The Internet of Things is enabling ABB Robotics to transforms its customer service offering, explains Magnus Sävenäs, VP Customer Service, Head of Global Field Service & Training at ABB Robotics.
The ABB Robotics division comprises of robot applications and automation systems across numerous industry sectors, including automotive, foundry, packing, metal and plastics manufacturing.
Over 250,000 robots have been sold worldwide. The majority (35%) are used in machine tending and materials handling, 35% in welding, 8% in painting and 22% in other processes.
The Robotics division has sales and service operations in 53 countries in more than 100 locations and employs 5,500 people.
The company’s motto is “easy to buy, easy to service”, but with such a diverse spread of industries and with customers ranging from large organisations with large “fleets” of robots to small SMEs, providing excellent customer service is challenging to say the least – each customer requires a specific service model, explains Sävenäs.
The robots are often employed in mission-critical operations such as manufacturing, so uptime is critical. No production plants are identical and neither are their service requirements. So service agreements are fully flexible, where customers can make their own choices from a variety of available services.
The company recognised it needed to change from being a cost-based reactive division into a value-based proactive one and that the Internet of Things would be a key enabler.
The service operation is now a data-driven business, with five key components: installed products database, service organisation, remote service, customer access to information, and knowledge management.
Each robot has a “birth certificate” and “medical journal” of all equipment during the entire lifecycle up to “disposal / replacement”. it includes a physical map of all equipment by product group, customer account and location, keeping track of warranty status repairs and changes, updated on-line at every service visit.
Maintenance services from ABB Robotics includes preventive maintenance, remote condition monitoring, life cycle assessment, inspection and diagnostics.
In operations where equipment failure impacts severely on operations, Total Time To Fix performance is a critical KPI. For the Robotics service with its global customer base, this was particularly challenging and depended on several elements: initial diagnosis, parts identification, travel time and repair time.
Where equipment failure impacts severely on operations, Total Time To Fix performance is a critical KPI.
Wireless connectivity tools allow ABB to provide a virtual dedicated troubleshooting expert within 5 minutes – an expert on-demand, remote support assistance in the event of a specific problem or failure. The service technician is transformed from a repair guy in the van to a process consultant/technician who can guide the customer remotely through any fault issues.That increases productivity for ABB Robotics and deliveries enhanced support to the customer because uptime is increased.
- Condition monitoring
Remote Service is also used to monitor the health of robots 24/7 to increase robot uptime and productivity while reducing the cost of ownership. The robot system is continuously monitored and an automatic alert is generated when the robot condition changes or a problem arises.Regular system health checks and reports are provided utilising secure emote connections. During scheduled sessions, data is downloaded and measured against established performance benchmarks. Based on the findings, maintenance recommendations can be provided.Conditioned-based, predictive and remote monitoring has improved Mean Time Before Failure and reduced Mean Time to Repair statistics.
- Maintenance scheduling
Remote Service can generate a maintenance schedule on the basis of actual usage to help reduce maintenance costs.Up to 50% of unplanned stops can be prevented, while robot systems can be brought back into production remotely, avoiding valuable production losses.
ABB Robotics was previously heavily reliant on the experience, knowledge and skills of its technicians. The company’s Smart Service Information (SSI) platform means no individual is now expected to carry all the information.
Technicians can quickly search all documentation, and there are 3D animated maintenance procedures called ABB Siminstructions. The Smart Device for Service (S4S) is a “Two Pair Of Eyes” solution for problem resolution
Customers have a single point of access for all service information and contacts via the “my ABB” self-service portal. It’s an easy-to-use, service deliver eBusiness channel.
Customers can view a physical map of their equipment, their equipment status, service needs, parts and so on. They can view status and health of myRobot fleet; interrogate the system with queries such as “Show me equipment close to running out of warranty”, “Show me equipment in the later part of the life cycle (due for upgrade) and ”Show me event log of robots”.
Internet of Things, Services and People – IoTSP
There’s lots of discussion in service management about the Internet of Things and Big Data. ABB has been developing a broader strategy which it calls the Internet of Things, Services and People – IoTSP.
ABB has been developing a broad strategy which it calls the Internet of Things, Services and People.
For over a decade ABB has been working to develop and enhance process control systems, communications solutions, sensors and software for the IoTSP. These technologies enable our customers in industries, utilities and infrastructure to analyse their data more intelligently, optimize their operations, boost their productivity, and their flexibility.
ABB is advancing the IoTSP by helping customers develop their existing technologies, while keeping sight of our enduring commitment to safety, reliability, cyber security and data privacy.
The Internet is enabling a revolution in industry is connecting intelligent machines and the collective data generated from a growing number of electronic sensors. We are ‘seeing, hearing, and feeling’ our industrial processes like never before and this empowers the decisions we make to optimise performance.
This revolution allows us to operate machines more safely, with greater efficiency, and with lower environmental impact, not just individually, but as complete systems, working in harmony to enhance power and productivity for a better world.