Don’t add more devices, IIoT is already available

Digitalization, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, M2M (machine to machine), cloud computing/connectivity – if you have not heard some or all of these phrases lately then “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?”  Let’s take a look at some real life IIoT Examples.

Analog signals from your instruments

The instruments in your plant, whether it be a mine, Fast Moving Consumable Goods (FMCG) producing plant, oil or gas refinery or whatever else the case may be, the feedback signals are mostly analog.  That’s been my experience in the South African industrial market.

Those analog signals are all good and well, and provide sufficient information about the process variables you want to measure and control.  The problem is it doesn’t tell you enough about the equipment and the environment it operates in.

Do an audit

Consider doing an audit of the instrumentation in your plant/process.  See how many instruments have some kind of communication capability besides the 4-20 mA (or 0-10V) feedback signal.  This could be any of the following:

  • HART
  • RS485
  • Modbus
  • ProfiBus
  • ProfiNet

There are quite a few more industrial communication protocols that are being used today.  My bet is that most of your instruments have some kind of digital communication capability.  I’d go so far as to say that 80% of instruments that get sold into the market today has this as a standard feature (at least HART).

Industrial Internet Applications

IIoT examples in terms of possible industries it can be applied in, was discussed by Ahmed Mahmoud during a National Instruments presentation – here is slide extracted from this presentation (shared on Slide Share):

Industrial Internet Applications

I guess the point I am trying to make is that in most industries, instrumentation is being used to enable the control system to control process variables in the plant and/or process.  By using the digital data available in modern day instrumentation, the following could be achieved:

  • Reduce the uncertainty about whether or not an instrument is functioning properly.
  • Thus reducing downtime.
  • Improved asset management.
  • Condition monitoring.
  • Predictable planned maintenance.
  • Earlier warning about process or equipment drift.
  • Clearer indication related to an instrument’s calibration.

This would obviously only make sense if the maintenance strategy of your factory allows for this type of data to be analysed and utilized.  There are many IIoT examples.  This post only highlighted how digital information from field devices can help improve your process and maintenance.

This is without increasing the number of instruments in your plant – only smarter use of the available data.

Here are some more IIoT examples:

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