Expecting the Unexpected with the Industrial Internet

This story originally appeared in Manufacturing Business Technology.

With summer weather upon us, we can comfortably look back at the winter of 2014-15, which hit large parts of the U.S. hard and often. Snow crippled transportation networks across most of the Northeast, making it much more difficult for people to get to work. It buried rail lines and clogged highways, brought down power lines, and pushed recovery resources to their limits. Similarly, late spring saw powerful floods sweep across Texas, crippling infrastructure across the state and causing immense damage to many peoples’ livelihoods.

What impact can harsh weather have on a manufacturing or utility operation, and are there solutions to overcome Mother Nature’s seemingly overwhelming authority? What can be done to maintain optimal asset performance, and what solutions exist to help plan for the unexpected?

Today, integrated asset performance management solutions powered by the Industrial Internet enable businesses to maintain optimal functionality in all conditions and environments. In both good weather and bad, the complex networks of sensors and controls available through use of these solutions allow on-site and remote engineers to leverage data-driven analytics to not only monitor asset performance in real-time, but to predict failure before it strikes.

Take the City of Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District, for example. The city often experiences intense rainfall in warm weather and can be the victim of large snow dumps in cold weather. This presents challenges for the district’s legacy infrastructure, pushing the limits of existing capacity. The district is currently implementing a full suite of Industrial Internet solutions to optimize its current assets for expected conditions and avoid overextending its budget on expensive new infrastructure.

By combining analytics and decision support tools, the City will be able to leverage industrial intelligence to optimally manage flows through its system and takes advantage of installed capabilities. This keeps upfront investment more manageable and reduces long-term cost of ownership by having fewer assets to manage down the road. 

The power of mobile

When expensive assets become buried under snowdrifts or when ice collects on the exterior of equipment, it becomes much more difficult to manually inspect each critical piece of equipment. Industrial Internet solutions rely on a network of sensors inside these assets that provide detailed analysis of each piece of equipment, from turbines to valves. And the beauty is you can do this remotely rather than having to conduct a manual on-site inspection.

What’s more, the ability to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time, and make that information accessible anytime, anywhere, enables you to pre-empt issue before they become problems. Access to real-time operational intelligence leads to smarter, faster decisions and the ability to speed system troubleshooting.

For example, Cornell University uses mobile tools powered by the Industrial Internet to monitor power and water operations for 260 major buildings on 745 contiguous acres, which combine to consume up to 35MW of power at one time. The university can monitor operations and drill into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as electrical distribution, equipment status, how much power the university is sending or receiving from the grid, power through breakers, and more. Due to its ability to make more informed decisions, Cornell has achieved 40% faster off-hours troubleshooting, and increased energy savings, reliability, and equipment uptime.

Mobility delivers the power of the Industrial Internet. With KPIs at your fingertips — in context to equipment, location, and role — you can drive faster response. It allows you to harness data from vastly disparate locations and filters it to a single location to provide a 360 degree asset view. From there, you can gain operational visibility, leverage analytics to predict problems before they occur, and optimize maintenance operations.

Act now: Move toward the Industrial Internet

Let’s face it nearly every industry imaginable can benefit from asset performance management solutions powered by the Industrial Internet. Oil and gas rigs drilling in the Arctic, electric companies in storm prone regions, companies at all stages of the supply chain in food and beverage, and countless others have a clear and present business need for adopting these solutions.

Industrial equipment oozes data, but the ability to harness the intelligence of that data is what is driving the next wave of industry to be more efficient, productive and profitable than ever before. Now’s the time to proactively protect your operation from unpredictable pressures by taking advantage of all the Industrial Internet has to offer — including smarter operators with greater operational visibility, optimized maintenance operations, and zero unplanned downtime.

Mark Bernardo

Mark believes automation software should deliver relevant information anytime, anywhere. His team is pioneering the use of advanced applications on mobile devices, incorporating the same technology we use in our everyday life to industrial environments. For Mark, real time operational intelligence is available today. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

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