Journey and Inspiration
As a child, the curiosity of questions like where we came from, how things are built, how the earth was formed among others kept Arungalai Anbarasu awake at night. This made her want to be an astronaut. However, she grew up not knowing that her poor eye vision would never let her pursue that path. Therefore, she went to study the closest thing to it, engineering. She has her master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Science. And her master thesis was on Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), that’s what her employer Waygate Technologies specializes in.
After university, she joined the famous conglomerate General Electric (GE) into their graduate program called Edison engineering where she learned how technology is used to build and sell solutions that solve different problems in the world like energy, healthcare, transportation, and communication. Therefore, driving a strategy & business from wing to wing became a passion which made her take different roles in GE & Baker Hughes in the areas of finance, strategy, operations, technology, and business leadership up to her current role of Chief Technology & Strategy Officer for Waygate Technologies, a Baker Hughes business. She and her team look at the overarching strategy for Waygate Technologies while delivering breakthrough technology innovation and digital transformation. She also led the industrial X-ray and computed tomography (CT) business in the past few years at Baker Hughes (BH).
Every role, every experience, every country Arungalai has lived, taught her something new and contributed to shaping her career and personality. The diversity of roles and global nature of her roles before has really helped her look at the strategy for the company in a very balanced yet with an exponential growth approach. Her experiences have also taught her the power of being able to flex from the strategic view to the tactical view to operate the business at best which she very much leverages in her current role. Not only to dream about the future but also to enable the operations to make it real!
Opportunities Against Difficulties
As with any company in this age – COVID has thrown at Waygate Technologies a really large wrench. Its key customers were impacted, and that is clearly affecting them – it does no one good to ignore that fact.
“There are opportunities even in the difficult moments.” With that in view, COVID has also posed a positive aspect where the digital transformation is accelerating in every industry…It is the new beginning for the Digital Revolution! NDE4.0 in Waygate Technologies’ case.
Overall, if anything good has come out of COVID, it is the fact that drove us further away from each other physically and brought a lot of people much closer together virtually. The manifestation of this in industrial inspection is the drive to data and the drive to a larger level of, remote, collaboration. This coincidentally is precisely what is enabled by the suite of Waygate Technologies’ digital products called InspectionWorks.
What are the main challenges to achieving the transformation from a device-centric inspection company to a data-centric inspection company? – both internally and externally?
Transformation exists throughout the process; not just technology. Sometimes, digital transformation is seen as a technology problem only.
Waygate Technologies is a company with a great heritage – the team traces its lineage back to Krautkrämer and Seifert – people who discovered the technologies and invented the techniques. However, with this heritage also comes a lot of tradition that tends to get up-ended in this world of, quite literally, data-driven micro-second decisions (if you don’t believe in the time scale, just look at the micro traders on Wall Street). ‘Waygatians’ try to address these challenges along with multiple fronts:
- Move execution to focus explicitly on collaborative partnerships – with customers and partners – this is critical because all these software solutions can become most successful when the team works in close collaboration with customers and partners, and focus exclusively on areas where they can deliver the most value – this allows for scale in a world that is moving at warp speed.
- The second pillar is that of building the right commercial models – they are so used to selling boxes that even when they sell software, they end up selling it as if they are selling a box – they need to consciously create new ways of doing business – this means trying out new models, refining them and coming up with faster, and more efficient paths to revenue.
- They need to continue to look long and hard at how to enable sales and commercial success on software and solutions – this requires a completely different mindset that needs to be encouraged, by training, incentives, etc.
- Finally from a hardware and machine manufacturing business to a software solutions business is a hard shift on technology execution and rhythms – one example is that they are moving to a constant release rhythm – they have set up a quarterly release calendar and they would like to drive a steady expectation from their customers – where like any other major software company’s yearly release event – their customers look to them at certain times of the year for them to release new versions of their solutions – like clock-work.
Women Softening Economy
Making decisions after considering multiple viewpoints ensures the probability of success from the outcomes is higher & the probability of approach with balanced emotions is higher. Women bring unique perspectives to research and scientific conversation, reduce the skill gap, and foster economic growth.
Focusing on Digitalization
Arungalai Anbarasu, the Chief Technology & Strategy Officer at Waygate Technologies, is driving strategy & innovation for the company. In addition to pushing the technology & business models boundaries on industrial inspection solutions, Aru and her team are also focused on the digital transformation of Waygate Technologies and the spearheads of the firm’s evolution into a Digital Inspection Solutions (DIS) provider, taking customers from inspections to insights and from insights to innovations.
The key enablers that drive strategy, technology, business, security, etc are the team. In this time of the pandemic, it’s extremely important for each one of them to make an extra effort to care about the team, employees, peers. Challenges with the hybrid or home working are different. Addressing the challenges is better solved together. “We are stronger together than alone!”
The key is empathy and authenticity. This builds a trustful relationship which then breeds into a fruitful partnership when the team undertakes challenges and fulfills transformational activities successfully.
And practicing what they preach.
Not encourage your team trying to build a kingdom but create a leap for humanity. The goal is always bigger than power and position–its transformation, innovation, and advancement.
Lastly, giving the freedom for the team to create and develop within boundaries of compliance, ethics, and safety. People make a business; Business does not make people. So, a business will be successful only if it focuses on the people.
