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An Interview with Dave Trail

by | Dec 20, 2021 | Interviews,

Dave Trail

Dave Trail

Vice President of Sales at Arch Systems

Key Topics:IIoT, Industry 4.0, AI/ML, MES, Predictive Analytics in Manufacturing

Dave Trail is an accomplished industry professional, sales/business consultant, advisor, and technology evangelist with over 25 years of experience in electronics manufacturing equipment, machine connectivity, and manufacturing execution systems software (MES).

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

I started in the Electronics Industry when I was 21 years old, straight out of college. I took a job with a Manufacturers’s Rep organization. What these types of companies do is sell products from different companies within an exclusive territory while leveraging their local relationships to drive the penetration of these products. It is a commission-only “gunslinger” role, and I made my first $1 million sales in my first few months. As technology within this market/ segment advanced, I have always tried to stay at the forefront of these advancements. As the manufacturing processes became more repeatable, the machinery became somewhat commoditized. There was, however, a growing rumble within the industry about Industry 4.0 which (at the time) revolved mostly on machine connectivity, data usage for traceability, and basic dashboards and analytics. I made the jump from Equipment to Software about 8 years ago. My 25 years in this industry across the entire manufacturing process from equipment, to process, to components, and within the software for manufacturing has given me a very unique perspective on the industry. I’m one of (maybe) 2 or 3 people globally who have this level and depth of experience while still being the prime of my career. I have long been a pioneer and proponent of the evolution of manufacturing from Industry 3.0 to 4.0, big data analytics, AI/ML, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT).

What sub-topics are you most passionate about?

Manufacturing data and its use to better improve the manufacturing process is my core passion. Machines in this industry produce a tremendous amount of data, however, extraction/transformation/ load of this data to make it useful has been the challenge. Most assembly lines consist of many types, brands, and vintages of equipment. All of these machines are speaking in a different language but must be “translated” in order to make the data produced valuable. While this is a difficult task, it is not impossible with the right tools. Once you have all of the data collected and normalized, this is where the “magic” happens. Leveraging the data now becomes very powerful, especially when considering bringing the data into the cloud. Manufacturers can now look at data and analytics from all of their manufacturing locations simultaneously from a centralized “control center” or leverage the analytics down to the factory, assembly line, and machine levels. Utilizing statistical algorithms, AI/ML tools, and advanced analytics available on the cloud; manufacturers now have the ability to drive improvement at a speed and granularity that wasn’t possible even 5 years ago.

Who influences you within these topics?

I have run in these circles for almost half my life. I know everyone and everyone knows me. We often meet up at various conferences (where most of us are speakers), and this is an outstanding way for us experts to compare notes, discuss the future, and direct the way in which the industry evolves. I also am influenced (to a high degree) by my customers. I have worked with 100’s of the top manufacturing companies around the world. Many of these contacts are very smart, but they don’t know much about these technologies. Sometimes even a seemingly silly question presents an opportunity for iteration and advancement. These question/ solution discussions not only help the person who asked it, they also drive innovation across the industry.

What do you think the future holds in this space?

Wow, in many ways we’re still at the beginning of what’s possible. Everything boils down to data extraction and storage in an economical structure. Most companies get hung up there. Collecting billions of data points per hour is not for the faint of heart. However, using expert-level tools that are focused on particular markets/ industries makes this more reasonable, but unfortunately, there are many “generalists” operating in this field. When you focus on being capable of everything, you’re an expert at nothing. As the industry evolves, these points will become more clear. Bi-directional data communication, automatic recipe adjustments based on quality and process, predictive analytics, and having enough data points to leverage AI is where we are heading. Some of us will get there faster than others.

What brands are leading the way in this space?

This depends on what part of the process you’re talking about. I don’t believe that anyone company can be the panacea of answers and solutions (even though many are wrongfully trying). Leveraging the best-in-class solutions that are efficiently connected and effectively integrated will provide the best results for organizations taking this journey.

If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

Over several years, I have participated as a keynote speaker, been on expert panel discussions, participated in numerous video interviews, webinars and podcasts; and I have done so across North America, Europe, and Asia. You can learn more at

What are your passions outside of work?

Actually, my work and helping others in our industry is my passion. I probably spend too much time continuously learning and teaching my specialty. However, I live on the island of Maui and there is much to do here. You can typically find me in the ocean, hiking in the mountains, or traversing volcanoes.

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

By Email.

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