“Born out of the need to simplify the integration of industrial equipment, C-Labs Corporation ensures that IT systems pulling together financial, sales and customer order data are not disconnected from OT systems that handle data from work done on the factory floor.”
When Chris Muench founded C-Labs in 2009, his focus was on creating software solutions for what is now known as the Internet of Things. Little did he know that six years down the line, his brainchild would establish itself as a leader in the IoT market.
As a technical expert in embedded operating systems, cloud and mobile computing, natural user interface (NUI) and user experience (UX) creation and industrial protocols such as OPC, Chris had previously delivered many solutions at Siemens Energy & Automation and at Microsoft prior to founding C-Labs. Thus, with over twenty five years of industrial automation software development experience, he brought experience and passion to C-Labs to deliver exceptional solutions for today’s modern factory automation environment. In 2014, he combined his technical knowledge and product vision with Chief Operating Officer John Traynor’sbusiness acumen and management expertise to accelerate growth and global expansion.
A pioneer in the integration of Operations Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), C-Labs’ approach has been embraced by the specialized Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market segment. The company is successfully attending to the needs of customers in the United States, Canada and Europe.
The Complete Solution Provider
With the belief that “technology is not an end in itself”, C-Labs is making the most out of the challenges and opportunities that are coming its way in the course of witnessing the rapid growth of the IoT market.
In the simplest sense, C-Labs products simplify the task of connecting sensors, devices and services together to provide a complete picture of a customer’s operational system, and sharing that throughout and beyond the enterprise. This provides a level of feedback and control previously possible only through local equipment control panels and dedicated HMI systems within the OT network. C-Labs extends this to the IT network and beyond, and does so in a way that is fully compliant with enterprise IT policies, safeguarding the integrity of equipment, processes, and industrial intellectual property (IP).
Every customer engagement at C-Labs begins with a discussion of business objectives aimed at uncovering customer needs and wants. C-Labs then applies its patent-pending IoT technology to bring about customer success. The company, headquartered in Bellevue, WA,distinguishes itself from competitors with a unique approach based on a deep understanding of industrial automation.
Looking at the Future
While the underlying technology is straight forward, successful implementations depends on context, application and business needs. Unlike consumer grade solutions, large enterprises are not yet comfortable with either making their industrial processes dependent upon an internet connection or giving up ownership of data to a third-party cloud service. Understanding these global customer needs, C-Labs has focused on the business-to-business (B2B) markets, rather than consumer (B2C) markets and is dedicating itself to being a long term leader in the market, providing solutions for industrial equipment into the next century. Industrial automation is becoming more heavily influenced by capital equipment investment cycles, the advent of new technologies and global market shifts. With that backdrop, C-Labs, which has set out on a mission to simplify communications between operational technology and information technology, distribute business intelligence where it is needed and increase operational efficiency in industrial environments, is sure to continue earning accolades in the years to come.
The CEO Speaks
Q. What prompted you to start C-Labs? And how is the company positioned in the IoT marketplace?
C-Labs was born out of a need to simplify the integration of industrial equipment. While the desktop and PC have become standard equipment in the corporate IT environment, greatly simplifying business processes and creating new business opportunities, this has not happened to the same extent on the factory floor. While manufacturing systems have made great strides in the past 20 years, many factories still run on disconnected and isolated systems, both within each plant and across distributed multi-site operations. IT systems that pull together financial, sales and customer order data are often disconnected with work done on the factory floor. In many cases, this is by design to maintain security and keep the factory running smoothly. Further, competing standards from multiple vendors have hampered attempts to achieve complete integration, starting right from the physical connections between machines. Thus, C-Labs set out to do three things: 1) simplify communication between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), 2) distribute business intelligence where it is needed and 3) increase operational efficiency in industrial environments.
Q. How do you amalgamate the latest technology with business objectives?
Technology is not an end in itself. Every customer engagement at C-Labs begins with a discussion of business objectives. Does an equipment maker want to offer its customers improved predictive maintenance and a better uptime guarantee? C-Labs can facilitate that. Does a manufacturer want situational awareness across multiple facilities available to plant engineers and business decision makers on mobile devices? C-Labs can provide that. C-Labs “begins with the end in mind” to uncover customer needs and wants and then applies its patent pending IoT technology to bring about customer success.
Q. What differentiates you from your peers in the domain?
C-Labs distinguishes itself with a unique approach based on a deep understanding of industrial automation. While the underlying technology is straightforward, successful implementations depend on context, application and business need. For example, factory floors are very different from offices. Pushing a security update to a production line Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) during manufacturing could lead to disaster. And exposing that same PLC to the internet could make it vulnerable to viruses and theft of intellectual property.
Likewise, unlike consumer grade solutions, large enterprises are not yet comfortable making their industrial processes dependent upon an internet connection and giving up ownership of their data to a third party cloud service. Requiring an internet connection to retrieve data from a local machine makes business processes vulnerable to communication outages and increases operating costs. And storing and processing data in the cloud, while often a good choice for historical analysis, can introduce real time bottlenecks and reduce operational efficiency.
Knowing the Masterminds
Chris Muench, CEO and Founder
Chris focuses on product solutions for the IoT at C-Labs. Recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for ten years, he has authored a book on embedded operating system development and holds a bachelor’s degree in data technology.
John Traynor, COO
Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, John is responsible for sales, marketing, finance and operations. Prior to joining C-Labs, he served as senior vice president, products and technology at Bsquare Corporation, prior to which he was the vice-president, business products at Palm and had spent nearly 17 years at Microsoft, including leadership roles in the Mobile and Embedded Devices Group, before that. His early career also included positions in management and information technology consulting and he co-founded a successful software company. With 30 plus years of experience in the high-tech sector, the COO also holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics and a master’s degree in business.