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Potain CONNECT: Unleashing the power of data

Director of digital innovation for tower cranes Xavier Claeys takes us behind the scenes of the development of Manitowoc’s new app-based digital platform for the remote monitoring, servicing and management of Potain tower cranes.


Director of digital innovation sounds like an exciting job. What does it involve?

Xavier Claeys
Xavier Claeys

It is indeed exciting! I lead a team of entrepreneurial Potain engineers with the goal of accelerating time to market for new digital solutions. It’s a new role that reflects the digital transformation of our industry and aims to bridge the gap between our traditional engineering expertise and new digital software capabilities. It’s challenging because the type of technology we work with is changing quickly as well as user needs. It is particularly gratifying to offer a digital innovation that meets needs and becomes an essential work tool for everyday activity: when you aim for the right thing, it goes viral!


How did the new Potain CONNECT system come about?

Connectivity is, of course, nothing new. We have had various tools providing remote information on our tower cranes to technicians and customers for about 10 years. But it’s only in the last two to three years that we have seen significant interest from customers in having a single, comprehensive and user-friendly platform for remote monitoring, servicing and crane management. Our customers are facing increasing pressures on cost and limiting environmental impact and are starting to recognize the power of data to improve uptime, efficiency and productivity.


What was the process of designing Potain CONNECT?

Data is not a solution by itself. What matters is how you encapsulate data into a usable echo system for customers. So, we have designed and built Potain CONNECT around the customer and their user experience. We held workshops with customers to identify their pain points and tested prototypes together with them, making adaptations throughout a series of feedback loops. The result is an intuitive interface with the functions customers need to increase uptime and, therefore, productivity, through proactive remote maintenance and simple guided troubleshooting. Customers can also use Potain CONNECT to improve the security and sustainability of their crane, by making adjustments remotely and minimizing travel, and avoiding usage that is not good for the crane and impacts safety. With this new tool, customers are empowered to develop their business based on the information they get from their crane on how it is used.


How did customers respond to the launch of Potain CONNECT at bauma last year?

The launch of Potain CONNECT at bauma 2022 was a huge success. There was a lot of curiosity from our customers, and we had people queuing up to look at the solution on our booth the whole week. I needed a big bottle of water because I was doing so much talking! Around 70% of the new top-slewing and self-erecting cranes we’ve sold since then have included Potain CONNECT, and we have done quite a few retrofits to existing CCS-enabled cranes. That means we now have approximately 700 cranes in the field with Potain CONNECT and the feedback so far has been excellent. Anecdotally, customers say they are already seeing big improvements in their operations.


What is the future for Potain CONNECT?

The capabilities we provide are quite advanced compared to our direct competitors in the tower crane business. But they are pushing in this area too. So, we cannot be complacent, and we will continue to innovate and expand the functionalities to deliver even more value to our customers. Ultimately, cranes have a crucial role and position on construction jobsites, and we see the potential for our cranes to become a sort of control tower for planning, scheduling, and supervising all operations. So Potain CONNECT digital platform could be an enabler to connect and coordinate jobsite information for greater efficiency overall. The possibilities are truly thrilling!


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