Pipelife, which is a part of the Austrian Wienerberger AG Group, is the largest and second largest supplier of plastic pipe plumbing systems in Scandinavia and Europe, respectively. Pipelife manufactures and markets plastic pipe plumbing systems, wells, and plumbing stations for the needs of both the construction industry and earthworks. The future goal of the company is to make its products smarter with the help of digitalization.
Pipelife Finland Oy is the leading HPAC product manufacturer and marketeer in Finland, and its product selection includes products such as plastic pipes and well products for house, municipal, and draining technical projects.
Remote monitoring for small pumping stations
Three years ago, Pipelife Finland bought the business operations of Talokaivo, the leading real estate manufacturer and seller in Finland. With Talokaivo came 15,000 rainwater, sewage, and groundwater pumping stations located 3–6 meters below ground, and an IoT solution was developed for their remote monitoring. However, Pipelife wanted the data transferred to the system to integrate with Wienerberg’s group-wide Azure environment so that the data could be processed further.
The system, called Isoveli (Big Brother), has been designed for medium-sized pumping stations that can be found, for example, under the tunnels at the Olympic Stadium, Helsinki Airport, and Länsimetro. Pipelife personnel started to wonder whether smaller pumping stations could also be equipped with a similar remote monitoring system that would report operating data, and which could be used to predict the need for maintenance.
Bilot’s skills in IoT and Azure impressed
Pipelife approached Microsoft with its business idea, and Microsoft recommended Bilot as one of the potential partners. Bilot was selected as Pipelife’s partner due to its IoT expertise in particular. Practical proof of this is, for example, the Sulzer Sense IoT application made for Sulzer, and the expert opinion on how to connect the IoT to Azure. Bilot’s experts continued to be impressive during the project; for example, clearly drawn and presented architectural designs were immediately used widely within the company.
“Our wish was to find an expert partner who could not only recommend what to do next but also explain clearly what consequences different choices would have or how much leaving a certain solution out might cost in the future,” says Tero Auvinen, Head of Digital Solutions. “Bilot is good at recommending ways to build a solution with the optimal price-quality ratio. This has been highly praised within the company.”
Auvinen is also appreciative of the consultants’ easily understandable approach.
During the project, the process was continually and understandably explained. This created a trusting atmosphere: everything was under control. Instead of only looking at some strings of numbers, of which we might not even understand anything, we were always told where in the system the data was going and where it can be seen and at which point. Now, everyone understands what has been done in the project and, in particular, why.
Increasing profitability and sales volumes
The integration of the Isoveli system with Wienerberger’s Azure has made it possible to develop the pumping station’s operating data into reports that can be sent to clients. This, in turn, has made it possible to grow the maintenance business with a service that is invoiced monthly and where Pipelife personnel and an authorized maintenance network can monitor the devices in the mobile application.
Isoveli is nowadays already installed in Pipelife’s larger pumping stations at the factory. The plan is that in future, even Pipelife’s smaller pumping stations will already have a remote monitoring system installed in them at the factory, if the client so wishes. The plan also includes expanding the use of the system to other countries where Pipelife has pumping station operations.
“By using digital differentiation like this, we have been able to increase the profitability of our basic products and the sales volumes. Additionally, the maintenance revenue has increased due to restructurings and implementations,” explains a satisfied Auvinen.