The Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) has an iconic place in the history of the electronics industry, developing the ideas behind such innovations as the computer mouse, Ethernet and laser printing.
But with Xerox waning in influence in the digital age and a focus on software and services, PARC as a subsidiary since 2002 has perhaps struggled in its open innovation role of custom R&D services. One area where it has been innovating is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
It has now launched new venture to commercialize predictive maintenance technology that reduces unplanned downtime in industrial manufacturing operations.
Novity is an IIoT technology that uses equipment sensors and proprietary algorithms to enable industrial manufacturers to see the future health of their systems. The Novity TruPrognostics engine combines machine learning and physics-based models of equipment to predict equipment failures with 90 percent or better accuracy and lead times of months, not weeks or days.
From its network of industrial equipment, Xerox points to recent studies that indicate unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50bn each year. European companies such as ABB, NNAISense, Sensiron and Semiotics Labs have also been focussing on this combination of models and machine learning in IIoT. This is also a key element in building digital twin models of industrial processes.
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“Over the course of many conversations with customers in the industrial manufacturing industry, we identified critical problems where current solutions fall short: they require too much data, they aren’t accurate enough, and they don’t give users enough advance notice to act before it’s too late,” said Markus Larsso, general manager of Novity. “Our goal with this solution is to solve these problems, ultimately enabling zero unplanned downtime.”
Concrete maker Pennsy Supply in Pennsylvania has installed a pilot deployment of the Novity technology. “Novity’s solution has proven itself effective very quickly. Novity has delivered an excellent PdM solution for Pennsy,” said Larry Kessler, Director of Operation Support, Pennsy Supply. “Within the first month, the system picked up a potential issue with a mill, allowing us to take preventative action, avoiding costly unplanned downtime.”
In addition to increasing the accuracy and prediction horizons of the solution, the TruPrognostics engine also reduces the need for large amounts of data to deliver results. By using a library of pre-built physics-based models, predictive maintenance is accessible to customers who lack the historical data required by other solutions.
“As more manufacturers embrace new technologies that help their plants and factories run more efficiently, one of the things we’ve heard over and over from customers is they need a solution they can rely on to make actionable decisions,” said Naresh Shanker, president of PARC. “With Novity, we’re leveraging PARC’s expertise in AI, sensors and manufacturing to provide an exceptionally accurate predictive maintenance solution. This means less downtime, more productivity and profitability for our customers.”
Last year Xerox launched a joint venture with the government of Victoria in Australia called Eloque to commercialize technology that remotely monitors the structural health of bridges and other critical infrastructure. PARC is also working with the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a technology that can enable large-scale monitoring of seas under the Ocean of Things program.
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