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3 Ways Machine Builders Can Leverage IIoT

Graham Immerman
October 02, 2018

Finding new ways of operating and new revenue streams is essential for any OEM dealing with the manufacturing industry. Machines can last a long time and manufacturers don’t take kindly to the notion of planned obsolescence. With IoT, OEMs can improve the quality of their products and services, as well as open up new avenues for business that they’ve never had before. It’s a brave new world, with Industry 4.0!

Monitoring data for improved machine quality

Having access to machine data is the best and smartest way for OEMs to improve their own manufacturing processes and machines. If they can build better machines, that are improved because the engineers have access to performance data, the OEM stands to benefit.

“The machine builders do not have data on how good their repeatability is, if they’ve never recorded it. ...Once they start adding sensors in there to record it, the OEMs can actually improve the quality of the machine they built. If you record the motion data and the data analytics tells you, ‘the signature of this is completely different,’ you can ascertain that it could be due to improper torque on a bolt, for example.” (source)

While an engineer may have created models to figure out how a machine SHOULD perform, access to real data from actual machines can give them insight into how they DO perform. The engineer is then far better equipped to look at what are reasonable parameters for each machine and enable far more effective predictive maintenance.

An example of how an OEM can improve their standing with any manufacturer is by ensuring they can upgrade legacy systems with adequate controls. A reliable machine, and the company that provided it and maintains it, is more valuable than looking for the ‘best deal’. Any manufacturer knows that and the OEMs that keep that in mind will benefit.

Remote machine monitoring as a new machine service option

Servicing machines has historically been a costly and time consuming process. It would usually require an on-site visit for visual inspection of any issues, which might include extensive travel time, adding further to the delays to getting a machine operational again. A service team would not necessarily be able to detect which parts were malfunctioning, resulting in a manual —and lengthy—process of checking each part that could be involved. Instead, a remote monitoring system allows OEMs to troubleshoot the issues via the data from anywhere.

Beyond service response, reducing unplanned downtime by proactively monitoring and detecting issues is a huge cost savings, in manufacturing. With remote machine monitoring, an OEM can collect data about the operations of any given unit and not only react faster to any impending issue but even predict issues based on that data. That ability to engage in predictive maintenance from a distance is in fact an excellent unique selling proposition that OEMs can offer to their clients, as part of their service package.

Without leaving their own location, an OEM can detect any exceptions or activity that is falling outside of acceptable parameters, service the machines in advance of a problem, and therefore virtually eliminating the impact of any issue, for their client.

In addition, if there is an unexpected failure, the OEM is able to use the data collected from the machine to determine what was occurring prior to the problem. An operations person may not have that knowledge: they might not have been present when it failed, or they simply might not know that they were using the machine in a way that it wasn’t meant to be.

“We can open that data up to the producers of the assets, because they run a little bit blind, too. For example, they build a compressor, ship it out and get it back for repair. The OEM says, ‘what were you doing to it when you broke it?’ and the producer would just say, ‘I don’t know, just fix it.’ With data collected from the assets, we can obtain a better picture of what’s going on.” (Source)

OEMs can get future design ideas from data

OEMs will not only be able to improve their own designs but will be able to leverage the data that they receive from their customers to create different machines and designs, with less simulation and modelling required. Using the real data from existing infrastructure, the options for finding new designs or even new uses for machine designs will be unlimited and could open up new markets and new lines for the OEM. This presents a huge opportunity for the OEM to ensure that they stay ahead of their competition.

Industrial IoT is all about data and knowledge. When it comes to staying ahead in very competitive industries, the only real leverage any company has is data. With it, they can find new ways to operate or add to their existing offerings to ensure that their current and future customers are satisfied.

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