Meeting SCADA’s Beyond The Fence Challenge

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) platforms are the systems that control and manage much of society’s most important infrastructure.
As a platform, however, they were initially developed and optimized for controlling ‘inside the fence’ applications — monitoring processes that take place within the physical confines of, say, a power plant. In such setups, equipment and the systems used to control them are either colocated or situation within short reach of one another.

Connecting SCADA platforms with remote, beyond-the-fence sensors involves overcoming the inherent difficulties involved in provisioning reliable sources of power and network connectivity that allow remote devices to remain operational for long periods without human intervention.

While this poses a challenge for operators, it is by no means an insurmountable one.

SCADA’s Value for Operators

In the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), SCADA systems are the vital platforms used for monitoring and parsing data collected from sensors, fusing information sources, and automating the industrial processes that they monitor. And the more dispersed the assets that they control, the more vital such systems become.

SCADA systems have been around for decades, proving their worth in manufacturing plants, oil refineries, and other environments where the cyber-secure transmission of data between sensors and industrial control systems is crucial for the successful operation of utilities. Although operators have historically sought to integrate a small number of remote, ‘outside the fence’ assets with the systems, these have not traditionally been integrated into the SCADA platforms themselves due to the technical difficulty of doing so.

SCADA systems also provide operators with additional benefits such as increased information throughput, safety risk mitigation, reduced system downtime, and analytic abilities that include the ability to extract insights that aid in the creation of long-term value for the utility. The systems also offer stability and reliability that is unmatched by competing industrial control solutions.

New Applications Face Significant Challenges

In the push to expand the Internet of Things (IoT) to the industrial sphere, SCADA is rapidly being connected with outside-the-fence assets. This is particularly true in the fields of water, wastewater, electricity, and natural gas. The initial wave of adoption has brought to the fore challenges that operators in less physically complex networking scenarios simply do not have to confront.

When connecting to remote infrastructure, communications and power both place significant constraints on the viability of the monitoring program they are supporting. Unlike inside-the-fence sensors, which can simply be connected to a fixed power supply (which often also has a backup supply for redundancy), sensors located ‘in the wild’ enjoy no such luxury.

Such devices must either rely on batteries, which deplete and require periodic replacement, or use alternative power supply sources such as solar panels, which require regular maintenance to remain effective. In addition, being located beyond the physical limits of a secured location makes such devices substantially more vulnerable to vandalism and theft. This is particularly true when they are installed at street level within urban environments. This limitation is more difficult to overcome when more energy-intensive sensors need to be connected to the smart network. The more frequent the wireless data transmission cycle and the larger the packet size that needs to be transmitted, the greater the demand on the power source supplying electricity.

Connectivity poses a similar challenge.

While telecommunications operators may have strong coverage in some areas, it can be limited, or nonexistent, in others. Ensuring reliable connectivity throughout a smart network therefore entails system planners giving detailed consideration to the carriers available in each area it extends to. This can amount to a costly, time-consuming, and difficult undertaking for even the largest of utilities.

Networks developed specifically for the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) offer an alternative means of ensuring connectivity for devices. Such networks include the low power wide area networks (LP-WAN) family that includes Sigfox and LoRa WAN as well as NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT), a narrowband network developed within the mainstream, licensed spectrum familiar to everyone.

Impovements Are Required for SCADA and the IoT to Reach their Full Potential

Even for devices capable of connecting to both networks, however, the operating conditions are not yet ideal. Network coverage on the IoT-specific networks remains relatively limited. Tight bandwidth constraints also pose significant limits to the type, amount, and transmission frequency of data that can be transmitted over these networks.

The traditional breeds of networks (those based on GSM and CDMA) remain too power-intensive to enable fully-autonomous operation for long durations and with frequent transmission cycles. The future cellular-based IoT-optimized networks will offer significantly better power performance when they are rolled out, but the confusion over precisely which variant will dominate the market has created significant confusion and uncertainty on the part of operators planning future network deployments.

