- By Ravi Gopinath
- January 04, 2021
- AVEVA, Inc.
Ravi Gopinath, chief cloud officer and chief product officer at AVEVA, discusses the benefits of integrating IIoT and why it’s here to stay.
Across all regions of the US, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is here to stay. Many heavy industry companies are accelerating their adoption of digital transformation journeys due to recent global events, particularly in fields such as engineering, mining, oil & gas, and manufacturing. And these investments may have significant payoffs, as regional economic development experts in Northeast Ohio estimate that implementing IIoT across facilities and operations will generate billions for the region’s economy because of the increased efficiencies.
The barriers to adopting IIoT technology have fallen significantly in the past decade. Now businesses can have the opportunity to adapt and maintain operational excellence in volatile times through digital transformation without navigating some of the notable historical challenges of implementing IIoT solutions, which once included expensive components, difficulty aggregating data from disparate data streams, and lack of a centralized database or dashboard. Demonstrating this trend more broadly, Juniper Research notes a larger number of organizations are now planning to invest more in IoT implementations to reduce costs, among other benefits, which is understandable against the backdrop of the current global crisis which is accelerating cloud and the use of data in increasingly sophisticated ways to provide visibility and certainty into operations.
Smarter data-driven decisions
Adoption of analytics is said to be one of the greatest drivers of digital transformation, as businesses seek greater data-driven insights. In North America alone there were an estimated 2.3 billion IoT connections as of 2018. This number is expected to grow to nearly 6 billion by 2025, according to Statista. Data acts as a source of truth that helps teams focus on the critical factors that determine business resilience, and businesses are acutely aware that they must become more resilient by using technology.
ARC Advisory Group found that digital transformation in cloud is changing the way people work, simplifying processes, connecting teams, adding visibility to data and boosting business agility. That’s why companies are using IIoT to their advantage, securely connecting and collecting data from diverse remote assets, channeling information to advanced operational applications, and closing the loop by feeding key business applications. This helps enable optimization, asset management, enhanced analytics, and modeling/simulation, ultimately providing and improving business efficiency.
As one example, IIoT has had a significant impact in five key areas for the industrial sector:
Real-time operational information is used to understand what is happening in real-time, enabling the condition management of asset and operations lifecycles.
Historical operational information helps businesses understand what has happened in the past to create intelligence around operational behavior of assets.
Predictive analytics is used for what-if type modeling, integrating up real-time and historical data enables your team to assess potential outcomes of operational states and behaviors, even accounting for tertiary variables.
Prescriptive analytics describe what’s needed to optimize asset and operations lifecycles.
Enhanced safety, which is a combination of connected IoT devices, augmented and virtual reality technology provide real time operating procedures and key messages to operations personnel, reducing human error for performing specific tasks.
The IoT evolution
Across the US, and indeed globally, how industrial organizations handle and present data at the plant level is evolving, and those who make sensible choices to ensure flexibility and expansibility will unlock unlimited potential in existing and expanding data. In organizations where there isn’t a strategy in place for Digital Transformation, the critical first step is to execute a pilot project by:
Defining an operational architecture (OA) - the key to success is think big and start small.
Choosing an initial underlying system to provide state-of-the-art user interface and data platform - What you choose today will undoubtedly evolve over time: in this case starting now and changing later is infinitely better than waiting for the next generation.
Tackling small projects that prove the concept of key requirements — user interface, sharing plant and business data across the enterprise — real world use cases. Keep in mind that it’s still early in the fourth industrial revolution and things will change faster than we can cope with.
Building resilience from within
In 2020, COVID-19 left the global economy to face the prospect of a sharp recession after significantly curtailed global and local mobility, putting businesses under enormous strain. In fact, the pressure is so intense, nearly 66,000 businesses have folded since March 1, according to data from Yelp. To help navigate the challenge, digital transformation can provide the data-driven insights needed to adapt and overcome.
IIoT offers organizations a powerful framework for operational continuity, enabling users of all levels and experience to access the critical information they need to do their jobs successfully. IIoT devices also empower workforces with the digital services they need, such as equipment utilization, condition management and more. IIoT offers innovative ways to monitor and manage objects in the physical world, particularly as huge streams of data offer companies’ better avenues for decision making, resulting in more uptime and efficiency, and in an engaged and empowered workforce at a time when it’s never been more important to contextualize data and information that drive actionable insights.
Through digital transformation, companies across the U.S. are enabled to enhance their capabilities, increase their reach and returns across their asset and operations value chains. Using IIoT through real-time online monitoring and analytics profoundly improves response times to potential issues, minimizing possible damage to the environment. In turn, the result is the avoidance of costly unscheduled shutdowns while also improving profits. IIoT makes a measurable difference to the efficiency of the industry. Simply put, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
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