Case Study Q&A: Modernizing conveyer-belt monitoring

April 6, 2022
Analytics provide real-time insights for innovation, new business models and overall better decisions.

Earlier this year, Software AG spotlighted its work with customer Flexco in modernizing the manufacturer’s conveyor belt monitoring and reporting through IoT and analytics tools.Here we chat with Sean Riley, Software AG vice president of industry solutions, to learn more about the project. Take a look…

Smart Industry: Briefly describe the Flexco/Software AG case study.

Sean: Flexco’s customers operate in many remote and often hazardous locations. The component of the machinery most vulnerable to wear-and-tear is the conveyor belt. Failure can cause a myriad of issues, all of which result in a stoppage of product delivery.  Belts can become misaligned or damaged, conveyor carryback can occur resulting in material loss and accumulation under the belt, and belts can slip due to incorrect tightness and result in roller damage.

All of these issues can be prevented through belt audits which require manual inspection in remote areas. Flexco needed a better way for customers to inspect and operate equipment to increase the value of their products for themselves and their customers. The answer was continuous monitoring using IIoT sensors and a robust IIoT platform capable of deploying in remote areas while quickly analyzing massive quantities of events to understand condition and predict remaining useful life of components and equipment.

Smart Industry: What is the end result? 

Sean: Flexco gained real-time visibility into the usage and performance of conveyor belt blades for large mining operations. As a result of monitoring and reporting on the status of these belts, Flexco can help its customers to not only-pre-empt part failure, but also minimize the frequency with which engineers must enter these difficult environments. Flexco chose Cumulocity IoT to enable their ability to quickly connect devices and seamlessly monitor equipment. To connect device data and actions needed with critical field service and enterprise apps, Flexco seamlessly accomplished this with the assistance of webMethods.io.

Smart Industry: What do you mean by "action-oriented insights" and how do these create new, tangible value? 

Sean: Action-oriented insights are meaningful data, findings and analysis which businesses can utilize for smart decision-making and meaningful actions. As a manufacturer of conveyor belt blades which are critical for the mining industry, accurate, relevant data is needed to drive business decisions and ensure efficient manufacturing operations. The value of the data for the company, then, comes from analytics, and analytics provide real-time insights for innovation, new business models and overall better decisions.

Action-oriented insights are derived from current or predictive condition status which takes live data from IoT sources and analyzes it for business value, historical data for improved future processes and predictive analytics which combines real-time streaming with historical IoT data to enable optimal decision-making.

Smart Industry: What lessons from this use case can be applied beyond the mining application? 

Sean: IoT and integration solutions can be game changers for operations spanning multiple industries—not just for industrial manufacturing, but also for companies that sell or lease products and services or for companies that need to monitor remote assets effectively. Flexco leverages real-time data analytics and monitoring to remain agile, informed and in control of manufacturing operations, but the same concepts and technology can be applied to increasing operational efficiencies in connected retail stores, transportation assets, HVAC equipment or hydroelectric turbines and networks in a smart city, for example.

Any company that has a product and wants to disrupt their industry, in the same manner that cloud computing disrupted traditional software purchase, through advanced product development, improved servicing and usage-based pricing is a candidate to apply this use case to their operations.