During the corona, spare parts were also replaced remotely – “Now we have learned new ways to act”

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/08/26

Remote work also took a huge step forward in manufacturing. Wärtsilä and Kalmar have been developing remote maintenance services for years, but now they finally got a breakthrough.

Compulsion is known to be a good motivator. Now this is also visible in the maintenance, as with the corona pandemic, remote maintenance services have got a breakthrough.

– Everyone has had to think about how to maintain operations when we can’t get on the site as easily, says Lasse Eriksson, a port cargo handling equipment manufacturer Cargotec´s subsidiary Kalmar´s CTO in a video interview to the news agency Startel.

Marine engines and power plants manufacturer Wärtsilä´s Stefan Wiik, director of resources for marine engines and power plants, also says that customers have been inevitable to learn what kind of maintenance services the company can provide remotely.

Jani Suomalainen, Purchasing Manager of automation manufacturer Valmet, told Talouskriisi.fi in May that the corona crisis has “given a boost to digitalisation” because the company can remotely service many devices.

The exact figures for the increase in remote maintenance services are not provided by the companies.

Remote maintenance services providing software company Softability´s business unit executive Juha Asunmaa provides some picture of the demand for remote maintenance services.

– Demand has clearly increased. We have never had so much customer activity. But we have also been very active in selling our service, which has had a strong impact.

A video connection on a smartphone is enough for the service

Compulsion has also been a good motivator within companies. Earlier our service engineers have visited the site because it has been familiar and safe. Now we have learned new ways. We have also learned that we can do more things remotely than we previously thought, Wärtsilä´s Wiik says in a video interview.

In industry, maintenance services are diverse. At its simplest, you need to update the software on your machine.

At the other end is a broken device that needs to be replaced. To replace a part, you need an installer who has traditionally been a specialist in their field.

With a remote connection, the installer does not need to have any special skills. The company installer can make a video connection to the service center on a smartphone or tablet, and from the service center, engineers will guide the installer step-by-step through part replacement.

For example, Wärtsilä’s service allows an expert at a service center to draw instructions and send them to the installer.

Softability’s Asunmaa says that one important feature of their service is that the service center expert can send the installer manuals and save the entire maintenance with its steps. This allows the company that performed the installation to take advantage of the help later.

Between these extremes is the anticipation of maintenance. Wiik says that with the help of data collected from the equipment, the company has now been able to tell customers in exceptional circumstances what the risk is of postponing scheduled maintenance of the equipment.

Wiik says that Wärtsilä can handle little less than 90 percent of maintenance requests remotely. The company does not tell what this percentage was before the corona or how much more the company now maintains remotely.

Traveling is inefficient

The benefits of remote maintenance for the service company are clear. Experts do not have to travel, but can offer their expertise to multiple clients at the same time.

– Experts do not grow on trees. Their expertise has accumulated over the years. All the time spent traveling is out of business time, says Kalmar’s Lasse Eriksson.

Neither Eriksson nor Wärtsilä’s Wiik want to assess what time efficiency could mean for companies in terms of cost savings in maintenance services.
Softability’s Asunmaa tips that there are also studies about the benefits. Based on the information gathered, the technology consulting and research company ABI Research has calculated that thanks to the remote maintenance service, employee efficiency will increase by an average of 18 percent.

The benefit to the customer can be even greater. Eriksson says that if the device they make breaks in the middle of a rush-hour, it will delay unloading or loading. The impact extends to the entire logistics chain.

Asunmaa gives an even bigger example in terms of its effects.

– If the device breaks e.g. in South Africa, there may be a break in production for many days when a service person travels there. Remote service can solve the problem in a matter of hours. The cost savings can be very significant.

Long-term groundwork produces results

Remote maintenance services have not been kicked off in an instant. Wärtsilä’s Wiik says that the first solutions were developed 15 years ago.

– The corona is a challenge for everyone, but our advantage is that we have built technology and operating models for a long time.

