L&T Technology Services has taken a leaf out of General Electric’s playbook to build a software platform that offers internet of things (IoT) services to its global engineering and manufacturing customers. It also expects the platform-offering service to be a differentiator with rivals as it aims for a $1 billion revenue in the next four years.
The engineering services arm of Larsen & Toubro has used assets of its parent to connect over 4,000 sensors of machines and construction equipment of diverse manufacturers, analyse the data on a software platform to predict performance and efficiency, besides the life of a machine.
So far, L&T Technology has four customers for the platform UBIQWeise and is looking to build services on top of it to increase stickiness and earn higher margins. The firm is also looking to leverage nearly 200 patents it has generated to build solutions that add value to its customers.
“First of all, this is a survival issue today. If you do not have this, you will be out of business in three years. I know for sure companies
need to have differentiators like these,” says Dr Keshab Panda, chief executive and managing director of L&T Technology Services in an interview. “Of course we are going to hit $1bn but my differentiator is the platforms I build.”
General Electric (GE) pioneered the industrial internet model with its proprietary software, Predix, which takes data from sensors connected to machines through application program interfaces (APIs) and deliver results. Predix is a $6 billion business for the US firm, offering insights from both GE as well as non-GE machines across industries.
Panda, an aerospace engineer who worked on India’s light combat aircraft Tejas and on the country’s satellite programme, says that L&T Technology’s model is to offer the platform, which is machine agnostic, and build services on top of it. The firm would also look at installing sensors in machines that do not have one so that data can be captured of its usage.
“We have developed a system where data is yours but the platform is mine,” says Panda. “Take predictive maintenance, if there is an anomaly in a machine (which the system captures) can a message go to the WhatsApp group in the factory and say the maintenance has to be done faster."
It counts global firms such as Rockwell Automation, UTC, Scania and Caterpillar as its clients as it expands its engineering services with platform led services.
L&T Technology is working with its parent L&T to build a model for personal protection equipment to help improve safety and performance of construction engineers and workers.
While demonstrating the solution at its various construction sites — 200,000 workers at sites across India, it equips workers and engineers with helmet, gloves, jackets and shoes that has sensors capturing their performance and sending it to a centralised database on the cloud.
“We have to have own the platform as a company. Our DNA of engineering should be merged with the technology and come out with a solution,” says Panda.