better know what's underneath the ground and what's there what doesn't exist and, and and be able to do it with a high high level of confidence. It's important, it's important going forward. It's a big deal. I'm telling you, it's a big deal. All right, paper and pen sell paper and pencil. All right, we're talking about IoT solutions World Congress.


I've talked about them. They're incredible, credible organization, industrial internet consortium is associated with them. And and we're talking about a digital summit. And boy, I'll tell you what this pandemic everything's sort of shifted that innovation, that digital focus has just got off the charts. All right, this is may 11,


may 12.


of this month, and it's the digital summit, and we got a lot of stuff. Now we're going to be hosting a side event, the industrial talk podcast is hosting a side event on the 12th. And what it's about is about go figure, the digital transformation of the utilities, the infrastructure, the the grid, what are they doing what is their digital transformation, we've got two incredible individuals on the panel. The first one is Phil Carey, he is a consultant but has mad utility skills been with Southern California Edison for many, many years. And he understands what is taking place and where this journey is taking utilities, not just not just in the United States, but all around the world. And the other gentlemen is named Michael Bates. He's the general manager of energy at Intel Corporation. And I'll tell you Intel wants to facilitate this. They they see very, there's just


things are changing. And innovation, and technology is at its core, we need it. And those two gents right there. Fantastic. Another thing. And I want to this is way out of the way, so just just be mindful of it. We're gonna be broadcasting from the manufacturing and technology show. And this is in Cleveland, Ohio on November 9 through the 11th. And it's a hybrid event and I'm looking at on their website manufa. It's Mfg. Tech And


they're pushing it. They're getting out there, there's once again, here's this necessity to be able to do more with less that is an innovation that is a technology solution. And this particular event is put on to be able to highlight what's taking place in manufacturing and highlight what is happening in technology and manufacturing. So go out to MFG tech find out more pretty cool stuff. I like what I do. I like being able to talk with real trailblazers and talk to him


individuals about how innovation and hearing innovation is how innovation is really transforming making our lives better. It just is. So it's it's fantastic. And don't don't forget about Neil and e. o. m, and what they're doing out there and Saudi Arabia whole ish, Nike. That's important stuff. Let's get on with the interview. All right, again, Jon Smith, j. o, n, make a note of that Hydromax, you say is the company and we're talking about subsurface infrastructure? How do we properly map that and gain greater utilization out those assets that are underneath the ground? finding stuff, making sure things are right. So enjoy the interview with Jon Smith. JON, welcome to the industrial talk podcast, I am so honored that you have found time in your busy schedule, right? To talk to the individuals of the wonderful people of industrial talk. How are you doing?


Hey, Jon, great, Scott, thank you, and very glad to be here. I'm telling you, man, and thank you for your service. Thank you very much. All right, for the listeners out there. Now, we've got a bit of a delay, so just bear with us on this. But give us a little background, little 411 on who Jon is. And so that, and then we're going to get into the conversation about leveraging technology to solve problems with existing infrastructure, all of that fun stuff. So give us a little background, Jon.


Sure. No, again, great. Glad to be here and talk to you and all your listeners, Scott. You know, my background started, I was a career naval officer for 20 plus years, came out of the out of the military and went right into the auto industry working at Ford Motor Company and several other parts suppliers in various roles and gave me a nice that breadth of background that I couldn't really understand. But a lot of the different disciplines do and accompany us that then entered in the energy industry. Moving over and and was with Honeywell international for about seven years, we're in the Western Hemisphere for gas distribution products for them, and then had the opportunity early last year to join Hydromax USA as their CEO. And really bring all that experience together and really bring it into a space I'm very passionate about you talked about infrastructure. This has been one since I've been in the in the industry that has just been out there, really screaming for some solutions and vent for some companies that take the lead in how we not only understand where we're at today, but what can be done with the future. And that's really what Hydromax USA is about, you know, we do technology enabled services in buried infrastructure around water, wastewater, and natural gas conveyance systems. And we do everything from condition assessments to mapping to understanding just how, how we can improve the environment or reducing emissions or leaks to safety and identifying hazards. They're created that infrastructure, because of our lack of knowledge on it. You know, we started, we started burying things in the ground when this country was, you know, growing. And unfortunately, the mapping systems haven't kept up. So the real problem is, is that we've got this massive, massive infrastructure out there, that overtime we and I, and I know it exists out there, that we've dug a trench, but a pipe and boom, move on, you know, 20 years later, we forget about the pipe, it might be still working, whatever it might be, but the mapping has has not kept up to date. So the problem is, how do we take the existing infrastructure that is out there and dynamically leveraging technology to identify where it all exists? Correct. Why is that important?


