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How to hack an industrial crane

What do you get when you combine tens of hackers and the expertise of a world-leading crane manufacturer and service provider? Fresh ideas and promising new possibilities – and a crane with emotions.

The first ever IndustryHack Hackathon event was held on February 6-8, 2015 in Hyvinkää, Finland. 15 teams, a total of 41 hackers, took up the challenge of developing and building new applications and services around the industrial internet in material handling in the span of 48 hours.

The event held in the Konecranes premises combined the knowledge and enthusiasm of the developers and designers, with the technical expertise of Konecranes.

The attending teams were chosen from a wide array of applicants and granted access to the application programming interface (API). Upon arrival, the competing teams were given an intensive course on safety issues and an introduction to the cranes in the premises. Then it was off to intensive hacking.

The main idea of the IndustryHack event was to show the possibilities and get people excited around the industrial internet. And of course, come up with fascinating new ideas.

“We’re definitely looking for new out-of-the-box ideas. Something, what we’ve never thought of before ourselves. Since we have so many start-ups and companies, experienced ICT people attending and developing applications with us during the weekend, our expectation level is high”, stated Lasse Eriksson, program manager from Konecranes at the beginning of the event.

Improving safety and productivity, sharing ideas

Enhancing crane safety was a predominant theme among many of the ideas presented by the competing teams. Many also dealt with making cranes smarter or more productive, for instance, by checking their condition and availability.

One concept presented by Team Eldar recognizes the crane operator and monitors his/her alertness and actions. Unwanted behavior causes the crane to develop a “fear factor” towards an operator, showing as a change in the cranes emotional state and response to the operator. This solution received recognition for fitting the bill as an out-of-the box concept.

Team Kun Cao, who were developing a solution for an indoor positioning system, which either slows or shuts the crane down when there is a risk of collision, thought the atmosphere was great and found the event enlightening. “Everyone is sharing ideas here. You can really feel it!”, they said.

As the second day started to turn into night, the teams were lead to an evening of activities and networking. And as the event was held in Finland, a trip to a sauna was naturally involved.

Winner shows a practical approach to customers’ issues

After two days of hard work, each team got to present their solution.

Team Valuemotive, represented by Marko Laakso and Kristian Ovaska, developed the winning application. Valuemotive is a Helsinki-based company specializing in data analysis and lean software development consulting.

Laakso explained what spurred the team’s winning idea: “We were highly inspired by Konecranes’ background tool, which enables the tracking of items on a map. It made us think of how we could use that tool in an industrial environment.”

Juha Pankakoski, Konecranes’ Chief Digital Officer said that the team’s concept stood out among many excellent conceptual and practical ideas presented by the teams:

“It was very well thought out to begin with and has a lot of development potential. It focused on our customers’ problems and issues,” Pankakoski said.

“Valuemotive showed a couple of examples of how the application could be used. For example they were collecting and comparing crane data and ERP data with each other to find out anomalies, such as loads that didn’t match what they were supposed to be,” added Lasse Eriksson, Program manager at Konecranes.

“The application enables the user to react and push events to other systems and so forth. It demonstrated a lot of attention to different aspects, used multiple data feeds and really showed value,” continued Eriksson.

(Valuemotive) were collecting and comparing crane data and ERP data with each other to find out different things, such as loads that didn’t match what they were supposed to be.

Pankakoski emphasized that all teams retain the rights to the ideas they came up with during the event, many of which have potential to be developed for implementation in other sectors.

First of its kind, many to follow

The Hackathon was the first to be organized as part of the IndustryHack series of ten industrial Hackathons. IndustryHack is the brainchild of Petri Vilén and Pekka Sivonen, who developed the events as a means to raise interest in the possibilities that can be generated by the industrial internet.

Pekka Sivonen, a seasoned veteran in the ICT industry, with 30 years of experience, sees that the industrial internet is not just about machines communicating with each other.

“The industrial internet is also revolutionizing the way human beings, operators of the cranes, interact”.

