How to Embrace the Industrial IoT and Optimize Operational Processes Through Predictive Maintenance

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By Vlad Lata, CTO, KONUX

In recent years, we have seen substantial developments in sectors like consumer technologies, home automation or energy management, within which the idea of smart watches, smart homes or smart grid has revolutionized the way we interact with the world. We are witnessing a similar transformation in the industrial world, with the rise of the ‘smart,’ digital concept such as smart factories. This specific version of the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial IoT, is slowly starting to outgrow its buzzword-phase. It is put into action by big players in the market such as General Electric or Cisco, as it provides them with immense opportunities to grow their business. Companies start realizing that the IIoT could be their “magic tool”, opening up new perspectives and empowering them to establish themselves as the industry leaders. According to a recent research report, the IIoT market is expected to reach 151.01 Billion dollars by 2020.
The manufacturing sector currently holds the largest share in the IIoT market, where most of the players bet on raising their standards through improving operational efficiency and reducing maintenance cost. However, there is still a lot of potential to be revealed. Leading manufacturing countries such as the U.S., China, and India are still expected to break further into blossom and deploy smart manufacturing technologies to increase this sector’s contribution to their national GDPs.

The IIoT and the Potential of Digitized Processes
Ensuring maximal use of asset lifecycles is a top priority for businesses that want to improve competitive advantage and customer value in the face of the current digitization of the industry. In order to make this possible, manufacturers are yet to explore the vast potential of the information hidden within the Industrial Internet of Things. It is the key to fully understanding our industrial environment and improving the quality of operational processes. Through interconnected assets, innovative networking technologies and analytics, the IIoT enables industrial companies to generate, collect, exchange and act upon the analysis of large amounts of machine data.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review during the first years of the IIoT, the first manufacturers to implement digitized processes and business models experienced an increase in their efficiency by 82% and managed to improve their product quality and customer satisfaction by 49% and 45%, respectively. Thus, the IIoT successfully prompts a change in the mindset of businesses when it comes to interacting with their customers. They can offer them a better experience, as well as save time and offer their products at a better price.
It is not about completely altering form established practices within an organisation, but rather adapting to the changing environment in order to make full use of the advantages within the IIoT. It is essential for industries to learn the language of data and transform it into a solution, in other words, leveraging data and using it to execute better, faster and make more precise decisions.

The Wonders of Data
With billions of devices already connected to each other, as well as an overwhelming amount of existing data, industries have yet to make sense of all the data gathered from different sources and turn it into useful insights and predictions. In order to do this, companies have to overcome the lack of compatibility within their existing infrastructure. They face the challenge of finding reliable software solutions and communications standards in order to handle large amounts of data.

This is crucial because real-time data analyzed through smart algorithms gathered from your assets contributes to uncovering necessary predictions and making your asset transparent, comprehensible and easily manageable. Such complex information allows manufacturers to remotely monitor the conditions of their equipment and have the flexibility to instantly put their knowledge to action. The correlation of different factors such as temperature, vibrations and current are communicated through the data gathered. Stored in a secure cloud, the information helps discover malfunctioning or distorted asset health in time. According to recent research from GE and Accenture, nearly 90% of the industries surveyed indicate that Big Data analytics is at the top of their company priority list.

From Data Analysis to Predictive Maintenance
The analysis of machine data allows businesses to predict and plan maintenance, eliminating old and slow practices. Compared to reactive maintenance, which follows the run-to-failure strategy and requires high costs in case of equipment failure, predictive maintenance provides a more efficient solution. Applying data analysis based on machine learning methods allows organizations to evaluate the complete scenario of their assets’ performance and get notified of advanced wear or potential machine problems. This implementation of the IIoT allows businesses to react immediately, in order to improve the performance of their assets. Avoiding machine downtimes through predictive maintenance helps businesses save billions of dollars each year.

Many people will say: “It’s easier said than done”. However, putting IIoT trends into practice is not as challenging as it may look. A large number of emerging companies offer a reliable solution for businesses’ assets. The complete process of taking care of the health of your asset can be illustrated when looking at the example of KONUX, a young Munich-based IIoT company, which offers an end-to-end solution incorporating hardware and software applications. Smart sensors and artificial intelligence support the measurement and analysis of data. Later in the process, the customized frontend shows and highlights if the asset needs maintaining and sends alerts about potential threats, which will help predict maintenance and faster identify root causes for failures. KONUX works with customers in the manufacturing as well as the transportation sector, such as Europe’s leading passenger and logistics company, Deutsche Bahn. It helps the railway giant digitize their infrastructure by monitoring switches on high-speed tracks nationwide, thereby reducing operational costs and increasing safety and the quality of services. Offering such end-to-end solution helps businesses gain specific insights and gives them a clear vision for the future.

Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be unveiled in this rapidly changing industrial environment. But one thing is for sure, implementing IIoT trends will significantly transform your business and put you at the forefront of the industrial revolution.

Reports:

  1. Marketsandmarkets, “Industrial IoT Market by Technology, Software, & Geography – Global Forecast for 2020”, 2016)
    http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/industrial-internet-of-things-market-129733727.html
  2. Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, “The Digital Dividend: First Mover Advantage”, 2014
    https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/verizon/18832_HBR_Verizon_Report_IT_rev3_webview.pdf
  3. GE, “Industrial Internet Insights Report”, 2015
    http://www.ge.com/digital/sites/default/files/industrial-internet-insights-report.pdf