Those rigging inside-the-fence assets to SCADA systems do not face a problem in obtaining robust connectivity options. They have both complete visibility and autonomy whenever a component connected to a local area network (LAN) fails and – as the network operator – they can move swiftly to resolve any networking issues that may arise, thereby keeping downtime to a minimum.

Given the larger and more dispersed nature of their networks under management, outside-the-fence operators typically cannot meet the response times of those responsible for infrastructure that resides solely within centralized assets. If they cannot be troubleshooted from a distance, remote assets are also, naturally, significantly more costly to troubleshoot and repair.

Integrating SCADA systems with outside-the-fence assets involves significant challenges that merit serious consideration. Solutions to the well-known difficulties elucidated in this article, however, are being vigorously developed throughout the industry. Once these reach maturity, the full potential of remote monitoring will be self-evident to both operators and their consumers.

This blog was adapted from Values and Challenges of SCADA Systems for Outside-the-Fence Applications, an article originally published in IIoT World

Edge Analytics: IoT’s New Frontier

Edge analytics is quickly becoming a vital component in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) ecosystem.
But what exactly is it and why is it important?

Traditionally, data obtained from remote devices on IoT-powdered smart networks has been sent to a cloud-based or privately-hosted server for further processing.

Any analytics programs that an operator may utilize to flag urgent readings has usually been run on these centralized resources rather than directly on devices located along the network edge.

Edge analytics can further reduce IIoT’s power requirements

In the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), low power consumption is a non-negotiable design requirement.

Devices operating on the remote reaches of a network need to operate for a as long as possible on their internal power sources (which are often simple lithium batteries). This is necessary to justify being used instead of alternative methods of taking readings from remote sensors such as sending technicians to physically inspect the infrastructure and obtain manual readings.

One appealing way to attempt to achieve lower power footprints is to reduce the transmissions frequency of such equipment. Doing so, however, obviously risks defeating the very reason that these devices are installed in the first place. If smart sensors do not relay information on a regular basis, crucial time-sensitive (and potentially actionable) insights may not make it back to control centers until it is too late to act upon them. In the case of some situations – such as an overloading water main, for example – a delay of just a few minutes could have catastrophic repercussions for the water supply in an entire supply area.

If the data generation process is entirely unchecked, however, the total volume of the information being sourced from the network edge could mushroom at a faster pace than the cloud computer infrastructure required to process and store it can be provisioned.

According to IBM estimates, 90% of the data in existence has been generated over just the past two years. If 50 billion devices connect to the IoT within three years as predicted, it is feasible that the rate of data collection will overwhelm the storage capacity of the internet.

Analyzing on the edge is the solution

The solution to this quandary lies in the nascent and fast-developing area of edge analytics which proposes an elegant solution to the low power data conundrum.

Microprocessing technology has evolved to the extent that sophisticated analytics programs that use the power of algorithmic logic can now be added to software that runs directly aboard edge devices, such as IoT gateways. Monitoring kits barely larger than a desktop telephone can now carry out the sort of operations that would have taken a supercomputer to perform in the industrial management platforms of old.

Microprocessing technology has evolved to the extent that sophisticated analytics programs that use the power of algorithmic logic can now be added to software that runs directly aboard edge devices, such as IoT gateways. Monitoring kits barely larger than a desktop telephone can now carry out the sort of operations that would have taken a supercomputer to perform in the industrial management platforms of old.

This is why, according to one estimate, 40% of all IoT-derived data will be created, stored, and analyzed autonomously at, or close to, the network edge. Edge analytics will emerge as the vital gatekeeper in the edge-human relay and provide the first layer of defence against an avalanche of irrelevant information that could risk making it impossible for human administrators to identify the needle of relevant data from the haystack of network noise.

Such systems are also not static. Solutions in currently deployment are highly configurable and allow administrators to tweak parameters as monitoring requirements and network conditions evolve.

Synergies emerge when cloud and edge analytics are deployed in parallel. With a filter on the edge information, cloud-based programs operating further down the stack can focus on extracting insights from more useful information.

Who can benefit?

Traditionally, industrial infrastructural monitoring has originated predominantly from assets that are being monitoring ‘inside the fence’ of the network perimeter – where central management tends to cluster – with insufficient input from the network edge.

