MSI and MSOE students team up to harness the industrial Internet of Things for heavy equipment industry
Data holds great promise to transform industries for the better, and heavy equipment is no exception. However, this promise is still unfulfilled today due to gaps in data timeliness, organization, analysis and integration, which is needed to make data actionable in meaningful ways.
According to Jon Hopkins, adjunct associate professor in MSOE’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, one of real-time data’s greatest promises in the manufacturing world is to help prevent costly product failure, especially with heavy equipment.
“The more you can do in real time, the better, especially as machines become more autonomous,” he said. He learned this takeaway from his motivated group of MSOE seniors, which included two MSI interns. For their senior project, the group developed a Fleet Telematics Simulator based on “Internet of Things (IoT) and heavy equipment.”
What is a Fleet Telematics Simulator?
The construction, mining and agriculture industries most commonly use heavy equipment, often from many manufacturers (i.e. Caterpillar, Komatsu, John Deere, Volvo and more). Working with many manufacturers complicates tracking for fleet managers who operate and maintain equipment because they must use a different software system for each brand to track equipment data.
To address this challenge, the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) developed a new telematics standard (ISO 15143-3) in 2016 that the heavy equipment industry must follow to transmit data via the IoT. MSI interns Jacob Voller and Noah Brusky decided to test this standard as part of their senior project. Working with three more students, the group added a dashboard on MSI Data’s Service Pro app.
This unique dashboard stores data for countless equipment brands all on one interface. Before the dashboard, companies had to review their whole fleet by using a different software system per OEM. Big companies that work with many OEMs benefit most from this feature since they don’t have time to operate multiple systems.
Throughout the nine-month project, the team did lots of exploration and automated testing. MSI’s VP of Development, Matt Guth ’00, was the executive sponsor. “I provided some initial vision for the project. Afterward, I turned it over to Mark Medinger to run with as product owner,” he said. Much of the job involved trial and error. Luckily, Medinger, MSI’s Web Development Manager, guided the group. He is the self-described “product owner,” which is a term used in Scrum. “As a stakeholder, I guided the team to ensure that at the end of every three weeks, we were on track in reaching project goals,” he said.
Since the students could not access any construction equipment, they created a data simulator for Earth Moving Machinery (i.e. tractor, excavator). As equipment moved, the simulator tracked how fuel levels and locations changed. The students imported the fuel and location data via MSI’s integration engine. Lastly, they made two widgets for GPS and fuel levels on the dashboard.
Professor Hopkins is one of the advisors in charge of senior projects at MSOE. He requires seniors to work in teams of five, which he believes teaches communication, time management and motivational skills. For senior projects, students must apply curriculum aspects in a real world setting. He described the team as “very organized,” and said they did well at capturing project requirements. “Through this project, the students learned how to turn data to information and aggregate into knowledge and action,” he said.
Future Service Pro Innovations
The already innovative Service Pro can accomplish even more with the new Internet-connected dashboard. With the replaceable telematics system, MSI sales reps can use the simulator to show prospects how the dashboard works, rather than using old customer data. MSI developers also can create more widgets to monitor more product use factors. For example, a Service Pro maintenance alert could warn clients that their equipment needs service.
Field service and the IoT are greatly innovating the manufacturing industry. By monitoring how and where equipment is used, companies gather consumer market data and can better serve their customers. Now, MSI can empower our construction industry clients to gain customer insights, all under one dashboard.
What is the IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has created a revolution in the manufacturing world. Simply put, the IoT refers to sensors implemented into products that track product usage data. A telematics system enables long-distance transmission, sending the data from user to manufacturer. With the generated data, the manufacturer gains consumer insights needed to improve products and services. Though many associate the IoT with electronics, there are many other uses. Using IoT devices for manufacturing operations is known as smart manufacturing.
IoT technology tracks product use factors such as:
• Temperature changes
• Excess vibrations
Construction companies use IoT data to identify abnormal patterns and alert customers that it’s time for maintenance before the product fails. Additionally, product developers learn what conditions cause failure so they can improve future designs. With so much data to obtain, companies have a lot to learn. And thanks to the AEMP, organizing all this data is becoming easier.