Boosting industrial productivity via remote maintenance

01.04.2020 by Daniel Kunz
Technicians at Petko know which spare parts they need on site for a repair job before they arrive at a customer’s premises.

Petko GmbH, a German manufacturer of compressed air systems, uses the Internet of Things to provide remote servicing and predictive maintenance. The digitalization has advantages for both the company and its customers.

About 30 kilometers outside the eastern German city of Leipzig, the huge towers of the Leuna chemical park reach high into the sky. The 30,000 lights at the oil refinery make for an impressive sight at night. From afar, it appears to be “a Manhattan on the Saale” river, as public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk once rather romantically described the little town of 14,000 inhabitants. The refinery, which belongs to the French petroleum group Total and has around 600 employees, accounts for the most revenues in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. In the shadow of the bright towers, Petko GmbH has also made a name for itself at the chemical park. The company’s compressed air systems are now used by numerous industrial and construction companies. In order to monitor the compressed air equipment remotely and outfit it for predictive maintenance, Petko is now networking its machines via the Internet of Things (IoT).

Networking: All Important Data at a Glance in Real-Time

Petko’s service staff used to have to spend considerable effort searching on site for machine malfunctions while checking compressed air systems as quickly as possible to find leaks in a complex of piping. Today, the compressed air systems are connected with Telekom’s IoT Cloud and equipped with PSsystec’s Smartbox – a cloud-based plug-and-play solution for automation. The box records important parameters from the machines such as pressure, power supply and temperature before sending the readings encrypted via wireless to the Cloud of Things. The IoT platform then evaluates and prepares the data so that Petko technicians can use the web portal to view all important information from their customers' machines in real-time.

Anomalies and errors become visible before they affect the performance of a machine or cause it to fail completely. The system displays malfunctions immediately and rapidly alerts Petko technicians and customers. The Petko service team also flags the devices requiring individual maintenance via the web portal. Plus, the cloud solution reminds customers of any upcoming appointments.

The Many Advantages of Predictive Maintenance

Thanks to remote digital maintenance, Petko customers save both time and money. The company's service technicians have a precise picture of the situation on site – even before they arrive at the customer’s premises. For example, they know exactly which spare parts they need for repairs. Based on the data collected, it is also possible to assess how efficiently a machine is working and when the best time to invest in a new system is. It’s been so effective that Petko is now planning to equip other machines with the IoT solution for predictive maintenance.

Petko Managing Director Peter Kolbe attached great importance to the fact that its cloud solution would fulfill crucial data security requirements. That’s why the company decided to go with Telekom’s cloud platform for IoT applications. The Cloud of Things enables Petko to implement remote digital maintenance while reliably ensuring data security. “With Telekom we have a trustworthy partner at our side who handles sensitive, competition-relevant machine data securely and hosts it in Germany in accordance with German data protection regulations,” says Kolbe.

Study Shows Iot Boosting Industrial Productivity

The benchmark study “Digitalization Index for SMEs” conducted by techconsult on behalf of Telekom found that the Internet of Things is particularly boosting the productivity of German industrial firms throughout the value chain. Predictive maintenance and intelligent business analytics already play a key role for midsized industry players. Half of those surveyed (51 percent) consider predictive maintenance highly relevant to their businesses, while more than a third (35 percent) already use such solutions in their daily operations. The results speak for themselves: 83 percent of those companies were able to reduce the downtime of machines and systems thanks to predictive maintenance. And 40 percent of those surveyed consider predictive analytics to be a decisive factor, with 29 percent already having implemented such solutions.

According to the study, 51 percent of industrial companies have made digitalization part of their business strategy. As a rule, large companies are still one step ahead. Only 48 percent of small companies (with fewer than 50 employees) are implementing specific digital projects. And a mere 32 percent of these smaller firms have made digitalization part of their core business strategy. By comparison, digitalization strategies are already being implemented in 58 percent of companies with 50 or more employees.

5G: Bringing faster wireless connections to the Internet of Things

This new wireless communications standard, which is available to customers in Germany since 2020, will optimize mobile data transmission thanks to the considerably bigger bandwidth it provides. Network operators can deploy 5G to meet the demand for constantly growing global data traffic, as well as to create the foundation for completely new applications and business models using the Internet of Things. Compared to UMTS, LTE and LTE-Advanced (4G), 5G offers significantly more speed and volume. This means that data transmission between a base station and a networked device is much faster than on an LTE network. The low latency of 5G is also a prerequisite for real-time applications. With a latency of just one millisecond, real communication between networked machines and devices is now possible for the development of Industry 4.0.


 

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Daniel Kunz
Daniel Kunz

Expert Digital Marketing

Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.