For a number of industries, from long-haul transport, to mass transit, to forestry & mining, delays or disruptions in transportation can spell doom for their business. Any period during which equipment or vehicles are not functional due to technical failure, maintenance, or inefficient operations has an impact on the bottom line. This is where transportation companies have a real opportunity to use technology to their advantage, by connecting their assets and offering performance analytics services to reduce downtime and increase revenues. Today, transportation companies can implement intelligent analytics services that predict mechanical and other issues before they arise, helping companies combat razor thin margins and grow their transportation business.
Scania, a global company that delivers heavy trucks and buses, engines and services in more than 100 countries, has been piloting a service built on Microsoft technology that uses data and the cloud to bring trucking into the digital era. In addition to offering customers strong, powerful and reliable vehicles, Scania also offers consulting services in logistics, transportation planning and monitoring of ongoing operations to ensure that the equipment is helping meet business objectives. In the case of mining, successful transport is all about moving high volumes of heavy material at the lowest possible cost, particularly since transportation expenses often make up a third or more of the total mining operating costs.
In order to help mining companies tackle these costs, Scania developed a system on the Microsoft Azure platform that measures the entire transport flow of a mine, with data sent wirelessly every second from the trucks in the production flow to Scania’s field workshop. This allows them to calculate uptime and down times and have useful data to make decisions that affect operational efficiency in real time in their customers’ mining operations.
Site Optimization by Scania is a business intelligence platform being piloted with four customers in Sweden and South America. Scania and their customers have seen major improvements throughout their prototype deployment.
Scania mining customers that participated in the prototype saw substantial improvement in their Total Operating Economy thanks to the system’s ability to minimize operational disturbances like equipment damage or assembly, inspections or safety related delays, and operator errors.
Microsoft helped Scania design and execute a proof of concept that demonstrated how Azure could provide the base for serving around 40,000 connected vehicles, and the scalability to expand to an estimated 1 million vehicles by 2020. With this knowledge in mind, Scania moved forward with the development of Site Optimization for their mining business. For this project, Scania partnered with Microsoft for its cross-platform support, flexibility, scalability, high security, and easy communication via Service Bus. Additionally, Microsoft technology also meets the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group’s requirements for compliance. Scania is taking advantage of standard Azure diagnostic tools for system monitoring, as well as its massive, scalable compute power and storage for data analysis.
Scania carried out a pilot project in which the entire transport flow of a mine was measured on the basis of selected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Data is sent wirelessly every second via in-vehicle telematics from the trucks in the production flow to Scania’s field workshop, which helps ensure Scania is meeting contractual targets with their customers.
Azure Service Bus captures the data like their vehicles weight, position from the trucks and other equipment, and stores insights on the global Azure storage platform. Scania can then perform optimization analytics by modeling the data into Power BI, using SharePoint and O365 as a platform to support their consultants in the field.
The Microsoft-based platform also allows Scania to receive feedback and insightful data in real time, which allows them to identify ways to increase efficiency. For example Scania analysts are able to offer predictive maintenance to their vehicles and avoid costly production downtime and repair costs. And while vehicles are up and running, consultants can notice if it’s taking too much time to change drivers during planned changeovers. A few minutes wasted each day over a year’s worth of mining equates to a huge amount of lost productivity. With Site Optimization, Scania knows exactly when products are producing value and when they are not, and can adjust accordingly.
To date, Scania has deployed prototype monitoring centers as part of their pilot program, before scaling the service on a global level. The pilot program gave the team the tools to refine the process and now they have a significant amount of data to work with that will help Scania expand the boundaries of their service offering.
Site Optimization powered by Microsoft helps Scania improve their operations and take advantage of proactive maintenance capabilities, putting them in a position to drive further revenue for themselves and their customers. Scania’s mining customers have already realized massive operational improvements thanks to Site Optimization prototype and plan to implement the full service over the next year. Data driven initiatives like Scania’s are poised to bring efficiencies to a wide range of industries that utilize fixed route operations, including long haul transport, city busses, and forestry among others.