Remote Monitoring

Will condition monitoring and analysis ever be the same?

Mike Bacidore says welcome to the Internet of Things, where algorithms rule.

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief

For decades, we’ve been assured that the Baby Boom generation is an exceptional group, comprising post-WWII children who imagined a better world. For years, Boomers have reshaped American culture, manufacturing, production, music, art, literature, and society in general. And, for years, ever since they came of age like so much Benjamin Braddock, we’ve known that the exodus of Boomers from the workforce will result in an incredible loss of experience and expertise, trickling and flowing out of the plant floor as the retirement frenzy unfolds.

Automation and technology have a funny way of changing things. Call them disruptive if you like, but technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, smart devices, and cloud computing have all had a profound effect on our business and personal lives. And things are about to get pretty disruptive.

How many of have tried your hand at solving the mystery of the Rubik’s Cube, the 3D puzzle invented by Erno Rubik in the early 1970s? The current world record for solving it is 5.55 seconds, held by Mats Valk of the Netherlands. That’s crazy fast. He’s obviously spent a lot of time with the Rubik’s Cube, just like veteran engineers, operators, and technicians have spent with their equipment. They know their machinery. They know it so well that they can smell a bearing failure before it happens. How do you replace that kind of experience when it walks out the door forever?

lead-Mike-Bacidore.jpgMike Bacidore is chief editor of Plant Services and has been an integral part of the Putman Media editorial team since 2007, when he was managing editor of Control Design magazine. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at 630-467-1300 ext. 444 or or check out his .

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You don’t, obviously. You can’t.

But perhaps there’s no need.

The ability to monitor machinery remotely is changing the way industrial plants are staffed. But that’s just the beginning. The expertise always has been in the analysis of the equipment data — being able to identify the type of imminent failure, not to mention how and when to fix it. Remote monitoring brings expert analysis to the plant floor. While seated in an office in Bozeman, Montana, an analyst can interpret data and let the appropriate persons at the factory in Doraville, Georgia, know what to do.

Pretty impressive, eh?

But what if we didn’t even need those analysts for 95% of the data analysis? What if we were able to collect the data on those conditions in the cloud and create algorithms to determine what’s wrong and how to fix it, based on a collective intelligence? And what if one piece of equipment could tell another piece of equipment what’s wrong and how to fix it without human intervention? Welcome to the Internet of Things, where algorithms rule.

Don’t believe me? Remember that Rubik’s cube record. Well, speedy as it is, that’s only the human record.

David Gilday and Mike Dobson created a robot called CubeStormer III, that solved a Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds

How did they do it? I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?  Algorithms. There’s a great future in algorithms. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Read Mike Bacidore's monthly column, From the Editor.