Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.53.06 PMThe Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology at

By Grant Gerke, Contributing Writer | @grantgerke

Technology Brief | Better Monitoring for Pneumatic Machines

May 4, 2017

The spring always provides inspiration to expand our knowledge base and Maintenance Technology delivers another deep dive on the importance of equipment monitoring from a pneumatic Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) perspective. Aventics Corp., the former Bosch Rexroth pneumatics business unit, describes some of the objectives end users should consider with machinery in the IIoT world.

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The Updated Maturity Model from ARC

April 28, 2017

Vibration Machine Learning from the Industrial Internet Consortium

April 25, 2017
machine learning architecture for CNC machines

Figure 1: The elements and the connectivity being utilized to develop and provide updates to the production system.

Some industry analysts aren’t happy with overused buzzwords like “machine learning” or even “deep machine learning” taking the place of “IIoT” in the hype category. I agree these new buzzwords are ubiquitous in many media corners and deep machine learning is mostly found in R&D.

However, a white paper or deep dive is a great way to see what is possible for predictive analytics in the field or factory. A new white paper from the Industrial Internet Consortium, titled, “Making Factories Smarter Through Machine Learning,” offers a great read on how machine learning can allow for better edge analytics, reduce data streams and promote better data fidelity.

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Key Principles in Demystifying IIoT Applications for Maintenance Teams

April 19, 2017
HIROTEC’s SCRUM pilot project began with eight CNC-based machines at the company’s Detroit facility.

HIROTEC’s SCRUM pilot project began with eight CNC-based machines at the company’s Detroit facility.

Lead with reliability is one of the recommendations from Steve Mueller’s recent article title, “From Hype to Adoption: Is Your Maintenance Program Ready for IIoT?” Mueller, dir. of operations for Daniel Penn Associates, says companies with some kind of reliability maintenance approach are in prime position to take advantage of asset-related tools and solutions.

From the article:

Here’s an important concept: the IIoT is not so much about automated factories as it is about delivering the full range of services that the equipment in the factories was designed to provide – consistent high quality output at a predictable rate. The same can be said about Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) in general, and condition-based maintenance (CBM) in particular. In fact, the IIoT is a great way to accelerate the productive impact and the financial return that RCM can deliver.

Another key component to IIoT adoption — or better equipment monitoring — for companies is the Agile project method, also known as the SCRUM method. In my April print column for Maintenance Technology, see here, I document a success story from HIROTEC, a tier-one automotive supplier, and their agile approach with CNC machines in Detroit.

With some companies already steeped in RCM, the move to IIoT strategies could be easier than thought.

Read the Full Article Here >>

Engine OEM Identifies New Business Service

April 14, 2017

160720catlogoDisruption is an overused word in technology, but Joe Barkai’s tagline to his book about IIoT says it all: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing Every Business. For Mak, a supplier of engines to the maritime industry, that means servicing their large engines remotely isn’t some wild science fiction fantasy. It’s a reality for OEMs as end users move toward IIoT strategies.

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Big Data | Merge Control and Maintenance Data for Better Efficiencies

April 7, 2017
The IIoT framework shows how industrial data moves to the cloud for this Agile pilot project.

The IIoT framework shows how industrial data moves to the cloud for this Agile pilot project.

There’s an interesting Q&A post on Big Data, change culture, and control and maintenance data via a recent blog post from ARC’s IIoT Viewpoints site. The discussion includes Vish Avasarala, Co-founder of Saint Software Consultants, and Kenneth Smith, General Manager, Energy at Hortonworks.

There’s an interesting point about industrial manufacturing’s lack of flexibility, in general, and the challenges to change a work culture. I agree with this sentiment, in general, but the Agile project approach may help ignite cloud initiatives with some conservative manufacturers…


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IIoT Offering from ABB and the B&R Acquisition

April 3, 2017

Modernization projects and advancements in asset-management technology are making inroads into traditional industries, such as oil and gas.

Last month I discussed how IIoT devices and strategies are taking shape in the water and wastewater industry with a recent survey predicting a $20 billion investment for meters, data management, and analytics in the next eight years. Smart water is getting a lot of attention and some analysts think new business outcomes — see Joe Barkai podcast — are emerging, such as water municipalities commercializing IP technology.

ABB recently announced a new, digital asset management initiative called Ability and it will aim for the utility and continuous process space, among others. The company emphasized their asset management platform and the analytical power of Microsoft’s Azure platform…


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Podcast | Barto Reveals the Results of a New Reliability Survey

March 24, 2017

Bill Barto, a Senior Reliability Engineer, is a guest on this Asset Reliability @Work Podcast and he talks about a recent survey that touches on many maintenance topics, including predictive maintenance.

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Column | Enabling Predictive Maintenance

March 21, 2017

Intelligent Water Making Strides towards Predictive Analytics

March 16, 2017

EXCEL XR metering pumps are designed for the specific chemical pumping requirements of municipal and industrial water treatment.

Last week, I ran across a Smart Water spending forecast from Bluefield Research and this week there’s an interesting post from Jim Gillespie, co-founder of Gray Matter Systems, a system integrator for cloud solutions and predictive analytics. All signs point to an increased spend in this sector on pump and motor sensors, but where will this investment come from?

According to Gillespie and his post on TechCruch, utilities may be able to sell “solutions” to other wastewater operations like the power industry has done. Gillespie cited how the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has commercialized their intellectual property, giving them a new revenue channel. The water district is commercializing their water ammonia versus nitrate algorithm and selling it other treatment plants, according to Gillespie.

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Opto 22 Becomes a Partner in IBM® Watson IoT™ Partner Ecosystem

March 14, 2017

Smart Water Infrastructure Continues to Grow, but Real Challenges Persist

March 8, 2017

The US (39 projects) and the UK (21 projects) were the most active smart water markets during the last half of 2016. Source: Bluefield Research

By Grant Gerke, Contributing Writer, IIoT

A new report from Bluefield Research suggests that a massive smart infrastructure buildout is coming to the water and wastewater industry in the next eight years, with more than $20 billion to be spent in metering, data management, and analytics.

As devices, sensors and cloud solutions become cheaper over the next ten years, there will be a solid investment in this space but the research rings a little hollow to me. The U.S. industry, in particular, is aging and resources are limited but the big challenge may be in the area of system integrators. In a feature article from a couple years ago, I interviewed Roger Knutson, public works director at the biggest water and wastewater department in Minnesota. For Knutson, the real challenge was in overseeing software and plant monitoring upgrades to multiple plants with his own internal staff. System integrators weren’t in the budget…

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Video | Asset Management Case Study

March 3, 2017

Process Operators and Tools May Bridge the Gap to Predictive Maintenance

Feb 28, 2017

Peter Reynolds, contributing analyst for ARC Advisory Group.

Jim Wentzel, dir of Global Reliability at General Mills has been on the conference circuit recently and has been discussing “contextuality” when it comes to manufacturing data in the food industry. In his discussions, Wentzel discusses General Mills “data journey” as a company — their own plants and contract manufacturing plants outside the enterprise — and is pushing for data transparency throughout the entire enterprise eco-system. That means various types of plant and enterprise data, such as plant floor , instrument, machine vibration, supply chain and even other plants mixed together to make efficient decisions.

That means a lot of business units — and external companies per Wentzel— coming together and possible changes in workforce responsibilities. One scenario would be to have process operators provide key insights on equipment health due to a better working knowledge and lifecycle history of a particular asset.

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Rooted in Reliability Podcast | Managing Performance in Asset Management with Scott Kelley

Feb 20, 2017

Asset management is about technology and work processes providing the right indicators to prevent downtime. However, machine metrics can get lost in a data haze or work processes get circumvented and problems began to take shape. Listen to James Kovacevic and Scott Kelley discuss the tricky proposition of measuring performance and how IIoT solutions can mitigate these examples.

