- July 24, 2017
- Fluke Corporation
By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com There is a great deal of hype around IIoT, and much of it may never be realized, but Fluke and their Accelix platform is a real-world solution which may finally deliver the tangible IIoT gains that companies have been yearning for.
By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com
In these early, lawless days of IIoT, there are many cloud solutions being offered to improve maintenance by simply layering software information services onto manufacturing operations. In contrast, Fluke comes from a deep experience base at the equipment level with knowledge, know-how, and years of insight into how the manufacturing industry operates. “The latest trends in maintenance solutions make great promises, yet are often too expensive and time-consuming for most organizations to implement, especially on second- and third-tier equipment,” said Brian Samelson, Fluke’s President of Digital Systems.
It’s because of this background that the company rolled out the Accelix Platform, which I had the opportunity to see at the 2017 Fluke Roadshow. This new Fluke technology ties together their portfolio of wireless maintenance tools, condition monitoring sensors, and CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) into an open cloud platform. This appears to be a natural progression from Fluke’s line of test and diagnostic instruments that are respected throughout the world. Fluke’s goal, with the Accelix Platform, is to deliver on the promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to improve production uptime, extend the life of plant equipment, and improve maintenance team productivity.
Starting Off With Fluke IoT Edge Devices
I suspect many readers will find my past experience familiar: When troubleshooting and diagnosing problems, I would write notes about meter readings and other test equipment data on a stack of 3 x 5 inch cards in my shirt pocket. I took notes to correlate information and understand why systems had problems. Later, I would review the findings with others and write reports. Suffice it to say, it was a time consuming process. Yet in 2014, Fluke Connect-enabled test devices were introduced that wirelessly transmit measurement data to maintenance personnel smart phones. I personally tested these devices at the time, and found them to be quite impressive. The system uses the cloud for secure data storage and allows universal team access from the field. These edge test devices streamlined the process by systemizing troubleshooting with integrated data capture, note taking, data sharing, and video collaboration, and are now a critical part of the Accelix platform.
A Dash of Fluke Condition Monitoring
In addition to these edge devices, Fluke has added portable sensors, each with a Fluke Connect gateway. These wireless sensors sends measurements, as frequently as every second, giving maintenance professionals a detailed history of equipment performance before, during and after any event. This data logging allows data-driven preventive maintenance decisions to be made, even as an event may be happening.
Adding in eMaint's CMMS
To bring all these technologies together onto one platform, requires a significant software compontent. To achieve this, Fluke acquired eMaint Enterprises, in the fall of 2016, and expanded into CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). Founded in 1986, eMaint was one of the first CMMS providers to deploy a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The eMaint's software platform - used by more than 50,000 maintenance professionals in 55 countries, providing asset management solutions in multiple markets including food processing, healthcare, facilities, fleet, services, and manufacturing – is a crucial component of the Fluke Accelix.
With All These Integrations Combined, This is Fluke Accelix
The result of these integrations is an open, cloud platform that connects maintenance software, equipment, and critical plant systems. Accelix integrates Fluke’s portfolio of wireless tools and condition monitoring sensors to the eMaint CMMS, and shares information with users Enterprise solutions.
Fluke Maintenance Information Dataflow
“Maintenance managers are constantly looking for opportunities to improve productivity, lower costs, and save time. This is increasingly important as teams have fewer resources to do the same job, and they need better insights into resource allocation and asset health,” said Paul de la Port, President of the Industrial Group at Fluke. “Industry data proves when managers can monitor machine health they allocate their teams more effectively and prevent serious problems from happening – all while improving safety, productivity, and uptime. In the end, equipment life is extended and savings are quantified; we believe this value proposition is sought by maintenance professionals everywhere.”
Bill's Thoughts & Observations
Having spoken with several key eMaint people at the 2017 Fluke Roadshow, it is obvious that Fluke is gearing up this business and putting a lot more resources into the software. This is consistent with the insights I gained from a discussion, a couple of years ago with Wes Pringle, Fluke’s President at the company’s Measure of Innovation Event. In this discussion, he described Fluke’s focus on helping maintenance management people solve the problems of downtime and the wide-arching goal to keep the world up and running as productively and safely as possible. “We view ourselves as an industrial maintenance solutions company,” Pringle stated, though he noted that they are creating a new direction for the company. Pringle reaffirmed Fluke’s commitment to provide the best tools to meet customer needs “on a single tool basis.” However, he also believes the company is in a unique position to help customers get to another level of understanding and optimizing their maintenance routines.
There is a great deal of hype around IIoT, and much of it may never be realized, but Fluke and their Accelix platform is a real-world solution which may finally deliver the tangible IIoT gains that companies have been yearning for.
- Test Equipment Leverages Smart Phones & Cloud Computing
- Closing the Maintenance Management Loop
- IoT Impact on Industrial Automation
- Worldwide Manufacturing Technology Changes
Did you enjoy this great article?
Check out our free e-newsletters to read more great articles..Subscribe