How Hardware, Software and Humanware Can Increase Efficiency
Publishing Date: March 2021
In this episode, host Carmen Ek talks with Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Engineering and Technology and Dan Phillips, Technical Director for Monitoring & Diagnostics. They explore how Regal’s approach to IOT is all about how hardware, software and ‘humanware’ can work together to better help their customers.
Season # 1: Episode #: 12
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How Hardware Software and Humanware Can Increase Efficiency
Carmen: This is Community News On the Air, brought to you by Regal Power Transmission Solutions. I'm your host, Carmen Ek. In this podcast series we'll be sharing tools, tips and new innovations to address some of the tough challenges our customers face. Overall, my goal is to help our customers employees be successful.
Welcome everyone, to Community News On the Air. I'm your host, Carmen Ek. I'm here today with two of the most technically savvy people I know here at Regal Power Transmission Solutions. Chris Carrigan, our Vice President of Engineering and Technology, and Dan Phillips, Technical Director for Monitoring and Diagnostics.
Today we're going to talk about how our approach to IoT under our brand, Perceptiv™ intelligence, is all about how hardware, software and humanware can work together to better help our customers.
So Chris, I'm going to turn to you first. Why is IoT relevant today for Regal Power Transmission Solutions?
Chris: I think IoT is relevant because it gives us field data for the products that we are providing to our customers. So as engineers, what we're able to do is take a look at the reaction of our products and how they're performing to the loads and the different duty cycles that our customers are putting our products under. And it allows us to be able to design products in the future that address some either met or unmet needs of our customers to try to make them better, to help them solve problems that they've been dealing with, or the different changes that go on in their markets that they're having to address.
And because of that, because the extra data, that dynamic data that we're getting from the IoT sensor-enabled products, that allows us to apply those known loads and duty cycles in our design programs, and then we can design around that.
Carmen: That's really interesting. Because we're really learning from the customer how we can be a better manufacturer for them with this data. I think that's what you're... You're really seeing the value from a manufacturer like Regal, how it can help us be better for our customers.
Chris: Absolutely. It definitely helps our customers. But let's be realistic here too. It helps us out a ton as well. Because we take that data, and we have a test lab, and we use the test lab to replicate that data that's out in the field, and then we even drive it back farther by using FEA tools, finite element analysis tools, and other design tools to get correlation all the way through.
What I mean by that is you have correlation between what we're designing on a computer screen with the computer system, we design a product or a series of products that work together, we then take it to a test lab where we get a performance of it, a reliability, a failure length of time and reliability number, or maybe even the operation of it -- what's the energy efficiency of it? What are the thermal characteristics of it? -- in the test lab, and then we can project that out into what may happen in the field.
So it's a three step process. And really what loops it all back together and makes it a closed loop is that IoT data that's coming back from in the field. It allows us to make sure that everything correlates throughout that entire chain.
Carmen: It's amazing. I can really see how that can help us be a better supplier, better manufacturer for our customers.
I'm actually going to ask Dan this next question. Dan, Chris just talked about how this can really make us a better manufacturer. How can IoT help our customers? What information can it give them to be a better producer in their business?
Dan: Through PTS there's a really wide variety of industrial facilities that we serve and that our products go into. I'd say the one common thing across all those industries, whether it's a food facility or a steel mill or a paper mill, not one of them has said that we are overstaffed with our maintenance department and we're looking for things for them to do on a daily basis. They're all understaffed. There's a lot less resources, a lot less talented resources out there to be able to maintain those assets that they have, which our products are a big part of.
Ultimately what our customers are looking to do is really, just like we are, looking to 80/20 their work. What I mean by that is 80% -- according to best practices, 80% of work within the facility should be planned, and only 20% of that work should be reactive, or things that come up and surprise you. So to be able to plan work properly and schedule resources, whether that's people or tools or spare parts, to be able to do that, you need to understand the current health of your equipment and what you can anticipate in the future so you can do that planned work. So I think ultimately that's one of the biggest things that IoT and these enabled products can do for our customers.
Carmen: So can our customers really think of it -- instead of thinking of it as a digital unknown or some futuristic technology, can they really think of it as an extension of their existing workforce?
Dan: Absolutely. I think that's definitely even more relevant today with COVID, and being able to do these things remotely -- not having to send somebody physically to the asset to look on it or check up on it. The IoT-enabled products allow us to do that remotely, and to do that across hundreds of assets in a matter of milliseconds, as opposed to going up to hundreds of assets physically, which could take hours. So it's definitely an extension of their workforce and could help them become more efficient with how they're maintaining their facility.
Carmen: So you've helped customers across several different industries implement an IoT solution. What has been the reaction of some of your customers when they've been able to see their equipment pulled up on their desktop or on their laptop? What kind of reactions have you seen from them when they can see it live?
