Digital transformation is the fourth industrial revolution. It is dramatically changing the way business is being carried out, creating both challenges and – above all – some very promising opportunities. Which is why XERVON Instandhaltung recently took part in the “itelligence of Things Initiative” to try and speed up the process of integrating some of these new technologies into its own service portfolio. The campaign is the brainchild of SAP’s consultancy business, itelligence, and looks to drive forward the Internet of Things – focusing, in particular, on interconnectedness as a means to optimise systems.
During the event, XERVON showcased one of its condition monitoring projects that aims to use machine learning to make plants and facilities smarter. Predictive maintenance should be enabled by making the most of the data collected via sensors so that problems can be prevented before they actually occur. Facing competition from a total of 25 companies, this concept was awarded one of the main prizes. With itelligence’s support, XERVON now intends to push forward its predictive maintenance project so it can be brought to market.
Cutting costs, optimising operating conditions, minimising downtime: predictive maintenance offers customers a whole host of advantages
In just one area of AI, machine learning uses IT systems with self-learning algorithms that are able to recognise regularities and draw their own conclusions. This is something that could also be very useful in the area of condition monitoring. Which is why XERVON is carrying out intensive research and development work to make the most of the advantages of these innovative technologies and advance its predictive maintenance capabilities. Its goal here is to achieve the best possible control system by connecting data and things and, by doing so, create sustainable benefits.
Just one area that such a system could be used for – and this is something that XERVON has been tracking for a long while now – is in monitoring the feed pumps and fans found in cooling towers. Using sensor-based measurements and smart process control methods, these important components of the cooling water supply system can be controlled at the best possible operating point. What’s more, it can be determined exactly when they should be switched on and off so that the operating hours can be spread intelligently across the different pumps.
The awards ceremony at the “Companies of the Future” conference (from left to right): Alexa Kopp, Head of Project Management at XERVON Instandhaltung, Tim Grylewicz, Head of Digitisation at XERVON Instandhaltung, Mark Albrecht, Vice President Global Head of Innovation, itelligence AG, with their prize for their pioneering project
These options allow plant operators to run their facilities far more efficiently, in particular to reduce their in-house electricity consumption and cut their costs. Furthermore, there is less wear and tear which means greater plant availability and fewer maintenance costs.
Using such systems in cooling towers is just one example of many. Other areas of use could be, for example, in sewage treatment plants or when deploying vibration analysis equipment to determine the condition of other kinds of facilities. Vibration analyses are one of XERVON Instandhaltung’s main areas of expertise. They are performed by highly qualified condition monitoring experts and are extremely time consuming. The self-learning data model could act as an assistance system here and help the experts to detect anomalies.
This innovative machine learning solution, however, can only be deployed if a variety of technologies and platforms have been connected to one another. At the heart of all this is an IoT platform that makes use of the SAP cloud solution. Its task is to merge the information gathered from the different systems and connect it to database inventories. What is important to XERVON Instandhaltung here is that the information is not only clear and easily accessible for their operatives but for the plant operators as well.
The project is moving along even faster now thanks to the itelligence of Things Initiative and itelligence’s support. XERVON’s specialist areas of expertise – its in-depth maintenance know-how, its extensive knowledge of plants and facilities and its condition monitoring expertise – are being combined with the IT skills of SAP’s full service provider. Great prospects, therefore, for creating predictive maintenance applications that will be able to offer XERVON Instandhaltung’s customers even more benefits that will add value to their business.