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Caterpillar is an IIoT Hipster — they’ve been into it since the 90s

How the heavy equipment manufacturer unlocks 45% increases in efficiency for customers with the Internet of Things

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J&B Excavating owner Brenen Newman was facing a labour shortage. To avoid a slowdown in the business, he needed to get his 19-year-old son working on excavating operating equipment fast.

Problem was his son had little experience. But thanks to advances in digital and IoT tech, Brennan’s son had no trouble getting up to speed.

“He picked it up the first day,” Newman said. “The second day he dug a basement by himself without a grade checker. I don’t know that a guy with 20 years of experience could do that.”

Unlock decades of experience

The machine Newman’s son was working on was a Cat 300 series excavator that includes Caterpillar’s IoT technology and services toolkit called Cat Connect. The tech allows for services to increase efficiency and improve performance, like Grade with Assist. Grade with Assist allows operators to reach grade quickly and accurately, by offering guidance for depth, slope and horizontal distance to grade.

Related: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

Both Newman and his son appreciated the simplicity of the tech. “This machine is a trainer,” Newman says. “You can put an inexperienced operator in it, and the machine will train that operator how to dig flat and how to hold grade.”

Caterpillar says this Cat Connect feature and others — such as Cat GPS, Cat Link, Cat Payload and others — increase operating efficiency by up to 45 percent.

For example, another construction company, Hemphill Construction, has been able to cut down on surveying, reduce project cost per hour and, working with their Cat dealer, perform predictive maintenance and protect the value of their assets.

Cat’s been into IIoT since the 90s

Caterpillar launched its vision to leverage the internet for service in the 1990s. Now, the company has 186 dealers and about 500,000 connected assets worldwide.

Tom Bucklar, Caterpillar’s director of IoT and channel solutions, says their digital strategy is “customer-centric.” It’s not just focused on giving insights for Cat equipment, but all the equipment a customer may have in a “mixed fleet.”

“We started in the mid-90s connecting equipment, we now have one of the largest install bases of connected equipment, which gives us a lot of rich data to build customer solutions,” says Bucklar. “When we start to talk about our digital strategy, we really look at digital as an enabler. At the end of the day, we’re not trying to build a digital business. We’re trying to make our customers more profitable.”

[Download]: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

Earlier this year, Caterpillar started using AT&T’s IoT services for the connectivity and management of their fleet of heavy machines in 155+ countries, which will bring 4G to Cat Connect services. “[It] will deliver near real-time information to Caterpillar, its dealers and customers about their equipment’s performance on a job site,” according to reports.

Well Positioned for the Future

In the next 3 years, Caterpillar is planning on “using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for sales, operations and service applications,” says Terri Lewis, digital and technology director at Caterpillar in this Automation World article. Possibilities include virtual rendering of products for sales conversations or machine performance data displayed via an AR overlay on a physical product via on a mobile device.

Bucklar says that all the data collected from Cat’s IoT devices means companies and consumers are able to access insights and analytics en masse.

[Download]: Stepping into digital with IoT – 14 Case Studies

“What IoT does is bringing all that data from connected machines into one place,” he says. “You can start to get massive amounts of insights, and with analytics can really start to build some rich solutions and customer value.”

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The importance of data access for digital initiatives

A new report from MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

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In a global survey of over 1,700 line of business employees in organizations with at least 250 employees, MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

The resulting report — The State of Business and IT Innovation — reveals four key ideas that IT leaders need to know in order to drive digital innovation forward.

These four key findings are:

  • Collaboration is key 
    • 68% of respondents believe IT and LoB users should jointly drive digital innovation.
  • Keep up the pace 
    • 51% expressed frustration with the speed at which IT can deliver projects.
  • Integration challenge
    • 37% cite security and compliance as the biggest challenge to delivering new digital services, followed by integration (i.e. connecting systems, data, and apps) at 37%.
  • Data access
    • 80% say that in order to deliver on project goals faster, employees need easy access to data and IT capabilities.  

“This research shows data is one of the most critical assets that businesses need to move fast and thrive into the future,” said MuleSoft CEO Brent Hayward

“Organizations need to empower every employee to unlock and integrate data — no matter where it resides — to deliver critical, time-sensitive projects and innovation at scale, while making products and services more connected than ever.”

Want to read through the whole report? Download it from MuleSoft

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Where is the financial value in AI? Employing multiple human-machine learning approaches, say experts

According to a new study, only 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI.

