Industrial Internet of Things and Electric Utilities Fleet Management

by | Nov 6, 2017 | Industrial IoT, Industry, Power Generation


Electric utilities must carefully manage their fleet of power generation facilities to improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, meet regulatory requirements and operate safely. Enabling Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies provide an opportunity to more effectively manage these fleets than has been possible before.

Jonas Berge accepts Best Paper Award –
Digitalization track at 2017 PowerGen Asia conference

I just found out from Emerson’s Jonas Berge, that his Power Engineering International article, Fleet management and the IIoT, has received the “Best Paper Award 2017” in the Digitalization track at the PowerGen Asia conference.

Let me recap a few of Jonas’ points from the article and invite you to read the rest.

Jonas opens describing how Industrial Internet of Things technologies enable digital transformations at four levels:

…aftermarket services, business model, operations and automation. These four transformations can be implemented from the bottom up, as each one builds on the next.

Power Engineering International: Fleet management and the IIoTHe describes the trend of shifting maintenance activities from internal resources to equipment suppliers in an outcome-focused strategy, which:

…can link maintenance contracts to IIoT-based connected services so the vendor can monitor the equipment continuously while it is running, without disruption. This type of digital transformation is an example of how maintenance can be conducted in the plant more efficiently long after the equipment has been sold.

The supplier of these connected services:

…installs instrumentation on the equipment to be monitored (pumps, cooling towers, relief valves, steam traps etc), making it all ‘connected equipment’. The number and types of sensors used depends on the type of equipment to be monitored and the failure modes of interest. The data from these sensors are sent securely to a cloud-based server where the analytics software runs 24/7.

Also, instead of capital purchases for this sensing equipment and analytics software:

…the plant pays a monthly fee per piece of equipment, which includes the full service: monitoring, reporting, and the associated hardware and software (although the plant must set aside operational budget for these services). The service provider takes responsibility for maintaining the networks and keeping software up-to-date. A service contract can start with simple assets like steam traps and relief valves, then gradually grow to include monitoring of other assets using the same infrastructure.

Security is a critical concern when sending this data out to remote experts. Jonas explains four different approaches: de-militarized zones (DMZs), historians, industrial data diodes and physically private 3G/4G networks separate from the control system and plant networks.

From an improved operations standpoint:

Availability of condition and performance data gives plant personnel the ability to perform tasks through a digital transformation of how daily operations are carried out in the plant. This provides the opportunity to develop new data-driven standard operating procedures (SOP) – which is the whole point of digital transformation. It also means plants must manage a data-driven process of organizational change and inculcate a new mindset of checking the software first before going to the field to inspect or service the equipment.

Read the article for more on how this digital transformation how additional sensors are deployed and how focused, predictive analytics turn the stream of data from these sensing devices into actionable information.

Jonas concludes:

IIoT and on-prem automation helps plants remain competitive by improving their performance in many areas including: reduced outages, extended life of equipment, reduced maintenance costs, improved heat-rate, reduced emissions, reduced HS&E incidents, improved response time and enhanced productivity.

This is achieved through digital transformation of how the plant is run and maintained, using outcome-focused service strategies based on external connected services for equipment condition monitoring and maintenance management, which in turn is based on automatic data collection and analysis, and ultimately on a digital ecosystem.

You can connect and interact with other Industrial Internet of Things experts in the Improve & Modernize and Wireless groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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