IIoT in action: 6 companies putting the industrial internet to work for PdM

A brewery, an electric power company, an offshore drilling contractor and more share their stories of IIoT success.

By Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, contributing editor

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In the old days, condition monitoring was conducted standing in front of equipment using some combination of the five senses. Fast-forward to today, when assorted sophisticated and increasingly affordable condition monitoring technologies are available to automate data collection, even from afar.

The latest development – the industrial internet of things (IIoT) – allows all of that information to be streamed and centralized in a repository shared by other Big Data, where advanced analytics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence combine to improve and expedite asset management decisions.

Some companies have already begun taking their condition monitoring (CM) and predictive maintenance (PdM) practices to this next level. The examples that follow, representing six different industries, illustrate the promise of IIoT-enabled CM and how real-world companies are moving in that direction.

California brewery

San Diego County-based Stone Brewing Company, the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, uses Inductive Automation’s Ignition as its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and industrial IoT platform. Ignition is used to monitor pumps and valves, milling systems, conveyor systems, and package lines. This is done via run hours and amp draws monitored on pumps, valve cycle counts, tension switches, and general fault alarms for conveyors.

The brewer first implemented the SCADA system four years ago. “Once we saw what we could see and do with the real-time information, it became our go-to idea for further expansion,” says Garrick Reichert, senior engineer at Stone Brewing Co. “We tied it into our ServiceNow computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), which receives alerts from Ignition to generate and assign work orders, and then into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to see finished goods and inventory tracking information in real time.” He adds, “It allows us to really stay ahead of issues that affect reliability.”

His team looks for conditions such as overheating pumps and worn valves and addresses trips and jams as soon as they appear. Work-order generation is automated, and escalation plans and call trees have been developed to expedite issue resolution. “We repair or replace whatever we can before it fails, because downtime is a killer here,” explains Reichert.

Current and future uses include control of pumps and valves, statistical process control (SPC), historical analysis, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), management of recipes and work orders, tracking of critical downtime, tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs), and transaction of finished goods out to the warehouse. Stone Brewing also uses Ignition to control its water reclamation facility.

Based on the results of the solution at the Escondido, CA, brewery, the company now plans to roll it out to its Richmond, VA, location. “Having this ability to see what we can now see has saved our behinds a few times,” says Reichert. “Once you have the data, you’ll know how your assets are really performing, and you won’t always have to be scrambling to find parts or to buy parts or to react to downtime that could have been prevented,” he adds.

Offshore drilling contractor

Songa Offshore, an international midwater drilling contractor headquartered in Cyprus, is rolling out a digitized IIoT approach to maintenance. It plans to move from calendar-based to condition-based maintenance for all of its semi-submersible rigs to enable more-reliable and cost-effective operation.

Signals from sensors attached to engines, pipes, and other critical equipment will be collected and transmitted via the IFS IoT Business Connector to the company’s IFS Applications software, where work orders will be automatically generated as needed.

The first phase of the project involves 600 assets on each rig, where maintenance will be triggered based on an asset’s hours in use. “Imagine collecting 600 asset readings and then registering these in a maintenance system every hour, manually, on every rig – it says something about the potential improvement” from switching to the simplified and more automated IoT approach, says Cato Sola Dirdal, IT director at Songa Offshore.

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