Integrating IoT into Field Service Strategies

Scott E. Day, EVP- Product & Business Strategy, thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation
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Scott E. Day, EVP- Product & Business Strategy, thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation

Pricing pressure remains a constant in almost every industry unless that industry has altered the value equation with technology, information technology, or a unique product that catches the population off guard. Let’s face it, catching people by surprise seems to be the norm now when in general conversation people repeatedly say, “there’s an app for that”. Changes in technology lifecycle expectations, workforce demographics, and demands for continual work and life efficiency improvements make information technology and connecting to the Internet of Things (IoT) a must for all new products.

While technology, infrastructure, and information technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, the elevator industry’s workforce also continues to change. 30 percent of the skilled technicians who have intimate knowledge of older elevator control systems will retire over the next four to five years. This combination of new talent and heavier workloads is prime for a technology-based solution. There is also a trending reliance on constant connectivity with tablets, smart phones and wearables. For those who have grown up in the age of instant access to information– there is an expectation for data to be readily available on elevator service through these devices.

Our elevator industry and workforce are ultimately impacted by typical construction cycles–building booms and recessions are par for the course. As cranes disappear from sky lines, older buildings in need of a technology face lifts to compete with the new buildings come into focus. This forces the industry to constantly innovate and evolve. One important evolution is buildings and building systems connected through the IoT. This requires connected devices that can communicate via Ethernet, cellular, or mesh networks that facilitate predictive analytics through the use of big data. For thyssenkrupp Elevator, this game-changing IoT solution is MAX with the ability to provide connectivity, predictive analytics and condition based maintenance modeling.

  â€‹Predictive analytics models can be enhanced to the point of actually predicting a failure and adjusting the technician’s visit schedule to prescribe a visit in advance of a problem occurring 

Connectivity decisions can be challenging as the telecom industry is constantly tasked with providing faster networks with high throughput for big data at lower costs. With more than 250,000 elevators under service in North America alone, choosing the most forward leaning cellular hardware is important, as plans of sun-setting 2G and 3G infrastructures appear imminent and big data requires faster transmission speeds.

Assuming that all connectivity is optimum, once our elevator’s data is in the cloud, the consumption begins and the use of expert systems and predictive analytics models help us to make our service technicians more efficient. thyssenkrupp’s Coach application guides technicians in fixing issues right the first time through dynamic knowledge based applications delivered to his/her cell phone or tablet. In the event they are visiting a site on a routine maintenance visit, task based maintenance models are replaced with predictive analytics models that modify the maintenance plan to work on the right things in order to prevent elevator shutdowns.

Predictive analytics models can be enhanced to the point of actually predicting a failure and adjusting the technician’s visit schedule to prescribe a visit in advance of a problem occurring. By providing the technician with an optimum visit schedule that takes into account the condition of each piece of equipment on his route, the technician experiences less disruption caused by service callbacks and is able to create an improved condition of the elevator equipment.

While improving customer’s elevator and escalator uptime is occurring with the help of MAX, ridership is the next key focus for thyssenkrupp Elevator. Our goal is to make each passenger’s 30 second to five minute elevator ride filled with the content they would like to make the ride itself more enjoyable than it has been in the past. This step requires connecting the elevator cabin itself to the internet.

High speed data connections to the elevator cab or mesh networks which provide connectivity at various stopping points are just the pipeline for the next generation elevator ride. Imagine checking into a hotel and being able to access, via an elevator touchscreen, a live video stream of the fitness center and the hotel lobby bar. This kind of instant access would help you understand without visiting if there is workout equipment available or room at the bar for dinner.

The journey of an integrated field service strategy that leverages predictive analytics to provide condition based maintenance is here and is quickly becoming the norm. The connected elevator, haptic sensors, and cognitive services are the next frontier in improving the ridership experience and maximizing the value of that brief elevator ride of the future. Creating the strategy that advances our customers is the challenge of today.

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