Colfax is a leading, diversified industrial technology company that provides products and services to commercial and governmental organizations across a wide range of industries through two business platforms: Howden, a manufacturer of precision air and gas handling equipment, and ESAB, a producer of welding and cutting equipment and consumables.

The Goal

Building upon more than 100 years of manufacturingexpertise, Colfax recognizes the need to continuallyevolve its businesses to stay relevant and achieveresults in today’s increasingly competitivemarketplace. To do so, the company has embarked onthe path of digital transformation with a focus on theInternet of Things (IoT).

As with many industrials, Colfax’s wide range ofassets and the long service life of the equipmentpose challenges in terms of state of IoT-readinessand complexity of deployment patterns. Colfax alsoutilizes a lean and federated management process,with growth through acquisition as a key strategy,which equates to very heterogeneous automationinfrastructure and IoT practices across businesses.

Colfax launched its internal program, Data DrivenAdvantage (DDA), focused on building value anddifferentiation into existing products with digitaltechnologies, as well as creating new opportunities.IoT and related technologies would enable Colfax andits Howden and ESAB businesses to better enhanceproduct functionality, create added value for customersand stakeholders, and enhance value from futureacquisitions. However, when digitally-enabling itsvarious product lines, Colfax experienced many of thetypical roadblocks that impede transformation efforts,limiting both scope and impact.

The Solution

Recognizing that a successful digital transformationjourney starts with establishing an effective IoT strategyto address business needs, Colfax conducted severalpilot efforts across its businesses, specifically aimed atadding value to the core products they already offered.This approach allowed access to an installed base ofcustomers and sales and support teams that werebringing more value to solutions they already know. As Colfax moved to scaling the offerings andapplying DDA across its businesses, it sought a moreefficient way to build and accelerate a foundational IoTinfrastructure to fuel the effort.

365体育投注The company originally built a technology framework inhouse, but soon realized deploying and maintaining itwasn’t operationally or financially beneficial. Maintainingsuch an infrastructure would simply require too muchtime and effort from employees whose focus was on the corecompetencies of the business.

365体育投注Colfax sought out a ready-built IoT solution thatcould integrate seamlessly across business units andgeographies, support industry-leading cloud offeringsfor centralized data sharing, offer flexible deploymentoptions, and serve as the foundation of its IoT initiatives.After researching and evaluating several offerings,Colfax proceeded with an integrated solution comprisedof PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform andMicrosoft Azure IoT.

Colfax chose to leverage the cloud as the foundationfor its IoT initiatives and selected Microsoft Azurefor its superior ability to address varied deploymentconfigurations and for its deep understanding andexpertise delivering industrial solutions that drive itstechnology vision. Azure IoT offers a rich set of built-inconnectivity and device security features, which wouldenable reliable and secure bidirectional communicationbetween millions of IoT devices—whether in cloud,on-premise, or hybrid deployments.

Colfax selected PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial InnovationPlatform for PTC’s position as a leader and innovatorin IoT, and for its scalability, breadth of portfolio, andglobal reach. The ThingWorx platform would essentially“future-proof” its operations; Colfax would be ableto easily add and integrate the latest IoT innovationsand platform functionality into its solutions while stillmaintaining focus on its core business operations.

For Colfax, ThingWorx and Azure together provideda simple but powerful solution—offering strength inindustrial connectivity, rapid application development,and built-in integration capabilities. It was importantto Colfax and its business units to be able to integratethe solution easily into existing systems to streamlineprocesses, prevent unnecessary challenges or errors,and more easily ensure security. Considering the varied environments across its customerbase, it was important to Colfax to select technologiesthat would be easily integrated by its customers as well. Together, ThingWorx and Microsoft Azure IoT was the ideal solution tomeet these requirements.

The Results

Since implementing ThingWorx as part of their DDAstrategies, both Howden and ESAB have quicklyadvanced their digital transformation journeys. Whatthe businesses previously spent years working ondeveloping in-house is now being seamlessly rolled out,in some cases, in a matter of months. With the flexibilityand scalability of ThingWorx and Azure, both businessunits are building and delivering cutting-edge products—and retrofitting previous versions—to enhancefunctionality with powerful new capabilities and deliveradded value to customers.

365体育投注With its Uptime offering, Howden is building ThingWorxtechnology into its highly engineered compressors togather and analyze critical equipment data that willenable customers to optimize equipment performanceand operational efficiencies. Predictive and prescriptiveanalytics can be used with connected equipment tomonitor operations and determine normal patterns ofbehavior, enabling the customer to easily identify or bealerted to deviations from the norm that might result in apotential machine failure. By servicing machines beforethey actually fail, companies can prevent the challengesand costs associated with unplanned downtime andbetter-align overall maintenance strategies—whichwere previously based only on conjecture and after-the-fact analysis. Howden customers using the Uptimesolution are already experiencing improvements in theirmaintenance operations, including more uninterrupteduptime, process efficiencies, and cost reductions.

In the ESAB business, ThingWorx is being appliedin WeldCloud and CutCloud to enable to improvedproductivity, documentation, and asset managementacross various geographies. By connecting to weldingand cutting equipment, ESAB customers can bettermonitor equipment usage data and evaluate theproductivity of production assets. With the powerful,automated analytics capabilities of the ThingWorxplatform, performance can be assessed by analyzingany number of attributes, from the simple to thecomplex. Like Howden, this increased visibility acrossboth individual projects and fleets of equipment alsoallows ESAB to detect patterns and anomalies in similarproducts/applications, improving the company’sresponse rate to field issues, and to help customersoptimize their performance. An added benefit is that thewealth of data collected automatically by the ThingWorxplatform can be easily gathered and assembled indocumentation for submission to regulatory bodies,simplifying the documentation process and improvingthe quality of information reported.

By incorporating ThingWorx and Microsoft Azure IoTinto its products, Colfax has enabled new visibility intomanufacturing equipment data transforming how itservices and supports its products. With the flexibility ofthe ThingWorx platform, Colfax can continue to expandthe digital capabilities of products to deliver more valueto customers.

"ThingWorx not only supports our existing businesses, but can also contribute to more rapid integration of acquisitions. With ThingWorx and Microsoft Azure IoT, we can focus more on what we do best and improve customer experience."
Ryan Cahalane, Vice President, Digital Growth, Colfax

The Future

365体育投注As the roll-out of its ThingWorx-enabled productscontinues, Colfax has been able to very quickly graspthe impact on its customers’ operations. The next stepfor Colfax is implementing ThingWorx and MicrosoftAzure into its own operations to both enable operationalimprovements and close the loop between productionand field use of smart, connected products. This smart,connected value chain would enable Colfax businessesto better understand the impact of manufacturingprocesses on quality and service lifecycles, better matchdemand (especially in the consumables businesses), andprovide more rapid feedback on new designs to achievefaster time-to-market and more successful productlaunches. Additionally, collaborating with suppliersaround this common reference architecture wouldenable similar gains to be passed on without the needfor suppliers to undertake lengthy and complex IoT pilotsof their own.

365体育投注Within its product lines, the company plans to exploredeeper analytics capabilities, augmented reality, andmore. Colfax is confident that with PTC as a trustedpartner, it is better-prepared for the smart, connectedworld of the future than ever before.

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