Because of this, much of the information processed from industrial monitoring processes has come to be regarded as the preserve of the ‘man in the tower’. Insights obtained from such information have primarily been used to drive strategic decision-making rather than to guide daily operational concerns.

The combined power of edge and cloud analytics can put the utility gained from information about the edge back into the hands of those that need it most: the operators and technicians responsible for the upkeep of infrastructure in the field.

Using pre-analyzed remote network information to inform short-term operational decisions is termed tactical edge analytics and is growing in importance by the week.

Edge analytics is an emerging field, and like any such technology, its initial growth will be faltering.

However analyzing information directly on the network edge is quickly emerging as the preeminent means of placing the value of remote monitoring into the hands of those it was always designed to help. And the benefits for the broader question of how the IoT can continue to generate vast sums of data without overwhelming possible storage requirements are also immediately apparent.

At the very least, edge analytic will drive disruptive change in the IoT for years to come. It’s a space that’s definitely worth paying close attention to.

Ariel Stern is the CEO of Ayyeka. This post was adapted from an article that originally appeared in IoT World News

Meet The Ayyeka Team: Sivan Sidney Cohen, P.E.

Sivan Sidney Cohen P.E. is the General Manager (GM) of Ayyeka Inc., Ayyeka’s US-based subsidiary headquartered in Los Angeles.
Prior to joining Ayyeka, Sivan spent several years working in construction management, specializing in large-scale commercial projects including San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal Two. During her years working as a civil engineer and project manager, Sivan also gained experience working on residential projects such as high-end apartments in the prestigious city of Beverly Hills.

After graduating with a BSc. and MS in Civil Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University respectively, Sivan decided to further advance her academic studies by joining the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as a cementitious materials researcher, investigating new means of improving the efficiency of cement.

Beginning the Ayyeka journey

After spending several more years working in industry, Sivan moved from her native Los Angeles to Israel.

Shortly after arriving, she became one of the first employees of Ayyeka, then a garage startup.

Although the company has since become a global industrial monitoring technology provider with over 35 employees and 19 distributing partners in 25 states, Sivan recalls the company’s formative years fondly.

So what motivated Sivan to take the leap from overseeing multi-million dollars construction efforts to joining an early stage technology company?

Laying the foundations of startup success

“My passion, first and foremost, is in building,” says Sivan. “Whether it’s overseeing the development of an airport terminal, a high-rise, or laying the foundations for a company’s growth, it’s the same kind of adrenaline rush.”

Another facet of the company that enticed Sivan to join was integrating a number of different systems into one cohesive end-to-end monitoring platform. Making order out of chaos, she says, is a process that she had seen while working in project management on construction projects.

“When your project is dependent upon a number of different stakeholders, like contractors and subcontractors, working cohesively towards achieving a shared goal, it’s vital to minimize the number of different systems and workflows that are in use. Otherwise, integrating becomes almost as big a project as achieving the overall objective of the project.”

Ayyeka’s Wavelet IIoT package includes everything that an industrial operator needs to begin remote monitoring – including data services and a user interface (UI). “It’s a huge advance over the traditional telemetric model which would have involved painstakingly connecting sensors, devices, communications equipment, and software services — disparate systems that could only rarely be depended upon to speak the same language.”

Making B2B Seamless is a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’

Sivan also says that Ayyeka’s philosophy of attempting to bring the ‘plug-and-play’ philosophy of consumer-facing applications to the industrial internet was another facet of the company that held unique appeal for her.

“Sometimes, in industrial settings, there’s almost this unspoken expectation that things shouldn’t look as slick or run as they might in the consumer world. Industrial-grade tools are handling some pretty serious stuff like the power supply. As someone that was involved in that world but who also appreciates things that ‘just work’, Ayyeka’s commitment to bringing something truly seamless to this market was a breath of fresh air to me.”

And although Sivan was recently named one of Water & Wastes Digest’s top 16 water professionals under 40, it’s not all work and no play.

