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How industries are using the Internet of Things

Azure IOT suite helps sandvik cormorant stay on cutting edge within “ digital manufacturing”

Technology has enabled some pretty amazing things, but being in two places at once still isn’t one of them. Fortunately, the Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled companies to use and share their expertise more efficiently, increasing productivity without needing to increase manpower.

Take Sandvik Cormorant, for example, part of the global industrial group Sandvik. Sandvik Cormorant as a global market leader has developed extensive know-how within tooling and the manufacturing industry over many decades. Since the emergence of digital solutions within manufacturing, Sandvik Cormorant successfully transferred this knowledge also to the so-called “digital manufacturing”.

Sandvik Cormorant has always been committed to the pursuit of technological development, and believes in working closely with manufacturing customers to provide reliable tools and tooling solutions. That dedication is embodied by a team of “yellow coats,” technical experts with extensive expertise who provide training and troubleshooting to customers in more than 150 countries. In addition to helping customers remotely and at Sandvik Cormorant Centers, “yellow coats” also conduct on-site visits, where they can make adjustments as needed and provide recommendations to improve the customers’ manufacturing process.

Continued growth created a new challenge for Sandvik Cormorant, however—even its “yellow coats” couldn’t be everywhere at once. The question was how to scale the team’s services quickly, without having an impact on quality?

oT provided the answer. Advances in composite materials, and the benefits of sensors and other IoT technologies have prompted many manufacturers to retool for the realities of “Industry 4.0”. Sandvik Cormorant has taken this opportunity to create a scalable service model that delivers the same world-class quality of service and technical expertise that its customers are used to, still having “yellow coats” available when needed.

Using Azure IoT Suite, Cortana Intelligence and Dynamics 365, Microsoft helped Sandvik Coromant to develop its service model with a predictive analytics solution that ties all of the elements of the supply chain and fabrication process together.

IoT Suite collects, computes and analyzes data from sensors embedded in all of the tools across the shop floor, monitoring every aspect of their performance, as well as the existence of any bottlenecks in the overall supply chain or manufacturing. Then, with Cortana Intelligence, Sandvik Coromant takes that analysis and makes recommendations on how to optimize the manufacturing process, and creates a predictive maintenance schedule that’s designed to help avoid unscheduled shutdowns. Finally, the solution integrates master data from the CRM system with meta data from the shop floor system and the machining system and makes them available through CRM to Sandvik Coromant which can then provide feedback and then support in predicting when to change or order a tool.

“Through our close partnership with Microsoft, we have developed the new predictive analytics manufacturing solution connects an in-house shop floor control tool that collects all the information, such as machine data, tool data, and sends it to Azure for real-time analysis using Machine Learning algorithms to optimize the process in real-time and set up predictive maintenance schedules and set alarms so that we can know when to take a machine offline before a failure occurs. In the end, our customers will be able to make quicker and better informed decisions to become more profitable” says Nevzat Ertan, Chief Architect & Senior Manager, Sandvik Coromant.

With this technology, Sandvik Coromant has digitized its deep expertise and provides services that help customers make more informed decisions, and more easily calculate the financial return on a new machining tool. That translates to additional revenue, happier customers and greater flexibility in how its technical experts connect with customers.

Schneider Electric harnesses the sun to power remote Nigerian schools and clinics

The average Nigerian can count on having electricity only a few hours a day, if at all. But for 11 communities, there’s now one place they know the lights will always be on: their local health clinic.

And at 172 schools around the state of Lagos, students now not only have access to computers, they can even charge headlamps to use for studying back in their darkened homes in the evenings.

That’s thanks to high-tech, self-contained solar systems put together with technology from Schneider Electric and funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and the state government of Lagos. TheLagos Solar project uses batteries that are charged by solar panels, along with intelligent inverters connected to Microsoft Azure IoT technology that not only convert the battery power into usable electricity but also allow for remote monitoring and maintenance.

It’s a vast improvement over the unreliable and polluting diesel generators most Nigerians are stuck with. The program is expanding to 270 schools and will benefit 190,000 students and 4.7 million patients by 2020, creating more than 3,000 jobs, according to the DFID.

“This project is about powering schools and clinics, but when you bring electricity to communities, there’s a lot more upside than just things like lights and TVs, because now they’re able to power pumps for drinkable water, too,” says Xavier Datin, vice president of Schneider Electric’s solar line of business. “It’s about economics and business, but when you can bring electricity and really help people so obviously, it feels good.”

The African country’s power woes are well known. The infrastructure in the country of 179 million only has the ability to produce enough energy to power a city about the size of Halifax, Canada, home to fewer than half a million. The Africa Progress report 2015found that 65 percent of Nigeria’s primary schools lack access to electricity. And the country has the world’s highest concentration of diesel generators, which are not only unreliable but generate pollution, both from operating them and from transporting fuel to the villages.

