The world is gravitating toward subscription models, even in the places you’d least expect. For years, many of us have paid a monthly fee for streaming videos and music, and that same premise is gaining popularity in industrial settings. One example of an industry switching to “Equipment-as-a-Service” (EaaS) is the elevator industry. Even if it’s a difficult concept to understand at face value, “Elevator-as-a-Service” models are gaining popularity and momentum — and the benefits are replicable across industries.
But how does one subscribe to an elevator or industrial device? And more importantly, how do you know whether the entire concept makes sense for you? Here is an overview of EaaS in terms of technological capabilities and business opportunities, as well as the first steps you should take when considering EaaS adoption.
Equipment as a service: The technical explanation
At the hardware level, an EaaS solution refers to machinery equipped with additional sensors and data-harvesting modules. It’s a perfect example of how the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is bringing new capabilities and insights to traditional machines and their surrounding industries.
Sensors aren’t the whole story. In order to derive true value out of the immense data these devices can collect, you need a capable software platform to monitor and report key information in real-time while providing data insights into the operations of the machine and eventually leading to predicting maintenance/failure events before they occur.
In a technical sense, the idea of a “smart machine” may sound more interesting than useful. If so, that’s a direct result of thinking of it as a technological implementation rather than a business solution. When you start thinking about the business outcomes such a device can deliver, that’s when EaaS shows its immense value.
Going back to the example of elevators, for equipment providers, inspectors, and maintenance teams, access to all this data can unlock new business opportunities and operational efficiencies. These benefits are passed along to their customers – particularly those who make equipment-purchasing decisions for buildings – in the form of increased uptime, more-efficient maintenance, lower costs, and less time spent servicing each elevator.
This is where the subscription part of “Elevator-as-a-Service” comes into play. By offering all of these benefits as a subscription package – the machines, the guaranteed uptime, and the maintenance — customers can enjoy significant savings and improved performance at the same time. Because these are offered at a standard, recurring monthly price, customers can record them as operational expenditures (OpEx) rather than unpredictable – and often very costly – capital expenditures (CapEx).
Equipment as a service: The business case
On the surface, the above may sound too good to be true. After all, I’ve just claimed that an EaaS model can create new revenue streams, guarantee machine uptime, reduce service costs, and benefit your bookkeeping at the same time. Believe it or not, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Any IIoT solution has remote data capture capabilities and sensors for critical data can be customized to fit the unique needs of each customer. That means it’s extremely important to begin with the question, “Which business results are our holy grail?” when considering EaaS adoption. Almost anything can be achieved, just as long as you have a well-thought-out blueprint for your own success.
While technology upgrades are involved in any EaaS model, they are all implemented to achieve business results. For example, IIoT has helped companies in the elevator space create remote monitoring of elevators, including retrofitting these assets with diverse sensors and modules. Elevator cars are now measuring critical car-position data with lasers and using microphones, vibration sensors and ultrasound sensors to gauge operational health.
None of those decisions were gratuitous. In each case, technology paved the way to real-time answers, immediate actions, and new services that weren’t possible before. With lasers measuring the precise position of each elevator car, microphones monitoring for out-of-the-ordinary sounds, and vibration sensors detecting operational abnormalities, these businesses are able to predict potential issues before they actually occurred. Those insights led to predictive maintenance, and predictive maintenance led to guaranteed uptime and a longer lifespan for each elevator.
So, how do you start on your own EaaS journey? Even if you currently have an infrastructure in place, adding next-generation capabilities don’t have to cost a fortune. The right integration partner will identify key areas of savings – such as retrofitting existing machinery with relatively inexpensive modules – that will help achieve business goals at a reasonable price.
But those business goals are up to you, and they’re the optimal starting point. Whether you’d like to extend the life of your existing machines, reduce maintenance complexity, achieve lower operational costs, or minimize downtime, an EaaS model can elevate your business.
Guneet Bedi is the General Manager of the Americas for relayr, which supplies enterprise middleware and IoT solutions for industrial organizations.