The UK software specialist Spartan Solutions said rental businesses need to be prepared to take the next step in digitising their operations by exploiting the latest machine learning and data analytics techniques.
John Glen the company’s COO and co-founder, told IRN that many companies are still taking the first step in digitising their operations, which entails paperless working and the use of mobile devices and asset tagging systems such as RFID and barcodes.
“The winners of the future are not those people who get to the digital phase, but those who can harness the data analysis to feed back into processes”, said Mr Glen, “Once you are at the digital stage, with all of your business, the whole operation, then you can create a black box record of everything you do.”
The Glasgow, UK-based company is now developing a range of software products designed to allow rental companies to exploit these opportunities, with the first likely to be available by the end of this year.
Mr Glen gave the example of creating a “digital twin” for equipment which, using historical operating data coupled to machine learning algorithms, can be used to predict and optimise maintenance schedules, reducing costs and extending the working life of equipment.
“Customers have shown that if you capture the right data points, and use algorithms, they can tell you what to do to extend the life of machines…Once you’ve got the data you can start to run your business in a much more intelligent manner”, he told IRN.
Algorithms are crucial to the success of machine learning techniques and are created by combining historical data with the detailed knowledge of experienced personnel.
Mr Glen said that most data analytics in the rental industry has so far focused on financials through ERP systems and on sales activities using software such as salesforce.com. He said the key for rental businesses in the future was for the same analysis to be extended to operating data.
Spartan Solutions has been providing its range of Phalanx Apps to clients in the rental, industrial and oil and gas sectors for more than a decade, with customers including Aggreko, Aker Solutions, Swire and Balfour Beatty.
Spartan’s co-founder and company CEO, Jim Green, will be discussing rental digital strategies at the Access, Lift & Handlers Conference in Miami, USA, on 12 October. For details of the programme, visit www.alh-ca.com