How dogged are we in pursuing stories for Strata-gee.com readers? Dogged enough to travel to Florida…in June! Yes, we traveled earlier this month to Melbourne, FL to visit Anuva Automation, parent company of home automation upstart Turn It On (TiO). There has apparently been a lot going on at TiO lately with a flurry of recent press releases and we wanted to see for ourselves, just exactly what the company has been up to in the still early stages of its launch.
See what we found in Florida, including photos of their facility…
We have been following the TiO story for years now, starting all the way back when they were operating under the Colorado vNet name. The company has gone through many twists and turns since those days, but thanks in large part to its acquisition by Anuva Automation, the company has finally fielded a line of simple but capable wired and wireless multiroom home automation systems.
Over the last few months there have been several announcements, including staffing increases, new system feature upgrades, and newly added integration with Internet of Things darling, Nest Labs. Of all of the announcements, perhaps the most significant is the system upgrade that they call TiO 2.0.
The key to the ease of function for the TiO system is their “Master Commander” – essentially a wireless (or wired) TiO hub that controls the entire system. This latest system upgrade was so significant that the Master Commander needed to be changed to a new MC2 which the company says includes a more robust processor, increased memory, faster speed of operation, and greater wireless range.
Arrival at Anuva, Muggy in Melbourne
We arrived in Orlando and made our way to Melbourne in the typically warm and humid weather Floridians know so well. Anuva’s building is at the entrance to a fairly significant industrial park and is quite large with big letters across the top 2/3rds of the building spelling out A-n-u-v-a. Off to the right is the more diminutive TiO logo near the entrance door. Our arrival at Anuva was just in time for Anuva Automation President Mike Anderson to get caught up in a web conference training presentation on the TiO system with a major buying group customer.
While Anderson was involved with the training session, company Product Manager John Anderson spoke with us about the most recent major system upgrade, and even demonstrated it for us on a large new graphic demonstration board the company has created to help show the system in action. In fact, the company has developed multiple demonstration aids for their reps and dealers so that they can more easily show and sells the system.
Although TiO is working on their own HVAC touchpad interface that will be available sometime early next year, they chose to include integration with the popular (and currently available) Nest Labs self-learning thermostat now. This was a simple calculation based on the popularity of the Nest system and also on the philosophy that TiO will eventually be compatible with all major home systems.
To this end, John showed us that they have a Honeywell security control pad mounted on their demonstration board. The company intends to have full integration for security systems soon with work-arounds that can be used for now.
Eat Off the Floor
After the demo, John gave me a tour of the Anuva manufacturing facility. We’ve seen a lot of factories in our day, and Anuva’s was quite impressive. The first thing that we noticed was that the factory floor is carpeted. This is something we’ve never seen before in other factory tours. And not only is the floor carpeted, but it was exceedingly clean – as the saying goes, you could eat off of it.
Unfortunately, on our chosen day to visit, the facility was in a reduced capacity due to shorter summer hours. So there was not a lot of activity and only light fill-in production duty was scheduled. Still, this gave us easy access to all parts of the facility, with no worries over disrupting work in progress.
Anuva has a mixture of new and moderately used machinery, typical for a long-time manufacturing concern. Much of the work is automated, with boards fed into machines on tracks, stuffed with components by a robots, and then moved on to the next station. We noticed one machine that looked brand new, and it turned out to be a source of great pride for company owner Vinu Patel, who joined us to introduce me to this specific machine.
Apple #1, Anuva #2
The unit is a Samsung SM471 – a state of the art machine that the factory manager calls a “pick and place” machine (sometimes referred to as a “chip shooter”). Large cartridges are loaded on the lower front of the machine with electrical components loaded on a form of tape that is fed into the machine. From this tape, the machines “head” reaches for a part from the feeder, then moves back to the board on the track, and with a mind-dizzying precision, places the component into the board – a process that is repeated until all the components have been stuffed into the board.
Why is this machine special? Certainly the speed (up to 75,000 components per hour), the precision and the fact that it is brand new. Upon introduction by Samsung, the very first of these state-of-the-art units went to Apple, Inc. And the very next unit manufactured by Samsung, unit number two, went straight to Anuva.
Room to Grow
Anuva is currently running two automated production lines, and Patel showed us the space in their facility – parallel to the others – where they plan to place a third line, as the company continues to grow. The facility is large, with another whole floor yet to be implemented by the company. Patel told us that this added space for expansion was a critical reason why they chose this building…they did not want to outgrow the facility too quickly.
There were several places in the Anuva plant where we were shown TiO dedicated space, including a section of the factory devoted to the TL4 module. Patel showed us the sophisticated testing equipment and exceedingly clean manufacturing space.
Is That a Wocket in Your Pocket?
As we moved around the facility, Patel was quick to show us some of the work in progress. For example, Anuva is the contract manufacturer for a new line of digital wallet called Wocket. With Wocket, you remove a thin blank card from an electronic “wallet” that is writes the correct credit card information you just selected on the wallet’s touchscreen at the point of purchase. This imprint is only active for a few minutes. That way, if you drop or misplace the removable card, it is not usable by anyone else – a valuable security feature in this day and age of identity theft.
Patel also showed us a high-tech set of earphones and even smokeless cigarettes from other contract partnerships. Patel’s pride in his facility was obvious and he shared with us that the high-tech products we saw on the day of our visit were not nearly as challenging to manufacture as the mission-critical medical devices Anuva often manufactures.
TiO is Real and Ready to Ship
By now in the tour, Mike Anderson had rejoined us and he took us to their finished goods warehouse where the TiO inventory is stocked. Standing next to a veritable wall of TiO stock, Anderson was resolute when he challenged us to look around the warehouse to verify that TiO is indeed real, in business, and ready to ship.
The Anuva relationship, Anderson told us, has been a good partnership for TiO. Anuva has 7 of their 18 engineers dedicated to TiO. There are many tech start-ups, Anderson maintains, who would kill to have that many high-tech engineers. This is one of the reasons that the company has been able to release so many system enhancements and software updates so quickly – constantly fine-tuning and upgrading their product line.
To learn more about TiO, visit: www.tiohome.com.