Mr. Dean Tallman, CIO of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), provides an overview of the IUOE and the path they’ve traveled thus far along their digital transformation journey. He also delves into the megatrends he keeps a pulse on in this ever-evolving industry, including microgrids, digital twins, IoT, big data analytics, and mobile access. Mr. Tallman then provides an overview of how they have applied ICONICS technology at their International Training & Education Center (ITEC) for both real-time monitoring of their building systems and as part of their training and apprenticeship programs, and the benefits they’ve realized with respect to each.

Video Transcript


Now I'd like to introduce Dean Tallman, and we're very lucky to have him here with us today from the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Dean leads the organization from a technology standpoint, and the organization is training their union members to get ready for industry 4.0, for the coming wave of information-based workers. Dean?


Good afternoon, everyone. It's been a while since I've been out in public, so bear with me. I'm going to leave my notes over there. I am the Chief Information Officer at the International Union of Operating Engineers. My background is I started in the early 80s as a COBOL programmer, assembly programmer, that type of thing. And I kind of rode this wave for 33 years, right? So I've seen a lot and then there's been a lot of transformation, but this one seems to be accelerating things. The IUOE’s current focus centers on the implementation of emerging technologies like Zhi described in the construction and building automation industries. We also provide advanced training to our members. So it's not just the building engineers that we train, it's also the construction guys.


So, we'll talk a little bit about IUOE, what we do, what our mission is, industry 4.0. A lot of these themes have been hit a lot today, so this presentation may be a little shorter than it was and then we'll talk a little bit about what we're doing at our ITEC, which is our International Training Education Center, and what we've done there with ICONICS.


We were founded in 1896. This is 125th year anniversary. We have a big party down at our training facility in November. I don't know, Gary, maybe if you want to come. We're headquartered in Washington, DC. We represent 400,000 members in the United States and Canada. We are the 10th largest labor union and the AFL/CIO. It's interesting about the AFL/CIO, we are part of the building trades organization so we're part of the electricians and the carpenters and the operating engineers and so it's different from some of the other unions. We're skilled with a big emphasis on training. We have 123 locals in the US and Canada. These terms here you'll see “hoisting and portable”, “stationary”, our roots are in the steam world, right? We're 125 years old. So, back then, if you were operating a piece of equipment that had a steam engine in it, if you were operating a boiler in a building, everything was run by steam. So “hoisting and portable” refers to digging and lifting. And “stationary” means that that steam engine didn't go anywhere. It stayed in the basement of that building, and you’d better be trained or else somebody is going to get hurt, right? Those are those are pretty dangerous pieces of equipment. We also specialize in the pipeline industry and the petrochemical industry. Pipeline really fits into the hoisting and portable area and petrochemical is really in the stationary area.


What we do … So whenever you pull up into a city, you'll see tower cranes on the skyline, you'll see construction, you'll see road crews, so anybody who's screwing up your commute because of the paving that they’re doing, that's us. And ruining the skyline with the tower cranes, that's us. But it's all advancement. It's all good stuff. We also work in the mining industry, anywhere you have to dig you'll have an operating engineer. Wells, mines, those types of things, earth moving. These stationary guys are the people that work the generators and the boilers and it all comes off our roots in steam. So those are the stationary engineers. At a construction site, we’re there when the surveying starts, we're there when the foundations are dug, we're there when the construction happens, and we're the ones that are left with the building when it's done. So, the construction phase might last two years, but that operational phase could go on for 100 years. I mean, we operate the Statue of Liberty, we operate Ellis Island, we operate a lot of national parks and monuments and things.


So, this is important. This English is from 1896, but the objects and purposes of this organization are to elevate the trade of the Operating Engineers. And this other piece is important, “by which the trade, the membership thereof earn a livelihood for themselves and their dependents.” We've been talking a lot about technology. In this case, we're talking about human beings. So it's a little bit different take on what we've been talking about. And it's to elevate them to the “proper position in all industry activity and the ranks of organized workers; to encourage a higher standard of skill among its members.” What does that mean? That means they should be trained in the latest and greatest technology. They should know what they're doing. If you're an employer and you hire one of our members, that member should know what they're doing. So we've got a huge focus on training.


