Internet of Things https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot Microsoft Internet of Things Blog Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:34:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 77982353 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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How gateway technology makes connecting industrial assets easier https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/23/how-gateway-technology-makes-connecting-industrial-assets-easier/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:00:56 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22023 Read more »]]> The cloud’s up there. Your devices are down here. So how do you connect them, particularly when they may be offline, in multiple buildings or factories, and often also geographically dispersed?

Connecting your existing devices to modern cloud solutions is the first step to reaping the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT). But this step can seem daunting if your legacy industrial assets aren’t cloud-aware, can’t encrypt for security or aren’t TCP/IP-enabled.

The Microsoft Azure IoT Gateway SDK is designed to connect legacy devices and sensors to the Azure cloud without having to replace existing infrastructure. In our work with connectivity providers like ProSoft Technology, we are making it even simpler to connect industrial assets to the cloud.

The development team for the ProSoft PLX gateway are using the Azure IoT Gateway SDK to build and deploy “edge intelligence” modules that optimize and process data before it’s sent to the cloud to help their customers connect devices to the cloud in minutes and start using the remote monitoring capabilities of the Azure IoT Suite. ProSoft PLX gateways communicate directly and securely with Azure IoT Hub through the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, enabling enterprises to monitor, analyze, report on and create alarms based on the data connected devices send to the cloud.

With gateway technology from Azure IoT and connectivity providers like Prosoft, legacy devices don’t need to delay your goal of connecting your existing assets to the cloud.

Read more about how ProSoft and Azure IoT Gateway SDK can unlock the value of data from your industrial systems to transform your business and operate more efficiently. For more information on how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.


Lead image: Diagram showing how existing business assets can be connected to the Azure IoT Suite remote monitoring preconfigured solution using a ProSoft PLX gateway running the Azure IoT Gateway SDK.

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Swedish apartments transform into smart buildings with IoT makeover https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/21/swedish-apartments-transform-into-smart-buildings-with-iot-makeover/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:00:12 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=21642 Read more »]]> When winter hits Scandinavia and temperatures fall with the snow, having plenty of hot water is a real treat. It’s also a big expense — typically an apartment building’s No. 3 energy expense after heating and cooling. While no one wants to pay more than necessary for any utility, few apartment tenants (or their landlords) have a way to monitor their individual resource consumption.

In Sweden, a world leader in renewable energy and sustainability, a new Internet of Things (IoT) solution is seizing the opportunity to make apartments more efficient, conserve natural resources and save money. Stockrose, a Swedish property management company, is out to change the way building owners and tenants consume resources — so there’s incentive to take a shorter shower over a luxurious bath.

In fact, Stockrose has evolved from the old model of dividing utility costs equally between tenants to a model where those who consume less, pay less. Stockrose worked with Eniga, a provider of intelligent cloud solutions, to connect the approximately 250 buildings and 10,000 apartment units it operates to Microsoft Azure IoT technology. They began by tracking hot water usage, which accounts for about 20 percent of the energy bill in single-family homes — and much more in apartment buildings.

The result of their collaboration is a building-as-a-service offering that will save Stockrose property owners an estimated $42 million in hot water costs within 10 years.

“Sustainability is not just a buzzword,” says Richard Lind, CEO of Stockrose. “Sure, it’s a big promise, but it’s also a win-win for a number of stakeholders. It’s certainly a win for property owners who can lower their operational costs.”

 

Stockrose chose Azure as the only IoT platform that offers the security features, performance and scalability it needs to support such a complex solution. The hybrid on-premises and cloud infrastructure connects at least five sensors in each apartment unit to the cloud. It starts with on-premises gateways running the Azure IoT Gateway SDK. The gateways enable Eniga to work with the diverse sensors from multiple vendors speaking different protocols that already exist in Stockrose’s buildings. Another benefit of the SDK is that its gateways can preprocess the data to minimize the amount of data sent to the cloud, which reduces the cost for Stockrose.

Other Azure services then process and analyze sensor data to provide building owners with insights into resource usage. Azure IoT Hub ingests data from the millions of sensors in buildings connected through the gateways. This gives Stockrose the flexibility to bring smart buildings online quickly and affordably without ripping and replacing existing infrastructure.

“There are a lot of investments that have already been made, particularly in electricity and smart metering,” says Lind. “So what you need is a platform that is more or less agnostic about sensors and network topology. And that’s one of the good things about the Azure platform.”

Beyond water heaters, the IoT platform can easily connect to all of a building’s systems, from HVAC to solar panels. It can also be used to detect water leaks and measure the snowpack on roofs to help avoid costly damage and insurance claims. Another benefit is that it opens opportunities for Stockrose to offer new products to property owners, such as water-saving shower fixtures and appliances.

