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By Elian Zimmermann
12 November 2020

Ep 16: Kudzai Manditereza: One Engineer’s Passion For Building Iiot And Ai Systems

Kudzai has a passion for helping others. By finding a small piece of explanation that clarifies precisely, how something works. That passion led to the creation of Industry40.tv. Now a trustworthy and inspiring place to find everything you need to learn and master Industry4.0 technologies. This is his story.

SPEAKERs

Jaco Markwat
Managing Director
Element8
Leonard Smit
Customer Success Manager
Element8
Kudzai Manditereza
Developer Advocate
HiveMQ

Transcript

07:13
Speaker 1
Hello and welcome to the Human and Machine podcast. My name is Jako Markwat. I am your co host of the show the Human and Machine podcast. Of course, we are based here in Johannesburg in South Africa. We focus on everything manufacturing, industrial technology and industrial automation. And I have with me back from leave today my co host, Lenny. Lenny, welcome back.


07:35

Speaker 2
Thank you, Jaku. That was a good rest. I’m glad to be back.


07:38

Speaker 1
I’m sure it was just too short, as it always is.


07:40

Speaker 2
Well, they say from the fatting to the fire, normally when you get back from leave, there’s hundreds of stuff that you need to follow up. But yeah, it was a very good break. Thanks.


07:49

Speaker 1
Awesome. It depends on what you’re doing. It feels like sometimes I come back to the office to have a rest, spending time with the family. So if you missed last week, Lenny obviously wasn’t with us last week. Clarice joined me in hosting Sunelia Goba, last week’s podcast.


08:04

Speaker 2
Fascinating chat with Sunelia.


08:05

Speaker 1
Really incredible work that she’s doing around education and awareness in the STEM field, specifically. If you’re not familiar with what that is obviously science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And Sonelia is doing some incredible work with really ground roots level with kids in KZN, just to hopefully entice them and help them cultivate a little bit of love for mathematics and stem over and above her day job, which is, of course, being a systems integrator in our space in the industrial world. So there was a really cool podcast with Seneli. If you missed that last week, be sure to listen to that one. Today we’re recording. We’ve been threatening to have a chat with Kudzai for a couple of weeks now. And we did have a recording with Kudzai. Unfortunately, something went Ari with the file itself. It was corrupted a little bit.


09:02

Speaker 1
So we had to record with Kudzai, which is absolutely fine. We enjoyed the first chat that we had with him. If you’re not familiar with Kudzai Mandi Teresa is a little bit of an online celebrity. I almost want to say in our.


09:16

Speaker 2
World, definitely, we’re not celebrities at all. But he is a celebrity in the automation world, definitely.


09:22

Speaker 1
Yeah, he’s reached quite phenomenal levels with what he’s doing. So Kudzai is the founder of industry four o tv, which is an online education platform really focused on the automation and control world, and engineer specifically to help learn and master industry 4.0 skills. Of course, very important bit of education that he’s doing in terms of being quite practical in application of some of the videos and tutorials and things that Kudzai is building. But what is amazing and extraordinary to us is the audience that Kudzai has been able to build up again. He had very big ambitions a couple of years starting out with this, and he’s built up a phenomenal audience on LinkedIn, on the platform, as well as on YouTube. So that’s industry four o tv.


10:15

Speaker 1
So, Kudzai, we’recording with you today’s apologies again for the first one, but again, we really don’t mind recording with you. We thoroughly enjoyed our first chat, but awesome to have you back with.


10:29

Speaker 3
Oh, thank you so much for having me again on the show. I’m more than happy to actually join you for the second time because I really enjoyed our conversation the last time. So I look forward to a very fun conversation today.


10:44

Speaker 1
Fantastic. Maybe let’s start in the beginning. You’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. Where did it start for you?


10:53

Speaker 3
Okay, so basically, for me, this started sometime around 2014. So the reason behind what I’m doing today really started with me putting out some content just to sort of raise awareness with the industrial IoT systems on how companies can actually benefit from implementing industrial IoT solutions. So in a way, that was just a way for me to sort of drum up some clientele. But it ended up actually being something that I realized that I was really passionate about, writing articles, creating videos and so forth. So I ended up really committing to doing it full time. But it wasn’t until 2019, which is last year, when I really thought about building a company around it. So industry 40 tv has been around for about a year. But myself in the education space, I’ve been doing it for about six years. Yeah, about six years now.


12:12

Speaker 1
That’s amazing, the passion to do this, because I hear what you’re saying about initially, it was a way for you to do some business development, I suppose, for the work that you’re doing. But I mean, being an educator and being the kind of educator that you are and the passion that you have for it, is that something that you’ve always had?


12:37

Speaker 3
It was kind of a revelation for me as well. Yeah, it was certainly a surprise for me because I never really felt like I was putting in much work, like work at all when I was doing the videos. And the kind of fascination or the kind of attention that I would actually give to content creation and education was just so phenomenal that I had to really dig deep to really understand what it means for me. And then I realized that this is something that I’m really passionate about. So for me, it wasn’t something that was really clear from the get go, or maybe to a certain extent, I didn’t think of how I could actually build a company around that. I always thought about software development, industrial automation.