Well, it's important because every day, we're starting to introduce more and more into that subsurface infrastructure. You think about fiber optics, we're talking about electrification right now. And you think about installing all that in a system that's got hundreds of 1000s of miles buried beneath, you know, not only the US, but this is a global issue. And if you don't know where it is, and you don't know how you're going to install, you have a good chance of, you know, rupturing a water line, or even worse, taking a natural gas line through something. And now you've got a real safety situation in the public sector. But isn't there laws out there that say, hey, before you dig anybody, you got to get it all surveyed? Is there laws out there like that?


In some places, it's law in some places. it's it's a it's a guideline, I guess. It varies. It varies from state to state. It varies from regular regulatory body to regulatory body. You know, it's always smart to call 811 and to get that mapped out and located. But here's the issue, you run into those location services. The location services, a lot of times are only as good as


Some maps are working from. So if the maps are outdated or new infrastructure has been put in, that wasn't properly mapped, you still got a risk there. And so this is what every day we work with our customers and our partners in the industry to find out how can we increase the safety and really even public health. If you think about the water system, an intrusion in the water system could provide some sort of contamination. In the especially today, where people are working from home more, there's more demand on the infrastructure in new hazards. Recently, I was reading an article about the the hazard that you know, all these sanitary wipes that everyone's using to wipe everything down to a lot of people are putting them in the sewer system. And now what's happening is they're creating huge clogs, we were talking about some that have been, I mean, just enormous in main sewer lines. And so think about if that happens on a day, when you're at home, you got to work or your water's disrupted, or your gas or your sewer system, it becomes a major issue real quick.


That is a consequence that I did not think about, and I did not was not aware about it. And so here's the funny thing there, Jon, and it's not funny, and it's just you're spot on, you're looking at a situation where


it is truly a health and safety. Focus, it has to be right, it just has to be. And to be able to properly map that out to identify the the you know, subsurface assets, whatever you might be, is important, and it's critical. So how do we do that? Why, what's that solution? You got the problem? We understand the problem? What's the solution? What do we do?


Well, you know, we do an interesting mix of technology, and actually boots on the ground service in our field operators and errors in their field every day, do a fantastic job working with utilities, municipalities of all sizes, to really fix their, you know, find and identify their hazards, but also to more efficiently use their budget dollars. We've developed something called a risk prioritization model that we've been doing this for almost 20 years. And we've developed an awful lot of data and background in this, that we can run a very accurate AI and machine learning model that will identify potential risks in a municipality or city, where we really should go first. I mean, if you if you look at this massive grid, where do you start, and that's where a lot of people start wringing their hands, you've got to use AI, you've got to use technology to give yourself a leg up and be able to more efficiently go out there. And you really want to hit the the really high. The really high threat areas, I would say, are high risk areas to identify those, go check them out. Hopefully, there's nothing there. Hopefully, it's all doing well. One of the things we also do in natural gases leak survey, so we'll go out and even if we identify it, we check and see is it emitting methane into the air through natural gas emissions. So we really try to partner with some very large,


you know, utilities and gas distribution companies to try and be part of their solution in carbon footprint reduction, and how we can help prevent the you know, prevent the the environment from degrading, and help them to be better corporate citizens and their community. So it's really a two prong attack, I'd say on this. But it's one that we found a great need for across the country. So what I hear you saying that that's good stuff, that's all good. So you, you sit there and you prioritize your focus on the subsurface infrastructure. That's good, because you're absolutely spot on. It seems like I mean, everything is buried, right? So Berry, berry berry berry, and I got a question of accuracy. So let's say they engage your services. And you're using technology that identifies and maps subsurface assets, how accurate are they


were plus or minus a foot. And so we actually using every unused word as re partner and we also use GIS data, but we actually map it in a three axis location, and we're plus or minus about six inches on that. Because it we've got an actual physical robot that's in that infrastructure. So we're paying that robot, and it's giving us a precise location. So as we traverse this infrastructure, we're not only looking for hazards, we're also noting where the where the infrastructure is, what slope it's on, because, you know, heaven forbid, you're never going to get in a straight line. Everybody assumes if I dig a trench at seven feet here, I'm gonna dig at seven or rear, it could be seven feet here and five feet, you know, 100 yards down, you've got an incline. That's the accuracy that we need to help ensure that as more


