Connected services, shared wins

April 2, 2020
“I wish I had no maintenance guys.”

By Patti Sullivan, OSIsoft partner account manager—cloud channel and community

“I wish I had no maintenance guys.”

 I heard a manufacturing executive say that a few years back and it has stuck with me to this day.

 “I wish I had no maintenance guys.” Those words reveal a dream that he (and most others in the industrial space) share. The elimination of the need for maintenance. Zero downtime. Machines that run—properly, optimally—at all times.

That’s still a dream, of course. And we’re not talking about eliminating jobs; rather eliminating problems that distract people from doing their jobs. But this dream inches closer to reality each day in this digital era. And I am thrilled to be a part of making it so—enabling people to achieve their actual business goals rather than solve problems related to maintenance or process inefficiencies or downtime.

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Similarly, I am thrilled to have new tools to help in this mission. Take, for example, OSIsoft’s Connected Services, which provides a simple, secure technical and commercial framework for service providers to access real-time sensor-based data from customer assets.

In short, it affords service providers unprecedented insight on customers’ machine performance while enabling those customers to focus on making profits. Win win.

 Diving a little deeper, Connected Services enables its users to:

  • Gain continuous, secure access to customer operational data
  • Gain visibility into remote-operating conditions
  • Continually enhance intellectual property and expertise
  • Reduce fiscal uncertainty when ramping up new service offerings
  • Boost efficiency of field service

Machine data is aggregated and published to the cloud. Customers subscribe to the service, which connects them with data-analysis experts who translate the data into actionable insights. To be honest, the manufacturing customer oftentimes doesn’t really care how these enterprise-specific insights get accomplish. He or she is more concerned with the positive outcomes than the processes that enabled them. And that’s how it should be.

Connecting asset performance to profits

What most excites me about this approach is that Connected Services is both a technical and commercial framework, with OSIsoft’s PI software as the backbone. PI is the commercial component; Connected Services is the financial element...connecting assets to dollars. It’s the same software, just used in an expanded capacity with myriad applications.

When businesses want to remotely monitor their assets—from wind turbines to oil rigs—they can turn to Connected Services to provide that expertise to them. We get the data flowing. We can tell them “This is how to optimize your turbine engine. This is how to streamline your extraction processes. This is how to stay within the regulatory parameters of your smokestack.” Win win win.

Let’s stick with that wind turbine example. When the customer reports that the asset is acting up, the traditional method to resolve the problem requireda technician driving out to the field, inspecting the turbine, then providing an update to the customer before any actions were taken. We can flip that whole process around with this technical framework; now the service provider can contact the asset owner—“I have been monitoring the data and the RPM is getting out of spec. We’re concerned about it. Here’s a suggested solution.”

It’s a proactive way to deal with customers. It saves all stakeholders time, money and resources. And in addition to thrilling asset owners with whom they’re contracted, service providers can develop better iterations of products with the key information they get back from them. This generates loyal customers, which generates new customers.   

 So what industries are we talking about? Well…pretty much everything. Wind farms. Solar setups. Oil and gas. Deep-water sub stations. 

A favorite case study of mine is Matchpoint, a water utility in Tennessee that, upon adopting Connected Services, discovered that it had been hemorrhaging water through cracked pipes. (Some homeowners in the region had even constructed little patios around the unnatural springs that bubbled up in their backyards!) Connected Services enabled the utility to recognize the problem and fix those leaks, saving it hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Outsourcing expertise

This is a new type of tool for service providers, who are not, traditionally, in the data-collection/analysis business. (And, frankly, they don’t want to be. They just want to service their customers better.) 

This approach is part of a larger trend in the increasingly smart industrial space. Business leaders are recognizing the value in outsourcing services—relying on partners to reveal to them unforeseen insights into their operations. The people monitoring the assets know much more about the machines and the machine data than the asset owners. They can extract more value from that information. It only makes sense for them to adopt the role of analyst/monitor/guide.

This trend is hastened by the fact that experts within industrial enterprises are retiring at an alarming clip. Subject-matter expertise is walking out the factory door every day; this graying of the workforce is additional rationale for business leaders to better integrate with key vendors and suppliers.

And the results of this Connected Services approach are game-changing—huge gains in field-service efficiency, maintenance that borders on peering into the future, unprecedented uptime, massive leaps in output. In short, a smarter approach to business.  

Customers are thrilled. I have experienced it countless times. The most telling reviews I hear revolve around the peace of mind that this service provides users. Asset owners know that experts are keeping an eye on their assets, which enables them to keep an eye on their business goals.

Want more? Check out the Special Report "Connected Services, Shared Wins" right here.