“Uberize” Your Remote Equipment

Over the past few years Uber ridership has skyrocketed while traditional taxi cabs have struggled to compete. Why are so many people choosing Uber? Most of it comes down to cost and ease of use. With Uber’s mobile app, riders can see who their driver is, when they’ll arrive, how much it will cost, and then pay for their ride using their phone.

Uber’s success stems from the fact that they figured out how to leverage technology — in the form of a mobile app and remote connectivity — to make what was difficult and expensive (taking a cab) easy and more economical, thus causing a disruptive change in their industry.

The same sort of technological disruption is sweeping across the industrial business landscape, and the results are game-changing. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be loosely thought of as the “Uberization” of industrial equipment. The IIoT refers to the network of physical objects in industrial settings — devices, equipment, buildings, etc. — that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and the network connectivity that enables these objects to collect, exchange, and report data.

What was once a disconnected, inefficient system has been transformed through technology, specifically remote connectivity. The result is an explosion of real-time data about machines and systems that can be used to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve performance.

Here are the benefits of remote connectivity:

  • Enhanced user experience

Information at your fingertips

  • Advances in connectivity and data sharing can allow users in industrial settings to view equipment status, current product run, completion time, and more, all from a mobile app. Text and email messages alert users to any problems that may need their attention. There is no longer any need to manually assess the status or history of a machine on the equipment’s operator interface.

Share diagnostics with the experts

  • These same advances negate the need to describe complex issues over the phone. An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) can have access to the relevant data in real time, and can capture and share images of the machine right from a smartphone app, thus enabling quicker diagnosis of any problems.

No more clipboards or sneakernet

  • Tired of copying production data onto clipboards, or copying data logs from USB sticks? Data can be logged remotely, and detailed custom reports can be viewed on a website or mobile app. Data can be pushed directly into a company’s inventory system, maintenance software, or other business level applications.

Lower Operating Costs

Reduce or eliminate field service trips

  • Remote connectivity and root-cause analysis reports allow users to quickly diagnose problems in the field. Remote connectivity may allow users to fix problems without traveling on site. When service trips are required, maintenance staff will have the details necessary to send the right person with the right tools and replacement parts to fix the issue with a single site visit.

Streamline ordering of consumables or replacement parts

  • When a customer runs low on consumable inventory, or when a critical component needs to be replaced, a remote system can tie into an inventory or order system to generate an order. This saves time by automatically generating an order for the correct product before the customer even knows they need it.

Improved performance

Predictive maintenance

  • While text alerts and online troubleshooting help you to repair equipment quickly, predictive maintenance helps you prevent equipment failures by diagnosing potential problems before they happen. Leading indicators such as motor current, vibration, and temperature can alert you that maintenance is required before the equipment fails.

Optimized quality and productivity

  • Remote connectivity lets you see the big picture and share best practices for optimizing your remote equipment. Drill down reports can allow you to analyze why specific customers are experiencing higher production rates or better quality results than others.

New Revenue Streams

Sell service contracts

  • Remote connectivity can provide an opportunity to sell service contracts to your customers. Customers do not need to worry that they will be hit with unexpected repair bills, and you can keep costs low when you know that you can diagnose and repair issues quickly.

Sell extended warrantees

  • Extended warrantees can be a win/win for you and your customers. The customer gets additional peace of mind, and you get additional revenue, provided that you can minimize the risk of a failure. Remote connectivity allows you to verify that the customer is running equipment within the designed parameters and performing required maintenance.

>Reposted from Tom Craven, Design News Blog, 8/10/16