Ingersoll Rand continues to advance and develop as the industry changes beneath its feet. Keith Staninger, digital solutions and controls leader for the Compression Technologies and Services business, is one helping lead the charge to keep the company acclimated and successful and times continue to change.
At Ingersoll Rand, he is delivering digitally enabled services for customers and transforming the business into a connected portfolio. Capabilities such as system level continuous commissioning, remote monitoring and diagnostics, controls technologies, machine learning and system modeling are a combination of passion and job responsibility.
Staninger speaks with Aftermarket Business World about the developing industry and what his company is doing to stay ahead.
How is Industry 4.0 shifting manufacturing operations?
First, the number of ways you can use Industry 4.0 technologies and digital products to solve problems is greater than ever. You do not need to develop each technology yourself to have the capability. This really helps companies reduce the cost it takes to develop Industry 4.0 capabilities.
Second, as you think about the customer’s problems, there are new solutions you can provide with the technology Industry 4.0 enables. Companies are innovating every day in this area, solving customer problems in ways never imagined. It’s very exciting to see the paradigms that are breaking.
Lastly, the data can simplify business and operational processes. When you use real-time data to solve problems, it creates consistency, speed and accuracy which advances your company's processes and makes it easier for customers to do business with you.
Walk us through Ingersoll Rand’s journey in developing remote monitoring technologies.
It started with understanding the outcomes that Industry 4.0 can solve and ensuring it adds value to our customers and our company. We offer customers a service agreement called PackageCARETM. It is our highest-tiered service agreement and includes a full risk transfer of the preventative maintenance and break-fix repairs of the asset for the life of the service agreement.
With remote monitoring, we can monitor our customer's assets 24/7, increase their uptime and meantime to repair their compressors. Ingersoll Rand can also use remote monitoring to capture real-time data and get it into the hands of our technicians. Technicians are responsible for solving problems for the customer and with the data, they can resolve cases quickly and efficiently.
Once we understood the business case for remote monitoring, we were ready to invest in a technology strategy that could support its scale globally. That strategy establishes an architecture we can build upon for years to come. It’s easy to want to admire technology. But more time should be spent on working to understand the problems you need to solve for the customer. Technologies are changing so rapidly, solving the wrong problem with great technology is a common pitfall in the industrial digital world.
One of your duties is to transform Ingersoll Rand’s business into a connected portfolio. Can you explain what this means?
A fundamental part of my role is to create a portfolio of connected products and services that benefits our customers. Ingersoll Rand’s goal is to simplify the way we serve our customers and their assets. It’s more critical than ever that we evolve how we connect with our customers.
My role includes creating the digital business proposition, strategy and roadmap, and aligning it to the technology strategy that spans across the business. A greater number of technologies are required to be a part of digital offerings, so keeping an eye on what’s needed to create new products and services is a more significant part of the role than ever before. The trick is balancing the business goals, technology roadmaps and investments while delivering on time-to-market goals and adding customer value as cost-effectively as possible.
What do you see as some of the biggest technology challenges in the market today?
The mindset has shifted from five years ago. Now there is growing acceptance of consumer and off-the-shelf technologies in the industrial world. That creates an opportunity to reduce the time to market for new products. The tradeoff is the investment you have to make to secure your operations and protecting your data amidst technologies that you didn’t develop.
Many new technologies are inexpensive. People often feel they're easy and ready to introduce into industrial settings, which is not always true. It’s essential to set expectations about where new technology can add value and where the risk is not worth the reward. Reaching that balance takes a lot of communication and teamwork. It’s not to say companies develop un-secure products, but the level of security required for an industrial use case may be different than in other settings.
It is a challenge to decipher when to use existing processes to implement waterfall-based hardware products versus evolving to support agile software products. Many companies I talk to are in the preliminary stages of moving to an agile software structure and it often takes time to build these competencies. It’s a big cultural shift that goes beyond the development processes.
Treating digital ventures like a waterfall hardware project may slow down the implementation. However, going too fast with no processes or control in a manufacturing setting may risk quality and consistency that degrade your brand and negatively impact your customers. Culturally, it’s best to plan for an agile process, but build comfort and confidence around new products. Doing so should start from the top and be communicated in all areas of the company.