How ASSA ABLOY is bringing value through the IoT
By connecting the numerous products that make up ASSA ABLOY’s vast installed base, the Group is starting its journey into the Internet of Things. At the moment, the main aim is to gather data and learn from it. But there are clear opportunities in offering digital services based on data generated by installed products. Predictive maintenance, analyzing the flow of people and improvements in energy efficiency are just a few examples.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices. It enables devices to communicate and interact over the Internet and be remotely monitored and controlled. And right now, all across ASSA ABLOY, products are gradually being connected.
The Smart Residential product range is one of the clearest examples of where ASSA ABLOY is already bringing value to customers and users through the IoT. Some Yale and August products in this sector for example are connected devices that enable users to grant access to their homes remotely from their smart phones.
Other IoT developments within ASSA ABLOY include a cloud-based platform that will enable HID Global to have a connected architecture for their digital ID credential products and software.
“It is happening within the company,” says Tomi Viljanen, Product Manager at ASSA ABLOY Shared Technologies. “This work is hugely vital. If we just look around at what customers and competitors are doing, we can see that everyone is working in this area”, says Tomi who is responsible for a new connected global platform.
Connect devices and learn
The global platform that Tomi is working on is called ‘Information Services’ and it provides a connected infrastructure from which other products across the ASSA ABLOY Group could benefit. It is currently being tested in field trials with customers globally.
This involves connecting ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems’ sliding, industrial and high-speed door products, and seeing what can be learned from this. The initial key goals are to connect the devices to a cloud, either directly through the products or by installing sensors on them, and then to gather data.
“You usually start with a business case,” says Tomi. “Asking what kind of money can we make and how and what kind of customer value we can create. But in a lot of IoT cases we don’t really know that until we have gathered the data and started analyzing it to figure out what we can do with it. So you just have to get going and start gathering data.
That is the first phase of IoT – connecting the devices and collecting data. Then comes the analytics phase.
But you have to take care of the first step early on because you need to have a broad data set from which to develop quality services.” As well as data, the field trials also involve gathering feedback from customers on how they might benefit from connected products.
Analyzing data and predicting actions
The most obvious use case for ASSA ABLOY comes in the area of servicing and maintenance. “When a door fails it will send an alarm right away to the service organization with the error code and its exact location,” says Tomi. “The service engineer would probably know what the problem is before getting to the site. By being able to react faster you can reduce the downtime of a faulty door. We can also predict when a door might fail, so prevent that happening by undertaking maintenance first. This creates much higher customer value and satisfaction.” One example of a servicing and maintenance solution is the ASSA ABLOY Hi-O™ (Highly intelligent Opening) platform which helps to simplify door installation, service and maintenance, thanks to its proactive maintenance technology and plug and play installation.
Some of the other things that you can do with connected devices to provide more customer value include using data about how often doors in stores are opened and closed to track customer and staff movements. This people flow information can be used by large chains to ensure store managers are opening and closing at the correct times or to understand how long customers spend in a store or when busy periods are. All this information could lead to improved services.
Data patterns about door openings can also be used to make energy efficiency and security improvements.
Standardize and harmonize
One of the main challenges that ASSA ABLOY is facing when connecting devices comes from one of the organization’s key strengths – acquisitions. “ASSA ABLOY has been acquiring many different companies and product portfolios which have completely different protocols, standards, interfaces and data structures,” says Tomi. “We need to connect these and gather the data to the cloud, but all these products behave completely differently. The products and customer interfaces are usually unique for each region or segment. But everything in between in the value chain of IoT, such as sensors, connectivity platforms and internal web or cellular networks, are things we can try to harmonize and build together.”
The quality and quantity of the data though is always the main issue. “In a lot of the cases, when we start to build a service, we realize we don’t have nearly enough data. So we park it and decide to wait for half a year until we can gather enough data,” says Tomi. “How can you do predictive maintenance for example if you haven’t collected enough data to understand the patterns of when doors are failing.”
We have an opportunity to sell digital services based on the data we are getting from our products
Just get going
“It is a long journey,” Tomi continues. “And one that requires a lot of business development. It’s not so much about the technology, the issue is more about how can we bring value to the customer with it. ASSA ABLOY is used to selling hardware. But now we have an opportunity to sell digital services based on the data we are getting from our products. It’s a completely different business model that we have to rethink and that’s a challenge.
“But it is good that we are starting the process and that we just get going and start connecting,” says Tomi. “While we are collecting the data we can try to understand how we can actually benefit from all of this. Because if we just wait until somebody comes up with a business case we will have wasted time when we could have been collecting the data we will need.”
It’s good to involve your customers early on, and ask if the information we are providing brings them benefits
Tomi is pleased therefore that for the Information Services field trials, they started collecting data as quickly as possible. “That is when you get a reaction within your own organization,” he says. “But it’s also good to involve your customers early on, and ask if the information we are providing brings them benefits. And of course if it does, the next step is to ask are they willing to pay for those benefits. We are now starting to get those kind of responses, so we know that we are on the right track.”
Text: Danny Chapman