Hitachi Construction Machinery is about to launch an artificial intelligence-enabled service in China that can predict a failure in more than half of an excavator’s key components.
The ConSite OIL system, which is being offered in conjunction with Chinese tech company Tencent, analyses the excavators’ engine oil and hydraulic fluid. Hitachi says it uses a "unique algorithm" to monitor their condition. If the oil or hydraulic fluid deteriorates, a warning is sent to the operator using a smartphone app.
The service complements remote engine monitoring, which Hitachi has offered to customers since 2014.
Kotaro Hirano, the chief executive of Hitachi Construction Machinery, told the Nikkei Asian Review that the service would begin in China in October.
He commented: "By extending our monitoring to oil, which is the equivalent of blood in the human body, we can now predict malfunctions in more than half of key components."
Construction machinery makes up a large segment of Japan’s manufacturing sector, with total sales of more than $22bn.
Although China offers a rapidly expanding market – up 40% in 2018 – Japanese firms are meeting increasing competition from domestic suppliers, who have been scrambling to increase production capacity.
ConSite OIL is one of the first fruits of Hitachi’s partnership with Tencent, which is aimed at finding uses for internet of things technology. Tencent has been looking to expand its digital service offering beyond the consumer and social media sectors and into industrial applications.
Image: Hitachi’s promotional image for ConSite OIL