Updated: 7/1/06; 2:14:07 PM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

ZigBee networking company Ember has announced that its venture partners have given it another $12 million in funding in order to "scale up and support our growing customer base" according to CEO Robert LeFort. "It will also help us accelerate develoopment of next-generation ZigBee technology to maintain our product, technology and market leadership position."

Obviously this means that the company is not yet self-funding from sales. The companies working on the "Internet of things" or M2M (machine-to-machine) technologies are still working to find a hot application so that sales can find that elusive inflection point. Right now most sales (according to what I can discover) are in the building automation field where adding sensors for HVAC control in existing facilities such as hotels is cost prohibitive in a wired world, but greatly enabled by wireless.

Too many people have concerns about the robustness of ZigBee for industrial applications--a hurdle that suppliers must overcome for sales in manufacturing. Another hurdle lies in the need for software applications that aggregate and then make sense of the additional information supplied by a plethora of sensors arrayed across a manufacturing facility. Then management must learn how to use the data for actionable decisions. That's a lot to come together. It will still take some time. I look at Invensys' InFusion as a step in that direction--but other companies are working in that arena as well. ABB, Honeywell and Rockwell have all shared with me various applications they have that can take advantage of this trend. As soon as Jim Cahill reads this, I'll find out what Emerson has ;-).

Then we need that elusive customer management perspective. Stay tuned. The inflection may be getting nearer.
7:20:30 AM    comment []

The ISA-sponsored Automation Federation now has a live Web site.
7:08:07 AM    comment []

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