Tampere’s Lokomonkatu district is the heart of Finland’s engineering industry. It is here that Finnish industrial machinery company Metso manufactures heavy machinery for the mining sector.
A large door opens at the end of a red-brick factory and a shiny, brand-new show-white Lokotrack rock crusher emerges. Seasoned metalworkers begin test driving it in the factory yard.
The mining industry, rock crushing and related services account for roughly half of Metso’s 2.7 billion-euro annual revenues.
Uninterrupted operations essential
Services represent a growing proportion of Metso’s annual turnover. For Metso’s customers, this means elements such as the my.metso.com, a comprehensive online service launched in 2017 that covers the entire equipment life cycle.
“Up to two-thirds of our revenue comes from the service business,” says Esko Harjama, Metso Director responsible for IT Enterprise Architecture.
Metso’s customer improves productivity by increasing the usage rate of high capital-investment equipment. This means that they use their machinery as much as possible and ensure that the entire production process continues uninterrupted, from extraction to refinement.
If a rock crusher malfunctions during the critical production phase, a production disruption can quickly mean significant financial losses. Real-time monitoring and preventive maintenance of the machinery are methods to prevent unexpected machinery downtime.
“Energy efficiency and minimizing water consumption are another area related to productivity where we have to pay increasing attention,” Harjama noted.
Monitoring the entire equipment life cycle operation is key for preventive maintenance of the machinery as well as for improving energy efficiency of the equipment.
Customized crushers online
Transitioning from an engineering firm to a provider of online services has required Metso to gain a deep understanding of its customers’ needs.
“We have thought about the entire equipment life cycle from the customer’s perspective: the related needs and requirements. This is the basis on which we developed our web services and considered how best to provide customers with an efficient self-service facility.”
Metso began developing the service in spring 2017 and the first users were able to trial it in autumn of the same year. Currently about 150 Metso resellers use the service.
”The spare parts web store is the most-used part of our online service. We also provide complete machines that resellers and soon end-customers can customize in the service according to their needs.”
Automation the only alternative
There are several levels of quality assurance testing in the my.metso.com service: software developers’ tests, tests by the quality assurance team as well as a third level to ensure that the software works as defined from the customer’s perspective.
“From the very beginning we took Qentinel on board as our partner to automate end-user testing. Their Pace tool and service are extremely-well suited to testing online services.”
A large e-commerce service has a broad array of variations because different end users have different rights and views of the web store.
“Prices vary slightly, and orders placed in diverse parts of the world differ from each other. When you go through different order options it creates a huge number of alternatives. Automation is the only option for testing them.”
New features are constantly being added to the service and their compatibility with the entire service needs to be tested.
Metso’s cooperation with Qentinel has meant ongoing software testing and improvements in the productivity of the testing process.
“The number of tests that need to be run is constantly increasing. We have created testing processes to be part of the service so that the test processes can be easily launched whenever new features are added to the service. Qentinel pace is a rapid testing tool that makes cumulative testing easier and more efficient.”