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AI is everywhere these days — especially as we work to fight the spread of COVID-19

Even in the “before times,” AI was a hot topic that always found itself in the center of most digital transformation conversations. A new study from MIT Sloan Management Review, BCG GAMMA, and BCG Henderson Institute, however, prompts a crucial question:

Are You Making the Most of Your Relationship with AI?

Finding value

Despite the proliferation of the technology and increased investment, according to the report, just 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI. The secret ingredient in these success stories? “Multiple types of interaction and feedback between humans and AI,” which translated into a six-times better chance of amplifying the organization’s success with AI.

“The single most critical driver of value from AI is not algorithms, nor technology — it is the human in the equation,” affirms report co-author Shervin Khodabandeh.

 

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From a survey of over 3,000 managers from 29 industries based in 112 countries — plus in-depth interviews with experts — the report outlined three investments organizations can make to maximize value:

  • The likelihood of achieving benefits increases by 19% with investment in AI infrastructure, talent, and strategy.
  • Scalability. When organizations think beyond automation as a use case, the likelihood of financial benefit increases by 18%.
  • “Achieving organizational learning with AI (drawing on multiple interaction modes between humans and machines) and building feedback loops between human and AI increases that likelihood by another 34%.”

According to report co-author Sam Ransbotham, at the core of successfully creating value from AI is continuous learning between human and machine:

“Isolated AI applications can be powerful. But we find that organizations leading with AI haven’t changed processes to use AI. Instead, they’ve learned with AI how to change processes. The key isn’t teaching the machines. Or even learning from the machines. The key is learning with the machines — systematically and continuously.” 

Continued growth

While just 1 in 10 organizations finds financial benefits with AI, 70% of respondents understand how it can generate value — up from 57% in 2017.

Additionally, 59% of respondents have an AI strategy, compared to 39% in 2017, the survey found. Finally, 57% of respondents say their organizations are “piloting or deploying” AI — not a huge increase from 2017 (46%). 

One of the biggest takeaways? According to co-author David Kiron, “companies need to calibrate their investments in technology, people, and learning processes.”

“Financial investments in technology and people are important, but investing social capital in learning is critical to creating significant value with AI.”

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Bringing DX to the food supply chain in a pandemic

In a new paper, supply chain stakeholders share how COVID-19 has affected the transformation of the sector.

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There’s little doubt that COVID-19 had a profound effect on the food supply chain.

As one example, just think back to roughly March of this year, when virus transmission was rapidly picking up speed. Remember the reports of food and beverage companies only producing their most popular or essential products? Or how it would take slightly longer than usual to restock certain products? What about the rush to integrate — or quickly improve the efficiency of — digital and e-commerce. 

Panning out a bit, think about food safety and quality professionals. The need to stay safe — and in many cases, stay at home — meant performing the very hands-on job of monitoring, auditing, inspecting at a distance, i.e. digitally. 

When the food supply chain was hit by storages, delays, breakdowns, and lockdowns, the end result was — like in so many sectors — a rapid digital transformation.

As The Food Safety Market — an SME-powered industrial data platform dedicated to boosting the competitiveness of European food certification — elaborates in a new discussion paper, “technology has played an important role in enabling business continuity in the new reality.”

The paper — Digital Transformation of Food Quality & Safety: How COVID-19 accelerates the adoption of digital technologies across the food supply chain — features industry experts from companies like Nestlé, Ferrero, PepsiCo, McCormick & Company, and more discussing the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain.

A few highlights from the paper:

  • John Carter, Area Europe Quality Director for Ferrero put the issue of food access into perspective at the start of his interview:

“The production of food defines our world. The effects of agriculture on our daily lives are so omnipresent that they can be easy to overlook; landscapes and societies are profoundly influenced by the need to feed our growing population. But much has been taken for granted. Only occasionally are we forced to consider: ‘where does our food come from?'”

  • Ellen de Brabander, Senior Vice President of R&D for PepsiCo provided insight on the cost benefits of digital transformation:

“The need for customization is a big driver for accelerating digital transformation and moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This means that the cost to develop and produce a product must be lower and digital technologies provide a clear opportunity here.” 

  • Clare Menezes, Director of Global Food Integrity for McCormick & Company brought up one area where digital tools need to go:

“There aren’t any areas where digital tools “fail”, but there is a need for tools that ‘prove out’ predictions around where the next integrity event will play out and how it could lead to quality or food safety failure. These tools are an obvious candidate for AI given the number of PESTLE factors that might come into play.” 

Want to read all of the interviews? Check out the paper here.

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1 download. 14 Case Studies.

Download this report to learn how 14 companies across industries are demonstrating the reality of IoT-at-scale and generating actionable intelligence.

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