Industrial sectors are embracing the Industrial Internet at different speeds, with a handful expected to pull away from the pack over the next 12 months.
From hand dryers to aircraft engines, farmyards to office blocks, there has been a wide range of innovative uses of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to date.
Yet, some sectors are conducting production-focused test cases and large-scale projects more so than others.
The Manufacturer recently sat down with John Fryer, senior director of industry solutions for global fault tolerant computer servers and software company Stratus Technologies, to learn more.
“Oil and gas companies, particularly the larger ones, have recognised that they were making lots of money with a barrel going for $100 and though there were a lot of inefficiencies happening, they weren’t necessarily worried enough to scrutinise too closely.
“Now barrel prices have hit $50 or lower, those inefficiencies have become a far greater area of focus. Yet many oil and gas companies have the advantage of being so large that they can employ dedicated teams to explore new kinds of technologies and connectivity.
“There are a lot of people inside oil and gas who are currently exploring how their organisations can leverage IIoT, even associated service companies such as one using machine learning to best determine how to efficiently service well pads, for example, and reduce the amount of manpower required.”
More insights courtesy of John Fryer:
Traceability and efficiency
Similarly, Fryer noted rising interest from pharmaceutical companies, a sector which is becoming far more competitive, even for well-established mainstream products. As such, businesses are looking at how they can achieve greater efficiencies from a production line.
He commented: “In the US, if a line stops or the product line needs changing, the entire line has to be completely re-certified from start to end, including the software, to comply with FDA regulations.
“As such, pharma companies want to drive the maximum efficiency and flexibility they can out of each line.
“With the mounting importance of traceability, food and beverage is another sector we are seeing increasing interest from. There are a lot of relatively small companies which have some level of automation, but still rely on a tremendous amount of manual processes, particularly on the recording side.
“You frequently see clipboards, spreadsheets and such like still being widely deployed. Businesses are interested in automated reporting and stock keeping, for example, but it’s such a long way from where they are today, that the prospect of change is daunting.
“They understand that supply chain transparency and traceability is becoming increasingly important and mandated, but it’s hard for these small companies to grasp how IIoT could completely transform the way they operate.
“They are likely to be forced to embrace change as regulations become ever tighter, so that may create the sea change industry needs, but there still exists an over-riding attitude of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’.”
Modernised operational infrastructure is vital to leveraging IIoT
The majority of automation engineers and managers face the challenge of what to do with their existing infrastructure to prepare for a future more digital world.
Our upcoming webinar on Wednesday February 14 will examine the steps you can take to prepare and demonstrate how incremental investments can streamline existing operations.
You will learn about:
- How modernising your automation infrastructure prepares you for IIoT and Industry 4.0
- Key considerations for upgrading your automation infrastructure
- Best practices in realising a modern automation infrastructure
- The ease of updating existing applications and adding new ones
- Real benefits you can gain today and in the future