The spread of digitization across industries and the internet connecting devices, equipment, plants and systems can enhance productivities, efficiencies, make proactive addressing of impediments possible and discover untapped potential and opening new vistas – in short, it is set to create a revolution from homes to agriculture to industry.
Latest automation including digitally distributed controls along with latest generation high power computing and softwares have been driving phenomenal efficiencies in manufacturing, particularly in plants of high complexities like oil & gas, refineries, petrochemical and fertilizers. With great advances in sensor technologies, the smallest equipment to complex critical equipment are getting embedded with sensors. Now with the advent of the internet all these machines and devices are getting connected within the plant as well as plants in different locations in the same country or even in other countries or remote locations. According to an article in this issue of Chemical Industry Digest, “around 8.4 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the internet in 2017, up by 31 percent from 2016, and will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. In India such device connection is expected to reach 1.9 billion by 2020 – a whopping 31 fold growth.”
Enter the world of the connected enterprise or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT is bringing about a convergence of global industrial systems with the power of advanced computing, analytics, low cost sensing and new levels of connectivity. And this connection goes beyond devices to a comprehensive sweep of functions from the supply chain to manufacturing to the consumers and financial services. Sensors are continuously monitoring all kinds of parameters – operational parameters to machine performance. Such huge quantities of data generated have led to the development of data analytics without which it is not hu- manly possible to make sense out of such data to provide for informed decision making. Call it distributed intelligence, such analyzed data enables optimizing processes, uncovering potential problems and identifying new areas for improving a business.
Sensors on manufacturing equipment continually gather, aggregate and process data providing new insights into making machines work better as well as identify early signs of potential failure and take proactive measures to prevent equipment failure.
The digital industrial transformation is enabling cost reduction, improve quality, and speed up production by optimizing manufacturing performance form the plant floor to the enterprise for the agility needed to be ahead of the competition.
The parallel development of cloud based data storage and prospects of cluster sharing, open source softwares and technologies that are machine agnostic unlike the inflexible proprietary technologies will enable the adoption of automation and IIoT in not only the high investment, complex industries but also small and medium scale due to cost competitiveness. IIoT has the potential to convert all industries into technology based industries. At the same time in this emerging scenario data security becomes paramount due to breaches possible for leakages of data. Companies would have to ensure highest levels of cyber security at all levels of operation.
IIoT would be absolutely essential for holistic performance management, to drive profitability across the entire value chain, for quick responses needed for fast, volatile and dynamic changes in the supply chain to market situations. It is nothing short of transformational and is set to impact many other areas as such as healthcare, retail, agriculture, transport and energy amongst others.
GE estimates that IIoT would add $10 to $15 trillion to global GDP in efficiency gains over the next two decades.