If you keep up with news in the world of automation, you’ve likely heard about IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) coming ever closer together due to the potential value of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications. For many manufacturers, this process of coming together brings separate organizations together with different objectives and cultures.
Solutions that bridge this divide can help foster improved collaboration between organizations as well as improve business performance—in safety, reliability, efficiency and/or environmental performance.Earlier this year at ARC Advisory Group’s Industry Forum, ARC’s Craig Resnick interviewed Dell’s Kirsten Billhardt and Emerson’s Mike Boudreaux on how IT and OT technologies can come together more simply and be maintained more easily. In this 6:48 YouTube video they describe a remote monitoring IIoT application and share thoughts on successfully deploying IIoT projects.
Mike describes how wireless instrumentation collects the data from the process for non-control applications such as equipment performance, reliability, energy consumption and environmental performance and pass this information to software running on a Dell Edge gateway.
Kirsten shares some of the concerns she hears from manufacturers around security and what it takes to connect the unconnected to get the data required for business performance improvements. There is great value in bringing analytics back from the data collected by instrumentation to make these improvements happen. Much as security is a focus on enterprise level systems and processes, these same types of technologies and methodologies are used for looking at the path from the sensors to the analytical software and out to the cloud and back.
Edge gateways connect to the WirelessHART gateways to receive the data from the instrumentation and perform local analytics need for process improvements. They also pass along data and analytics to the cloud for further processing and connection with other sources of data for deeper analytics to be performed.
Mike highlights developing a business case as another challenge manufacturers face. It starts with trying to solve a large problem that is not economically justifiable with current technologies. These usually occur outside the control system’s span of control. He notes how Emerson consultants help clients not only with technology but in developing the business case such as project outlays, cash flows and return on investment.
Where capital is scarce for projects, new business models have been developed to fund IIoT technology and connected experts as subscription services from operational budget expenditures. Via these Connected Services, insights and actionable information can be returned to the manufacturer.
Kirsten notes the three top concerns she heard at this Industry Forum: reducing operational costs, increasing the productivity of the assets, and improving safe operations. When IIoT projects focus on one or more of these concerns and a clear business case justifies moving forward, these projects succeed.
Watch the video for more on how these technologies and approaches for successful projects.