The idea of creating a network of partners who bring diverse core expertise into product development is by no means new. Over the last few years, this approach has been repeatedly proclaimed as a decisive factor in future business success when it comes to digitalizing industry and realizing Industry 4.0. Working with its partner network, Schaeffler has proven that this approach creates measurable added value for its customers by achieving a very short development time to market readiness and delivering a product that combines cutting-edge technologies and top expertise from Schaeffler. With the OPTIME solution, condition monitoring costs just a few cents per day for each measuring point.
“We have broken new ground in virtually every task that went into creating OPTIME. Our German and Finnish teams utilized new skills, new methods, and new technologies to come up with an entirely new solution in collaboration with an entire partner network,” explains Rauli Hantikainen, head of the Industry 4.0 strategic business field.
In a good position
One goal was to expand the company’s service portfolio in order to overcome specific obstacles still hindering the widespread use of condition monitoring. Another was to minimize the outlay and costs for the user and maximize the quality of the information provided. To fulfill these solution prerequisites, Schaeffler established an Industrial IoT Solution Center in the Finnish town of Jyväskylä at the beginning of 2019.
The company recruited numerous new employees from the local area and entered negotiations with potential development partners. The result was a network of German and Finnish Schaeffler teams with a wealth of in-depth condition monitoring, application, and analytics expertise. The teams then collaborated with Finnish IoT technology partners to create a state-of-the-art ecosystem for the task that they were to share. In just a few weeks, they were able to present a functioning initial prototype – a rapid success that inspired a high level of trust and confidence in all those involved in the project.
Completely focused on the objective
Managing the network is both a major challenge and at the same time a crucial success factor in joint development projects involving multiple companies. It includes coordination meetings held at the right time and with the relevant participants, rapid and binding decisions about subsequent procedures, and flexibility in the event of unexpected intermediate results. Schaeffler’s focus during the agile development process for OPTIME was clearly on added value for the customer.
Teppo Hemiä, CEO of Wirepas, a leading IoT connectivity company and a close partner to Schaeffler, explains: “Schaeffler set the bar high and made exacting demands in terms of wireless data transfer from the very beginning: low energy consumption, scalability, and reliability in industrial application. Thanks to its collaboration with Wirepas and the other Finnish partners, who also have previous experience of working with each other, Schaeffler was able to focus on its core areas of expertise and set itself apart from the competition.”
The partners’ expertise
“The partner network combines leading technologies and outstanding expertise,” says Richard Haagensen, Partner Ecosystem Manager and OPTIME Program Manager. Wirepas is a specialist in software development for connectivity using a unique wireless mesh technology in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Wapice contributes its prize-winning industrial software to the Schaeffler IoT platform and develops Schaeffler-specific OPTIME applications on top for the platform. Treon is a product development company specialized in wireless hardware products for IoT-solutions. Treon’s Gateway platform provides the connectivity for data transfers between the sensors in the mesh network and the IoT platform. Schaeffler’s wireless battery-operated sensors for OPTIME are mass-manufactured by Salcomp, a global developer and manufacturer of power supplies and IoT devices.
Business Finland supported Schaeffler in setting up the network. The public Finnish organization offers innovation funding and internationalization services, as well as promotes travel and investments in Finland. From their perspective, the collaboration is a major benefit for Finland’s IoT sector: “The Finnish IoT ecosystem has demonstrated its capabilities and displayed high-quality collaboration throughout this development – and that is an excellent reference. The Finnish economy benefits from this on multiple different levels. Schaeffler has created jobs as a result of this project, not just in the company itself but for its Finnish partners as well. What is more, it has also opened up new export opportunities for the partner companies,” affirms Janne Kari, Head of Industry, ICT and Digitalization, Business Finland.
Schaeffler OPTIME is now available in Europe and selected countries in Asia Pacific and will be rolled out shortly in other regions.