“In this hackathon, we witnessed some of the stuff that is cooking out there. We saw very big things migrating and integrating with very small things. We brought in a bus load of developers to explore the area between the wearables, smartphones and tablets, and the biggest cranes in the world”.

Click here to see the highlights of the event:

To see all the videos from the three-day event,
go to Konecranes’ YouTube channel @ http://youtube.com/user/liftingbusinesses

Find out more about http://konecranes.com/hackathon

Industrial Internet Now

3 Comments

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  • Industrial Internet Now 16.02.2015 12:38

    Hi Donald,

    Thank you for your response! The IndustryHack events aim to develop future technologies – to find ways to make material handling safer and more efficient. A hoist that detects the skill level of the operator, as well as moving obstacles, and changes its own operations based on that information doesn’t exist yet. However, we hope that in the future it does, as these innovations can help to avoid risk situations and minimize damages – just like ABS brakes, pretensioning seat belts and airbags have done in cars.

    Kind regards,

    Industrial Internet Now

  • Donald Kempf 14.02.2015 04:50

    another thing… Demag have almost removed themselves from the market because of the complex computer driven crane they have made. how many times can you swap out a $5,000.00 motherboard. plus you have to use a Demag tech to get any warranty on it. KISS

  • Donald Kempf 14.02.2015 04:44

    The KISS principle is the best programme for development I know off. Keep It Simple Stupid… yes there is a place for a crane with attitude, but I have a hard enough time explaining why an ABUS crane stops and they need to wait 15 minutes for it to restart the hoist operation. (to many starts in an hour)

    I have had a major steel warehousing companies ask for my advice when planning a new install of cranes. these went going to be installed by me as they where for a site a 1000km away . I went through all his different sites and the different cranes and put forward all the pro’s and con’s.

    the final effort which they went with was an ABUS hoist running on Contactors, no computer drives in sight. just a simple push the button and it works. OK yes it has all the load monitor bits to keep the standards happy. but the operation is a mix of operator skill and a simple crane.

    they have been more than happy and the maintenance cost has been less then the other sites. so I will vote for KISS it works…

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Digital platform as a foundation for products and services

Integrating industrial processes, machines and devices even more in depth with intelligent software is an on-going effort in companies. With extensive experience in computer technology, Martti Mäntylä, a professor at Aalto University School of Science in Finland, knows his way around at the cross-section of ICT and industry. In his view machine intelligence shouldn’t just be added value, but the basis for product and service development.

At the moment sensors and data analysis are often an afterthought to improve efficiency and safety issues in existing products. But should the process of product development be thought over, so that data would have a fundamental role in it from the start? The industrial internet specialist Professor Martti Mäntylä sees this to be an appealing direction.

“Currently we usually have industrial products and devices, where ICT provides added value for the process, but more often solutions appear, where ICT has been the basis for building an industrial machine. The direction is definitely towards not applying intelligence to machines, but applying machines to intelligence. In this case a particular solution would be designed from the start with keeping a wider context or system in mind, so that data could be gathered, and connected with other data, analysed, and used to improve the operation of the whole system”, Mäntylä predicts.

There is also a different way to remodel businesses with ICT. Mäntylä highlights one success story, where a data analysis service component is built around an existing product, and designed to appeal to a critical need in the customer’s end.

“There is a case concerning a company in the welding system business. The company started providing better service to its customers by gathering and processing data from welding seams for certification purposes, an operation, which is mandatory but difficult for the client to do on their own. In addition the company is offering its service to customers, even if they are buying their welding systems from someone else. The customer’s crucial problem is solved, while also providing added value to the product itself.”

This type of service model is currently in the mind of several companies. Mäntylä wonders for example, if instead of selling a diesel engine for a power plant, the same company could take charge for operating the whole plant. This way the customer would buy in fact capacity for electricity production, not just a production tool.

“Remote operation is another direction, which could be based on ICT. Some industrial project might be in a tricky location, in the middle of desert for example. It might be difficult to get highly trained professionals to operate this type of system on site. Doing it remotely becomes appealing in this case. Offshore services can also be done with remote control. Why would you need personnel on a ship, when it’s at sea, other than at the harbour ends? This way the capacity of the ship could be used more efficiently for the primary function, which is shipping cargo. This may sound like science fiction, but the leading ship engine producer Rolls Royce has in fact published a concept for unmanned ships. To me it appears that the obstacles for realizing it are not so much in technology, but in regulation and business issues, such as the reaction of insurance companies.”