13:38

Speaker 3
So for me, it was something that was very foreign, that thought of actually building an education company, it was something that was very foreign. But when I got to a point where I realized that this is one thing that I really enjoy, I mean, when I find out exactly how things work, when I read stuff, when I investigate stuff, when I experiment stuff, just the fulfillment and the joy that I actually get from realizing how things work or how this connects to that is so amazing for me. So I thought that this is something that I really need to lean into and put all of my effort into. So it wasn’t something that was really obvious for me from the beginning.


14:22

Speaker 1
Yeah. And you obviously studied electronic engineering, and I think, Lenny, you said it a couple of times, we find that with engineers, they have the ability to teach themselves.


14:31

Speaker 2
Yeah, I think engineering, yes, it teaches you the basic of your field or your discipline. But a big part of engineering is just the way to teach yourself to go and do research, to do the investigation yourself on how things work, figure out how things work, and then apply it to whatever your discipline is. So, yeah, I always say that engineering, they teach themselves how to teach pretty much in a nutshell as well.


14:56

Speaker 1
So Kudza, you did electronic engineering, and while on your engineering journey, I suppose if you want to call it that, you discovered what your passion truly is and what excites you and what you would probably want to do for the rest of your career. And that’s really finding the sort of small nuggets of clarity and explanation around how to practically do things that many people are not sure or have wondered about how to do it, or are just confused about doing. And on the back of that, I think industry 40, I think you have more than two and a half thousand followers at the moment. I mean, it’s just a phenomenal platform that you’ve created. And I follow all your updates and all your videos and all your tutorials quite closely. And I’ve watched a couple of them.


15:41

Speaker 1
I think looking at the past couple of ones, you speak about OPC, UA, just what it is, what it means, how it works. I think you’ve created some node red connections, you’ve worked with raspberry PI, you’ve done some SQL stuff. So it’s quite wide and quite broad, but all within the IoT kind of.


16:08

Speaker 3
Well, I think, again, another point that I need to make is the fact that upon realizing that teaching staff or finding out about how things work is something that I really want to do, it so happened that I was actually starting on this journey of industrial automation. And also there was industrial IoT also coming up around 2014. It was already there, but it wasn’t something that was prominent. So when these two realities actually became, I realized that also there is a shortage of information around how people could actually go about implementing industrial IoT solutions. Because as an engineer myself, it’s an opportunity that I thought really needed to be taken advantage of. So when I went out there to look for information on how to implement industrial IoT solutions, on how to build this system from scratch, I couldn’t really find anything out there.


17:16

Speaker 3
So I thought to myself, this is something that I could actually feel. This is a gap that I could actually feel. So hence I tried to cover as much ground as possible because there really is a huge shortage of information around how to integrate, particularly process automation systems with the cloud computing platforms and also how to really get information out of the various automation systems. So I try and address a whole lot of different cases, starting from the raspberry PI up to some big automation systems.


17:54

Speaker 2
Yeah, and I think you’re 100% correct. Kutsai. I would say there is material, but it’s all marketing stuff, right? It’s all the nice infographics about how the notion of the connected plant and how that works. And what I love about what you’re doing is obviously we’re sitting with a mixed bag, right? We’re sitting with legacy devices. We’re sitting with legacy old brownfields plant. And I think that sometimes people think that, oh, I’ve got a legacy solution. It’s a barrier to entry for me to even start looking at this thing. And this notion of connected plant is not something that I’m going to achieve. But what I love what you’re doing is breaking down that concept and breaking down those perceptions that legacy and brownfields cannot work with us. It’s showing us how to, from a device level, looking at the device protocols.


18:46

Speaker 2
And doesn’t matter what those device protocols is from a brownfield solution, you can still go and achieve and get that data out and achieve your connected plan as per se by using your practical solution. So 100% agree with that. I also agree that I love the fact that you are broadening the scope. As you mentioned, it doesn’t matter. You’re not affiliated to. You’re more concerned about the ideas and the concepts and how to achieve it. I think that it’s a very noble thing that you’re doing. So I do think that the vendors would obviously try and do promoting their way of doing it and not looking at the whole global picture as per se, or getting this kind of open standard solution that we need and require for IoT to actually work. At the end of the day, I talk about it a lot.


19:38

Speaker 2
I talk about broker centric kind of architecture, and I talk about utilizing open standards in that solution. And we need someone like you, definitely, that shows us how that would work. And doesn’t matter what the software or the automation layer is that you’ve got in place, you can definitely achieve it. So I applaud you for that. I also applaud you for just getting new technology and new protocols a little bit more broadly acknowledged. I mean, Jaco spoke about OPC UA. There’s a stat that, from the canary side Canary historian, where they’ve done a survey where they find that 85% of the current canary install base still uses OPCDA legacy. OPCDA Legacy cons. And I’m so glad that you’re actually taking these concepts and it’s just educating about UA. What’s the difference? What’s the mean? DA comes and it’s dead. It’s dead in the water.


20:39

Speaker 2
So people need to start investigating and investing in these new technologies, and then the road to IoT, or connected factory or connected plant, whatever you want to call it, becomes easier, becomes simpler.


20:50

Speaker 1
Yeah, for sure.


