Keep it simple.
That was the lesson behind the facetious “Internet of Things Hype Cycle” slide Andrea Roero flashed before an audience at LiveWorx today.
“Maybe we’ll have a connected cow that will tell us how much milk it is making or how good is the grass it’s eating,” said Roero, whose next show and tell was a picture of a cow with a wifi logo over its contended head. “Not really.”
The head of precision and telematics for CNH Industrial, which makes farm equipment as well as trucks, buses, engines, and other things worldwide, said that, for his company, the Internet of Things has proven most valuable in its simplest of uses: connecting vehicles to predict failures and reduce downtime, for example, and helping farmers monitor their fields and equipment to improve efficiency.
That approach marries “simple machine optimization with simple precision agriculture technologies.”
Roero compared the systems to a smart watch that measures such things as heart rate and calories burned.
“We do the same with our vehicles,” he said.
But simple doesn’t mean easy to do, or ineffective, Roero said.
On the contrary, he said, even basic connectivity can yield huge results.
CNH has gone “from, ‘I need a part in that location that I don’t have for a machine that’s broken and is not harvesting or is not doing what it needs to do’” to “a proactive way of working, which is a complete breakthrough for our services to our client.”
That’s because the company can predict when service is needed, and have the parts on hand exactly when required, he said. Already, the average time its combines, tractors, and harvesting machines are out of commission for maintenance has been reduced by half.
It can even tell when trucks are being driven overloaded, voiding the warranty.
“The connectivity in fact is the heart of what we are doing,” Roero said. “It is the middle of everything. We have additional value for everyone.”
Manufacturers, Roero said, need to map out what he called their journey to adopting IoT technology, “which is not so easy in every kind of new domain.”
Along the way, they have to ask themselves, he said, exactly what they hope to achieve; how the changes will affect their organizations; what they will have to do differently as a result; and whether they have the skills and tools required to adapt.
CNH sells 260 products under eight brands in 190 countries, including Iveco trucks and buses, New Holland tractors, FPT engines, and Case agricultural and construction equipment.
That made keeping things simple, well, complicated.
“We are worldwide,” Roero said. “We need to have similar processes and similar systems. We need to give superior service. We need to give the right part in the right place in the right moment. We are spread all around the world and we are coming from different cultures and different brands.”
The company began by doing something seemingly obvious: “We started a different way of thinking on how to serve our business, from a reactive way to proactive,” by doing such things as anticipating service needs by practicing predictive maintenance.
CNH is now using IoT to analyze the behaviors of the people who drive its trucks, and recommend changes that can improve efficiency and extend the lives of its vehicles. It can even predict the range of the fuel supply in a vehicle and find the nearest, cheapest available gas or diesel.
Those are typical and fundamental benefits of IoT technology.
But it isn’t just about the wireless connections and the dashboard software, Roero said.
“Without a mindset to change,” he said, “you are obliged to fail.”
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Photo courtesy of CNH Industrial