Early on, computer systems had their humble beginnings in close relations with industry from military systems to manufacturing. After the turn of the millennium ICT has taken accelerated steps forward bringing data and information to users worldwide in increased speeds and quantities.

“From an ICT point of view it is clear that there has been an evolution towards platforms, which has made technology more easily available, flexible, simpler, and cheaper. What was once thought of as rocket science, has somewhat transformed into something else”, Mäntylä argues and goes forward with discussing the current trends in ICT solutions.

“If there is interest to develop sensor technology, microprocessors or such, open source tools are available, and also widely in use. There is a complete ecosystem of specialists working on this field constantly. This phenomenon explains a major part of the contemporary start-up boom, much different from the dotcom boom ten years ago.”

It can be argued that the strength of the current ICT activity compared to the one before, is that it is founded on a much more concrete base of commodities and technologies. They are as Mäntylä views, also more easily accessible and smoother to operate.

Big data does not lead to a crowded bandwidth

Big data is estimated to generate increased amounts of traffic on the information highways. Mäntylä states that we shouldn’t be too worried about rising data transfer levels.

“There is already tons of data moving through the system, video streams accumulating the biggest quantities of data, with 4K video crowding the bandwidth. All things considered, sensory data is pretty compact.”

“There is already tons of data moving through the system, video streams accumulating the biggest quantities of data, with 4K video crowding the bandwidth. All things considered, sensory data is pretty compact. There are scenarios about world having a trillion sensors in the near future, which I deem is realistic, around a hundred per person.”

On the other hand, the question of latency should be addressed in the future, especially in industry related processes. For example a moving, remote controlled machine should have latency inside one millisecond, so that the proper operation of the control loop can be guaranteed. Mäntylä indicates that solutions are already in the pipeline.

“Next generation web technologies should solve these issues. 5G technology, which is currently under development, is partially designed to widen the applicability of new software solutions into industrial processes. Being a thousand times more powerful than the current solutions, it has the capacity to bring the industrial internet to the mainstream with increased bandwidth and decreased latency”, Mäntylä promises.

Martti Mäntylä works as Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Aalto University School of Science

Image credit: Tom Tom/Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Martti Mäntylä

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On the brink of a paradigm shift

The wave of digitalization we’ve seen in the B2C field is slowly but surely moving towards industrial processes. Not only do new technologies enhance safety and productivity, the potential for new business models is immense. New kinds of services, even whole new industries, will emerge. The automation of processes is only the beginning.

Digitalization has become increasingly common in various business areas. We shop and handle our banking online. It is very rare to go to an actual bank to check ones bank account these days. If we look at the traditional world of B2B, digitalization is lagging a bit behind. I would still dare say that in material handling, in practically any industry segment, the goal is to automatize functions as thoroughly and well as possible.

Why automatize? One reason is to lower costs. Another reason is lowering risks, the chance of human error. The third reason would be improving the safety in material handling. Even though safety is a top priority, a slight chance of injury always exists when large masses are being moved around. These are key reasons why, in the material handling business, the significance of automation, digitalization and the industrial internet will grow in the upcoming years. The more production facilities can be automatized, the better the quality of the products will be. Schedules will be more reliable, downtime will decrease and risks will be lower. These are the key benefits that the industrial internet brings today, but it is just the beginning.

Where are we now?

All technology elements are there already. Equipment and machines can be equipped with sensors. A paper machine can tell the receiving crane that the paper roll is almost ready. The crane can tell the receiving roll warehouse that it is bringing the roll in. The sensor technology exists and the data can be transferred. There are a lot of different functionalities in the analytics already. The interfaces exist and they are intuitive and easy to use.

A while ago I listened to an interview of the CEO of Rovio (the company behind Angry Birds). He said that the most radical thing to happen to their business was the development of touch screens. Touch screen technology is something that we use every day, but still it is pretty rare to find touch screens in steel or paper factories. The technology exits, it’s widely used and it is only a matter of time when companies can use them in industrial environments and production processes. Consumerization has lifted people’s expectations and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. It is now a matter of getting businesses to understand that digitalization really is the next huge opportunity.

How should companies develop their strategies regarding the industrial internet then? There are three main things to consider. The first thing is to determine how the existing and available technology could be used more widely in the functions of a company instead of just focusing on the basic ERP’s and CRM’s. Next, it is crucial to go over the basic processes and ask oneself, can we really get all the benefits out of this new technology? If the basic processes – sales, supply and maintenance – have not been automatized and there is no real visibility to the processes, then there is no sense in reading new sensor data either. The third thing would be to re-examine the business models. What is the actual service that is being offered to the client?

Consumerization has lifted people’s expectations and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air

I would like to use the intelligent garbage bin as an example here. If the bin can communicate to the waste management company that the bin is full and needs to be emptied, the customer will surely be satisfied. The waste management company is happy, because this way it can optimize its collecting routes. The customer is also pleased, because now the bin is emptied only when full, and the customer might even pay a little extra for such a service. Everybody wins.

In order to succeed in the future, we have to welcome change

A company that is willing to challenge its business models, its value chain as well as its position in the value chain, will succeed. A company that is even willing to challenge its core business. The companies who think that because they’ve manufactured the same thingamajigs for ages and they’re the best in the business their customers will continue to praise their products without wanting anything else, they’ll have harder times ahead.

If the product or service isn’t digitally compatible, that will pose challenges for the company. A lot of companies will be in trouble if they do not utilize digitalization in their business in time. There are examples of this already in the photography industry, for instance. Start-ups are on the rise and they’re moving up fast. They can offer services that companies find easy to utilize and digitalize their own business through these services.

I dare to say that the long-term possibilities of digitalization are being underestimated, but the short-term possibilities are overestimated at the same time. The technological possibilities that might be available next year might not immediately fit the business models of every company. It might be that utilizing the full potential of existing technologies or harmonizing the communication between different sorts of sensors could take a while. But when we look further into the future, 5 to 10 years from now, it is clear just how much we underestimate the possibilities that digitalization brings.

I built our family house over fifteen years ago and installed two different phone sockets in every room. I figured that when our children would be in their teens, this would come in handy. Separate landlines to different floors, one downstairs for us parents and one upstairs for the kids. But, over the years, cell phones became more common and more sophisticated, leading up to the smartphones of today. They evolved into pocket-fitting mobile devices with numerous different functionalities (not to even mention the applications they have), the actual phone just being one of them. Who would’ve guessed back then?

Antti Koskelin
Antti Koskelin is the SVP, Global Development and CIO at KONE

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Benefits for all parties of an industrial ecosystem

Industrial symbiosis allows technology, services and energy to circulate between companies, enabling unforeseen possibilities. Susanna Perko, Senior Specialist at Finnish Prime Minister’s Office takes a look at the synchronicity between industrial symbiosis and the industrial internet, and the opportunities they bring.

Industrial symbiosis means mining other companies’ by-products, waste and surplus materials to be resourced for greater efficiency. A study conducted by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra in 2014 showed that 86% of companies working in an industrial symbiosis have made savings in operational costs. One third of companies have also saved jobs and given their business performance a boost – all thanks to circulating raw materials.

Other areas that have benefited from industrial symbiosis are the reduction of carbon emissions and an increase in material and energy efficiency. Susanna Perko highlights the added value that industrial symbiosis brings.

“On the business side it is seen that products become services when they are connected together inside an ecosystem, and this opens up all kinds of business opportunities. Business models are modified so that manufacturers get their raw material back, and all material can be kept inside the financial process accumulating more value, instead of following a linear chain of producing, consuming and waste management. The focus should not only be on recycling as such, but higher value should be generated from the process. The aim should be on circulating value to the max”, Perko declares.

According to Perko, there is a clear synchronicity at work between industrial symbiosis and the industrial internet.

