The $647B Downtime Question: Can Machine Learning Save Industry from its Costliest Challenge?

Downtime is a multi-billion-dollar problem that’s continuing to grow larger and more complex. But is it inevitable?

One of industry’s biggest challenges is also its most expensive. Downtime – periods when industrial assets are unavailable to perform their primary functions – is a multi-billion-dollar problem that’s continuing to grow larger and more complex. It’s an increasingly important issue facing global companies in today’s connected world.

The stakes are high. Research from Gartner shows the cost of downtime can skyrocket as high as $540,000 for every hour assets, workers, infrastructure, systems or networks are unavailable. A whopping $647 billion is lost globally each year, per the International Society of Automation.

Downtime has long hindered industry. But is it inevitable? Not anymore. This prominent, age-old obstacle now has a beacon of hope: artificial intelligence (AI).

AI: the Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Downtime

At Uptake, our breakthroughs in AI are redefining what’s possible in industry by predicting and preventing unplanned downtime before it occurs, turning cost centers into profit centers, and improving the bottom line.

Our machine learning engines make it possible to detect anomalies that deviate from normal behavior patterns, extract relevant signals from unnecessary noise and predict failures that are likely to occur. They also recognize situational changes in image data, recommend next steps for effective repairs and ensure accurate record keeping throughout.

Downtime has long hindered industry. But is it inevitable? Not anymore.

And we do it fast: Uptake can deploy data science models in under an hour and generates 4 million predictions per week for our customers. This speed is important because we’re able to quickly deliver outcomes that drive their businesses forward. Here’s a quick snapshot of how we’re doing it across several industries:

  • Keeping wind turbines turning: we’ve caught mission-critical failures at wind farms several months before they had a chance to happen.
  • Putting trains back on track: we’ve not only saved hundreds of railroad failures, we’ve created hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential value per locomotive per year.
  • Making commerce more efficient: we’ve forecasted failures in retail point-of-sale systems, creating the potential for 4x ROI in labor savings and accelerating checkout processes.
  • Growing smarter in agriculture: we’ve worked with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to achieve productivity gains for harvesters using prognostics and field service solutions, resulting in the ability to significantly increase revenue and profit.
  • Improving mining and construction: we can identify major machine malfunctions that would require several hundred hours of downtime and several hundred thousand dollars in repairs, reducing each to a miniscule fraction of the potential fallout.

Saving Money and Time in the Rail Industry – Uptake at Work

Take the rail industry. It’s full of costly, complex challenges. One of the biggest is unplanned downtime, which can create a chain reaction of different problems. We’ve minimized that downtime and created hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential value per locomotive per year for one of our customers. Here’s how:

On the track: Uptake integrates into the locomotive operator’s workflow to increase reliability and uptime. We conduct subsystem-level analysis of the locomotive’s lifetime health, using our data science models to make predictions and prevent catastrophic failures. The insights we generate inform maintenance decisions based on status, performance and shop history. We also factor in contextual information on geographic locations, physical environments, historical performance and risk areas to make our recommendations even more precise. The result: more successful missions on the track with decreased delay times and failures.

At the yard: Uptake optimizes train building and improves mission success by monitoring the condition of locomotives. We assign health scores to assets for maintenance evaluation and prioritization. By geo-locating assets, we ensure the most optimal ones are chosen to build a train. We also deliver a granular understanding of fuel spend and how to reduce fuel consumption. The result: mission readiness of assets at the yard, with reduced time spent building trains.

In the shop: Uptake streamlines locomotive maintenance and minimizes cycle time. We prioritize shop activity based on real-time status, diagnostics and prognostics. By using satellite mapping and geo-fencing, we’re always monitoring asset repairs and driving them forward. We also factor in weather and terrain data to equip workers with contextually relevant maintenance recommendations. What’s more, we use our unmatched weather analytics to optimize train schedules based on predicted events, thereby increasing efficiency, reducing delays, improving passenger safety and saving on operational costs. The result: right repairs, fast – the first time – with reduced per-unit shop time.

Powering a Brighter Future

Behind the scenes, Uptake’s data science and predictive analytics make the above outcomes possible. We put our customers ahead of the curve by turning mountains of industrial data into actionable insights that predict and prevent unplanned downtime, and maximize uptime. Our approach is unique because:

  • We work across industry to bring exponential value to our customers. Our data science and predictive analytics get smarter with every piece of data we take in. Our platform recognizes patterns and becomes increasingly intelligent over time by leveraging our access to data across several different industries. With more data, our predictions become stronger and more precise. We apply those learnings across sectors to deliver insights that make an impact to our clients’ businesses right away. Plus, our open-source platform improves at the speed of technology.
  • Our outcomes and insights are brand-agnostic. We don’t depend on a certain system, and we can provide actionable insights to your business regardless of the technology you’re currently using. There’s no conflict of interest with Uptake. We don’t have a vested interest in selling you certain equipment or servicing it, because we’re not an OEM. We’re strictly focused on driving outcomes.
  • We’re an unbiased source of the truth. Uptake is singularly focused on the business of data, insights and outcomes.
  • We’re a low-risk partner because we commit to delivering outcomes. We take on the responsibility of creating measurable results and ensuring impact for our customers.

Even when unavoidable downtime occurs, Uptake minimizes its negative impact to the business by helping the people within your company make better-informed decisions based on data – instead of guesswork, intuition or habit. We can provide actionable steps on the right maintenance and repairs to ensure they’re done right the first time, to get assets back up and running as fast as possible.

Today, the right technology is readily available for making unplanned downtime a thing of the past. Data science and predictive analytics have the potential to provide accurate recommendations, which only get better over time as expert feedback and more data sets are pulled into the equation.

The future of industry begins now. But the rewards go to those who act. Solving industry’s $647 billion problem starts with putting the right foundation in place to decrease downtime, minimize customer disruption and improve the bottom line.