When organizations are ready to begin the thoughtful and intricate journey of embracing digital transformation—using digital technologies to reimagine internal processes that ultimately change how they deliver value to customers—it includes a profound shift in the way data is gathered and applied.
Flexco, a leader in belt conveyor solutions for more than 110 years, is applying its customer-first philosophy and likewise reimagining the way customers can fundamentally enhance their operations through its innovative solutions. Flexco understands that without innovative ways of effectively translating big data into actionable insights for its customers, business outcomes remain stagnant. That was core to Flexco’s vision in the creation and introduction of Flexco Elevate™.
From a ten-thousand-foot view, Flexco’s focus in creating Elevate was on intentional innovation, adhering to the philosophy that “the business leads the technology, not the other way around.” The approach was holistically driven, with internal collaboration and an eye on the customers’ best interest. Working with game-changing partners such as Twisthink and Uptake, teams sought to identify how digital transformation could bring intricate value to belt cleaners and other components in industrial operations, significantly increasing opportunities to utilize tools that would have an immediate impact. It is critical, in introducing any new technology designed to transform an operation, to first identify what is desirable to the customer, what is technologically feasible, and what is business viable.
Flexco Elevate’s core allows customers to use a powerful data-driven engine to not only gather critical belt conveyor data in real-time, but to actually make sense of it and drive actionable insights, fundamentally changing the relationship between people and technology. The solution, capitalizing on the advancements in AI and machine learning, addresses pain points industrial operations have regarding unexpected conveyor downtime because of belt cleaner maintenance requirements and the significant impact on overall productivity and efficiency.
The core of the solution is built around three driving factors: Transparency, autonomy, and predictability. As data is gathered and made available over time each piece fortifies the next, creating an operational reality that disrupts conventional data gathering methods to increase value by advancing to insights.
First, it’s important to understand the transformational aspect of the solution. It’s truly unique in that data is being generated where previously no data existed. Operators have a real-time remote view of operations that don’t rely on manual inspections. They are then able to use that insight to gather critical performance indicators and can better evaluate conveyor health. It’s analogous to doing business in a dark room with a flashlight versus turning all the lights on, whereby the latter allows facilities to have a clear and complete view of the overall operational footprint.
Once they have a view of their operation, operators are more accountable to belt cleaner efficiency and less reliant on manual inspections. This autonomy allows them to get more done within the same timeframe because it removes the burden of multiple belt inspection trips prior to beginning service. This results in not only freedom for team members to shift attention to other critical operational needs, but an increase in plant personnel safety.
Finally, after data comes action. As machine learning is applied by way of necessary maintenance adjustments, the system continues to become smarter through the continually running learning components in the background. As more actions are applied, predictive insight continues to grow with platform science models.
One of the most desirable aspects of Flexco Elevate is that it is a foundational platform for additional belt conveyor monitoring capabilities into the future. It was purposefully designed from its inception for ease of use, to leverage existing assets, and is completely scalable. Today’s solution, centered on an integrated system delivering transformative belt cleaner performance and insight, is unmatched in the industry, but as a gateway technology, future advancements can scale to broader aspects of belt conveyor or operational health. It is the smart-today, smarter-tomorrow nature of the Elevate platform that makes it unique and empowers operations to make proactive decisions that lead to desirable business outcomes and overcome challenges.
Authored by: Richard Catizone, Digital Transformation consultant
Richard Catizone is a Digital Transformation consultant partnering with Flexco on the development of Flexco Elevate. Richard has coupled a strong technical foundation with Strategic Business Outcomes for 25 years. He has built his practice around acting as Chief Digital Orchestrator leading companies successfully through the Digital Transformation Journey.