In the current state of affairs, humankind would find itself in ambivalence. On one hand, the third technological revolution is almost over, giving place to the 4-th one with the overall digitization, artificial intelligence, and forthcoming Mars development. On the other hand, we keep cutting forests and burning fossils to produce heat and electricity behaving inherently to the first industrial revolution of XIX century. It would be impossible to accept this inadequacy unless the renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and bioenergy have been evolving during the last decades. Besides the new-generation Lone Rangers like Elon Musk with Tesla and SolarCity, the mature tech predators (well-meaningly) such as Siemens, GE, or Hitachi fight tirelessly against the horrible dragon of heat-trapping emissions and tropical deforestation.
The core sequence
The trend of adapting the newest technological achievements to ecological challenges is promising. Meanwhile, billion-dollar investments are not necessarily applicable in all cases. For example, Brazilian IIoT-service Company ‘Invisible Track’ placed sensors in trees at the areas protected against rainforest deforestation. The sensors control the tree's location via GPS, sending alarm messages to law enforcement in case of illegal cutting. The efficiency of this approach is based on the remote control via sensors. The sensors → remote → control → efficiency chain seems to be a key factor of the invasive Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), embracing both immature start-ups and hi-tech giants nowadays.
Prevention is cheaper than treatment
Of course, each link of the abovementioned chain can be expanded with more details such as mobile apps for ‘remote’ or big-data analyzing for ‘control’. Nevertheless, the general idea focuses on a ‘predict-and-prevent’ model of operation. Nothing is devoid of failure when it comes to industrial equipment. The preventative maintenance enables the asset owners catching failure before it happens. Such a prediction is crucial for avoiding a butterfly effect of assets’ breakdown. Besides, the cost of potential downtime can be reduced or even eliminated while forehanded analytics predicts when machinery is going to fail. This refers to an authoritative notion that ‘doing more with less is spurring growth’.
24/7 motion monitoring
Siemens adapted this smart approach for their wind turbine customers. Now they can easy rest another day covered with proactive service provided by Siemens Remote Diagnostic Center in Brande, Denmark. The fleet of about 10 000 wind turbines delivers stream data to Siemens analysts around the clock. Each turbine is covered up with 300 sensors tracking the operational status including temperature, power, vibration and so forth. Such a remote diagnostics enables Siemens preventing up to 97% of potential failures with bearings, shafts and gearboxes.
Size does not matter
Green power is experiencing a boom throughout the world now. Big-size power generation customers own modern hi-tech equipment always covered with guaranteed maintenance and service like the turbine condition monitoring from Siemens. However, how about those small enterprises located especially in the developing areas with their limited financial abilities and used machinery purchased oftentimes from the secondary market? A factory somewhere in the Eastern Europe generating power on crop residues expects getting not only ‘green tariff’ per-kilowatt donations from government, but also the advanced technological support from the contemporary digital community. Why? Because along with Elon Musk and Siemens, the factory is a soldier of the ‘ecological army’ taking on that global dragon of contamination and worming. And it is worthy hi-tech assistance.
The low-cost independent solutions for customers uncovered with Siemens-like global monitoring platforms could be considered in the case of Vector diagnostic software from Indeema. The cross-platform desktop program designed for diagnose and monitoring of different rotary motions has been successfully implemented into the control and maintenance service at several small and middle-size enterprises. Combined with a sensor, the system can analyze vibration patterns preventing possible failures of rotary mechanisms at different power plants (wind, hydro, and thermal), escalators, mines, factories etc.
Despite its standalone nature, Indeema Vector belongs to those progressive software solutions that compose the inevitable Internet of Things.
The animated machinery
Sensors embedded into things transmit data, which after processing by relevant software is transformed into valuable information providing actionable insights. The ‘intelligent’ physical objects are interconnected in a massive network called the Internet of Things (IoT). The machines endowed with capability to provide people with feedback are occupying almost everything from banking and healthcare to agriculture and manufacturing. IoT blurs the lines between live creatures and machines. Today we can listen to turbines and talk to fridges. Those sudden events that were a casual part of our everyday life became digital, falling under better control and management now. Once we talk to objects and they react accordingly, the ambient physical reality becomes the extension of oneself.
The global hitters suggest
A device talking to other devices somewhere in the cloud without human interaction looks like sci-fi dystopia mostly. However, a system capable to correct itself is based on the predictive analytics. In addition to diagnostic hardware (sensors) the new software requires further development for the ‘Smart Everything’ solutions. Tech giants have recognized the promising trend clearly. Being a strong devotee of Social Innovations, Hitachi represented Lumada, an IoT business ecosystem covering four key market segments: Smart City, Smart Energy, Smart Healthcare and Smart Industrial. As the public cloud platforms (like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure) cannot satisfy demands of the industrial sector, another famous hardware manufacturer has embarked on the development. The Wall Street Journal reported that GE will invest $1.4 billion into its software business this year. Nevertheless, even today the developers can create apps for operating with assets’ data basing on Predix, an industrial cloud-based platform-as-a-service launched by GE in February of this year.
“Everything will be software”
Software application market for the industrial Internet could reach $125 billion within the next four years as Bill Ruh, GE chief digital officer says. The global app developers’ community is beginning gradual migration to the IIoT. The VisionMobile’s survey shows 67% of all developers considering IoT projects as viable enthusiastically. Indeema stays the pace with EasySigPro mobile app dedicated to the abovementioned Vector diagnostic software. Generally speaking, the hardware itself is already yesterday’s news as well as the ‘closed type’ production management running on proprietary network protocols. As GE Digital’s head of IoT application development Vish Soaji says: “Ten years from now you won’t see on-premises applications. I guarantee that. Everything will be cloud, everything will be software … that is going to happen, no matter what.”
GE Digital techs predict $60 trillion investment in IIoT by 2030. It seems reasonable taking into account the number of sectors involved. Namely software app developers are invited for shaping the humanity’s future driving business for smarter, safer, and cleaner solutions. And it is not a matter of “if”, it’s only a matter of “when”.