Delivering business advantage with the industrial IoT
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Delivering business advantage with the industrial IoT

Maxine-Laurie Marshall — March 2016
Juha Pankakoski, chief digital officer at Konecranes, shares lessons from a highly successful Internet of Things implementation at the Finnish cranemaker.

Juha Pankakoski may be the chief digital officer of Finnish cranemaker Konecranes, but he’s not slavishly following the technology industry mantra: ‘Everything that can be digital, will be digital.’

While the Internet of Things (IoT) opens up endless possibilities to add intelligence and connectivity to all kinds of equipment, Pankakoski is very targeted about what his company wants to achieve with it.

Digitalization is a key opportunity that can make Konecranes more competitive and differentiate it in the marketplace, he says. “The vision [with IoT] is to know in real-time how millions of lifting devices and machine tools perform, and for us to use this information 24/7 to make our customers’ operations safer and more productive,” he outlines.

“The industrial Internet brings machinery alive, enabling it to sense its own condition and how it is being used.”

Konecranes, where sales hit €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2015, has installed more than 11,000 remote sensors on the cranes and lifting equipment used by its customers in factories and ports at 600 sites worldwide. The sensors provide real-time visibility into the operational status and usage of equipment, helping to increase the availability of existing equipment through preventative maintenance and informing how the company designs future products.

“The industrial Internet brings machinery alive,” says Pankakoski. “It enables machinery to sense its own condition, understand the usage situation and support the user to carry out the operation more safely and productively.”
Crane analytics

With individual cranes typically costing millions of euros, any insight into how the equipment is being used and the status of its component parts is highly valuable. As Pankakoski explains: “We now have [this IoT-generated] information dating back a couple of years for any particular crane. By analyzing that, and information of similar equipment, we can understand patterns that lead to particular incidents.” Armed with that information, Konecranes can then alert its service organization, which maintains almost half a million units around the globe, that the equipment needs servicing before there is any outage.

Juha Pankakoski Konecranes-c-0172
Juha Pankakoski, CDO, Konecranes

That differentiates Konecranes from the competition, the company says, and warrants a price premium on its machinery and services. It also feels comfortable to stay ahead of the demand curve. “Many people aren’t at a stage where they expect the sharing of information between objects to be common practice,” says Pankakoski. By over-delivering, Konecranes is able to stay front-of-mind with its target audience, he says. 

Pankakoski encourages other companies to join the party. “While there is lots of room for improvement in IoT tech, it is already mature enough. It’s just a matter of finding the right moment to jump on board.”

However, he has a few words of warning about how far and fast companies should go when offering industrial IoT features to customers: “There are several things that need to be carefully managed and considered before you turn this capability on, such as safety, security and resilience.”

“We had one case where we trialled the operation of the crane through different smart devices. You do get a real ‘wow’ effect when you can use a smartwatch to operate a crane that’s moving 20 tonnes of hardware. But the ‘wow’ effect turns into a completely different one when the watch battery runs out and the crane keeps on moving. When you build this connectivity, you have to consider well in advance what sort of capability customers will have.”

Juha Pankakoski was speaking at the IoT Tech Expo in London

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