Leading Breadth of Portfolios
Waygate Technologies (WT) has the biggest breadth of portfolios and enjoys a leadership position in a large majority of them. They are world leaders in industrial X-ray and CT equipment and are leaders in professional video borescopes among others. The company proudly received the Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Award for the Global Industrial Computed Tomography Solutions multiple years in a row.
WT’s combination of breadth – visual, ultrasound, X-ray, CT, Eddy current, portables, handhelds, testing machines, cloud services, etc have them placed in a unique position to deliver market-winning cross-modality insights to their customers. The world is moving away from data at single units of time, space, modality, etc.
For instance, think of your cell phone – phones, since the time of the blackberry, have been able to both browse the net and you can call a restaurant to make reservations. However, today you can ask Siri for restaurant recommendations, and “she” can understand from your browsing history that it is your spouse’s birthday, remembers his/her favorite restaurant and knows which table you prefer and can create a reservation and remembers to add a note to your reservation that you are allergic to shellfish. In other words, we are moving away from delivering individual pieces of data and recognizing the exponential value of connecting disparate pieces of information.
The inspection and quality industry is going the same way and Waygate Technologies is uniquely positioned to get the industry to that point. There it can look at the powder metallurgy via a CT powder scan, look at the engine blade cast from this powder via an X-ray, assess the assembly quality of the blade into an engine using ultrasound, and inspect the engine on the wing of an aircraft using visual testing. After then it connects all this data via its cloud services and analytics and delivers back to the OEM, information that they can use to make a much better generation of blades next time around. Waygate Technologies will take their customers from detecting defects to avoiding them altogether.
Data– the Necessity
One big change factor is Data – while being a buzzword today – is both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because data is truly the bedrock of any communication – after all, all the cellular networks in the world would be completely useless if no one talked on cell phones generating “data”. However, these networks would also be useless if all that flowed out of cell phones were 1’s and 0’s – which is after all the raw data that flows around on these networks. What that analogy was supposed to demonstrate is that data is critical – but it is only one part of what enables any technology (and among them industrial inspection) – the second and equally critical portion is the ability to convert data to insights and/or information.
“The 1’s and 0’s flowing from a cell phone from my daughter’s hand, through a cell tower, through satellites in outer space, back to my cell tower to my cell phone, really becomes meaningful when my cell phone is able to convert it to true information and when I hear– I love you mum.”
Similarly, all the data that Waygate Technologies collects from its instruments, and other instruments, whether it is UT data from a competitors machine, MPI data from a 3-rd party testing lab, or images from an operators cell phone – all this data needs to be collected, correctly correlated, associated to the right asset that the team is inspecting. The process is critical but what is really needed is the ability to connect all this data and send back to the asset owner (customer), information on whether he/she needs to pull that asset from the line because it is at critical risk of failure or whether he/she can keep running it for another two years.
Data and the associated information it carries can truly create a paradigm shift in inspections. There is one thing about inspections that WT’s customers painfully realize – no matter how well they build their instruments, no matter how cutting edge their software is; inspections to their customers are like doctors’ visits for them. The best doctor’s visit is the one no one needs to have.
Data and information hold the transformative power to realize the Waygate Technologies dream for its customers – to take them from inspecting their assets today to fewer inspections tomorrow, to not having to inspect at all, in the future – after all, as its tag line says, “why detect defects when you could avoid them altogether?” This is what a truly leveraged data-driven solution can achieve for its customers.
All of these require a strong cultural mindset shift. Waygate Technologies is a company that has historically sold “products” – or boxes. “We must move to envision, create, build, and sell solutions.”
Waygate Technologies is developing ‘InspectionWorks’ with a DIS strategy, through the phases of acquiring, analyzing, and acting, which is centered around providing its customers with a way to develop an inspection “thread” that runs through their entire product lifecycle. Almost providing a digital asset health passport through its lifetime with the lens of inspection information–complete, centralized & contextualized inspection history of an entire asset – from cradle to grave. InspectionWorks is centered around providing its customers a way to develop an inspection “thread” that runs through their entire product lifecycle.
The lifecycle of any customer asset goes through three basic phases – design & engineering, manufacturing, and operations. Today, via the use of PLM systems and digital tools the customer has an equivalent virtual “ecosystem” – often referred to as the digital twin. InspectionWorks (IW) will provide to this digital twin, at each point of the lifecycle, a connection to industrial inspections and the data coming out of inspections. Thus, InspectionWorks will be an inspection-centric digital “triplet” to the digital twin. Inspections are typically focused around the last two steps in the product lifecycle, but the data and insights gained from these inspections can also be fed back into the design phase to allow the customer to derive multi-generational value – thus defects coming out of the production and operations phase of today’s asset will allow the customer to design a less defect prone asset tomorrow – and that is how IW will take our customers from detecting defects to avoiding them.
Promoting Women in STEM
Above all, Arungalai Anbarasu has a 7-year-old daughter (Ada). The best outcome is that at her kindergarten graduation stated she would want to grow up to be an engineer. Arungalai has always been passionate about promoting women in STEM but after she had Ada, she’s now obsessed. Like any mother, she wants to make the world a better place for her.
Arungalai heard this in one of the roundtables and it stuck with her.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw
And she is proud to be an unreasonable woman.
Arungalai would love to encourage all the girls and women to be unreasonable within the boundaries of compliance, ethics, and safety to take the first steps that will create progress for the others. Being first is never easy but it’s fun.