When lubricants ‘get chatty’
In the not too distant future, it may not only be your colleagues and customers that talk to you – your lubricants might have something to say as well. This is because digitalisation is making machines and lubricants smart, and can even get them to ‘talk’. So the question is, of course: how will your company and your day-to-day life be affected?
Digitalisation is revolutionising not only our economy, but society at large. Just think about how e-commerce has completely changed the world of retail. Industry is no exception and is being extensively influenced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected systems, which are all laying the foundation for radical changes.
THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE
Artificial Intelligence may sound like science fiction, but the technology is already being used in industry. One good example from the Nordics is ABB, who worked alongside IBM and now use AI to optimise flows and increase quality in certain areas of production.
The application is a smart technology that performs its own image analyses of lacquered products. The technology learns what the right quality is in the end product, as well as what needs putting right and what could go wrong in the next stage. So essentially the technology ‘talks’ and advises ABB on what to change before something happens – and it all takes place automatically.
We lubricant producers are also being affected as new technical solutions bring sweeping changes in everything from logistics to production. In all kinds of ways, we are currently preparing for a world where everything – even machines – ‘talks’ to everything else. And the reason is simple: machines and tools will want to increase their efficiency. Therefore, we need to make sure that lubricants are also part of the discussion.
‘Talking’ lubricants will of course not actually speak, but will provide information about their status. For us, it will therefore be important to identify the right status parameters, so that we can predict impending problems at an early stage and thus prevent them. A decrease in particular values could signal that the lubricant needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
But an intelligent, overriding system could actually do so much more. It could be responsible for certain parts of the process, order lubricant and spare parts when needed, reduce machine performance as a precautionary measure, and so on.
WHILE THIS DEVELOPMENT IS IN ITS INFANCY – HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?
This is of course a challenging development, but I also find it tremendously exciting as it opens up so many fascinating new possibilities. I think the evolution is probably only in its early infancy, so the potential is tremendous. With all that in mind, the obvious question is of course: how will my company and my day-to-day life be affected?
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Smart Lubrication is a blog from FUCHS where we share our common knowledge about lubricants and lubrication.