With fresh insight and excitement for the year ahead, the FreeWave leadership team discusses their vision for the future, predictions about the evolution of data, and collective approach to protecting life’s essentials.
Though you might not find their names in the next Marvel film or DC comic book, industrial leaders – whether in agriculture, energy, utilities, or another resource industry – are the heroes of the modern world, real-life Guardians of the Galaxy, if you will.
These heroes fight today’s challenges every day, while life’s essentials like food, air, energy, and water are threatened daily. With technology at the ready, industrial operators continue to come to the rescue, finding innovative solutions to defend the planet and preserve its most precious resources.
At FreeWave, our goal is to continually build upon technology advancements to help you build a better world within your industry.
With 2023 right around the corner, we asked four of FreeWave’s senior leaders, including Kirk Byles (CEO), Michael Tate (COO), Parthesh Shastri (CTO), and Jeff Horton (CRO) to share their thoughts on how FreeWave Technologies is helping the heroes of today protect life’s essentials to create a better tomorrow.
Q: What is one of your favorite FreeWave memories from this past year?
Kirk Byles: It’s hard to even remember before this quarter, but the Reinke Dealer Conference was definitely a top highlight for me this year. Not only did it show the work our collective teams have been doing to build relationships and finalize a new product offering, but it was also really cool to see the impact our work is having in real-time, as we partner with Reinke – one of the largest pivot irrigation manufacturers in the world – to help growers and producers save water and raise crops. This was really big.
Parthesh Shastri: This year, we really came together across disciplines within FreeWave, too, increasing our focus on target outcomes to deliver products that our customers use and deploy in the field, and we had a lot of fun while doing it! As we look at 2023, we are excited to scale this model and implement it across new industries.
Q: How is FreeWave helping industrial operators protect life’s essentials?
Jeff Horton: The top thing that comes to my mind is bringing automation to irrigation. We work closely with our partners, like Reinke, to provide real-time analytics, which saves a lot of water and nutrients, and both of these things are invaluable for farmers. Technology also helps to reduce fuel consumption on ranches by eliminating the need to manually check cattle watering tanks. Some producers often spend 12 to 15 hours a week driving around just to look at their water tanks. Think about the wear and tear on those pickup trucks or even the rising cost of fuel. Being able to reduce greenhouse gas and save these guys money while also producing a high return on investment is a really big deal. We can do that easily with the Tank Level Monitor.
Mike Tate: And it’s not just the ROI. These producers are suffering. Ranching is not the lucrative business that it once was, and these ranchers are getting beaten at every turn. A lactating cow needs one gallon of water for every hundred pounds, every six hours! Water is a huge concern for both producers and growers, and being able to give them back more time while reducing their expenses is a great value add because every dollar counts for them.
Q: Is the word “efficiency” changing for industrial operators?
Jeff: When you look at conditions today, both here in the United States and globally, you see so many labor shortages, droughts, inflation, and climate changes, and it’s forcing efficiency, not for efficiency’s sake, but for sustainability and survivability. Businesses have to fundamentally change the way they produce a product, and they have to find the least expensive, most efficient path to go to market. Efficiency isn’t an option anymore; it’s a necessity.
Kirk: For years, everybody has wanted to do more with less, and usually, there’s some sort of limitation in the way until someone invents a solution that takes things to the next level. That’s what we’re all about at FreeWave. We’re not doing anything necessarily earth-shattering; but we are innovating. We’re providing a mechanism for our customers to become more and more operationally efficient – to increase their bottom line – and make things better, and not just for their business, but for their employees and life, in general.
Case in point: oil and gas companies, considered by some to be big polluters. However, these companies have many sustainability and environmental initiatives and tenants they strive to uphold. They are a critical component of our everyday lives. They’re evolving and innovating, too. FreeWave, helps them get the most out of the equipment they have on-site so that they’re more effectively getting the oil and gas out of the ground with minimal impact. Overall, a more efficient company means less impact on the environment, and these kinds of solutions help create a better planet.
Q: In your wildest imagination, where can technology take the industrial leader in the next ten years?
Parthesh: There are so many great examples. In China, there’s currently a 12-story tall facility being built to raise hogs in a conditioned environment. It’s like an office space for swine. In this environment, technology is being used in such a way that human intervention is really minimized, and because most things are entirely data-driven, they are able to be a lot more efficient. Now, there are pros and cons to what’s taking place there, and we won’t know the final outcomes for a while, but the march of technology is going to continue to go on, and I believe we will continue to see a lot more practices like this in the future.