Source: Rooted in Reliability

Silicon Valley Company Joins the Predictive Maintenance Party

Feb 16, 2017
predictive maintenance platform

Source: Element Analytics

Silicon Valley-backed Element Analytics formally announced their industrial software analytics solution, Element Platform, to the market last month. The San Francisco-based Element Analytics is taking aim at the oil and gas, chemical, utility and mining industries while partnering with OSIsoft and Microsoft’s Partner Network.

The platform and the solution is a good fit for those industries, as those fields tend to rely on proprietary automation and equipment platforms that need optimization. Oil and gas, specifically, moved their strategy from offshore to their current installed base to find profitability and most producers are understanding the need for infrastructure improvement.

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How to Start a Predictive Maintenance Program

Feb 8, 2017

IIoT motorsIIoT technology, as shown here is past the early adoption stage, but operations and maintenance (O&M) teams are still wrapping their arms around predictive maintenance programs. A recent interview with ARC Advisory’s Ralph Rio via SAP’s Enterprise Asset Management discusses this very issue and more.

Excerpt below:

Q: So how do people begin moving toward predictive maintenance – how do they get there?

Ralph Rio: The first thing people need to do is to educate themselves to understand what is available from a technology standpoint. People just entering this area are no longer “early adopters” so there is plenty of information out there. Get comfortable with the platforms and the business processes.

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2017 ARC Forum Twitter Thread

Feb 7, 2017

How Prescriptive Maintenance Falls into the Mix

Feb 3, 2017

Big Data Challenge as Train Company Moves to Predictive Maintenance Approach

Feb 2, 2017
Trenitalia, an Italian train company, looks to reduce maintenance costs by 8 percent.

Trenitalia, an Italian train company, looks to reduce maintenance costs by 8 percent.

There’s an interesting blog series on Trenitalia, a state-owned Italian train company, via ARC’s Industrie 4.0 web site that depicts a transition from condition monitoring to a more predictive approach. The company reveals their real-time dashboards, but also discusses their transition to a component-based maintenance approach, which has many parallels to the factory or field space.

The scope is impressive. The new predictive application includes up to 4,000 “rolling stock” assets, with each locomotive collects up to 10,000 parameters per second. According to a news report, sensors will measure variables such as motor temperature, speed, traction, braking effort and line voltage.

From the News report:

Sensor data is aggregated on-board through a remote PC or similar interface and offloaded via a communication gateway, typically via wi-fi when a train arrives at a station or at the maintenance plant…


The Difference between Fog and Edge Computing

Jan 26, 2017

From the Post:
While many use the term ‘fog’ and ‘edge’ interchangeably, there are key differences. Fog computing always uses edge computing, but edge does not always require fog capabilities. Fog is inclusive of cloud, whereas edge is defined by the exclusion of cloud. Fog pools the resources and data sources between devices that reside at the edge in north-south, east-west hierarchies, where edge tends to be limited to a small number of layers. Any device with computing, storage, and network connectivity can be a fog node. Examples include industrial controllers, switches, routers, embedded servers, and video surveillance camera.

White Paper | Digital Prescriptive Maintenance

Jan 25, 2017

170125prescriptiveThe first wave of IIoT industry reports, about two years ago, included big claims and produced a lot of head scratching by manufacturers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) due to the lack of actual applications. Two years later, pilot projects are producing results and next discipline to catch on is prescriptive maintenance.

The best way to describe prescriptive maintenance is “preventive maintenance technology with built-in intelligence, with the ultimate goal to minimize machine downtime…

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Print Preview | 2017 Welcomes Prescriptive Maintenance 1702IIOT_print

Jan 19, 2017

Modernization projects, equipment retrofits and, of course, better sensing is putting a lot of demand on Operations & Maintenance teams. In my upcoming print column for February, I’ll be talking about prescriptive maintenance and how these solutions could become very populare in factories and field applications. Some industry analysts have called it preventive maintenance technology with built-in intelligence.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Prescriptive maintenance is a component of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and this discipline employs machine learning and automated data review to prevent equipment or device failure. Some industry experts call it preventive maintenance with built-in intelligence.

It’s the next bridge for O&M teams to cross as referenced in a recent edition of “On the Floor (OTF)” in Maintenance Technology. The popular, monthly department provides feedback from readers on maintenance topics, and the focus in December was on regrets and hopes. One industry consultant says, “among his clients that the biggest regret seems to be PM/PdM compliance and not doing what they planned to do to prevent breakdowns.”

The consultant adds “that one client increased training and invested in maintenance employees but still hasn’t realized the returns of that investment.”

One reason for the lack of follow-through could be the ability to act on plant-floor data promptly, also known as perishable data in the field or factory floor.

More on Prescriptive Maintenance

National Instruments Continues IIoT Partnership Strategy in 2017

Jan 17, 2017

Back in October 2016, National Instruments announced a partnership with Spark Cognition that provides a more holistic solution to asset management in the industrial machinery space. Now, National Instruments (NI) announces the opening of the new NI Industrial IoT Lab at its Austin headquarters.

According to NI, the IoT Lab will focus on intelligent systems that connect operational technology, information technology and the companies working on these systems. Examples cited include microgrid control and communication, advanced control for manufacturing, and asset monitoring for heavy equipment.

>> Related Content | National Instruments Partners with SparkCognition as IIoT Transformation Matures

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IDC Estimates a CAGR of 15.6% for IoT Spending

Jan 10, 2017

Webinar | Operationalizing Analytics and IT

Jan 9, 2017

In this deep dive webinar on enterprise analytics, titled, “Operationalizing Analytics and IT,” Gahl Berkooz, chief analytics for General Motors Connected Customer Experience Division, locks into a discussion on the different approaches for managing analytical functions. Crucial foundations are now being set, with more than “half of manufacturers are using IIoT sensors and related technology for at least a year now,” according to a 2016 Genpact Study…

Click Here to Watch Video >>

White Paper | ROI and the Connected Enterprise

Jan 3, 2017

170103itcwp2016 is done and internal debates with manufacturers and OEMs point to building business cases for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. IT and OT suppliers are partnering to provide more holistic solutions for manufacturers, but internal metrics have to be in place for these new IIoT initiatives to be successful.

A new white paper from ThingWorx, a PTC company, “Quantifying the Return on Investment (ROI),” provides starting points for manufacturers on what key metrics are needed for measuring these projects. The paper includes three case applications and a deep dive into the business entities within an enterprise, such as assets, engineering. operations, services and sales.

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Video | Predictive Maintenance Demo on Pump Failure

Dec 19, 2016

The theme for 2016 in the industrial manufacturing space was partnerships when it came to the Internet of Things and predictive maintenance. National Instruments was busy in 2016 positioning itself in the oil and gas space with its partnership with Flowserve, PTC and Hewlett Packard.

Click Here to Watch Video >>

Dec 15, 2016

IT Survey Reveals Measurement Is Lacking for Unplanned Downtime

Dec 14, 2016
The Stratus virtualization solution hosts a redundant version of the mining company's maintenance software platform.

The Stratus virtualization solution hosts a redundant version of this mining company’s maintenance software platform.

The usual suspects for unplanned downtime can be equipment or component failures, but tied to that hard critical hardware is plenty of software. With so many applications relying on services or software, server redundancy is another tool to use in the manufacturing world.

A recent study by Stratus Technologies, a provider of continuous availability server solutions, reveals some interesting facts about what is measured by manufacturers. In a survey released on Dec 13, it shows “that 71% of respondents admitted that their company is not tracking downtime with any quantified metric related to its cost to the company. So, a majority of businesses do not know the cost of downtime until an incident occurs.”

