A new fully mobile asset management hub for Wärtsilä customers
Wärtsilä Online, a new web-based customer platform, is a state-of-the-art service that allows users to manage their assets more efficiently. It supersedes Wärtsilä Online Services, which had supported customer installations since 2014.
According to Jyri Kulmala, General Manager of Online Development at Wärtsilä, Wärtsilä Online makes full mobility possible, resulting in notable customer value in terms of smart maintenance management.
“What we want to offer our customers is transparency and accessibility of information regardless of where they are and what kind of device they are using when they are working,” says Kulmala. He adds that as the way people work has changed vastly from the days of desktop computers, easy and instant access tends to be taken for granted today.
Aside from minimising the time spent on manual steps and reducing human error, this revamped 24/7 service provides reports, expert advice, and performance insights on all connected products and services. It also functions as a direct and reliable commerce platform for procuring spare parts used to conduct maintenance services.
As far as real-time collaboration is concerned, Wärtsilä Online makes access to customer support, document sharing, chat, and technical experts possible anytime, anywhere. These benefits are a boon especially to Wärtsilä Online’s younger users, most of whom expect the customer experience in the platforms they access in their private lives to be reflected in those they access in their working lives as well.
Development in the digital era
Kulmala points out that in the digital age everything is accelerated, and the response to this shift must be faster than before. If previously, technology development was viewed as something with a start and an end, resulting in the delivery of ready hardware or software; in this online era products are never really finished. “They are living creatures that must adapt to customer behaviours and needs in order to remain relevant and bring value,” he says.
Demonstrating the continuous development approach that went into Wärtsilä Online’s creation, plans are in place to release the platform twice a year. Each version will introduce new features and functionalities, similar to mobile operating systems updates. “Our customers have very high expectations, and there we have a positive pull. They expect us to develop Wärtsilä Online on a constant basis.”
Fostering innovation and co-creation
It took about one year to develop Wärtsilä Online, and Kulmala says the journey was fundamentally different to how it was done in the past. “We introduced an agile way of working with stakeholders within the company and with customers.”
On the one hand, this cross-functional engagement involved people from different departments, business units and scientific disciplines within Wärtsilä. “In this setup, it became possible to innovate, effect change, and be close to where the action happens,” he continues. “It showed that decision-making doesn’t have to be a hugely complex bureaucratic process.”
On the other hand, Kulmala says that Wärtsilä Online’s development was also a great exercise in co-creating with trusted customers. “With this iterative approach, we discovered what was valuable to the customer not just in terms of technology development but also in terms of service development.” This teamwork aspect came into play when innovating totally new things, and also in doing old things in new ways, or process innovation.
Informed decisions enable positive environmental impacts
From the sustainability point of view, Kulmala says that improving processes simply leads to less waste. “Wärtsilä Online helps customers avoid making mistakes that could otherwise emerge in situations where enough information, transparency of that information, or access to that information is absent,” he underscores.
Through Wärtsilä Online, customers can always be sure that maintenance-related information and insights are accurate and up to date, allowing them to make the most educated and data-driven decisions. "Optimising the maintenance scope and intervals results in environmental benefits", Kulmala continues. “Thanks to better diagnostics and planning, customers can operate equipment without unnecessary interruptions and rework. For example, we can right away carry out all necessary proactive maintenance for a vessel during planned dry-docking.”
Consequently, needed maintenance materials can be maximised and unnecessary travel and logistics can be reduced. “As I see it, both the positive economic outcomes and the environmental ones go hand-in-hand here,” he says.
Data security concerns addressed
As cybersecurity threats become more sophisticated, harder to detect, and potentially more dangerous, Wärtsilä has gone to great lengths to ensure Wärtsilä Online’s data security. “We saw to it that development environments were protected. We also exposed the platform to cybersecurity evaluations and assessments as a parallel process.”
Before going live, Kulmala says that stress tests on the production environments were conducted and that simulated attacks were part of this testing process. “Data security is also about ensuring the availability of the service, because sometimes cybersecurity attacks involve being denied access,” explains Kulmala. Wärtsilä’s cyber services, along with external consultancy partners, took charge of this effort.
Wärtsilä Online is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape. “We can gather data from different pieces of equipment, whether these are installed on board a vessel or in Wärtsilä power plants. Through Wärtsilä Online, customers are able to access different analytics and visualisations that we collect from the equipment with needed data links and receive additional advice on how to optimise maintenance operations,” he affirms. “Users of Wärtsilä Online can trust the platform’s integrity, confidentiality and availability.”