Jeff: Another example is indoor growing facilities in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Massive facilities that are purpose-built for farming simply because there is no arable land outdoors. If you think about it, today, 50% of the world’s land is used for some type of agricultural food source. In 10 years, the reality is we’ll probably see yields go up 50%, and the amount of land used for those yields will probably go down 20%. Right now, everybody’s out there – manually – twisting valves, cranking this, and checking on that, but soon we’ll all be able to do most things remotely, and you won’t necessarily need 15 people roaming around checking and fixing things. In 10 years, most things will be done automatically and likely leveraging edge technology.
Kirk: I think in 10 years, you’re gonna see a huge shift in the labor pool with automation taking a front seat. Remote work is already a reality in many industries. I think the trend will continue as more automation is implemented. There will be a need for more programming, more remote analytics and management from afar.
Mike: When you take the emergence of technology and layer machine learning and artificial intelligence, you are drastically impacting the current workforce projection over the next decade. Agriculture is going vertical. It’s like in Top Gun Maverick. We’re going vertical!
Other than the U.S., nobody has enough land percentage to produce the crops they need. Just look at the impact the war in Ukraine is having and all the people that are starving. It’s not fake news; it’s reality. Think about all the water treaties and what people pay on the West Coast for water, things are only getting worse, but they can and will eventually get better. These problems will soon be solved more efficiently because of technology, and the greatest impact we’ll see will be in the workforce of tomorrow.
Q: What are you most excited about for FreeWave in 2023?
Kirk: My excitement comes from turning. We’ve been making subtle changes to our business for a while, and we’re finally arriving. Now we can start accelerating what we’ve been building. All the pieces of the puzzle are in place, and 2023 should be the year where we say FreeWave is no longer just a 30-year-old communications technology company; it is a new solution-smart, customer-smart company doing great things for folks well beyond just moving and connecting data from one spot to another. It’s been a long haul, and we’ve done some great things, and we’ve made our mistakes, but to get where we are today and to see where we’re going to be at the end of 2023, you can’t dismiss that as a really big push for FreeWave’s continued evolution.
Parthesh: We’re excited to share the new solutions that are in the works with our customers. A lot of what we call single pane of glass solutions are coming out in the new year to help support our customer needs. It’s going to be fantastic.
Jeff: We are also working on a direct partnership with a billion-dollar global satellite company. This will be our second global satellite service opportunity! We’re excited to finalize the deal and offer the solutions to our customers soon. In 2023, we’ll also announce new partnerships with key players in Smart Ag and Ranch Tech, and share a new distribution agreement. There are a lot of exciting new things on the horizon.
Mike: It’s not what we know; it’s what we don’t know that I’m most excited about. We have a lot of new products and other very exciting things to announce during the first half of the year, but what’s most exciting for me is what I don’t know concretely for the second half of the year and all the opportunities that are still out there. Our team is uncovering ways that our customers want to use our solutions almost daily. It’s incredible what you can do with the right technology.
Q: As a new year approaches, what is FreeWave’s vision for the future?
Kirk: Our vision for the future is really to provide people the data they need when they need it to make sound decisions. Those decisions could be as simple as, hey, there’s nobody in the room, let’s turn off the light to the water’s raging down this mountainside, let’s open up this valve so we can keep the town from flooding, from somewhere miles away by way of our single pane of glass solution.
Our future will be driven by data more and more every day, and the more we can take what’s going on inside the enterprise and move it out into the industrial space, the more we can provide folks with the information they need to make the sound decisions that will then improve everybody’s lives. This is really what we think about all the time at FreeWave; we are constantly pushing ourselves to help others make the best choices for our world.
With the advent of new solutions on the horizon, FreeWave is looking forward to helping our world’s heroes create a world of opportunity driven by actionable data. Data that helps enhance our lives and pushes us forward to the innovations of tomorrow.
Our mission is to keep customers at the center of every conversation. We collaborate with OEMs, sensor manufacturers, growers, and producers, to identify their real-world problems and learn how we can help them solve those problems with data and automation – and maybe even help them “save the day” for a better future on many fronts.
If you’d like to be part of the evolution of data and how it’s changing efficiency for industrial leaders around the world, drop us a note. We’re ready to get out the cape and help you become a superhero, too.