ConSite: new Hitachi’s app for diagnosing the machinery

    Hitachi has launched the ConSite Health Check app, which enables service technicians to quickly diagnose the condition of construction machinery by using a smartphone. The app was developed as a new solution in the ConSite package of service solutions aimed at reducing lifecycle costs, which is an important customer concern. ConSite Health Check is the first app that is capable of performing diagnosis and assessing the condition of construction machinery based on its operation sound and measurement data in the construction machinery industry.

    Source: Hitachi

    The app will initially be made available to service technicians at dealers in Indonesia, the Middle East, and Africa starting in March 2020. The full-scale release to the global market will be implemented gradually at a later date.

    The ConSite Health Check app is equipped with functions that enable users with a smartphone to diagnose the condition of the fuel injectors in the engine of construction machinery and the hydraulic pumps, with a ranking of A (normal), B (further monitoring required), C (consider repair), or D (repair required). Going forward, Hitachi Construction Machinery plans to expand the service by increasing the parts that can be diagnosed by the app.

    In the conventional method for diagnosing the condition of fuel injectors and hydraulic pumps, technicians had to listen for slight abnormalities in the sound of the machinery, using skills that required many years of practice and experience to develop. The conventional method required extensive labor and time-consuming testing and pump disassembly to check for wear. In addition, previous service tools at Hitachi Construction Machinery involved connecting a computer to the construction machinery with a dedicated cable, in order to display measurement data that could be used to judge the condition of the machinery by technicians. In contrast, the new ConSite Health Check app can perform a semi-automated process for diagnosing and judging the condition of fuel injectors and hydraulic pumps with an accuracy that exceeds human capabilities. As a result, service technicians are able to suggest evidence-based repair plans to customers using judgment results acquired through quantitative data analysis that was previously not possible.

    With the ability to quickly diagnose the condition of fuel injectors and hydraulic pumps, “health checks” can be performed on construction machinery to identify degraded performance before a major failure occurs and takes the construction machinery out of service. As a result, the app can help decrease the costs of downtime and maintenance, thereby contributing to the reduction of lifecycle costs, which is an important customer concern.

    For construction machineries such as hydraulic excavators and wheel loaders, recent efforts toward adopting more stringent emission standards, improving operability, and reducing fuel consumption have resulted in more advanced control technology, which has led to greater complexity in the repairs and maintenance techniques that are required. In addition, with the shrinking manufacturing labor force and increasing age of skilled workers, shortages of expert service technicians are forecast in the future. To continue providing customers with high-quality services under these circumstances, it is necessary to increase the efficiency of maintenance and inspection operations while also maintaining and improving quality, by visualizing the condition of the construction machinery with quantitative data through the use of ICT and AI.

    Hitachi Construction Machinery established the ConSite Development Department as a specialized unit in 2017 by bringing in engineers from across the Hitachi Group with expertise in the utilization of ICT and AI in information and data analysis. The new ConSite Health Check app adds to the ConSite service menu. ConSite, which is a service solution for remotely monitoring construction machinery, incorporates a wealth of accumulated knowledge in maintenance and inspection operations for construction machinery, along with the cutting-edge information and data analysis technology of the Hitachi Group. ConSite is one of the service solutions in the Lumada platform of the Hitachi Group.

    The ConSite Health Check app relies on technology that utilizes AI to detect and assess slight abnormalities in the sound of the construction machinery, along with technology that diagnoses conditions based on the mechanical characteristics of the construction machinery. Both of these technologies were jointly developed by Hitachi Construction Machinery and the Research & Development Group at Hitachi, Ltd., making this app a new service that fully leverages the synergy of the Hitachi Group.

    The introduction of the ConSite Health Check app enables Hitachi Construction Machinery to provide services that are more efficient and appropriate, while also contributing to the reduction of lifecycle costs, which is an important customer concern.

    Source: Hitachi

    Main features of ConSite Health Check app: Quick “health check” with visualization of discrepancies in engine operation sound due to fuel injector deterioration

    The fuel injectors incorporated into each cylinder in the engine are designed to inject the required amount of fuel into the cylinders during operation. When construction machinery is operated over a long period, the tips of the fuel injectors may become soiled or clogged due to the operating conditions or age deterioration. It is important to identify fuel injector failures early, since abnormalities that remain undetected for a long time may lead to engine failure.
    Hitachi Construction Machinery has succeeded in utilizing AI to separate and classify the engine operation sound frequency data for normal and abnormal operations of fuel injectors, which is similar to how expert service technicians listen for changes in the sound of the engine due to fuel injector deterioration. The ConSite Health Check app enables quick on-the-spot diagnosis by using the microphone function of the smartphone to record the engine operation sound and displaying the “health check” results in approximately three minutes.

    Quick “health check” that performs semi-automated measurement of hydraulic pump pressure

    Hydraulic pumps use the power of the engine to control hydraulic oil by drawing it out of tanks, applying pressure, and increasing the pressure. For hydraulic pumps in construction machinery, wear due to operating environment and age deterioration can lead to increased internal oil leaks and hydraulic pump failure, as well as disassembling the pumps to check for wear.
    With the ConSite Health Check app, the smartphone and construction machinery is connected to a communication device, and the pressure of hydraulic oil discharged by the hydraulic pumps is measured. The “health check” is quickly performed based on the measurement data, and the results indicate the condition of hydraulic pumps and the extent and progression of internal wear.

    Conceptual images of ConSite Health Check app; Source: Hitachi Construction Machinery

    Source: Hitachi Construction Machinery

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