Stockrose can also offer predictive building maintenance as a service that can cut costs and increase efficiency. “I know that Azure IoT Hub can scale, and that we can take advantage of additional capabilities like real-time analytics,” says Lind. “We can also use machine learning, which will be a real cornerstone of our service for customers that want predictive maintenance.”

Read the complete story of how Stockrose is putting IoT to work in its buildings. To learn more about how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Azure IoT turbocharged with new Azure Stream Analytics features https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/17/azure-iot-turbocharged-with-new-azure-stream-analytics-features/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:00:32 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=21927 Read more »]]> IoT solutions must monitor real-time data coming from devices and take action when troubling patterns are found. This capability is referred to as “stream processing,” and at the scale of IoT, customers need a robust and scalable solution. Many of our Azure IoT customers use Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics to meet these needs, and with its recently announced features, Azure Stream Analytics can help customers take their IoT solutions to the next level:

  • Native support for geospatial functions helps developers build solutions for connected car, connected fleet management and related “things that move” scenarios. More than 100 customers including NASCAR have already been using these geospatial capabilities in preview to define geographical areas, evaluate incoming geospatial data for containment, proximity and overlap, and generate alerts or easily kick off necessary workflows.
  • Custom code with JavaScript now enables more advanced scenarios. Customers can write their custom code in JavaScript and easily invoke it as part of their real-time stream processing query.
  • Low-latency dashboards offer an improved experience for solutions built using Azure Stream Analytics. High-volume, streaming data analytics can now be output to Microsoft Power BI with significantly lower latency.
  • Job diagnostics logs simplify self-service troubleshooting. Customers now have a systematic way to deal with lost, late or malformed data — and to investigate errors caused by bad data.
  • Visual Studio integration with Azure Stream Analytics is also available in public preview.

Read more about all these new features, or for more information on how IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Leveraging Microsoft’s Connected Field Service capabilities to transform your business https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/16/leveraging-microsofts-connected-field-service-capabilities-to-transform-your-business/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:00:40 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=21870 Read more »]]> Digital transformation is causing tremendous shifts in how manufacturers do business. Leading firms are moving toward selling services instead of products[1], turning what used to be an expensive operation – fixing failures in the field – into the cornerstone of a successful, high-margin business.[2] This approach, known as servitization, decreases operational costs, creates new, recurring revenue streams, and enables manufacturers to differentiate their offerings from competitors’ solutions. But shifting from a “product-based” to a “service-based” business isn’t just about improving profits – it’s also about providing customers with better outcomes, greater reliability, and reduced risks. For more and more manufacturers, servitization is essential to embracing digital transformation and generating new value for themselves and their customers.

Connected Field Service enables a seamless shift to successful servitization

With Microsoft Connected Field Service, a fully integrated IoT enabled “field service” solution that leverages Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service, it’s possible to transform service from a siloed source of cost into a consistent profit driver. Connected Field Service enables companies to easily and successfully navigate the five key steps to servitization, which can dramatically improve first-time fix rates, reduce onsite appointments, increase profits, and enhance customer outcomes. Here, we’ll walk through the basics of how companies are embracing servitization via Connected Field Service:

1. Utilizing quality field service management software is the critical first step for every organization. Great software enables companies to enhance the management and delivery of their services to a diverse set of customers. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and it’s advanced field service capabilities, it’s easy to integrate scheduling and routing, inventory, invoicing, training and knowledge, customer information, and more. The best field service management software goes a step further into optimization, maximizing appointments per day, and improving customer satisfaction and organizational productivity. It also boosts first-time fix rates by aggregating and distributing critical data so that individuals across the organization have access to the latest insights from the field.

2. Connecting smart devices and assets to field service software enables companies to leverage the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enhance operations. Leveraging IoT connectivity is where operational productivity begins to escalate quickly.  With this approach, many issues can be repaired remotely and with minimal human intervention, resulting in cost savings and ensuring that technicians are sent only when necessary. Achieving these benefits requires seamless integration of IoT technologies with Connected Field Service. Using software like Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Dynamics 365 for Field Service, companies can quickly and easily connect devices and start using IoT data to make more intelligent service decisions.

3. Integrating service across an entire a company provides field service organizations with a true competitive advantage. A single platform gives technicians the ability to identify opportunities in the field and request follow-up from sales – uniting field service, customer service, and the sales organization. It also ensures that technicians have a full 360-degree view of customer cases so they have all relevant information before they arrive on-site, increasing the first-time fix rate. A comprehensive service approach is more than just collaboration between different business units – it’s a mindset of ensuring a continuous, cohesive customer experience and empowering employees to gain visibility into the entire customer journey.

