Part 1 of this 4-part series introduced ways in which increasing digitization might improve plant operations. Part 2: we focused on how IIoT can improve the productivity of reactive, preventive, predictive and proactive maintenance. Here in Part 3: we will explore five converging trends.
The following five trends are converging around IIoT to help more companies achieve maintenance benefits such as those that Ash Grove Cement Cement, of Overland Park, Kansas has enjoyed. Ash Grove Cement uses asset management software to automate maintenance data collection at each of its nine facilities. This enabled Ash Grove to reduce its inventory costs by US$2 million in the first year of implementation, while ensuring compliance with the EPA’s Portland Cement Maximum Achievable Control Technology regulation, thereby minimizing the potential loss of US$3 thousand per hour for every hour the kiln is offline.
The five trends are:
1. Advances in edge control that enable flexible deployment of control systems with the power and flexibility to handle advanced analytics and the big data needed to support them
2. Expanded use of Ethernet connectivity in controls, making it easier to capture and share data and then analyze it with advanced applications
3. Deeper cybersecurity protection to leverage the value of open standards that are essential to realizing the full potential of IIoT with less vulnerability to cyber attack
4. Advanced object-oriented engineering environment’s simplifying, the deployment of strategic asset management models
5. The evolution of asset management models themselves
The first three trends are evident in the evolution of control technology, in which Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) have evolved into more powerful Programmable Automation Controllers (PACs) capable of implementing preprogrammed application libraries and open, advanced, object-oriented engineering environments. As such, these have gained some market traction, but primarily as low-end alternatives to a distributed control system and addressing multi-asset maintenance challenges. In recent years, PACs have evolved more in the direction of the requirements of the IIoT. For instance, ePAC’s have added more processing capability, Ethernet communications and deeper cybersecurity protection. As an example of the fourth trend the Modicon M580 can be implemented with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Process Expert process automation system, which is a single, object-oriented software engineering environment that simplifies configuration of architectures involving numerous field devices, control types and applications.
The fifth trend is the evolution of asset-centric models, which IIoT is making increasingly valuable for continuous, discrete, and hybrid operations. In an asset centric model, rather than even trying to build a model for maintaining the entire, constantly growing network of intelligent things, the controls engineer develops isolated strategies for individual assets, selected on the basis of their contribution to higher-level business objectives. Unlike a process-oriented model, in which asset management challenges are solved across multiple operating levels, asset-based approaches solve individually at the equipment, unit, area, plant, and enterprise levels. They may, however, exchange data as required with other assets across a common network communications bus. This approach makes it easier to maximize asset availability, utilization and profitability across the equipment, units, and areas that have the most impact on the business without getting bogged down in trying to optimize maintenance for the entire enterprise.
Want to find out more about how the IIoT can drive Profitable Reliability and turn your plant’s control system into a Profit Engine for your business?
This article was originally published here in the online edition of Electrical Industry Canada:
Part 4 will explore how IIoT is already improving operational profitability. Check out Parts 1 and 2 here: