Industrial internet changes the way we approach a machine
The way of operating and thinking about machines is changing rapidly. With the help of the industrial internet, a machine is now capable of assessing its overall condition and working environment. Juha Pankakoski, Chief Digital Officer at Konecranes, explains how the industrial internet provides users with better feedback on how the equipment should be used. Day in, day out, it’s all about reliability.
In the past you would simply walk in to the factory floor and start using the equipment. The equipment could be compared to a black box: you needed a wealth of experience and understanding to be able to operate it. You were never fully aware of the status of the machine itself. Is it working perfectly? Is it in a need of maintenance? Is there some kind of a security issue that you should be concerned about?
Risk mitigation was achieved through periodical maintenance and safety training. This allowed you to observe and notice any key issues within the equipment. Periodical maintenance does not, however, extend to measuring the performance of the machine in real time. Neither will it provide the operator with any input on how the machine should be used in the shop.
Based on a view like this, the material handling industry in general can be described as traditional. There are many good things about traditions and long-standing knowledge, but sometimes they prevent you from adopting a new, out-of-the-box way of working.
What should be done differently?
Today’s technology enables us to look at a number of things differently: how to manage factories, how to use the equipment, what kind of capabilities are required from the personnel, to name a few. The main question is what can we do differently?
It is not all about trying to come up with something completely new – existing technologies allow for new products to be created in a very short time. It is not a question of an inadequate product portfolio, either. It is more a question of combining bits and pieces together and coming up with ideas of how can it all be used.
There are many good things about traditions and long-standing knowledge, but sometimes they prevent you from adopting a new, out-of-the-box way of working
Therefore, it all comes down to thinking about all possible applications in which technology can be used. Technology and the industrial internet enable us to rethink existing processes. According to my experience, the amount of possibilities and benefits brought on by those applications often exceed all expectations.
Building a digital cloud around a machine, allowing it to sense its own status and surrounding environment, whether it’s a machine-to-man or machine-to-machine interface, may change the interaction and the way of addressing and approaching the equipment completely.
Getting feedback directly from the machine
The industrial internet is a real time saver, it enables people to focus on adding value and minimize the risks associated with using the equipment. The majority of the issues occurring on the factory floor can easily be predicted and prevented by increasing the intelligence and awareness of the equipment.
Thanks to its sensors, a machine can be aware of its own status and detect if there are any wears on the brakes or if something else needs to be replaced. The machine also knows how much time it has left before maintenance is needed. It starts monitoring its own status and can inform its users through a wireless connection.
The machine is able to provide users with feedback on how the equipment should be used, which enables reliability, day in, day out.
New set up enhances safety
Crane safety is a top priority, since the cranes sometimes carry, not only huge loads, but also potentially dangerous loads. So, if a problem would occur when transferring a load from one place to another, the consequences could be very serious.
Innovations like smart gear, for instance, allow operators to report any possible malfunctions regarding the machine immediately, thus enhancing safety significantly.
Through remote recognition the crane can locate and approach the user. It can also recognize the load to be lifted and position itself optimally for the task. The crane can transfer the load to the right place and plan its route so that it avoids any obstacles or people in its way. When the crane has delivered the load, it can inform the systems in the facility that it has finished its task.
Combining all these different factors leads to, at least one, clear conclusion – The industrial internet will have a huge effect on the way we approach a machine and communicate with it.
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