Getting the right data helps company decide to exhibit

Frontier Technology Inc. (FTI) is a company well-known in the federal government for being able to assist its customers in making data-driven decisions. In an era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), FTI's skill set seemed like a great match for the manufacturing sector.


Frontier Technology Inc. Director of Data Analytics Michael Weatherly called Hannover Messe 2016 “a great opportunity” for the company to expand globally and into new manufacturing markets. Image: Courtesy FTIFrontier Technology Inc. (FTI) is a company well-known in the federal government for being able to assist its customers in making data-driven decisions. In an era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), FTI's skill set seemed like a great match for the manufacturing sector.

The U.S. Commercial Service approached FTI officials about exhibiting at Hannover Messe April 25-29 in Germany as part of the Partner Country USA pavilion, and the potential was clear. "We have a lot of Internet of Things technologies around predictive analytics," said Michael Weatherly, PhD, direct of data analytics for FTI.

"Energy is a really interesting market for us. We do a lot with training, and we have some really unique and innovative products." FTI was looking to expand its business beyond the work it has done with the Department of Defense and other agencies. The play into the IIoT was clear, and incentive packages from the state of Virginia, where one of FTI's six U.S. offices are located, and from the Commercial Service, will give the company its first entry into Hannover Messe.

The message around data

An employee-owned business based in Santa Barbara, Calif., FTI provides information and research methodology for complex system analysis. Its Operational Decisions Solutions tool helps transform data into actionable information and point users toward solutions.

Weatherly said the data-management lessons it has learned over the years translates very well to a global audience that's learning more about IIoT and its European parallel strategy, Industrie 4.0.

"We are swimming in data, but what are we doing with it?" Weatherly said. "We've got tons of information, and we're trying to get to the data that makes sense. The big trick is not just telling where we are and where we've been, but also getting into the predictive side through data.

"A lot of time you're only as good as the data you get," he added. "We're trying to help customers determine the failure of a system before it fails."

The move to Hannover gives FTI exposure to discuss how its data-management offerings play on a global basis. The chance to get in front of some of the world's top manufacturers is an exciting one for Weatherly and his team. "We're really looking forward to show," he said. "We're looking to diversify into other markets, and we have some really smart folks on our team. It's fun to be around other innovative folks."

The interest in the U.S. pavilion at Hannover provides companies such as FTI a captive and curious audience. Since 2016 is the first time the United States has been the Partner Country at Hannover Messe, it also provides many small and mid-sized manufacturers (a group the Germans call "mittelstand") a week-long introduction to U.S. opportunities.

"That means additional exposure and a prime location for U.S. companies, institutions, and economic development organizations, particularly those exhibiting in the U.S. Pavilions," said Daniel Gaines, senior international trade specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service. "It means that manufacturers of any size will stand out prominently."

Among the opportunities offered by the Commercial Service are:

  • Pre-show educational webinars that help companies prepare for the event.
  • Pre-show company promotions to potential overseas partners, helping U.S. exhibitors get maximum exposure to the potential buyers, partners, and investors at the show.
  • Onsite executive marketing counseling with commercial experts from U.S. embassies from across the globe, helping U.S. exhibitors create custom strategies for approaching key global markets.
  • Post-show follow-up support to make sure U.S. exhibitors know how to take the next step with the new connections they make at the show.

"It's a great opportunity," Weatherly said. "Between the U.S. Commercial Service and the state of Virginia, we have meetings already set up with potential business partners. We already have a good network overseas, so we're definitely looking forward to the show."

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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