Flutura Takes Surgical Approach To IIoT With Over 200 'Nano Apps'


Flutura is taking a surgical approach to the industrial Internet of Things analytics space with "nano apps" that provide artificial intelligence solutions for specific use cases and certain kinds of machinery.

The Houston, Texas-based startup, which reportedly raised $1 million from a division of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi earlier this year, has expanded its roster of nano apps that focus on asset uptime and operational efficiency to more than 200, according to Greg Slater, general manager of Flutura Decision Sciences and Analytics.

That's a dizzying number compared to the standard handful of product offerings from other industrial IoT players, but Slater said there's a good reason why the company is taking such an approach.

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"If you take a look at oil and gas for instance, not all things are equal in an oil and gas environment," he said. "If you take a look at drilling, a drilling operation is totally different from production, it's totally different from fracking. And that's where we start utilizing and positioning on nano apps."

For instance, Slater said, Flutura has a nano app that predicts downtime in a top drive, a piece of machinery comprised of one or more electric or hydraulic motors in a drilling rig, by providing diagnostic and prognostic assessments of the part's unique characteristics.

"There are a lot of different factors that influence the reliability and the integrity of a top drive, so that's why we developed those specific apps," Slater said.

The top drive app is part of Flutura's expansion of apps for the oil and gas industry, announced Monday, that specifically targets drilling operations, fracking and oil and gas production, with the goal of enabling companies to run autonomous operations. The company also provides apps for heavy machinery and specialty chemicals.

The strength of Flutura's nano app approach, Slater said, is that it helps the company closely align with its customers' business objectives and, because the apps are focused on specific use cases, they can help customers achieve specific business outcomes within 90 days or less.

"It's not a one-to-two year engagement that we have to develop the platform and develop the business case," he said. "We know what these specific pain points are, and we can deploy and realize value very quickly."

Ray Miciek, executive vice president of sales at Aquitas, a Lawrenceville, Ga.-based solution provider that focuses on asset management, said his concern with the nano app approach is how many of them there are and whether they could be effectively managed.

"The challenge becomes managing all of those," he said.

Wayne Brisson, CEO and founder of Aquitas, which was named one of CRN’s 2018 IoT Innovators, said there is also a concern with how many advanced AI processes a manufacturer could realistically adopt and whether they actually have enough data sources.

"Our focus has been a little bit more on low hanging fruit for the first few customers," he said. "While I think it's certainly a good idea, you have to be with a customer that is pretty rigorous in its data collection."

But Slater said Flutura's nano apps are designed to accommodate companies that are at the beginning of their digital transformation journey.

"We can start off with simple asset and process visualization, then phase in basic diagnostics, then advanced diagnostics and when the client is ready phase in prognostics," Slater said.

As for the large number of apps, Slater said they sit on top of the company's Cerebra foundation signal studio platform, and "there is no difference or disruption in user experience."

"A state assessment nano app ties into a diagnostics nano app, which ties into a prognostics nano app," he said. "Our nano apps enable a business outcome for a specific industry and application."

While the company doesn't have a specific channel program in place, Flutura is open to working with systems integrators and other reseller partners, Slater said.

"We will certainly pursue those conversations," he said. "Clearly they have to be a win for both parties."

Flutura has 20-30 customers, according to Slater, which includes oil and gas equipment manufacturer Stewart and Stevenson and chemical manufacturer Henkel. The company also has strategic partnerships with Hitachi, Dell, Microsoft, Siemens and IBM, among other companies.

In terms of funding, the company has raised $7.5 million from startup incubator The Hive, Singapore-based Vertex Ventures, Lumis Partners and other investors. A spokesperson declined to comment on the reported $1 million Flutura raised from Hitachi earlier this year.