20:53

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, even just on the OPCuA issue there, for me, when I came across, I think I started writing about OpCuA sometime in 2016 or so, because when I came across OPC UA, it was something that was really amazing for me to actually find out that there is kind of a standard that allows you to build sophisticated systems. So my sentiment at the time was that this is being someone who’s new in automation, I thought that this is something that is already widespread. So as I spoke to different engineers and different people, I found out that people really don’t know how UA works at all. Even the people who are using OPC UA, they are not using it to its functionality.


21:47

Speaker 3
It was something that was really something for me that I really discovered to say, okay, so it seems that there is, as you rightly pointed out, that was actually a staggering statistic that you just mentioned there, Lenny, to say 80% of the implementations are still in OPC. That exactly speaks to what I discovered as well, to say there is not much implementation of OPC UA applications out there. So I thought to myself that this is actually an opportunity for me to put out the information out there, to try and inspire. And the response that I’ve actually got from that is so amazing because these people come to me and say, I didn’t know that OPCA could actually do that.


22:30

Speaker 3
I mean, they’ve been using UA, they’ve got devices that talk UA like OPCA is all around us, but they don’t really understand the full capabilities of what UA can do. So that’s exactly one of the things that really drives me to try and create content to fill the void wherever I see that there is a shortage of information.


22:53

Speaker 1
I think it’s part of the secret. Kuzais. I think the topics that you’re covering is extremely relevant. It is helpful, and I think the manner in which you do it, in terms of just being simplistic and to the point and practical in how you do it, I think all of those things is what attracts people and what has made it so successful.


23:13

Speaker 2
Yeah. And I think a little bit of a barrier that you’re also breaking down a bit is, I think people think these things is expensive.


23:23

Speaker 1
Do you find that, Guzar? Do you find that there’s a lot of noise and confusion around the scale and the cost and what’s involved with these kind of projects?


23:31

Speaker 2
Because the way that you’re doing it, quickly putting out a pie, obviously, to show the concepts, but it should not be probably going to have a little bit more rugged device for industrial applications, but it should not be a massive cost entry to start doing these things that you are doing in your videos.


23:51

Speaker 3
Yeah, certainly funny enough, because I was actually having a conversation with one of the students who watches my videos because they do machine learning, they do data science. So he was actually saying that he watched one of my videos the way I just did something in less than ten minutes. He went to the lecturers and asked them, why are we not doing this thing? Because I always thought that this is something that we’re going to do later on in the course, or maybe we don’t have the equipment here at the school, or I thought that there were so many things involved to actually get to build an actual machine learning system. But when I saw your videos, I realized that this is something that is simple. It’s not even costly at all.


24:34

Speaker 3
So it’s something that is wide even when you go to corporate, the industrial side of things. The sentiment there is that these things are costly. You’re going to need to have massive infrastructure for you to even begin thinking about implementing industrial IoT solutions. Yes, absolutely. And yet most of them don’t realize that even the system that they already own are capable of actually transmitting data because I mean, there’s some sophisticated system that started coming out in the 2010s, some as far back as 2005, 2006, some system that are capable of actually talking simple HTTP so there are people who are sitting right now with existing equipment that is capable of actually transmitting data, but they think it’s something that is far fetched. It’s something that requires a whole lot of investment.


25:27

Speaker 3
It’s something that requires a whole lot of time and effort to actually put together. So that’s one of the myths that I try and actually bust with my videos to try and actually demonstrate that this is something that can be done with relatively cheap hardware like the raspberry PI, as Lenny pointed.


25:50

Speaker 2
And I think it’s important that people start tinkering and playing with these things just to understand what the capability is and just how easy it is to start getting it. Obviously, when you’re going to scale, then potentially you need to have a little bit of, a little bit more robust infrastructure. But just to start with something, I think that’s the great thing about your stuff is you 100%, ten minutes and you’ve got something right, you’ve got the concept, you’ve got the comms going, you’ve got, hey, look, my machine learning algorithm is at least doing something, I think we almost tackling it as a project. We have to get the consultants in, we have to get the IT infrastructure guys in, we have to now design this architecture. And for me, just start. I almost want to say, yes, there’s important things.


26:41

Speaker 2
Don’t get me wrong. Plcs and devices in the control layer, they’re mission critical. It’s the heart of your business. It’s not something that you can at any point in time compromise from running your factory or your production side. But most of these things that you’re doing, it’s only getting data out. It’s read only. Yes, 100%. Security is a big player getting data out of the automation space because in the past we do see that there’s been attempts of breaches, obviously coming back into the control layer. So, yeah, merit to the IT guys and the security that we need to apply to this concept. But for most of it, if you’re keeping it internal just to start to play, at least there shouldn’t be a barrier anymore to start to do these things.


27:29

Speaker 1
Do you find that, Kuzai, do you find that there’s still a lot of perception around the expected cost and scale of these things?


27:39

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. There is quite a whole lot of barriers that is created by the expectation. Like for example, something as simple as the raspberry PI is starting to change now. But before a couple of years back, it was actually unheard of for you to actually bring a raspberry PI to a production plant. So it’s something that is starting to change because there’s so many pieces of hardware that allow you to actually create some proof of concept without actually disrupting the production process.


28:24

Speaker 2
Sorry to interrupt you.


28:26

Speaker 1
I think it was advantage. I think they’ve just released an industrial PI version. It’s quite a sexy looking little device.


