At Flexco, we’re proud of our history of innovation and the many “firsts” we’ve delivered to the industry. But we’ve never developed something solely for the sake of being first. Rather, our reputation for innovation is the result of knowing the industry better than anyone else in our space. Knowing where industry trends are heading. Knowing the needs and pain points of our customers. And most importantly, working alongside our customers to deliver solutions that are in alignment with their business goals.
It is with great excitement that we introduce Flexco Elevate™, the latest manifestation of our industry knowledge and customer-first philosophy. As groundbreaking belt cleaner monitoring technology, we designed Flexco Elevate to simplify and optimize belt maintenance with a predictive, data-driven engine. State-of-the-art Flexco Elevate™ i3 Devices attach to Flexco belt cleaners where cutting-edge analytics are immediately aggregated and processed. The information is then wirelessly transferred to the Elevate Dashboard where operations have immediate remote access to action-oriented insights and service information for all Flexco cleaners throughout the operation. It’s the first technology solution of its kind, and will quickly bring increased efficiencies and improved productivity to our customers’ operations.
The path to Flexco Elevate started years ago as we facilitated more discussion in the industry about the concept of digital transformation. Decision makers at mining operations understood the value of remotely accessing and interpreting data for conveyor components, but the infrastructure of the mine site could not accommodate the technology in a cost effective manner. But as electronics became more affordable, companies began to develop platforms in an attempt to capture this data. We also saw that larger mining operations were blending their OT and IT departments. These shifts all signaled a readiness by the industry to embrace predictive data and insights if we could make it easily obtainable and it would lead to actionable maintenance practices.
Following these developments, we engaged with two partners who were instrumental in the creation of Flexco Elevate. The first partner was the award-winning product strategy and hardware development firm Twisthink. Because at this point our traditional products did not generate any data Twisthink orchestrated a human-design centered approach to building a data collection device based on real customer pain points and needs. They met with our Flexco product developers, engineers, and sales and service representatives from around the world to learn about the greatest challenges at mine sites: how difficult they are to solve and what impact they had on customer operations. As Flexco and Twisthink defined insights that would provide the most value, we hit the road to validate our findings face to face with customers and give the Twisthink team an in-depth experience at mine sites to truly understand the challenging conditions a device would need to withstand.
Once we established the data collection parameters and the device requirements to accurately capture it, we turned our attention to making sense of it all. We partnered with Uptake, the leader in industrial AI and IoT software, to develop a data science platform that would translate the captured data into actionable insights of real value to our customers. This required more visits to customer sites where we actually observed data being collected in real-time next to the belt being monitored. With every event signatured in the data, Uptake could identify and link the signatures to what was happening at the belt conveyor.
Years of careful, strategic planning and customer-centered research have led to Flexco Elevate and the Flexco Elevate i3 Device, in order to offer unprecedented ease of installation and ROI to the industry. We’ve conducted three trial phases across multiple international sites over the course of 18 months, and customers have universally praised the insights that are generated along with the ease of setup with the Flexco Elevate i3 Device. There is no building a mesh network. No complications for the customer’s IT department. There is no need to hire an electrician to hard-wire the device or install a cellular gateway or transmission tower. The device is simply installed on the end of a Flexco belt cleaner pole, authenticated and immediately begins transmitting data and insights, all in less than three minutes.
We couldn’t be more excited about the transformational technology we’ve developed with Flexco Elevate, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the customers that helped us make this a reality. We know because of their input, we are delivering a solution that will ensure customers have clean belts and optimally performing conveyor components, delivering true ROI and increased productivity. And while we celebrate all we’ve achieved to this point, we’re already looking down the road to the next phase of the technology and how it can be expanded beyond belt cleaners to better serve our customers. We’re innovators. It’s what we do.
Authored by: Chip Winiarski, Vice President of Marketing at Flexco
Winiarski has been with Flexco since 2007, serving as Director of Marketing – Heavy-Duty prior to his appointment to Vice President of Marketing in 2016. He is responsible for developing marketing programs, systems, and communications that support Flexco’s strategic direction and aligning global business plans with organizational objectives. Winiarski has more than 25 years of experience serving global end-user customers, distributor, OEMs, design firms, and belting companies engaged in a variety of light-duty and heavy-duty industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, and a master’s degree from The Ohio State University with a concentration in Strategy and Finance, and completed the General Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2016. Winiarski is also active in the National Industrial Belting Association (NIBA) and the Power Transmission Distributor’s Association (PTDA).