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SKF boosts analytics capabilities with acquisition

Sept. 30, 2021

SKF’s acquisition of Rubico Consulting, a 10-employee firm based in Luleå, Sweden, expands the data capabilities the bearing manufacturer offers for rotating-shaft applications.

Rubico Consulting specializes in visualization and analysis of signal data. This expertise will be integrated into SKF’s offer around the rotating shaft, as well as powering new technology areas such as bearings with fiberoptic sensors.

"Data is nothing without being able to analyze and act on it,” said Victoria Van Camp, chief technology officer at SKF. “We often say that almost anyone can generate data from a machine and many people can analyze it, but very few can actually act on it. That's where SKF comes in and that's why it's so important to have access to the latest in data analysis and visualization technology. By using our algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and years of application-engineering knowledge, we can foresee faults before they occur and help machines perform better. This means better production output, less waste and, more importantly in today's world, fewer people walking around machines, making manual adjustments and costly maintenance."

When this capability is extrapolated, it opens up a whole new world of business models, she explained. “Instead of customers paying individual spot prices for individual components such as bearings, seals and lubrication, you can create a performance-based contract,” said Van Camp. “Customers pay a flat monthly fee based on their total needs, and, when agreed performance improvements are realized, these savings are shared."

Rubico’s expertise in signal processing enhances SKF’s existing technology base, spanning from traditional IoT hardware to the latest in edge computing, explained Van Camp. “The patented edge algorithm developed by Rubico simplifies and automates analysis of machine data and is an enabler for wireless, energy efficient systems,” she said. “We look forward to engaging the Rubico team in the development of SKF’s proprietary fiberoptic-based load sensing, a technology already being piloted in the north of Sweden.”

With its university and focus on sustainable technology investments, Luleå is quickly becoming a hub of industrial innovation within both renewable energy and green steel, added Van Camp. “This is one of the reasons why SKF continues to invest in developing its hub for IoT development in Luleå.”

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