Put the IIoT to work at your plant

Sheila Kennedy explores smart equipment that will help you unleash the potential of the Industrial Internet.

By Sheila Kennedy

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) allows sophisticated machines, devices, and controls to become integrated as a system. Each connection furthers the vision of a smart manufacturing digital thread spanning the entire product lifecycle. IIoT-enabled equipment facilitates open and collaborative data sharing and analytics by design.

Intelligent machinery

Smart bearings streamline maintenance planning. SKF Insight technology is a continuous bearing health monitoring system that provides early warning of abnormal conditions in new SKF bearings. Self-powered, intelligent wireless sensors in the bearing are connected to the SKF Cloud.

“For some applications, IIoT is about putting sensors on existing machines, but the real potential is when the machines are already ‘smart,’” remarks John McGlone, global product and technology manager at SKF. “Imagine if a bearing knew it was stressed from operating conditions and could notify the maintenance and operations manager that it would last much longer if you changed the load or added lubricant. You could prevent the problem from developing by eliminating the root cause. This should be the ultimate goal of IIOT."

Intelligent valves improve hydraulic power management. Eaton’s AxisPro servo performance proportional valves, which are configurable using Eaton’s Pro-FX Configure software, offer high dynamic performance, enabling them to be used in closed-loop applications, says Per Danzl, product manager for Eaton’s Industrial Portfolio. AxisPro valves feature embedded pressure and temperature sensors, field bus communication capabilities, and intelligent on-board diagnostics to help predict maintenance issues.

Adaptive compressed air systems maximize energy efficiency. The Sigma Air Manager (SAM) 2 compressed air master controller from Kaeser Compressors uses 3-D advanced control to orchestrate system performance. It is designed for easy IIoT integration and arrives pre-programmed.

“Compressed air is a plant resource that needs to be managed. That is why SAM 2 was designed with built-in monitoring and on-demand reporting capabilities so compressed air energy usage and power consumption can be continually monitored and audited,” says Timothy Hitzges, product engineer for controls at Kaeser Compressors.

Click here to download a white paper from Kaeser Compressors.

Test tools are also becoming intelligent. Fluke ScopeMeter portable oscilloscopes integrate with the Fluke Connect mobile app to wirelessly transfer waveform signatures from the oscilloscope to the cloud, where they can be viewed, shared, and stored for ongoing analysis.

“Capturing a waveform signature at critical junctions in the control system allows Maintenance to establish a baseline reference. These references can then aid in diagnosing malfunctions by making it possible to identify what changed, or by tracking signature trends, to determine if maintenance or service is imminently due,” says Hilton Hammond, senior application specialist for portable oscilloscopes at Fluke Corporation.

Enabling technologies

Connecting machines, materials, people, and processes will uncover opportunities to reduce unplanned downtime and improve plant efficiency. GE’s Brilliant Factory vision leverages this strategy.

“With the rise of the Industrial Internet, we often hear of three major challenges from manufacturers: it is difficult to start and stay ahead, their current system doesn’t provide visibility to take action, and plants can’t keep pace with changing customer demands,” said Jennifer Bennett, general manager for GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing Software solutions. “Our goal is to help create a seamless flow of data between systems that were previously isolated by leveraging GE’s Predix platform for edge-to-cloud connectivity, security, and manufacturing analytics.”

Honeywell Pulse, part of Honeywell’s IIoT network, is a new industrial mobile app that enables plant managers, supervisors, and engineering staff to stay informed on the status of their facility from anywhere, at all times, says Rohit Robinson, director of portfolio innovation at Honeywell Process Solutions. "The Honeywell Pulse app sends alerts when something in the plant needs attention. It allows plant staff to connect and collaborate with the appropriate subject matter experts and team members to resolve the issue."

SensoNODE Blue sensors and SCOUT Mobile software from Parker Hannifin are also rooted in the IIoT. Together, they form an industrial condition monitoring solution. Users can monitor the pressure, temperature, and humidity levels of their assets in real-time or via historic trends to reduce maintenance time and avoid shutdowns.

"We've designed our SCOUT Mobile app to be able to leverage the internal audio, gyroscope, and light sensors native to the user's mobile device, whether it's Apple or Android," says Mario Calvo, business unit manager at Parker. "This allows users to experience and test drive our IIoT solution without having to buy a sensor product up front."

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