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July 10, 2015
Complex physical machinery is increasingly integrated with networked sensors and software to form what is referred to by some as the Industrial Internet. Data is gathered from machines, analyzed, and used by companies to adjust operations remotely at their customers’ plants. Always leading the wave, Atlas Copco has many examples of this growing trend.
Launched three years ago and now part of the act! project, WheresMyTool.com is a service product which offers customers an instant view of all their tools and their status on a password-protected web page. It tracks tools and create reports in Excel. Sales people and distributors make fewer phone calls to check on the status of repairs, and the service sales force can focus on selling more services. Where’s my tool has been very well received by the customers of Industrial Technique in the United States.
On its CV13 assembly system Desoutter, who produces industrial tools, offers remote diagnostic services which increase equipment uptime. At the customer’s plant, the controller is connected to the web with a wireless 3G/4G connection. From Desoutter, the service technician can check all the parameters of the controller and the partnered tool. It is often possible to correct the problem remotely in which case the system informs the user. It may instead tell the user that a visit from a field technician is required, or that tools need to be repaired in a Desoutter workshop. Remote diagnostics for service and maintenance is in the pipeline for the Atlas Copco brand.
Acquired last year, Synatec specializes in products and software solutions to improve flexibility and quality for manufacturing companies. Vehicle manufacturers, for example, increasingly need to cope with a wide range of model variants. To achieve LEAN production with built-in quality and right first time they need sub-systems that provide operator-guided assembly. Examples of Synatec software solutions are pick to light and visual camera systems which ensure that the operator matches the right part to the right product.
As the use of industrial internet continues to spread, Industrial Technique will shift focus to selling more software features. For instance, in addition to tools and controllers, assembly systems will include a number of virtual stations.
“In the Motor Vehicle Industry division we are rapidly transforming our business model and expanding our product portfolio in order to strengthen our industrial Internet value proposition,” says Nicklas Tibblin, Vice President Marketing.
The customers will benefit since every customer will get precisely the right solution and it will be quick and easy to add functionality without adding hardware. Rebalancing an assembly line will be much simpler since it will involve moving software features between stations instead of hardware. Another benefit will be electronic instead of physical delivery.
Atlas Copco will benefit from a new revenue stream from add-on sales of software which involve no physical delivery, and the product offer will be scalable and easy to adapt to each customer. Increased customer insight will allow for more efficient customer support, and stock levels and shipping costs will be reduced.