Outside of her professional interests, which include mentoring the next generation of women engineers and speaking to audiences on issues such as water management and the IoT, Sivan is passionate about fitness and the outdoors. She is also in the process of obtaining her Doula certification with DONA, the world’s leading Doula training organization.

So, what’s next for Sivan and Ayyeka?

“It’s hard to predict, but this is a very exciting time to be in the industry”, she says. “One thing is for sure – the next few years will be a wild ride.”

How To Optimize Infrastructure With Remote Monitoring

The advent of the internet of things (IoT) has brought about the ability to create smart networks that can optimize the management of everything from sewers to offshore infrastructure such as oil wells
Smart networks differ dramatically from the existing telemetric solutions that, for decades, have allowed for limited-scale remote monitoring to be carried out. Modern IoT solutions leverage advanced low-power, low-bandwidth communications networks to relay information directly from the field to network administrators at a far greater scale than has ever been possible before.

The information obtained from smart networks can be used in a multitude of ways, such as through internal analysis programs or by creating direct integrations with the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems used to oversee critical infrastructure networks.

Below is a step-by-step guide that will help utilities that want to deploy smart networks get started on their journey from planning to deployment.

Network Planning

Firstly, operators should carefully plan which elements of the infrastructure will be monitored and determine which parameters administrators will need real-time knowledge of. A water utility with significant leakage problems, for example, may be interested in district metered area (DMA) sensing to reduce non-revenue water (NRW). A wastewater plant operator, on the other hand, may need to know the level of corrosive chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in its system at all times.

After determining the parameters that will be monitored, IT personnel should source an IoT hardware provider that sells sensors that can best monitor these parameters. For OEMs, this may involve obtaining hardware that can integrate with their own solutions.

Those undertaking the monitoring effort to comply with legislation, such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordinances, should ensure that all equipment used in the monitoring process, especially the sensors, meet the legislation’s requirements.

Answering questions will further guide the choice of vendor.

Does the infrastructure network consist of widely dispersed assets, such as a water distribution network (involving reservoirs, pumping stations, and endpoints hundreds of kilometers apart), or is it a more centralized, within-the-perimeter system, such as an oil and gas rig?

Will some of the assets live below the surface (such as within a sewer) or far off the coast, well beyond the reach of traditional cellular networks (such as on an oil rig)? LP-WAN networks, such as Sigfox and LoRa, can penetrate intervening concrete structures with relative ease and, as an unlicensed network, base stations can also be set up wherever the network needs to extend. GSM-based networks, by comparison, are limited in coverage to the reach of the infrastructure deployed by the network operator.

Some other questions that may be helpful in guiding the selection process.

What sample rate will be sufficient to obtain the required information? Is it variable or fixed? And if variable, upon which conditions does it depend? More frequent sample rates and higher bandwidth transmissions also incur greater power overheads. In such cases, IoT gateways with external power supplies may be more suitable.

Network Deployment

Once a remote monitoring platform is chosen, deployment of the field sensors that will comprise the smart network can begin.

The complexity of the installation project will depend upon the extent of the network, and whether the sensing equipment being installed will be powered by on-board or external power sources.

Data Collection

With installation complete, the process of collecting data from the smart network can begin.

Depending on the provider selected, the data may be traveling to a SCADA system, an online vendor’s user interface (UI), or an alternative destination, such as a public or private cloud filesystem.

While data collection is a passive process, system maintenance is not. Much of the upkeep functionalities, such as software upgrades, can be done remotely. Most installations will require field visits periodically, although the visits can be conducted far less frequent when a remote monitoring solution is in place.

Routine operations include sensor calibration and maintenance tasks. Given the “smart” nature of the network, proactive and predictive maintenance methodologies can be employed rather than run to failure (RTF). This will reduce labor costs compared to sending teams to the field.

On-board power sources may have to be replaced on a fixed schedule.

Smart networks are flexible and modular. Sensors may need to be added, or reconfigured, as the needs of the use-case—and monitoring program—change over time.

Data Analysis

A flood of field data can create a flood of confusion if network operators do not have some computer assistance to help separate network signal from noise.

