Together towards smarter cable drum management

In this blog series, we follow the development of smart drum management from the points of view of our various experts. We also follow the journey of our new Smart drums from the design table to the customer’s worksite. Welcome aboard!

We talk about IoT (Internet of Things) whenever a physical product is connected to a data network.  We started looking for IoT and digitalization to help with the development of a smarter, more efficient cable drum management system.

The rotation of the cable drums from the factory to the worksite and back is a system that has been similar for decades and known to everyone in the industry. Unfortunately, this system includes some setbacks: sometimes the drums are not delivered to the right spot or at the right time, sometimes the cable ends in the middle of the workday, and oftentimes the drums lie forgotten on the side of a road for long periods. Time and money are wasted, and nerves tighten.

Together with our customers, we started to look for a solution to this problem. In business design it’s essential to form a big picture of customer and stakeholder needs. When we surveyed these, we discovered one essential point that surpassed others: there should always be the right amount of the right cable in the right place at the right time. This is the common interest of both us and our customers.

There should always be the right amount of the right cable in the right place at the right time.

In order to secure business benefits, it is important to study the process to be digitalized more closely. By this I mean that the data produced by IoT devices does not itself change the current state, but it must relate to and merge into the activity itself. When applying new technology and developing new operating models, it is particularly important to try out ideas in their right environment. We have done this during spring 2019.

The answer is almost complete. It is the Smart Drum, which, after the first development stages, is currently under trial with two of our customers.

At present, we are still testing various alternatives to drum locators. After this testing period, we will start piloting the system more widely.

When the whole process of sending and recovering cable drums is done digitally, the desired benefits of Smart Drum are achieved: the status and location of the drums are known at all times, the overall picture is easy to see, and all the necessary information goes along with the drum. This enables more efficient drum management, smoother drum recovery and more flexible drum service.

Our Smart Drum management system is built on Microsoft’s cloud service in collaboration with RD Velho. The new service will be gradually opened for customers during next year. Drums are finally going digital!