Ignition and Java News

Inductive Automation made a major announcement yesterday (May 8, 2018).  This comes on the heels of Oracle dropping a major announcement about their plans for supporting Java SE going forward (May 5, 2018).  This is major news affecting the Ignition Community.

I hadn’t planned on writing about this, so forgive me as I throw together this message.  This will go out to all of my clients and followers as a way of helping get the word out about what these announcements actually mean and how folks can expect Ignition to change going forward.

Major Changes Affecting Ignition Users–announced by Oracle

  • Oracle has announced that they will remove support for Java Web Start from future releases of Java.  This means that they way that Ignition users launch their projects is going to change.  This isn’t a major issue… and for those who currently use the native launchers (download the launcher from the Ignition gateway) this won’t be an issue at all.  The solution?  Use the native launcher available as a quick download from your Ignition gateway.
  • The second announcement has to do with Oracles decision to no longer offer updates to older versions of Java for commercial use unless customers have a support contract.  What does this mean for users?  It means, they shouldn’t be using Oracle’s distribution of Java.  Users should put together a plan to switch their Java installations to OpenJDK (my choice) or Azul Systems’ Zulu.


  • You can view Oracles road map here:  in a nutshell, if you are using Java 8, you have until January 2019

Major Changes Affecting Ignition Users–announced by Inductive Automation

  • Starting with Ignition 7.9.11, Inductive Automation will be packaging Java Runtime within Ignition itself… this means that users will no longer need to download Java to run Ignition clients or designers.  This is a great new feature AND it has the added benefit of easing the burden of managing our Java installations (making announcements, like these, from Oracle moot)
  • You can view Inductive Automation’s announcement here:
  • You can view Zack Scriven’s quick video about the announcement here:


Anyway… that’s it… if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.




State of Intellic–2017 End of Year Report

Transparency, Authenticity, Humility, Expertise, Faith-Based Servant Leadership

It is that time of year again… we closed out Fiscal 2017 on December 31 and have spent the past few weeks finalizing our books and end of year reports.  Each year, we set goals and targets in January and at the end of the year, we take stock in our achievements before we set the goals and targets for the upcoming year.  We finished up our last round of meetings with the lawyers, accountants and HR just this week and now it is time to report.

Many folks ask me why I insist on sharing so much about our organization… especially considering few, if any, other organizations in our space do the same. The answer is simple… all decisions at Intellic are weighed against our core values above… and we believe that sharing the health of our company lives up to all 5 of our core values–especially transparency.

So, with that out of the way… lets get to the details.

The state of Intellic, I am very happy to say, is very good!  The sections below highlight our goals and achievements for 2017 and touch on our plans for 2018 (a more comprehensive look at 2018 will be in next month’s post).  We are very proud of the year we have had, and we extend our sincerest appreciation to all of our partners who helped make 2017 a record breaker for Intellic Integration.

