Internet of Things https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot Microsoft Internet of Things Blog Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:38:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 77982353 Microsoft simplifies IoT further https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/20/microsoft-simplifies-iot-further/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:00:21 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22545 Read more »]]> The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a critical aspect of doing business. In the same way that web, mobile and cloud technologies have powered digital transformation, IoT is the next big catalyst.

Yet while IoT brings a new set of benefits for companies that want to keep an edge on their competition, it brings challenges too — IoT solutions can still be complex, and a shortage of skills makes it difficult for everyone to take advantage of this new innovation. To help solve those challenges and simplify IoT, Microsoft is announcing some new technologies and solutions this week.

Announcing Microsoft IoT Central, a new SaaS solution to simplify IoT

Today, Microsoft is announcing Microsoft IoT Central, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that reduces the complexity of IoT solutions. Microsoft IoT Central is a fully managed SaaS offering for customers and partners that enables powerful IoT scenarios without requiring cloud solution expertise.

Built on the Azure cloud, Microsoft IoT Central simplifies the development process and makes it easy and fast for customers to get started, making digital transformation more accessible to everyone.

Microsoft IoT Central will be available along with our existing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution, Azure IoT Suite, which enables deep customization and full control. This new IoT SaaS offering has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers.

Microsoft IoT Central will be rolling out more publicly over the coming months. Check out MicrosoftIoTCentral.com to sign up for essential content and updates.

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory

For customers and partners with cloud solution expertise, Microsoft is continuing to invest in our existing PaaS offering, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite. At the Hannover Messe industrial show next week, Microsoft is introducing a new preconfigured solution in the Azure IoT Suite: Connected Factory, which helps accelerate a customer’s journey to Industrie 4.0 and makes it easy to connect on-premises OPC UA and OPC Classic devices to the Microsoft cloud and get insights to help drive operational efficiencies. In addition, it enables customers to securely browse and configure factory devices from the cloud.

We have partnered with several industry leaders in the OPC UA ecosystem that have built turnkey gateway solutions which have the Azure connectivity used by this solution already built in and require close to zero configuration. These partners include Unified Automation, Softing and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

For more on the connected factory and what it enables for customers and partners, see the Azure IoT Suite home page, along with this technical blog post and our Six Step Framework to Connected Factory white paper and demo.

Microsoft Azure Time Series Insights

IoT devices and sensors send data in a time-based fashion, and a critical requirement of IoT solutions is to find anomalies and trends in this data. But until now, companies have had to hire partners or staff experts to mine the data for insights.

Today, Microsoft is announcing a new service: Azure Time Series Insights, a fully managed analytics, storage and visualization service that makes it simple to interactively and instantly explore and analyze billions of events from an IoT solution.

Azure Time Series Insights provides a global view of data across various event sources so companies can quickly validate their IoT solutions and avoid costly downtime of mission-critical devices. It helps organizations discover hidden trends, spot anomalies, and conduct root-cause analysis in near real time, all without writing a single line of code through its simple and intuitive user experience. In addition, it provides rich APIs to enable companies to integrate its powerful capabilities into their existing workflows and applications.

Microsoft IoT Central and the Azure IoT Suite connected factory preconfigured solution both leverage the new Azure Time Series Insights service now available in preview.

Companies and partners like thyssenkrupp Elevator and Codit are already leveraging Time Series Insights to drive cost reduction and meet customer needs. To learn more, read our technical blog and sign up for the Azure Time Series Insights preview today.

Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices

Although many developers are already benefiting from connecting IoT devices directly to the cloud, some scenarios require edge intelligence to get the most out of the IoT solution. In 2016, Microsoft launched the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, which enables developers and ISVs to easily build and deploy gateway intelligence tailored to their specific scenario.

Today, Microsoft is announcing the preview of Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices, a new feature of Azure Stream Analytics that extends the benefits of this unique streaming technology from the cloud down to the device level.

Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices has the same unified cloud-managed experience for stream analytics running across edge devices and the cloud. This approach enables organizations to use streaming analytics in scenarios where connectivity to the cloud is limited or inconsistent, but the need for quick insight and proactive actions are essential to run the business.

To learn more, read our technical blog post and sign up for the Azure Stream Analytics preview today.

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service

Microsoft is continuing our commitment to reducing the complexity and time required to get started with IoT. The new Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service simplifies the enrollment process, enabling organizations to automatically register and provision their devices to IoT Hub in a secure and scalable way while saving time and resources. Device Provisioning will work with any type of IoT device already supported by Azure IoT Hub.

Devices running Windows 10 IoT operating systems will enable an even easier way to connect to Device Provisioning via a client application that OEMs can include in the device unit. With Windows 10 IoT, customers can get a zero-touch provisioning experience, eliminating configuration and provisioning hassles when onboarding new IoT devices that connect to Azure services.

When combined with Windows 10 IoT support for Azure IoT Hub device management, the entire device lifecycle management is simplified through features that enable device reprovisioning, ownership transfer, secure device management, and device end-of-life management. You can learn more about Windows IoT device provisioning and device management details by visiting Azure IoT Device Management and reading our technical blog.

Security partners bring silicon to the age of IoT

Microsoft’s commitment to leadership in IoT security continues, and today we are announcing Azure IoT support for a wide variety of hardware and standards to strengthen our commitment to IoT security.

Azure IoT now supports the industrywide security standards Device Identity Composition Engine (DICE) and Hardware Security Module (HSM). The DICE standard enables manufacturers to use silicon gates to create device identification based in hardware, making security hardware part of the DNA of new devices from the ground up. HSMs are the core security technology used to secure device identities and provide advanced functionality such as hardware-based device attestation and zero-touch provisioning.

Microsoft is also announcing partnerships with Micron, STMicro to support various types of silicon leveraging HSM and DICE security technologies and Spyrus to support HSM as part of SD and USB storage devices.

Next week at Hannover Messe, Microsoft will showcase how the device identification and attestation model can be used to protect IoT devices large and small by allowing for automatic device registration and assignment to IoT Hub as soon as the device is turned on — automating an authentication and provisioning process to save time for IoT implementations. Hardware from Micron and STMicro will be on display.

To learn more, read our technical blog post.

Microsoft at Hannover Messe

Next week at Hannover Messe, Microsoft will showcase how we’re helping to advance digital transformation for customers by simplifying IoT, making it more accessible and easier to implement, as well as continuing to offer the most comprehensive portfolio of IoT solutions.

With Microsoft IoT Central, Microsoft is simplifying IoT so every business can digitally transform through IoT solutions that are more accessible and easier to implement. Microsoft has the most comprehensive IoT portfolio with a wide range of IoT offerings to meet organizations where they are on their IoT journey, including everything businesses need to get started — ranging from operating systems for their devices, cloud services to control them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action.

