Microsoft wants to lift maintenance function

Microsoft's partnership with Otis Elevator, announced at Hannover Messe in Germany, is designed to digitally monitor operations and improve maintenance and safety.
By Bob Vavra, Content Manager, CFE Media April 24, 2016

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company will provide a system of intelligence to help with remotely operate and maintain machines. Courtesy: CFE MediaMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella sees his company’s role in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as the platform from which companies will build their own software solutions.

Otis Elevator Company president Philippe Delpech is in the business of moving platforms to achieve business success. In announcing his company’s partnership with Microsoft at a press conference April 24 at Hannover Messe, Delpech said his company will use that digital platform to improve its operation and better use its workers.

"Otis invested the elevator; without it, New York and Chicago might never existed. There would be no building above three stories," said Delpech. "One of the reasons we have led the industry for 163 years is that we have been innovative as a company. We also have been a service innovation. We have two million elevators around the world and transport two billion people a day.

"In that process, we collect a phenomenal amount of data," Delpech added. If we want to lead the industry over the next 163 years, we have to manage the elevators in a connected, smarter way, and we need to manage our employees and our maintenance in a much more connected way."

Otis will expand its existing relationship with Microsoft by adding cloud computing and smart analytics to its service network, which currently spends 60 million hours servicing the Otis network of elevators and escalators worldwide.

"Digital technology is in all of our lives, all of our businesses," Nadella said. "It’s no longer just about us providing a digital system. It’s about Otis using our digital platforms to create their own digital product. The elevator itself is a digital product. Every elevator can have analytical ability and predictive ability. That is what I describe as a system of intelligence. That’s what the theme of this conference is about—digital things being created by industrial companies. Empowering that transformation is what Microsoft’s mission is all about.

Nadella said the opportunities around cloud computing and predictive analytics for manufacturers and maintenance teams will begin with the software platform, but will be driven by individual companies such as Otis for their internal needs.

"It isn’t like we didn’t use information before," said Nadella. "What is interesting in this area is the a digital feedback loop that gives you information on how improve continuously is software-driven. That digital feedback loop is a now a new capability.

That will create a fundamental change for Otis as its transforms its two million elevators and escalators from devices that lift people to interactive machines. "The way we are going to maintain the machine will influence the way we design the machine," Delpech said.

Bob Vavra is content manager, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.

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