Work has also been done at Cargotec for a long time. In 2015, the company launched more systematic work than before, where digital solutions, remote monitoring and remote maintenance services began to be developed.

Eriksson says that last year, for example, this was reflected in the fact that many older devices used by the customer were retrofitted with remote monitoring devices.

Eriksson sees that functional remote maintenance services are also a competitive advantage in terms of customer relationships.

– In a pandemic situation, we have been able to show customers that we can support them. This can give benefit in the long run when customers find that they can rely on our ability and willingness to help.

All those interviewed for this story also believe that the digital leap taken now will change practices permanently. At least to some extent.


The interview was originally published in Taloussanomat in Finnish, by Pekka Leiviskä.

Article picture: Mick Ryan/Cargotec

More information about Softability´s remote support solution XReach:

Juha Asunmaa, business unit executive, juha.asunmaa(at).softability.fi



You might be interested:

There is a need for a remote support solution in boat industry

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/06/18

The XReach remote support solution developed by Softability is suitable for maintenance, installation and training needs. According to Blue Ocean Oy, a company specialized in the sale and brokerage of sailboats and motorboats, there is a need for a remote support solution in the boat industry. Read more!

Read post

Softability donated to charity to help families in distress

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/06/17

The situation caused by the corona virus has pushed many families into distress. As part of our corporate social responsibility, we donated two percent of last year’s income and a separate donation to Save the Children to support the daily lives of children and families.

Read post

Remote maintenance support tools: virtual inter-organisational meeting point for experts

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/06/05

Power systems are becoming more intelligent and complex. To answer these challenges, fieldworkers need new types of competences and support. In Smart Otaniemi, Softability aims to tackle these issues by developing a custom-made remote platform for supporting grid maintenance. Read more!

Read post

HeadPower Oy relies on Softability’s AR technology expertise!

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/05/13

Softability developed an augmented reality application for HeadPower Oy to improve the quality and efficiency of the company’s end customers’ work, as well as customer communication. The primary target group for the application was infrastructure network designers. Network designers have to use many different tools in their work when trying to agree with the landowners on the details of the equipment installations.

Read post

Softability is already a Microsoft partner in three different competency areas – software development, Azure cloud services and mobile development

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/04/20

Softability achieved Microsoft “Gold Cloud Platform” competency in Azure cloud services and Microsoft “Silver Windows and Devices” competency in mobile development. The competencies are an indication to Softability’s strong expertise in Microsoft technologies.

Read post

Virtual learning environment HoloLens application developed by Softability, is now available on Microsoft Store

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/04/09

The HoloLens application developed by Softability for Perho Culinary, Tourism & Business College, is now available on the Microsoft Store for other schools and companies to download for testing. The application was developed as part of the MR Amis project. Read more!

Read post
The lock of Soskua was made into a gaming experience with virtual reality

The lock of Soskua was made into a gaming experience with virtual reality

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/03/11

Softability implemented a virtual experience of Saimaa Canal lock project in cooperation with FCG Finnish Consulting Group and Väylävirasto. The end result was presented at the InfraBIM Open 2020 in Tampere, where visitors were able to navigate virtual vessel through the lock and see the reinforcement of the lock with HoloLens mixed reality smart glasses.

Read post
For the third year in a row, Softability has been selected as one of the best workplaces in Finland

Softability has been selected as one of the best workplaces in Finland for the third year in a row!

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/03/09

For the third year in a row, Softability has been selected as one of the best workplaces in Finland! Based on the Great Place to Work® survey, our company was ranked 27th among the midsize organizations. Thank you for the people of Softability!

Read post

Softability was once again awarded with the Great Place to Work® certificate!

Nora Nirhamo | 2020/01/20

We received the Great Place to Work® certification once again this year with excellent results, and we are proud to say that Softability has been confirmed as a great place to work! A great workplace is made together, so a warm thank you to all Softability´s employees!

Read post