At Mingo, we help manufacturers get visibility into their plants. We do this with our own proprietary software and by partnering with Banner Engineering for the hardware. When Mingo was first created, we thought about developing the hardware, too, but quickly realized our focus should be spent on developing the software and doing that really well.
In order to focus on the software, we knew we needed to find an exceptional partner to supply the hardware. Cue Banner Engineering.
For more than 50 years, Banner Engineering has been helping to “solve challenging problems and achieve automation goals.” Today, they’re the leader in photoelectric sensors. Banner sensors and vision sensors, LED lights and indicators, and wireless and safety products, much of which is a patented technology, are used by companies around the globe, including Mingo.
“Why partner with Banner instead of creating your own sensors?”, you ask? Well, the answer is pretty simple when you think about it.
- Global footprint with outstanding customer service
- Well-designed hardware for any industrial environment
- Proprietary hardware without relying on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
“Why Do You Partner with Banner Engineering to Supply Hardware?”
Banner Engineering is a big company with a massive, global footprint. Everybody knows them. The name carries a lot of weight. When I tell people, “We use Banner sensors, have you heard of them?” and customers always go, “Oh, yes of course. We have them in our plant.” That is what gives us credibility because manufacturers know the hardware won’t be a problem; Banner has a great reputation for building reliable, efficient hardware.
The other big reason we decided to work with Banner Engineering and will continue to do so in the future is the fact that the sensors work. The sensors are built for an industrial environment. Knowing we can send customers hardware that works, in any environment, is the only motivation we need to partner with a company like Banner.
Yes, we could build the hardware ourselves. We could outsource it. There are other options, but it’s not going to be of the quality that Banner Engineering produces. And, it’s not going to carry that name with it either. Those two reasons are why we chose to partner with Banner in providing hardware. And, as we built the company, we realized the level of service Banner provides to customers using their hardware was unmatched. People want to know that if they can get something serviced, and with Banner, they have capabilities around the globe.
If we make our own hardware, that’s great, but the minute something breaks or fails, we have to ship them a new one or book a flight to visit the customer and fix the problem. That isn’t a problem, but Banner can do this almost immediately. They likely have that particular piece of hardware in stock and representatives, in the city the customer is located. This creates seamless customer service that in the end, allows us to focus on creating a seamless software experience and service on our end.
This applies to our international customers, too. We just recently talked with a guy in Argentina, and he asked if he had to buy the hardware from us or if he could buy it locally. In that case, we are able to connect him with a local Banner vendor to fulfill his product needs, in Argentina. Banner’s footprint is on a global scale.
Our relationship with Banner gives us and our customers’ convenience and ease of use while providing hardware specifically designed by an outstanding company for an industrial environment.
Hardware Purpose-Built for Manufacturing
The other reason we like Banner hardware, which really sets it apart from competitors, is that the hardware doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Instead, the hardware uses Banner’s own proprietary wireless protocol. “Why is it beneficial not to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth in a factory?”, you ask? Well, in the factory environment, machines interfere a lot with Bluetooth and the range isn’t very good. Wi-Fi networks are notoriously flaky in manufacturing plants.
Competitors all use Bluetooth, and if we’re being honest, it kind of sucks in an industrial environment.
For traditional Bluetooth connected sensors, the range of connectivity is generally around 300 feet, at best. Compare that to the range of Banner hardware, and it’s in the miles if you have complete range of sight. We tell customers 1,000 feet from the gateway to the nodes. This alone makes a huge difference.
Which, along those same lines, there are nodes that are battery-powered which makes them quicker to install. Then you don’t have to worry about running power to them. They’re awesome for getting that 1st pilot, proof of concept nailed down with the customer. The idea is to collect good data and get a quick win with the use of a battery-powered node that doesn’t need to have a lot of effort put into the setup. This really exemplifies the power of a single machine data point, easily collected with a sensor.
Big Benefits for Every Type of Manufacturer
It’s truly a mix of things that Banner has. They have exceptional, highly rated sensors that we can use; and a big bonus is the wireless nodes that can be used in combination with any other sensor out on the market. The idea here is to retrofit that to fit the customer’s needs and collect data. It’s kind of like a swiss army knife in that you can almost do anything you want with it.
We can build all kinds of solutions based on the goals the manufacturer wants to achieve, which actually led us to the development of starter kits purpose-built for specific industries.
Many machines already have the sensors built in that you need and so you use Banner’s wireless solution to adapt that sensor to collect data to feed into Mingo.
Now, Banner is not the only company out there that builds these types of solutions. In fact, there are a lot of sensor companies out there. But, the difference is that others have built things that would work great in a commercial building or a house, not for a manufacturing plant. If you put those same sensors in a factory, the quality reduces substantially.
Take for instance a food and beverage manufacturer. If you put one of those sensors in a wash down environment, the plastic is going to melt. It’s going to degrade after being subjected to all of the chemicals used to sanitize everything. It just doesn’t work.
You also want to know the life of the sensor is long, even in a manufacturing setting. In a commercial or home setting, the sensor will likely last a long time because it isn’t being used 24/7, but in a manufacturing environment, the sensor is being used all of the time. It will wear out much quicker. When choosing a sensor for a plant, it’s imperative to know the answer to: “What’s the mean time between failure on this sensor?”
Another way to think of it is in cost over time. If I’m going to buy a temperature or humidity sensor for basic home use, it might cost $5. But, it’s going to last 6 months depending on the level of use. So, if I’m using it in an industrial environment, I’m constantly going to have to buy a new sensor, at a much higher rate. That $5 sensor that works great in your home is maybe only going to last a few weeks in a plant because of the level of use.
Manufacturers want something that they know is industrial grade and built by a company that has a great reputation. Banner Engineering is that company, delivering that promise.
Similar Philosophies: Starting Small, Thinking Big, Growing Fast
The other reason we like to partner with Banner, at least on the IoT side, is our similar thinking. We have similar philosophies of starting small, getting small wins, building it out, and growing from there.
We built our starter kits based on the idea of Banner starter kits for preventive maintenance, just as they’ve learned from some of our initiatives. It’s a very symbiotic relationship that fits naturally and works.
Partnering with Banner means our customers get peace of mind while knowing that no matter where in the world they’re located, they can get local support on their hardware.
For potential customers, it’s reassuring to know we partner with a company known for producing high-quality sensors that help manufacturers achieve their goals.
And for us at Mingo, well, it allows us to focus on the software that provides visibility into the plant while partnering with an exceptional company to deliver hardware.