It's funny, I thought, these are some of the “iconic” buildings that we're in. These are people that we have agreements with. So CBRE, Blackstone, Port Authority of New York, Brookfield, Able, all of these are people that we have relationships with. Each one of these people, each one of these organizations on this slide puts money into a training fund for the Operating Engineers. They expect training for that money that's going in from a collective bargaining agreement. So it's incumbent on us to satisfy the employers, and it's incumbent on us to train the membership. So anywhere you go, we're there. The pyramid building, the Willis Tower, Statue of Liberty, Pentagon, I think we're both in the Pentagon. So I think there are some things to talk about there. All the stadiums, all the arenas, the Vegas Strip, all the casinos, all the hotels, it's all run by our Operating Engineers, and each one of those buildings has control systems that we are trained in that we understand. Hospitals as well. Museums. It's interesting. We're in the Whitney Museum in New York City. In 2018, they wanted to get the Andy Warhol exhibit into that museum. The amount of data you have to give anybody who owns that type of art, as far as particulate matter, sunlight, CO2, humidity, all of this stuff. The guys in that facility were creating spreadsheets and dragging things down and just try to prove that they could get that exhibit in there, and I think with the advance in systems, you could probably run a report to get the same information. But the chief engineer of the Whitney Museum is the one who's responsible for all those systems and generating that information. Trying to breathe. It's been a long time. One of our bigger implementations is the Javits Center in New York as well. It's a pretty hefty Siemens Desigo implementation. And we talk about green technology and sustainability. The Javits Center, and this is something I didn't really realize until I went up on the roof. It's a green roof. It's acres of sedum up there to control water and absorption. They've got hawks on the roof. They've got bats on the roof. They've got a beehive on the roof. So we've got beekeepers and falconers and all these people, greenskeepers up there on that roof. And it's an aspect of green technology that I don't know how you monitor that. I don't know, I mean, but it was an interesting thing to me. And you probably recognize all these folks and you probably deal with all these folks.


We came on the scene in 1896 during the second industrial revolution, but our roots are over here in the first industrial revolution. We've been adapting to change and adapting to technology since 1896, right? So it's what we do, it's what we have to do. And all along the way we've adapted from steam to diesel, to electric, to computers, and now we're in this fourth industrial revolution of data and intelligence, so we're trying to keep up; we’re trying to stay ahead. But for a labor union to be this focused on technology, it's a bit new, but it's something that we owe our membership.


This is a topic that we hit a lot today IoT, IT and OT. I don't know that have to go into this anymore. But as we did these presentations today, I saw the same themes that we're dealing with day to day in all of our implementations. So, I think we all understand about IT and OT. What's interesting here is that my background is in telecom and the cable TV industry. Telecom and cable TV have had smart networks for a long, long time. They've had telemetry and data collection for a long, long time. During the 90s, and the early 2000s, the cable companies especially found themselves that there was technology that would allow them to deliver internet through a coaxial cable, it changed that whole industry. What used to be broadcast headends became data centers. The field technicians that used to run wires and do box swaps and things like that are now doing WiFi and they're doing smart home stuff. We've seen it in the telecom and the cable TV industry and I think we're living through kind of the same thing here. So from my perspective, when it comes to labor, our guys need to adjust, they need to be trained and follow that.


Some of the things we're looking at, I know the other room’s probably got a lot more about IoT in here, but these are the slides I've been using to kind of bang the drum internally about what is IoT, what does it mean. I try to boil it down to: It’s sensors, it’s data, and it’s actions. We collect the data, we digest the data, we put AI or machine learning on the data. It'll suggest an action and that action could either be a manual action; somebody can go do something based on that, or it could be an automated action. So sensors, data, actuators, and it's all hooked up through the WiFi and through the internet. So I think this audience is well aware of this.


So one of the other areas that we're looking at is digital twins. We see this coming. We've had some conversations here. I've talked to companies like Bentley and Willow and those types of companies. And from what I see, I don't think we're quite there yet. For somebody from my perspective where I'm going to train people on how am I going to use a “digital twin” at the Javits Center? What good does it do me? But we're on it, I'd like to take the journey with you guys to see where we can take that down in our facility in Texas


Microgrid and sustainability off the grid. Our facility in Crosby, Texas, got hammered last year, by the little bit of snow they got. I didn't understand that. But I'm originally from New York. So it seemed, but I've been down there. And we lost power for I think seven days. Thousands of gallons of diesel went to our generators down there because our facility down in Texas is also an evacuation site so people in the area can come there and stay. So this type of technology kind of got a little more momentum there. But we're looking at this technology as an area where control systems are going to evolve. And we're going to have to start bringing this type of thing into our stationary engineers’ world to understand how we're going to integrate these types of control systems into our existing control systems. So that's what we're trying to stay ahead of. I don't know what ICONICS is thinking in this area, but this is something I'd like to follow up with.


So, kind of my job here is understanding the evolving industry. And it's not just here it's also on the construction side, which is very interesting with autonomous vehicles and GPS technology and things like that. But this is just kind of a list that I use to drive myself. Advancing building automation systems. that's what we're doing. Here looking at Digital twins, we discussed, IoT, big data analytics, real-time data and mobile access. The mobile access and real-time data that ICONICS has given us down in Texas is changing the way we run the building. It's very good. Virtual building automation systems. We heard a little bit about that today going cloud-based. Green technology, sustainability, off the grid, microgrid technology. So this is kind of my roadmap, my to do list of the technology I need to stay on top of and I need to drive for the IUOE.