Data can be analyzed in situ, on the network edge, or through programs running on a traditional server infrastructure. Standard, server-side data analytics programs can run on a public or private cloud to parse information obtained from the network and assist operators by flagging potentially actionable cues for action.

Edge analytics is a fast-growing, emerging discipline in which analytics-capable processing power is placed directly aboard the devices themselves on the network edge. This involves analyzing data in situ, while offline, and making autonomous decisions about what information to transmit to the operations room for further analysis.

System Optimization

Once a network has been deployed and is generating real-time insights about important network parameters, it is time to leverage those insights to optimize the system’s health.

Examples of this can include wastewater operators diverting sewer flows to reserve storage capacity areas in response to water level information indicating the potential for a sewer overflow event in the near future; or a water provider reducing supply chlorination in response to live readings indicating excessive chlorine level.

With the sensor nodes installed, and the data continuously being transmitted to the selected server, the smart network information is viewable and the data is available for analysis on the network.

This blog was adapted from How to Optimize Infrastructure with Remote Monitoring, an article originally published in Water & Wastes Digest

Meet The Team: Regional Sales Manager (RSM) US South-East, Mid-West, Ashley Dirou

Ashley Dirou is Ayyeka’s Regional Sales Manager (RSM) for the US Southeast and Midwest. Ashley is based out of the State of Florida where she has lived for almost 10 years.
A full-time Ayyeka employee since May of this year, Ashley is Ayyeka’s second-appointed RSM. In her role, she ensures that the Ayyeka Global Partner Network companies in her territory deliver the remote monitoring solutions that our customers seek and expect, and provides sales, marketing, and technical support to partners.

Originally from Ohio, Ashley graduated the University of Kentucky with a Double Major in Marketing and Management and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles. Although she left school open to the idea of going into business in any industry, Ashley says that she never expected that the wastewater sector would be where she would grow professionally.

But a chance encounter soon after university with a friend that worked for Multitrode – a pump station technology provider acquired by Xylem for $26M. – set her career on an unexpected “but highly enjoyable” path.

After going through what Ashley describes as the “steep learning curve” involved in mastering the technical intricacies of level-sensing, submersible pumps, pump station controls, and SCADA integration, she soon became immersed in the wastewater and water industries (pun intended!). Ashley says that she is now “highly passionate” about both the field and its technologies.

A ‘fascinating world’ beneath America’s cities

“Nobody spares a thought about what happens when they flush the toilet. Or when they turn on the tap. But beneath America’s towns and cities lies a complex and fascinating world. Improving the efficiency of the network that makes wastewater work is the job of the technology companies and environmental agencies that comprise the American wastewater ecosystem.”

After spending three years selling Multitrode’s advanced pump station technology to municipal operators across Florida, Ashley went on to become an Account Manager at Barney’s Pumps before assuming the position of Sales Manager at Star Controls Inc., an Ayyeka sales partner based in Coral Springs Florida.

There, she was introduced to Ayyeka, and oversaw Star Controls’ reselling of the product before joining the company in-house sales team as Regional Sales Manager.

Working in “the Mecca of water and wastewater management”

Florida, says Ashley, is “the Mecca of water and wastewater management” and is characterized by a highly competitive vendor landscape that makes working in the industry a “challenging but professionally fruitful experience.”

So where does Ashley see the industry in twenty years?

“I see two major advances,” Ashley says. “The continued rise in the importance that operators place upon the role of data and more computing being carried out on the edge.”

“There are many pain points left for operators to face and enormous problems, such as non-revenue water (NRW) that need to be urgently addressed. But replacing infrastructure entirely simply isn’t financially feasible. So it’s vital to be smart. I’m confident that we’ll see a lot more happening in this space in coming years.”

Partner Interview: GlobeOwl Solutions Inc.

