In every industrial process in existence today, one of the most important parts of the system is the predictive maintenance department. Shell has noted that predictive maintenance can add a number of benefits to a company, including saving time and money, as well as developing a safety architecture that can potentially save lives. It's because of these distinct benefits that large companies are looking towards predictive maintenance in order to increase their production and decrease downtime. It's no longer a case of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it," because ensuring machinery doesn't break down is by far the more financially beneficial methodology.
The cutting edge of the internet of things
Most of us have already heard about the wonders of the internet of things (IoT), and companies are scrambling to find ways to apply the IoT in meaningful ways that can help them increase their bottom line and potentially improve productivity. As IBM notes, traditional maintenance usually disrupts the functioning aspects of a business, whereas IoT-based systems can minimize the amount of downtime on a system, intervening just in time to replace the components before they go bad. These steps into incorporating an IoT solution for industry already has a large push from larger companies since they see the potential benefits to their business model and operating procedure.
Tailored industrial IoT solutions
A large number of companies have taken to tailoring their Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions to meet the demands of their own companies. The popularity of IoT devices within industrial circles, according to IEEE, is their ability to access data from an industrial source while using simple, internet-enabled devices that can be easily configured. Quite a number of companies have taken to customizing their own IIoT solutions by combining the data collection of one provider alongside the connectivity of a second provider and utilizing the analytics system of a third provider in order to get exactly what they want out of their plan. While many bundle offers exist, due to the wide scope of these systems a company is usually better off mixing and matching different parts from different providers to come to their end goal.
Visit Innovation Enterprise's Supply Chain Innovation Summit 2018 in Chicago on October 30–31, 2018
A data avalanche in the making
A single company can have thousands of machines operating at any given point in time. One of the major challenges facing companies looking at investing in the IIoT for predictive maintenance is dealing with this massive amount of data. A single company with a few integrated systems could rack up hundreds of thousands of packets every second. Cloud systems are already available allowing for flexible storage, but the truth of the matter is that the data that needs to be dealt with is only the data generated when an anomaly shows up. This data can be collected and sent for further analysis if a data scientist isn't within the in-house staff. Setting up parameters that trigger when a meltdown is about to occur is a simple matter of communication between the engineers and the IoT team, to allow for simple integration of the necessary danger levels that will raise an alert flag.
The distinct difference between consumer IoT and IIoT
Many people are focused on the consumer side of IoT because it's the one that has had most of the news coverage. IIoT has been present but less publicized because there are less human-interest stories on the industrial side of the equation. Consumers tend to look for new, innovative devices, such as WMF restoration, that adapt cutting-edge technology to their own homes. Due to this fact, it's easier for the average person to imagine a smart television then a smart vehicle assembly line. Communication is what drives people's imaginations and people find it easier to imagine thing they're familiar with than the things that they are vaguely aware exist but don't interact with on a daily basis. Consumer IoT will always overshadow IIoT, but the addition to a company's bottom line from implementing IIoT solutions are, at the end of the day, what really matters.
The new face of predictive maintenance?
Through the years of predictive maintenance as a science, never before have we had the ability to communicate directly with individual bits of a process plant. The IIoT allows us to gain insights directly from the source, no longer making us depend on readouts after the fact. Observational data gives us an edge when trying to determine what needs to be replaced. The IoT devices simply act as a far better detection and warning system than any we have had since. In the future, we're likely to see more sophisticated IoT devices developed specifically for industrial usage, making our lives on the whole a lot easier.