By Anusha Ashwin Connecting devices, people, data, machines and everything under the sun… Internet of Things (IoT) is a major technology disruptor revolutionizing a number of industries. It is a growing belief that IoT is the key to get a manufacturing process not just run but thrive and keep it sustainable for many years to come.
One such enabler is the Industrial IoT Intelligence company, Flutura Decision Sciences and Analytics, that is powering new monetizable business models using machine signals in the engineering and energy industry. The new business model, that the company empowers, has a direct impact on operational, process and asset efficiency outcomes. The company has sales offices in Houston, Palo Alto in USA and Tokyo, Japan with an engineering hub in Bengaluru, India.
Flutura Decision Sciences can fill gaps in the marketplace to bubble up previously undetected machine signals, which impact industrial outcomes. It does so by mining IOT Sensor/asset/operations data using its Data science platform – Cerebra.
Passionate about big data analytics, founders Krishnan Raman, Srikanth Muralidhara and Derick Jose took the giant leap into establishing Flutura. “All three of us worked together for 12 years in MindTree setting up their Analytics Practice which is today a key revenue engine. Raman was the practice head, Muralidhara was responsible for execution and I was responsible for new offering creation,” says Derick Jose, co-Founder of Flutura Decision Sciences. “While we were executing projects, we were convinced about three core insights: One – That the best way to scale analytics was via analytical products instead of having more data scientists, two – That there was more opportunity to unlock value from machine data rather than consumer data and three – A small 1% change in asset efficiencies can unlock millions of dollars for the customers,” explains Jose.
Flutura means butterfly in Albanian and its brand icon symbolizes an aspiration to mimic an essential transformation in nature, which is that of a caterpillar to a butterfly. “Flutura was incorporated in 2012 with a penchant to create a global product company in advanced analytics. We had a choice of solving industry problems using customer data or machine data – we decided to go with machine data since we found a lot of headroom to monetize cryptic machine data,” expressed Muralidhara.
The three founders certainly knew that monetization of outcome economy can be powered by new IoT digital business models. Their experience at MindTree doubly assured them that next generation signal detection platforms are going to be the key lever differentiating the winners from the losers. They knew the convergence of physical and digital world for assets will usher in next wave of competitive advantage and will herald the next set of changes in industrial revolution.
In 2013, Flutura raised its first round of funding of approximately $2 million by venture capital firm Hive Technologies. Hive Technologies is the Big Data startup fund launched by Patni siblings—Amit and Arihant Patni. Flutura was their fund’s first investment since its launch.
Flutura’s key product is Cerebra – an IoT prognostics/diagnostics platform that the founders believe can detect machine signals that impact industrial outcomes.
On the uniqueness of their product, Jose says, “Cerebra is a game-changing Machine Intelligence Platform optimizing machine performance. Cerebra enables industrial and commercial machinery manufacturers create new business models around predictive maintenance for their equipment. Cerebra has many features which are the first-of-its kind in the world like being ‘Asset Backward’ as opposed to being ‘Data Forward’, predefined machine intelligence templates which are asset specific and intellectual property around advanced machine learning algorithms which detect previously unseen patterns buried in billions of streaming IoT Sensor/Asset/Operations data.”
Jose says that equipment owners leverage Cerebra for optimizing performance of their machines in their production operations. Flutura has partnered with several sensor, gateway providers and telecom providers to offer end-to-end Industrial IoT solutions to industrial machinery manufacturers and owners.
The Cerebra Suite of IoT platform which powers these next generation business models has three layers:
- Cerebra Signal IOT Data Exchange – this component of Cerebra essentially tames the torrent of sensor data by connecting to machines using data adaptors to historians, SCADA/PLC systems.
- Cerebra Signal Studio – helps engineers surface signals using a 16 step-guided process eliminating the need for expensive hard to get industrial data scientists and
- Cerebra Nano Apps – the apps are verticalized solvers, which target an ultra-specific asset or process problem.
Cerebra has 70+ ready-to-use nano apps for asset health monitoring, forensics, sensor health monitoring, safety risk assessment, calibration, performance benchmarking, condition-based maintenance, predicting machine failures and others. Flutura has partnered with several sensor companies and telecom companies to offer this kind of end-to-end solution to OEMs and other asset owners.
Jose further elaborates, “Cerebra not only harvest signals from machines in real time, it also gives the product users absolute visibility of their operations and empowers them with the ability to choose how they want to act in different scenarios. The unique ability of Cerebra to capture important signals from complex machine generated logs and harness previously untapped data makes it the future generation intelligent Big Data platform.”
Flutura is focused on creating new revenue generating models in two broad industry segments – engineering and energy. Within those two broad segments Flutura focuses on oil and gas, utility, large industrial commercial customers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs ) who want to create a digital umbilical chord with their assets via IoT. All the heavy-duty electro-mechanical assets in the field like fracking pumps, boilers, chillers, power transformers, capacitor banks etc., are being wrapped with a sensor fabric, which is continuously emitting data regarding its state. This ‘data turn out’ is extremely valuable as it contains deep signals regarding the health of all those assets.
Industrial IoT Niche
The first success came to Flutura when the company was among the startups which got discovered at the Siemens Technology to Business Event in Palo Alto. Bloomberg recognized Flutura amongst the top machine intelligence companies worldwide and positioned Flutura in the Rethinking Industries category. Flutura also received recognition as one of the fastest growing companies by Deloitte.
“We have achieved a number of milestones in the last four years of our journey. Flutura has paying customers in the US, Japan and Europe for its Cerebra Nano Apps. The most memorable achievement was when we beat a leading IoT platform player successively with two consecutive OEM customer wins in three months. It gave us a lot of market validation for our hypothesis. We have been recognized as one of the top five Industrial IoT intelligence companies in Houston along with GE Predix, and PTC Thingworx.”
Elaborating on their long standing relationship with Dell, Jose says, “As a part of the Dell relationship we are going to evolve industry specific IoT solution bundle which consists of multiple components like sensors on the asset; industrial gateways to collate data; network providers to transmit data; and intelligent apps to sense signals in the data.”
Flutura is striving hard to add two solutions as a fourth layer to its Cerebra Suite ─ Cerebra Edge intelligence on Dell gateways and Cerebra Central intelligence on cloud. As part of global expansion, Flutura will make a foray into Germany to add to its service offerings in US, Japan and India.
One of Flutura’s clients takes a special mention here. Flutura supports JBT Corporation, a leading provider of equipment, systems and facility maintenance services to airlines and airports throughout North America, in installing geo-tags, internet-linked sensors and other data aggregation systems that streamlines baggage handling procedures at airports. JBT admits that with Flutura’s solutions operations have eased with a cut-down on delays. “JBT is a testimonial to our products and services. This gives us the confidence to roll out Cerebra IoT intelligence platform in 200+ airports globally in the next two years,” says co-Founder Raman.
“Our mantra for the next five years is to be relevant to the top 100 Industrial OEMs and establish ourselves as one among top three global IoT intelligence platform. This involves increasing our sales operations and foot soldiers in the US market and scaling crucial partnerships within the ecosystem with players like Intel, and Dell. We are in conversation with a leading Tokyo-headquartered Heavy Engineering company with a vision to create the Industrial Sensor Cloud from high-speed train sensors, industrial machinery. The Japanese are looking for ways to monetizing data using partner co-created apps. We expect this deal to close soon.”
Privately funded Flutura is riding the paradigm shift, as the market will continue to see conventional companies implement Industrial IoT solutions to change the way they do business in unconventional ways.