Steve Bramson is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of GlobeOwl, a provider of remote monitoring, alarming, and reporting solutions based in Canada. The company prides itself on the wide variety of sensors that it offers, which includes gas and odor detection sensors (including CO, H2S, CO2, and VOC) in addition to kits for monitoring environmental, liquid, gas and physical parameters.
The company’s tools are used at water and wastewater plants, landfills, mines, oil & gas, pulp & paper and industrial manufacturing sites. At landfills, the company helps operators to detect hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gas known for its pungent odor that is both an occupational hazard and a nuisance easily detectable by the human nose, even at low parts per billion (ppb) concentrations. In addition, the company offers its customizable GoCloud solution, an ‘always on’ air and water monitoring platform available for desktop and mobile designed to provide dashboard visualization, alarming and precise reporting to customers with specific requirements.

The company’s co-founder, Steve Bramson, is a serial entrepreneur who has been involved in startup projects since the early 90s focusing primarily on internet-based challenges. His previous ventures include an online jeweler, an ecommerce platform, and an internet service provider (ISP). Before entering the entrepreneurial world, Steve was a financial analyst and software engineer.

Steve co-founded GlobeOwl with 3 partners, in order to “take remote monitoring to the next level.” The company was spun-off from a 60-year-old corporation to augment an existing alarming technology platform with rich functionalities such as big data analytics, visualization, archiving, and reporting.

The company was impressed by the quality of Ayyeka’s hardware and for the technical prowess of its team, which primarily consists of seasoned software and firmware engineers. Since becoming a member of the Ayyeka global sales partner network, the company has been able to offer Ayyeka’s remote monitoring platform to its customers, which are located throughout Canada and the United States.

Steve, who in his spare time enjoys the great outdoors (including cycling, skiing and hiking) sees great things in the future for the two companies. ”This is only the start of an exciting shared journey,” Steve says.

Meet The Team: Water Sector Director, David Dolphin

Mr. David Dolphin is Ayyeka’s Water Sector Director, appointed to the role last year.
A native of England, David has been living in Canada for the past eight years. He now calls Kingston, a city in Eastern Ontario, home.

His professional residence, however, certainly lies within the water and wastewater industry.

In a career spanning over three decades, David has held a variety of leadership and managerial positions within the industry. His roles have ranged from assisting with water treatment as a local municipal plant contractor to holding a series of executive-level sales positions at Veolia, a French multinational with more employees than Kingston has residents.

“A series of happy accidents”

Although David, a trained mechnical engineer, describes the beginnings of his career as “a series of happy accidents” (including taking his first job in water to live in London, to be in the same city as his future wife), he says that spearheading multinational system rollouts and working with local municipalities, have both given him a firm sense of belonging within the water and wastewater industry.

Often taken for granted, the treatment and conveyance of water and wastewater, as David points out, are infrastructural networks that play critical roles in allowing societies to exist. Most of us expect clean, fresh water and the disposal of dirtied water as basic needs. The UN General Assembly, in fact, has enshrined both as fundamental human rights

Although he now manages the company’s water and wastewater sector, Ayyeka’s first market vertical, David’s involvement was initially “peripheral”.

Charged with building a North American business based on novel sensors and digital technology, David discovered and presented Ayyeka as a solution that solved many of the pain points that the Swiss technology supplier was encountering. “For every pain point we were running into with the solution we were trying at the time, Ayyeka proposed a tick,” David says. “And that got me thinking: these guys are good at what they do!”

Besides being impressed with the technology, which David describes as being “very well conceived,” for the industrial applications it tackles, the company’s “responsiveness” and proactive approach to helping customers make the most out of the solution also struck a cord.

“Coming from the corporate world, there’s sometimes a perception that startups are associated with arrogant founders that don’t want to listen to what their customers have to say. But with Ayyeka, I encountered an openness and a receptiveness to new ideas that I found refreshing to say the least.”

The data revolution will transform critical industries

David believes that the data revolution currently happening in the industry is just the “first flush” of what is to come. “Even for the more conservative players – and there are many of those in the municipal water and wastewater sector – there’s a growing sense of recognition that a lot is going to change very fast about how we, as an industry, manage critical infrastructure data.”

How does he find interfacing with the large companies he once worked for now that he’s embedded within the startup world? “It’s been interesting, actually,” David says. “Although large municipalities can be more circumspect about evaluating new technologies, once they’ve made the decision to do so, they often deploy on a far more impressive scale than would be the case in the private sector,” he says.