2017 Actuals vs. Goals

  • Sales
    • We changed the way we manage our pipeline and sales strategy in 2017. By narrowing our focus to specific sectors of the market—MES, IIoT, SCADA and PLC/Controls Migration—we were able to focus our sales and marketing efforts toward our strength areas.  This resulted in a much higher efficiency and performance by the sales group.
    • Actual Sales beat the 2017 Sales Goal by 27.2%
    • 61.02% close rate
  • Revenue
    • We shifted our operations model from growth to profit-centered. 2016 was a year of fantastic growth in our organization and that brought with it all the challenges of a growing organization—shrinking space, high demand for our services, stretched infrastructure and very long hours.  In 2017, we made the strategic decision to shift our focus more to profit over revenue in order to generate the capital needed to build up our infrastructure.  Our clients saw improvement in our already high performing service levels while beating all of our key goals. We accomplished this through a strategic decision to focus our efforts on our strength areas.  This is where our team is most efficient and it showed up in our client delight scores and on the P&L.
    • Actual Revenue beat the 2017 Revenue Goal by 19.3%
  • Profit
    • At Intellic, every member of our organization shares the benefits of profitability. 15% of our NET profit is split up evenly among our employees twice per year—in May and in December.  This keeps everyone’s eyes focused on our bottom line… which keeps us running efficiently.  Our clients benefit from this approach because we don’t allow bloat at Intellic—every hire is questioned, every purchase scrutinized by all members of the organization.  This keeps us as lean as practical and that is good for everyone.
    • Actual Gross Profit beat the 2017 GP Goal by 13.2%
    • Actual Gross Profit % missed the 2017 GP % Goal by 6%
  • Human Resources
    • At Intellic, we are incredibly focused on the engagement and satisfaction of our team. We believe that in order for any organization to truly shake up the market, they have to retain their top talent (not rocket science, I know… but it is amazing how few organizations truly understand it).  We demand a lot of everyone in our organization… so we run the risk of high turn-over if we are not careful in the way that we approach hiring and retention.
    • We added 16 full-time and 1099 resources in 2017
    • We retired 5 full-time resources in 2017
    • Each team member had
      • 2 weeks of paid vacation
      • 1 week of personal time
      • 10 paid holidays
    • As a team we took off three additional paid weeks
      • The week of July 4th
      • The week of Thanksgiving
      • The week of Christmas
    • We expanded our benefits to include
      • 401k with a 100% match up to 3%
      • Long-Term and Short-Term Disability
    • The average utilization of a billable engineer in 2017 was 91% which beat our goal by 9%
    • Labor costs made up 46% of our revenue which beat our goal by 4%
  • Capital Expenses
    • While we were focused on profitability, we still made significant capital investment in our organization. In February of 2017, we began renovations on a new satellite office in Ithaca, NY.  Those renovations were completed in June and we opened the office for business in July.  Our disaster recovery hardware are located at this location… which contains sleeping quarters and office space for up to 5 engineers or staff.
    • We made significant capital investment in 3 products that we are taking to market in 2018. The first product, ii/MES has just completed beta testing and is in the marketing and sales stage. The second product is an Ignition module that will be presented at the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando (February, 2018).  The third product is ii/ERP for Systems Integrators and will be launched at the CSIA Conference in April.
  • Notable achievements in MES, SCADA and IIoT
    • Intellic completed 59 projects in 2017… in Automation, MES, SCADA and IIoT.  Below is a small sampling of the more impressive achievements we had.
    • Completed development of an enterprise class MES/SCADA system for a large Tier-1 Automotive supplier based in Southeast Asia
      • This solution is a Manufacturing Execution System built in Ignition, using Sepasoft’s OEE/Downtime module.  This implementation was completed using our Intellic MES Framework that included our custom track and trace solution and is designed to scale across the entire enterprise
    • Completed Releases 1 and 2 of an enterprise class MES system for a large organization in the connectivity space
      • This solution is a Manufacturing Execution System built in Ignition, using Sepasoft’s OEE/Downtime and SPC modules.  This implementation is a combination of the Intellic MES Framework and custom development completed by the client’s internal development team.  This solution includes an interface to SAP, Changeover Management, Document Management and Retrieval, Andon and Notification, Dynamic and Configurable Operator Screens, Custom Scheduler and Recipe Management as well as a host of other features.
      • This solution also includes streaming vision and edge data to Azure IoT hub, Kafka, and AWS over MQTT using Cirrus Link MQTT modules and Ignition… as part of a machine learning initiative.
    • Completed development of a protocol converter from Amocams to MQTT for a large Oil and Gas client

Lessons Learned

One of the beautiful aspects of life is that we continually learn and grow if we allow ourselves to.  This is especially true in business.  Some key lessons learned are listed below… these are, by no means, meant to be all inclusive.

  • Vendors can sometimes operate like the mafia and expect us to put our client’s best interest after theirs
    • It is amazing to me how often I have to remind some vendors that Intellic does not work for them–we work for our clients.  Using tactics that sometimes border on unethical (perhaps illegal), some vendors do their best to tell us how to run our business.  Its simple… we do what’s best for our clients, always…
  • There really are not a lot of Integrators out there who are innovating
    • We are continually stunned at the level of development we see in the marketplace.  More than half of our work in 2017 was centered around coming in behind another firm and delivering for the client what they actually needed.  There are great integrators out there, yes… but we don’t come across their work very often
  • Retention is absolutely critical to an organizations success
    • This one is a no-brainer, I get it.  But… it is obvious that not everyone else does.  Our core group of developers and engineers have been working together for many years–uninterrupted.  The secret to our success?  Our core principles (especially transparency and authenticity) and a commitment to keeping our team excited and engaged
  • The most successful projects are those supported by an internal subject matter expert who speaks our language
    • This is key… at Intellic, we do not strive to go deep and stay long… our goal is to get in, get the ship righted, the projects completed and then turn the new system over to an internal SME who will then own the project.  There is no question… the most successful implementations are when the client has their own resource on staff who can learn with and from us and then take the ball and own the solution


2017 was a phenomenal year… in all aspects.  Whether we are talking about business, operations, project management, sales or engineering, our team exceeded expectations on all fronts.  I am so very proud of what we have built here and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to climb into the fox-hole with this amazing group of people every day.  Together, we are changing the industry and the world for the better… and there is no better feeling.

