Higher customer satisfaction through digital service management
Networking the compressors with the cloud enables extensive applications ranging from status monitoring and asset management to the analysis and visualization of machine use and capacity utilization to predictive maintenance.
Compressed air systems with a long tradition
ALMiG stands for Automatic Air Pumps - Made in Germany. The company of the same name is one of the leading system providers in compressed air technology. Its headquarters in Köngen
At that time, a small workshop for the production of car air pumps for inflating car and truck tires was founded on the same site. Over the decades, the company has repeatedly adapted its product range to contemporary needs. This led, for example, to the development of industrial compressors, lifting platforms or paint spray guns.
After a change of ownership, the newly founded ALMiG Kompressoren GmbH began operations in 2007, and since 2012 it has been part of the globally active Taiwanese Fusheng Group. This also strengthened the company's global sales network in the long term. Today, the ALMiG Group employs around 250 people at its site in Köngen and still produces almost all of its compressors in Germany. The company's product range includes customized systems of all kinds for the generation and treatment of compressed air. These high-quality compressed air systems are used in virtually all industries worldwide.
ALMiG increases the productivity of its customers with innovative and customized products as well as comprehensive services. Efficiency and sustainability are among the company's guiding principles anyway.
The products are constantly being further developed in order to reduce the energy consumption of the compressors. One important tool for this is the networking of the plants.
Remote monitoring functions of its compressors via landline or cellular modems were already offered by ALMiG to its customers in the late 1990s. Since then, ALMiG's developers have tested different
solutions for connecting their products to the network, and finally decided to use LPWA's Narrowband IoT and LTE M network technologies.
So it was obvious for us to go directly to the 'source' - namely to one of the IoT world market leaders," reports Ralph Jeschabek, Head of Marketing at ALMiG Kompressoren GmbH. The company therefore decided to work with Vodafone and its IoT subsidiary grandcentrix for its IoT solutions.
"Modbus Cloud Connect clearly proved to be the most suitable solution for our purposes," emphasizes Ralph Jeschabek. Since compressors are often installed in machine rooms or basements, the LPWA (LowPower Wide Area) Narrow bandIoT and LTEM technologies used for data transmission, which can send and receive signals even through thick walls or other obstacles, proved particularly useful. "Also helpful for us were the slim form factor and the ability to use our existing DIN rails to offer an IoT upgrade for our machines." It was also crucial to be able to continue using the existing protocol for device control - namely Modbus RTU. Another factor was the simple connection of existing sensors and actuators in the products.
"A cloud platform for the service is already in use at ALMiG," explains Ralph Jeschabek. "Therefore, the simple and flexible data integration of the Modbus Cloud Connect gateways into our existing cloud infrastructure was important."
The applications realized by ALMiG on the basis of this technology are diverse. They range from classic status monitoring and asset management to the analysis and visualization of machine use and capacity utilization to predictive maintenance. The data collected from the machines is aggregated in the cloud platform. It is also the basis for the asset relationship management system COMPASS (Compressed Air Service Solution) introduced by ALMiG 2022. It presents machine status information, parts lists and other information to end customers and partners. Modbus Cloud Connect forms the IoT component of the COMPASS solution to provide up-to-date usage data such as operating hours, temperature or pressure.
COMPASS serves as a digital plant logbook that also manages service cases, maintenance tasks and certificates. Via a dashboard, users can also monitor complete plant fleets including downstream systems. The solution thus becomes a digital life record of the ALMiG compressors it manages. These capabilities in turn play an important role in ensuring and, if necessary, improving the energy efficiency of the machines: Late maintenance, such as missed oil filter changes, quickly leads to higher consumption for air compressors. In addition, energy-saving potential can also be derived from the machine data - for example, by lowering the operating temperature. It is also possible to compare consumption data with other users of the same machine type. "Vodafone and grandcentrix provide us with everything we need for the IoT capability of our products from a single source: hardware, connectivity, data service and support. We appreciate the close and trustful cooperation as well as the high IoT competence. This in turn enables us to increase our customers' satisfaction with new digital services." Jeschabek confirms.
What are the advantages of the solution?
Simple installation and commissioning
→ Compact, established form factor
→ Easy onboarding via QRCode.
→ Preconfigured cloud adapters
Simple, self-sufficient data communication
→ Secure, regulated IoTMobile technology via NBIoT and LTEM for global data transmission.
Easy IoT upgrade of existing equipment
→ Retrofit for equipping existing devices and new devices independent of product development cycles.
Simple and secure operation over the life cycle
→ Controlled FOTAUpdates (FirmwareUpdatesovertheair)
→ Configuration of the Modbus RTU devices and the bus system in SelfService.
After successful piloting now the joint rollout
The partnership between ALMiG and Vodafone/grandcentrix started at a time when the Modbus Cloud Connect product was still in final development. Due to the numerous advantages of this product, ALMiG decided to test it as one of the first pilot customers. After a successful pilot phase, the joint rollout followed - equipping both new and existing equipment in the field with Modbus Cloud Connect. The product now adds IoT capability to ALMiG's air compressors.
What are ALMIG and Vodafone/grandcentrix working on next?
ALMiG plans to further expand the IoT and cloud connectivity of its products in the future in collaboration with Vodafone and its subsidiary grandcentrix. The plan is to build an additional cloud platform for the long-term development of professional applications and opportunities for commercial use.
The large number of data points obtained from the compressors will also allow new insights to be derived, which in turn will make new applications possible. For example, customers can be given individual usage and service instructions. The results of data analyses also flow into further product development. Together with the data science experts at grandcentrix, ALMiG is taking a close look at this topic and thus creating the basis for new innovations.