Driving innovation in the factory and in the field with iOS.

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Everyday operations go mobile.

SKF’s custom apps for iPad and iPhone make it possible for employees at every level of the organisation to do things they could never do before. Machine operators on the factory line, sales and engineering teams in the field, and global customers who rely on SKF bearings to power everything from salt mines to steel pipe factories can access critical business data in real time, communicate with colleagues and machines, and leave old tools behind.

great ideas in action

Getting real-time insight on the factory floor.

At SKF’s flagship bearings factory in Gothenburg, Sweden, employees manage and operate the production line with iPad and iPhone. A custom iOS app connects factory employees to live data and insight from the factory machinery, delivering critical information to employees that allows them to better collaborate, solve problems and improve factory output.

Managers use the MOST app to monitor and maintain factory machinery.

At the start of each shift, factory employees log in with secure authentication to the MOST app and are presented with a simple user interface depicting the factory floor. A series of shapes represent each machine, and operators can track every bearing product that makes its way through the production line. The app uses colour to identify the status of machines, and sound to alert factory operators when problems arise. Secure chat connects factory employees so they can share knowledge instantly and respond immediately to issues, no matter where they are.

The simple user interface allows factory operators to easily make sense of complex data from a variety of machines and back-end systems. Data is delivered to the app through custom APIs that present only the most important information to a factory operator. Now with iOS, employees save time by no longer having to criss-cross the factory to collect data from various machines and desktop workstations.

“The MOST app takes the factory line and it visualises that in a very clear manner.”

See the MOST app in action

Weekly maintenance on factory machinery is also accomplished with the MOST app. Tap a machine to view historical maintenance logs and illustrated manuals, and to access a list of tasks to complete. Swipe left over a task when complete, or flag it for follow-up. Before iPad and iPhone, information about the long-term health of a machine was locked away in paper binders. Now, machine information is readily available.

It’s really about empowering the operator on the factory floor. Connecting them even more with their factory line manager in a more efficient way. Creating new ways of communication.

Christoffer Malm, Head of Connectivity Room, SKF

Turning data into better field service.

SKF has thousands of sales and service engineers in the field around the globe using iPad and iPhone to keep customers running smoothly. With iPad, SKF has reduced machine downtime and can now identify and fix problems before they happen. A collection of custom apps gives field teams instant access to critical data, even when they’re perched 30 metres above a mine or deep underground in a steel pipe factory.

SKF’s sales and engineering teams support customers across more than 40 industries with thousands of bearings and lubrication products. Finding the right product for a customer means sifting through thousands of pieces of product literature. The SKF Shelf app delivers the right information to their fingertips. It’s searchable, easy to organise and available offline.

Other custom apps like Bearing Calculator, Seal Select and DialSet are quick calculators that help SKF’s field teams diagnose a problem and easily pinpoint the right product for any situation. Even basic product literature comes to life on iOS with apps like PM Motors, which uses the camera on iPad and augmented reality to identify a motor, then present an overlay of the SKF parts it contains.

Solving problems before they happen is a key concern for SKF sales and service teams. Custom apps allow engineers to monitor the health of a machine and act on the results. A custom app called Shaft Align reads data from Bluetooth sensors attached to a motor shaft to check that it’s turning in proper alignment. If not, the app generates step-by-step instructions in 3D to guide a technician through the process of manually aligning the motor. Then it checks the work and generates a report.

DataCollect is a custom app used by SKF auditors to collect and analyse data about the performance of factory machinery. Auditors can input data or collect it from machinery over low-energy Bluetooth sensors. They can also use the camera and microphone on iPad to supplement reports with photos and voice notes. That data is then sent to the SKF cloud to be analysed. This audit process used to be manual and took as long as a month to complete. Now reports are delivered instantly.

In the past, after making a big sales call, I had a laundry list of things I had to do, things I had to follow up on. But now, with iPad, I’m taking care of those things while in front of the customer. You can really focus in on getting customer problems solved.

Kurt Kohler, SKF Sales Engineer

getting to great

From traditional to transformational.

To take advantage of the best features of iPad and iPhone, SKF deployed a dedicated team of innovators to build iOS apps that transform how work gets done on the factory floor, by mobile sales and service teams, and by enterprise customers who rely on SKF’s products. Called the Connectivity Room, the team worked closely with IT and individual lines of business to create more than 30 custom apps for the organisation.

It took a strong vision from the CEO and buy-in from the executive team to create this runway for innovation. And to be successful, the team forged strong partnerships with IT, employees and lines of business. The Connectivity Room follows an agile approach to development, building and deploying apps quickly and testing them with employees to gather feedback and iterate. And they work closely with IT to take advantage of deep integration with back-end systems.

SKF continues to scale its use of iOS in the factory and in the field, and change the ways its employees work thanks to great iOS developer tools like Xcode and the Swift programming language. “It is amazing how quickly you can go from idea to a first version of the app,” notes Christoffer Malm, Head of the SKF Connectivity Room.

SKF is also extending that value to customers with free apps available in the App Store, as well as custom apps that enable other customers to gain deep insight into factory operations and improve their own bottom line.

With iOS, we can bring an app from concept to realisation and put it into practice in a much shorter time than ever before.

Christoffer Malm, Head of Connectivity Room, SKF

Work wonders with Apple.

iPad, iPhone and Mac are intuitive, engaging and powerful tools for business. With innovative hardware, software and services that deliver an amazing user experience, Apple empowers today’s modern workforce to do something truly great.