Thank you for a profound 2017!



EZLogix Sparkplug B Beta Testing

This weekend, I had the pleasure of beta testing EZAutomation‘s new firmware for their EZRack PLCs.  This firmware is SparkPlug B compliant for MQTT (read about SparkPlug B here) in addition to supporting OPC-UA and string based MQTT publishing.

The testing went very smooth… I ran into no issues… Vikram and his team at EZAutomation did a great job with their dev.  After building the dev environment, I wrote a PLC program that would help scale out the topics so I could slowly ramp up and benchmark the data across the wire, configured Ignition as my MQTT broker using Cirrus Link modules, wrote a small piece of Python code to automate the testing and then sat back and watched.

To say that I am impressed with the results would be an understatement.  You can get a taste for what is to come in the final release of the firmware as well as the results of the testing below.

**Store and Forward is currently in development and should be ready for testing after Thanksgiving**





Designer Software (Beta Version for Sparkplug B)


MQTT Topics Published in Ignition from EZLogix


Benchmarking Resultings in Ignition (Broker)



Automation Fair 2017 — Day 1 WonderLogix Will Change The Way We Program ControlLogix PLCs 10/15/17


I had a profound conversation with three men from Israel just prior to lunch.  The folks at WonderLogix have developed a platform that allows developers to build complex PLC programs using a Node based GUI (think Node Red on steroids) that builds all of the ladder logic, AOI/UDT and documentation in the background while users just create and configure nodes in a GUI interface.  Dror Roth (pictured next to me…) took me through a demo… to say this platform is slick, beautiful and powerful would be major understatements.  Their platform will make it possible for software developers to write PLC code without knowing anything at all about the ControlLogix platform.  For the seasoned Controls Engineer… this is going to cut development and documentation time by 2/3.  This is a fully object oriented environment that allows users to build their objects, connect them together, code the logic and then spit out an L5x file with documentation for import into ControlLogix.

How do they do it?  Watch the vid below…

Automation Fair 2017 — Day 1 Cloud Based Machine Analytics for Machine Builders 10/15/2017


  • Todd Smith–Product Manager FactoryTalk Analytics for Machines


  • Rockwell has built a stack that is their IIOT integrated solution–typical to their business model, rather than build on solutions in the IOT space, RA has developed their IIOT stack as an extension of their existing architecture.
  • FactoryTALK Cloud is RA’s cloud solution–running on Azure?
  • FactoryTALK Analytics
    • Hardware AOI/UDT to FactoryTALK Cloud Gateway to FactorTALK Cloud that is consumed by FactoryTALK Analytics
  • Controller Data Structures
    • RAPID Equipment Interface AOI
    • AOI and UDTs need to be added to Controller


  • Cloud Gateway
    • 9300-ENA ($1200)
    • Outbound HTTPS to Cloud


  • Dashboards
    • Centered around MTBF and MTTR and look a lot like ThingWorx
  •  Questions
    • Cloud is Azure–on Prem?
      • No support for on Prem
      • Data is stored in cloud Azure that RA owns
    • Why make analytics data a separate stream of data when protocols exist where edge values and cloud values can be published together?
      • MQTT or another edge protocol has not been considered
    • Is the gateway report by exception or is it polled from the cloud?
      • Report by exception–only changed values are published from the gateway to the cloud
    • Dashboards are static… any custom development possible?
      • No custom development
    • What is the protocol?
  • Summation
    • RA has a cool offering here for OEMs… there are some issues that I expect them to work out in the next 12 months related to data access, dashboard customization and on Premises cloud servers.  As a whole, this is very similar to PTC Thingworx but without the customization available from PTC.  I’d like to see RA adopt a single stream architecture using hub and spoke to an on Prem broker but we will have to wait and see if this develops.


