Global

Data connectivity key to insight discovery for value-chain

Connectivity is a frequently used term, but not always a clear concept. What insights does connectivity bring? How do these connectivity insights benefit industrial operations and applications? In this article, I will outline some of the key insights of connectivity, as well as the customer value that comes from them.

How connectivity benefits industrial operations
Connectivity enables the real-time monitoring and measuring of engines’ status, and how they are actually used. It puts a pair of expert eyes on your connected engine, meaning that any emerging and potential issues can be detected and dealt with quickly and precisely. Managers do not need to rely on anecdotal information, nor do they need to send technicians to identify an issue before any maintenance work can start. Uptime can be maintained, even increased, and the maintenance work becomes as efficient as possible.

Connected engines produce lots and lots of data. The key value of this data does not lie with the sheer quantity, however, but in extracting the most important insights from it. Insights that can be turned into even better products and services, and smoother business operations for customers. So, what are some of the key insights of connectivity, and what are the greatest benefits of these insights?

Instant alerts facilitate engine repairs and prevent greater maintenance needs
Low fluid levels can damage your engine, resulting in costly maintenance and downtime. When your engine is connected, these low levels can be instantly communicated beyond the machine and the information be sent to our Volvo Penta Uptime Centre. We can then – usually through our local dealer – quickly inform the customer of the issue, which can be tended to before it causes damage and disrupts operations.

It is simply a fact that machine operators do not always acknowledge or act on these kinds of alerts themselves. With connectivity, you avoid the risk of unattended engine malfunctions. Maintenance personnel receive the information they need before they are dispatched, and are able to bring the right equipment right away.

Easy access to key engine data and diagnostics
The real customer value of connected engine data comes from the convenience, increased profitability and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) it brings to industrial operations. We have learnt that customers often do not have either the time, resources or expertise to extract and analyse the detailed information that comes from their engine data. This only makes it more important that we, the engine manufacturer, assist them in this work. That means that we also need to supply the most useful engine data and expert diagnostic analysis to the customer in a convenient, accessible way.

In addition, the usage-based engine data provides unique insights to the manufacturer as well. Insights that contribute to offering even better products and services in the future.

Paving the way for predictive maintenance
Engine data can be used to build models based on the engine's actual usage over time. These models enable us to make predictions that further facilitate fault-finding and maintenance, so that we can schedule in an inspection without incurring costly downtime. We might identify a component that ought to be looked at in about a month, for example, or a battery that will likely need to be replaced in approximately six months.

Predictive maintenance is not yet a reality, but a highly-anticipated future possibility. We already have some predictive elements available in our current service offering, but we are able to go much further. Connectivity means we can now take important steps in this direction, as we (as well as our customers and dealers) learn more and more about the connected engines, how they are used, and how they can operate better and for longer.

Connected engines and engine data that are easy to integrate
Volvo Penta's engines are easy to integrate. With our connected engines, we are making sure that their data becomes easy to integrate as well. The diagnostics and performance data of the connected engines and drivelines should be easy to access, read and use; not just for us but for customers using APIs for their productivity systems and maintenance systems.

Component suppliers typically develop their own connectivity systems that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to install and subscribe to. But what the customer often wants and requests is Volvo Penta’s expert analysis of their Volvo Penta engine’s diagnostics data, not always another web portal in order to access it. Instead of only building specific, additional systems for Volvo Penta diagnostics information, we aim to also make it accessible through the established systems, web portals and APIs used by our customers.

In the future, many applications will use numerous connectivity devices. At Volvo Penta, we want to provide the customer with the connected engine data in their format of choice. The experience should be as straightforward and convenient as possible. That way, value and confidence enabled through connectivity becomes fully integrated with customers’ everyday operations, just as it should be.

Realising the true customer value of connectivity
It is essential to move beyond connectivity as a buzzword, and truly extract the value of it; the value of the data and the diagnostics. It is about finding the golden nuggets of information, and putting these new insights to the best use for our customers. Buying a Volvo Penta engine or driveline means not only buying an engine for one's application or business, but the remote expertise which makes the application or business run even better and even more reliably.

This journey is not just about connectivity hardware, antennas, IP addresses and web portals, but about creating a beautiful, integrated end-to-end experience for our customers. One that leverages the best of Volvo Penta’s aftermarket capability, our diagnostics expertise and our market leading sustainable power solution offerings.

If you want to know more about our work with connectivity, you are welcome to contact me on justin.dixey@volvo.com. I also recommend visiting our website, and reading other connectivity articles here on our Volvo Penta stories.