Machine Diagnostics: An analogy to Medical Diagnostics

#MachineTools #IIoT #MachineDesigners

Faiyaz Engineer, Deputy General Manager, ACG World

As a Program Manager for the IIoT implementation, I multiple times face the challenge of setting expectations with various stakeholders on the roles and responsibilities that need to be aligned between the IIoT Team consisting of software developers, connectivity engineers, data science (together called the IIoT Team) v/s Process Owners / SMEs (Machine experts)

My attempt here is to make the difference obvious and easy to envision.

PART 1: Medical Check-up

Have you recently visited your Diagnostics health care centre for a routine check-up?

And if I may ask, what was the result of the diagnostics reports?

“A little bit high on sugar and a few anomalies with the other minerals, but nothing serious”.

As a follow-up question, may I ask, “Did you follow up with your Doctor on the results?”

“That depends. If there is nothing alarming I may probably want to skip that part.”

Would you ever insist that the Diagnostics centre should also provide a detailed solution to all the problems that are stated in your report?

“Now hold on. Why would I do that? They are not the experts in medicine. I would rather go to a Medical Professional / Doctor and take his advice”.

PART 2: Machine Check-up

Do you have an IIoT system in place to collect vital statistics of your machine?

And if I may ask, What was the result of the diagnostics reports?

“A little bit high on current consumption and a few anomalies with the vibrations and pressure graphs, but nothing serious”.

As a follow-up question, I may ask, “Did you follow up with the SME (Subject Matter Expert / Machine experts) on the results?”

“That depends. If there is nothing alarming I may probably want to skip that part.” Would you ever insist that the IIOT Dev and Data Science team should also provide a detailed solution to all the problems that are stated in your report?

“Now hold on. Why would I do that? They are not experts in machines. I would rather go to the SME or Design Engineer Professional and take their advice”

Moral of the story

The Healthcare Diagnostics Lab are specialist in providing the data from your tests conducted. Expecting the diagnostics centre to provide solutions to your problems is not advisable. e.g. Taking advice from the radiologist for your heart-related problems is not optimal. 

Similarly, the IIoT Dev Team and its data science team is specialized in making the data available and providing the data analysis from the machine data collected. Expecting the IIoT developers to provide solutions to your machine problems is not advised.  

It is best practice to consult the SMEs and Machine designers for proper diagnosis.

With the maturity of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms implemented within your IIoT system, it will very soon have enough Historical Data, Inputs received from SMEs and service engineers, and Trends of data associated with dysfunctional behaviour and breakdowns, to make logical suggestions and predictions to provide sound advice equal to or maybe better than an SME. The accuracy of these predictions will define your IIoT maturity and your success rate.

But to get there you need to be patient. As long as your system is still not ready with the above mentioned key data points, we will need to use Augmented Intelligence, i.e. THE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS TEAM along with the basic IIoT Diagnostics Software to navigate through.

Maybe someday, AI will replace Doctors and SMEs altogether. But till then, you still require both the Doctor / SME and the Diagnostics centre.

I hope, for all those manufacturers that want to enter the IIoT and Digitalization space, this comparison will provide a better perspective and clear the expectations of what to expect from your Data Scientist and Software Development team.

If in doubt, just ask yourself, should I approach the Doctor (SME) or the Diagnostics Centre (IIoT & Data Science Team)? 

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