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Webinar | Team Leader Toolbox Webinar. Thriving in Your First Leadership Role

Dec 6, 2016

“When you see a chance/take it” ~Steve Winwood.


IIoT applications are causing operations and maintenance (O&M) teams to embrace expanded roles. More projects will mean new challenges for some manufacturing professionals and continuous improvement with leadership skills couldn’t hurt. In an upcoming webinar, Claudio Insaurralde, an an IEEE chair with more than 10 years of experience in maintenance and reliability engineering, will discuss leadership approaches in the engineering space. It’s free and arrives on Dec. 15th. Claudio’s profile includes management and project management in a wide variety of sectors such as Aviation, Defense, Automotive and manufacturing industries.

Will Legacy Turbine Owners Embrace New Monitoring Platforms?

Nov 29, 2016

16ARCadvisoryARC Advisory Group recently released a new market research study on smart control and monitoring solutions for legacy turbines, and, surprise, there’s “low-hanging” fruit for companies. Slight kidding aside, turbines have been around for some time and so have their legacy control platforms — mostly proprietary.

The research study from ARC suggests that power plants and self-powered factories could keep their turbines but upgrade their control (and monitoring) platforms solutions to achieve better uptime. As an industry analyst recently said to me, “It’s hard to calculate an ROI for turbine projects, but a legacy control system will eventually fail and, due to missing spare parts, cause extended downtime.

Click Here to Read Full Post & Report >>

Data Optimization Trend Continues for Oil and Gas

Nov. 23, 2016

oil and gas platformThe oil and gas industry’s outlook for 2017 looks similar to what it was at the start of 2016, optimize current drilling operations. In a recent press release, General Electric announced a partnership with Maersk Drilling around a marine predictive intelligence pilot project that will target drilling operations.

GE says it will “collaborate on this data-analytic pilot project with the objective to increase Maersk’s drilling vessels productivity and reduce maintenance costs by up to 20 percent.” The project will last 12 months and will use GE’s SeaStream Insight platform — via Predix — to perform “marine asset management.”

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IIoT Journey for an Automotive Tier One Supplier

Nov. 22, 2016
The IIoT framework shows how industrial data moves to the cloud for this Agile pilot project.

The IIoT framework shows how industrial data moves to the cloud for this Agile pilot project.

Recently, Hirotec America kicked off a pilot project to test a possible new operations and maintenance strategy for its plant floor assets in 26 facilities across nine countries. The challenge for Hirotec, an automotive Tier One supplier, is to act on a vast array of industrial data from a diverse set of machines on the plant floor.

The company selected PTC’s Kepware KEPServerEX software solution and the ThingWorx Platform to provide an integrated cloud-based solution for the pilot plant in Detroit. At its core, the software server solution allows industrial data to move to the cloud-based platform and provide plant visibility in a much more targeted way.

The interesting aspect to this pilot was…

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GE’s IIoT Buying Spree

Nov 16, 2016

Everybody is talking about new business models with IIoT and one for 2017 will be R&D services, such as refining machine algorithms. This is possibly what GE has on its mind with the purchase of

Partnerships Emerge as Manufacturers Eye IIoT Strategies

Nov 8, 2016

Click above to view this one-hour presentation that discusses how to use Kepware’s device connectivity platform with the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 for industrial automation and IoT.

Our Maintenance Technology IIoT column — in print and online — is all about providing insights on better manufacturing practices, which are coming fast and furious, to help you do your job better. Or, provide examples of new pilot programs that provide some context to many new operational approaches.

In 2016, there’s also been a shift towards partnerships with industrial automation companies, software firms and IT companies, striving for more visibility into plant equipment. A recent partnership, announced in late October, between National Instruments and SparkCognition…

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Systematic Approach with Augmented Reality Headsets for Operations and Mainteance Teams?

Nov. 1, 2016

National Instruments Partners with SparkCognition as IIoT Transformation Matures

Oct 28, 2016

logo_ni-01As the IIoT transformation in manufacturing matures, more partnerships are developing and this week Austin, Tex.-based National Instruments (, NI) and IBM announced an agreement with SparkCognition. The goal of the collaboration, according to NI, “is to deliver an unprecedented level of interoperability among operational technology and informational technology as organizations search for better methods to manage and extend the life of aging assets in heavy machinery, power generation, process manufacturing and a variety of other industrial sectors.”

“We are excited that our platform can acquire the data and extract the features to drive SparkCognition analytics for IIoT solutions,” says Jamie Smith, director of embedded systems at NI. “Combined with existing technologies in the testbed, the addition of SparkCognition presents new ways to help automate the process of turning sensor data into business insight.”

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Fastest Growing Profession in the U.S.? Maintenance Tech in the Wind Industry

Oct 25, 2016
wind power maintenance techs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the operations & maintenance tech title is estimated to be the fastest growing profession in the U.S. in the next decade. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Energy production in the U.S and the world, for that matter, is drastically changing. Aging coal plants are being phased out and renewable energy is making big strides in the U.S. In 2016, 75 percent of all new energy being added to the grid is from solar and wind technologies.

With this new type of energy coming to the grid, investment will reach $32 billion dollars this year for upgrades to the distribution grid.

Recently, Atlantic Magazine produced a profile of a wind turbine operation and maintenance technician in Colorado. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job title is estimated to be the fastest growing profession in the U.S. in the next decade.

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Asset Management Options for Legacy Installed Bases

Oct 20, 2016
FDM Plant Area View helps focus attention on problem areas.

FDM Plant Area View helps focus attention on problem areas.

A recent asset management study, from Genpact Research Institute, reveals that management is ready devote more resources in conjunction with Industrial Internet of Things advances. However, “only 25 percent of those surveyed believe they have a clear IIoT strategy and, of those, only 24 percent are happy with its execution.”

With so many legacy manufacturing plants and maintenance techs looking at options, some older installed bases have a limited approach in presenting instrument data to operators. Industrial networks, such as Fieldbus, are the de-facto standard for many legacy process applications and they’re not going anywhere.

However, smart field data is a real desire for lean operations and maintenance (O&M) teams.

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Webinar | Legacy Plants Embracing Data Acquisition Strategies

Oct 18, 2016

Three well-maintained self-primer pumps located at a water treatment plant in Ohio. Photo: Summit Pump Inc.

As the Industrial Internet of Things dialogue has evolved this year, legacy plants and better data acquisition strategies have been part of the conversation. The fear of rip-and-replace has been replaced by data acquisition actions with quick return-on-investment in some cases.

This on-demand webinar from LNS Research and Panoramic Power show what’s driving connected assets and, more importantly, how to capture legacy asset data.

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In 2016, IIoT Discussion Pivots to Business Cases

Oct 13, 2016

Grant Gerke, IIoT Special Projects Editor for Maintenance Technology Magazine.

As we start to discuss 2017 and possible developments, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) discussion in 2016 has moved from pilot projects to the much larger beast of business cases and, to some degree, Return-on-Investment (ROI).

Successful internal and external pilot projects have appeared in many business journals, paving the way for business case discussion this summer and in the conference season. Joe Barkai goes further, to some degree, with business cases and defines as “enterprises and businesses moving to an ‘outcome economy,’ in which companies will “create value not just by selling products and services (using IIoT)…

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IIoT Reliability Reads | Weekend Edition

Oct 7, 2016

Conference season is in full swing and Industrial Internet of Things pilot applications are being discussed in many different halls and conferences this Fall. Below is a list of recent IIoT Reliability reads. What are you reading?

