Andy Steele serves as the Vice President of Strategic Operations for Voltonix. It is Andy’s responsibility to ensure the company’s day-to-day operations run smoothly while gracefully navigating any unforeseen bumps in the road. He works closely with all external company principals and owns the company’s customer service process, supporting it from initial outreach through onboarding. He believes deeply in single-point accountability and the need to first listen and understand a customer’s goals before offering a solution.
He says a positive customer experience is critical to the establishment of long-term relationships and thus the health of the business. “We have a real focus on quality and the need to make our clients thrive in front of their key relationships,” he says. “By going to market with ‘The Four Ps’, we are in a unique position to help companies save money across multiple verticals while also helping them to deliver on their own vision.”
Andy earned his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Montana and his Master’s in International Affairs at Ohio University. After living and working abroad for over ten years in Thailand, Indonesia and Afghanistan, he joined Voltonix in 2016.
Andy spends his free time chasing warblers and other avian oddities while keeping tabs on a precocious toddler named Emma Rose.
Ken O’Connell serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Voltonix. It is Ken’s job to ensure Voltonix is connecting with the companies looking to aggressively tackle service burden, reduce warranty exposure and increase reliability across their manufactured products. Ken helps the Voltonix team work closely with executive, service and engineering teams to implement key initiatives around artificial intelligence for predictive analytics, power protection and end user install site preparedness. He helps marketing and sales teams within these OEMs introduce products and services to their customers.
Ken believes simplifying the complexities around AI and electrical engineering problems helps OEMs drive toward the implementation of solutions. He says, “Many OEMs have 2020 and 2021 initiatives around implementing deep learning and artificial intelligence platforms to reduce service costs and predict failures. Often they struggle with the resulting science experiments that don’t lead to actionable services. We help introduce much more simple, cross-platform solutions that drive toward specific and measurable service cost reduction from day one.”
Ken studied Electrical engineering at the Ohio State University. He’s spent over 6 years with Voltonix working with OEMs in the ATM, clinical diagnostic and 3D printing markets.
When he’s not crunching algorithms, Ken spends his time with his wife corralling his two rambunctious boys on the shores of the Gulf Coast.
On the weekend of March 3rd 2017 a cryogenic storage freezer failed. 2,100 embryos and eggs were destroyed and hundreds of families were left devastated. It took only a few hours for the finger pointing and allegations to begin. The Ohio fertility clinic blamed the equipment manufacturer; the OEM blamed the hospital. The families, who trusted their potential progeny to be stored, had little recourse but to file lawsuits. What could predictive analytics via artificial intelligence have done to prevent this? Let’s dig in to the details.
After a lengthy investigation it was determined that the storage tank was having trouble for weeks. An alarm system had been turned off failing to indicate that the tank’s temperature began to rise. The tank was also undergoing preventive maintenance at the time because of a problem with a system that automatically fills the liquid nitrogen, which keeps the embryos frozen. The manufacturer of the tank, Custom Biogenic Systems, said it didn’t have anything to do with the remote alarm system being turned off. It said the tank functioned properly by indicating a high-temperature condition and activating a local alarm. For potentially weeks, that alarm was alerting staff locally that temperatures were rising out of spec. The staff eventually became annoyed and disabled the alarm. University Hospitals said it doesn’t know who shut off the remote alarm, which should have alerted staff again to changes in the storage tank’s temperature on the weekend of March 3 when no one was at the lab. Because that was turned off and no redundant alert system was in place, 2,100 embryos and eggs were lost.
Multiple Failure Points
It’s fairly clear that the tank’s trouble began with a failure to carry out standard, necessary preventative maintenance. After 5-7 years of service life, the Custom Biogenic Systems tank was known to experience ice build up on the solenoid valves that automatically refill the nitrogen. A defrost cycle was necessary to prevent the valve from sticking. The defrost was not performed and the University Hospital staff was filling the tank manually.
Local Alarm Only
When the tank temperature rose to an alert status, the understaffed hospital clinic was closed for the weekend AND a potentially non-clinical staff member silenced the alarm. Critical alarms with no centralized reporting can (and did) result in catastrophic failures.
No Reporting to the OEM
Though Custom Biogenic Systems was not named in the lawsuit and appears to not be culpable, there was likely significant damage to their reputation in the market. The UK issued a warning after similar incidents had come to light. Googling the trade name results in pages of headlines about their relation to the destroyed embryos. There is little indication, however, that the University Hospital system is the one being held accountable unless one clicks through and reads the entire article.
What could have happened?
If the OEM had central monitoring of its deployed assets that indicated whether preventative maintenance procedures (like the defrost) had occurred, it could have alerted the hospital that best practices were not being followed. Furthermore, if the OEM had been able to monitor the individual components of its assets, they could have known a failure was imminent. A stuck valve has a very pronounced electrical signal and can fairly easily be identified as non-nominal behavior.
Predictive Analytics via Artificial Intelligence is the Answer
Sigsense allows equipment manufacturers to unobtrusively monitor deployed assets at the component level. An artificial intelligence algorithm constantly monitors the behavior of the device and compares it to non-nominal behavior. If maintenance procedures are not completed or motors or valves deviate from normal alerts are generated. The problems are then addressed before thousands of headlines are published. It’s true preventative maintenance and in this case, a really great reputation management tool.
Sigsense allows OEMs to understand why components fail before they do. By implementing remote monitoring capabilities OEMs can reduce service calls, downtime and reactive maintenance costs. In high-stakes applications like this, Sigsense could have enabled this manufacturer to protect its customers from a devastating disaster.
Westerville, Ohio – Voltonix is pleased to announce that Ryan Huffman has joined the executive team as the Director of Strategic Partnerships. Ryan has an extensive background in leading customer facing organizations where success was contingent on developing long-term strategic relationships. Ryan is the past Chair of the Ohio Grocer Association where he helped implement industry best practices at the c-suite level and programs to identify and promote industry leaders. Ryan recognizes what it takes to understand customer expectations and work with employees, suppliers and partners to ensure key initiatives are executed and delivered. He also has had hands-on P&L responsibility, which will help him apply our data driven ROI strategies to Voltonix partners. With Ryan, Voltonix will be better equipped to help our strategic business partners understand and implement the powerful Artificial Intelligence applications in our portfolio.
Ryan is enthusiastic, he said, “Voltonix is bringing some really disruptive technologies to well-established markets that are ripe for innovation; I’m excited to be a part of that.” The CEO of Voltonix, Craig Kalie, is excited too, noting, “Our customers have been asking us for a better way to forecast maintenance or predict in-store device failures; with Ryan’s experience with compressor, kiosk, POS and IT maintenance challenges, we will be able to better help them respond to and tackle those challenges.”
Interested in learning more about how predictive analytics is going to change the grocery and quick serve markets? Give Ryan a shout…