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IoT in Practice: the Power of Remote and Predictive Maintenance

IoT offers endless possibilities in manufacturing and other industries, not only to improve supply-chain efficiency, but also as a means to remotely control the health conditions of your machine infrastructure and predict maintenance service.

IoT or the Internet of Things isn’t just one of the new overhyped buzzwords, it is a necessity to ready your business for the digital transformation. Innovative companies are already widely applying and monetizing this new technology. IoT offers endless possibilities in manufacturing and other industries, not only to improve supply-chain efficiency, but also as a means to remotely control the health conditions of your machine infrastructure and predict maintenance service. The benefits are clear: it helps your company reduce downtime, become more efficient and cut back on maintenance costs.

 Imagine how easy and time-saving it would be if you no longer have to send a technician to physically check the condition of your machine infrastructure, but instead were able to monitor it remotely in real-time.

Schneider Electric: collecting real-time data over vast distances

French multinational Schneider Electric understands this perfectly. The company, specialized in energy management and automation solutions, wanted to develop a product that could easily collect operational and environmental data from their customers’ remote agricultural infrastructures in real-time. The main challenge however, was creating a reliable long-range communication network that sends and receives data, collected via sensors, over vast distances. The traditional radio-based transmission protocols wouldn’t do the job, as their range of communications are limited to about 100 meters. This limited range meant that data transparency was low. Operators couldn’t access real-time data, which could have severe consequences.

Codit developed the ideal solution for Schneider’s challenges. We connected the sensors from the remote infrastructure to an LPWAN network, a powerful long-range data transmission system. The network antennas broaden the receiving range from 100 meters to no less than 50 kilometers.

Monitoring data using a cloud-based platform

But the transmission of real-time data was only one part of the problem. In order to actively monitor and analyze the data, it needed to be collected in a centralized platform. Codit thus developed a new cloud-based platform, using Microsoft Azure, to capture the data the sensors transmitted. Simplicity and user experience were key in developing the platform. With a few clicks of a mouse button, the platform can be implemented.

Thanks to Codit’s IoT and cloud-based solution, Schneider Electric now empowers customers by connecting remote infrastructure to the cloud. Their customers can now proactively monitor their remote infrastructure in real-time. The IoT solution was rolled out across a wide range of Schneider’s customers, from agricultural companies over road transport, public transport, to companies in charge of water production and distribution. These companies are now able to monitor critical data in real time and take immediate action when issues arise.

For example, the cloud connected sensors are used to prevent remote wastewater systems releasing wastewater and harmful chemicals into rivers or lakes. If a valve accidentally opens, the sensors send this data through the cloud to operators monitoring the infrastructure. The operators receive a real-time alert via a mobile device and can immediately respond to the problem.

Schneider Electric isn’t the only example of how IoT can be monetized. Many companies are expanding their product range by offering IoT-powered services as well. Sandvik Coromant for instance, uses Microsoft Azure IoT technology to analyze data from its cutting tools, in order to help customers optimizing the manufacturing process.

From remote to predictive maintenance

From remote maintenance, it is only one small step towards predictive maintenance. Thanks to a combination of IoT and some machine learning, technicians are not only able to remotely check the condition of in-service equipment, the equipment self-estimates when maintenance should be performed. This approach promises cost savings over routine or time-based preventive maintenance, because tasks are performed only when necessary.

Elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp offers a good example of how predictive maintenance can be used to realize unseen comprehensive efficiencies and how that impacts everyone’s life, even when the effects are not immediately visible to the everyday person. In New York alone, office workers annually spend around 16.6 years (!) waiting for elevators, according to a study of Columbia University. Worldwide, more than 12 million elevators make seven billion trips and move over one billion people every day. Moreover, elevators take up 4% of the world’s energy use. Therefore, it is a necessity that elevators run as efficiently, and with the least amount of downtime, as possible.

Precise diagnoses through machine learning

To address the issue of cutting elevator downtimes due to maintenance, ThyssenKrupp developed a new technology combining Microsoft Digital Twins and machine learning.

The smart system, called MAX, works in three stages. First, machine data, such as door movements, trips, power-ups, error codes and so on, is collected from elevators worldwide. This data is subsequently sent to the cloud where algorithms analyze it for patterns and compute the equipment’s operation and the remaining lifetime of its components. These precise and predictive diagnostics are then delivered in real time to a technician, flagging the need to replace components. This enables them to be more proactive, as it allows them to schedule maintenance tasks before the elevator breaks down, limiting downtime to the minimum. According to ThyssenKrupp, the new predictive technology will cut the downtime of elevators by half.

Remote and predictive maintenance are just two examples of how IoT is a game changer in manufacturing efficiency. Codit’s expertise in IoT, combined with Microsoft Azure’s high-performing cloud solution, can also help your business gain the necessary competitive edge and make your business grow to peak levels.

Want to learn more about how to get started with IoT? Download our ebook “Beyond the IoT Hype”

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