Sunshine, however, is a clean power that Nigerians can rely on. Schneider’s standalone solar systems are able to take advantage of that resource by not only harnessing the energy but storing it for use when the sun goes down.

The project has had a huge impact on the quality of education for Nigerian pupils, “increasing their zeal towards learning” and making them more aware of alternative energy as well, says Damilola Makindipe, the head of solar projects for the Lagos State Electricity Board. The clinics have been able to provide more and better healthcare to everyone in the chosen communities while reducing the expenses and the air and noise pollution involved with generators, she says.

“The clinics are completely off-grid and have never had a power outage since commissioning,” Makindipe says. “People are confident that even if there’s no light anywhere in the community, there’s light at the family care centers and schools.”

For remote sites like these that aren’t connected to a public electrical grid, there has to be a way to store solar energy so it can be used after sunset. That’s where the batteries come in. They’re each the size of a typical car battery, and they line the walls of the system’s container and get charged by the solar panels during daylight hours. Schneider’s suitcase-sized inverters then convert the batteries’ 48-volt energy into the typical Nigerian appliance’s 230 volts, running through power lines into the school or clinic to power everything from lights to laptops.

Without this system, many of the country’s hospitals have had to rely on generators for power. If the fuel runs out or there’s another problem, they can be without electricity for 12 hours or more, which can be a grave lapse for severely ill patients needing urgent medical treatment.

“Reliability is absolutely critical, and that’s why this solution is the most successful for remote applications like this program in Africa,” Datin says.

It’s the ability to infuse the inverters with cloud-based intelligence that’s revolutionizing the industry and making the whole project possible, he says.

The systems can be used anywhere, but the connectivity aspect with Schneider’s Conext Insight is particularly important for the remote schools and clinics in Nigeria. It’s difficult and expensive to send trained technicians to such rural sites to fix problems that pop up. But with the cloud-based remote monitoring in the Azure IoT Suite, a technician can be anywhere in the world and still download a necessary update to the firmware or notice that a certain level is getting low and be able to notify someone on-site to dust off the solar panel, for example. Without that element, clinics might not know anything was wrong until the power went out.

“More and more this infrastructure equipment is not just physical hardware, but it’s run by software, and that software needs to be updated to keep an environment operating smoothly,” says Sharieff Mansour, the director of product management for Microsoft’s Internet of Things division. “Using Azure IoT Suite, Schneider will be able to connect the devices to the cloud for remote monitoring and push software down or address issues from any location, without the cost and delays of traveling to a site in Nigeria. You could be sitting here in Seattle and push those updates to Nigeria. That’s pretty powerful.”

The system also collects data via Cortana Intelligence Suite from every unit analysis, identifying trends so technicians can address issues before they lead to outages. For example, previous history might show that a certain drop in electricity generated by a solar panel may indicate that a panel needs to be cleaned or a battery checked within 12 hours or it could fail. The analytics allow remote monitors to help proactively ward off those types of problems.

The project is helping France-based Schneider, already a global powerhouse with revenues of $30 billion and 170,000 employees serving customers in more than 100 countries, expand its reach to work with consumers as well as the traditional commercial customers that make up the bulk of its business, Datin says.

“Solar energy is not only renewable and carbon neutral, but with this system you can use it exactly where you need it, so you don’t incur a loss on producing, generating and transmitting that power,” Datin says. “That’s a big advantage. And economically, you can afford to produce electricity in remote places that would be very difficult to power if you had to run power lines to the locations or if you had to get diesel there for generators.

“It’s changing the world,” he says.

Discrete Manufacturing Solutions

Drive excellence with Microsoft in discrete manufacturing: we want to help you accelerate your digital capabilities to maximize value co-creation across your business network. Using Microsoft’s trusted cloud platform and enterprise industrial IoT ecosystem, disrupt your competitors and drive better results, today! Our industry solutions such as digital twin, predictive maintenance, asset management, remote monitoring and blockchain will empower you to transform your products and develop new business models and revenue streams. Our solutions are built with the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence, immersive human-machine interaction, cognitive services and bot frameworks. We can help you harness these transformative technologies to enable smart factories, optimize supply chain management, drive new levels of automation, or advance other business processes. Whether your business transformation in discrete manufacturing processes is within the automotive, high tech, aerospace, or industrial equipment industries, we want to partner with you. We can help you excel at digital so you can focus on what you do best: achieve unprecedented levels of operational, and business excellence. Let’s make Industry 4.0 a reality today, together!

Predictive Maintenance solution

The Predictive Maintenance solution gives you better visibility into equipment status, letting you resolve issues before they disrupt your business.

Monitor your assets in near-real time by collecting data through Azure IoT Suite. This allows you to create automatic alerts and actions, such as remote diagnostics, maintenance requests, and other workflows.

Then perform historical analysis of your data and predict when you need to service equipment.

Remote Monitoring solution

With the Remote Monitoring solution, you can monitor assets located nearly anywhere from afar. The solution helps you understand equipment conditions, enabling you to provide over-the-wire updates and fine-tune processes.

