As technology has become pervasive in just about every industry, industrial equipment is one that’s experienced seismic changes as a result.

It’s a high-stakes business – the products are complex and expensive to create, often requiring extensive coordination and collaboration from different groups to complete. Upkeep can be challenging, with repairs needed in far-flung places like desert mining fields or oil rigs on the ocean. In addition, when a machine goes down, it can quickly cost millions of dollars, so time truly is money.

For dozens of industrial equipment companies, digital transformation technology is playing a leading role in driving them forward and helping them thrive.

Connected products allow factories to track downtime, save energy and anticipate maintenance. Augmented reality provides a new, more effective way to train employees, troubleshoot problems and reduce installation time. Product Lifecycle Management combines information from different systems, improves visibility into performance and enables data-driven decision making at each stage of the process.

These are four to know.

BID Group

Challenge: When thinking about the world’s most innovative, sophisticated sectors, wood processing is not exactly the first that comes to mind. Each tree is unique, and when manufacturers can’t easily control material specifications, how can they effectively standardize technology based on that data? Fluctuating market demand for different cuts and configurations as well as equipment that often operates at suboptimal capacity only makes it trickier.

Undeterred by the longstanding obstacles, BID Group believed there was potential to utilize Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and cloud technology. By combining their expertise with the right resources, effective digital transformation was possible in wood processing, too.

Solution: BID built a team of partners, each with expertise in their own field, that included PTC and Rockwell Automation. ThingWorx, PTC’s IIoT platform, allowed BID Group to gain visibility into production, implement predictive analytics for maintenance and ultimately improve the reliability of their operations. With these improvements, BID was able to quickly provide superior connectivity to its customer facilities and built on that foundation by introducing Vuforia to provide precise, real-time instructions using augmented reality.

Results:

  • Improved customers’ profitability by optimizing fiber recovery while boosting sales
  • Improved customer satisfaction and preference of digital sawmill equipment for themselves and their customers
  • Improved service efficiency, reduced travel and service costs

EnerSys

Challenge: With rising complexity stemming from an industry shift to lithium-ion batteries, EnerSys needed to transition from an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) mindset to a product lifecycle process-driven approach. For the venerable energy storage systems and solutions provider, this meant that people, processes and technology all needed to be organized around products with governance and traceability.

Solution: Using Windchill and the PTC Cloud, EnerSys is creating a unified new product implementation (NPI) process, from concept to release. Their goal for this multi-year digital transformation project is three-fold: integrating and connecting all bills of materials, enabling global design collaboration and standardization for product development, and creating a manufacturing process that can easily exchange information from different systems. Already, EnerSys is doing more with less, driving faster time to market and enhancing quality.

Results: “The system BOM, which used to take months, is down to weeks. The development time has been reduced by adopting a model-based design approach.” – Sudip Pattanayak, Global PLM Head and Architect

Rockwell Automation

Challenge: When business travel screeched to a halt in March 2020 because of the pandemic, it placed Rockwell Automation in a difficult position. A worldwide industrial automation leader with 100+ years in operation, Rockwell ensures that customers get access to round-the-clock support and had a major in-person installation planned for a customer early April. With strict travel bans emplaced, in-person was no longer an option and neither were significant production delays. Rockwell needed a different approach.

Solution: By combining real-time audio and video with AR technology, Vuforia allowed the remote experts to view the end-customer’s equipment and annotate directly on the screen. Thanks in no small part to Vuforia’s simplicity and ease of use, the equipment replacement was safely completed in under two days, meeting the allotted schedule for planned downtime. The customer, in turn, maintained production levels with no revenue loss.

Results:

  • More than 3,000 remote and field-based engineers trained on Vuforia Chalk
  • Customer's machine change-over accomplished in 2 days
  • Customers can quickly and effectively connect with Rockwell Automation remote service experts

Vestergaard

Challenge: Air travel is a big industry with lots of moving parts and many of them are supplied by Vestergaard. The Denmark-based manufacturer makes aircraft service trucks, potable water units, vacuum toilets and other equipment that keeps airlines and airports humming along every day. After beginning with their own data transmission system (DTS) to monitor and service equipment, Vestergaard saw an opportunity to build on those capabilities, increase operational efficiency and improve their bottom line.

Solution: To accomplish that, they enlisted the help of ThingWorx. The IIoT platform provided the capabilities to simplify and optimize workflows, improve the service trucks’ operational efficiencies, glean greater insight into product usage, boost sustainability efforts, streamline compliance and increase overall equipment effectiveness. Today, the system manages data coming in from hundreds of trucks, with each vehicle having up to 230 data points; this information and insights drawn from it drive optimizations from frontline workers all the way back to Vestergaard’s design phase.

Results:

  • Improved workforce productivity and safety by providing critical job, location and asset health information to frontline workers
  • Improved asset utilization via real time visibility into fleet operations
  • Enhanced uptime, customer service, and profitability by transitioning from a reactive to a proactive service model
  • Improved product profitability through more data-driven product design and engineering decisions

If you’re curious to learn more about how technology is powering industrial equipment to working smarter, faster and better, there are 50+ case studies to thumb through on the PTC site.

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