Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ericsson and AGA exploit IoT to develop approaches for gas industry

William Payne
December 1, 2015
Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson and Swedish-German gas provider AGA Linde are teaming up to explore ways of providing smarter, digital services to customers.
According to Ericsson, the collaboration is in its early stages but has already yielded a number of innovative ideas.
“It’s a matter of speed,” said Thomas Fuchs, head of industrial segments for AGA in northern Europe. “It’s not acceptable anymore that you go back to your office and develop a new solution that takes a couple of years and then launch it. That time is over. You need to come up with quick solutions and you need a system available that supports that kind of quick development.”
The Ericsson-AGA partnership aims to use an already evolving ecosystem from Ericsson for developing business models in the rapidly changing digital society.
AGA Linde, a joint venture between AGA of Sweden and Germany's Linde Technische Gase, and one of Europe's largest gas suppliers, wanted to see how it could innovate using the internet of things paradigm.
“And we knew we couldn’t do this alone,” said Fuchs. “We can’t build up an ecosystem like this without a strong partner like Ericsson. We needed a platform that already existed and a partner that was willing to understand our business and work with us to see how the internet of things paradigm could be applied to our industry. When you do this, it really requires that you partner up and not just deliver a part of the process but think holistically.”
The partnership has sparked a change in mindset internally at AGA, where staff are starting to see how digitalisation can be applied to their industry as well as the benefits of finding partnerships to fast-track change in their industry and continue to innovate as they always have done.
The cornerstone of the Ericsson-AGA partnership was an ideas competition where a team of Ericsson staff in Hungary analysed AGA’s industry in detail and then came up with a series of ideas that could be applied to benefit AGA’s customers. For AGA, getting that outsider perspective on their business was a real eye-opener.
“One of the absolute highlights was the engagement but also the quality of the ideas delivered by Ericsson’s employees, I didn’t expect that,” said Fuchs, explaining that his industry is often conservative and difficult to understand, particularly since their product is invisible. “I was really surprised to get such good quality work and we got a lot of ideas that we can develop more into the future.”
The winning entry, chosen by a panel from Ericsson and AGA, was for the welding industry, where welders could get instant feedback on the quality of the weld and as to whether the weld was too hot or too cold.
This means welders can not only now get immediate on-the job training but also every welding assignment in the future has the possibility to be certified, proving that a quality standard has been achieved, a pre-requisite for some companies.
”It’s not revolutionary but if we develop this solution then I think the scalability is tremendous,” said Fuchs. “It can have a global reach, meaning that the quantity of gas will be used more efficiently.”