What does a veteran wastewater man like David do to unwind? Fondly described by colleagues as a “bon viveur,” David admits to taking enormous pleasure in good food and wine. The outdoors, fishing, and rugby, he says, are other pursuits. Approaching his ninth year in Kingston, David considers Canada to be “almost like home” now but adds that wherever in the world he lives, continuing to be part of the exciting changes in the water and wastewater industry is a journey he’ll be happy to continue to be part of.

Partner Interview: The 419 Group

Chad Smalley is a co-founder of the 419 Group, Ayyeka’s sales partner in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ayyeka’s full range of remote monitoring kits.
Chad counts over 28 years’ experience working in the water and wastewater industry. Prior to co-founding The 419 Group he worked in manufacturing distribution, service, and as a factory representative.

He founded the 419 Group LLC with co-founder Douglas Kreis in 2010. The company specializes in representing three core product lines for municipal water and wastewater systems. Its current product offering includes water pumps, wastewater pumps, storm water pumps, data acquisition products, water storage tanks, and a variety of valves.

Chad and Douglas decided to work with Ayyeka when it became clear that operators are going to have to significantly improve their systems in order to stay compliant with increasingly stringent environmental regulations that necessitate the timely and frequent reporting of data from infrastructure. The company had also wished to be able to offer operators access to a solution that incorporated cloud integration for some time, but had been turned off by the fact that other vendors required piecing together solutions component-by-component.

“Ayyeka provides a cost effective solution with minimal deployment time. Based on our research, the reporting capabilities of Ayyeka exceed comparable competition. The product also fits perfectly into our existing basket of products,” Chad says.

When not working, Chad likes to work on home projects, coach youth soccer, and ski.

Meet The Team: Director Of Revenue, Blair Carey

An Ayyeka employee since last year,Blair Carey is Ayyeka’s Director of Revenue and has overall responsibility for Ayyeka’s global revenue network. In addition, he is in charge of managing all aspects of the company’s revenue performance management (RPM).
Prior to joining Ayyeka, Blair, who hails from Calgary in Canada, held a series of executive level roles in the valuation, due diligence, forensic accounting, and financial analysis fields in a career that has spanned almost three decades.

Holding both Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Patent Valuation Analyst (CPVA) certifications, Blair jokes that he certainly “knows his way around a spreadsheet”.

Throughout his career, however, he has remained keenly focused on the fact that sales and business development are “vital parts of a business’s success”. This is an area, he says, that he became particularly passionate about during his tenure as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at an internet technology company.

In his current role at Ayyeka, which sees him playing an integral role in the sales and marketing process, Blair brings skill-sets gained in both financial and operational roles to bear upon the company’s daily revenue operations.This includes the operation and management of a global sales partner network now spanning four continents as well as overseeing new developments in licensing and OEM transactions.

Realizing the sales opportunity to utilities

“Ayyeka’s outreach and education efforts in mature markets has developed good traction but it has been a slow process as most utility operators’ adopt new technologies on a piecemeal basis,” Blair says.

However, as more operators seek data from their dispersed asset base to optimize their operations, Blair says that companies like Ayyeka will gradually sweep away the legacy systems still in widespread use. He is particularly bullish about the company’s prospects for growth in the emerging markets that categorize much of the developing world. Blair rationalizes that where existing infrastructure systems (and ingrained thought patterns) are often not yet in place, making the leap to advanced technologies is an easier proposition to make to operators.

On a day-to-day basis, Blair’s core responsibilities revolve around ensuring that the global revenue pipeline is kept smoothly running through the efficient use of Salesforce, the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool of choice.

Assuming overall responsibility for the management of the Ayyeka Global Sales Partner Network – a distribution network of resellers extending across the Americas, Europe, and Australasia – is another significant part of his role.

This, he says, involves liaising with both an internal management hierarchy as well as with the channel partners themselves. Channel partners, according to Blair, often take significantly difference approaches to sales and marketing but must ultimately be held to Ayyeka performance and quality standards.