28:36

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. And also there is, for example, node red. So node red, as you know, ordinarily it would run on a pc or raspberry PI or any kind of computing system, but it wasn’t usable because obviously it would fall over. You can’t really trust it to actually continuously collect and connect the systems without any kind of interruptions. But I was actually speaking to one of a startup company somewhere in Brazil that have actually built a robust gadget around that. They’ve actually gone ahead and built a whole operating system just to keep node red running, because it’s such a very powerful language.


29:26

Speaker 3
So just to let it go to where it’s simple, because we don’t have the infrastructure that supports it, or you can’t use it with the normal pc, because otherwise we’d have to write some scripts to make sure that it doesn’t fall over. As you pointed out there with companies like advantage, they are now really leveraging the robust nature of hardware to put these software to make sure that we can actually use them in an industrial setup to build some proof of concepts and make sure that we can actually understand what it is all about. This whole concept of industrial IoT without committing much, because really industrial IoT is about you. I think Walker Reynolds would like to say that it’s actually a strategy, digital transformation. It’s a strategy. It’s not something that you expect to do and finish at once.


30:20

Speaker 3
So part of that is actually starting with something that is as simple as looking at how you can actually get data out of a single Plc, and then you build on that. It’s a long term strategy. So being aware of these systems that allow you to prototype rapidly and actually move fast and test to see whether it works for you or not is something that is important for companies to start looking at doing so. Yeah, to a certain extent, there’s a whole lot of companies that are actually not going ahead with the industrial IoT implementation because they think that they have to wait until they are ready. They have to wait until they’ve got enough capital, they have to be ready until they’ve built a team around that.


31:02

Speaker 3
Yet you’ve got to start doing something because that’s exactly what’s going to point you in what direction you need to go once you start doing something.


31:12

Speaker 1
Yeah, because I think you also have the luxury of. I mean, your audience is quite broad. It’s not just a south african base. I think one of the key things that struck me when I was looking at some of your content is the audience that you’ve built up outside of South Africa and not only on the continent, but even globally. So you have the luxury of a quite diverse audience and group of people that folks that follow you and your updates. What would you say are some of the most popular content that you create where you feel that potentially there is the biggest demand for? Is it a specific technology, a specific type of connectivity? Is it a specific cloud kind of connection? Where do you find that people seem to have the biggest need for in terms of just learning really practical things?


32:10

Speaker 3
Okay. It’s hard really to say because I really get a mixture of everything. I mean, it happens quite a lot with content, something that you’d expect. I mean, you get surprised all the time, something that you’d expect would actually perform well or to actually get a response. You might find that it might not give you the kind of response that you expect. And so I think it boils down to how that particular piece of content resonates with people. Because, for example, the Opcua series is something that resonated very well with people, but it’s something that I couldn’t have known beforehand. It’s not something that I had information on to say, people really want to find out this, or people are really excited to know about this, something that I thought, let me just put this out there and find out how people respond.


33:07

Speaker 1
Were you surprised by the interest of your OPC UA series?


33:13

Speaker 3
Yeah, I was actually. Honestly speaking, I was surprised. Well, I tried as much as possible to make it as simple as possible to actually make it accessible to a whole lot of people. Because the other challenge that we have is that mostly juniors people actually starting out with automation or students, because that’s exactly looking at the age range of my audience. It’s mostly people who are in college, people who are doing their phds, or people who are actually starting out within industrial automation career. And in most cases, these are people who think that in a way, it’s people who are sort of like afraid or think that there’s so many things to know or to learn before you can actually start putting together industrial automation systems. Yes. So what I try and do is to make it as simple as possible.


34:14

Speaker 3
And these are the same people who actually find interest in that kind of content because they’ll be like, okay, so this is how it works, because it’s people who never really had any interest in understanding that because they thought that there’s a whole layers of complexity to it, which there are. Of course, there is quite a layer of complexity, particularly with opcua, but it really needs someone to sort of like damage down so that it’s accessible to a whole lot of people who actually have got the desire to learn. So I tried to dumb it down to make it accessible to a whole lot of people, but I did not anticipate that I would actually get that kind of response, especially for a very niche topic like opcua.


34:59

Speaker 3
I mean, it’s something that is very specific and so focused that even some people within industrial automation are not interested in opcua at all. So to get people interested in that kind of topic is something that really surprised me in a way.


35:14

Speaker 1
And I think part of that dumbing down or part of that value or that sort of interest, I suppose that you’re seeing in something as simple as that, and the fact that it is so easy, perceived to be so easy now, and the feedback that you’re getting, that definitely does open up a couple of different avenues for you. If we’re thinking about potentially you are targeting sort of learners, tertiary, university, college, Technicon, sort of young engineers. It definitely does open up an avenue for you to potentially look a little bit younger than that, even a little bit lower than that.


35:54

Speaker 1
Just on the back of the conversation that we had with Sunelle last week about a couple of the projects that she’s involved in KZN, specifically to help young learners, specifically early high school and late primary school, just again have a little bit of interest in the STEM field in engineering and mathematics and science. This is potentially an avenue even for you as well, that you can maybe explore and understand. How do you reach and help where it’s definitely very needed, an even younger audience than what you have at the moment.


