How a new data collaboration platform builds trust between companies and brings out the potential for Big Data usage.
Keeping track of equipment data from different providers and their various platforms and applications has often been notoriously difficult and complex in the maritime, power and energy industries, but now a new collaboration platform named mýa aims to clear away the obstacles by providing a controlled, secure and standardized way to access multiple disparate data inputs as a single stream and thereby make the most of the Internet of Things.
By Santina Russo
Just a few mouse clicks, and Audi Lucas, Head of Digital Solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, has retrieved the data he has been looking for. The blue graph shows the temperature of an operating fuel treatment system in real time. This device is responsible for appropriately heating up the fuel before it is used to power a ship’s engine. Remarkably, Lucas is able to access the temperature records from within his company’s propriety service platform, although the data originates from a device by another manufacturer.
The link is made possible thanks to a novel data collaboration platform: mýa. The mýa platform builds a data bridge or switchboard as some say, between various different manufacturers and between manufacturers and customers. “This way, it allows members to make the most of the data compiled from different devices and systems,” says Alan Atkins, CEO of the nonprofit initiative mýa Connection. What’s more, the platform is designed to benefit all players involved, in particular equipment manufacturers, operators and owners across the marine, power and energy industries, but also companies from other sectors such as the car or food industry.
Audi Lucas, Head of Digital Solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems
A view of the whole ecosystem
Of course, manufacturers have been pulling data from their systems to monitor performance and provide customers with information for maintenance or for anticipating system failures for quite some time. However, industries such as marine shipping, which routinely work with multiple manufacturers have had to access their data across multiple proprietary service platforms, resulting in a patchwork of different data formats – a time-consuming and cumbersome affair – that made it nearly impossible to maintain overview and limited learnings that could be drawn from the data. In contrast, mýa can map the whole ecosystem providing a holistic and synchronized view. The complexity of the data is reduced, its value enhanced.
“A ship’s engine, for instance, is not an isolated system,” Lucas points out. Devices such as the aforementioned fuel treatment system or the fuel pumps that are located upstream of the engine affect its operation. Similarly, the fuel filters downstream of the engine can provide useful information for optimizing the engine’s performance. There are many more such connections between the operating units of a marine vessel, a power plant or an industrial manufacturing process. “This has to be taken into account if companies aim to optimally profit from the possibilities of digitalization and the Internet of Things,” says Lucas.
A screenshot from the mýa platform showing engine speed data and an alert function to monitor any engine operation faults
Manufacturers should acknowledge that they’re part of a joint ecosystem.
Sharing builds trust
In practice, mýa is a graph database that bundles and distributes data streams the manufacturers choose to share, you can kind of think about it as a “LinkedIn” but for industrial equipment. All exchanges are, of course, strictly subject to permissions given by the respective data owners, with mýa acting as a reliable bridge between propriety data vaults and platforms. “Basically, we are responsible for a smooth data flow while making sure there are no leaks,” says Atkins. “Traditionally, companies don’t much like to open up their data streams, but with a platform such as mýa, we can start to build the trust necessary to share information from which we can all collectively profit.”
The mýa platform enables the exchange of data in a controlled and secure manner among participating OEMs, operators and asset owners.
Joining the collaboration is easy. “Usually, the intent to share data between two companies entails a large and expensive IT project,” digital strategist Audi Lucas says. Not with mýa: Because the platform uses already existing IT infrastructure, merely the decision and the formalities of a contract are needed which are enabled by adding a simple digital contract within the system. In addition to the means to safely exchange data, mýa members obtain the possibility to use separate parts of the database as components of their own platforms, such as the asset management database.
Moreover, the collaboration platform has a very useful side-effect: It provides the involved industry sectors with standards for the shared technical data. “Until now, the lack of such comprehensive standards has been a hurdle for data collaborations since it excluded the possibility to compare data on a higher level,” says Atkins. This can only work if the data are standardized and comparable – mýa takes care of this.
mýa allows members to make the most of the data compiled from different devices and systems.
A nonprofit initiative
The idea for this collective sharing platform was originally developed in the digital department of MAN Energy Solutions. The company has committed to the project as its first founding member and was recently joined by Rolls-Royce Power Systems as the second founding partner. Right from the start, the platform was set up as a nonprofit organization, which, according to Atkins, is essential. “Any commercial data sharing platform will always be governed by what the owning company wishes to sell, and not by what customers need,” he states. Whereas, as a nonprofit initiative, mýa is solely led by the needs and interests of its members.
Audi Lucas also views the launch of mýa as a larger signal indicating that companies are more open to cooperation and collaboration. “Manufacturing companies are now starting to recognize that ownership is sometimes not the most important thing when they wish to move forward.” In his opinion, manufacturers in maritime and the energy industries should start looking at digitalization not only from their own perspective, but also from their customer’s. “Instead of increasing the complexity of their proprietary service applications, manufacturers should acknowledge that they’re part of a joint ecosystem and work towards a business driven by data sharing.”
MAN Energy Solutions has been using mýa to feed data to their propriety service platform MAN CEON for two years.
This view is backed up by the substantial interest the mýa platform is attracting. In fact, mýa’s CEO Alan Atkins is currently interacting with a number of manufacturers and operators interested in joining. And the platform has proven itself for some time now. Founding member MAN Energy Solutions has been using mýa to feed data to their propriety service platform “MAN CEON” for two years. And Rolls-Royce Power Systems’ new version of their platform “mtu Go!” includes the mýa platform’s asset database as an integral component instead of an in-house development. The new version based on mýa is scheduled to be released in 2021.
About the author
Santina Russo is a freelance science journalist in Zurich, Switzerland.