Internet of Cranes provides intelligent control through real-time data

Internet of Cranes provides intelligent control through real-time data

The monitoring and maintenance of cranes fleets have traditionally involved the operator fielding a
team of technicians who – armed with tool bag and logbook – needed to travel to the site to
carry out the necessary work, often responding reactively to incidents

A leading manufacturer of articulated and hydraulic cranes, Fassi Gru, has customers all over the globe and the ability to produce 12,000 cranes on average per year. As a pioneer in its sector, it has always sought to create innovative services to support operators. In 2015, Fassi began developing a unique system that would take advantage of IoT technology to provide intelligent control for the remote management of cranes, by making all information related to operation, performance and status available in real-time.

IoC system
Fassi’s vision for its IoC system was that operators should
have up-to-the-minute data at their fingertips (img source: www.fassi.com)

The goal of the system – christened the Internet of Cranes (IoC) – was to enable operators to create efficiencies and improve crane performance. Remote access to vital data would enable rapid response diagnosis and assistance, from either the operator or the Fassi support team, and swift resolution of malfunctions

Fassi Gru needed hardware and connectivity expertise to bring this dedicated IoT system to life, so turned to cellular connectivity specialist, Eseye, and IoT solutions provider, Micro Systems, for design, development, and deployment support.

Open dialogue between operator and cranes

Fassi’s vision for its IoC system was that operators should have up-to-the-minute data at their fingertips, and the ability to rely on a permanently active assistance service. This required constant, dependable internet connectivity.

Fassi cranes
img source: www.fassi.com

This was a challenge: Fassi has customers in all corners of the world, and its cranes are operating in myriad demanding operational environments. When the IoC project was initiated, cellular coverage was fragmented across the globe – with a mix of 2G and 3G networks, and carriers using a range of communication frequencies. The network management task involved would be monumental.

Fassi needed to find a reliable, ubiquitous connectivity solution with a single IoT data gateway and a single SIM card that would enable its cranes to communicate wherever they were deployed in the world. In addition to simplifying management, this would allow it to standardise on one IoT board instead of having to manufacture several regional versions.

Seamless global cellular connectivity

Connectivity schema

Already a long-term systems integrator partner of Eseye, Micro Systems partnered with Eseye to take advantage of its AnyNet SIM cards with multi-international mobile subscriber identification (IMSI) technology to deliver the universal connectivity required to operate Fassi’s IoC system to its full potential, through a single device.

Combining localisation and roaming partners, Eseye has access to more than 700 networks, and holds roaming contracts with all of the world’s major mobile phone operators covering 190 countries.

The global mobile network alliance Eseye has built allows it to offer the widest range of interconnects and provide the most comprehensive localisation strategy in the IoT market today. This grants the AnyNet SIM the unique ability to connect directly and automatically to the best available network.

The bespoke electronic board designed by Micro Systems is fitted with a Thales Cinterion UMTS 2G/3G cellular module with GPS, which is connected to the web by Eseye’s AnyNet SIM card. The SIM is installed directly on the board during the production phase, and easily activated by the end customer.

Red fassi crane closeup
The Fassi-F545RA2.2.6-xe-dynamic

The board also has an integrated shock detection sensor via accelerometer, as well as an SD card for storage of firmware updates and software update of the crane control unit. The board control software collects data from the crane’s control unit, interfacing via control area network (CAN) communication, then transmits it to the AWS data cloud server. The cloud server collects and securely stores data from the entire Fassi machine fleet around the world.

A dedicated web portal allows operators and the Fassi support centre to view and manage the data from each crane. The integration of Eseye’s SIM Information and Account Management (SIAM) portal allows the operator and Fassi to monitor SIMs in a single virtual space – including details on the activation/suspension date, phone number, monthly traffic and location. Eseye provided device onboarding services and rigorous connectivity testing to ensure Fassi’s IoC system could be deployed, managed and supported successfully.

Optimised operation across the entire fleet

Fassi Gru's F65 Internet of Cranes
Fassi Gru’s F65 Internet of Cranes

Through the development of its Internet of Cranes, Fassi Gru has been able to offer operators around the world an exceptional value-add service that enables them to monitor their machines remotely, in real-time.

Benefits include

  • Improved performance and uptime
    Immediate access to usage statistics brings operators a more accurate knowledge of their machines, with a full understanding of how they’re being used, how they’re performing, and their condition.

    The availability of detailed usage data supports predictive maintenance and estimate of residual life, as well as the planning of scheduled maintenance. Fassi’s support team can monitor cranes during operation on request, to provide rapid remote diagnosis and assistance to resolve breakdowns and malfunctions.
  • Greater efficiency
    Operators have been able to move from a scenario where maintenance was carried out in person by technicians to one where information is verified and managed remotely by a single operator.
  • More precise control
    Operators can remotely set and modify crane parameters, such as the electronic moment limiter, and monitor safety. Real-time tracking of a crane’s position means they can pinpoint its location in case of theft.
  • Low technical burden and simplified operations
    For the end customer, no configuration of the AnyNet SIM is required – they simply activate connectivity when they start using the IoC service. The fully GSMA-compliant AnyNet SIM has a single stock keeping unit (SKU) code, making it easier for Fassi to track inventory and deploy its IoC in all territories.

“With the Internet of Cranes project, we wanted to propose a product innovation that moves towards a service logic that actively involves crane operators during the support phase of their machines,” says Roberto Signori, the R&D manager at Fassi Gru. “Fassi Gru was the first company in the world to develop a remote diagnostics solution, by connecting the articulated cranes to our technical assistance via the internet.”

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