In this age of smart gadgets, industrial machines can’t afford to stay “dumb.” There’s a wealth of information to be collected from equipment, especially those crucial to the energy, manufacturing, and engineering industries. Such data points can number in the millions, and are critical in improving the performance of these assets.
This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) comes in. IoT devices are typically equipped with sensors that collect and transmit information on their performance, as well as their interaction with processes, environments, and human users. A smartphone, for example, can record the number of steps you take in a day.
In the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digitization applies to manufacturing plants, ships, oil rigs, power generators, and a myriad of other machines that are used to extract, process, produce, and move resources and goods.
Even when machines are made “smart,” though, companies typically don’t have the expertise to make the most of such data. There’s the question of what to monitor and how often. More importantly, one has to figure out how to sort and analyse the data, and use them to improve outcomes, safety, and services.
Seeing this gap, Krishnan Raman, Srikanth Muralidhara, and Derick Jose founded Flutura Decision Sciences and Analytics in 2012, with a main office in Palo Alto, California, and a development centre in Bengaluru, India. Flutura’s focus on Big Data analytics for the energy, manufacturing, and engineering industries caught the attention of an investor focused on the big data and analytics space, giving the founders their initial seed funding. They went on to raise another $7.5 million in Series A funding early last year.
Flutura tackles Big Data with Cerebra, their flagship software platform that integrates physics, statistics, and heuristics in mining deep machine signals. Through machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Cerebra provides prognostics and diagnostics to help optimise the efficiency and lifetime value of equipment, as well as improve processes and human-machine interaction.
With Cerebra, the founders hope to enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embrace the outcome economy by monetizing machine signals. As such, OEMs can do more than just sell equipment. They can also, for instance, sell prognostics and benchmarking services. They can also continue to work with the users of their products by guaranteeing outcomes related to asset life and residual life, factory yield, energy savings, and safety.
One particular client of Flutura manufactures adhesives for the automotive, aviation, and electronic industries. Cerebra was used to record and analyse 20 million sensor events, which occurred on 33 plants, 1,400 manufacturing lines, and 16 event types. The data came from sensors installed on industrial mixers to record torque, pressure, temperature, and revolutions per minute. After filtering signals from noise, Cerebra pinpointed specific contributors to quality, helping the manufacturer save more than $140 million in defective products across three years.
Cerebra has also been used to perform remote diagnostics on fracking equipment, such as fracturing pumps, acidizing units, and chemical additive units. This enabled the OEM to create a new revenue stream from predictive maintenance and asset performance monitoring and benchmarking.
Another client, a Houston-based oil and gas OEM, generated revenue of more than $120 million across three years by providing prognostics and diagnostics as a service. Other clients include Henkel, Stewart & Stevenson, and Sodexo.
In mid-2017, Flutura joined forces with Jerry Allen Group (JAG Resources) to accelerate the use of digital AI and IIoT in the oil and gas sector. Dell, Intel, and Microsoft are also counted among its partners. More votes of confidence are expected to come Flutura’s way as the industrial sector continues to embrace the Internet of Things.