36:32

Speaker 3
Yeah, certainly it’s a responsibility that I’m actually finding myself with. Actually, now that you put it that way, it’s something that I’ve actually realized to say, okay, so I actually have got a responsibility now because especially the tertiary and the learners and the young people, they’re not shy to actually jump into the inbox and say, man, that is some really cool stuff that you did there. Can you teach me more? I want to learn more. I need to learn more. Like there’s a whole lot of students and a whole lot of tertiary and a whole lot of young engineers who are not shy to come up and say, I need to learn this. It’s fascinating netting. So I’m actually finding myself sitting with a responsibility now. And it’s actually influencing the trajectory of actually where this industry 4.0 is going.


37:17

Speaker 3
Because initially I sought to serve professionals who are already in the industrial automation space, like experienced professionals who just need to transition into industrial IoT. But I’m actually finding myself having to actually concentrate more and more on the upcoming because they are the ones who are actually eager to learn. Funny enough, with people who are actually seasoned, the seasoned professionals, there is a certain level of resistance, so to speak. Maybe it’s change. Obviously, change is something that is difficult for people to really comprehend and actually understand. So I’m actually finding myself to save more and more because as a content creator, I have to actually listen to the audience and see exactly where this is going. So obviously it makes sense for me to now actually target the young and upcoming engineers and also going down to high school level.


38:13

Speaker 3
I think that’s exactly where this is going to go eventually, because that’s the kind of audience that is being receptive to my message.


38:21

Speaker 1
Definitely. I think it would be so valuable specifically in that area as well. So if there’s some way that you can create the reach with this platform, I think it’ll be incredibly valuable just for our future, I suppose, and the youth to be able to have this kind of a head start when it comes to tech and specifically industrial tech, where there are just so many opportunities. I think that is something that, and I’m so happy that you’ve considered that you thought about that. I think it’s a great opportunity. I wanted to chat a little bit about tech. So a couple of weeks ago we had an interview, or we hosted Alan Nippa on the podcast. We spoke about all things MQTT, and were. Lenny probably wasn’t. I was quite surprised to discover just exactly how long MQTT has been around for.


39:11

Speaker 1
And then Arlen spoke a little bit about Spark Plug B and UA specific companion pieces that it fits where it fits in. What are your thoughts on Spark plug B and MQTT? We’re quite excited about it. We feel that’s definitely where the future is headed in terms of being able to standardize a couple of things within our space. What are your thoughts on that?


39:37

Speaker 3
Okay, yeah, well, personally I think MQTT is like one of the most revolutionary technologies to actually happen in the industrial space, because that’s one thing that really changes the whole setup in an industrial hierarchy of different systems. Because ordinarily with the kind of client server approach that is currently prevalent in the industrial automation space, it’s hard really to onboard new systems because systems are so tightly coupled together using that kind of patent. So what MQTT does, it sort of like democratizes the participation in the industrial IoT in the market because then everything is being reduced to some level of plug and play, but it’s not fully plug and play yet. But I’m going touch on that a bit.


40:44

Speaker 3
But MQTT is that special in the sense that it allows that decoupled nature of industrial components, because before that it still is, because obviously MQTT is not yet widespread, whereby for you to actually get a device from one vendor communicating with an application from another vendor, you’ve got to have drivers, protocol drivers, you’ve got to understand exactly what language they speak and you’ve got to know exactly where they are located as far as the IP address is concerned. So it’s such a tightly coupled system. But with MQTT, because you are communicating through a centralized broker, it actually hides all the implementation details. You can then plug in a device from a different vendor and allow it to communicate with an application from another vendor because they don’t really need to know anything about each other at all.


41:43

Speaker 3
They don’t even need to know where the other participant is located. So that is revolutionary. And it’s also something that is challenging in the industrial automation space now because it forces people to really think, to really forget what they know about building systems, because now that’s a whole different paradigm of actually communicating now because you’ve got to arrange your systems differently. The architecture of it changes totally. And it’s something that I found that people actually struggling to grasp because obviously it changes because people still try and approach with the same kind of mentality to say, okay, this is how it’s done. But they don’t understand that what MQTT or the pub sub protocols are doing. They’re actually changing the whole nature of actually interaction of different components in the market or in the industrial automation ecosystem.


42:42

Speaker 3
Now, I mentioned also with the plug and play aspect of it. To say, yes, MQTT might be revolutionary in that sense, that it democratizes the participation of different components. But there’s still work to be done as far as defining the payload, because obviously if I’m vendor a, I’ve got a device and I need to communicate to vendor b, yes, if I’m sending a packet via MQTT, fair enough, I can do that in a decoupled environment, but I’ve got to have a way of actually knowing exactly how that data is structured, how is it structured. So the only way of knowing that is by having a predetermined sort of agreement to say, okay, this is how my packet is going to arrive to you, and this is how you are going to have to decode it.


43:34

Speaker 3
So Sparklag is sort of like filling that void to say, okay, we have to agree to a certain standard to say, this is how we’re now defining the payload. We’re not just sending packets, we’re not just sending MQTT packets and receiving, because obviously at the other end, the engineer still needs to write the code to decode that, and then they have to have that information beforehand for them to actually write that script. But we need it to be seamless. We need it to be plug and play eventually, because that’s exactly where the value is in the industrial it ecosystem, because everyone gets to benefit. If I can extract value from having your compressor, if someone is using my mascara system and there is your compressor there, and I can talk to your compressor seamlessly, that’s value for me, that’s value for you.