To optimize business processes in the long term, the solution applies analytics techniques, like machine learning, to your data. The smart system performs in-operation analysis to find correlations across multiple data streams—letting you improve costs, uptime, and product quality. Plus, you can leverage new predictive maintenance programs to perform historical analysis of your data and resolve issues before they disrupt your business.


Connected Field Service solution

The Connected Field Service solution allows manufacturers to know about problems before the customer does and solve them at the smallest cost to the organization.

In a simple scenario, where an abnormality is detected, a sensor sends an alert off to an Azure IoT Hub. This triggers a configurable workflow process within Dynamics 365 for Field Service.

A field technician is dispatched then arrives onsite to resolve the problem, ensuring a first-time fix.

This proactive approach improves customer satisfaction and resource productivity by catching issues and troubleshooting them remotely—before they significantly impact your business.


Realize the potential of remote monitoring with IoT

The promise

Imagine if your assets had eyes and ears, and could talk to you in real time. That’s what IoT-driven remote monitoring offers. It involves collecting data from assets, and using that data to trigger automatic alerts and actions, such as remote diagnostics, maintenance requests, and other operational processes.

IoT is a game-changer

What used to be a manual, time-intensive procedure can now be dynamic, rapid, and automated. Now, assets located nearly anywhere can be monitored from afar. With live data from smart sensors and devices, organizations get better visibility into operational status, and can quickly, automatically respond to current conditions.

Benefits of using Microsoft Azure IoT Suite

Get started quickly with the remote monitoring preconfigured solution in the Azure IoT Suite to connect and monitor your devices in order to analyze untapped data and automate business processes.

Start by determining the business objectives of your remote monitoring project. Examples include faster responses to equipment issues, or better insight into asset performance. The more specific you can be about the outcomes you want to achieve, the better. This is also a key part of the business case for the project.

When you’ve identified a business process you want to improve, identify elements of the process that an IoT remote monitoring solution could address. This likely requires analysis of the end-to-end business process—how it works today, where the inefficiencies are, and what changes you want to make.

For example, you might want a service alert or ticket to be created automatically if a temperature reading on a remote asset reaches a certain threshold. You’ll need to identify the systems, tools, and teams that would need to be involved in making that possible, the requirements that need to be met, and the gaps and obstacles that exist.

This kind of analysis will help you determine the capabilities your solution must have, and will also indicate how extensive the business process changes might be. For example, if you want roaming maintenance technicians to receive real-time alerts of equipment problems, they need to be equipped with devices that deliver those alerts. And if you want technicians to respond immediately to alerts, their workflow will need to be adjusted to reflect that their priorities could dynamically shift if an alert comes in.

Establish bi-directional communication with billions of IoT devices

Rely on Azure IoT Hub to easily and securely connect your Internet of Things (IoT) assets. Use device-to-cloud telemetry data to understand the state of your devices and assets, and be ready to take action when an IoT device needs your attention. In cloud-to-device messages, reliably send commands and notifications to your connected devices—and track message delivery with acknowledgement receipts. Device messages are sent in a durable way to accommodate intermittently connected devices.

Work with familiar platforms and protocols

Add new IoT devices—and connect existing ones—using open-source device SDKs for multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, and real-time operating systems. Use standard and custom protocols, including HTTP, Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), and MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT).

Authenticate per device for security-enhanced IoT solutions

Set up individual identities and credentials for each of your connected devices—and help retain the confidentiality of both cloud-to-device and device-to-cloud messages. To maintain the integrity of your system, selectively revoke access rights for specific devices as needed.

Manage your IoT devices at scale with device management

With new device management capabilities in IoT Hub administrators can remotely maintain, update, and manage IoT devices at scale from the cloud. Save time and cost by removing the task of developing and maintaining a custom device management solution or spending resources travelling to maintain global assets.

Extend the power of the cloud to your edge device

Take advantage of Azure IoT Edge to make hybrid cloud and edge IoT solutions a reality. IoT Edge provides easy orchestration between code and services, so they flow securely between cloud and edge to distribute intelligence across a range of devices. Enable artificial intelligence and other advanced analytics at the edge, reduce your IoT solution costs, ease development efforts, and operate devices offline or with intermittent connectivity.

Common scenarios for Azure Functions

Timer-based processing

Azure Functions supports an event based on a timer using Cron job syntax. For example, execute code that runs every 15 minutes and clean up a database table based on custom business logic.

Azure service event processing

Azure Functions supports triggering an event based on an activity in an Azure service. For example, execute serverless code that reads newly discovered test log files in an Azure Blob storage container, and transform this into a row in an Azure SQL Database table.

SaaS event processing

Azure Functions supports triggers based on activity in a SaaS service. For example, save a file in OneDrive, which triggers a function that uses the Microsoft Graph API to modify the spreadsheet, and creates additional charts and calculated data.

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