As discussions about the Internet of Things (IoT) captured the interest of industrial companies of all sizes over the past few years, the biggest caveat has been the conceptual nature of industrial IoT applications. In other words, there are lots of possibilities for IoT to discuss, but little in terms of real world applications. But that’s quickly beginning to change with nearly every passing quarter as more companies roll out official versions of IoT applications they've been testing.
A recent example of this is the announcement of ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s MAX, a proactive maintenance system that comprises cloud and IoT technologies. It is the result of two-year research & development project conducted by ThyssenKrupp Elevators’ maintenance engineers and field specialists in partnership with Microsoft data scientists and software programmers.
According to ThyssenKrupp Elevator, MAX is the elevator industry’s “first real-time, cloud-based predictive maintenance solution. It collects and sends real-time data from connected elevators to the intelligent cloud. Algorithms then calculate the remaining lifetime of each elevator’s key components and systems, determining which parts will require maintenance and when. Our smart, machine learning IoT solution dramatically increases elevator availability by reducing out-of-service situations through real-time diagnostics. MAX predicts maintenance issues before they occur … [and] empowers elevator engineers by flagging the need to replace components and systems before the end of their lifecycle.”
With MAX delivering the maintenance data, ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s 20,000 global service engineers and technicians can now reportedly receive real-time alerts for pre-issue repairs, enabling them to be more proactive with customers. Such proactive tactics include scheduling maintenance tasks ahead of elevator breakdowns and at times of minimal disruption within the building.
To give you an idea of the scope of projects a system like MAX could be deployed for consider that, worldwide, there are more than 12 million elevators making more than 7 billion trips and moving more than 1 billion people every day, according to ThyssenKrupp Elevators.
Similar to GE’s recent release of its Equipment Insight (which Automation World profiled again in TempuTech’s deployment of the system in a grain elevator operation for Riceland Foods), it’s apparent that industrial maintenance and repair applications are where the first footholds of IoT are clearly taking place. This kind of application makes sense considering the core sensor and control technologies already in place in such applications and the high return on investment potential for OEMs by providing better levels of service to their customers.
ThyssenKrupp’s venture into the development of MAX began with a search for technology that could capture and analyze huge amounts of data in real time from its millions of elevator sensors all over the world. After Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator, happened to meet then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a conference, ThyssenKrupp soon began meeting with Microsoft to explore how Microsoft Azure IoT technology could be applied to improve not just elevator maintenance, but building efficiency as well.
“Microsoft showed it really understood our business and what we were trying to achieve,” says Fabio Speggiorin, executive vice president, R&D and product lifecycle management for ThyssenKrupp Elevator. “IoT-enabled technology also provides us with a one-stop solution that gives us full control over the data we’re collecting from millions of elevator sensors every day. We can shape it to meet our needs, rather than the other way around.”