  1. IIoT-Enabled Solutions Empower Compressor Monitoring and Controls for the Better
    (ARC Advisory Group) ARC has released a new report on compressor monitoring IIoT Solutions and this short article discusses some of the applications that can be adopted…Read List Here >>

IoT, Building Automation Driving Facilities Maintenance Complexity

Oct 5, 2016

GE Releases Inventory Tool Based on Predix

Sept. 29, 2016

Today’s boiler technology is efficient, but letting maintenance ‘slide,’ as in the old days, is no longer an option.

This week, GE announced the availability of its WIP Manager, a manufacturing system that uses the Predix operating system — cloud-based — to provide better visibility into work orders.

The WIP Manager is in competition with traditional Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) in the maintenance space and offers the ability to integrate into a company’s business enterprise system for better inventory tracking.

According to the press release, the system can “track production and service processes through work orders, which are created in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and an operational route through the shop floor. This is all done from the customer’s manufacturing execution system (MES)…”

Read Full Story Here >>

Nordex Turns to Drones for Wind Turbine Hybrid Maintenance Approach

Sept. 27, 2016

Two wind turbines at work over the Harbec facility in Ontario, NY, help the operation provide 80% of its power needs.

A big trend in the manufacturing space for the last twenty years has been Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) 3rd party services, such as remote oil and gas exploration, equipment monitoring and more.

Now, you can add drone monitoring of wind turbine blades to the list.

The wind turbine manufacturer, Nordex Group, created a partnership with Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) last week to start offering unmanned aircraft…

Read More Here>>


Steel Producer Adopts GE’s SmartSignal for Predictive Maintenance Boost

Sept. 20, 2016

The emphasis on carbon footprint and how equipment is designed, operated, and disposed/recycled have moved operations from the cradle-to-grave-style approach of the past to today’s more environmentally sensitive and efficient C2C asset-management approach.

After a successful predictive analytics initiative, Gerdau, a Brazilian steel manufacturer, announces 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.

The remote monitoring will be done by the GE’s Industrial Performance and Reliability Center, based in Illinois.

“Gerdau is incorporating greater agility and autonomy in operational decisions via digitization. We are focused on creating…

Read More Here>>

Quick Return-on-Investment for IIoT Pilot Projects

Sept. 16, 2016
This slide depicts the infrastructure needed for one of the case studies.(Source: Mitsubishi Electric)

This slide depicts the infrastructure needed for one of the case studies.(Source: Mitsubishi Electric)

As I’m putting together the upcoming Industrial Internet of Things column for October, it’s hard to deny the return-on-investment (ROI) numbers being released at industry conferences and user conferences. At a recent ARC Advisory conference in India, three new applications — from Mitsubishi and Schaeffler — demonstrated the robust ROI for three different industry examples: Continuous Process, hybrid and a discrete production line.

Read More Here>>

New IIoT Survey Reveals Management’s Readiness for Deployment

Sept 15, 2016

Ludeca_RS5-SensorsA recent study from Genpact Research Institute (via Data Informed) reveals that funding for IIoT manufacturing initiatives is well underway and that by the end of 2016, two-thirds of manufacturers expect to use connected technology. What’s more interesting is that half of the manufacturers in the survey said, “they are using IIoT sensors…

Read More Here >>

Survey Reveals Not enough useful and credible information about IoT

Sept 9, 2016

Operations and Maintenance Teams and Enabling IIoT Technology

Sept 6, 2016

16ARCadvisoryAdding more sensors or “things” to applications or processes begs the question: Who’s responsibility is it to analyze these data points within the enterprise? This is the IT/OT convergence debate happening in certain manufacturing circles.

From a recent blog post at Paula Hollywood’s outpost at the ARC Advisory Group’s IoT site, she writes:

If engineering has primary responsibility for asset-related data, it should also be included to provide a single model of automation and operations management. In order to gain maximum benefit from…

Read More Here >>


Hit the Ground Running, Early Adopters Experience with the IoT [Reg Reqd]

Aug 30, 2016


August Column | Big Cranes and Digital Vineyards from Joe Barkai

Aug 25, 2016

1608barkai003I talked to Joe Barkai, venerable industrial analyst, on his new book and the possible outcomes of the coming IIoT transformation. His new book is called, “The Outcome Economy | How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing Every Business,” and Barkai posits that OEMs and manufacturers need to think differently in developing products and services.

As shown on this page, IIoT pilot projects are showing how manufacturers and OEMs are thinking different; picking up on the 3rd party services trend from the early aughts. Great interview and gauge on where the industry is moving, see below:

Barkai: But I was surprised, not by their aspirations but about the optimism that these companies have in regard to the ability to implement those systems in a fashion that is kind of sufficiently robust, scalable, and economic.

However, many companies are really not aware of the difficulty of taking some of these concepts. That’s not to say there are no solid examples, Siemens, AG, and the Renfe high-speed rail in Spain is one example that I cite in the book. There are a lot of interesting and economically relevant implementations, but people I think underestimate the effort that it takes to create that level of predictive models and systems.

Read Column Here >>

>> For the entire podcast interview, visit

Video Demo | Optimizing Spare Part Requirements

August 22, 2016

xemersonEmerson Electric, Inc. made news last week with its announcement of its acquisition of Pentair Plc and their valves and control business for $3.15 billion in cash. The company is selling other non-core businesses and is focusing squarely on the future of industrial equipment and Industrial Internet of Things.

Below is a video demo of Emerson’s CSI 6500 ATG mobile machine health solution…

Watch Video Here >>

Video | Operations and Maintenance Budget Isn’t Increasing, Sound Familiar?

Aug 16, 2016

16ARCadvisoryLet me know if you have heard something like this: “Our key challenge is transmission assets at AEP that are growing pretty rapidly and the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) budget isn’t. So, you have to figure out how to stretch those maintenance dollars over more and more assets.”

This comes from Jeff Fleeman, vp at BOLD Transmission LLC at the last ARC Advisory event, providing details about their move to a predictive maintenance approach. BOLD Transmission is a subsidiary of AEP, a power provider with numerous transmission assets in the U.S. — 3,500 substations.

Click here to watch the Video >>

Podcast | How to Create a New Business Model via IIoT

Aug 10, 2016

Joe Barkai, Industry Consultant & Author.

Joe Barkai, an industry consultant and former VP of research at IDC, provides glimpses into current Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) trends with his new book called, “The Outcome Economy, How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing Every Business.” Barkai feels that IIoT offers the opportunity for manufacturers to “create value, not just by selling products and services (via IIoT), but by delivering complete solutions that produce meaningful ‘quantifiable business outcomes’ for customers.”

Listen to the Interview Here >>

White Paper | Applying the Industrial Internet Reference Model to a Smart Grid Testbed

Aug 8, 2016

The Industrial Internet Consortium releases a white paper on microgrids, which is geting a second look these days due to energy storage developments and opportunities to reduce emissions. This white paper includes Cisco, National Instruments, and RTI.

Primer | Predictive Maintenance Leveraging IIoT

Aug 3, 2016


There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the sizable investment needed to implement IIoT and predictive maintenance approaches for enterprises after successful pilot projects. Sometimes success doesn’t mean implemenation.

As Joe Barkai, former vp of research at IDC says in our upcoming podcast interview (coming next week):

“From the research and my many conversations, the return-on-investment (ROI) model perhaps more importantly, is one of the top three reasons for hesitation or for not taking on IIoT; not moving from proof of concept to implementation.”

Read More Here >>

Empowered Maintenance Techs, IIoT and Virtualization

July 28, 2016

160728fieldworkMy first B2B media job primarily covered factory applications, namely packaging automation factories in the early aughts, and it showed me a range of sophistication in the discrete space. I witnessed a high-end dairy beverage producer and its in-line molding and filling machines — Krones Inc. — or smaller just-in-time operations, such as bag filling machines.

However, process automation has become a big part of my editorial coverage and I recently wrote about how oil and gas companies are using more automation in the field to reduce maintenance operations — Remote Processing Helps Shale Producers Find Profits. This article uncovers a new remote monitoring and control solution for capturing flare gas and reselling it.

Read More Here >>

Real Disruption for Utilities

July 25, 2016
Cognizant research indicated that 58 percent of utilities are interested in seeking out a new mechanism that will give them a heads-up about when equipment is on the verge of failure.

Cognizant research indicated that 58 percent of utilities are interested in seeking out a new mechanism that will give them a heads-up about when equipment is on the verge of failure.

The fat is in the fire as utilities begin to manage the real challenges of renewable energy sources and their impact on an aging U.S. grid, namely photovoltaic solar and wind. Plus, new energy storage solutions — say goodbye to peeker power plants — are on the cusp for utilities and most executives would like a predictive maintenance approach to handle these new energy sources. Older equipment and utility systems face real disruption (literally) and new survey from Accenture (by way of Smartware Group Inc. blog post) reveals very real concerns:

In a field so dependent on uptime, every second counts in responding to problems. Having advanced and detailed maintenance plans in place, ones tailored to the hardware and situations present in a particular facility, can help operators stay ahead of the issues expected to haunt them this year and beyond.

A recent Accenture study found what utilities operators are worried about in the years ahead. As it happens, officials are concerned that the introduction of radical new power generation techniques – renewable sources such as photovoltaics – will lead to an increase in grid faults. Indeed, 56 percent of executives polled stated that this change will increase grid faults by 2020. The power grid as it has existed for decades is on the cusp of evolving, and this has increased concerns.

Legacy equipment upgrades are coming, will utilities wait for more mature IIoT networking solutions to emerge or attack it immediately? Probably a little of both.

Read Blog Post Here >>

White Paper | The Convergence of Big Data, Analytics, and Intelligent Systems in Oil & Gas

July 21, 2016

Many IIoT Flavors Being Tested

July 20, 2016

160720catlogoI recently interviewed former VP of research at IDC, Joe Barkai, about his new book, “The Outcome Economy: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Changing Every Business.” In our chat — which will appear on our IIoT page very soon — Barkai made a point about the very real transformative effect of IIoT on manufacturing but he worries about the hype.

As we discussed older equipment and the challenges in adding sensors, Barkai said:

But in many industries we need to be much more realistic and again, this is where some of those British headlines trouble me from time to time. By 2020, we’ll have five trillion devices connected and I’m looking at this, what does this number mean? First off, nobody knows. Secondly, what do you mean – all devices, all five trillion devices will be connected to each other?

Yesterday, a UK article from appeared in my news feed and the hype alert went off — such as ‘the revolution that will…

Read More Here >>


All things IIoT | Weekend Reads

July 16, 2016

Lord Dryson, CEO of Drayson Technologies

Here’s roundup of interesting reads over the last couple of days:

GE and Microsoft team on IoT platform | CIO
This quote nails it:

“If we don’t start becoming and behaving like a true software company we don’t have a future,” said Abhi Kunte, GE’s digital global head of technology strategic alliances, who led the partnership agreement with Microsoft.

How energy harvesting is powering the IoT | Lord Drayson, ceo of Drayson Technologies
An interesting examination of how RF signals could be instrumental in producting energy for sensors and hardware in IIoT applications.

Competitors in Japan Collaborate to Develop New IIoT Platform Testbed | ARC Advisory Group

Interesting collaboration brings together competitors and has Intel in charge of industrial gateways, really?


White Paper | Should IIoT Be Built Top-Down or Ground-Up?

July 11, 2016

There’s been a lot of discussions lately on how Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) should be structured for success with the Industrial Internet of Things. Should it be a top-down approach coming from IT or a bottom-up operational perspective to add more monitoring and enterprise visibility.

However, Inductive Automation’s white paper on the OT/IT topic points out that a nimble plant monitoring platform can be a key enabler for larger enterprises (below):

Unlike most SCADA solutions, the ideal IIoT platform must exhibit extreme agility and flexibility — no proprietary solutions, no locked data, and no unneeded frustrations. The ideal IIoT platform must be able to adapt quickly to a wide range of industries and applications without hindering current enterprise infrastructures. Furthermore, it should be capable of making changes without interrupting current processes and workflow.


July 7, 2016

Getting Granular with IIoT applications for Motors

June 30, 2016

16ARCadvisoryABB made a big splash at 2016 Hannover Fair with this motors sensing platform announcement and GE Predix platform is coming this summer. So, which motors rise to the pyramid and deserve to be IIoT worthy? How critical are certain motors on the plant and in the enterprise? Mark Meza over at ARC Advisory Group is tackling this topic to differentiate the “wheat from the chaff.”

Mark Meza, ARC Advisory Group:
How about a $450,000, 5 megawatt (MW) motor used to pump coolant water to rods inside a nuclear reactor? The form factor issue and the valuation of a motor as a critical asset are two significant factors in determining which motors are deemed worthy for IIoT enablement. It can be reasonably assumed that the IIoT party for motors will most likely be an “invite only” event where a significant number of motors will be left out of the festivities for a variety of reasons.

Read the Entire Column Here >>

Harley-Davidson’s IIoT Retrofit for Predictive Maintenance

June 28, 2016

160728harleydavidHarley-Davidson has enjoyed a resurgence over the last 20+ years and one of the reasons has been high quality, motorbike production. A recent Wall Stree Journal article provided an interesting overview on how companies are moving to predictive maintenance — Industrial Internet of Things — but have relatively new equipment in the factory. In the article, Mike Fisher, gm at Harley-Davidson’s York, PA manufacturing plant said replacing new machinery with smart technology…

Read More Here >>

June 24, 2016

Column | Finding IIoT Waves this Summer

June 23, 2016

Are smaller IIoT applications the “next wave” for end users? This month’s IIoT column discusses this issue and a nifty product introduction from ABB that adds a sensing device to provide condition monitoring data to the cloud. In that same column, I reference my podcast interview with Ralph Rio, at ARC Advisory Group on all things Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The June column also includes how machine design upgrades leverage data analytics for maintenance techs.

Read More Here >>

White Paper | Creating an Industrial Internet Architecture

June 20, 2016

160620IIS001Interoperability has been the “mantra” in manufacturing for some time, but many legacy plants aren’t there yet. IIoT depends on interoperability and that’s why a reference paper on industrial architecture can be a valuable asset in researching manufacturing strategies for your plant or process. The Industrial Internet Consortium recently released…


LNS Research | End Users Ready to Trust Edge an Analytic Architecture?

June 14, 2016

Right now, end users see a big leap to implement an edge analytics strategy. But, the gulf doesn’t seem insurmountable looking at the chart below, click to enlarge

Operational Approach | Integrating In-House Maintenance with 3rd Party Services

June 13, 2016

160517rioprofileExcellent post from Ralph Rio at ARC Advisory Group on how to integrate a 3rd party maintenance model with your existing staff or completely rely on technicians. The bottom line, according to ARC Advisory Group, for the adoption of IIoT practices by manufacturers is to reduce downtime and mean time to repair (MTTR). The chart on “two-pass” — click here — repairs speak for itself but this is a salient detail, below.

Now, with remote asset health monitoring using IIoT and well-crafted analytics, OEM’s can obtain advance warning of a failure and provide services for near-zero unplanned downtime. The OEM has an intimate understanding of the operating performance of the equipment it designed and built, enabling it to develop algorithms for successful early detection of issues – sometimes up to six months prior to failures.

