A range of issues has slowed down the Industrial 4.0 revolution for machinery OEMs:
- Industry 4.0 Manufacturing, Conflict of Interest: Ask any machinery OEM, spare parts are a significant pie of their revenue. Then, what's the point of designing a superbly connected machine, like Tesla so that maintenance is done right and therefore you neither sell new machines ( because old ones are not breaking) nor spare parts? Isn't Industry 4.0 a self-killing prophecy for machinery revenue?
- Bottom Line Dilemma: The addition of sensors and gateways, the cloud will make the machinery expensive. Will the customers pay for it? Is there a guaranteed ROI on predictive maintenance? Machine PLC data can be connected to the cloud without affecting the bottom line but the benefit is inconsequential. Moreover, controller companies control that segment. There is very little for the machinery companies in it.
- Industry 4.0 Technologies: Truth be told, vibration technology can only do rotating machines and that too if running on a fixed RPM. 24x7 complex machines are a different story. Then there is a bigger problem of fitting a vibration sensor on accurate location, extracting baseline, baseline shift, the temperature of the machine surface, etc. The temperature of the motor, blower, machine surface can also be an indicator but such alarms must be normalized. Honestly, predictive maintenance technology needs customization for each machine and each application. Too many hurdles to overcome before, it is useful.
- Cloud: Large companies do not even allow cloud connection of any data from their premises. Due to the fear of security and privacy. Edge IoT cloud can address these issues. But again, it is easier than said-specially since too many complex situations are involved in how one will do OTA ( over the air ) update of devices/gateways. It's evolving.
- Use of MRO ( Maintenance, Repair, Operation) Data Integrated with MES ( Manufacturing Enterprise System): Generating MRO logs without a false alarm is quite challenging and even after that all the alarms must be integrated with the MES system. Otherwise, the operation manager may not even take a look at it.
- Any IoT Solution that the Machinery Company will Release, must be agnostic to all the major IoT platforms in manufacturing. It must work seamlessly with any IoT cloud, be it Mindsphere from Siemens, Eco-structure or any custom IoT cloud, the manufacturing company has built. Due to the lack of standardization, this is another mess. Most of our machinery clients make the mistake of building their own IoT platform. Which is okay for POC but absolutely useless for a serious business model.
However, no machinery company can avoid writing on the wall. If any of the machinery CEO decides to be the next "Tesla", their competitors will be doomed over time just like in Auto-Industry. Because a connected machine with full capability of predictive and preventative maintenance can do so much for the end-customer ( manufacturer), that no one will be interested in a machine that can't diagnose its own problem. Especially in an era where experienced maintenance people are no longer available. Nor is anyone interested to be a maintenance technician.
At MachineSense, we do a lot of hand-holding for the machinery companies in their journey to Industry 4.0. Learning from our extensive experience in OEM, we make sure, they do not burn up and we deliver a meaningful connected solution so that they can increase their market share without risking time or money or both into Industrial 4.0 revolution roadmap.
Please see this presentation from Machinesense for more details: