Proactive Maintenance Creates New Business Model for Elevator Suppliers

The Era of the Internet of Things has seen a proliferation of inexpensive cheaper sensors, transducers, and data transmission vehicles.This, accompanied with enhanced security technologies, has made customers in various vertical markets more willing to allow their data to stream over the network for IoT applications. Equipment manufacturers, faced with such market trends, are considering how to leverage new technologies to seize the newly burgeoning business opportunities.

Our customer in this case is one of Asia’s most active elevator/escalator suppliers, who has installed over 3,500 elevators/escalators in Taiwan alone, not to mention their growing business base in mainland China and other Asian countries. Imagine the complicated management and huge resources involved in their repair and maintenance works.

With new technologies available, they were seeking a new management system that could help remotely monitor and control their installed elevators/escalators, and therefore develop a more proactive and intelligent maintenance model that streamlined their workflow with improved efficiency and economy. They wanted to replace their traditional, regular itinerary of on-site inspections and failure-reactive model.

Leveraging the solution provided by Advantech, our customer successfully developed a proactive elevator/escalator maintenance system that collects real time operation data from the elevators/escalators, automatically halting the operation of elevators orescalators where monitored parameters reach dangerous thresholds, and alerting the company for needed repairs or componentrenewals. After a 4 to 5 month development period, the system is ready for rolling out, about one and a half years earlier than if they had done it on their own without the help of the Advantech solution.

Application Requirements

After deploying sensors including motor temperature and vibration on each elevator/escalator, the customer needed to install an IoT gateway near the elevator/escalator control system to collect data from sensors via wireless or wired transmission and convert the data (either digital or analog with different formats) into a unified IoT protocol data format and upload the data over the Internet to the remote backend server at the elevator company. If the gateway were provided with sufficient computing power and intelligent capabilities, it would be able to preprocess data, implementing certain monitoring control tasks and uploading only significant data to the backend server. This would help reduce server loading and save tremendously on communication expenses. An intelligentserver with adequate computing power was recommended for this gateway deployed at the edge of the network.


System Solution

For this application, Advantech provided EIS-D150 for device monitoring and data manageability, which is equipped with the Intel®Core™ i5 processing power needed to support large-volume I/O applications. The Advantech EIS series comprises solution-ready platforms preconfigured with the software resources needed for IoT connectivity, data manageability, and cloud services. The EIS solution includes many of Advantech’s powerful software tools, including WISE-PaaS/RMM, an open-standard IoT device remote monitoring and management platform. The WISE-PaaS/RMM can be interlinked withAdvantech’s SCADA software, WebAccess/SCADA, which provides high volume I/O support for large-scale sensor data collection andI/O controls, as well as intuitive graphical user interfaces for supervisory management.

The WebAccess/SCADA is a powerful platform for easy data acquisition and integration, providing over 200 drivers for connecting with sensors and equipment using different industrial communication protocols. For example, the customer in this case uses OPCUA industrial standard for its injection devices; with WebAccess/SCADA, the user can connect the injection devices to the monitoring control system without needing to do protocol conversion. With WebAccess/SCADA, a single EIS-D150 is able to connect with and control over 5,000 I/O points, delivering great systemextendibility and compatibility for system expansion in the future. WebAccess/HMI software can be used to visualize data and flow.

The hot runner monitoring system continuously checks whether all tasks are being completed to spec as required, and if not, it makesautomatic adjustments according to environmental and operational parameters. This requires edge intelligence computing andlogic flow control. Also contained in the Advantech solution package is Node-RED, a powerful logic-flow editing tool with an intuitivegraphical interface, which helps greatly to visualize the process.

Meanwhile, the Advantech EIS  solution also has WISE-Agent built-in. WISE-Agent contains a conversion tool for transforming data into MQTT, IoT-standard language, for upload to a backend server or to the cloud. A Microsoft Azure package is also pre-configured hereto provide optional access to big data analysis or other cloud services.

Benefits

• Supports massive I/O counts with a single edge intelligence server

• Provides IoT connectivity and manageability for data acquisition, transmission and applications, with seamless cloud integration

• Helps customers add value to their products that distinguish them from competing products and improve market competitiveness

• Helps end-users build Industry 4.0 infrastructure for implementing intelligent manufacturing

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Comments

  • Nice article Olivia, The only thing I would add is that if the EIS server also had a local data storage technology which could facilitate low cost high agility retention of all of the data, while supporting centralised data query/analytics across all similar servers within an organisation (even a globally distributed one), there would be no need for expensive movement of data to the centre. And no contradiction of evolving data location enforcement requirements.  Analytics of ALL data, the newest freshest data and a potentially limitless history could be achieved. Lets call it Edge intelligence with a memory not just a present. As systems become more and more intelligent / autonomic there may also be an enhanced need for edge based machine learning, moving data to a central point may prove to be a complete nonsense. Whats becoming clearer and clearer is that the data volumes are going to be far too big to move to central locations or current Cloud architectures. Moving compute power to the edge makes absolute sense, The data is possibly going to have to stay there, secured and ready for local or global analysis too. 
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