Meet our customer hero
Manufacturing is undergoing a transformation in how it delivers its products to the market. Until recently, traditional manufacturing was straightforward: machines were produced, sold and dispatched from the factory. If they were reliable and durable, customers would come back for more. Now, those same customers demand more from their equipment seeking data-driven services to boost operational efficiency. This means that, at the manufacturer’s end, products must evolve to enable new models like Equipment-as-a-Service (EaaS) and unlock fresh value. Manufacturers that want to stay ahead of the curve must offer smart equipment that enables the end customer to harness IoT to boost productivity, predict maintenance issues and achieve efficiency goals—saving not only costs but the environment.
No company knows this better than Geico. It was the world’s first company to offer a zero environmental impact paint shop, reducing consumption by 70%—and reaching its sustainability goals three years ahead of schedule. Now Geico’s Smart Paint Shop, powered by the J-Suite digital platform, allows the data from every process, from painting to body handling to defect detection, to be remotely analyzed down to the cell level. This powerful system offers countless new data-driven services that unlock transparency, power mass customization, and can even be simulated using a digital twin before purchase. This transition from making goods to selling services represents the birth of a new era in manufacturing. So, how did Geico get here?
Geico knows that to stay competitive it must enhance the value its machinery brings. The issue is, of course, that customers aren’t necessarily “there yet” when it comes to paying for new, smarter IoT-enabled services. To keep it relevant, Geico decided to innovate around the biggest customer pain point: rising production costs. Abdelrahman Khalil, Automation Integrator explains, “We were looking for a powerful IoT platform that would be simple to deploy and offer fast, added-value services targeting the end-customers need to boost equipment efficiency, shorten delivery times, slash downtime, improve equipment maintenance, and meet mass-customization—and sustainability goals.” This in turn required the right technology and the right partner to mitigate risk, scale with them and offer fast “out of the box” applications for even faster gratification.
Geico made the connection to Software AG via the ADAMOS alliance, whose Cumulocity IoT platform caught its eye. It stood out as being an affordable solution that was modular and flexible, low-code but with a full array of features. Support for Edge computing—a distributed approach to IoT where information processing is located close to the data connection—was another must for flexible and powerful data streaming and faster analytics.
Cumulocity IoT came outfitted with a number of applications that Geico was able to transform into the J-Suite apps for Geico’s own app store—with ready-to-use applications, an open platform, and APIs for creating personalized paint shop solutions, all integrated within the IoT platform. With help from Software AG’s customer support team, implementation was a breeze. The J-Suite—Geicos’ IoT platform enabled smart paint shop was born. Now customers could become clients.
The first use case for Geico in its transition to smart manufacturing was remote monitoring. Before this program launched, Geico could not tell how their machines were performing once they had shipped. With IoT sensors installed, Geico could now access in-depth production data to understand machine performance and common errors—and use that information to further improve paint shop cell performance. Clients that were unsure about the specific value its machines could offer were invited to join Geico in the simulhub—a digital twin environment enabling a pre-live simulation of potential efficiency savings, benefits and vulnerabilities even before purchase.
In their live environment, clients reap all the rewards. Most prominent is cost savings. Predictive maintenance minimizes downtime and reduces maintenance spending. Shorter delivery times mean more production capacity. Production flexibility allows the plant to adapt to “as is” production needs. And smart energy management allows for detailed optimization of resource usage.
“Take, for example, the painting cabinet,” Khalil explains. “It’s outfitted with filters that need to be changed regularly. Now, instead of changing them at a certain arbitrary interval, the smart paint shop can predict and calculate the amount of paint that the filter absorbs based on the type of paint, car body, location of filter etc. Now the system indicates the exact timepoint the filter needs to be changed, saving cost and time—and it’s sustainable, consuming less filter material.”
Improved efficiency through smart plant management enables more informed decisions on production flow, and human-machine cooperation within the paint shop. Each production cell is outfitted with Lenovo sensors that regulate each step such as coating, rinsing, spraying, defect detection, and drying, with custom metrics for each step. The control room provides a complete view of everything going on and shows key performance indicators. Even equipment malfunctions are identified immediately, allowing them to be addressed in real-time, improving overall plant safety. Increased Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) powered by J-Detect, an automated defect detection system ensures consistent high quality. And best of all, these smart systems achieve complex paint finishes not usually seen at scale production.
It's clear that all these innovations work together to create a fully connected paint shop that is better on every level—improved energy efficiency and fewer resources used do not only mean cost savings, but are also better for the environment and central to sustainability. And IoT sensor data allows for constant tweaking for systems that are more efficient by the day.
With Geico’s smart paint shops launching at several large automative manufacturers, it’s clear the next stage has arrived. Word is spreading about the system’s advantages and capabilities: smart connected data, remote monitoring, high levels of customization, predictive maintenance, real-time monitoring, ever-improving sustainability metrics—the list goes on. Which is why Geico is already working hard to design subscription models to monetize EaaS and make it available to its entire client base using transparent, usage-based pricing. Cumulocity IoT enables them to do this and more by themselves, while offering an optimistic peek into the future, where autonomy, sustainability and profitability go hand in hand.