A need is being created from thinning corporate budgets and aging legacy equipment, and it's leading the way to integrated sensor technology and the Internet of Things. Unfortunately, decision-maker buy-in is often the red light keeping facility managers from pushing their operations forward.
Sensor Technology and IoT: Revolutionizing Industrial Energy Management
In the 21st century organization, there are a number of obligations currently forming:
Keeping shareholders and customers happy
Phasing out older technology for more efficient equipment and processes
While these new business obligations may seem disparate to the untrained eye, they come together to drive the shift towards Industrial IoT.
True to its promise, key competitive advantages have sprung from the precision and visibility of interconnected technologies. These include:
Greater asset synchronicity
Superior process test-ability
More convenient and accessible data storage
In embracing such a cutting edge technology as IIoT, many decision-makers assume that only the best and newest equipment can be compatible with the new paradigm. These mingling factors are forcing plants to replace legacy equipment in droves – an expensive process, by any measure. But this needn't be the case.
IoT provides the insight necessary to identify and silo upgrades to certain portions of the plant floor, rather than replacing them all for a higher cost.
Through device-level monitoring, companies are able to forego the guessing game associated with identifying underproductive and inefficient equipment.
Energy sensors can pinpoint productivity, downtime, uptime and energy consumption rates. These data points represent an objective voice of reason, eager to help good sense win out when it comes to making financial and operational decisions (such as implementing and managing a predictive maintenance regimen).
Building the Business Case
It's perplexing that something so small yet powerful remains so difficult to obtain buy-in for. According to a study by LNS Research, 62% of companies see communicating the value of IIoT and securing budget as the main roadblocks to IIoT deployment. This is a clear issue across a number of sectors.
Any effort to remove or overcome this roadblock needs to inlude the creation of a business case that emphasizes the growing role of digital transformation in your industry. Case in point, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that 70% of companies are utilizing big data to positively transform their business strategies.
Indeed, it should be stated very clearly that companies taking part in the data revolution are seeing revenues and valuations grow more than those without a digitally based five or 10-year plan. Of the companies using big data, 62% percent are leveraging it for decision-making purposes, while another 52% believe it brings better and quicker insights into operations.
Interconnected technology brings a better understanding of how organizations are utilizing valuable assets day to day. A small-scale (low cost) pilot, fitting each piece of equipment with energy sensors – for example – and gathering data on key metrics like uptime, consumption and operability, would allow facility managers to demonstrate the value of IIoT-retrofitted systems based on data rather than intuition and buzz words.
It is no exaggeration to say that this manner of testing, demonstrating and gradually scaling (as opposed to the more binary approach weighing complete operational overhaul against nothing at all) could be the difference between upgrades spanning days and thousands of dollars and those spanning years and millions.
Corporate goals are changing rapidly, and if something isn't on an executive's radar just yet, it's likely that there isn't enough information available. The coupling of sensor technology and IoT provides device-level insights to anchor sound judgments. When it comes to deciding which pieces of legacy equipment need to be swapped, and which deserve to stay, that can be mean huge financial savings.