HOTSEAT – Jem Hudson, IoT Product Manager Summit Vision

Summit Systems has been an industry-leading supplier of ancillary equipment and machinery to the UK plastics market for almost 30 years. Earlier this year, the company launched its new Internet of Things (IoT) division, Summit Vision, headed by Jeremy (Jem) Hudson as IoT Product Manager.

He strives to bring greater efficiency and reduced waste to manufacturers, by cutting through the jargon and giving customers a tangible understanding of how data monitoring can bring them cost savings. Jem is next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…

What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Summit Vision respond?

There are many trends impacting UK plastics, depending on where you are in the industry. However, across the whole industry, the need to waste less and be more energy efficient will intensify as we all strive to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

The most effective way to meet these needs is to become better at analysing the data we have at our fingertips – and to find easier ways to capture and analyse data that has been previously difficult to get hold of. By doing this, we can make better decisions.

When we read all the spiel and the analyst’s publications on The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data Analytics trends, we certainly get the impression that these trends could shape the future of the plastics industry. But I’m asked over and over, what does this really mean to the plastics manufacturer?

The broad answer to start, is that by applying IoT based technologies, we can rapidly collect data from almost anything on the factory floor, and use basic data analytics to good effect.

Summit Vision is at the forefront of IoT based data capture and management technologies across the plastics manufacturing process with particular focus on condition monitoring to eliminate waste from unscheduled downtime and power use analysis to sweat existing assets and capture the actual returns on new energy-saving investment.

How has Summit Vision developed during your tenure?

At the start of my tenure, Summit Vision was focussed on our software solution for managing material handling– known to our customers as the Supervisor. Alongside the continued development of the Supervisor, Summit Vision has been expanded into key areas of data capture and management across the manufacturing site irrespective of equipment or machine manufacturer.

Summit Vision is now able to extract data from existing PLC’s for analysis, deploy leading-edge sensor technologies to troubleshoot conditions (process water, vacuum, air, drying, motor vibration and temperatures etc) where data is simply not available, and bring this information into contemporary dashboards via a secure , independent, wireless infrastructure for analysis in support of better decision making.

What do you credit as the key to your success?

I firmly believe that in the face of the Internet of Things world, we need to “keep it simple” and learn from every step we take on this journey. From day one at Summit Vision, I’ve encouraged our customers to think big, start small, learn fast and minimise time-to-value. This is the key to current success and will continue to be the foundation of my strategy moving forward.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

This may be a bit of a diversion from audience expectations, but I’ve had 25 years in the Information Technology arena, from software development to datacentre services and IT security, so I may bring some new ideas to UK Plastics!

About 15 years ago I was taught a great deal about ‘value modelling’ by a couple of specialists in this area who have since retired, they taught me that in industry, value = net profit, and nothing else.

They taught me to identify the Value Drivers (what causes an improvement in net profit) for the solutions I’m involved in, then work with the customer to capture the Value Impacts (the amount of net profit the customer believes will be released) for the identified Value Drivers of the solution. This value modelling methodology is compelling, and following this approach, investment priorities become very apparent. It’s simply a fantastic way to do business and shows you when to walk away from solutions that won’t fly.

My greatest challenge since then, at times, has been keeping to the principles of this methodology.

What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?

I wish Mike Jordan told me to pack a high viz jacket and safety boots on my first customer visit!

Seriously, apprentice’s getting into this industry have the most fantastic opportunity to become skilful contributors in the backbone of UK manufacturing and positively influence the future success of this dynamic industry. My advice would be to appreciate this, work hard and strive to make a difference.

What hidden talents do you have?

My absolute favourite sport is windsurfing – I’ve been at it since I was a teenager and get out there in all conditions.

I actually hold the record crossing time for a bi-Athlon event combining windsurfing and mountain biking across Scotland from Fort William on the West Coast, to Inverness on the East Coast; tackling the lengths of Loch Lochy and Loch Ness in gale-force winds and some monster MTB riding in between. I’m not sure this is talent – it’s more like sheer determination, but it was great fun at the time!