This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of OnWindows.
In today’s economy, many businesses within the manufacturing and process industries are seeing profit margins shrink. As seen in recent oil and gas markets, increasing costs and pricing volatility are harsh realities of the times.
Especially in asset-centric industries like utilities, oil and gas or mining, operational managers are seeking new ways to capitalise on data to increase margins. Enter the industrial internet of things (IIoT) – a strategy to deploy sensors to close information gaps, increase the resolution of existing sensor-based information and create data-driven communication across traditional organisational boundaries.
IIoT can help operational managers to drive revenue in three principal ways. First, it can increase operational expenditure efficiency. As IIoT broadens the scope and breadth of available data sources, it can enhance real-time situational awareness and help managers operationalise remote, mobile or geo-dispersed assets, ultimately increasing revenue through increased situational awareness, asset availability as well as enhancing safety of employees and surrounding environments.
Second, it can facilitate smarter asset lifecycle management. Clarity is provided by the interaction of operational history and asset performance, and new smart machines may include embedded sensors that transmit operational data. Creating collaborative data ecosystems with OEMs, consultants and partners can help industries troubleshoot or streamline maintenance costs, and capital expenditure strategies can be based on actual equipment condition rather than vendor-based schedules.
And third, it can help to align operational data with business conditions and strategies. Integrating IIoT data with pre-existing data systems avoids creating information silos and increases the prominence of operational data enabling a broader audience to use data outside of operational environments, for example, to track financial impacts of decisions made in the production environment or adjust product output according to changes in market demand.
Mark Peterson, director of marketing at OSIsoft EMEA, believes that with a well-conceived IIoT strategy, industries will be able to capture more revenue, reduce costs and build new business models. “The next five-year window will see a revolution in both the quantity and variety of available sensors and data that can be harnessed. Having a solid IIoT strategy that focuses on new and incremental business value in parallel with a supporting enterprise data infrastructure architecture will be key for successful companies going forward.”
Peter Bentley is global account manager for channel development at OSIsoft.