Machine Connectivity, Data and the IoT
We have run a number of posts on connectivity, the industrial IoT, analytics and implications for asset management, OEM service strategies etc. and we will continue to focus on this, as it is one of the most important factors affecting service business today. In a post a few weeks ago we recommended that OEMs initially utilize some platform technology, such as GE’s Predix to get their start with IoT applications.
Smaller specialist companies are however working also in this direction and may provide interesting alternatives. One such start-up company, Servtech based in Taipei, Taiwan, won the Intel 2014 Emerging Entrepreneurs Global Challenge in the Internet, Mobile and Software Computing category for a small diagnostic device that interfaces with factory machines to diagnose operating problems and improve machine efficiency through customizable apps. Real-time production data is extracted from machines through ServBox and a local or remote cloud service platform will then analyze and transform the data into actionable information using different (on demand) service apps. According to the company, ServBox is a service channel that provides synchronized communication between machine tools and a remote service platform. Through ServBox, it is possible to change the traditional model of service communication, and achieve an active and fast two-way communication with a service platform. ServBox supports 10 types of the most common CNC machine controllers, 50 types of PLC controller, more than 100 industrial sensors and different kinds of fieldbus. In addition the company has developed a development tool platform, ServAgent, to help customers develop apps that can communicate and utilize collected data, including a library of analytics and other tools and the related web platform, Servcloud, which provides diverse applications, including machine monitoring and various statistics. Most applications to-date have been in discrete manufacturing / machinery environments. For OEMs and customers alike this type of solution, which can be integrated with ERPs, might be a good way to “dip a toe” in the IoT.