IIoT Gains Traction in 2016
Grant Gerke | December 20, 2016
By Grant Gerke, Contributing Editor
Earlier this year, some industry analysts were lamenting the fact that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was all hype, due to a lack of adoption or a refined, clear business model. Well, 2016 has been a big year for developments and market shake out. The year ended strong, as major players, such as GE, Emerson Process Management, Schneider Electric, and Pioneer Energy, made moves to better define the predictive-intelligence space.
GE (Fairfield, CT, ge.com) acquired Baker and Hughes (Houston), the engineering and construction company for the oil and gas industry, in October and planted a flag in the IIoT space. According to GE, “the company’s oil and gas division will combine its manufacturing and digital platform with Baker Hughes’ oilfield service offerings and technology to create a new Baker Hughes.”
Never known as a big player in oil and gas, this should help GE drive down new-customer acquisition costs and provide exposure for its Predix cloud-based IIoT platform.
Overall, oil infrastructure spending has been flat for a couple of years as companies realize large capital expenditures, such as offshore drilling, are not profitable with low oil prices. The focus has shifted to field efficiencies. In the field, there’s been a slow move away from proprietary control platforms and a focus on modernization in places. Driving this, along with cheaper sensor technology, is more remote monitoring by operation and maintenance teams and expanding technical responsibilities.
Major operational gains have come from companies adding more sensors to valves, pumps, and motors at the field level, along with updates to industrial networking infrastructure.
Remote monitoring services have had a big year in 2016. Schneider Electric’s (Andover, MA, schneider-electric.us) Avantis program, GE’s Predix platform, and Emerson Process Management (St. Louis, emerson.com) are just a few that are exploring how to widen services or create a new business model through cloud-computing analysis.
GE had a nice win recently with a Brazilian steel producer, Gerdau. The company announced a large-scale rollout of GE’s software and services across 11 of its steel plants in Brazil. The producer of long steel will use GE’s SmartSignal, historians, services, and remote monitoring for more than 600 assets.
At a recent conference in India, Jonas Berge, director of applied technology at Emerson provided a little more detail on how they see these manufacturing applications evolving. “Plants don’t want to buy equipment anymore,” stated Berge. They want us to do all the measurement analytics for them and give them an action report. It’s a digital transformation.”
Emerson’s remote-monitoring business model charges customers per asset, according to Berge. “If we monitor stream traps, we charge them per steam trap per month,” said Berge. Same thing would be for a pump or a cooling tower, whatever the case.”
Schneider Electric recently showcased Avantis, its remote-monitoring product that uses predictive-asset-analytics software to provide customers with early warning notification and diagnostic guidance of equipment problems.
New greenfield projects are also getting into the act of remote monitoring, Pioneer Energy, Lakewood, Colorado, an engineering service for the oil and gas industry, introduced the Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) a couple of years ago. This stand-alone unit can fit on a 40-ft. drop-deck trailer at remote shale-well sites and process wet-gas saturated with hydrocarbon vapor.
The unit allows drilling operations to reduce gas flaring and increase revenue by selling these gasses in an aftermarket. But, these units are separate from regular shale drilling and are monitored hundreds of miles away. The company uses mobile technicians to service minor maintenance for multiple sites, but the technicians also can monitor and control the units with mobile devices.
The predictive-intelligence market matured in 2016 and we’ll see more advancements in 2017.
Grant Gerke is a business writer and content marketer in the manufacturing, power, and renewable-energy space. He has 15 years of experience covering industrial and field-automation areas.
The Internet of Things is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology at https://www.efficientplantmag.com/category/iiot