44:21

Speaker 3
So it’s something that has to have a concerted offer, and I think it’s actually going in the right direction as far as spotlight B is concerned, because there’s a whole lot of companies that are coming on board and actually contributing to that standard. And it’s something that looks very promising at the moment. And also with OpCua, the companion specifications aspect of it’s exactly where we’re saying OpCua is taking care of all the transportation of information, of all the exchange of packets and the semantics of it, but still they lacks the black and play aspect of it. So the interoperability, I would say, is the key sticking point today. If someone actually comes up with a way of solving that, I think that would be a very valuable contribution to the ecosystem.


45:11

Speaker 3
That’s something that is really sticking out at the moment, because in as much as spark plug and OPCA companion specifications, in as much as they are actually meant to address that, they are still not yet mature to a certain extent. So it’s something that is still lacking because there’s a whole lot of systems that are not yet implementing that.


45:33

Speaker 2
Yeah, and to your point, could say that’s exactly what Arden Nipper realized. He realized that if this whole notion of interoperability as plug and pay as per se is going to work, then the Sparklitb protocol must be adopted. And he made a decision to pretty much give it away as an open standard. There’s companies now on the board, they’ve started up a forum that obviously going to invest into the advanced and evolvement or evolving of the protocol as per se.


46:10

Speaker 1
It’s obviously, of course, as part of the Eclipse Foundation, a couple of folks and people involved with 100%.


46:18

Speaker 2
And we can just hope that device vendors, that network vendors, that IoT platform vendors adopt this open standard. If we really want this notion of node to node communication and data is available from your IoT platform back to your machine to really start making smart decisions by itself, then these open standard must get more adopted. There’s no more point of having a specific API or an SDK kit that you now need to program and code else. We’re sitting again with spaghetti integration, and it’s definitely not if we want the.


46:54

Speaker 1
Wall to seamlessly integrate between sensors, devices and gateways, regardless of what they may be, it’s the best chance we have.


47:01

Speaker 2
And I think to that point.


47:03

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. Sure, go ahead.


47:05

Speaker 2
Sorry, Kutza. I think to that point, I think people are also getting confused a bit. There are hundreds of IoT platforms out there. If I just mentioned the top three, obviously AWS, Google, Azure, and people might also start getting confused. Jeez, which one do I not actually use? Which one will give me my better fit? With which software platform do I go? It’s almost immaterial, right? They all will give you the same thing. I can’t tell you now. AWS is going to better than, or Tensorflow from Google is going to better than streamlined analytics from Azure.


47:46

Speaker 1
That’s almost not the point.


47:47

Speaker 2
It’s not the point. The point is that the data that you need to store and get out becomes a commodity. Data is becoming a commodity. It doesn’t care about where it’s in which Iot platform it sits. It’s about getting the data there and start making use of it. And the only way that we’re going to make use of it is by utilizing the open standards. And your videos speak from itself. Kutsai, how many videos do you have where you utilize node red and MQTT to push to tensorflow AWS, Azure doesn’t matter which the platform is the top, but your mechanism, the driving mechanism that you utilize to get it there is always the same.


48:27

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. I think I actually mentioned something to that effect some time back to see to say that the cloud really is now becoming a commodity to a certain extent. It doesn’t really matter because actually all the different suites of cloud platforms, it’s actually becoming carbon copy of each other because they offer exactly the same components with just a different name. I mean, we’ve got the IoT hub in Azure, and then we’ve got the IoT core AWS, we’ve got stream analytics with IoT Hub and then we’ve got the lambda with the AWS. So it’s just an exchange of names, but the concept behind it is the same. Once you master one, you already know how to actually operate on the other one. But what is becoming evident now is the adoption of MQTT.


49:26

Speaker 3
I think that’s something that is very becoming clear and clear as we actually go along to say MQTT is becoming the protocol of choice. I mean, that’s one thing that is common across all these different cloud platforms and all the different industrial IoT.


49:41

Speaker 2
It should be. I would just advise our listeners, if you’re shopping for an IoT platform, do a little bit on your homework. Don’t get swoofed by the smooth salesman. Make sure that the platform that you’re going to choose is going to conform to these open standards. You should not be old ransom for data that you push into a cloud.


50:03

Speaker 3
Yeah, absolutely. Just to reinforce the point of interoperability, something that I would actually like to see happen more is because we’ve ascertained the fact that MQTT is really becoming the go to, the de facto kind of standard of communication. So what I would like to see happening more is having on the back end components that are able to actually talk spark plug, because that’s something that is actually missing right now. Because with azure they’ve got a whole different kind of components that actually get data from the IoT hub and then they help you with processing that data. But maybe, I don’t know of any, but maybe it’s out there.


50:46

Speaker 3
But I think there isn’t currently some components that natively talk spark plug such that you can actually send your information from the device to the IoT hub, and then you’ve got a spark plug receiver on the other end that will actually make it easy to communicate because currently you have to actually build your own system on the cloud. But I think eventually we’re going to see that happening once the adoption of spark plug increases.