If you’re attending Hannover Messe next week, stop by and see these technologies in action in Hall 7 in Booth #C40.

And to see how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Transforming hotel laundry service with the Internet of Linens https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/13/transforming-hotel-laundry-service-with-the-internet-of-linens/ Thu, 13 Apr 2017 16:00:46 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22791 Read more »]]> One of the pleasures of staying in a hotel is having someone else take care of the daily chores for you. But most of us don’t give a second thought to where all those fresh towels and bed linens come from (and go to) on a daily basis.

For many hotels – as well as restaurants, hospitals, resorts and care facilities – there’s an entire supply – and resupply – chain in action behind the scenes, ensuring that every towel and every sheet is catalogued, washed, pressed and returned to its proper location. Managing this process has always been a challenge for laundry services, but thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), Berendsen UK, a major UK-based laundry company, now has complete visibility into the location of every item, at any time, as well as the ability to analyze and report on the data for a company-wide and country-wide view.

The Microsoft News Centre UK feature story Berendsen UK’s fresh approach to the Internet of Things explains how this company uses the Microsoft Azure cloud, the Microsoft IoT Hub, PowerBI and smart tags in every piece of linen to track the status of one million (and growing) bed sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, napkins and towels they launder and return every day to facilities around the country. The solution, which will continue to scale up as the company grows, enables Berendsen to track their inventory, streamline their operations and improve their service.

Thanks to the smart tags and data analysis through Azure HDInsight, the company can use their PowerBI dashboards to track operations; but they also gather valuable management data and insights, such as where losses occur, how long each towel or sheet lasts, and how linen items from different manufacturers perform over time. This not only keeps customers happy by reducing the speed of the laundry/delivery cycle, it also keeps costs from spinning out of control.

To learn more about how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit: www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Three ways Microsoft helps companies use big data, cloud and AI to accelerate digital transformation and the Internet of Things https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/12/three-ways-microsoft-helps-companies-use-big-data-cloud-and-ai-to-accelerate-digital-transformation-and-the-internet-of-things/ Wed, 12 Apr 2017 16:00:03 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22734 Read more »]]> The age of intelligence is here. According to IDC, the worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from $130.1 billion in 2016 to more than $203 billion in 2020. Today there is an immense opportunity for enterprises to differentiate themselves from the competition by leveraging big data and advanced analytics solutions. If you’re already capturing or plan to capture IoT data, you can mine your data for unprecedented insights that may change the way you do business.

A recent McKinsey research study found that companies that use analytics extensively are twice as likely to outperform the competition in terms of sales, profit, growth and ROI. Our customers are already using advanced analytics and big data solutions to better serve their customers and outperform competitors. The top three benefits emerging across multiple industries and use cases, as well as a glimpse into how our customers are accelerating their digital transformation, are explained below.

  1. Optimize manufacturing with real-time analytics

Manufacturers large and small have transformed by capturing and analyzing live streaming data from production lines. Hershey Company uses big data and advanced analytics services on Azure to optimize licorice production using intelligent sensors on factory line extruders. This “internet of licorice” allows Hershey to dynamically manage production. Deschutes Brewery, an American craft brewery, uses big data and advanced analytics services to drive operational efficiency and saves an average of 48 hours for every batch of beer it brews. Deschutes achieved this by optimizing its production process through real- time data analytics, saving millions of dollars in expansion costs.

  1. Make decisions fast with accessible data insights

Modern banks thrive on data, but accessible insights from this data are the true differentiator. Heartland Bank, a leading New Zealand bank, wanted a new analytics platform that would give its business users direct access to customer credit insights and performance KPIs. Its legacy analytics systems were only accessible to IT, and hence delayed decision-making. Using SQL Server R Services, Hartland built a new, open platform that’s not just accessible for business users, it’s also faster than anything it used before.  “We are using R Server to build a data-first culture at the bank by ensuring that executives have the numbers to back up their instincts,” says Chris Murray, head of Enterprise Data at Heartland Bank.

  1. Cut costs with intelligent demand forecasting

Gaining value from historical data to better predict future needs can increase efficiency and save costs. Carnival Maritime churned an ocean of data to improve demand forecasting. Keeping track of the consumption of water onboard a cruise ship is a complex equation. Carnival used Cortana Intelligence Suite to better predict how much water a ship will need for a specific route, saving each ship more than $200,000.

What to learn more? Join Microsoft for Data Amp, an online event, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 8 AM Pacific time. Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + Enterprise, and Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Microsoft Data Group, will demonstrate what’s possible and provide insights into how your industry is driving innovation in data, intelligence and analytics, and achieving digital transformation.

Register for Data Amp today

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.
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Product and service innovation starts in the field https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/05/product-and-service-innovation-starts-in-the-field/ Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:00:43 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22656 Read more »]]> Wouldn’t it be great if your business could leverage the knowledge of your field service technicians to help drive product innovation? Manufacturing service engineers are on the front lines, dealing with failures and gaining insights into what is failing and why — crucial information for your research and development department. Unfortunately, many service techs are already overloaded, rushing from one appointment to the next, never really knowing what their next issue will require. Heading in with only partial information, they are under pressure to quickly diagnose the issue and develop a repair plan on the spot. Running from call to call makes it difficult to manage parts inventory, and given the fact that they diagnose problems on the fly, it’s next to impossible to show up with just the right part every time. Having to source needed parts means a “two-hour repair” can easily become an all-day affair. Without imposing cumbersome extra duties on technicians, how can manufacturers consistently draw on field experiences to catalyze innovation?

Considering the challenges service technicians face managing day-to-day activities, it’s no wonder that valuable field knowledge isn’t always shared widely. But today, with the advent of technologies like the cloud, ubiquitous mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers are changing how field service is delivered and how field experiences are captured.

By streamlining manual, time-consuming tasks like collecting data, detecting the cause of a problem, and identifying the best solution, these technologies are creating opportunities for field service teams to play a more strategic role in manufacturing organizations. Let’s take a closer look at how new technology solutions are paving the way for field service innovation.

Field and equipment data are an untapped source for innovation

A big part of what’s enabling more nimble field service is the growth of connected equipment, a foundational element of IoT.

Because connected products generate and communicate data on their status, they give businesses greater visibility into performance data, like how and when the equipment is used. Connected equipment can automatically send alerts when it detects an issue, helping service organizations troubleshoot potential problems more quickly.