More technology moves into the very infrastructure, we're not creating hazards for people. And we're not creating hazards or disruptions of service across the industry. And I'll give you a good example. Also, this is another reason why it's so in the condition assessment side is so important. Recently, I was talking to a city and they had recently done a several million dollar road project. And about six months after they got done with the road project did a water main break right underneath where they just put in a road. So now they've got this brand new road. And now they have to tear up a main and they have to do all this do all this work. When if we had known the condition before the road, when they had the road torn up, they could have fixed it, then, and then never had a disruption, the road and the and they would have more efficiently use that budget going forward. So that's just a couple ways that we see hazards identified the in the in the infrastructure. So you sit there and you and what i like i like that three dimensional, right? You're, we're so sort of two dimensional. If I ask somebody, if I call 811, they're gonna come out there, they got some questionable maps, they might sort of in this area, and they'll they'll mark it out with fluorescent paint, don't take here, right. And then they give you give you a splash of saying don't do that. But it doesn't take into the elevation, as you say, don't dig there. So it could go down, it could go up, it could do all of the stuff that you mentioned, which is very, very important. Now, that's great. That's all good. But you know, as well as I do, it's hard to keep all of this stuff up to speed and accurate, right? You go in you map it out, all good, all wonderful. Everybody's just having a grand old time feeling good about themselves. But the real, the real thing is, is keeping it up to date. How do you do that? How do you how do you do that?


Well, that's where we work with our customers quite a bit to identify where their programs need to take into account that new construction. So we have to kind of two buckets when we get it when we start talking. We have legacy which is already already in the ground. Okay, so we're mapping, we're identifying that. But then you have new construction. So one of the things that we do is we work with engineering firms, sometimes the cities or municipalities that major construction projects, and will come in and do pre and post inspection post is always the one we like, because pre inspection, I'll tell ya, there's nothing there right now, post inspection says you did the work and didn't create a hazard. But there's really those two. Now, again, getting back to your comment before about regulation. In some places, this is regulated, for instance, we have a we have a major customer in the northwest, who it's in there, it's in their charter that if there's new construction, that's mandatory, we've got to go on the job. And if there's a legacy job that's waiting, it waits, we check out the new, and then we have that accurately map. So it's a mix, you've got to know where you're building and where you're placing more infrastructure in the ground. But you've also got to map out the present to really understand that as well, because you've got excavation and other things going on every day as well. So this is also I guarantee you, this is a Hey, let's let's bring in Hydromax, USA, and we've I prioritize this embed our subsurface assets over here, let's get them to run it run through it, it should be just fine. Let's just get them to do it. And then you guys come on in, you run your tech, you run your innovation, boom, you find problems, then all of a sudden, you got to come back, and you're gonna say, hey, customer, we got a problem out here that you got to fix. I don't want to do it. How do you get that


we and that's where we work with our customers because they know that when we identify them, they're gonna get a report within 24 hours. So we see an intrusion, they immediately get a report on it. And a lot of times they'll they'll roll their crews out to fix it right away, depending on the grade of it, but but you know, they have different standards in that but they are very good about when we identify these. And we do identify them we find more than sometimes then the customer expects


that one customer thought they had a great assistant with great integrity. It was going to be there we wound up finding 20 or 30 in the in the first few months. So in for us and I know for them, because because they're sitting there, I know they are in to the credit of the gas industry and to the water system. Some of this isn't regulatory driven. For instance, when you're looking for across borders, we call it that's not regulatory driven. that's a that's a public safety that they're going out and being proactive about and that I really commend the industry for that. One of our senior vice presidents is the head of the crosscore Association actually founded it up in the northwest and Mark and I will


Talk and it is a, it's a group that just raises awareness with the service providers of what those hazards could be. And to the credit of these industries, they're putting budget dollars aside and prioritizing public safety.


