Ryan Ray, Co-Owner
Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) have a long, isolated history. Both have traversed along separate paths, with different goals, and have been operated by completely different organizational ecosystems.
Consider the manufacturing technology trends, for instance. Even today, there are two different factions of companies responsible for manufacturing, maintaining, and operating industrial control systems. While one faction outclasses in developing the hardware, another group of companies with IT expertise builds the software on top of it to ensure its smooth functioning. And while these companies are mavens in their own right, their disjointed effort to produce and assemble industrial machines creates some serious communication gaps.
Indeed, over the years, both IT and OT solution providers have realized the need to find a common ground and address the complex needs of today’s highly autonomous and information-driven production environments. But, as these companies, in essence, are separate entities, such an integrated alliance is difficult to achieve.
So how does one address this concern? The answer lies with Team Ray Technologies.
Founded by the brother-duo Chris and Ryan Ray in 2005, Team Ray Technologies is the manifestation of the perfect IT/ OT convergence that the manufacturing sector is looking for.
Manufacturing Automation between A Rock and A Hard Place, No More!
The company believes that modern manufacturing is a fluid environment that is increasingly blurring the boundaries between IT and OT. “To ensure that immaculate workflow, we design and integrate manufacturing automation solutions that are right in the middle of that handoff between the IT and OT,” says Ryan Ray, the co-owner of Team Ray Technologies. The company’s expertise lies in many technical areas such as process design and commissioning, including 3D mechanical design, electrical design, process logic controller (PLC) programming, HMI/SCADA programming, robot programming, camera/advanced sensor integration, injection molding, process engineering, software programming, and overall project management.
To reinforce this clout even further, the Ray brothers have also incorporated a separate company, Rockware Corp., with the sole focus of developing business intelligence software and related products and services for the industrial sector.
“Although we have two companies, we operate as one unit,” shares Ray. A perfect testament to this would be Rockbox, which is a line of proprietary IoT solutions relating to industrial data collection, serialization, traceability, and product testing—jointly built by Team Ray Technologies and Rockware Corp.
Rockbox’s form factor consists of a PLC and/or an embedded PC in an enclosure that can be seamlessly installed in an existing electrical cabinet of a target control system. The solution was initially developed to collect data from RFID, barcodes, or other smart sensors of equipment without OPC compliant controllers. Today, the solution can also be used to test any CAN- or LIN-based device. “All you need to do is hook it into this device, and we are able to get on a CAN network, test the device, and send that information back to the PLC system to inform if it’s okay or not, along with providing any other crucial information about the equipment being tested,” explains Ray.
To ensure that immaculate workflow, we design and integrate manufacturing automation solutions that are right in the middle of that handoff between the IT and OT
Rockbox has been particularly exceptional in one of Team Ray’s key areas of expertise – i.e., automotive lighting. Rockbox helps automotive manufacturers with current decay testing of filament-based lighting to ensure that the lights have no microcracks and it works perfectly on the field. “We are also working with automotives to test blind spot indicators in the taillights. These sorts of advanced testing algorithms for CAN- or LIN-based devices are not possible with PLCs alone; they need PC. Since PLCs and PCs have traditionally been siloed operations, no one else in the industry can help you like us, through Rockbox,” avers Ray, showcasing the uniqueness of their company’s offering.
Another critical breakthrough for Team Ray is their traceability and serialization integration. According to Ray, a traceability system’s successful deployment depends on many components and their smooth operation as a unit. And to make that happen, the transfer of data from producing sources, such as PLCs and touchscreens, to the manufacturing execution system (MES) needs to be carefully thought out for timing, redundancy, data integrity, and validity. “More importantly, these traceability systems should not interrupt the facility’s mission-critical processes,” states Ray. Fortunately, this is what Team Ray’s solution brings to the table. For the last 15 years, leveraging their capabilities, Team Ray has outshined in the manufacturing domain for designing, integrating, and refining fail-proof traceability systems.
Staying Relevant with Changing Business Needs
If the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is to either be adaptive to change or perish. In the light of the recent pandemic, a lot of manufacturing facilities had shut down, and those that didn’t, were looking for solutions to improve worker safety and production efficiency without being bogged down by the crisis. “We wanted to be helpful in any way possible, and this led us to develop a one-of-a-kind unattended health screening platform, IntelliSCREEN, for industrial facilities,” says Ray. The initial unit called TC/ DC (Temperature Check / Density Control) was designed to handle fever checks and a facility’s capacity control. “We were able to launch this product within only two months into the pandemic by leveraging our Rockbox platform,” mentions Ray. Right now, the platform has been further refined and can be used to centrally control a building’s access system and provide discrepancy reports by shifts.
These are but a few instances where Team Ray has substantiated themselves as true ‘solution implementers’ to help clients bring manufacturing process maturity in a cost-effective manner. Basking in the glory of such competencies, Team Ray and Rockware Corp. unitedly wants to become the springboard of success for many more manufacturing companies. In that quest, the company is slowly but steadily expanding its axes both technologically and business sector-wise. In particular, the company is working tirelessly to leverage the clout of AI and blockchain technology in manufacturing. While AI-driven collaborative robots (cobots) are making manufacturing processes seamless without recourse to human intervention, blockchain technology is enhancing it even further by increasing the transparency and trust at every stage of the industrial value chain. With an intention to bring all these robust technologies to the forefront of manufacturing, Team Ray proves that they are not here to nickel and dime the clients but to bring robust outcomes that create utmost value, even after an engagement is complete.