Orlando, Fla. — Auxiliary equipment maker Novatec Inc. is finding big players interested in its DigiTwin machinery diagnostics concept and sister company MachineSense LLC's monitoring capabilities.
The technologies use cloud-based analytics to monitor processes and predict maintenance issues.
Conrad Bessemer, president and managing partner of Baltimore-based Novatec, envisions DigiTwin helping processors avoid machinery breakdowns and disruptions.
In fact, he deems MachineSense a disruptive technology with a massive potential for growth.
"MachineSense can help Novatec customers if a machine is down through a failure or lack of service," Bessemer said in an interview.
At NPE2018, demonstrations of a MachineSense constant-on Power Analyzer permitted attendees to view electrical line monitoring system and predictive maintenance capabilities.
Typically, the Power Analyzer is connected permanently to a device and provides constant monitoring. Detection of an abnormality initiates a text message pinpointing the problem and activating an alarm.
"We are establishing an overall platform for predictive maintenance," Bessemer said.
Two big technology players are involved, and another is in the wings.
In May, Munich-based Siemens AG said MachineSense had selected its cloud-based MindSphere advanced analytics "internet of things" operating system. MachineSense's Power Analyzer is the MindSphere system's first vertically integrated IoT solution. MachineSense became a silver partner in the MindSphere program and gains access to the Siemens platform's ecosystem partners.
In February, the ScaleUp program from Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., named MachineSense among 12 firms in its 12th cohort to receive help over two years with market strategies, technology and community building. The program was formerly known as Microsoft Accelerator.
Soon, Bessemer anticipates that the Google system from Alphabet Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., will extend its smart home controls technology now in use with compatible home appliances, hot water heaters, and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units. Those controls have potential in MachineSense's predictive maintenance sphere.
Regarding the big picture, Industry 4.0 is having an impact, but it is not necessary for processors to throw out old equipment, Bessemer said. In most cases, a retrofit can make machinery fit to operate for the next 10-15 years.
For its purposes, MachineSense began two years of Industry 4.0 beta trials in 2016. The trials monitored power coming into a building for office, pharmaceutical or food packaging uses and sought to detect harmonic problems with light emitting diodes, computers, capacitors and buffers.
Through detection and anticipation, MachineSense has the capability to overcome the shortage of technical service personnel and to target problems with the sensors on individual components.
"We want to help the customer be more conscious" in advance vs. playing catch-up with time-based maintenance practices, he said.
A study showed that 70 percent of preventive maintenance involves bad practices dealing with oil or grease lubrication issues or untimely filtration changes.
"The average person does not understand Industry 4.0," Bessemer said. "We say that it will take off because it makes business sense. If you keep uptime with existing equipment, you know the result."
Paying attention to predictive maintenance can "make U.S. business more competitive" and "bring jobs back to America," Bessemer said. "There will be a cost to the U.S. if we do not find jobs for people and make things more productive."
Novatec employs 175 and occupies 125,000 square feet.
"We just bought an 80,000-square-foot building in April," Bessemer said. "We are capacity constrained. We will use the space mostly for assembly now and manufacturing in the future."
Product lines include resin dryers, pneumatic conveying pumps and systems, cutters, saw and blenders.
MachineSense employs 45, including seven in Baltimore and 38 others for analytics and software programming in Kolkata in India's West Bengal state. Each location occupies about 20,000 square feet.
Co-founders Bessemer and Chief Technology Officer Biplab Pal own MachineSense. Bessemer has 80 percent and Pal 20 percent.
One of Bessemer's challenges was trying to register the company's original name, Prophecy Sensorlytics LLC, in 2014.
A conflicting identity came to the registrars' attention, and "we needed to change the name" in 2015, he said.
In retrospect, Bessemer believes MachineSense more accurately describes the firm's mission.