IoT: Your Gateway To Live Engineering And Predictive Maintenance

Thomas Ohnemus

For many organizations, digital transformation is about reimagining their existing procurement, sales, or manufacturing processes. Live engineering and predictive maintenance are often afterthoughts.

Yet when businesses realize they can gain these capabilities through the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s a game-changer.

The value of connected things

From 2016 to 2017, the number of connected devices increased 31% to 8.4 billion. By 2020, that number is expected to grow to 20.4 billion.

Why the rapid rise? It’s because both companies and customers see value in connected things.

Two of the most significant ways businesses benefit include:

  • Predictive maintenance: Retrofitting your products with IoT-enabled sensors offers your organization real-time insight around how your goods are operating. The moment your business detects an anomaly, it can address the issue immediately. This helps avoid product failures, increase uptime, and extend the product life cycle.
  • Live engineering: IoT isn’t only essential to the maintenance of existing products. It’s crucial to the engineering of future products as well. With real-time sensor data at their disposal, product engineers can correct flaws they’ve discovered in previously manufactured goods and design better products going forward.

Customers, on the other hand, benefit from connected goods with superior products and experiences. Take cars, for instance.

Thirty years ago, a car was merely a way for people to get from point A to point B. It had a radio and cassette deck inside, but not much else.

Today, virtually every vehicle can connect to the Internet. You can stream movies and TV shows for your children to watch while you’re in transit. Autonomous driving functionalities, meanwhile, can help you parallel park or avoid danger on the road.

IoT-enabled sensors on cars allow everyone from manufacturers to dealerships to mechanics to keep tabs on how a vehicle is performing. If a tire is losing air or a car is due for an oil change, drivers can receive an alert informing them that their vehicle requires maintenance. This keeps cars running better – for longer – and keeps people safe behind the wheel.

The metamorphosis of Caterpillar: An IoT success story

Caterpillar creates machinery that powers businesses, builds communities, and enriches lives, from diesel-powered engines and gas turbines to hydraulic excavators and agricultural tractors.

For as long as it’s existed, Caterpillar has remained at the cutting edge of technology. Today, as a matter of fact, the organization is on a digital transformation journey – one centered around leveraging IoT to drive better business outcomes for both itself and its customers.

From a customer perspective, Caterpillar’s willingness to manufacture heavy-duty equipment with IoT sensors is paying huge dividends. It’s helping companies:

  • Improve efficiency: D/N Excavating increased machine efficiency by nearly 28%, while Strack Inc. saved 40% on fuel costs.
  • Boost productivity: Boyce Excavating doubled its grading capacity from 1,500 tons to 3,000 tons, while IGA achieved a 90% equipment uptime rate.
  • Increase profitability: Eagle Excavating saved $15,000 by meeting one project deadline two weeks early, while McAninch Corp accelerated road pavement processes, achieving its target densities in 75% fewer passes, thus saving costs and reducing machinery wear and tear.

While other companies operate their equipment, Caterpillar collects data from the connected products and turns it into actionable insight. Now, these operators know precisely when to bring their machines in for routine maintenance, allowing them to increase product uptime and extend the product life cycle.

IoT-connected products also enable Caterpillar to provide organizations with better service management. If employees at Caterpillar spot a potential issue with a company’s equipment, they can send the organization a replacement part before the machine malfunctions.

Finally, by analyzing how businesses are using their products, Caterpillar engineers can redesign equipment to better meet customer preferences. If a product feature is being neglected, for instance, Caterpillar can remove that feature from future models.

No matter your business, it’s time to turn your company into a technology company

IoT is transforming Caterpillar from a manufacturing company to a technology company – one that uses innovation to differentiate itself from its competitors.

With live engineering and predictive maintenance enabled by IoT, your business can do the same.

Want to learn more? Watch this free video on how to predict and improve asset performance and reliability with engineering insights.


Thomas Ohnemus

About Thomas Ohnemus

Thomas Ohnemus is the Vice President, Solution Marketing, Customer Value Office, at SAP. He is responsible for driving the go-to-market strategy, messaging, and demand generation. Thomas has over 25 years’ experience in business software solutions and his PLM expertise has awarded him key management positions in consulting, product management, service, and global marketing. He holds a master’s degree in engineering, and lives in Germany.