My recommendation to my organization is to not get caught flat-footed. I believe the coal industry probably saw some things coming in the future that may have changed the way they acted. But we don't want to be stuck in kind of a dying profession. So stay on top of the emerging trends, reach out to vendors, partners, and employers. This is important here. I want vendors and partners to understand that we're willing to take the journey with them. We will be a lab. We’ll be an incubator for you. You can come down to our facility in Texas, try some things out, try to run them, we can fail fast, nobody would even have to know. So, and then we can do it, do it again and do it right. So, we're willing to take this journey, we've got a lot of partnerships in the industry that I think would benefit all of us. My main goal is to outfit the ITEC with the new state of the art technology as much as possible. And that's part of the ICONICS story here is what we're doing. And to develop forward thinking curriculum. So not only are we running our building with the ICONICS platform, but we’re also using the ICONICS platform to train our members in the advanced building automation classes. The people who have seen it, love it. A lot of these engineers come from places where it's not very advanced. So they were kind of blown away by what they were seeing. So that's another area that I think we should advance some of that curriculum. Phil and I have had some conversations about some ideas about what we think would happen. And then just to continually train, train, train, train. That's why the place is there; that's why we train.


Why ICONICS? We needed a platform that can integrate with any building automation system. We've got Honeywell down there, we've got Daiken, we've got Schneider Electric, Niagara, Johnson Controls. We needed something that's going to be able to sit on top of that and aggregate the data. The journey started with Microsoft, a guy named Neil Ross from Microsoft got us all together. The president of the union and I went up to see Russ in here, wherever we are, Foxborough, and it was a great meeting. We didn't do an RFP, we didn't do an RFI. We work with companies to kind of bang a look and see what's out there. And somebody found Ross, Ross found us, we looked at it. We went and saw Russ, and we had a cultural fit. We had kind of hit it off. I think Russ, his brother-in-law was a member of our union actually; Local 14 in New Jersey. But by the end of it, we were taking pictures and shaking hands. So, it was pretty good. But that's a joke. But it fits. And we really didn't see anything else that was going to fit the bill like this did. So, we rolled this thing out in the middle of the pandemic. We had a team in Los Angeles, we had a team in Chicago, New York, Boston, and Houston. None of us ever met. We did it all through Zoom. You want to talk about ease of implementation? It was pretty--I wouldn't say it was easy--but it was easier than you'd think it would be. We had two people on the ground in Houston at Crosby actually at the facility. I don't look for vendors, I look for partners and I think ICONICS is a partner. Right? So, I think this worked out well and I'm glad we're in this relationship.


So, I just called it ITEC 4.0 so I could be cool like the Industry 4.0 and fourth industrial revolution. But this is our training center. We shrunk the picture a little bit, but it's 327 acres. It's got 237dorm rooms in it. It's got a dining facility. It's like a university. It's got a pool. It's got a nice gym, people can come there and train for weeks. The thing about it is our plant, we've got a redundant plant in there that's got in this case, we’ve got three chillers. Two are online at any one time and one is for training. So we're able to swap things out and be able to train that way. We've also just built this state-of-the-art stationary specific training area that's got, we've got a system that's running the building, and then we've got this kind of lab area that we can kind of roll different building automation systems and things in there and we can train on anything and try anything out, but ICONICS sits on top of them. We get data, and it's working well for us.


Here's my oversimplified architecture. I saw some much better architectures today, but this is the same story that data is collected, data is processed, rules are applied, action is taken, right? I mean it's pretty simple if you look at it. In our case now, action is being taken based on dashboards. But we'd like to take action, automated action, based on the results of what we see out of the rules engine. We haven't gotten there yet, but I think that's our next step. Whether something needs a firmware upgrade or whatever it might be some things that are easy. But I know Johnson Controls doesn't like us going in there and pushing their buttons.


Again, these are the same benefits, I see the same theme all day today. And it makes me feel like we've made the right choice that we're in the right direction. But again, I'll just read it off, it provides operational intelligence. And the data that we need to run that operation increases our equipment health and longevity. We think we're able to do better maintenance on our equipment and understand things a little better. Based on the information we're getting out of it, certain behavior that we're seeing on an air handler or things like that. So we get visibility of all the building systems. In our case, it's not just the building operation systems. We've also got other databases and other platforms in there, like occupancy platforms and hospitality platforms and things like that, that we want to bring all of that together so we can predict what we're going to look like, we can understand what the weather's going to be like, we can understand what our capacity is going to be. If it's going to be 90 degrees out for the next two weeks and we've only got 40 students there, we'll shut off two floors, or we'll set the setpoints down or up or whatever it might be in Texas. Our guys are very focused on comfort level. We're integrated right now with the Wellstat. I heard all about the Wellstat integration the other day and how great it was so I had to put it up here. One of the big things here is that the students are learning from a real system with real-time data in a dynamic environment. Previously, it was almost like you had some dummied-up data and you taught some theory, and they kind of got it, maybe they got it, I don't know if they didn't get it. But when we show them these dashboards that we've created, and they can isolate what they're seeing, and what it means it's very big, the feedback we got was very good. The head of stationary education is a 30-year member, but he's also a Senior Chief Engineer for Able. I stole him from Able; now he's in here, he's got real world experience. He's also our senior educator there. So working with him and us and he's been on the ICONICS implementation. His name is Nasser Dollah, you're going to hear Nasser on our demo; he thinks we autotuned his voice.