The effects of the Internet of Things (IoT) is something we experience in our everyday lives, with the proliferation of smartphones, cars, thermostats, and even smart refrigerators entering our homes. These smart devices provide us with a rich source of sensor data that can be networked, gathered and analysed by software to detect potential issues, allow us to work more productively and save more energy.
A less frequently talked about phenomenon, the Industrial IoT (IIoT), which is the application of the same principles to a wide range of industrial plants and processes.
IIoT has been developing in parallel to the more consumer-focused IoT, and it promises to revolutionise industrial prowess by improving efficiency at manufacturing plants, mining, refineries, off-shore oil platforms and a lot more.
Looking for opportunities to expand their digital offering and expand the application of IoT to industrial environments, plants and factories, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure which aims to change South Africa’s Mining, Food & Beverage, and Waste and Wastewater industries.
“Gathering technical data, tracking equipment and monitoring maintenance activity would help to reduce downtime, process energy use, maintenance costs and time-to-market. This smart IIoT software ultimately serves to make plants more efficient, safer, and more reliable,” says Marc Ramsay, Vice President for the Industry Business Unit, Schneider Electric South Africa.
IIoT technology has continued to develop at a steady rate, and a number of trends are expected to guide these developments for 2018.
Adoption of IIoT has increased significantly, as more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things. The networks have expanded, volumes of data have increased, and more information is at risk, it, therefore, comes as no surprise that the focus on creating applications and data storage solutions capable of providing the necessary security has intensified.
“We understand that robust cybersecurity protection is a must, and Schneider Electric’s solutions apply rigorous policies and methodologies to ensure the protection of critical infrastructure. We also assess risk, implement cyber-specific solutions and maintain onsite defences over time. Cybersecurity solutions are applied from the operations perspective while making sure all appropriate IT policies and requirements are implemented. And this, I think, is what sets Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure apart,” he says.
While early IIoT implementations generally focused on improving asset utilisation through better monitoring and predictive analytics, such as predictive maintenance, many industries are now taking advantage of increased connectivity in order to implement more autonomous systems.
“Our EcoStruxure solutions offer a new level of efficiency and performance, and specific products such as Edge Control allow for remote automation, process automation and machine automation,” added Ramsay.
Maintaining plant equipment can be a daunting and costly task, and creating efficiencies and using predictive maintenance has become a top priority for the future of IIoT. Here, sensors and real-time monitoring could help organisations understand precisely where and when equipment needs to be adjusted or replaced.
“This connected ‘smart’ technology is capable of automatically measuring, monitoring and controlling energy consumption and demands. When automation and energy is coupled with software and analytics; an unprecedented level of operational intelligence is delivered, to make better, more predictive decisions in real time,” he concluded.