Dan: Excitement. There's some facilities that are further along in their progression and have somewhat more of a mature model when it comes to monitoring, and there's other folks that this is very new to them, and they're just amazed. And they want to know -- well, how do I get to it on my phone? How does this email work? How am I going to get this text message? -- I mean, it's just things really start to click for when they start to see the digital representations of their equipment on their desktop or on their phone. It really starts to snowball. And it's exciting to us to see that reaction from them.
Carmen: That's really neat. I'm sure it's really fun, actually, to see their eyes light up, and really know that you're helping them -- you're changing the way that they do their work, you're saving them time, and you're making things easier.
I think that's what all of us want in our day to day lives is -- what are some things that we can implement just to make things go a little bit smoother. And I think it's excellent that you guys are bringing that to the table.
My next question is to you Chris. What inspires you about the technology that we're working on here at Regal, and the technology that you're seeing in the future? How does that inspire you in how we can help our customers moving forward?
Chris: Carmen, that's a perfect segue coming off of what Dan just said and the comments you were making. A lot of times people get wrapped up in the "coolness" or the "neatness" of IoT -- the ability to look on your phone or to get an email or a text that tells you something is going on. All of that is very futuristic and it's pretty cool.
The thing that Regal PTS is doing differently, and this has been led by Dan, is looking at the customer's outcome and saying -- what is it that you're really trying to do, either with human resources or with technology to help your business?
So we're looking at things more than reliability. So often, many people, their minds go straight to -- well, when's a bearing or a gearbox or a motor going to fail? That's what I wanted to tell me.
Dan has shown us there's more to this than just reliability. There's also the performance. You've got a complete system that has some of our components in it that are doing a task, doing work. Well, how much work is it doing? Can it do more? If you need to produce more parts, can you run that piece of equipment harder? Well, the sensors that we have in our products allow us to see some of that. So we can look at performance.
The other thing we can look at is the operation -- is it on? Is it off? How long has it been running? Is it time for a scheduled maintenance event? Can I throw that flag that says yes, it is time because I've been on for 2,000 hours, it's time to go do a maintenance event on it, like change the oil or grease the bearing, can I send that out to my CMMS, my computerized maintenance management system?
All of these things start to come alive, and you can do all of these different activities with these sensor-embedded or IoT-embedded products that Dan is launching out in the field.
And again, it comes back around full circle. All of it is in the whole idea of -- what are we helping the customer do to reduce their total cost of ownership, improve their return on investment, get a higher OEE, get products out the door -- whatever it is that they're looking at as their outcome, that's what we're trying to do at Regal PTS with our IoT Perceptiv initiative.
Carmen: And I think from everything you just said, the thing I really picked up on, Chris, was we're helping our customers do more, and be able to see that they have the capacity to do more because they've got some data in front of them that's giving them those insights.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely.
Carmen: So, Dan, I'm going to ask you the same question. What inspires you? How do you get your inspiration? I know you've got a lot of passion around this. What inspires you with everything that we're doing around IoT, in terms of helping our customers?
Dan: I think speed, if I was to put it in one word. When we first started down this path, we'd been doing these types of services and developing these types of products for ten years, and really, doing it before the mega trend and the buzzword of IoT was really out there and prevalent.
When we first started doing this, we were duct taping sensors to shafts and utilizing standalone data loggers, where data would be recorded to a little machine that stored it on a flash memory drive that somebody would have to go out to every two weeks to offload the data and do the analysis.
The amount of changes that have happened since then with IoT, with the changes in the sensor technology, in networking, in cellular communications, cloud computing -- as quick as those things have changed over the past just a couple of years, it's really sped up the development and implementation of our solutions, and it's just been amazing to have been on that journey, going from duct tape to now -- at the click of a button on my phone, I can see what's going on at our customer sites anywhere around the globe. The amount of change in speed has just really been fun to be a part of.
If anything, as to your question about inspiring, I mean it's really a catalyst for me and for our group to have to keep up with that, to keep pushing forward and keep trying and doing new things. So I guess for me, that's really what it's about.
Carmen: There's always seems to be something new.
Dan: Always, yes.
Carmen: New capabilities. And that's exciting.
Chris: I do want to add something else to Dan's last comments that he had with regards to why he really gets excited about this.
Something that I've found very interesting as we've gone through this is -- the addition of IoT and sensor enabled products and things like that, to me, hasn't decreased the need for people. It has actually enhanced it to the fact that we even called our humanware in our Perceptiv literature. But the intelligence that people bring to this that ultimately turns into artificial intelligence or programming, or alerts and alarms and all that kind of stuff -- we're taking individuals' experiences and we're starting to apply them and really make things better all around, and then those people that are doing that then take it to the next step.
Everything keeps getting better rather than displacing. It's an interesting thing that's starting to happen in how it plays out. But it's it's really cool to watch.
Carmen: Gentlemen. I really appreciate you both taking the time to sit down with me and giving me a little insight into your world, especially when it comes to IoT. Chris Carrigan, Dan Phillips, thank you so much for being on with me today.
Dan: Thanks, Carmen.
Chris: Thank you.