Microsoft has signed a deal with aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce that looks like a textbook demonstration project for the Internet of Things (IoT). Microsoft's cloud-based IoT and analytics platforms will be used to improve efficiency for airlines by diagnosing problems with jet engines.
Information on engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel use will be collected from hundreds of sensors inside the engines, and analysed to detect any operational anomalies or signs of developing faults.
Airlines will be able to use the data to cut fuel use, fly on more efficient routes and ensure they have the right replacement parts in the places they are needed most, Microsoft said.
One of the promises of the IoT is that it will enable new business models, and the new capabilities will become an important part of the Rolls-Royce TotalCare programme, which is based on earning revenue when aircraft fly, rather than when engines are serviced.
It is expected to deliver a one per cent saving on fuel, which may not sound much but could equate to $250,000 per aircraft per year, according to Microsoft, leading to substantial savings for airlines.
Azure IoT Suite has been generally available since September as a collection of services running on Microsoft's Azure platform. It includes the Azure IoT Hub service to connect to devices in the real world and gather data, along with storage and analytics services.
Cortana Intelligence Suite, previously Cortana Analytics, was announced earlier this year as a platform that combines machine learning and analytics with what Microsoft calls "cognitive services" to go beyond analytics alone. This is also delivered from Microsoft's Azure cloud.
"We are excited to bring our Azure platform and suite of digital technology to the aerospace market and support a world leader such as Rolls-Royce," said Çağlayan Arkan, Microsoft's general manager for the manufacturing and resources sector.
"Aircraft engines are hugely valuable assets and we want to help Rolls-Royce ensure they stay flying as much as possible. When we combine our skills with those of Rolls-Royce and its customers we have a powerful solution."
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