The Italian Renaissance… of Manufacturing

December 20 2016

Illustration of WiFi-connected lawn mowers

IMAGINE never having to mow the lawn again. Thanks to Global Garden Products, that’s already possible.

As Europe’s largest lawn and garden machinery company with over 40 product lines and 5 brands, GGP is constantly exploring how they can improve their products and manufacturing processes. “Our priority is developing innovative products including a new generation of battery powered products and robots,” says CEO Georg Metz.

Georg Metz, CEO of GGP
Image from Treviso Today

In order to build self-driving all-weather landscaping machines, engineers at GGP had to improve the design, manufacturing, and operation of their machines’ engines. They’re using Internet-connected sensors and code generated with Temboo to make it happen.

Some Call It The Next Industrial Revolution

Internet-connected sensors and actuators, new sources of data and tools to analyze it, and the proliferation of powerful portable computers and cloud services are all considered key elements of the Industrial Internet of Things. This so-called new industrial revolution results from the dramatic increase of technology’s role in businesses and — whatever you call it (Industrial IoT, Industry 4.0, or nothing in particular) — speaks to the potential of technology to transform the economy yet again.

But if you read the industry reports and white papers, putting it all into practice sounds like an overwhelming task. Really, what business wants to change their proven processes by implementing a total overhaul? Who wants to install thousands of sensors, purchase expensive equipment and software, and undergo months if not years of planning for unproven gains? It sounds like a gamble. And after all, is that really how innovation happens?

Connecting sensors to hardware in Temboo's visual programming interface

Not necessarily. Manufacturing companies don’t need to hire expensive consultants to help them decide among high cost solutions for modernizing their factories. Nor should they sit by and wait for technological shifts to sort themselves out. By focusing on concrete ways to use sensors and Internet-connected hardware to make their existing processes more efficient, companies can reap gains now as they adopt new technology. Companies can be on the cutting edge without bleeding red ink.

How GGP Does IoT

Global Garden Products needed to get from concept to product quickly. They wanted to manufacture better engines — quieter, more reliable, and weather-proof in all conditions — and they couldn’t afford to wait. The key was to find a solution that could launch their efforts immediately and then scale. That’s why they chose Temboo.

When GGP engineer Varna Vallone needed more data about how the company’s engines were performing, she turned to Temboo to create her own customized deep machine monitoring application in a few weeks.

She installed an assortment of sensors inside their machines to track and monitor engine vitals, and used Temboo to generate the embedded application code that sends all the sensor readings to cloud data storage and visualization services in real time. “It’s very exciting to see the graph animate with data very quickly,” says Varna.

Table detailing engine analytics data points used by GGP
Engine Analytics Data Points

Nuts and Bolts and Generated Code

Manufacturers need engineering solutions that aren’t just reliable, but flexible too. Temboo expands the toolset at an engineer’s disposal, providing complete freedom and modularity in application design.

Varna could combine any number of existing cloud services with her own code, so she only needed to build out the parts of her applications that didn’t yet exist. With Temboo providing a unified interface for connecting any cloud service and web application, she didn’t have to spend valuable development time learning the idiosyncrasies of third-party APIs and how to program physical systems to connect to them.

Since Temboo ships on Arduino, Samsung ARTIK, and Texas Instruments LaunchPad hardware development platforms and is also available in 10 different programming languages through SDKs, developers can build solutions for nearly any computing environment. That means Varna was able to incorporate Temboo’s functionality into several different engine monitoring applications using different hardware configurations and web services each time.

Device monitoring, sensor data visualization, and remote control with Temboo Cloud Controls

“It works perfectly!”

— Varna Vallone, Engineer at GGP

With Temboo as an integral part of their software stack, Varna and her team are building additional engine performance optimization and endurance testing applications faster than ever.

Code for posting data to Google Sheets generated on Temboo

With Temboo’s auto-generated code taking care of the details, Varna and her team can focus more of their attention on analyzing all the new data they’re collecting with their applications. Being able to link data loggers, databases, and dashboards together in multiple configurations with Temboo has given Varna and her team flexibility, speed, and control that they couldn’t have achieved with other solutions. They’re getting the information they need right now to build better engines as they’re bringing the Internet of Things into their manufacturing processes. By starting with a concrete problem and solving it with connected sensors, GGP is poised to explore what other benefits IoT can bring.

The Evolution Behind the Revolution

For companies of any size or scale, the Internet of Things is not out of reach. By making changes that can be applied and evaluated today, by focusing on improving efficiencies instead of technology for its own sake, companies like GGP are opening the door to new possibilities for their processes and products. Whether they’re monitoring their production lines, optimizing supply chains, or engineering a robotic lawn mower, Temboo’s production-ready code generation gets engineers up and running faster — for the long haul. Think of each connected object as an opportunity. Thinking big often starts with thinking small — one connected sensor and actuator at a time.

Ready to generate code for your own IoT applications? Sign up for your free 30-day trial today.

Embedding connected sensors in their engines, GGP is manufacturing quieter engines for their next generation of lawn mowers.