Tag Archive for: Internet Of Things

Manufacturing Machine Maintenance the Smart Way

Question: What is “the world’s most common and safest mode of transportation?”

Wait for it…

elevator maintenance freepoint technologies

Elevators have long been the most common and safest form of transportation.

Answer: Elevators. Those ubiquitous mobile cubicles found in office buildings all over the planet. Elevators are big business, and the manufacturing and servicing these machines is no easy venture. German-based Thyssen Krupp, one of the world’s leading elevator companies, has turned to a disruptive approach to machine maintenance to keep the trains—i.e. elevators–running on time.

As Thyssen Krupp tells it, “Worldwide, more than 12 million elevators make seven billion trips and move over one billion people every day. Yet every year, maintenance needs render elevators unavailable for a total of 190 million hours.”

The deck is stacked against efficiently maintaining that kind of fleet; or at least it used to be.

With the advent of IoT (Internet of Things) machine sensor technology, machine learning, and cloud-based asset maintenance software, digital prescriptive maintenance can be conducted as easily as the touch of a button.

Thyssen Krupp employs predictive machine maintenance to dramatically increase elevator availability by reducing out-of-service situations through real-time diagnostics. They are able to predict maintenance issues before they occur, and alert elevator engineers by flagging the need to replace components and systems before the end of their lifecycle.

Thyssen Krupp believes that the growing requirement of high-speed and energy-efficient elevators in hotels, hospitals, parking buildings, commercial, residential, and industrial sector will be boosting demand for IoT in elevators market.

Other manufacturers are taking to predictive maintenance to manage the machines running their factory floors and the machines their customers rely on. Sensing end-user demand, manufacturers are focusing on the development of smart products with interactive touch screen panels, intuitive technology, and cloud-predictive maintenance. Customers are looking for manufactured products that are highly efficient, effective, and engaging. The demand is going up for smart products.

machine maintenance freepoint technologies

Historically, manufacturers have practiced preventative maintenance.

First, it’s important to distinguish between predictive and preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance, a.k.a reactive maintenance, breakdown maintenance or run-to-failure, is a maintenance practice that seeks to decrease the likelihood of a machine’s failure through the performance of regular maintenance. However, predictive maintenance relies on data to determine a machine’s likelihood of failure before that failure occurs. This allows manufacturers to move from a repair and replace model to a predict and fix maintenance model using predictive analysis.

The good news is, machine monitoring costs less than you think (see our June blog). Rather than having to alter or rebuild existing infrastructures, bolt-on monitoring solutions like our ShiftWorx Platform are bolt-on, making them extremely simple to incorporate on the shop-floor. Machine monitoring solutions can help manufacturers save on production costs, helping pay off the system in days rather than months and years. Once switched on, machine monitoring solutions instantly start paying themselves off. Learn more.

The Rewards

The main objectives or rewards for manufacturers to move to a predictive maintenance model are about improving production efficiency and improving maintenance efficiency. The cost savings can be enormous.

A recent McKinsey Global Institute report as one of the most valuable applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) on the factory floor. The report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype, calculated that predictive maintenance manufacturers’ savings would total $240 to $630 billion in 2025.

Predictive maintenance in factories could reduce maintenance cost by 10 to 40 percent by fostering better maintenance, according to McKinsey. It also reduces downtime by 50 percent and lowers equipment and capital investment by 3 to 5 percent by extending machine life.

A report by Deloitte University Press, Industry 4.0 and manufacturing ecosystems provides examples in which, for companies like Schneider Electric and Caterpillar, predictive maintenance and understanding root cause of failures can offer millions of dollars in potential savings along with far fewer days of equipment downtime.

The McKinsey study calculated that predictive maintenance manufacturers’ savings would total $240 to $630 billion in 2025. Predictive maintenance in factories could reduce maintenance cost by 10 to 40 percent by fostering better maintenance, according to McKinsey.

GE Transportation is moving toward self-aware locomotives and digitalization of the entire rail operation system. Sensors mounted on railcars enable operators to receive real-time notifications about the condition of key railcar components, as well as broader risk events related to broken wheels, hot bearings, and handbrake application. Using predictive maintenance, GE Transportation is applying the technology to help extend the life of locomotives, reduce fuel consumption, decrease emissions, boost velocity and improve operations.

locomotive freepoint technologies

Locomotive technology has come a long way since the invention of the steam engine.

And we come full circle…

Thyssen Krupp competitor, Otis Elevators, “the world’s largest manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products”–elevators, escalators and moving walkways—is using smart sensor technology in its “Otis ONE” digital platform that monitors and gathers data from more than 300,000 connected units to create predictive insights and a more proactive service solution for their customers. This allows Otis teams to stay ahead of potential issues – keeping equipment running and passengers moving safely and reliably. In the event when service is required, OTISLINE customer care can proactively contact the customer and service professionals to arrive on site with the information and parts needed to enable a faster return to service.

