Welcome to Automation World’s Technology Matters. I’m David Greenfield and today I want to talk about an interesting development taking place in the world of automation technology—particularly about how a large company not known as a manufacturing technology supplier is making some serious moves into this space.
The company I’m talking about is Amazon. And while they’ve been delivering technology to the industrial space for years now via their Amazon Web Services cloud storage and analytics products, few people would consider them an industrial technology supplier. After all, their cloud services for the industrial manufacturing space have largely been extensions of the cloud services they offer to every industry sector.
But that started changing late last year when Amazon Web Services, typically referred to as AWS, began offering its AWS Supply Chain application. Features of this cloud-based software are based on nearly 30 years of Amazon.com logistics network experience. For example, the unified data lake feature of AWS Supply Chain uses machine learning models pre-trained for supply chains to understand, extract, and transform disparate data into a unified data model. AWS says the data lake can process data from a variety of data sources, including existing ERP and supply chain management systems.
Companies already using AWS Supply Chain include Traeger Grills and Lifetime Brands, the supplier of home goods by brands such as Farberware and KitchenAid.
Another feature of AWS Supply Chain is its Insights module for information on potential supply chain risks—such as overstock or stock outs. When such risks are detected, the software automatically evaluates rebalancing options to provide recommended actions.
And the Demand Planning feature of AWS Supply Chain reportedly adjusts to market conditions and allows for collaboration across teams to avoid excess inventory costs and waste. As with the unified data lake component, this module of AWS Supply Chain also uses machine learning. Here it’s used to analyze historical and real time sales and production data to create forecasts and adjust models to improve accuracy.
While this supply chain app is definitely an interesting foray into the industrial space for AWS, the product makes sense considering that Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. But AWS isn’t stopping with its supply chain offering. They’re also venturing into predictive maintenance systems that include sensors and gateways for delivering sensor data to the cloud for analysis.
This AWS product is called Monitron. According to Amazon, Monitron’s wireless sensors attach to equipment with adhesive and are purpose-built to capture vibration and temperature data.
Up to 20 Monitron sensors can be connected at a time to one gateway, depending on the distance between the gateway and the sensor.
Amazon says Monitron automatically detects abnormal machine operating states by analyzing vibration and temperature signals using ISO standards for vibration as well as machine learning-enabled models. Key applications include monitoring use of fans, bearings, compressors, motors, gearboxes, and pumps.
Push notifications are sent to users whenever the service detects abnormal vibration or temperature patterns. These patterns can be reviewed and tracked by users within the app. And user feedback on alerts, such as details around the cause of the failure and actions taken, can be entered into the Monitron system, which learns from that feedback as well as the real-time data it collects to continually improve over time using its machine learning technology.
So I hope you enjoyed this Technology Matters episode. And, as always, you can find many more insights into automation technology at automationworld.com.