In addition, it’s also easier than ever to collect field service insights. Thanks to cloud-connected mobile devices, field technicians can document repair notes quickly and easily while at a customer site. Those notes can then be automatically aggregated and analyzed to uncover trends and best practices.

When usage data from connected equipment is combined with field service data, an entirely new range of insights becomes available. For instance, correlating equipment performance data with observations from service technicians can shed new light on why a certain type of failure happens, and help pinpoint the best ways to address it. By using this information in the innovation process, R&D teams are better equipped to drive improvements. Similarly, putting IoT data in the context of service data can also guide future product development.

Sandvik Coromant wanted to provide customers with instant feedback for optimizing their assembly line cutting tools. Using sensors embedded in customers’ products, Sandvik Coromant collected temperature, load, vibration and other important data in real time on the machining process. Working with Microsoft, Sandvik Coromant managed this data with Azure IoT Suite, developing a solution that connects its products directly to the Azure IoT cloud. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 in its call centers enabled Sandvik Coromant to provide customers with recommendations on when to change bits, order new tools or perform maintenance. This service-based revenue stream helped its customers improve efficiency and save millions of dollars.

Amplify innovation with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Integrating connected equipment and mobile solutions into field service programs requires the right kind of
technology. With Microsoft, manufacturers gain the technology foundation needed to connect their devices, gain actionable insights, and address customers’ service needs faster and more effectively.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service opens up new possibilities for your service organization. The solution enables dispatch teams to adjust scheduling on the fly with a drag-and-drop schedule board. And service managers can define rules that trigger automatic work orders when a service call is needed. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 knowledgebase capabilities, the solution provides built-in intelligence on the spot so service techs know the optimal fixes to try and steps to follow. This helps them better troubleshoot issues based on previous resolutions of the same problem and update equipment information in real time. And this built-in intelligence also helps service organizations identify repair and failure patterns to support new predictive maintenance programs, not just faster break-fix service.

Improving field service starts with optimizing your techs’ experience in the field. Imagine if you could arm your field techs with a mobile app that optimizes their day and gives them real-time access to data about customers and equipment. Not only do technicians have the ability to see asset performance indicators and remote diagnostics before they arrive at a customer site, they get repair recommendations based on repair and performance history. This ensures that techs arrive informed, and bring the right tools and the right parts for a first-time fix. While at the customer site, techs don’t need to capture common information like serial numbers because all the information is already in the customer database. Rather than using written notes to communicate wear and tear, techs can update records with pictures taken through the mobile app. All of this drives efficiency and saves technicians valuable time. And this updated information is no longer confined to siloed repair notes — it can be analyzed and passed on to design teams to make the next wave of products smarter and less error-prone.

Building on these foundational capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service also provides real-time visibility into the status of IoT-connected devices. With data on performance coming from connected products, service organizations can identify problems and solve them before their customers are aware of the issue. Organizations can explore remote troubleshooting and self-healing repairs options to optimize service resources and dispatch service techs only when required. The enhanced visibility coming from connected products helps field service organizations improve customer satisfaction, first-time fix rates and resource productivity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service can be configured to your organization’s needs, from basic anomaly detection and technician dispatch to more complex, multistep workflows.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service provides a number of unique benefits, such as:

  • Fast and easy setup, allowing technicians to register assets by simply plugging in an identification number.
  • A user-friendly interface that allows any business user, from a service tech to a field manager, to get started quickly.
  • Interoperability with nearly any device, enabling teams to leverage the form factors of their choice.
  • Easy-to-create business rules that anyone can set up — no coding required.
  • Seamless operation in one end-to-end solution, so that you don’t have to build it yourself or assemble parts from multiple vendors.

Get started today

Dynamics 365 for Field Service is an end-to-end solution spanning connected devices and Connected Field Service to advanced, intelligent business systems. Leading manufacturers are harnessing the combined experiences of service technicians, data from connected products, and even data from other sources like call center records, to drive product innovation in new ways.

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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A behind-the-scenes look into Microsoft’s IoT & AI Insider Labs https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/30/a-behind-the-scenes-look-into-microsofts-iot-ai-insider-labs/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:30:25 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22605 Read more »]]> The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are two of the most significant trends in technology. And understanding their direction, and how to embrace them, is something that companies of all sizes want to understand. As a technology leader for over two decades, Microsoft has been at the forefront of IoT and Advanced Analytics (AA) since their inception, and our IoT & AI Insider Labs are the focal point for our customers to embrace these trends, and work hand-in-hand with experts to take their products from proof-of-concept to commercial deployment.

Today on the Microsoft News Center , you can read about what it’s like to come to work with Microsoft engineers in solving the challenges of melding machines and data at the labs, which currently operate in Redmond, Washington, and Shenzhen, China, with another facility opening soon in Munich, Germany. The Microsoft IoT & AI Insider Labs bring together developers with Microsoft and industry experts to tap into the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence and fuel the digital transformation taking place across industries — from energy to retail to robotics.

Each of our labs is hosted by resident experts who will help participants clean up hardware design, debug drivers, work on supporting applications, and demonstrate how to connect devices at scale. They can also help you understand Microsoft’s vast array of IoT, AI, and AA solutions capabilities, and how they can work with your technology to develop insights from data, and turn insights into action. The labs will even help manufacture small-scale hardware runs for devices designed and built by participating organizations.

In the Marie Curie room, named after the Nobel Laureate in physics, developers can build circuit boards from a range of machine tools, 3-D printers and other supplies. In the nearby Ada Lovelace room, named after the 19th century mathematician who wrote the first computing algorithm, coding and testing take center stage. Tools and expertise are on hand to help participants understand how their devices and software will perform in the real world — and correct potentially costly design flaws.

Work comes to fruition in the Mae Jemison room, where physical machines and code merge with analytics tools to help customers understand how to work with the data their solutions create, to glean insights and propel their organizational goals.

There’s a lot more detail in the story, so give it a read and see how Microsoft is working to enable companies in their digital transformation. To learn more about the IoT & AI Insider Labs, visit https://www.microsoftiotinsiderlabs.com/. And for more about what IoT can do for your business, please visit http://www.internetofyourthings.com.

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Partner perspectives: Predictive maintenance on the frontlines (Part 2) https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/29/partner-perspectives-predictive-maintenance-on-the-frontlines-part-2/ Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:08:17 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22569 Read more »]]> Many different asset-intensive industries have recognized the benefits of a predictive maintenance strategy — for example, improving product quality, enhancing customer engagement or developing innovative business models.