4. Leveraging machine learning is critical to field service because it enables predictive maintenance  – fixing problems before they arise or can cause disruptions. Machine learning can deliver benefits in many related scenarios as well. For example, by applying insights from machine learning, firms can order inventory more efficiently, schedule technicians more effectively, and understand which products are out-performing and under-performing, and why. But the primary application of machine learning – empowering companies to know when service is needed via predictive maintenance – provides a tremendous competitive advantage when it comes to reducing costs and maximizing field service efficiency.

5. Enabling field service to power innovation is another example of how field service can help firms differentiate themselves. Product and service innovations come from customer insights, from the actual use of products and services beyond the feedback customers volunteer.  The tribal knowledge of field service technicians can also be used to uncover trends and best practices – using smart devices and machine learning to capture, aggregate, and analyze field service technician’s repair notes, firms can enable the wisdom and expertise of their employees to power ingenuity. Connecting a 360-degree view of customer interactions across channels, product telemetry from connecting smart products to field service, and observations from service technicians gives field service organizations multiple new catalysts for innovation. With those powerful insights, service organizations can transform many maintenance problems into predictive, preventive solutions.

Get started today

Microsoft is helping manufacturers embrace digital transformation and compete in the age of servitization. Businesses that want to stay competitive can’t afford to wait – one out of every four field service operations is already generating new revenue from servitization. Learn how you can expand your services and enhance customer relationships with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service, Microsoft IoT Connected Field Service capabilities, the five steps to successful servitization, and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.


[1] Aberdeen Group, State of Field Service Market

[2] Aberdeen Group, Service Revenue: Unearth an Untapped Stream of Dollars

 

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How to assess IoT security from end to end https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/15/how-to-assess-iot-security-from-end-to-end/ Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:00:46 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=21846 Read more »]]> As businesses around the world look to adopt IoT or expand their deployments, security may have never been more top of mind. Recent news of hackers using sophisticated malware like Mirai is a reminder that actively addressing these issues is critical to businesses.

Yet as the threat landscape is always changing, security is not so much a destination to be reached as it is a continuous journey, according to Microsoft’s Arjmand Samuel, a principal program manager for IoT. Addressing the wide-reaching challenges of security in the age of IoT requires participation from the entire technology ecosystem — from cloud providers to hardware manufacturers and solution developers to the companies that ultimately operate the system.

This week at the RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco, Samuel will host a theater session discussing ways to foresee and overcome difficulties around designing, developing and deploying IoT infrastructure.

The session will explore new complexities introduced by recent security threats and detail the top security concerns that IoT solution providers, partners and customers should be focused on today. Samuel will also discuss the Security Program for Azure IoT, which brings customers together with trusted security auditors and Microsoft security specialists to evaluate IoT solutions end to end and identify security priorities, vulnerabilities and effective mitigations.

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

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See the Internet of Things in Action With Microsoft https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/02/15/see-the-internet-of-things-in-action-with-microsoft/ Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:00:54 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=21828 Read more »]]> At Microsoft, we believe that one of the most important trends for improving your business is the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a cornerstone of digital transformation that is driving real value across industries, helping the enterprise reduce cost and create new lines of business. But IoT isn’t one “thing.” It’s about an ecosystem of devices, the data they generate, and the opportunity to draw insights and take action based on analysis of that data.

But IoT is complicated, and presents a range of opportunities and challenges that can make it difficult to get started. So Microsoft has joined forces with the online tech publication ReadWrite to host IoT in Action With Microsoft, a two-day event of thought leadership and technical know-how designed to educate and foster collaboration among hardware manufacturers, distributors, packaged software providers and systems integrators.

Please join us in San Jose, California, USA, at the Fairmont Hotel March 21–22, 2017, for a unique opportunity to learn more about what it takes to build a world-class IoT solution. You’ll be joined by industry experts including Dr. James Whittaker, Microsoft distinguished technology evangelist; Tom O’Reilly, general manager, OEM Embedded; Carl Coken, Microsoft general manager, account technology specialist; Trevor Curwin, editor in chief of ReadWrite; and a host of speakers providing insights around cloud economics, the business value of IoT solutions, device-to-cloud security, and sharing real-world examples of how businesses have successfully built and monetized scalable IoT solutions.

For more information on the full two-day agenda, and to register for the event, please visit the IoT in Action With Microsoft registration site.

If you can’t be in San Jose in person, catch all the updates from the stage via Twitter using hashtag #IoTinActionMS! And for more information about how IoT can help your business, visit InternetofYourThings.com.

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