CASE STUDY

Connecting Shop Floor Devices to the Cloud

How Cirrusmio created “Smart Objects” for the first online machining marketplace

“We’re proud that MakeTime has had a positive impact in our regional economy, and is building a solution for a global problem.”

- Todd Willey, CEO

OVERVIEW

Connecting Shop Floor Devices to the Cloud

Cirrusmio partnered with the Lexington­ based company MakeTime to create their namesake software: an online platform that is singlehandedly streamlining the American manufacturing process. Offering machine capacity for immediate purchase, MakeTime provides manufacturers and designers with the opportunity to make what they need, when they need it, and with the level of quality they expect.

But before MakeTime became a reality, CEO and Founder Drura Parrish and members of his team collaborated with Cirrusmio to explore the concept known as The Internet of Things. Commonly referred to as IoT, this refers to a network of physical objects, devices, vehicles, buildings and other objects that contain electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to connect to the cloud and collect and exchange data.

Simply put, any device with an on/off switch can be connected to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.

IoT is expected to grow significantly in the next several years. As broadband internet becomes more readily available, we are seeing more devices with wifi capabilities and built­in sensors are being created. The cost of this technology is decreasing, and smartphone use is growing steadily.

So what is the business value in Internet of Things? There are several examples. If your car had access to Google Maps, it could tell you the quickest route to take to work. If you’re caught in traffic, it could send a text to the other party that you’ll be running late. If your office equipment could sense when it was running low on supplies it could automatically order more to keep your productivity uninterrupted. Besides making everyday life more convenient, IoT technology can be applied on a larger scale to create “smart cities” which can help increase energy efficiency and reduce waste.

BUSINESS CHALLENGE

From Prototype to Marketplace

In the initial project stages, Cirrusmio helped MakeTime develop their Internet of Things device. At the time MakeTime consisted of raw circuit boards and exposed wires. CTO Dmitry “Dima” Strakovsky approached Cirrusmio for help in creating a sensor that could be attached to a power cable and deliver information about a machine. Designer/Developer Nick Warner explained that a wifi chip was installed that connected to the device.

By writing the appropriate code, this object was able to connect to the internet and, through the connection of other wireless sensors, deliver valuable insights into each machine’s operational performance such as:

● The machine’s physical location
● Room temperature & humidity level
● Machine temperature
● Coolant temperature
● Machine’s vibration
● How long the machine is idle or in use
● Cutting speeds and feeds
● Voltage/amperage draw
● Operational status
● Internal alarms
● Energy consumption
● Number of units in process, completed, failed

The original intention was for the sensor to be a product sold to manufacturers who were interested in optimizing machine time by monitoring the status and collecting data from all their machines. According to Warner, “We added the cutting edge magic that allowed MakeTime’s electronics to communicate with the cloud. It was an exciting collaboration that revealed the potential of understanding when and how devices are used.”

Using the software that Cirrusmio helped develop, MakeTime made it possible for individuals or companies to buy factory time by the hour from suppliers who have posted fixed rates and availability, or post a request and negotiate with factories and machine owners bidding for the job. Connecting buyers and sellers via a smart object, (in this case, computer numerical control or CNC machines), participants can refine their search by machine type required or available hours, hourly rate, material type, and date range.

As Strakovsky explained, “We wanted to bring a focused solution to the fundamental manufacturing challenge.” Previously, a great deal of complexity existed on both sides. In an economy driven by manufacturing, MakeTime is now helping more people to quickly get their goods on the market, while at the same time optimizing machine operation and making profitable use of idle hours.

A Strong Partnership

The Cirrusmio team consists of developers, designers, and programmers with extensive experience on both the client and the agency side, which gives MakeTime the distinct advantage of working with people who understand a project from both perspectives.

Cirrusmio and MakeTime developed a solid working and interpersonal relationship from the very beginning which made for quick assessment of feedback and building of demos. “For start­up companies, a quick turnaround from idea to implementation is vital for securing initial customers and piquing investor interest.” Willey explained.

Cirrusmio also understood start­up companies’ need for flexibility since they are still in the process of gauging the market and responding to client and investor needs. Instead of using strict roadmaps and specifications, Cirrusmio provided a malleable platform and adapted to MakeTime’s evolving requirements. In the end they were able to push forward quickly, even under uncertain conditions. This allowed plans to evolve and transform seamlessly as the proposition came into focus.

CONCLUSION

Big Results Now & in the Future

Since launching in November 2014, MakeTime now represents more than $2.5 billion in buyer­side demand and over 2 million hours of capacity on CNC machines. In addition, they have recently announced a $2.65 million Series A round of funding allowing it to build on current momentum with increased sales, marketing, and product efforts.

The project was a success on both sides. Cirrusmio gained valuable insight into how other industries are adopting technologies and deriving business value from monitoring their operations. They were able to utilize their strongest skills (cloud software, Internet of Things, and cloud operations) to build a solution that fit their client’s needs. “There aren’t many software development houses in the area that we felt could deliver the results that Cirrusmio did,” Strakovsky said. “We wanted to share the intelligence space, create the prototype, and get the idea up and running quickly. And Cirrusmio’s speed and accessibility allowed us to do just that.”

About Cirrusmio

Cirrusmio is an IoT Professional Services firm comprised of an eclectic group of fun loving hackers passionate about the Internet of Things revolution and the intersection of man, machines and the environment. The company is currently experiencing rapid growth through word-of-mouth referrals and a series of successful connected device projects including smart digital signage for a global manufacturer of digital displays, connected appliances for a global manufacturer of commercial and residential coffee brewing equipment, and a cloud based remote machine monitoring solution.

Cirrusmio

IoT services and solutions