Read More Here >>

June 10, 2016

Chemical | Remote IIoT Application with a Twist

June 7, 2016


This IIoT turnkey service solution works outside of the plant's control system. (Source: Emerson Process Management)

This IIoT turnkey service solution works outside of the plant’s control system. (Source: Emerson Process Management)

In general, oil and gas companies are beginning to open up about its use of more sensing and move to cloud solutions in the U.S. This dispatch from Bob Gill at ARC Advisory Group discusses chemical case application from Denka that relies on a 3rd party turnkey monitoring solution for the company’s steam traps.

This asset management success story employs a IIoT system that’s completely outside of the plant’s control architecture. The twist, if you will.

More context from ARC:

As in most process facilities, Denka’s approach to monitoring of steam traps at its Styrenic Resins Plant was previously very manual, based largely on an annual inspection by a contractor…

More about this IIoT Process Solution >>

White Paper | Pump Monitoring and What’s New with API Standard 682

June 3, 2016

160603ep_transmitterThis white paper from Emerson Process Management, released in July 2015, delves into the ramifications of the API 682 standard for pump sealing systems in the oil and gas and chemical industries. The standard provides new roadmaps for operations and maintenance (O&P) teams on how to move towards continuous monitoring of pump systems.

This paper examines asset management strategies, along with IIoT foundation solutions.

Read More Here >>

Video | Legacy Equipment Adopts IIoT Solution

May 31, 2016

Last week’s legacy equipment post discussed recent big picture thoughts on IIoT. But, how does legacy equipment and older communication architectures begin to implement IIoT strategies? U.S-based manufacturer Maclean-Fogg took the plunge recently and relied on Kepware’s KEPServerEX 5.19 OPC-based solution to automate their data collection for its shop floor machines.

Watch Video Here >>


 The Great Plains Synfuels Plant, a commercial-scale coal gasification complex near Beulah, ND, produces pipeline-quality synthetic natural gas and related products.

IIoT Plant Architectures, a Bridge to Cross

May 25, 2016

There’s been a lot of IIoT discussion lately with conference season heating up and topics have included legacy equipment integration and network architectures, such as edge devices. With service pilot projects firmly established for remote monitoring in oil and power plant applications, what about actual plant strategies?

Read the Full Post Here >>

May 23, 2016

What a difference a year makes with the understanding of what IIoT solutions can do:


Reports | Hiring a hybridized workforce & Operational Efficiency

May 20, 2016

As mentioned in my podcast interview with Ralph Rio, IIoT solutions are readily available but how do end users create a long-term strategy to move towards better operational efficiencies. Management is under the gun to start thinking bigger, but industry surveys and reports help in making these first steps. This MSP Mentor article, below, on the changes coming to the workforce are spot-on but so is the section on “comprehensive strategy:”

There’s an intriguing problem identified in this survey-based research. The impact of and need for an Industrial Internet of Things strategy is objectified as a “What.” “It” is something that companies must “have.” The real issues are “How” and “Who” and “Why.”

And, the image above shows the challenge with the internet of Things: ownership. It travels across the entire enterprise.

Click here for the GE Industrial Internet Report >>

Click here for the 2015 SAP/Intel/Forrester Report >>

Read the MSP Mentor Article Here >>


Podcast | Which Industries are Ripe for IIoT Adoption?


May 17, 2016

This week we have a podcast interview with Ralph Rio, vp at ARC Advisory Group and maintenance expert. Rio ran a maintenance department earlier in his career and has covered IIoT technology for some time in the manufacturing and OEM space. The 12 min. podcast includes drivers, industry adoption and why some end users aren’t ready to fully implement IIoT solutions.

Here’s a sample:

Ralph Rio: Recently I wrote a case story about a company with 50 oil rigs, and part of the process of extracting oil and gas out of the ground involves cleaning the gas so it can be sold. This cleaning of the gas involves a compressor. What happens is the hydrocarbons in the dirty gas will accumulate on the compressor blades and eventually cause an unplanned failure. In the case of BHP Billiton, they implemented an IOT solution that involved extracting data from the sensors on the compressor, putting it into a cloud applications, applying some analytics on top of that, and then they could use that to predict failure, they could predict it out as much as six months.

Listen to the Podcast Here >>


Cisco Report | Cyber Security Insights for IIoT

May 13, 2016

With many IIoT pilot projects moving forward in the energy and oil and gas verticals, end users are encountering the fast-moving world of cyber security policies. Cisco just released a new survey on cyber security policies and the state of the industry. One interesting takeaway from the report is how the lack of “strong cybersecurity policy” can prevent innovation and growth. 71 percent of executives said that concerns over cybersecurity are impeding innovation in their organizations.

>>See the link below to download the report.

OEM Case Studies Show IIoT Adoption

May 11, 2016
The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed Southern’s centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed Southern’s centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

Next week, I will be uploading my podcast with maintenance and IIoT expert, Ralph Rio from ARC Advisory Group, on the evolution of IIoT for manufacturers. Rio provided an extended overview on “the” main driver of the Industrial Internet of Things, namely Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Rio says large OEMs have been providing health monitoring services to manufacturers for some time now. In my April print column for Maintenance Technology, I highlighted Southern Company’s pilot project to move to a 3rd party health monitoring for its transformers at more than 3,700 substations.

Southern Company began to add sensors and monitoring capabilities to make a future business case for a centralized program. Southern Company uses the eDNA data historian and PRiSM modeling from Schneider Electric for its transformers.

One example of success in the recent pilot program alerted a maintenance engineer to capacitor issues with a particular transformer. The eDNA trend tool and PRiSM modeling allowed centralized monitoring teams to identify a rate-of-change alert and allow maintenance to be performed before a peak period could cause downtime.

Expensive and large equipment is the first to get the IIoT treatment, what about the roadmap for smaller equipment? ABB has an idea for low-voltage motors.

**Check back next week for the Ralph Rio podcast on IIoT drivers and insights!

Read more about IIoT’s Maturation >>

Column | Predictive Analytics, Who Will Win?

May 5, 2016

160506danmiklovicAn interesting article, “Who Will Win the Predictive Analytics Race,” from Dan Miklovic at LNS Research discusses the hype surrounding Big Data analytics in manufacturing. Of course, there’s a lot of hype with Big Data and Predictive Analytics but the wave of plant optimization processes are firmly in place, such as advanced process control. I’m currently writing an article about that very topic for another magazine and data has to be spot-on for it to be successful, as Dan mentions in his column. Advanced Process Control software uses a highly refined algorithm to model a process and then optimize it…very simply put. This particular APC software is demonstrating huge efficiency gains — and return on investment — for an internal power plant. APC is an older discipline, but has gone to new levels due to major gains in software development.

While Dan’s take on the hype is spot on, so is the evidence via case studies and solutions that show the the Internet of Things in a successful light. And the question, now, who will win?

Read Column >>

IIoT and 3rd Party Monitoring Changing the Landscape

May 2, 2016
maintenance survey data

IIoT business justification is happening quickly due to stark data points, such as “82 percent of assets have a random failure pattern” and need monitoring. (Source: ARC Advisory Group, Ralph Rio)

I recently recorded a podcast interview with Ralph Rio at ARC Advisory — soon to be posted here — to suss out some of the drivers for IIoT adoption and any resistance arguments from the C-suite. Looks like resistance is futile, as business justifications are on sound ground, according to Rio.

In a recent post from Greg Conary at ARC’s Industrial IoT outpost, Conary cites “30 percent of end users and OEMs are already actively using IIoT tools or investing in projects.” No hype.