Finally, he oversees “the mechanics” of international payments between Ayyeka’s parent companies and its two international subsidiaries. He uses his extensive experience in financial markets to optimize transfer processes.

An easy transition to startup life

Like many of his fellow Ayyekans, Blair came to Ayyeka on the back of a career working for larger organizations. The transition to a startup, however, has been “a relatively smooth one. There’s also no sense of disjointedness in the team, which is great,” he says, “even though to a large extent my role involves me being something of an independent operators of sorts.”

Ensuring the integrity of both the capital markets industry and the CFA board exams are also important professional ambitions for Blair, outside of his current role.

For nine years, he was the Vice Chair of the Canadian Advocacy Council for the CFA Institute and currently holds the title of Vice President of the Israel Society of Investment Professionals (ISIP).

At the Canadian Advocacy Council, Blair handled media relations, which gave him an important insight to the value of communicating complex ideas to the general public. “This has proven valuable working with the marketing team at Ayyeka,” he says. “The general public’s awareness of what the Industrial IoT can bring to the market has been eclipsed by the consumer version, which, to an extent, has stolen the spotlight,” he adds.

Outside of work, Blair is most passionate about rowing.

He once coached high-performance college athletes and retired from racing in 1993. He still “reflects proudly” upon the men and women that they have since become, he says. His involvement with the sport is now mostly recreational.

What’s next for Ayyeka?

“A lot,” Blair says candidly.

At the helm of the company’s revenue plan, Blair Carey is hoping for big things.

Meet The Team: Stefan Kramer, Sales Director, EMEA

Mr. Stefan Kramer is the Sales Director of Ayyeka BV., Ayyeka’s European subsidiary based in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Before joining Ayyeka this summer, Stefan worked as the Director of Channel Management for Germany & the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Region at Schneider Electric and held prior roles at Control Microsystems and Citect, a Schneider Electric company.

Stefan studied process technology at the Technisch Lyceum Eindhoven and the HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht.

It was during Stefan’s time at university that he had what he describes as his “first field experience” — a diesel generation automation project that involved instrumentation implementation and connecting the system to a SCADA host.

Catching the industrial automation bug

By this point, Stefan says that he had already caught the “industrial automation bug.” The early years of his career allowed him to both gain in-depth experience of the field and to cultivate his passion for travelling and working with colleagues from different cultures — something which he retains to this day.

A move to Lyon, where he lived for six years, got Stefan interested in partner sales, an area he has been involved with throughout his career and an important part of his responsibilities at Ayyeka (Ayyeka operates a global sales partner network spanning four continents; for more details, see here). Stefan says that his tenure in France felt like “one big extended holiday”. During weekends, he was free to hike, cycle, and take snowboarding trips while professionally he continued to enrich his understanding of industrial automation and its associated technologies.

While at Control Microsystems, Stefan came to appreciate that true end-to-end telemetry involves more than just patching together components. Hardware integrations, he says, need to be underpinned by extensive technological and application know-how within the organization — something that Ayyeka has striven to provide ever since its foundation.

IIoT Replacing Industry 4.0

During Stefan’s involvement with Schneider, he became involved with Ayyeka and formally joined the team last year. He says that professionally the Industrial IoT (IIoT) has replaced industry 4.0 as his main area of professional focus but says that he remains firmly rooted in the industrial technology sector.

As Sales Director EMEA at Ayyeka, Stefan has returned to his hometown of Eindhoven, where he lived for twenty years before attending university in Utrecht. Eindhoven, Stefan says, offers almost unrivalled transportation links throughout Europe and is considered Europe’s leading technological center.

From Eindhoven, Stefan and the rest of the EMEA team support both sales partners and customers with all aspects of the onboarding and post-sales processes. His responsibilities include managing both direct sales as well as the European partner channel. Stefan says that he hopes to bring Ayyeka’s principle of exceptional customer support and agile development to this important geography.

He says that combining his partnership experience and industrial automation know-how are the ingredients for a “perfect cocktail” of success at Ayyeka.