And see that's, that's really important. So I see how this is all this is all good. And this is important stuff, and I understand it. And I understand that the the health and safety component to it. And, and


this it, correct me if I'm wrong here, Jon, we've got to get


more out of these embedded assets than ever before. We're putting greater stress, greater tension, whatever might be in greater demand on these embedded assets. And it seems to me that this is an important function to ensure that you are optimizing that, that that asset, and be able to create greater reliability is that important?


Yeah, more so ever than today. I mean, I think I think today and going forward, you know, you had some residential assets. Before that, you know, when when families were home on the weekends or nights were being used, you had the industrial combat, now you've got across the board, where it's, it's spread throughout the system now. So you're spot on, this system has been stressed to a point now, where we really have to identify these things before they happen. Because it's a lot, it's like your car, you can either get an oil change every five to 10,000 miles, or you can wait till 50,000 miles when it really seizes on you now you got to replace the engine, which would you rather do from a budget standpoint. And that's the way we really look at the really great thing. And the thing that I love about about my position here, and as our teams know, this, too, I mean, we have some very passionate all the way down to our field operators that take their jobs very seriously, and are professional about it. And they know they're out there for two things, public health and safety, and improving, you know, really the environment and protecting the environment. And, and I got to give a shout out to our teams, because every day they're doing things every day to keep people safe. So here's this global human component to what you guys are doing. I get it, I get it. We live in the United States here, it is all fine. I understand it. I see it been been a part of it. But there are absolute communities around the world that need this solution.


And it's older than us.


Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And then, and that's where this, this industry is really starting to reach more outside the borders. And I think that's what's really fantastic for us is that with our now our systems that we've developed, that can operate independently, whether we're performing, we don't have to perform the service, we can be your data management, we can, you know, we can add that in and run risk prioritization run, really run your whole data stream.


It's something that does that transcends borders. And so as we look at partnering overseas, and we have partnered with some overseas technology to bring that to the States, but now we look at the ways we can partner outside also to provide our technology outside to help other areas of the world improve their living conditions as well. Huge, absolutely huge and you listeners out there, I just want to make sure that we impress upon you that there is subsurface infrastructure, it's everywhere you


if you could actually see it with your eyes, you would just be absolutely stunned at how much exists underground, and how much we depend on that particular infrastructure. Okay, Jon, we're gonna have to wrap it up. How do I get ahold of you?


Well, you know, Hydromax, That's the best place to go to learn about us. We also have I mean, I'm gonna put one plug out there that we also have opportunities to join our team. We're recruiting nationally right now, that's a great thing. We love bringing people on board and growing this team. So if people are interested in this, please reach out via our website. All right, that is exciting. That is exciting. New. So here's a company that is growing, that is providing a service that we need going forward. And it is a global type of focus. And I'm telling you it's it's health, human safety, and health. And boy is it needed. Oh Hydromax USA, that's the CEO right there. That's Jon Smith. How are you? It's good stuff. Thanks, man.


Now you see why I'm passionate about it.


Man, I'm all geeked out on it, man. All right, listeners. We're gonna wrap it up on the other side. We're gonna make sure that you understand how to get ahold of Jon, how to get ahold of Hydromax, USA and anything else that you can pass


Imagine, remember, just FYI. Remember, they're looking for quality individuals to join their team. That's pretty damn cool. All right, Jon. Thank you. Thanks, Scott. Stay well. You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


All right, I want to thank Jon Smith for joining the industrial talk podcast. Sorry about the little delays there. But that happens. It's okay. Still meeting very, very meaty conversation about subsurface infrastructure, and how do you deploy the innovation and technology to be able to find that stuff? It's out there.


It's all around us. We just got to do a better job at optimizing those assets as we go forward. That's an important dealio. All right, again, we're gonna be hosting an event.


It is in the digital summit. It is may 11, through 12. And you just go out to IoT world, Congress, sign up, find out more, we're going to be doing something on the electric utility, digital transformation journey. It's got to happen. You utility people who listen to this show, it's got to happen. Make it happen. Be bold, be brave, dare greatly, you know, you know the mantra. All right, again, hang out with people who are bold, brave and daring greatly. Like Jon, and boy, I'll tell you, you're going to change lives and you're going to change the world. Thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast, absolute honor. Have a safe

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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