How to transform my business model with internet of things (III)

How does it connect? An industrial compressor connected to the internet
Date 1/08/2017
Category IoT
The world of IoT is recently focusing on the industrial sector, a sector that seems to want to lead business innovation using this technology. In this sense the term Industry 4.0, which we will talk about in another post, serves as a catalyst for many companies to find a reason to modernize their production models.

The case that we are going to analyze next is framed within the already known IIoT or Industrial Internet of Things. In this sense, I define IIoT as: "the ability to remotely retrieve and analyze data generated by machines or production systems in order to act on them remotely and globally, and thus be able to define and execute maintenance and conservation strategies".

As you can see, I do not introduce the term "preventative" or "predictive" as we still can not guarantee to know what happens to a machine now and tell us what is going to happen in the future by attending to events that happened in the past.

Likewise, this case of IIoT is framed within the possible business models identified in the previous post of How to transform my business model with IoT. In this case, we are talking about sensing an asset of our company or a point of our environment to know what happens at all times and be able to act on it intelligently.

A compressor connected to IoT technology

The case below focuses on an industrial compressor in a beverage production plant for mass consumption. The first analysis to be carried out is the following.

1. Is it an asset? In other words, is it where I lose money (let's be politically correct and say "we're inefficient") or can I generate more revenue or profitability for my business? Logically, it is an asset of my company where, if I don't maintain it correctly, I could be losing money because its energy consumption is less efficient, among other things.

2. The second step is, what data does the compressor currently give me? We are dealing with an Atlas Copco ZT90 and we assume that the only information we have is its technical characteristics or operating mode (maximum working pressure 8.6 bar, input power 94.8 kw, revolutions per minute 2,980 r/min, weight 2,749 kg, etc.). The compressor does not have sensors that measure operating variables and, therefore, since no data is available, no type of analysis can be carried out. You have to generate data somehow.
Therefore, we assume that we have two options:

  • To know the energy consumption of the compressor and to compare it with the rest of compressors of the factory and/or to be able to control it of remote form.
  • Analyze the compressor switchboard and create a small programmable board that reads signals and stores them and sends them to a server.

In this case, we start with how simple it is to measure and know the energy consumption of the equipment. This data will help us to carry out numerous analyses (increase in power consumption, remote control for switching on and off, overvoltage protection, analysis of past incidents, etc.). And what can we do with it? Programming on and off, expense control, generating alarms, etc.

After analyzing the compressor, we must choose a meter that reports the data. Meter? Meter? Meter? Meter? In this case the best way to differentiate them is:

  • Meter: transforms an electrical signal, water, gas, etc. into a real numerical value.
  • Sensor: transforms a physical event of the environment into a signal. Notify or report that something has happened.
    We select in the market an intelligent counter (sends the numeric data that measures) of the mark ABB B24.

With this smart meter, I take the opportunity to introduce a couple of technical terms specific to the IoT environment:

  • Three-phase or three-phase measurement: measurement method, where the difference between two voltage measurements is measured, and the third makes it a neutral or reference measurement.
  • Reading and sending of data by M-Bus.

Once the installation of these measuring equipment is done, always by a specialized technician, it is necessary to connect this system with another system that acts as a gateway and routes the traffic generated to our server. In this example I propose using the Fifthplay DIN Gateway.

4. Do we measure in real time? As I have described, almost directly, we have a meter taking data of electrical consumption. My recommendation, in this sense, is not to start an IoT project thinking in real time. The first thing is to ensure measurement and communications. Once achieved, we must program the reading every 5-10 minutes of the consumption variable and collect that data once a day to be processed.

With this case of use, we have managed to understand how to measure a critical equipment or asset of our company, collect data and act on it. In the following articles, I will explain what to do with that data, where to store it and how to deploy that solution to more teams.

You can see the previous articles in this series about IoT, written by our colleague Guillermo Renancio, in the following links:

How to transform my business model with Internet of Things (part 1)
How to transform my business model with Internet of Things (part 2)



Guillermo Renancio