51:16

Speaker 2
I think that’s happening. Kutzai. I think with the work that Cirruslink is doing with their cloud injector modules, I know that they are working very hard to get that notion ready, that the spark plot will actually build your model for you already with the metadata associated with it. I think they are working very closely to do that. And I think they actually have some cloud injector modules that already does that and working with the likes of AWS to be able to consume that spark plug bead topic. So I think we’re getting there. I think that it’s definitely becoming a notion. So I think we are getting there. Definitely.


52:00

Speaker 1
Yeah. Cool. A little bit of tech conversation, how to use MQTT to overcome obstacles in the IoT integration world, but fascinating. I wanted to ask you, Kuta, one of the things that I obviously didn’t mention right up front is that the incredible content that you’re producing and the platform that you have that you’ve made available is not monetized at all. So in other words, you’ve created and you are creating incredible content tutorials. We didn’t even go through what is available, what you produce, there are toolkit videos, tutorials. You try and stick to a weekly podcast or update, which is an in depth technical discussion. You have different workshops that you run on a fairly regular cadence as well. That’s quite a lot of content. And right now, none of that is monetized.


52:52

Speaker 1
You’re providing all of that to the world on your platform for free and at no charge, which is incredible, by the way. What’s the plan? What’s the vision?


53:05

Speaker 3
So really the plan is to make sure that I never get to a point where I have to charge the audience. So the plan really is to get corporate on board to try and help along in delivering the content. Because what we want to do is to make sure that the audience, to remove any kind of friction with the audience. Because right now, if you actually put a course and actually charge that, particularly in the case of the african context, there’s very few students who actually afford to pay for an online course. They can hardly pay for their education, school fees and everything like that.


53:58

Speaker 3
So to even put that barrier and that kind of friction, I think, is something that would slow down the adoption of industrial IIt, because for me, really, the mission is to make sure that as much people get to implement industrial IIT as possible. So that’s the whole goal. So eventually what the plan is to bring corporate on board to try and finance the vision and to make sure that we never really get to charge the end user. So currently that’s what the trajectory of the company is going. So obviously, right now we have to put out as much value as possible, credibility and everything, so that you can actually rally the support of the corporate. Once they actually understand what the mission is, once they actually understand what the vision is, it will be easy for the corporate sector to actually rally behind you.


54:54

Speaker 3
So that’s exactly where I’m taking this. That’s exactly where this is going with industry 40 achieving.


55:01

Speaker 2
Okay, sorry, can I backtrack just before that to just clarify my. Yes, it’s definitely happening. So there is already a sparklug b implementation done to AWS’s sitewise component where it will automatically discover assets and models by utilizing the spark plug b protocol. So Kudzai is definitely happening, and I’m glad to see that these type of technologies is getting utilized and using it to make this plug and play world a little bit easier and simpler. But again, I want to commend you on being able to show us everything. Right? Show us AWS, show us that you’re not bound to a vendor, that you’re not bound to any hardware, but you’re bound to the cause. And as Jaco said, not being monetized for it. That is really commendable that you’re going strong with it.


55:57

Speaker 1
Yeah. And hopefully we can help spread the word for you. And especially if there is a vision and a mission, I suppose, to include a little bit of a younger audience where it’s definitely needed, have people enter the universities, colleges and technicons that we have available already with a little bit of background and understanding of how to connect things with machines and people, that’s definitely going to serve our industry over the long term so much better than what we’ve seen over the last little while. So that’s amazing work. Well done.


56:34

Speaker 3
Thank you. Thank you.


56:36

Speaker 2
And I think these are the right people to start tinkering again. And everybody that’s listening to this podcast, I would encourage you guys start to tinker, get a little pie, plug it.


56:48

Speaker 1
In and follow Kudzai.


56:49

Speaker 2
Follow Kudzai. Look at his videos. How many videos do you have now?


56:54

Speaker 1
You’ve literally, I can’t see how many of them are online, but you must have a couple of hundred tutorials and videos now.


57:02

Speaker 3
Yeah, it’s quite a lot.


57:06

Speaker 1
You’re not sure yourself. Sorry, goodbye.


57:16

Speaker 3
Yeah, sure. Yeah, well, there’s more to come. There’s still more to come. So, yeah, definitely check out the channel and make sure you follow the videos and try it out yourself, because that’s exactly where things are going. It’s not something that’s just going to happen for a year. And then we go back to business. That’s the new business, this one. So obviously you’ve got to try it out, you’ve got to familiarize yourself with it and make sure that you are competent in the 21st century. That’s the literacy, that’s the 21st century literacy. It’s not about just knowing how to use a computer anymore or knowing how to read and write, but understanding how systems work and understanding how to put them together. It doesn’t matter whether you’re industrial automation space, you’re an accountant.


57:58

Speaker 3
I always say to my accountant friend to say, you can’t just be an accountant. I mean, it’s no longer enough. Now you can’t just say, no, I’m an accountant. So you’ve got to know, you’ve got to learn python, you’ve got to understand data science, you’ve got to do that, because the fact of the matter is that the technology is just going to change the whole landscape. I mean, your value is just going to diminish day after day. The Internet becomes sort of like the unifying factor. So you’ve got to understand how all these systems work. It doesn’t matter what field you are in, but you’ve got to start tinkering with these things because it’s very important, actually. It’s something that you really need to do to safeguard your career.


