‘Predictive maintenance’ technology takes off as manufacturers seek more efficiency

Startups making technologies designed to predict industrial equipment failures before they happen are seeing an increase in demand, as tight supply chains drive manufacturers to squeeze more efficiencies from production lines, according to startup founders and analysts.

Anna Farberov, chief executive of PepsiCo Labs, the technology arm of PepsiCo Inc., said that over the past year, so-called predictive maintenance systems at four Frito-Lay plants have reduced unexpected breakdowns, downtime and additional costs for spare parts, among other benefits.

Developed by New York-based startup Augury Inc., the technology has helped Frito-Lay add some 4,000 hours per year of manufacturing capacity, the equivalent of millions of pounds of snacks rolling off the production line and shipped to store shelves, Ms. Farberov said.

PepsiCo is now shipping the technology to most of its U.S. Frito-Lay plants and plans to roll it out to its southern U.S. beverage plants and eventually all of its North American bottling facilities, she said. declared. “We had a very clear business goal to achieve,” she said.

Other manufacturers seem to be following suit. The global market for predictive maintenance technology, also known as machine health technology, is expected to reach $18.6 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate of just over 26%, according to data analytics firm Research and Markets. When Covid-19 hit in 2020, shutting down factories and disrupting shipping routes, global spending on predictive maintenance was around $4 billion, the company said.

Augury plans to add up to 50 new industrial customers by the end of the year, said Saar Yoskovitz, the company’s co-founder and chief executive. In addition to Pepsi, current customers include Colgate-Palmolive Co.

From the Pont de Nemours Inc.

and Hershey Co.

among about 100 beverage and food producers, pharmaceutical companies, consumer packaged goods makers and other large-scale manufacturers, the company says.

Launched in 2011, Augury makes wireless sensors that attach to factory equipment and pick up the sounds they emit. The data is transmitted to its cloud-based platform and analyzed by artificial intelligence software trained to recognize more than 80,000 sounds of industrial machinery at different lifecycles of operations – from well-functioning to failing – and layers these sounds to detect patterns. The Augury system then transmits its information to the plant maintenance team in real time, allowing them to better target equipment inspections and anticipate maintenance needs.

Augury co-founders Gal Shaul, left, chief technology officer, and Saar Yoskovitz, chief executive officer.


Photo:

Courtesy of Augure

Other tech startups offering similar predictive maintenance technology include C3.ai Inc.,

DataProphet and Senseye. While the technology isn’t new, growing demand — driven by additional supply chain disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing Covid-related shutdowns in China — makes these startups and others that are increasingly valuable to manufacturers.

Senseye, a UK-based predictive maintenance software developer, was acquired in June by Siemens AG

. Announcing the deal, Siemens said Senseye’s technology can reduce unplanned machine downtime by up to 50%, while increasing maintenance staff productivity by up to 30%. Terms were not disclosed.

In October, when Augury raised $180 million in a Series E funding round — which took its private market valuation to over $1 billion — its lead investor was oil giant Baker Hughes. Co.

Another was the corporate venture arm of Schneider Electric SE.

A turbine manufactured by Siemens Energy in western Germany. In June, Siemens bought Senseye, a developer of predictive maintenance software.


Photo:

sascha schuermann/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Under the terms of the agreement, Baker Hughes took a seat on Augury’s board of directors. He also signed a multi-year trade agreement, Augury said.

In May, Augury itself acquired Seebo, an AI-based process intelligence startup, in a deal valued at over $100 million.

Mr. Yoskovitz, the head of Augury, said his long-term goal for the company was not to be taken over by a giant manufacturer or IT vendor, but to go public “when the time is right”.

Major IT vendors are increasingly offering their own predictive maintenance tools, intensifying competition in an already tight market.

“The value of startup vendors such as Augury was first in the combination of predictive maintenance hardware and software solutions, particularly focused on machine learning,” said Emil Berthelsen, vice president and analyst at the company. Gartner IT research and consulting firm. Inc.

Using multiple data sources, such as historical and operational data, acoustic sensors and imagery, Berthelsen said, “The quality and levels of predictive maintenance information continue to improve.”

Warren Pruitt, vice president of global engineering at Colgate-Palmolive, said the company has turned to predictive maintenance tools in a bid to improve machine performance and reduce the number of machines in the center. -town. Previously, the company relied on preventive and scheduled maintenance to manage equipment, he said.

Colgate-Palmolive has put Augury’s platform to work in all of its factories in North America, as well as many factories in Europe, Latin America and Asia, he said.

“Our predictive maintenance program also upskills our workforce, giving our employees the bandwidth to see the big picture and think about how to use new technologies and initiatives to continually improve. our operation,” Mr. Pruitt said.

Write to Angus Loten at [email protected]

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