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How Microsoft helped manufacturer implement predictive analytics

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For machining tool manufacturer, predictive analytics provides broad set of efficiencies

Swedish firm Sandvik Coromant is part of the Sandvik Group, a global engineering organization that produces machining tools and tooling systems for the manufacturing industry. Last year, the company teamed up with Microsoft to create a predictive analytics solution based on the Microsoft Azure IoT suite and Microsoft Cortana intelligence product. This solution integrates people, machines, tools, materials, orders, storage handling, scheduling, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service capabilities to allow customers to make the best possible business decisions, the software firm said.

Sandvik Coromant has developed a solution that integrates all elements of the production flow. This solution allows the manufacturing company to optimize processes, planning, and predictive maintenance scheduling, so that Sandvik Coromant customer service representatives can more effectively help customers avoid downtime.

The Swedish company not only provides tools and systems. Its employees have built up years of in-depth knowledge of machining and tooling processes in multiple industries. If customers have a problem with a machine, they call Sandvik Coromant and one of its technical experts will arrive onsite to help. The salesperson talks to the operator, listens to the machine, and adjusts feeds and speeds to restore proper operation or recommends further service.

This personalized approach helps customers optimize machines, tools, processes, and ultimately their end products. However, the technical experts can’t be everywhere all the time so Sandvik Coromant decided to digitize their knowledge. By doing this, it can make the information available to all parts of the production loop and can apply analysis tools to provide intelligent feedback to the machines and the humans running those machines, Microsoft said.

“Today the customer is depending on the skills of the operator and the skills of the technical expert,” said Nevzat Ertan, chief enterprise architect and senior manager at Sandvik Coromant. “We are looking to convert the knowledge our people have in their heads into a digital format and apply machine learning tools that can look at the data, optimize it, and adjust configurations to optimize production. It will not replace the operator, but will give the operator another tool to improve production.”

“Through our close partnership with Microsoft, we have developed this new predictive analytics manufacturing solution that includes an in-house shop floor control tool that collects machining and tool data and sends it to Azure for real-time analysis using machine learning algorithms from Cortana Intelligence to optimize the process in real time,” says Ertan. “It will help our customers make quicker and better informed decisions to become more profitable.”

Microsoft also highlighted that machining data is also collected from sensorized cutting tools through Azure IoT. Adding embedded intelligence to these tools with the help of Azure Machine Learning and Streaming Analytics enables the tools to capture more data from the machining operation that can be used to automatically adjust equipment, notify technicians when maintenance is needed, and alert plant managers of a potential failure, Microsoft said.

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