RS Components, the number one high-service distributor of
electronics and maintenance products across Europe and Asia Pacific.
As a part of a strategic goal to be the market leader in customer
experience, RS Components needed an IoT platform that would engage
customers and drive sales, right down to the factory floor at
customer sites. The platform needed to be pushing the boundaries of
digital innovation and offer services like Image Recognition and
AI-based natural language product search.
Embed tacit knowledge in accessible technology.
Enable frictionless sales on production sites.
Create edge computing capability within customers plants.
Drive engagement with the wider RS digital ecosystem
Hack & Craft led the process, from Ideation to Rollout and
Continuous Delivery, using a combined hardware and software agile
approach focused on the needs of RS Components.
The ConnectPoint software, built specifically for this project,
includes a unified UX/UI that provides a seamless experience for
Image Recognition and AI product search. Our design & product teams
also created a bespoke plinth design that houses the IoT components
and lightbox needed for Image Recognition.
How we did it
We formed an innovation team with key stakeholders from RS
Components and experts from Hack & Craft. This innovation team took
part through all stages of the iterative development process,
playing a key role in steering the solution for best market fit.
Our project team leveraged their extensive expertise and experience
in providing machine learning and image recognition, including a
bespoke Machine Learning toolkit and automated test harnesses.
Hack & Craft used a unique four phase agile methodology (Discovery,
Development, Roll Out and Continuous Delivery & Support), allowing
incremental refinements based on stakeholder and real-world
The design & product team conducted Discovery sessions to map out
user stories and inform plinth designs, before first creating 2D and
then 3D concepts for feedback.
Our hardware team then produced the 3D Engineering CAD files, bill
of materials and design for the electronic components and wiring
In parallel software teams implemented the user stories and
ConnectPoint app on the custom IoT hardware with a touchscreen based
UX/UI, Image Recognition and AI search.
Hack & Craft delivered a multi-layered software solution, from
hardware programming for device drivers enabling 4G cellular
connectivity to the machine learning and AI models.
Users are able to search the RS catalogue by uploading an image
through a multi-layered image recognition framework that utilises
TensorFlow and ResNet-50 convolutional neural networks. Hack &
Craft’s AI team further augmented this with bespoke colour analyser
and OCR machine learning layers.
The text product search is powered by AI natural language processing
models, which utilise self-learning through continued end user use.
Integration of communication channels include real-time live chat
with Customer Support and a bespoke SMTP email solution that
provides messenger like communication with RS Local Branches.
The plinths support remote diagnostics and debugging with Over The
Air update capability and in-depth analytics providing long-term
insights such as demand indicators and sales-conversion.
The plinths are a clear market differentiator that directly place
the full RS catalogue and communication channels on to the factory
floors of customer sites. Driving both revenue growth and increased
customer retention by facilitating the identification, search and
purchase of products from a central location.
The distributed IoT platform that has been built also creates a
foundation for additional disruptive Industry 4.0 tools and services
that can be rapidly and cost efficiently rolled out.