20 May 2019

Predictive maintenance as related by Chaffoteaux and Logista Hometech !

Last February at the BePositive exhibition, the predictive maintenance workshop attracted quite a crowd. Benoit Lecornu, Connectivity Product Manager at Chaffoteaux, along with Romain Boucher, Contract Engineer at Logista Hometech—a maintenance company that assists manufacturing industry with the roll-out of new solutions—air their views on predictive maintenance.

The Chaffoteaux brand belongs to the Italian group Ariston Thermo and is a pioneer in connected boilers. Their offering centres on two services. The first is a telecontrol system for end users wanting to control their boilers from afar. The second is ChaffoLink Manager, a telediagnosis platform for trade professionals. This solution, launched in 2015, alerts the relevant service in the event of a malfunction and enables remote action if the problem lends itself to that kind of solution. It’s a form of preventive maintenance. « With roughly 60% of connected boilers supervised by maintenance firms, Chaffoteaux’s approach was to introduce an offering especially for them. We set out to provide them with new, effective tools for overseeing their activities, » explains Benoit Lecornu


New supervision tools at the service of preventive maintenance

Crédit photo Logista HometechWith its 1200 employees, maintenance provider Logista Hometech operates local centres across virtually the whole of France. Romain Boucher relates its use of ChaffoLink since 2015. « We were quick to adopt this platform for monitoring our installed base. When equipment fails, our hotline experts connect to the boiler via ChaffoLink, run a diagnosis, examine whether they can solve the problem remotely, and if not, send a technician with the part that needs changing. It’s a much more effective way of working as at most a single visit is required. We have gone one step further and coupled this solution with our business software to be able to offer trade customers, housing associations, and property managers alike new services. With additional sensors, we also capture data on humidity, ventilation, and connected extraction. For Logista Hometech, Chaffoteaux is an important building block in the set of solutions and services we are constructing.»


Predictive maintenance for all

Chaffoteaux has been actively developing predictive maintenance for several years, the end goal being to forestall breakdowns by continuously analysing running equipment and applying certain algorithms. Benoit Lecornu elaborates on this : « We are investing heavily in R&D to provide our installation/maintenance contractors with an effective solution. This development nonetheless depends on progress in two key areas: Artificial Intelligence (the algorithms), and the installed base, which must reach a viable size for extracting models. Another issue is therefore that of connecting to the existing installed base, as ChaffoLink is compatible with boilers made since 2012. There will then be enough boilers to lend significance to breakdown trends and characteristics. At that moment, we will be able to produce reliable algorithms. We plan to launch our predictive maintenance offering within two years.» Predictive maintenance involves substantial development costs, but it will be there for all to use. As far as Lecornu is concerned :

​If everybody gets to grips with the project, the installed base will increase and costs will benefit from economies in scale. The technology can then find widespread application !


Fewer but more effective interventions

« It will enable us to offer better service. There will inevitably be some stoppages, but predictive maintenance will eliminate the needless ones, those that add no value and demand no meaningful technical skills. We shall be able to concentrate on our core business,» states Romain Boucher. Planned, well organized interventions mean time and money savings for maintenance firms. And they also make for better relations with customers, with more advice, more closeness, and of course more customer loyalty, reinforced by contracts restricting changes in service providers. Last but not least, adds Boucher :

Connectivity will also provide new indicators for detecting customer misuse, leading to reduced wear, reduced energy consumption, and optimized yield.

Crédit photo Logista Hometech

Crédit photo Logista Hometech

Peace of mind and savings for users

Users aiming to minimize mental stress are very keen on the idea of remote maintenance : fewer breakdowns, real time notification to providers, a guarantee of real service with real-time progress tracking, much like that of an express carrier. It gives real peace of mind and brings the maintenance firm much closer. Users have nonetheless pointed out two drawbacks. The first concerns connectivity in general and in particular the current hot topic of personal data management. But the benefits are such that this roadblock should be only a minor issue. For Boucher :

It’s service versus data. There have been only 5% refusals to date out of 2000 installations running ChaffoLink. We operate transparently, and customers know they can turn off their outgoing data whenever they like.

The second roadblock is psychological. Predictive maintenance means correcting a breakdown situation before it occurs. So why, users ask, do they pay if there is no breakdown ? Was a breakdown really imminent ? As things stand, users expect providers to come out to check. But these growing pains could quickly disappear once the full benefits of predictive maintenance are understood.


New maintenance, new trades

For Benoit Lecornu, « Predictive maintenance is about to create upheaval and competition. A lot of stakeholders will find themselves involved in this paradigm shift : energy engineers, maintenance firms, manufacturers—with a strong trend in the development of services to users. The entire market needs to switch from product mode to service mode. Service value plus product value enhances the whole market value, » ends Romain Boucher.

Manufacturers have always sold products and left their upkeep to users. Now they will have to integrate and delegate the notion of service, ensuring maintenance firms receive top quality assistance

And what if smart boilers were next in line?

Benoit Lecornu concludes with « Once the first stage of predictive maintenance is done and dusted, we can start imagining homes with smart boilers, which adjust and repair themselves locally after analysing their own environment, needs, and malfunctions.»

 Crédit photo Logista Hometech

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