An Opportunity For Better

Warren Sue
August 5, 2021

When you’re dealing with machinery that’s operating at great heights, lifting 100’s of tonnes in weight, and exposed to all sorts of weather - you need to get your maintenance and monitoring right to ensure everyone’s safety. 

When the equipment is costly, running on tight schedules and budgets, it’s also about making sure you have the best visibility of the health of your asset to keep your people safe, and optimise the remaining service life.

If you haven’t guessed it already, we’re talking about, remotely and continuously monitoring cranes.

An opportunity for better

Since DEKRA was founded in 1925, the DEKRA promise has been: To ensure the safety of human interaction with technology and the environment. Since then, the Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungs-Verein e.V. has become one of the world's leading expert organisations. The company currently employs 44,000 people in over 60 countries on all six continents.

The vision for DEKRA’s 100th birthday in 2025 is to see DEKRA as the global partner for a safe world. That involves new and innovative technology across the broad portfolio of services. 

When it comes to Crane Safety, the traditional approach of spreadsheets and logbooks to record crane usage is the basis for assessing the remaining serviceable life of a crane. With any manual processes which may be lacking in detail, a safety factor has to be included in any calculations which potentially shorten’s the usable life of a crane. 

The DEKRA team knew that technology could provide them with better, faster data. This would enable them to make more accurate decisions on crane maintenance and provide highly accurate representations of the health of a crane.

What’s more, rather than waiting for the periodic regulatory assessment which happens every 2-3 years to understand the crane health, a continuous monitoring system is able to provide a ‘digital inspection’, every time the crane is used to allow greater forecasting of service requirements for asset management and provide opportunities for safer operating practices.

This, of course, is only one such use-case that DEKRA has to solve for its IoT solutions. DEKRA has several other opportunities and didn’t want to invest in all of these products individually, so alongside the development of an IoT crane monitoring system, DEKRA wanted to develop a generic, multi-tenant, multilingual application that can accelerate other IoT implementations across their existing portfolio. 

The real challenge was to rapidly bring a ‘proof of concept’ to life, in a short time-frame without a readily available internal development team.

The VPT approach

Through partnering with EndGame and our own ‘Virtual Product Team’ approach DEKRA was able to start to build a product to deliver the vision above.

The use of a multidisciplinary team, and an iterative approach led to the discovery of a solution that went beyond simply stitching technology together, but also considered how to convey this information in a user-friendly format.  

Utilising sensors placed on cranes by teams in Europe, the EndGame team was able to help DEKRA leverage Azure IoT and Microsoft technologies to provide real-time key information about the cranes through to a dashboard. 

Some key metrics and features made visible by the DEKRA IoT application are:

  • Crane loading and overloading
  • Movements on all axis
  • Predicted end of life for various machine and steel components
  • Usage and loading patterns over time
  • End-user configured alerting and monitoring

The visibility of key metrics through integrating the sensors into a reporting dashboard gives DEKRA the ability to assist crane operators and owners with proactive maintenance information.

This ultimately means safer, more cost effective and predictable industrial environments where cranes are present for crane operators.

An opportunity recognised

With the ‘proof of concept’ successfully delivered, and the dashboard available to be accessed anywhere in the world by the DEKRA team, over 30 more applications that would benefit from this approach have been identified.

Building on the success of the Virtual Product Team approach, the partnership continues to benefit from the long-term partnership perspective from EndGame, and now utilises our own CTO, Andrew Cox, in a Virtual CTO capacity to review technology decisions.


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