We’re continuing our conversation on predictive maintenance with our partners from BlueMetal, Dynamics Software, Harman and ICONICS, whose responses are listed in alphabetical order below. In case you missed the first post in our series, we talked about what got our partners started with predictive maintenance and the benefits they’ve seen in their customers’ businesses. In this post, we’ll discuss common business objectives and concerns as well as the barriers to adoption partners encounter when talking with customers. Edited excerpts follow.

Bob Familiar, Director, National Practice, BlueMetal
Eric Veldkamp, Partner at Dynamics Software
Wim Pluimers, Product Director, Maintenance Management at Dynamics Software
Punit Kulkarni, Head of Marketing, Software Enabled Businesses, Harman
Melissa Topp, Senior Director of Global Marketing, ICONICS  

What is a common concern your customers are looking to address with a predictive maintenance solution?

BF, BlueMetal: Manufacturers embarking on a real-time business transformation journey are looking to increase customer satisfaction, improve product quality, drive higher profitability through cost-savings and identify net-new revenue opportunities.

EV, Dynamics: One concern that organizations have is how they’ll manage the large volumes of sensor data from a widely distributed base of connected devices. It challenges the conventional data storage and management capabilities of most businesses. The volume and velocity of sensor data flowing into organizations make drawing insights particularly challenging. Many organizations lack stream-processing capabilities, which are essential for the collection, integration, analysis and visualization of data in real time.

PK, Harman: Adding onto that, many customers want to increase the efficiency and performance of their maintenance teams. Predictive maintenance helps surface any suboptimal performance by service teams, achieve high-quality production runs in the factory, and reduce inventory overhead of spares caused by preventative maintenance.

MT, ICONICS: Our customers want the ability to predict when equipment will start to degrade and perform at suboptimal efficiency long before it fails and causes any significant downtime. Predictive maintenance solutions, when implemented properly, are a perfect fit for this outcome.

“Rip-and-replace” is a major concern for many companies that have made decades of investment in industrial equipment. What has been your experience with this?

PK, Harman: In my experience, some customers are using aftermarket solutions to combat their concerns with rip-and-replace. They’re also leveraging and upgrading existing equipment wherever possible. We’ve also seen that customers are open to upgrading the designs of future equipment, which they are bringing to the drawing board.

MT, ICONICS: Rip-and-replace or retrofitting equipment is especially a concern for businesses with lots of industrial equipment. For companies with extensive investments, it can mean upgrading or removing existing pieces of equipment, which creates forced downtime. Today, downtime has been minimized or eliminated altogether now that system upgrades have become more readily available to keep costs low.

To get around this, we built our end-to-end software — ICONICS’ IoT Gateway Suite — to get around this rip-and-replace situation. By putting a few low-cost IoT gateway devices inside the plant itself, secure transport protocols create a bridge between on-premises industrial equipment and the cloud. This enables manufacturers to push data to the Azure cloud and immediately start getting value from the predictive maintenance solution, with no need to rip-and-replace their existing equipment.

What do you suggest to customers as they get started?

EV, Dynamics: As customers evaluate M2M and IoT solutions, it’s important to think about how they will interact with and display the data they collect and analyze — and what business outcome(s) they are driving toward. All the data in the world isn’t going to provide value to your organization if it isn’t displayed and analyzed effectively. We stress that customers should look for a solution that provides a user-friendly dashboard view of connected assets that makes it easy to pivot through and discover information at a glance.

MT, ICONICS: Typically, we recommend going after the low-hanging fruit first — the most critical and/or costly to repair equipment. Starting with predictive maintenance on a few of your most critical assets can help reduce maintenance costs and keep your business profitable. It’s unlikely that predictive maintenance will completely replace traditional preventive maintenance in every customer’s business, so this gives customers the fastest ROI on their investment.

We also recommend that customers leverage our preconfigured fault rules whenever possible, and then fine-tune or extend them to additional types of equipment using the customization options built into the solution. This cuts down on upfront implementation costs, reduces deployment times and lowers the total cost of ownership.

You’ve been doing this for a few years — what’s new with predictive maintenance?

PK, Harman: Predictive maintenance solutions are part of a greater paradigm shift to the “factory of the future,” also known as the “Smart Factory” approach. The increase in connectivity from sensors on equipment is enabling the faster exchange of data, therefore providing manufacturers with real-time response capabilities. In addition, advances in machine- learning algorithms are enabling manufacturers to have more accurate predictive analytics. This is lowering the rate of false maintenance. Since these benefits are quickly realized by early adopters of predictive maintenance, we’re seeing increased customer awareness and adoption.

MT, ICONICS: ICONICS’ predictive maintenance solution was not always built on top of the Azure IoT Suite. We were offering predictive maintenance years before Azure itself even existed. But once the Azure IoT Suite was announced, we recognized that the related tools and services contained therein would enable us to take the next big step and offer more advanced and intelligent algorithms, visualization, analytics and reports to our customers.

Learn more

Our partners have worked with a variety of customers to create predictive maintenance solutions that get the most value quickly. Creating high-value predictive maintenance solutions doesn’t have to be a complex journey, whether for managing your data or connecting your devices.

Interested in learning more about our partners? Read more about the different solutions delivered by BlueMetal, Dynamics Software, Harman and ICONICS. And for more information about how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Partner perspectives: Predictive maintenance on the frontlines https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/21/partner-perspectives-predictive-maintenance-on-the-frontlines/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:00:21 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22350 Read more »]]> Predictive maintenance has gained traction in recent years as one of the many applications enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) that is revolutionizing manufacturing. At Microsoft manufacturing, we’ve worked with a variety of partners to deliver predictive maintenance solutions based on Azure IoT Suite and Azure Machine Learning.

In this two-part series, we will hear from our partners at BlueMetal, Dynamics Software, Harman, and ICONICS, whose responses are listed in alphabetical order below. In this first post, we’ll discuss what got them started with predictive maintenance, and what benefits they’ve realized for their customers and themselves. Edited excerpts follow.​

Bob Familiar, Director, National Practice, BlueMetal
Eric Veldkamp, Partner at Dynamics Software
Wim Pluimers, Product Director, Maintenance Management at Dynamics Software
Punit Kulkarni, Head of Marketing, Software Enabled Businesses, Harman
Melissa Topp, Senior Director of Global Marketing, ICONICS

What was your impetus for getting started with predictive maintenance?

BF, BlueMetal: Businesses need to find ways to keep up with born-in-the-cloud competitors and meet the increasing demands of customers, partners and employees. One way they’re evolving and transforming their businesses is by taking advantage of real-time data. There’s real potential for data to drive operational efficiencies as well as create new revenue opportunities.

WP, Dynamics: Many companies have made the shift from corrective to preventive maintenance in the past years. Especially in industries that require high capital investments in manufacturing equipment, the need to avoid breakdowns or unscheduled maintenance during production hours was imperative. Predictive maintenance is the next step for these industries.