Conary attended the International Business Congress (IBC) event and this “wrench time” figure stood out to him. see below:

It said that in a 10 hour shift a worker spends only 2.5 hours of that shift on productive work – work that adds value to the business – the rest of the time is taken by looking for information – probably traveling back and forth to a central maintenance office presumably searching filing cabinets looking for service manuals, along with admin work and various other non-value add tasks.

Conary also discusses IIoT benefits as it relates to changing demographics with the manufacturing workforce. IIoT as a service, such as 3rd party health monitoring, can be as effective with a 25 or 55 yr. old due to a 3rd party expert off-site. Structural changes happening fast.

Read ARC Post Here >>

Hannover Fair 2016 | Dell’s IIoT Blueprint

April 27, 2016

Video | Bolt-on Conditioning Monitoring Solution for Low-Voltage Motors

April 26, 2016

160426abbsmartThe expansive Hannover Fair in Germany kicked off this week, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0 as some describe it in Europe is a big deal. ABB is making a splash with its Smart Sensor announcement for low voltage motors, a small bolt-on device that measures “key motor parameters at regular intervals.” The sensor uses “a built-in wireless communication interface that transmits real-time data via a smartphone or gateway to a cloud-based secure server,” according to ABB.

ABB will demonstrating this new sensor at the show and will formally release this IIoT product to the U.S. market in late 2016 (Two important visitors received a booth showing of this device; the U.S. is a partner country this year).

Watch Video >>

Power Monitoring Services for Industrial Plants

April 21, 2016

Click on the image to find out how PredictPulse works.

Today, I had an interesting discussion with a pneumatics system supplier today about remote monitoring and security concerns for U.S. food plants, in general. Our discussion was for a separate article but it highlighted how some industries are further along than others in leveraging IIoT. (*He also discussed how most new machine design developments center around reliability)

As end users finalize data governance policies, suppliers are ready to provide remote & mobile monitoring solutions. Eaton Corp. is another supplier meeting these needs with its new offering, called PredictPulse Remote Monitoring. The service offers information technology (IT) and data center managers to view real-time power diagnostics of plant devices from a secure online dashboard and mobile application.

Operators can also view real-time data via tablets and smartphones, along with monthly reports. Managers use standard Eaton connectivity cards for this service and it can be customized to meet specific end user needs, including changing or deleting devices, adjusting coworker access, and setting escalation preferences.

Click Here For More Info >>

Research | IIoT Retrofit Kit for Legacy Manufacturing

April 18, 2016

So much of IIoT is about moving enterprises forward, but some manufacturers never rebooted their machine technology and don’t have deep R&D budgets to figure it how. That’s why the Chicago-basedDigital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) is focusing on this area with its IIoT Retrofit Kit for Legacy Manufacturing. The research group’s call for White Papers started about a month ago and the federal government organization has numerous projects underway. This project’s objective is:

This project call focuses on applying standards and demonstrating plug-and-play digital integration that enables machine tool data collection, transfer, and analysis. The expected result is significant reduction in the cost and complexity of machine tool digital integration.

More Information Here >>


Video | Deep Dive on Condition Monitoring Services

April 14, 2016

160414condmonitorFollowing up on the condition monitoring post from yesterday, below is a deep-dive into a condition monitoring solution at a municipal power plant in Iowa. The Ames, Iowa power plant employee, Kory Chance, details the transition from a time-based, preventative approach and some lessons learned with a third-party condition monitoring service.

Watch Video here >>



Condition Monitoring Services for the Chemical Industry

April 12, 2016

This tweet from Bill Morrison — at the Emerson Exchange in Brussels — references a case study involving a major chemical company using a remote monitoring solution for a control valve. The slide shows how their predictive maintenance approach would have missed a failure issue with a critical valve.

Associate Reliability Manager cited:
We would not have caught this condition ourselves. We would have run this valve to failure and it would have shut the train down for at least two days. This would have also affected a downstream plant that relies on this plant for product

In the process industries, inexpensive wireless devices are presenting opportunities for more condition based maintenance approaches and better MTBF rates.

More information on remote monitoring services >>


Will Early Adopters Use Edge Computing & Predictive Maintenance by 2020?

April 8, 2016

Factory equipment

Last month, I wrote a blog post on edge computing (& some call it fog computing) that proposes sensing devices could provide only essential machine data to the cloud, in order to reduce data traffic and bandwith costs. Basically, throttling back extraneous data to the cloud and performing essential equations remotely at the machine.

An Automation World blog post discusses a recent talk given by Vibhoosh Gupta, general mgr. of controls and automation at GE Automation and Controls, where he likens a cell phone analogy for edge computing.

GE’s Gupta says:
If you look at what’s happened with cell phones, starting with the 2007 introduction of the iPhone, the cell phone stopped being just a phone and became a human gateway—an edge node” on which users run a variety of apps.

As I mentioned in my first column for Maintenance Technology, IIoT is not a flavor of the month in manufacturing circles. However, will edge computing (or node) be too much of a radical jump for manufacturing plants by 2020? Is edge computing too expensive to implement, due to pushing performance to the hardware…big changes. Not sure at this point, but stay tuned as we watch maintenance approaches transform as connected enterprises mature.

White Paper | The Virtualization of Control in the Era of Software Defined Machines >>


White Paper | IIoT Case Studies Point to Resource Justification

April 6, 2016

Convincing management to invest capital for operations and maintenance department is no easy sell and this page will be exploring this topic throughout April. As Industrial IoT solutions mature and early adopters jump on board, more case studies appear and document the cost savings of moving towards a predictive maintenance strategy.

This GE white paper on its Predix platform details some recent successes and cost savings for three different combined-cycle power plants. These power plants typically experience three or four forced outage per year at a total cost of $1 million plus. GE’s SmartSignal software — within the Predix platform — is based on a modeling approach to highlight cycle aberrations for these power plants. Maintenance topics include mechanical failure with rotors, bearings casings and lube-oil systems.

Read White Paper >>

Persuade Management with the Data for IIoT Buying Decisions

April 1, 2016

Whether your business is content marketing, consumer goods or manufacturing, data should aid immensely in making enterprise decisions. A recent ARC blog post, based on extensive studies by corporate and military organizations over the last 40 years, shows a preventative maintenance approach could be counterproductive due to just “18 percent of assets failing due to age.”


Source: ARC Advisory, Ralph Rio.

This study points to the 82% of your other equipment and a predictive maintenance approach. For the full blog post and analysis, see below.

Read ARC Blog Post on Proactive Asset Management >>

March 25, 2016

Reduce IIoT Network Strain with Fog Computing

When you read about the increase in the number of sensors for process and manufacturing applications, jaws drop. A favorite of mine comes from Rene G. Gonzalez in last September’s Final Thought column, where he cited “a typical refinery producing 100,000 bpd (barrels/day) has increased its number of sensors from 20,000 from just five years ago, to 100,000 at the present time.”

Along with an increase in sensors, enterprises are encountering networking bandwidth challenges…data growing pains. Can the amount of data be throttled back and reside at the local level, on the plant floor?

Some IT experts propose a new paradigm to combat the onslaught of sensors (or things) in the plant, called Fog or Edge Computing. Edge Computing limits the amount of data from say a process application (or equipment) to the cloud for analytics. This IIoT concept says essential data, such as data related to an asset uptime or for preventative maintenance, should only go to the Cloud. Essential uptime data to the Cloud. The other 90 percent machine data should stay local, reducing industrial network strain. As the column states, it’s not a panacea and there are costs with this type of strategy.

