Remote monitoring system helps keep wheels of industry turning
Limerick-based Eastway Remote Monitoring is looking to further overseas expansion
Eastway Remote Monitoring directors Elaine and Bernard Berkery. The company has begun to look at opportunities in Singapore.
High-end manufacturing operations are the target market for Safeguard, an online machine monitoring system developed by Limerick-based Eastway Remote Monitoring. Its system is designed to reduce production downtime by detecting and flagging early glitches that if left unchecked could later have serious ramifications.
Set up in 2015, the company, which designs, contract manufactures and assembles the Safeguard system itself, is very much a family affair. Co-founders Bernard Berkery, and his daughter and son, Elaine and Kevin Berkery, all have engineering backgrounds and threw their combined experience in mechanical and electrical engineering, and product design and development behind the creation of the new product.
“Facilities can’t afford unplanned downtime on critical equipment as it costs them in a number of ways including reduced production output, product wastage, emergency repair costs and late delivery of product to their customers. Safeguard prevents this while also helping to reduce maintenance, labour and inventory costs,” says Elaine Berkery, whose National Technology Park-based company was the overall winner of the Limerick final in the National Enterprise Awards in March.
“Our system uses sensors and a small module which is attached to a machine or machines. It then autonomously collects, monitors and detects early machine failure indicators. The system uses GSM technology to transfer data in real-time to a secure server where it is processed and analysed by our technical support team. This ensures our clients get the best of both worlds: an automated system backed up by human expertise.
“There are other products emerging in the marketplace but we have first-mover advantage with a proven system and an established customer base.”
Elaine Berkery and her father have spent all of their careers in manufacturing and have been providing engineering consultancy services to the sector for the last 15 years. “We had built up a lot of first-hand knowledge of the issues faced by those responsible for keeping machines running and had identified the need for the remote and continuous monitoring of critical assets,” she says. “Kevin’s expertise in product development was key in bringing our product to market and our in-depth knowledge of the realities of industrial maintenance means that our product is keenly focused on clients’ actual needs.”
Eastway Remote Monitoring employs five people and most of its customers are currently based in Ireland. However, the system will work for any large-scale manufacturing operation so the company it is very much looking to overseas markets for growth either by selling directly or through agents.
The company opened an office in Oakland, California, in 2016, and Kevin Berkery is now based there. More recently, it has begun to look at opportunities in Singapore.
“Based on the commercial success of a recent visit we are in the process of setting up a presence there with a local representative and more global expansion will follow in 2019,” Berkery says.
Typical customers for the Safeway system include pharma, food and beverage producers as well as other sectors dependent on rotating mechanical equipment such as airport baggage lines.
Development costs have been in the order of €130,000, between personal investment and bank funding. The company has also received support from the Limerick Local Enterprise Office in the form of a priming grant. Eastway Remote Monitoring will make its money by charging customers per sensor unit and a monthly monitoring fee.
“Our system is all about keeping the customer informed and their plant fully operational by providing very early alerts if a problem is emerging and advising them what needs to be done to fix it,” Berkery says. “The system is web-based and mobile compatible and not tied to any specific software so a customer can log in from anywhere on any device. We very much see our product as helping the global manufacturing industry to embrace Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing.”