The digitalization of the aggregate industry

By |  January 18, 2019
The ABB Smart Sensor for mounted bearings connects to the ABB Ability app so users can remotely monitor bearing data on their smartphones or desktop computers. Photo by Allison Barwacz

The ABB Smart Sensor for mounted bearings connects to the ABB Ability app so users can remotely monitor bearing data on their smartphones or desktop computers. Photo by Allison Barwacz

Digital technology is no longer uncommon in aggregate operations.

Producers are constantly searching for ways to be more efficient and safer – and more often than not, they turn to digital technology to answer their needs.

Whether it’s using drones, sensors or automation, digital tech is changing the way people in our industry work.

Artur Rdaznek, global product manager for sensored technologies at ABB, recently highlighted the ways his company is moving toward a more digitized approach when it comes to developing products for the aggregate industry. ABB’s Smart Sensor for mounted bearings fall into this category.

Digitalization is one of the mega trends we’re seeing in the aggregate industry, Rdaznek says.

“Most, if not probably all of us, recognize that something is changing,” he adds.

Maintenance opportunities

One of the key areas aggregate producers are mindful of when adopting new technology is equipment maintenance. After all, equipment downtime can result in thousands of dollars in repairs and lost revenue.

A number of companies have integrated smartphone applications into their product offerings so users can remotely monitor data and equipment health. For ABB, this meant connecting its Smart Sensor to the ABB Ability application, where users can oversee bearings, check day-to-day changes in equipment, and customize alerts and notifications.

Remote monitoring also gives users the opportunity to take preventative actions and plan for potential shutdowns, even if they’re not on site.

“You don’t need to be on the location or at the quarry to be able to see what’s going on,” Rdaznek says.

Having the data in the palm of their hands allows users to act quickly if they notice a change in data or if equipment broke down.



Safety tool

Another key area to consider in the digital technology trend is safety.

All too often, we hear stories about employees getting injured or even killed when coming too close to running equipment.

ABB's Artur Rdaznek shows what the collected data looks like via his smartphone through the ABB Ability app. Photo by Allison Barwacz

ABB’s Artur Rdaznek shows what the collected data looks like via his smartphone through the ABB Ability app. Photo by Allison Barwacz

Mobile and desktop applications like ABB Ability allow users to remotely monitor equipment, eliminating the need to come into close contact with a running machine.

“Safety in the aggregate industry is always quite big because we have a lot of rotating equipment, we have a lot of conveyors,” Rdaznek says. “You don’t need to go into the dangerous zone to analyze what’s going on with your equipment.”

Many apps also host communication between employees, which helps keep everyone engaged and aware, even if they’re not on the jobsite.

Digital tech goals

As digital technology continues to take hold in our industry, manufacturers are striving to develop products that improve all aspects of aggregate operations.

“Easy to use, increased safety, increased uptime, decreased downtime, avoiding unexpected stops,” Rdaznek says. “These are the areas we should concentrate on when we are talking about digitalization.”

Allison Barwacz

About the Author:

Allison Barwacz is the senior digital media content producer for North Coast Media (NCM). She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating eNewsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She also creates content for NCM's Portable Plants & Equipment magazine, GPS World magazine and Geospatial Solutions. Her understanding of the ever-changing digital media world allows her to quickly grasp what a target audience desires and create content that is appealing and relevant for any client across any platform.

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