Click Here to Read >>

White Paper | IIoT Protocols to Watch

March 22, 2016

Some analysts are hoping for an all-encompassing networking standard for the Industrial Internet of Things, but that’s wishful thinking with so many diverse manufacturing applications. Some automotive applications require high-speed, deterministic networking capabilities while power industries need real-time data to monitor a process. With large bandwidths in an Industrial Ethernet network, device diagnostic data and application specific operations can co-exist nicely.

Below is a white paper providing insights on a sample of emerging networking standards or protocols for IIoT. It’s called “IIoT Protocols to Watch,” by Aron Semile at Kepware. The paper discusses proprietary and standard networking options, and also suggest suitable applications for each type of protocol.

From the White Paper:

In a recent Nexus survey, 77 percent of respondents stated that interoperability was their biggest challenge in IoT.

Read White Paper >>

Plant Modernization Meets Industrial IoT

March 16, 2016

I just finished my April print column and wanted to provide a preview here. The column addresses how manufacturers are implementing an Industrial Internet of Things strategy or, more plainly, where to start. Most notably, energy companies have started by adding sensing to their operations without a fully realized business case. Business cases are appearing due to pilot projects — and IIoT maturation — and vendors are providing software analytic solutions to help operations and maintenance teams be more proactive with equipment monitoring.

In April’s column, I cite a very telling anecdote from Maintenance Technology’s guest columnist Rene G. Gonzalez on factory utilization rates and how it’s driven by pervasive sensing:

A typical refinery producing 100,000 bpd (barrels/day) has increased its number of sensors from 20,000 from just five years ago, to 100,000 at the present time.

That’s an exponential jump in a short time and challenges for enterprises keep coming.

Read Rene G. Gonzalez’s Column on Pervasive Sensing >>

Video | Maintenance Approaches with IIoT

March 14, 2016


Ralph Rio, research director at ARC Advisory Group, has been a leading voice in maintenance manufacturing circles due to his experience running a three-shift maintenance department in a past life and his many reports on the topic, including “Best Practices for Maintenance Management.

Below is a recent webinar, titled, “IIoT Fuels Proactive Maintenance,” where Rio provides an in-depth look at maintenance approaches and some of the reasons — via survey data– why manufacturers are moving to industrial IoT. One vital reason from a recent survey points to the one and only, uptime. Really interesting takeaways include machine learning advantages, automatic work order alerts to technicians and buying equipment when you have a IoT strategy.

Watch Video >>

Enhanced Oil Recovery in Shale Fields, thanks IoT!

March 8, 2016

1603bloombergA lot of mainstream media outlets have been predicting the end for North American shale since OPEC’s strategy of oversupply was in full-bloom. A recent Bloomberg article depicts a stunned financial community on why shale output (in Marcellus) is increasing, approximately, 11 percent from Jan 2016.

Part of the reason is “enhanced oil recovery” for existing wells and investments made by the oil supermajors and smaller players as they moved from deep-sea exploration strategies to optimization in oil fields. The mainstream press (Bloomberg) feels that some oil has been held back but more IoT in the field and modernization is a growing trend. It’s a “factory automation for oil fields” approach, with modern SCADA systems greatly improving maintenance routines.

From Automation World, Jan 2016:
Supermajors are pushing standardization as they try to integrate disparate control platforms. “Frankly, the oil and gas industry has been archaic. These systems can’t fail and companies rely on a lot of fieldbus protocols, and I don’t mean Foundation Fieldbus,” says Thomas Nuth, global manager of vertical marketing for Moxa. “A lot of legacy control has been done by hardwire and is very expensive in terms of capital equipment.” Companies are realizing open protocols and smart devices provide a roadmap to more centralized control.

Read Bloomberg article here >>

Related Article | Controlling the World’s Oil Supply>>

White Paper | Condition Monitoring

Feb. 24, 2016

The old maxim is you to have to spend money to make money and this white paper offers arguments on how to justify plant upgrades to upper management for conditioning monitoring. At risk is large capital machinery for most plants and processes, and this document provides a detailed roadmap on how to move from a preventive to predictive approach. The National Instruments’ white paper title, “Improving Your Maintenance Strategy with Online Condition Monitoring,” details what types of machines and which failure modes need to be recognized before choosing a predictive analytics system, along with assessing your plant system’s flexibility. The paper also includes video presentations on trends in condition monitoring and access to other maintenance resources.

Read the White Paper here >>


Grant Gerke, IIoT contributing writer for Maintenance Technology.

IoT Offers Reliability Solutions

Feb. 8, 2016

As mentioned in the kickoff column in our February print issue, industrial IoT is a manufacturing structural change and for maintenance teams that can mean big or small changes in your processes. Take a second to read our inaugural column on this topic to see how applications are taking form in big and small companies. If you have any interesting IIoT applications or anecdotes on how your company is better recognizing data in your enterprise, contact me here.

Read full article here >>

Automotive | Keep The Motor Running

Feb. 7, 2016

The automotive industry is humming, with continued record sales year-over-year since the downturn. With massive factory investment and advances in automation since the downturn, analytics are becoming much more granular at both the manufacturing and enterprise levels. With better analytics, automakers are moving away from pure preventative maintenance to more predictive approaches.

In a recent article Fortune magazine, General Motors talks about its IoT investments for its body-in-white platforms (car welding) and how it’s reaping the benefits with improved maintenance:

[quote]The benefits of that visibility extend beyond near disasters. GM also uses the system to adjust planned maintenance schedules for the machines. “It gives us, as a robotics supplier, the ability to look over their shoulder and help and guide them,” says Rick Schneider, president of Fanuc America. In the past GM’s workers discovered issues only during production downtime and when physically plugged into a factory robot. Now all they have to do is wait for an alert to show up.[/quote]

Read full article here >>

New maintenance approach for Digital Oil Fields, via Andy Young @ Pioneer Engineering

Feb. 4, 2016

The oil and gas industry is feeling the pressure to drive efficiencies with existing drilled wells and smarter devices and advanced diagnostics are allowing producers to rethink maintenance teams. Pioneer provides a captured gas solutions for remote oil leases that allows all the control to be done from a central control room. Preventative and predictive maintenance processes are used for the solution.

From Andy Young:

[quote]“Our clients fuel technicians, who have to be jack of all trades — maintenance, and withstanding the elements in the northern locations. It’s okay if you’ve got a couple of things to monitor, but when you have 150 points of per system, it’s pretty hard to find someone who can change a generated oil, replace the compressor piston, and be responsible for all this other stuff. OF course, that all seeds back into quality control and everything, and the safety aspect. So someone who’s highly trained and specialized to run the equipment, it’s actually not hard for them to run six or eight identical pieces of machinery. So you get that labor multiplier there versus an onsite person could obviously only service one system at a time.” [/quote]

Read full article here >>

Obi Wan Kenobi of IoT White Papers

Jan. 17, 2016

In my inaugural IoT column for Maintenance Technology, I discuss this 2011 white paper, “Internet of Things Strategic Research Roadmap,” produced by the IoT European Research Cluster. It’s a great comprehensive resource on all things IoT.

Read White Paper here >>

Is IIoT a Cure for Low Oil Prices?

Jan. 17, 2016

Low oil prices from OPEC made North American oil and gas producers scramble, but they may have found their footing with IIoT and modernizing control architectures. Connected assets are pushing producers towards distributed resources for maintenance.

From Tim Shea:

[quote]The Internet of Things and better asset management had been present in north American oil fields for the last couple of years, but low oil prices pushing it faster. Oil and gas producers are optimizing equipment, such as pumps and flowmeters— with better diagnostics to ensure product is flowing. But with built-out SCADA platforms, maintenance crews are monitoring equipment from central control rooms and relying on more data to justify trips to the fields.[/quote]

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