Automation Fair 2017 — The Plan

Intellic is attending Rockwell’s Automation Fair in Houston, TX.  I arrived on Monday and the team joined me yesterday at the Le Meridien hotel in downtown.  Over the next two days, we will attend sessions and labs, meet with product managers and enjoy fellowship with the Rockwell Automation community.  My specific plan is to get an update from the product managers on RA’s plan for Industry 4.0 and IIOT.  After perusing the literature, I have read no references to MQTT or the Sparkplug B specification.

IIOT is one core focus of our business and we find there is a huge interest across our client base to natively integrate from the plant floor up to the enterprise and onto the cloud seamlessly and out of the box.  The goal this week is to learn what Rockwell has planned to help Intellic serve its clients.


The Intellic Team attending the show (Left to Right):

  1. Walker Reynolds (yours truly)
    1. President
  2. Tonya Reynolds
    1. COO and Service Based Project Leader
  3. John McCloud
    1. Director of Sales


If you see us wandering around… please offer a tip of the hat and a hello.



ICC 2017–Final Thoughts 9/21/17

Well… ICC 2017, Transform, is in the books.  After 3 days of sessions, networking, fellowship, food and libation–yours truly and the rest of Team Intellic is pooped.  We had an amazing time with the community and thank Steve Hechtman and the rest of the Inductive Automation team for putting together an awesome conference.  A special shout out goes to our Sales Rep, Vannessa Garcia, for all of her hard work coordinating the various meetings we scheduled with clients, IA staff and other members of the community–thank you!!

My final thoughts:

  1. Ignition 8.0 (Perspective) is going to completely change the game… Inductive Automation is working on opening up the entire suite of web browser and mobile functionality to the Ignition Platform… next year, the show is going to sell out in a week… we have been waiting for many years for the announcements we heard from Colby and Carl on Wednesday and we can’t be more excited
  2. Security enhancements are coming… and all Ignition developers should start working advanced level security architectures into their projects
  3. This was the first show where many of the presentations got down and deep into the details–this is a welcome change and one that will help to drive up attendance in future conferences
  4. This was also the first show, since 2013, where so many of the attendees were first-timers.  There are several new Integrators–created in the past few months, from Europe–who made the trek to ICC in hopes of getting guidance building their business models.  I spoke personally with more than 300 of the attendees and was struck by how many were attending for the first time.  This is awesome!
  5. OEE 2.0 from Sepasoft and the Azure Injector from Cirrus Link were the two hot-topics of this year’s show.  We’ve had an opportunity to work with both modules in the past month and they are game-changers
    1. Effective development in OEE 2.0 will require a knowledge of object oriented programming (Classes and/or UDT style development) and greatly increases the performance and utility of MES development
    2. Effective development using the Azure Injector will require a knowledge of Azure IOT Hub and Data Lakes.  This new module opens up an entire world of possibility… a fact, I personally feel, has not been realized by most of the community.  I can’t wait to see what people do with Azure Injector over the coming year
  6. I’m impressed with how the community continues to develop… the projects get better and this is a good thing for all members of the community.  I am a firm believer that the Ignition market is not a zero-sum game… as more integrators join the community, the existing members of the community all win
  7. A lot of folks asked me why is it that Intellic doesn’t present at ICC.  The simple answer is time.  The presenters at ICC dedicate a lot of time putting together useful, top-notch presentations for the community.  Unfortunately, we just have not had any discretionary time to dedicate to such an endeavor.  Like many members of the community, we are growing at a phenomenal pace (400% growth year over year from ’16 – ’17).  In addition, we are currently developing and have released several products to market that require extensive marketing and integration efforts and this chews up a lot of our time.  The good news: we have identified a way where we can contribute to ICC and will dedicate our efforts over the coming year to add to the experience of the show.  Stay tuned…
  8. A list of projects and/or products that I found interesting and will definitely work into our development over the coming year
    1. OEE 2.0
    2. Azure Injector
    3. Kepware/PTC Thingworx (proper, and manufacturing apps)
    4. Canary Labs historian
      1. We use this already and would like to see a connector between Ignition and their historian–we may have to develop this ourselves in Q4
    5. Sequential pick list project from Brown Engineering
      1. Powerful functionality for manual assembly and QC processes
    6. 3-D Charts from Perfect Abstractions (awesome, awesome, awesome)
    7. And of course, the full suite of Cirrus Link IIOT modules for Ignition… next year, I predict, the discovery gallery will be overrun with projects that utilize MQTT in some capacity…


ICC is my favorite time of year… and this year did not disappoint.  If I could sum up my thoughts from ICC in just one sentence, it would be…

The future is now!