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Tuesday
Jun142016

6 Questions with the creator of Reveal®

Six Questions with Jeff Trumble

Founder and CEO, Trumble Inc.

Developer of Reveal® Software

 

Jeff Trumble formed Trumble Inc. in 2010, a software and technology company that specializes in automated analysis and communication of plant-floor data. The first product Jeff developed was Reveal®, a software product that enables continuous real-time process information that is pushed to the plant floor worker. The result is proactive, real-time decision-making, which leads to defect prevention and reduced costs. To date, Reveal is deployed at engine plants of two major global automotive manufacturers; the Mexico plant of a major manufacturer of driveline and drivetrain systems; and a major casting supplier.

 

Jeff started his career as a plant floor worker and member of the United Auto Workers and later acquired a Master of Business Administration degree from Walsh College and Six Sigma Master Black Belt status. Here, he talks about how those experiences led to the launch of Trumble, the development of Reveal software, and what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur in the Detroit area’s dynamic business climate.

 

 

You started your career on the plant floor at Ford Motor Company. What were you doing, and how did that experience shape what has become Reveal software?

I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school, packing axle shafts at the end of a machining line. I’m very grateful for those years of experience, because a lot of that foundation is what makes our current technology so effective. The space we’ve targeted is the grass-roots space – these are the people that make or break a manufacturing process. It became clear that developing a technology that gathers information and makes it available to the plant floor worker, those first responders, is transformative. The power to change things and improve things is huge.

 

How does Reveal software shorten the gap between relevant process data and factory floor personnel?

In a typical manufacturing plant, hundreds of machines and thousands of process parameters creates a culture of reaction. With all of the data available to me via powerful manual data mining tools, how do I know where to look? How do I know what to look for? In a culture of reaction, only after a loss occurs can I know where to mine data to find the root of the problem.

 

Proactive, real-time trend analysis on all of the connected stations in the manufacturing process is Reveal’s differentiator. Our analytics monitor thousands of process parameters in continuous real-time. That means the trigger is no longer a loss – the trigger is an emerging trend in the process that is affecting throughput. The system automatically notes the location of the emerging trend before it becomes a loss. The first responders are the people that are right there, tending that equipment. If the plant is going to prevent anything, it has to be the people responsible for the daily production – the real heroes of the manufacturing plant.

 

You started the consulting firm JDT ProcessWorks after leaving Ford in 2007. Why did you make the leap to form Trumble three years later?

The consulting model was directing our clients to construct this software solution internally using their own resources. The economic downturn led to shedding of client IT resources, and that threatened our model. When they started cutting back on resources, we stepped back and decided to design a proprietary software product of our own. The consulting was very much related to a real-time solution, but it was dependent on a client’s resources. We shifted that to the Trumble side and did all the design and development work in-house. We pivoted, and that turned out to be a very good decision.

 

How did you make that leap?

I had to hire a team of coders, but I designed Reveal, and drew on my 30 years of plant floor experience and manufacturing experience. It wasn’t designed from a coding perspective outward – it was designed from the point of view of the user. A common mistake is concentrating on the efficiency of the code with too little regard for the end user. Thus, the value of Reveal is in the value of the user’s experience.

 

What were the challenges of being entrepreneurial in the manufacturing space, particularly in the Detroit area?

The first thing that comes to my mind is deciding to grow a company in southeast Michigan at a time when it was on a downward spiral, from 2008 to 2010. The tenacity it took to power through in that economic climate was incredibly daunting. There were many naysayers, and I was discouraged at times … people wanting me to fail because they weren’t able to take this kind of risk.

 

To quote Winston Churchill, what I learned about being an entrepreneur is to never, never, never give up. This is the key. You get a vision, you get a focus, but it’s tenacity and perseverance that gets you there. Entrepreneurial efforts often don’t go as planned. The question is always, “What now? What next?”

 

What insights do you have for other Detroit-area entrepreneurs, no matter the business space?

Learn to listen. Listen. Listening is so much more important than talking. If we talk too much we miss so many lessons along the way. But if we listen, we accelerate the learning curve. Listening has to come before speaking, not vice versa.

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