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With contributions from Eliza Gkritsi

Amidst a sea of startups on show at TechCrunch Shenzhen 2019, two startups stood out for innovating in a massive industry that has remained unchanged for decades—industrial maintenance. 

Founded in 2016 by two Canadians living in Shenzhen, Skygauge has developed a uniquely stable and precise drone that tilts four rotors to keep the main body stable, even in strong winds. It is equipped with a sensor that attaches to a metal structure, such as an oil rig, and collects corrosion data within a few seconds. 

“Our frame can remain perfectly level, so that we can precisely approach a structure and contact the structure in very specific locations,” Nikita Iliushkin, co-founder and CEO of the startup, told TechNode. 

Thanks to the stability, the Skygauge drone can conduct inspections of large metal structures, like oil and gas facilities, offshore platforms, bridges, and ships. Currently, such checks usually require scaffolding around the structure to make it accessible—a task that can take weeks. Skygauge can not only save businesses time and money but also put workers out of harm’s way, Illiushkin said.

Skygauge sees inspections as only the first application of its stable drone technology.  In the future, the team wants to attach a stable robotic arm for general work, so that the drone can carry out jobs like painting, washing, and coating.

 “The same way robotic arms revolutionized work in factories, our drones will revolutionize work in the skies,” Iliushkin said. 

Also based in Shenzhen, Cassandra has developed an IoT-based predictive maintenance solution. The solution involves attaching magnetic ultrasonic vibration sensors to industrial machinery, and wirelessly feeding data in an artificially intelligent algorithm. Using Cassandra’s system, factory operators can monitor in real-time variables such as temperature, speed, and corrosion on an iPad app.

The AI analyzes the data and provides predictions on the machine’s state and functionality, so that the operators can know when a machine will fail ahead of time. 

“86% of all maintenance is either scheduled unnecessarily or too late [currently],” said Alain Garner, founder and architecture director at Cassandra, a Cogobuy Group company. “Either people are using time-based maintenance, so just throwing away things before they break,” he continued. 

Cassandra’s solution can help businesses save money on unnecessary maintenance or downtime caused by maintenance operations. “We’re in deployment at the moment in pilot stages, and we’re sort of rolling this out further,” Fournier said. 

The predictive maintenance market is expected to grow to $10.7 billion by 2024, according to global research firm MarketsandMarkets.

Shi Jiayi is the Shanghai-based visual reporter helping provide multimedia elements about China’s fast-changing technology and culture. She holds a B.A. in Convergence Journalism from the University...

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.

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