Internet of Things in the production industry
The Internet of Things is one of the big buzz words of our time, but how can we use it to create value for our business?
If the Internet of Things is to make sense for a large company like Grundfos, it is necessary to create a solid and future-proof IT platform that can support the digitization of a wide range of known and yet unknown products. In designing the IT platform, data structures, integrations and, not least, user interfaces must be considered to ensure that the requirements of both the business and customers are met.
There is also a need for a high degree of flexibility in the project, so that requirements and goals can be adjusted continuously to meet the market changes. The project is therefore managed using agile methods, which means, among other things, that the functionality is continuously tested in close cooperation with customers who are part of a pilot program.
New technologies offer exciting new opportunities, but they are not just ‘plug and play’: there is a lot of work to be done before we can exploit them to create value for customers - and for our business. Grundfos works purposefully and intensively with the development of their IT platform to support the digitization of existing products.
The establishment of the IT platform to support the Internet of Things is central to Grundfos' digitalization strategy. The expectations for the platform are high, and new applications, that must be supported, are being added along the way. This can be e.g. specialized software that continuously sends data about the status of a pump or performance to the service organization. The data received must be handled and stored so that it forms the basis for reporting or automatic action. Many of the applications have different requirements and demands to the platform, which requires a high level of coordination on the part of the IT project.
The IT platform itself is based on Microsoft Azure and works with standard extensions and custom extensions to support the demands of the many applications. Data structures, integrations and, not least, user interfaces must be considered when meeting the various demands of the business and the customers.
The large IT project is executed as an agile project and with a rolling plan for ongoing meetings with key stakeholders across the organization, where a clearly defined process ensures an assessment, prioritization and implementation of the individual development elements.
It is important for Grundfos to continuously test the functionality in a realistic context and this is done in close cooperation with customers who are part of the pilot process. The pilot customers ensure that the IT platform is functioning satisfactorily and at the same time the relevance of the many requirements is tested.
Already it is clear that the agile approach is the right one: it permits the project to continuously adapt to new and changing requirements from the market. The business is brought into the development process in the early stages and this means that the validity of the requirements is ensured. It also means that the business gets value drip by drip in part deliveries, while the solution is being fully developed.
The work on establishing the IT platform is not a task that will end: The speed of the market development calls for continuous further development of the platform and constant innovation to best exploit new opportunities and ensure that Grundfos will continue to be a globally prominent company in the future.
kaastrup|andersen has been responsible for the project management of IT delivery to the platform solution from 2017 to the end of 2019.