Unlocking the Essential Benefits of the Industrial Internet of Things

The industrial internet-of-things (IIoT) is here to stay. Many heavy industry companies in fields such as engineering, mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing are accelerating their adoption of digital transformation journeys due to recent global events.

The barriers to adopting IIoT technology has also fallen dramatically in the past decade. Historical challenges to implementing IIoT solutions comprised expensive components to add network connectivity, difficulty aggregating data from disparate data streams, and lack of a centralized database or dashboard.

Now businesses can have the opportunity to adapt and maintain operational excellence in volatile times through digital transformation. The current global crisis is accelerating cloud and the usage of data in increasingly sophisticated ways to give visibility and certainty into operations.

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Smarter Data-driven Decisions

Adoption of analytics is one of the greatest drivers of digital transformation, as businesses seek greater data-driven insights. Data acts as a source of truth that helps teams focus on the critical factors that determine business resilience. In addition, there has also been a fundamental shift in mindset. Businesses are acutely aware that they must be resilient by using technologies.

Companies are utilizing IIoT to their advantage to safely link, and collect data from diverse remote assets, channeling information to advanced operational applications, and closing the loop by feeding key business applications. This helps to enable optimization, asset management, enhanced analytics, and modelling/simulation, thereby providing and improving business efficiency.

This has been particularly true for the industrial industry, for instance, where IIoT has had a significant impact in five important areas, as below.

Real-time operational information is utilized to understand what is happening in real-time and enables the condition management of asset and operations lifecycles. For example, a dashboard displaying vibration frequency of a rotating asset such as a turbine during operation provides real-time understanding of the asset’s operational behavior and state.

Historical operational information helps to understand what has happened in the past to create intelligence around operational behavior of assets. Through operational tendencies, display of KPIs and dashboards, abstracted views of operational states can be created.

For example, a graph may be displayed on a dashboard showing the turbine’s past vibration frequency during operation. This can be compared to the real-time vibration frequency, creating intellect on the asset’s long-term operational trends.

Predictive analytics is used for what-if type modeling. Integrating up real-time and historical data enables your team to assess potential results of operational states and behaviors, even accounting for tertiary variables. Deterministic or non-deterministic models can then be applied for open-loop simulation and predictive analytics. For example, you can now estimate how long a piece of equipment can operate before it takes inspection or is called to fail.

Prescriptive analytics clarifies what’s needed to optimize asset and operations lifecycles. Scenario-based guidance is created and delivered via learning elements and closed-loop algorithms to enable your team to calibrate planning and scheduling across the whole enterprise value chain.

For example, utilizing a unified supply chain design, scenario-based calculations can be used to optimize maintenance programs and performance, minimizing impact to your operations.

Enhanced safety can be achieved via combination of connected IoT devices, augmented and virtual reality technologies to offer real time operating processes and key messages to operations personnel, reducing human error for performing specific tasks. Operators are also supplied with information about the location of existing hazards by superimposing them within the operator’s location.

IoT is Rapidly Growing

Industrial organizations will continue to evolve how they handle and present data at the plant level, and those who make sensible decisions to guarantee flexibility and expansibility will unlock unlimited potential in existing and expanding data.

If your organization does not have a strategy in place for digital transformation, the all-important first step is to execute a pilot project. Here are the crucial actions.

Define an operational architecture (OA) — a key to success is think big and start small.

Select a state–of–the–art user interface and data platform — What you select today will undoubtedly evolve over the years: in this case starting today and changing later is infinitely better than waiting for the next generation.

Tackle small projects to show the key requirements — user interface, sharing plant and business data across the enterprise — in real world use cases. Keep in mind it is still early in the fourth industrial revolution and things will change.

Consumer electronics will continue to drive change in human-machine interaction, and vendors will make choices about which technology to embrace and leave behind.

Industrial organizations must work with their vendors to ensure they get technology to help them make the transitions necessary as technology and the workforce continues to change.

Building Resilience from Inside

Covid-19 has drastically curtailed global and local freedom, leaving the global economy to face the possibility of a sharp downturn. This will put businesses under tremendous strain in 2020. To help navigate the challenge, digital transformation can provide the data driven insights needed to adapt and conquer.

IIoT offers organizations a powerful framework for operational continuity. Enabling users of all levels and expertise to access the critical information they need to do their jobs successfully. IIoT devices also empower workforces with the digital services they need, such as equipment utilization, condition management and much more.

IIoT offers innovative ways to monitor and manage objects in the physical world, particularly as enormous streams of data offer companies’ better avenues for decision making.

The outcomes? More uptime, more efficiency and a much more engaged and empowered workforce because of the access they have to a unified stream of insightful intellect, at a time when it has never been important to contextualize data and information that drive actionable insights.

Digital transformation is enabling companies to enhance their capabilities, increase their reach and yields across their asset and operations value chains. The usage of IIoT through real-time online monitoring and analytics has had a profound impact on improving response times to potential issues and minimizing potential damage to the environment, which has ultimately resulted in the avoidance of expensive unscheduled shutdowns, while enhancing profits.

IIoT has made a vast difference to the efficiency of the business and simply put, it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

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