58:39

Speaker 1
Yeah, definitely. I agree with you. I think it’s that crucial and that important for everybody. And the world has changed. I think the lines across different roles and professions, and the common denominator in all of that is technology. And it probably serves everybody very well, or certainly a much wider audience than just your hardcore engineers. Definitely serves that audience very well to have a basic understanding of how these things fit together and how they work.


59:05

Speaker 2
And if you’re a graduate or a student listening to this, it will definitely increase your possibility of getting a job or a graduate program. I think in the engineering world, a CV is not going to be a CV anymore. It’s not about what you’ve got on the paper. It’s almost going to become like the architects have. They’ve got their little portfolio of drawings and projects that they’ve done. I think cvs in the engineering world must also become, know what have you done? Show me a ScaDa screen or show me some integration that you’ve done. Show me an actual project and it’s definitely something that can boost your cv and your career opportunities.


59:47

Speaker 1
Thank you very much. Sorry.


59:53

Speaker 3
Yeah, sure. So I just wanted to throw in one last word. It’s actually a reality that I remember I was having a conversation with a friend here and then I was saying to them, actually, we have to change the way that we actually teach our kids. I mean, when you go to school and then you ask the kids, what would you like to be when you grow up? Obviously the kids, they still stick to the same, they don’t know better, of course, they still stick to the same things like, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an accountant and stuff like that. But we’ve got to plant that seed very early because the way the world is going to be disrupted, technology is going to turn the world upside down in such an extent that absolutely.


01:00:38

Speaker 3
A doctor is highly likely to go out of a job before the nurse because doctor’s job is just to analyze stuff. A doctor is a data processing human being, basically to analyze and make decisions, whereas nursing is something that requires the dexterity and the physical handling of a patient. So with technology, a doctor is highly likely to go out of a job before a nurse. So it’s a whole way of thinking that we really need to plant into our kids as young as grade one or two for them to understand that this is actually a different way of thinking. The same career that we have always had coming from the 1950s to the early two thousand s is no longer the same. We’ve got to really think deeply about this.


01:01:26

Speaker 2
You will always have someone that needs to fix the robots.


01:01:33

Speaker 1
I think it was the conversation with Sunli where we spoke about the massive opportunity, not the risk of people losing their jobs, but the massive opportunity that exists to help reskill people, to apply them elsewhere, to add value and focus on things where human beings make a difference using that creative capability.


01:01:57

Speaker 2
Awesome.


01:01:57

Speaker 1
We love chatting with you about all things education, MQTT, spark plug B. A lot of three letter acronyms and things that we’re throwing in there. I think it was olin that said that. MQTT. The whole topic and payload definition to him is like the HTTP of the IoT world. Kuza is there anything that you specifically want any of our listeners to check out, follow, go visit to support you?


01:02:28

Speaker 3
Oh, yeah, sure. I’ve got a YouTube channel. If you can just go to Industry 40 tv on YouTube, subscribe, and then you’ll be able to check out the content there. That’s where I post most of my content. And then also on LinkedIn. I’m Kutzai Mandi Teresa. You can check out my content and you can request for connection. I’ll always be happy to connect with you there.


01:02:53

Speaker 1
Fantastic. Thank you very much, Kusai. Thank you again for your time.


01:02:58

Speaker 3
Okay. Thank you so much for having me.


01:03:01

Speaker 1
Excellent. Lenny, I think we overtime.


01:03:04

Speaker 2
Yeah, time flew by so quickly.


01:03:06

Speaker 1
So, yeah, as always with these topics and discussions, we can speak for hours, definitely. Especially when it comes to the tech. Thank you very much for listening to, especially when you’re passionate about it. Thank you very much for listening to the Human emission podcast. That was Kudzai Mandi Teresa doing incredible work educating and spreading the word around the tech that’s available to us. How to harness it, how to make it work for you in a very simple and easy way. So there was Kudzai. Be sure to check him out on LinkedIn as well as YouTube.


01:03:37

Speaker 2
Yeah. And as always, the Human Machine podcast is all about education. It’s all about education.


01:03:43

Speaker 1
Just being helpful. We’re not professional, but in any way, we just want to share some stories.


01:03:47

Speaker 2
If you’ve got any topics, any celebrities other than myself that you would like to get on the podcast to really just educate the industrial community that we have here in South Africa. Please, guys, we would love to get your topics and feedback podcast at element eight co Z. As always, please get those topics rolling in.


01:04:09

Speaker 1
Fantastic. Thank you. And I think next week we recorded with Herman skippers, I think, all about AI and machine learning. We still have to publish that one broadcast, that one. We are touching on cybersecurity next week, specifically around the sort of convergence of it and ot number one and number two on the back of COVID just what some of the observations and trends have been in the cybersecurity world, which is a. A pretty scary place. We are chatting with one of the experts in that field next week, but.


01:04:41

Speaker 2
Yeah, thank you for listening and as always, cheers.


01:04:44

Speaker 1
Thank you very much.


01:04:45

Speaker 2
Bye bye.


01:04:49

Speaker 3
You close.

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