PK, Harman: Our customers wanted real-time, 24/7 visibility into equipment performance so they could better track key metrics like mean time to repair (MTTR) and mean time between failures (MTBF) to assess the reliability of their systems. For us, predictive maintenance represented the ultimate commercial use case for the Internet of Things. Nothing offers the same value and service to customers in our industrial vertical. Our expertise in devices, mobility and analytics converged around industrial IoT solutions that could help our customers decrease MTTR and increase MTBF.

MT, ICONICS: In addition to staying on top of industry trends and the latest technologies, we closely monitor the challenges commonly faced by our customers. So, when they started expressing a desire to be able to address maintenance issues ahead of the curve rather than constantly putting out fires, we knew it was the time. We started looking at the historical data customers had already been collecting using tools like ICONICS Hyper Historian, and how that data could be put to better use than traditional trending and analysis. We worked with those companies to develop predictive algorithms, or fault rules, based on the most popular types of industrial equipment. This new concept, called Fault Detection and Diagnostics, provided the basis for our predictive maintenance solution.

What drove you to choose a predictive maintenance solution with Microsoft? What key differentiators about Microsoft’s approach made it a good fit for your business needs?

BF, BlueMetal: We believe that bringing predictive maintenance solutions successfully to market requires a platform approach. A platform approach implies you invest in people, process and tools to create a foundation of business and technology capabilities that serves as a building block to modern SaaS solutions. This approach makes it possible to support frequent release cycles, maximize device compatibility, and provide a multitenant authentication scheme that provides secure access to the underlying information. BlueMetal has been designing, developing, deploying and operationalizing IoT solutions based on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform for several years now. We standardized on the Azure cloud because you don’t have to manage virtual machines and perform operating system patches — the platform provides complete support for device management, registration, authentication, telemetry ingestion, and command and control of your connected products.

EV, Dynamics: Our longstanding relationship with Microsoft and the easy end-to-end Azure IoT Suite platform made it an easy choice. Everything Azure delivers is already integrated well with our existing systems. With the cloud-based technology Microsoft provides, we have all the tools from one supplier — from Azure to Dynamics 365.

PK, Harman: For us, we found that many control system vendors and manufacturers we’ve worked with were already adopting Microsoft technologies. In addition, the Azure subscription can be configured so that it keeps costs low for our customers to support their business needs.

MT, ICONICS: Once the Azure IoT Suite was announced, we recognized it would enable us to offer more advanced and intelligent algorithms, visualization, analytics and reports to our customers. It also gave us the ability to seamlessly and securely scale the solution while also taking advantage of the existing security features that we are familiar with as longtime Microsoft partners. Microsoft continues to innovate, evolve its capabilities and strengthen its services in the cloud. By partnering with Microsoft, we are right on the cutting edge — maximizing the value we can deliver to our customers.

What are the key manufacturing verticals you are working with for predictive maintenance solutions?

BF, BlueMetal: We worked with one of our customers, Weka Solutions, to develop an IoT-enabled device that keeps track of vaccines doses while keeping them fresh and secure. The Weka Health Solutions Smart-Fridge provides refrigeration and security for vaccines ranging in value from $100 to over $10,000 per vial. Collecting real-time inventory and expiration data, Weka could provide data visualization of inventory levels for customer care personnel and automate replenishment orders. Using predictive analytics, clinics are alerted to upcoming vaccine shortages at specific locations or in certain areas so they can plan accordingly.

EV, Dynamics: We serve customers ranging from process and discrete manufacturers to industrial equipment manufacturers to field service organizations. We worked with a company that rents out generators to predict the best time for maintenance. Generators were either used for just an hour as a backup or they ran 24/7 for several weeks. By developing a solution based on Azure IoT Suite, Dynamics could help them shift to predictive maintenance based on actual usage rather than scheduled maintenance that was too early or too late.

PK, Harman: Harman’s solutions serve a broad range of customers ranging from semiconductor manufacturing, oil and gas, power, and control systems makers serving multiple end verticals. Our deep knowledge of the industries we serve, along with our over-the-air capabilities and analytics expertise, is helping our customers capitalize on the growing IoT market.

MT, ICONICS: One of the earliest applications of our predictive maintenance solution was with an electric utility company. It used the technology to forecast demand and optimize its operations during peak and off-peak hours. The more common use case, predicting equipment failures before they occur, spans many different verticals because it is a challenge shared by virtually all industrial automation customers.

What benefits from predictive maintenance have you seen customers experience that they didn’t expect upfront?

BF, BlueMetal: Our customers can create new monetization models by delivering new services. Shifting from being solely “product-based” to “service-based,” customers are adding new services that complement their existing product offerings. An example of adjacent new services could include provisioning consulting to customers based on real-time insights on how products and equipment are used. These insights were not possible before the Internet of Things.

EV, Dynamics: Adding on to that — we’ve seen customers implement measurable changes to their business models. With IoT, they can virtually eliminate return visits and no-shows by improving asset and information management and customer engagement.

PK, Harman: With a single view of customer operations and real-time visualizations, we’re able to provide predictive insights into detailed equipment performance. Having insight down to the individual component level enables our customers’ decision-makers to make more informed decisions around capital management.

MT, ICONICS: In contrast to a traditional preventive maintenance system, predictive maintenance solutions enable customers to strategically plan their maintenance tasks and group them in a way that allows them to perform the required maintenance more efficiently. By carrying out those work orders only as frequently as they are needed, rather than on a strict schedule, it results in a lower number of maintenance tasks over time. This leads to even more dramatic savings in terms of labor and maintenance costs, as well as an accelerated ROI. Another benefit that customers do not necessarily expect upfront is the potential savings resulting from integrating the ICONICS dashboard with their existing CMMS or work order management system. Being able to initiate work orders directly from the predictive maintenance system, or in some cases automatically based on certain rules being met or exceeded, saves the operator from having to switch between systems — further reducing labor and maintenance costs.

Learn more

As you can see, our partners are creating innovative predictive maintenance solutions to help customers across a variety of verticals improve their business in numerous ways. From driving operational efficiencies to creating new revenue opportunities, leading manufacturers are adopting a predictive maintenance strategy on their journey to digital transformation.

Interested in learning more about our partners? Read more about the different solutions delivered by BlueMetal, Dynamics Software, Harman and ICONICS.

Not convinced of the value of a predictive maintenance solution? Be on the lookout for part 2 in our Partner Perspectives series. In it we’ll discuss the concerns and barriers to implementing predictive maintenance solutions partners are seeing across their customer accounts.

