Customer Case Lely:
Lely is a typically Dutch company from Maassluis which specializes in the automation of dairy farming. In 1992 they introduced the prototype of the Lely Astronaut, a machine with which they could milk cows. It was the beginning of an unprecedented quality and productivity improvement in the dairy industry, and dairy farmers see this as the most important invention for dairy farming in the 20th century. Today Lely makes robots, not only to milk cows, but also to feed cows, clean stables and so on, and has grown to become the global market leader in the robotisation of dairy farming. This is of course wonderful, but this growth also brings new challenges. For example: those robots need to do their job in robot un-friendly environments: cow poop is not the best lubricating oil for a robot! Under such circumstances something goes wrong every now and then. That in itself does not have to be a problem if you have organized the after-sales service with a professional dealer network, so that you are always on the doorstep of the farmer within the promised time to solve the problem. But with more than 25,000 robots working for 15,000 customers spread over 60 countries that is quite a challenge, especially if the problem leads to difficult situations in the barn because the cows are not milked in time. If that is the case, the farmer calls for help and Lely needs to respond immediately: the problem needs to be fixed and it need to be fixed now!
From reactive to proactive
Lely therefore had to look for opportunities to respond more quickly to fault reports without increasing their after-sales organisation dramatically. Lely had to think about the real importance of their robots for their customers, which of course is not having the most beautiful robot, or the fastest sweeper. The farmer’s interest is happy cows, because we all know that happy cows give better milk. And you can make cows happy by cleaning the barn, by feeding them fresh food and by having them milked regularly. Lely does not only sell robots, Lely ensures the continuity of the farmer’s primary process: sweeping stalls, feeding cows and milking cows. The question is, how can Lely make use of new digital technology to automate their after-sales services in such a way that they help realize the business objectives of their customers? This is possible if the robots are equipped with sensors, sensors that generate data, data that can be collected and by using ‘Internet of Things’ technology can be transmitted to Lely. By using Big Data analysis Lely can get a clear picture of the circumstances under which certain malfunctions occur and can then start predicting when the next failure might happen. This is what we call ‘predictive maintenance’. In other words: by collecting data continuously and using Big Data analysis we can predict failures that may occur in the immediate future. Based on that information Lely can send out a service technician to a customer to solve a problem before happening and to prevent the farmer from disruption of his primary process.
From product to service
Lely not only manages its service organization better and more efficiently, but prevents failures, thereby guaranteeing the continuity of the primary process of the farmer. This is the story of Lely and how to provide a service that farmers can rely on: Happy Cows!