Predictive maintenance in manufacturing is becoming the norm, not the exception

Autonomous operations in manufacturing may be futuristic in the eyes of some but your business can start moving towards operational intelligence. For example, ask yourself, how do factory analytics impact your business and what software will work with your current manufacturing execution system (MES) to give you the data that is critical to your business. Do you have intelligent software solutions in place to help manage your maintenance and service operations to make them more efficient?

For more on how technology can help you improve your own maintenance needs and open services-based offerings for your customers while enabling cost savings and productivity gains throughout your organization, get in touch with us.

What is IoT & What Role Does it Play in Manufacturing

Scientific innovation continually finds a home within manufacturing. From the very invention of the machine, to the introduction of 3D printing, manufacturing has taken on-board new ways of doing things that increase productivity, improve efficiencies, and increase employee engagement.

Manufacturing’s adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is, therefore, a natural progression; set to transform the way we monitor, exchange, collect, and analyze – providing fresh insight into the production process that was previously utterly impossible.

What is IoT?

There was a time when the internet was an unknown quantity. Nobody thought it would catch-on; and very few of us expected it to deliver a revolution in the way that we shop, socialize, and meet each other.

But the internet has become so integrated into our lives that we often cease to recognize the technological magic that drives it.

Breaking it down to its most simplistic form, the internet is a network of computers. Those computers share data, translated into information that bespoke applications use to provide services for us. The Internet of Things embraces that communication protocol to spring functionality away from cyberspace and into the real world.

The Internet of Things (IoT) embraces the ability for machines to intercommunicate; applying that machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol to everyday objects, such as light bulbs, heating systems, refrigerators, and smart TVs.

A smart fridge, for example, can recognize that you’re running low on milk. It can connect to your local supermarket via their online shop and order more milk; entirely independently of you. That milk gets delivered. You never run out of milk. The Internet of Things.

You could be on your way home, and you want to arrive to a warm house. You use your smartphone to connect to your heating system, and you switch it on remotely. The Internet of Things.

The IIoT is an extension of that concept. Machines communicating independently of human interaction.

How Does it Apply to Manufacturing?

To create a product we might have hundreds of processes. Some of those processes are completed by hand, but many of those operations are executed by machine. Most machines require some human interaction, even if it’s just to monitor consistency of output.

Through those hundreds of processes, you create a product. That product goes through a checking system, a packing department, and is finally shipped off to suppliers. The end-to-end process is a symbiotic system of dependent operations.

The Problem With Processes

But the problem with processes, however, is that they’re disparate. Each operation is an individual cog in a much larger engine, and so simultaneously overseeing all of those processes is literally impossible.

Any system that incorporates lots of machines has the potential to collapse the entire function if a single cog in the wheel fails. And this accounts for missed deadlines, over-production, and the infamous seven wastes.

This is a little over-simplistic, surely?

Perhaps; but that’s the point. The IIoT is simply a way of networking our existing machinery together to gain an infinitely deeper understanding of efficiencies and potential failures; before they happen.


For 2020, the installed base of Internet of Things devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. (Statista)

If your factory floor has eight principal machines, overseeing production means physically monitoring each device – all you can create is a disjointed picture of production. As soon as you’ve walked away from that machine, your up-to-date snapshot is history. It’s literally impossible to gain full oversight over procedures as they happen.

Machine Monitoring

Machine monitoring systems facilitate M2M communication and are compatible with legacy machinery, so you don’t require brand new, digital machinery to gain a universal, real-time oversight of your entire production operations.

Once installed, machine monitoring provides a central hub, monitoring the productivity of all machines and operations across the factory floor, providing a real-time portal into the health of the production lines.

FreePoint has over 1,000 machines and 80 plants connected serving 1 billion data rows

And, thanks to the IIoT, the portal to your machine monitoring hub is available over smart technologies, such as mobile phones and tablets. You could be on the other side of the planet and (providing you have access to the internet) you can see exactly what is happening on your factory floor, and interact with those processes for afar.

So, the IIoT is Just a Network of Machines?

Exactly. But that’s just the start.

By combining M2M communication protocols, big data analytics, cybersecurity, and universal portal products compatible with a variety of smart technologies, the IIoT provides unprecedented efficiencies, performance, and productivity.

The IIoT uses its own communication transfer protocol, known as Message Queueing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), favored for its lightning speed, lightweight publish/subscribe model, as well as its bidirectional capabilities, enabling almost instantaneous two-way communication between all machines made ready for MQTT.

Other Advantages

Incorporating GPS technologies, inventory can be tracked around the factory, providing a real-time image of your stock as it’s needed. Over-ordering of inventory items requires costly storage space, while under-ordering can slow down production. Having exact locational details of finished products in storage means more flexible use of space and easier access to those products when they’re ready to be shipped.

Predictive maintenance is a new protocol emerging from interconnected machine systems that allow managers to use the operational data produced by machine monitoring systems to predict the risk of failure assets, allowing them to reduce outage and maintenance costs.

The IIoT is here, and it can make colossal improvements in the way we work, increasing productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement in a way previously thought impossible.

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