For more information about how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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agroNET IoT technology transforms the fruits of farmers’ labors https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/15/agronet-iot-technology-transforms-the-fruits-of-farmers-labors/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:00:19 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22332 Read more »]]> Agriculture is one of civilization’s most ancient activities. But to feed a hungry world in which populations continue to grow, weather patterns constantly change and profit margins for farmers have consistently decreased, traditional ways of farming can benefit from a little modern help.

DunavNET, a Microsoft IoT partner based in Serbia, is using the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to power transformative farming solutions that generate better-quality food, higher yield and increased profits for hardworking farmers.

Enhanced crop management is crucial to farmers today because food production consumes a great deal of natural resources and faces constant threats. An estimated 70 percent of the world’s freshwater use goes toward growing crops, and up to 40 percent of crops are destroyed by weeds, diseases and insects.

To better equip food growers for success, DunavNET offers an array of smart agricultural solutions it calls agroNET. Built on Microsoft Azure IoT, agroNET serves as a digital advisor for farmers. The end-to-end system combines decades of agricultural knowledge about soil and plants with the capability, precision and ubiquity of devices that capture, process, analyze and display key data in real time. By telling farmers such things as when to irrigate, how to control diseases and where to fight pests, agroNET provides an action plan to maximize efficiency.

IoT helps with the harvest

With a decade of IoT experience, DunavNET utilizes cloud-based Azure IoT Hub technology to solve agribusiness problems. For example, last year the company was asked to help one of the largest agriculture companies in the region track its annual harvest at one of Europe’s largest apple orchards. Harvesting the fruit requires over 50,000 pallet boxes to collect and transport thousands tons of apples from the orchard to the warehouse and then on to customers. The company needed to track the location of every pallet box in real time to ensure the fruit’s optimal storage, transport and distribution.

The food producer adopted DunavNET’s boxNET solution to improve asset management and tracking and further optimize its work process. After deployment during the peak harvest season, each pallet box now sports a passive RFID tag, and a second tag per pallet will be added to increase scanning accuracy in varied conditions. Meanwhile, 22 gates (four of them mobile) around the orchard are equipped with RFID readers to track pallet movement in and out of different areas. RFID readers are connected to an IoT gateway, which is connected to Azure IoT Hub via a mix of wireless technologies (Wi-Fi, LoRa and GPRS) to cater to different requirements and network coverage constellation. IoT Hub authenticates the readers and forwards received data to a cloud service, which processes the information and finally stores it in Azure SQL Database. Received data is displayed on an intuitive dashboard that suggests which action to take at a given time for a desired result — giving managers real-time insight into pallet location and availability.

The IoT solution will go live in time for the 2017 season, proving that while development of IoT software solutions can indeed be rapid, the actual physical deployment of a large number of IoT devices has to be planned carefully to coordinate with the regular business activities of the customer. Because this is the first time anyone has tried to connect an apple farm, DunavNET worked through many obstacles along the way, and what it learned will make it easier for other agricultural customers to implement an IoT solution into their processes. The boxNET deployment is the first step toward the goal of creating connected apple farming, and the next step will be to deploy farm vehicle tracking, preventive maintenance and warehouse monitoring solutions.

“We chose Azure for its inherent reliability and scalability, and in particular for the ability to reuse both Azure platform components and our own development to rapidly build interoperable services,” said Srdjan Krco, CEO of DunavNET.

Using the Azure platform, DunavNET has been able to rapidly expand its agroNET suite to feature a range of complementary products and services that interoperate and integrate with each other. These solutions are implemented in the field by local partners that also provide on-site customer service.

Connected farms reap rewards

Another of its agricultural solutions, irrigNET, is built on Azure IoT Hub and Azure SQL Database, with a machine learning component being gradually introduced. DunavNET piloted irrigNet two years ago to help a sugar factory in Serbia grow sugar beets. IrrigNet sensors measure the water content in soil and combine that with the models of the crops and local weather forecast to take the guesswork out of crop irrigation. With it, managers can also remotely monitor field conditions and use predictive data analytics tools to optimize water use for increase crop yield, while also reducing soil erosion. On top of the 30 percent increase brought by irrigation, DunavNET cites additional yield increases and reductions in water use of up to 20 percent for farms using irrigNET.

Growers of a cornucopia of other crops — including corn, soybean, onions, carrots and cucumbers — are experiencing similar benefits from using DunavNET’s Azure-based solutions. After a successful pilot last year with another large agriculture company, Matijevic, growing crops on approximately 30,000 hectares, expansion plans for the coming seasons are in place. In parallel with this, deployment of irrigNET in Plantaze’s vineyard in Montenegro, one of the largest European vineyards spanning over 2,300 hectares, is on the way to help the vineyard optimize its use of electricity to manage costs.

Whatever they grow, farmers can protect their crops from insects with trapNET. They can monitor pests remotely through the use of pheromone traps with built-in cameras, assess the presence of damaging insects, and check their dashboard for guidance on the proper timing and dose of pesticides to apply. DunavNET has found that trapNET use reduces crop loss by 5 to 10 percent and cuts pesticide use by 20 percent, helping minimize any negative impact on birds and animals.

The latest addition to the suite of agroNET services is alertNET. This service encapsulates years of agriculture expertise and combines it with a number of weather, soil and crops parameters automatically captured in the field to generate timely disease predictions together with recommended treatment, thus saving costs and increasing quality of the crops.

As Earth’s population grows, farmers must produce the escalating amount of food needed to feed our increasingly urban communities. Innovative IoT-based tools such as agroNET can give farmers the insights they need to maximize production, protect natural resources and put food on people’s tables.

For more information on how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Stay one step ahead of your customers: Get started with remote monitoring https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/08/stay-one-step-ahead-of-your-customers-get-started-with-remote-monitoring/ Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:00:27 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22275 Read more »]]> If your business has looked at remote monitoring in the past, it’s time to look again — integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) technology has changed the way core business processes work. Others are seeing the potential — enterprises are adopting remote monitoring and other IoT applications more and more. IDC found that 31.4 percent of organizations surveyed have launched IoT solutions, with an additional 43 percent looking to deploy in the next 12 months.[1] Remote monitoring and IoT technologies have changed the way core business processes are run and are continually delivering value in numerous ways. Although challenges like data privacy, security and implementation costs can seem like valid reasons to avoid this kind of technological change, there are in fact plenty of ways you can maximize your ROI, protect your data and ensure comprehensive security while using IoT.

