The industrial internet, or the internet of things, is today’s buzz word. It’s sometimes also referred to as the second wave of digitalization. The opportunities presented by the industrial internet are immense and industries are just scratching the surface of all that potential.
Here's how we embark on the third industrial revolution.
Service of choice for cross-marketing services, products, parts and new initiatives.
Collect actionable customer behaviour insights.
Contextual self-service to improve the quality of CRM activities.
“Our 'Industrial Internet' strategic initiative makes machines intelligent and networks them to create real-time visibility for enhanced safety and productivity, differentiates us from competitors and warrants a price premium.”
Pekka Lundmark, CEO
Konecranes is a global company that manufactures and services lifting equipment for heavy duty use. Most products already have connected sensor capabilities and several digital services to make efficient use of these assets.
The problem with this is that most of these services have not been integrated in the customer's workflow. The burden of interpretation is on the users shoulders.
This was where our journey starts.
What we wanted to do in a nutshell was:
Remove the need for interpretation and direct quickly to effective action
Keep equipment and service agreements on a continuous optimal level.
To illustrate our ambitions in this domain we prepared a user experience vision to match the conceptual thinking.
The usual context an end user works in is a location. We wanted to make the actual location the user interface. As the user starts the service a live video stream from the location they manage or work in is shown as the basis of the UI. HUD information of select assets is mapped and shown on top of the video feed.
An example of an opened card shows the currently ongoing service process with an illustration of what part of the asset is currently being serviced and a live feed from the service technician's smart goggles is shown to the observer. On the technician's end the goggles show relevant instructions as HUD information.
As all assets and devices are all connected to the mesh, we can use personal devices as beacons and wayfinding devices for both the technician and their manager. The technician gets live updates of repair needs and instructions to do them. The manager gets live updates of the technician's progress and current work load. Also the real time need of spare parts helps in optimising inventory and purchase flows.
“Remote monitoring and sensor technologies combined with behaviour analytics seen through the lens of understandable UX enables a shift from preventive to real-time maintenance.”
Tuomo Härkönen, Head of product and services development,
To establish a user-centered design studio for the project the first order of business was to define the end users, their roles and needs. A special Early Access Program (EAP) was commenced before any actual design work started.
Current key customers globally were sourced as participants for the EAP, totalling 20 customers from 9 countries. Each customer had a personal visit and interview conducted to find out pain points and needs in using the current digital services and what are the key issues in developing a new integrated and augmenting digital service.
All participants were very enthusiastic to give their input and a clear picture started forming as to what should be done.
Based on the interviews all material was collated and the
insight gathering started. Early on multiple similarities in
needs and challenges were identified and they started to shape the user
personas. The personas were representative of three levels of user roles within their organisation so there were quite many, priority needs on all levels: on-the-floor (engineers, technicians), management (maintenance, safety and health) and backoffice (directors, managers, heads of).
The personas were used as the foundation that the upcoming concept and design work was based upon. Special emphasis was put on creating a balance with both uncovered end user needs and the business requirements.
What the users clearly wanted was a world class user experience, something that supports their work flow and is smart, contextual and situationally aware. We had quite the task ahead of us.
“By gathering all the key data in one useful service we can help our customers keep a focus on their business.”
Ilkka Blomqvist, Product Manager,
Different departments and silos can become bottlenecks to product development that aims to utilise company-wide data and assets. In order to maximise the productivity of the four-month development phase we wanted to make sure that the chosen methodology supports a solution-focused approach to problem solving.
The product team has two co-existing teams, the Problem Team and Solution Team. These two teams are in constant contact: sharing insights from customer development (interviews and findings) to hypotheses and prototypes data.
Using the Lean UX framework this collaboration enabled the product development to iterate towards optimal results. Proactive communications and reviews with key stakeholders (e.g. maintenance managers) were key in maintaining the pace of Lean UX.
“Lean UX was the perfect methodology to facilitate agile development and to validate the most critical assumptions together with our frontline and our customers.”
Joona Elo, Industrial Designer,
The first iteration of the interface was vey much based upon the idea of a production line model and video-intensive single asset view. While both solutions garnered initial praise we started to meet some practical issues:
While a novel idea at the conception, we quickly stumbled upon the fact that even though a virtual production line (that calculates real time productivity and inventory value creation) would be a very interesting thing for upper management every plant manager would need to create the lines manually as not all assets are from one supplier.
Also, to support the real time value adding features all of the line assets would need to have the same sensors and internet connectivity. Which they all don't.
On the single asset page we were still in love with our idea to provide real time streaming video from each asset so the manager could view the visual condition of her fleet wherever they are, but the Industrial Internet is not there yet, but we are making it as we proceed.
So, after the first iteration we were still had our heads in the cloud a bit but learned a huge amount of reality to bring us closer to currently viable solutions. And also to have something in our back pocket when hardware catches up to us!
The second iteration powered the first prototype work, the alignment of business stakeholder's insights with our personas and an integrated Lean UX process with the development team.
The topline interaction models were discussed and locked in during this iteration. With various lists and grouped views coming into place we wanted to create a clear information architecture for the service.
It was decided that several central info structures such the Service Request and Service Process were things that should be accessed anywhere in the service. This lead to a simplified IA model that has the various listings as full screen views and contextual extra information as modal cards presented on top of list views.
For the start view we wanted to create a contextual dashboard that collects the relevant information the person viewing it needs to know or do right now. Other initial ideas were to base the view on the personas business perspective: more information of the asset fleet health and service cycle for the technicians and managers onsite; productivity and performance indicators for back office and C-level users.
One tool drawn at that phase was a visual Service Calendar that in a familiar UI shows all the service history and upcoming plans for the whole fleet that person manages.
The Service Request was something that needs to be accessed anywhere. What was the most simplest solution that offers contextuality and quick response to covered needs? For online assets with self diagnostics we can automatically fill the error and location descriptions using the TruConnect remote services Konecranes already has working in the latest equipment.
We ended up with a concept of gathering information from cards into actionable recommendations that are collected into larger chunks based on time references. The first thing the user sees is the NOW element. It is always up-to-date and has the most important actions in one element. Under that is the context of the current day, in individual cards.
Another very essential and often used element would be the modal card. Connected to the overview feed, the Big Cards would bring all the relevant information and actions needed that would be presented in short form in the Small Cards in the feed.
Current services were offering lots of statistical data and info graphs but left the interpretation pretty much to the user. We wanted to build a clear information visualisation schematic that would give a quick overview combined with a clear description of what has happened. To help users to easily rectify and problem shoot a knowledge base system was also designed to complement all statistical information. All you need in one clear view.
“The Lean UX methodology helped us build a solid experience in a complex environment, leveraging the best balance of business and technology for our now primary interaction platform for customers.”
Tuomas Martinkallio, General Manager,
Service product and technology development,
Since the whole process was going to be iterative, the visual design needed to match the challenge. Utilizing Element Collages (consisting of typeface, colors, icons and other interface elements) as design deliverables, the essence of the visual brand was easy to keep iterative without information gaps between the design and development teams.