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Smarter Infrastructure & Social Media in the World of Industrial Equipment

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Smarter Infrastructure & Social Media in the World of Industrial Equipment


Smarter Infrastructure & Social Media In the world of Industrial Equipment

Social Media has become the key aspect of how we communicate, exchange and receives information. As events happen, messages are routed in real-time all over the planet, thanks to fast cellular networks, smart phones and vibrant people of this planet.

As we have learnt to adapt and embrace technology to help us be more efficient, we can use similar concepts in the world of Smarter Infrastructure. Infrastructure is getting Smarter every day, as controllers behind these industrial equipment’s are being instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, which helps us to make informed decisions.

A world of smarter infrastructure consists of intelligent industrial assets designed for specialized tasks, whose behavior, feelings and emotions we can articulate, where they interact with each other, exchange their daily routines and share their experiences around their performance and maintenance, due to intelligent, interconnected set of sensors that they are instrumented with. We want them to express what they feel and how we can help make conditions better for them, so they can work more efficiently.

Looking at Smarter Infrastructure in the industrial sector, industrial sector. A few examples include: Shipping Ports with massive cranes which move containers on and off the ships and also on the dock, Mining pits where gigantic haul trucks moves metal ores, Cell Towers acting like mini-datacenters with powerful antennas, Buildings with air handler units, chillers, boilers etc. In each of these different industrial sectors, equipment (Assets) is instrumented with many intelligent sensors, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Element Management Systems (EMS), Building Management Systems (BMS) etc. 

Let’s look at Shipping Port Terminals. One of the industrial equipment (Assets) at the port is the RTG (Rubber Tyred Gantry Crane). These RTG’s run off of heavy duty diesel generators exposing metrics like RPM, Oil Pressure, Water Temperature, Current, Voltage, Fuel Rate etc. Drilling into these metrics we find relationships between Diesel Generators RPM, Oil Pressure and Water temperature.

For example, water temperatures going up, while oil pressure is going down, can lead to a potential problem.  Relationships between voltage and current like Distortion in voltage, can be bad for motor.  As we collect data for these metrics regularly, we can predict an issue, before it becomes a failure, avoiding any down-time. These all can be achieved with the data being collected and shared among the equipment (Assets), helping users to make more intelligent decisions. 

So how we can use all this data and alerts in the Social Media for Industrial Equipment (Assets)?  Think of these Cranes as Workers on the port, who are going through their daily tasks, and chit-chatting and sharing the information, as they experience the workloads during their shift. This can easily be extended across sites, as the conditions may vary and what we learn from Site A can be shared with Site B for predictive and preventive measures.  For example:

         Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG adjusting the Thresholds in the monitoring and management, condition monitoring, based on the vendor’s failure curves profile provided and updating the behavior back to the vendor as a service. This exchange of information helps both the user and vendor.
         As one Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG experiences an issue, data is shared and compared with other RTG to inform them and trigger processes to see if they are seeing the same patterns
         Records for Maintenance between the Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG can be compared to see which of the RTG has not been serviced on schedule
         Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG can share solutions based on symptom described by peer systems, in form of run books (steps to diagnose a problem, in form of text or a video on how to)
         Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG exchanging there fuel consumption based on their workloads, helps determine which RTG is more efficient and how the workloads can be distributed to gain fuel efficiency. Further predictive analytics,  can be applied based on patterns to predict which RTG is best fit for the given workload
         If a configuration change, configuration management is being done as part of maintenance to equipment (Assets) such as RTG, it can be checked beforehand to see, if earlier changes like this done at its peer, caused any failure
         In case of regular maintenance, RTG can access from its peers, what preventive maintenance was done along with this routine maintenance
         Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG can also share information on contractors who do maintenance like efficiency and time it takes to complete work orders. They can compare the same Industrial Equipment (Assets) among different sites and among different contractors, to see who to choose next time
         Industrial Equipment (Assets) such as RTG can suggest, based on run-time, which vendor to select next in case of a part failure
In today’s world people use social media to update and report on where they are and what they are experiencing.  In the same fashion, these industrial assets are capable of updating systems about what they are experiencing in real-time and triggering analytics for further analysis, recommendations and to generate reports.

The constructs of Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. allow people to interact with each other.  These same constructs can be applied machine to machine and machine to people enabling Industrial Equipment (Assets) to share and analyze data (Efficiency and Effectiveness) across industries.  Just as we are able to effectively share personal status, advice, and remedies with each other, these Industrial Equipment (Assets) are able to share their operational state information helping each other to stay active, healthy and most importantly productive.


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