Quickly evolving from a cutting-edge idea to an essential industry standard, remote monitoring has repeatedly proved its worth. Manufacturers big and small are seeing so much value in IoT-enabled remote monitoring that they are heavily investing to reap the rewards of increased efficiency, better utilization and lower costs. As of 2015, 40 percent of serviceable equipment in the field is connected to networks, up from 35 percent in 2013.[2] And this upward trend isn’t going to change. As more and more manufacturers realize the benefits of remote monitoring, it’ll cease to be a differentiator and will become a requirement to remain competitive.

Your business is looking to improve visibility or explore innovative business models, and remote monitoring sets the foundation for a variety of business benefits. Let’s take a look at a few ways that businesses are implementing remote monitoring and seeing value.

Improve visibility across your business

Imagine if your assets had eyes and ears and could talk to you in real time. That’s the power of IoT-driven remote monitoring, which makes it possible to see exactly what is happening with all of your assets, at all times. Remote-monitoring solutions collect, integrate and organize data from sensor-enabled equipment all over the world to gain real-time visibility. What used to be a manual, expensive, time-intensive procedure can now be dynamic, automated and instant. With live data from connected devices, organizations have a constant pulse on status, and can quickly, automatically respond to current conditions.

Remote monitoring allows experts to see potential problems without having to travel. Bringing all your performance data together enables you to extend the expertise of the strongest support engineers for a proactive response to potential issues at any location.

For example, Rockwell Automation, one of the largest industrial automation companies in the world, helped some of its customers in the petroleum industry change the way they monitored their supply chain and investment in expensive equipment. Because of the company’s global footprint, it was nearly impossible to get a good read on how all their field assets and customer products were operating at a given time. Even if equipment data could point to a potential issue, it took so much time to act on it that problems would often occur anyway. After deploying sensors to connect assets to Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, Rockwell was able to see its entire supply chain from end to end, from an oil rig in Alaska to the corner gas station. By capturing real-time information on equipment performance and health factors such as pressure, temperature and flow rates, it was able to gain enhanced visibility across its business. With these new insights, Rockwell could fine-tune processes and deliver proactive and prescriptive guidance to customers about potential issues and failures — drastically reducing costly downtime.

Make targeted improvements to business processes

Remote monitoring starts with reducing monitoring costs and increasing visibility. But that visibility also drives other improvements for your business, like energy usage reduction, improved customer service, predictive maintenance programs and new innovation.

More cost-efficient energy management

Discover more about how customers have taken advantage of the remote-monitoring capabilities of Azure IoT Suite here.

To effectively manage energy usage and costs, you need insight into your power and energy systems. Being able to monitor and manage energy usage without being onsite enables your teams to optimize energy load balancing and prevent outages, thereby keeping costs down. By transforming data into actionable insight, you can proactively address potential issues and minimize downtime.

A key example of how the remote-monitoring capabilities of Azure IoT Suite made this possible is Johnson Controls. A leading manufacturer of sensors and equipment for buildings, Johnson Controls wanted to proactively deliver real-time insight into building operations and maintenance needs. Lack of insight into building operations meant customers were reactively dealing with issues of comfort and safety and could not control costs. Working with Microsoft, Johnson Controls connected thousands of chillers, more than 5,000 rooftops, and approximately 40,000 building subsystems to Azure IoT Suite. Collecting and analyzing this data enabled Johnson Controls to help customers manage their buildings more efficiently by reducing energy consumption and costs.

Improved field maintenance and customer service

More complex equipment and products require more complex fixes. With specialized equipment and repair procedures, it’s no longer an option for service technicians to show up to customer sites uninformed. If just one part or tool is not along for the ride, the tech will have to reschedule, prolonging the repair and frustrating customers. Smart and connected machines sharing performance data mean that service technicians can be more prepared and productive with each service visit. They can arrive equipped with the right tools, parts and workflows to fix the problem the first time.

Discover more about how customers have delivered service excellence here with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service solution.

IoT also enables remote diagnostics that make it much easier for less experienced technicians to drive repairs to close the first time without requiring a different tech to come out or walk them through it over the phone. Offering both performance insight to customers and remote diagnostics information to field techs completely changes the way companies deliver on customer satisfaction and creates differentiation in the market.

Moving from reactive to proactive

Remote monitoring is completely redefining the paradigm of maintenance. By collecting, storing and analyzing historical data, remote monitoring makes it possible to see, with a mathematical degree of certainty, when a part has worn down and needs servicing. Rather than relying on a fixed schedule and perhaps replacing a part that could keep performing normally for another year, you can monitor specific performance thresholds to know when the part must be replaced. This helps prevent costly problems before they occur.

For example, ThyssenKrupp wanted to better monitor and service its 1.1 million elevators installed in some of the most famous buildings in the world. Because of a lack of insight, unpredicted failures had led to costly downtime. By connecting thousands of sensors embedded in its elevators to the Microsoft cloud, ThyssenKrupp gained real-time visibility into product performance and rapid, remote diagnostic capabilities through HoloLens. Now, through the Azure IoT Suite, ThyssenKrupp has reduced maintenance costs and elevator downtime by arming its 20,000 elevator service technicians with the ability to visualize and identify problems ahead of a job as well as have remote, hands-free access to technical and expert information when onsite.

Guided innovation and easier product design

Connecting asset sensors together through a remote-monitoring solution can also help guide product redesign, inform future development and drive innovation. Performance data, like operating temperature, can help design teams understand what was overdesigned or underdesigned when compared with original design specifications. In-product sensors also make it easy for designers to know what features are used most often and which ones could be left out in the future. Reducing unused features makes it possible to lower costs or create a new version of the product that is simpler or more intuitive to operate. Usage data can also be leveraged to discover a previously unknown market or subset of customers that would significantly benefit from a different product all together.

Gain new business insights and explore innovative business models

When you can see the whole picture, it becomes easier to make connections you never thought possible. Until IoT and big data, it was difficult to bring together information from different data silos and correlate them. Business and insights were limited by verticals within the company. By moving data into Azure IoT Suite, it’s never been easier to spot trends and identify potential opportunities within your company. Leading manufacturers like Rolls-Royce are opening up new revenue streams based off these improved data insights they can provide to customers.

Rolls-Royce disrupted the airline industry 20 years ago with its engines-as-a-service offering, and now it is doing it again with insights from Azure IoT Suite. After connecting its assets, it saw how customers were using their engines and could compare engine and fuel performance and provide recommendations to airlines to improve efficiencies with training and maintenance support. This insight results in a new service: TotalCare®. TotalCare® isn’t just an engine maintenance plan, it’s a comprehensive service model that collects and aggregates data on engine health, fuel usage and other data points to Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite in real time to deliver enhanced visibility to its customers. With TotalCare®, Rolls-Royce is helping its customers decrease flight disruptions and save millions of dollars per year.

