remote monitoring, maintenance, reliability, uptime, material handling

OEM provides maintenance on its equipment to optimize uptime

The Modex Show ( is a biennial gathering of material-handling and supply-chain professionals. Whatever you need to move and manage inventory, work in process, or finished goods, you’ll find it here in Atlanta this week. From lift trucks and conveyance systems to vision systems and MES software, the exhibit hall at Georgia World Congress Center is chock full of solutions.

Just like production machinery, material-handling equipment requires recurrent monitoring and periodic maintenance. “Uptime is what it’s all about,” explained Chris Cole, CEO of Intelligrated (, a provider of intelligent automated material-handling solutions. Intelligrated hired almost 200 new associates in 2013 and is on track for a similar increase in personnel this year. Most of those new jobs are software-related, aligned with the company’s expanded regional operations and software centers in Atlanta, New York, Toronto, Denver, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We still make hardware, but we believe that the interaction of software that works at the speed of automation has a real niche,” said Cole, whose organization also has opened a new operation in Shanghai, China. “We now have a sales and engineering center there with local support for key customers in the Asia-Pacific region, and we'll offer the complete Intelligrated product lines.” Intelligrated is planning future expansion into local manufacturing, led by Rod Selby, director, Asia-Pacific business development.

In light of this aggressive increase, one part of Intelligrated’s solutions that often goes unnoticed is the maintenance it offers on its equipment. “We have 300 people in the field running maintenance at sites,” explained Cole. “We've made it easy for customers to maintain what's going on. We're trying to make it easy for customers to get the most out of their systems. We believe that, when we do the maintenance, people can get more horsepower out of the systems they bought. Traditionally maintenance might not be the core competency at the company. We'll guarantee higher service levels. At Intelligrated, we have a career path for maintenance people. We certify them quarterly. When we put maintenance people into a facility, they know what they're doing. There are clusters where we can have more service people. The customer is still responsible to have the spares.”

I-Watch maintenance software enables Intelligrated technicians to complete regular remote analyses of machine performance and condition information for IntelliSort sliding shoe sorters. “There’s a labor gap,” said Jerry Koch, director, corporate marketing and product management, at Intelligrated. “I-Watch allows us to make sure our service team can support the customer's service team. We also offer resident maintenance. We can come in monthly, quarterly, or have someone there full-time to provide preventive maintenance.”

Another step toward remote monitoring that allows OEMs to provide machine reliability, just like we’ve been mentioning for months (