How to Connect IIoT Devices to Cloud-based Applications

Emerson's Mike Boudreax on IIoT sensors to Microsoft Azure Cloud at CERAWeek 2019There is much talk this week at CERAWeek 2019 about the need to get data from Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors and final control devices “out to the cloud” for collaboration. But how? IIoT technologies provide the opportunity to expand monitoring beyond process control. New insights are now available to other critical equipment – such as control valves, heat exchangers, cooling towers, and more.

At the Microsoft Agora house, Emerson’s director of Connected Services, Mike Boudreaux, shows exactly how data from IIoT-based sensors out to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, through an edge gateway device. Mike showed me various Emerson wireless sensing devices—temperature, pressure, acoustic and a control device, a Fisher control valve with digital valve controller (DVC) connected to a WirelessHART gateway.

Mike explains how Control Valve Condition Monitoring works. Behind rotating equipment, control valves are the next most critical asset type that can benefit from predictive maintenance. The DVC controls the valve and is wired directly to the control system. But it also contains a wealth of diagnostic information which can be transmitted wirelessly to the WirelessHART gateway.

The WirelessHART gateway connects with an edge device, a Dell Edge Gateway in this case, by OPC or Modbus communications. This Edge device runs Microsoft’s IoT Edge software which provides a secure connection to Microsoft Azure cloud services. This very simple, secure path makes the data available to analytics software, such as the IIoT analytics in the Plantweb digital ecosystem to identify patterns or abnormal conditions which may predict impending failures.

Many manufacturers don’t have the expertise to determine the subtleties of control valve diagnostics and that where Connected Services come in. Experts with experience in these diagnostics can monitor, analyze and recommend actions to take with the valves.

Mike notes that this connection of IIoT-based data to the Azure cloud has been implemented with producers in several industries from refining to chemicals. Another great application is upstream oil & gas production. Multiphase flow meters measuring production directly at the well can connect to the IoT Edge device. Also, any wireless devices measuring vibration, pressure relief valves, tank levels and other process parameters can also be connected and sent to the Azure cloud. Simple visualization tools such as Azure Time Series Insights can show trends of the this data over time.

Problems with wells can immediately be detected and recommendations for action formed by production experts no matter where they are located—saving production and planning activities for the support staff in the region.

Whether the data from the IIoT devices is kept onsite or sent securely from the IoT Edge device to the Azure cloud services, it can flow to analytics packages and experts for rapid decision support.

Visit the Connected Services section on Emerson.com for more on the available services and tools to improve safe, reliable, and efficient operations.

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