Ready or not, the age of the ‘smart’ factory is upon us in ways only a few short years ago were inconceivable. Today, any industrial sector business whose plant floor is not online may well find itself struggling to maintain a competitive advantage. Machine Condition Monitoring is being revolutionized by the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, quickly replacing traditional monitoring of assets—gathering data through a time-consuming manual or semi-manual process—where manpower, time and other resources are required.
Cloud-based IoT advanced condition monitoring utilizing sensors, mobile devices and the cloud can assist in predicting equipment failures, save money and allow employees to do a lot more with less. Considering these facts, it makes perfect sense for a plant utilizing the ‘old way’ to make the move to this latest technology. So, if your business is considering making the upgrade, there are few things you need to know before getting aboard this hi-tech juggernaut.
Define desired outcomes
When considering the implementation of a cloud-based IoT machine condition monitoring system, a strategy must be in place that will best define what you want to achieve.
What are you trying to impact? How will success be measured? Who will be responsible for the system?
Other factors that need to be evaluated at the beginning of the process include cost and ROI. While the cost has decreased significantly over the years, companies must take a hard look at not just the initial investment in hardware and software, but the downstream expenses as well: retrofitting, planned downtime versus unplanned downtime, consulting and subscription costs.
Of course, there are operational considerations—staff training, redeployment of existing resources, scheduling, management support, etc. Once you develop a plan of action and set goals, you will be better prepared to make the IoT decision that’s best for your operation.
Start small and simple
The process of launching and maintaining an IoT program can be intimidating - to engineers, maintenance staff, and management as well. The answer is to start off on a level which allows you to focus on mission-critical assets and key plant-floor issues. It’s also important to create an accurate baseline measurement of process functionality before the new technology is employed.
Easing into IoT, installing the system on a limited number of machines, will also set the stage for long-term success. This modus operandi will allow the entire team to better understand the hardware, software and critical processes without the inherent large-scale frustrations and defeatist attitude that could lead to disaster.
Chances are, you are not going to be able to make the leap to IoT machine condition monitoring on your own; there’s just too much ‘under the hood’ that only a true expert in the field will understand. The company from which you purchase the technology is your most likely source for providing the consultation necessary to keep your investment on track.
But you also need to lean on the experts in your organization that can speak to maintenance and technology needs that will make the implementation of an IoT condition monitoring system valuable.
Embrace the technology
Often the Achilles’ heel in the process of introducing this technology onto the plant floor is employee buy-in. In the mind of many workers, ‘new’ does not always mean better, and there’s the question of how this technology will affect ‘my current job.’ An explanation of the technology and its benefits is a critical step to make the transition as smooth as possible with these stakeholders.
Skills and knowledge will breed success. This may require new positions to be created—data analysts and networking engineers for example. Retraining of maintenance technicians will be critical. Ultimately, the goal for everyone will remain the same—keep the plant floor running smoothly.
It’s a journey, not an event
If you’re expecting immediate gratification—financially and operationally— from your shiny new IoT investment, you will most likely be disappointed. Most companies report a time period of months, sometimes a year or two, before the system is operating at its fullest and most efficient. Staying the course and heeding the advice of experts will provide your company with a significant advantage over the competition.
The Parker solution
Parker can help companies—large and small alike—navigate their way through this new technology. Our easy-to-use cloud-based condition monitoring solution is ideal for accurate and reliable data gathering for predictive maintenance solutions. From the planning stage through full operation, the Parker team will be there.
Parker’s innovative SensoNODE™ Gold Sensors and Voice of the Machine™ Software utilize cloud technology to monitor machines continuously and remotely. With a web-based platform, users can get data from anywhere, anytime.
Facilitating the digital transformation
As a leader in cloud-based machine condition monitoring, Parker is helping industrial and commercial companies make the digital transformation to the Internet of Things (IoT) and full-factory connectivity.
Article contributed by Westin Siemsglusz, IoT market sales manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation.