Machine intelligence readies manufacturers for timely action

Jun 15, 2015 12:00:00 AM

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Today, we extend the great customer experience we introduced in the previous blog post, into the every-day operations at the customer site. As our example shows, machine customer and manufacturer can review notifications and reports based on data from a machine’s sensors, connected within the internet of things (IoT) and sending data to the machine cloud. Reviewing this machine intelligence in the machine app or in the ERP and PLM systems, they can adjust the timing of maintenance actions and parts replacements to avoid outages and control expenses. They could also collaborate to design and test improvements to the machine, and the manufacturer could add machine innovation to the portfolio of customer services.

Proactive, performance-driven machine maintenance

As before, our sample scenario illustrates the advantages of the IoT and mobility, in general terms, when during the productive life of their machinery, customers can receive feedback from their machines through its IoT-connected sensors, which feed data into the machine cloud. Machine intelligence data broadcast by the machine to the cloud could, for example, automatically be assessed against maintenance policies and optimal performance levels. When the oil level in one of the machine’s systems is too low, this could trigger a notification through the machine app for an engineer, who can schedule a task to top up the oil level. To add this action to the task list is as simple as an additional click on the notification. The shop floor manager receives a simultaneous copy of this notification, which also tell her which engineer is tasked with topping up the oil.

At the same time, the system notices that a calibration was last performed several weeks ago and should be done again. A notification goes out to the shop floor manager, who sees it in her machine app. This notification also recommends that the same engineer who will top up the oil level perform the calibration, because he is available and familiar with the machine. The shop floor manager approves this recommendation with a simple click in the app. At that point, the engineer receives a notification to take care of the calibration. It includes a link to the right section in the manufacturer’s guidance document and to a video that illustrates the steps involved in the calibration. Even an engineer who has not performed a calibration previously could do so comfortably after reviewing this content. As before, the engineer clicks again on the notification to schedule the task.

For both the oil level correction and the calibration, the machine app notifications also include deadlines depending on their criticality. With colors and other design features, the app emphasizes that topping up the oil level is urgent and needs to be done within 24 hours. On the other hand, while the calibration also needs to be performed, its timeliness is not as essential. It should be handled within a week. The engineer can keep the tasks separate on the calendar or decide to perform them at the same time because that might be more efficient.

Going beyond machine maintenance to collaborative improvements

There is yet more the machine manufacturer can do in providing a great customer experience, however. A review of the machine data reveals that, while the oil level is good for now, the increased torque that resulted in larger-than-expected oil consumption is still the same. The tolerance of a key part is also a few millimeters too high. In consequence, that part will not last as long as anticipated. It needs to be replaced at an earlier time. In order to have it perform well until then, it should be lubricated every two weeks.

Communications between the manufacturer and the customer about these details will likely be a little different depending on the machine’s ownership and the roles involved. If, for example, the customer uses the machine within an equipment-as-a-service (EaaS) plan and no on-site engineer is involved because all maintenance is handled by the vendor, the manufacturer simply schedules activities and parts replacement at the right time and ensures the facility is accessible. If the customer owns the machine, they are probably also equipped to perform at least basic maintenance, and one of the customer’s engineers might perform the lubrication and the parts replacement. Documentation would be revised with updated information about the components involved and their maintenance.

Machine Manufacturing 2

Going from an enhanced customer experience to an effective collaboration to improve the machine’s components and performance, the machine manufacturer and the customer can work together to create a part that performs at least as well, lasts longer, and does not have the same lubrication requirements. This collaboration can be promising and profitable no matter whether the customer purchased the equipment or instead enjoys the use of it within a service agreement. We will get more into innovation as a service in the next blog post.

Do you see any customer experience and innovation opportunities in the synergy of machine intelligence, mobility, and ERP? We should have a conversation. Feel free to drop me a message through the form below. You can also find and follow me on Twitter at @lucianocunha.

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About Author
Luciano Cunha

Luciano Cunha

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) For Luciano, being responsible for To-Increase’s global sales and marketing means unleashing the company’s insight, innovation, and creativity to tell our story and help customers achieve their goals. On the road much of the time, he travels the world to meet with customers, understand their challenges and ambitions, and find the most effective ways to help them advance. Luciano develops and mentors our marketing and sales team, and creates strategies to help the To-Increase worldwide partner channel thrive and grow.
Making Customer Needs the Main Business Driver Luciano and his team have daily conversations with the To-Increase research and development organization to bring customers’ requirements and concerns into the road maps and design of our solutions. Luciano brings his insight to the marketing group to make sure the company’s communications resonate with customers and speak directly to their experience.
“I’m awed by customers’ innovative spirit in taking business management technology past its limits and by their generosity in letting us participate and empower them. I hope to transform our organization to become even more customer-centric than we are today. That means making more resources available to spend productive time with both our customers and partners, so we can ensure that we place into customer businesses effective solutions that fit the evolutionary stage of their operation and the way their people and processes work.”
Empowering a Global Channel
Because To-Increase only sells through partners, readying the channel to be successful in helping customers is a business-critical effort. Luciano aims to meet partners where their interests are. Partners who consider the relationship with To-Increase strategic can rely on our industry specialists to work with them as they plan their growth and serve customers. If partners prefer a less collaborative relationship, they still receive the rich To-Increase expertise and resources to ensure they win the business, perform a successful deployment, and retain a satisfied customer. In working with partners and their customers, Luciano brings to bear his experience of many years of creating successful, customer-focused business development and marketing strategies in many of the world’s countries and regions.
Enabling Customer Success in Challenging Business Environments
Looking into the near future, Luciano expects that customers will continue to expect To-Increase to help them make business sense of unfolding trends and technologies. For example, the internet of things (IoT) will thoroughly revolutionize manufacturing, engineering, and supply chains. Big data will be meaningful and valuable when decision-makers can use technology solutions to transform it into actionable business intelligence that supports key roles and business processes. Mobility will help companies become digital enterprises and move business processes forward from any location, at any time. Team To-Increase harnesses innovation to help customers translate the promise of these technologies into business results.
Before his current role, Luciano for several years was one of To-Increase’s global industry directors, responsible for our industry solutions. His experience also spans more than 17 years in IT and manufacturing management roles. These positions took him into various areas at IBM Brazil, serving as product manager for several software development companies, and included working in senior management at a manufacturing organization in the U.S.
Luciano is married with two young children. Away from work, he enjoys participating in a soccer class together with his son and daughter as well as taking relaxing walks in natural environments with his family.

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