Combining multiple data sources adds value
When speaking about industrial internet and the benefits it offers, a thing that is likely to come up is the ability to access massive amounts of data, that once discovered, can reveal unseen correlations and thus increase understanding of different processes. In order to truly understand the connections between certain aspects and utilize new technology to its full potential, all the possible sources of information should be taken into account. These include both the equipment and the people who use them. Finding the most valuable information is usually a result of harvesting and combining data from the two.
Being able to utilize information collected by hi-tech equipment has become a prerequisite for businesses of today. A company that fails to adapt to this new environment will inevitably fall by the wayside. We are currently at a turning point, where investing in the future opportunities provided by digitalization is becoming crucial for maintaining a business advantage.
It’s good to keep in mind that the customer aspect is not the only definite advantage here. Using intelligent technology and automation also helps companies to improve internal processes and in some cases lighten the cost structure. At grass roots level it means the ability to extend components’ life cycle or change interval, for example. Increasing the understanding of the equipment – how to use it in the best possible way and how to avoid fault situations – also makes it easier to optimize processes. Basically it means having more control over things.
Mixing data for the benefit of the customer
In order to achieve control and the ability to make business better through digitalization, one literally needs to look at the big picture. In the picture there are not only machines, but also people who use them. In a certain process there is data coming from all kinds of sources, and each and every one of them needs to be acknowledged.
Konecranes utilizes a new maintenance data system that enables reporting back at a component level. What happens is that we monitor our customers’ equipment remotely, and when our maintenance technician goes to the site to perform a crane inspection, all the details concerning each component can be recorded. The system enables us to keep track of what exactly has been done, to which components, and what kind of observations have been made in the process.
A key feature in the data system is a so-called Risk & Recommendation method, which means that when a certain error code is identified, it is followed by a designated risk category and a recommendation of the correct repair measure. In addition, the technician operating on site can add their own free-form comment to the system to give more details on what has happened. Hence, the clearest view on the overall situation is acquired by combining the information from the person who has conducted the repair or maintenance visit with the data provided by remote monitoring of the equipment.
The same system is utilized when reporting the working hours spent on site and the materials that have been used during a repair or maintenance visit. In addition, with this system we are able to calculate various things for the benefit of the customer. We can determine, say, the cost of one lift or one operating hour by combining data from different sources.
“In order to truly understand the connections between certain aspects and utilize new technology to its full potential, all the possible sources of information should be taken into account.”
Equipment monitoring enhances safety
Many equipment owners will surely appreciate the possibility to have information regarding their own fleet compared to information about similar equipment. With this kind of insight, tracking down possible misuse, for example, becomes easier: When data received from a certain unit repeatedly addresses an error situation, it often indicates a problem with how the particular piece of equipment is being used. That’s something the maintenance customer most likely wants to be aware of. If remote monitoring detects too many error situations in relation to the utilization of the equipment, something needs to be fixed.
With the help of industrial internet, monitoring a vast number of equipment around the world becomes not only easier, but also more detailed. A discovered error situation can be connected to a specific work shift or an individual employee. Of course the issue is not always in the way the equipment is used. The solution can also be replacing old equipment with a new one, or modernizing the existing fleet. Nevertheless, intervening with recurring equipment misuse early enough reduces potential safety risks that in case left unnoticed could lead to a serious accident.
Overloading cranes repeatedly can damage the entire lifting machinery because there are components that simply aren’t designed to be used in lifting heavier loads than stated. Misusing the crane in this sense will inevitably shorten the lifecycle of its components. Just like the unnecessary use of the emergency stop which leads to the brakes wearing out sooner than they should. In the worst case, the aforesaid can result in the breaking of the lifting rope, or the failing of the brakes.
Increased insight improves reliability
An unplanned halt is an example of another type of an unwelcomed consequence. Through industrial internet equipment manufacturers and maintenance service providers are able to access data about the utilization of the equipment from various angles. This enables a much more detailed maintenance and repair planning, including a more specific analysis of the current condition of the equipment and its components.
Especially for maintenance companies this means that their business model shifts towards insurance company-like operations. What they are interested in is that their equipment stays up and running. Basically the commodity that is then being sold is reliability.
Ilkka Blomqvist works as Product Group Manager, Digital Services at Konecranes