Get started today

Remote monitoring has been around a while, but IoT makes it possible for it to deliver a whole new series of business benefits. The solution empowers organizations with deep visibility and diagnostics for use cases like predictive maintenance, connected field service and product innovation. Whether your assets are down the street or across the globe, you’ll get the insights needed to make real-time decisions that keep your business competitive and differentiated.

Are you ready to unlock the full value of it for your business? Get the business insights you need by using Microsoft’s Remote Monitoring with IoT solution to seamlessly bring your asset data into the cloud. And to learn more about how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.


[1] “IDC’s 2016 Global IoT Decision Maker Survey Finds Organizations Moving Past Pilot Projects and Toward Scalable Deployments,” IDC
[2] “Evolution of Smart Service: Connected to the Future of Resolution,” Aberdeen

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Future-focused: Stop thinking in the past and get ahead of the unexpected with IoT https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/28/future-focused-stop-thinking-in-the-past-and-get-ahead-of-the-unexpected-with-iot-2/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:00:54 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22074 Read more »]]> One June day in Virginia last year, an airplane was grounded by an unlikely adversary: a large swarm of bees. The peculiar story made for great newspaper headlines and serves as a reminder that even with the best technology and planning, some things are truly unexpected. But fortunately, most aircraft delays are caused by far more predictable issues than an unwelcome swarm of bees nesting in a turbine. Airlines, like most asset-intensive businesses, are getting increasingly better at predicting failures and anticipating maintenance problems. Rather than keeping planes grounded for costly and annoying last-minute maintenance — or, worse, exposing passengers to the risk of flying on a faulty aircraft — airlines are investing in cutting-edge technology that detects potential problems before they arise.

Predicting what was once unpredictable

Successful companies know that it pays to get ahead of problems. This doesn’t mean more scheduled, structured maintenance — it means performing maintenance at just the right time. The problem with scheduled maintenance is the guesswork — parts might be replaced before they need to be under the banner of minimizing downtime. To truly be predictive, companies require a real-time understanding of how assets are performing in the field, how their surroundings impact performance, and how those assets compare against similar assets.

Comparing current conditions with the historical data, and using that analysis to predict subtle, early signs of a future problem, help prevent problems and avoid guesswork. Data-driven insights enable companies to transform their approach with predictive maintenance — enabling organizations to automatically trigger preventative actions when certain conditions occur.

This delivers numerous benefits, like cost savings and greater uptime — but that’s not all. Organizations are also using the underlying information to enhance customer engagement and differentiate their businesses. Let’s now take a look at how predictive maintenance and related proactive services are helping to address business needs across a range of scenarios.

Creating a variety of benefits for your business

Increasing quality, reducing waste and saving energy

Leveraging data from across locations and assets enables manufacturers to manage operations in a completely new way. With assets that continually generate performance data, it becomes possible to closely track variations, create alerts and preprogram workflows to respond to changing conditions. By using data to fine-tune processes and automate responses, businesses can reduce energy consumption and prevent costly waste and rework.

Jabil, one of the world’s leading design and manufacturing solution providers, wanted to minimize downtime by creating digital, intelligent and predictive factories. The company connected its machines to Microsoft Azure Machine Learning. Once connected, it began capturing millions of data points and running them through machine-learning algorithms. These predictive analytics capabilities enabled them to catch issues before they even occur. With the ability to identify small deviations in performance, Jabil can now prevent big problems down the line — leading to higher product quality and lower failure rates. After incorporating Azure IoT Suite into its business, Jabil could predict with 80 percent accuracy when machine processes would slow down or fail, which reduced the cost of scrap and rework by 17 percent. It also experienced an energy savings of 10 percent.

Proactively detecting failures to maintain uptime

Asset performance data is not just a source of process optimization or quality assurance. The information from asset monitoring and maintenance solutions also ensures production uptime. For instance, with various machinery involved at all stages of production, one of these assets going down can result in millions of dollars in lost production. KUKA, a robotics manufacturer, runs a connected factory that produces different Jeep Wrangler bodies on the same production line. To deliver a new car body every 77 seconds, KUKA needed continuous, 24/7 uptime without interrupting production flow. After connecting 60,000 devices and robots to the Azure platform, KUKA gained better insight into equipment status. This was the foundation for predicting when a robot might fail and what component was at risk. As a result of this predictive insight, KUKA increased productivity and reduced downtime.

Enhance customer engagement with contextual and responsive services

Customer expectations have evolved. The on-demand, always-on service experiences available from digital businesses are now shaping the way customers think about all services they receive. Customers expect businesses to be highly responsive. These expectations are forcing an evolution from the break-fix model of service. To meet these changing demands, manufacturers like Rockwell Automation are now providing proactive monitoring and predictive maintenance services.

The petroleum supply chain runs 24 hours a day, and getting to the various equipment in that chain takes time. Rockwell Automation wanted to differentiate itself from competitors. Using Azure IoT Suite to monitor its expensive, remote equipment, Rockwell can now offer proactive, data-driven advice to its customers. With full visibility into equipment performance, it’s now easy to alert customers to potential issues and give them precise insights into how to address them. In an industry where a single pump failure in an offshore rig can cost a company $300,000 a day in lost production, these insights are of significant value to Rockwell’s customers. After partnering with Microsoft, Rockwell significantly reduced customers’ troubleshooting efforts and has made the design manual consult a thing of the past.

Support development of innovative and differentiated business models

It’s also possible to use data from connected devices to create new services, new monetization models and even new product designs. By analyzing product data, organizations can better identify which features are used most, how performance and failures vary from user to user, and whether customers are misusing the product and could benefit from training. Insight into these areas enables businesses to reduce costs, innovate faster and open up new revenue streams — all with less money spent on R&D.

For example, Rolls-Royce wanted to improve aircraft efficiency and reduce maintenance costs for its engines, which power more than 50,000 flights around the world each month. With ever-increasing volumes of data coming from all the different sensors on an aircraft, Rolls-Royce needed a better way to get ahead of customers’ maintenance needs. Rolls-Royce partnered with Microsoft to collect and analyze a wide variety of data in real time, including engine health, air traffic control, fuel usage and more. Now, Rolls-Royce not only has a strong approach to predictive maintenance, it has developed a line of new service offerings based on the visibility and insight it gained. These offerings help its airline customers determine optimal actions for saving money and making other operational improvements.

Get started today

We all know that some problems are truly unexpected — the flight crew grounded by bees can certainly testify to that. But fortunately, surprise mechanical delays are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Learn how predictive maintenance can transform your business today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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