“Resulting from structural changes in industries at the moment, we see the industrial internet as holistic logic or a new management system, in which companies of different sizes from different fields engage in a symbiotic process. The new approach involves making big decisions. If you are dependent on raw material provided by somebody else, you have to be sure that the material is available at appointed times and that the costs and quality are consistent. These things are critical from a business point of view.”

In Perko’s view, instead of simply being an accompanying partner to industrial symbiosis, the industrial internet will, in fact, be a logical cure for supply chain issues, which may arise in a closed industrial ecosystem.

At the moment, some automation can be found inside individual companies or between two actors in a very deep symbiosis, but the next step will make it possible for a whole industrial mycelium

“Industrial internet allows better monitoring of the material streams, which can be massive. Hardware will be very solid and material streams of different sizes can be optimized. This will aid industrial symbioses to succeed and take them to a new level, because a new kind of digital intelligence will be making it all work. At the moment, some automation can be found inside individual companies or between two actors in a very deep symbiosis, but the next step will make it possible for a whole industrial mycelium. When the whole process is under constant surveillance, any kind of anomalies can be detected and everything can be put under control immediately.”

Leveling the field for progress

Towards the Circular Economy (2013), a report conducted by the Ellen McArthur Foundation, claims that the material savings resulting from circular economy – the foundational business model for industrial symbiosis – can amount to as much as 700 billion dollars in global consumer goods manufacturing. No wonder industrial symbiosis appeals to companies of all sizes.

“Cost is naturally the biggest driver, because companies always find it easier to base decisions on how much it means in euros. General increase in efficiency and performance are also up there as well as getting a better overview of the whole operational process. If it once was about managing a single product, plant or company, the change is taking it towards the management of a complete value chain”, Susanna Perko explains and continues by stating that a large-scale evaluation of governmental processes is also called for.

“In terms of legislation, there are no direct limits to symbiosis itself at the moment, since it is a very recent idea, but there are numerous laws controlling its different processes, waste for example. Sitra is driving for the founding of a dedicated governmental actor in Finland to handle all matters connected to industrial symbiosis. Not necessarily a get-all-your-service-from-a-single-door procedure, but a clear help for the entrepreneur in matters related to the subject.”

According to Perko, considering industrial symbioses – usually connected to resource efficiency – to be some kinds of isolated processes is not reasonable either.

“Instead of simply focusing on waste management and recycling, seeing them as some kind of a separate system from the basic economic system, we should look at the whole picture and see how new services connected with smart technologies influence these issues heavily.”

Susanna Perko worked at Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra until December 2014. She was a part of a team building a multi-stakeholder platform for Finnish companies to accelerate industrial symbiosis and circular economy. Susanna Perko now works as Senior Specialist at Finnish Prime Minister’s Office.

For further reading: Towards the Circular Economy (2013) by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/business/reports

Image credit: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock.com

 

Interview w/ Susanna Perko

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Six key predictions for manufacturing in 2015

Software has helped manufacturing achieve terrific efficiencies. According to the CSC Global CIO Survey: 2014-2015, 81 percent of manufacturers feel big data has a positive effect on production and efficiency, and 65 percent believe big data will be a strategic business driver moving forward. The trend will continue and the key enabler will be the widespread introduction of industrial internet.

“Sensor technologies will drive the concept of connected factories, and will fuel the introduction of mobility-based manufacturing. Web browsers will be used as dashboards to control equipment, identify snags, and make quick decisions that would have previously taken entire teams of people to handle. As connected factories go online, myriad amounts of data will be collected. But 2015 will see that data put to use in a smarter way that makes things operate more efficiently. Even smaller companies in the industry will invest more in 2015 to improve their software operations”, says John Zegers, Director of Georgia Center of Innovation for Manufacturing. Read more on Zegers’ key predictions for manufacturing for 2015 in Manufacturing.net:

http://www.manufacturing.net/articles/2014/12/six-key-predictions-for-manufacturing-in-2015

Image credit: TGeorge/Shutterstock.com

 

Via Manufacturing.net

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