Kirk Byles | CEO | FreeWave Technologies Inc.

FreeWave Technologies: Developing Edge Applications that Can Take Critical Decisions

As the world is becoming more digital, it is essential to automate and optimize remote site operations, and act on edge data anywhere. Having an edge data platform that can solve the problem of lost data, low quality data collection, connectivity gaps and issues of congested networks is becoming more essential. Having good technology that resolves issues of lost data, connectivity gaps is becoming the essential need of the Businesses.

“FreeWave Technologies provides true edge processing and applications for industrial customers who need to constantly find operational efficiencies.”

Wherever remote communications or edge processing is required, FreeWave Technologies has the technology to make that happen anywhere in the world. Kirk Byles is the CEO of the FreeWave Technologies. Kirk believes that Innovation and Focus on Customer satisfaction is important in delivering cutting edge products and services to customers.

Running Smarter Remote Operations

FreeWave designs, engineers, and manufactures its industrial grade edge and communications hardware and software in Boulder, CO. From inception, the company has focused on bringing connectivity and compute power to remote sites within the industrial markets including Oil and Gas, Electric Utilities, Agriculture, Water and Wastewater as well as Government and Defence. For nearly 30 years, it has focused on IIoT before it was ever called IIoT. Industrial IoT connectivity with an Intelligent Edge makes it possible to run smarter remote operations.

Creating an Edge Ecosystem with Customers

For years, FreeWave has provided the narrowband radio connection for millions of sites across the globe where clients had remote facilities to monitor water levels, oil extraction, wind turbines, remotely control tractors or power smart military systems and drone platforms. Its technology enabled customers to not only have real time visibility into their remote sites, but also the ability to adjust various processes remotely. Over the past 5 years it has focused on not just improving the communications and I/O at these sites, but also providing the Edge Applications for site optimization.

FreeWave Technologies offers a suite of products including a simple protocol conversion technology, to alarming for maintenance monitoring, all the way to manage the entire SCADA infrastructure with its OSS software stack. The hardware communications is its pedigree and it continues to develop its communications technologies roadmap on its edge computers.

The more exciting part is moving FreeWave Technologies into more edge applications that can perform critical decisions on their own, in real-time and report back only the changed data to the cloud. By combining these applications with its OSS suite, one can see where FreeWave is creating an edge eco-system for its customers to be managed in the cloud or closet without a single human interaction. Nearly all its development comes from customer feedback, and with all the new platforms the company is providing, it can be very nimble.

Choosing Win-Win Solutions

Kirk came up through the ranks of wireless and cyber technologies working with very large OEMs to tiny startups and every type of business in between. The challenges he faced were often unknown initially, but always came to the forefront as an opportunity to help his customers. Whether a technical hurdle or a simple process change, Kirk feels as long as businesses are listening to their customers, providing cutting-edge technology and delivering for them, it’s a win-win for all. He often notes when a company can’t change or won’t listen then the wheels begin to fall off. Kirk often asks if he is doing what the customers want or is he telling them what they want with an eye to the former.

Creating an Operational Efficiencies

As much as FreeWave has depended on the proprietary nature of the industrial markets and benefited from them, Kirk believes this has been the greatest setback for innovation and he would like to change that. When industrial companies decide to purchase products for their businesses they are often locked into a vendor for ten or twenty years. Over that time frame so much innovation happens, but the industrial customers often are well behind with regard to seeing innovation create operational efficiencies. However, over the past Five years or so as more companies looked for better ways of doing things and young engineers come into the marketplace, things have begun to change. Not at light speed but there is a ground swell.

Delivering High Quality Work from Anywhere

Covid, for all the problems it created has done a lot for FreeWave in helping it change its culture and values. The company has always believed in paying a fair wage, taking care of its employees and customers, as well as providing world-class products. This has not changed nor will it ever. What has changed is the way we go about doing our jobs. FreeWave recognized immediately it manufacturing team was essential to the companies well-being. If the manufacturing team couldn’t build equipment, FreeWave would not have any equipment to sell.

Keeping this in mind, FreeWave Technologies moved its non-essential workers to their homes ensuring its manufacturing folks could continue working safely. It took a few weeks, but what it has shown is if given the chance our employees will do their work the way they want, they will get it done. FreeWave believes in its folks, trust they will raise their hands when they need help, but even more importantly, they do not need to be in the office to get high quality work done. Clear guidance to a self-directed team has shown FreeWave can continue to innovate under any circumstance.

Being Focused on Innovation and Customer Satisfaction

Kirk believes that innovation and a focus on customer satisfaction are key to sustaining competency of the organization. FreeWave has been at this for nearly 30 years. It has seen so much change; it can be exhausting to keep up but FreeWave is focused on what its customers need or want. Kirk believes that this is how FreeWave Technologies will make it through the next 30 years. Being Leader in Innovative Designs FreeWave Technologies is striving to be known as the one stop shop for hardware, software, cloud services and an OEM innovation hub for industrial companies. For years, it has been doing these things for a subset for its customers. It has been a bit slow to market its capabilities and services, but in Five years, it will be thought of as the leader in innovative designs on hardware, application development, and solutions.