Process optimization often fails due to three issues: lack of interfaces, lack of bandwidth for data transmission, and, in more cases than you would believe, a lack of data. And this is exactly where Industrial Edge can help companies in the process industry.
Advanced planning and scheduling, supply chain optimization, equipment utilization, and energy and resource efficiency are all areas where data-driven strategies can help identify and/or realize hidden potential. Fortunately, most of today’s control systems provide all these data in real time. Or do they?
Truth be told, in many applications the typical DCS or SCADA system is not up to the job: these systems lack bandwidth for transmitting huge amounts of process data to higher-level systems for analysis and evaluation, real-time data utilization is compromised by network latency, and integrating advanced data processing (read: artificial intelligence) into the DCS level comes with too many risks to production. So, unfortunately, many companies in the process industry are not putting data to work as well as they could.
Creating a data processing ecosystem
Industrial Edge can resolve many of these issues. It brings the computing power to the edge of the network — that is, the process — eliminating bandwidth and latency issues. Industrial Edge can run on a separate device outside the DCS, eliminating integration risks. And it can be designed as a secure yet user-friendly environment that offers additional benefits: central administration, monitoring and updates help drive down the operational costs of your “local” big data solution.
Sound too revolutionary? Well, take a closer look at a device that you use every day: your smartphone. In a sense, smartphones are edge devices — they collect data locally and use cloud services to help you navigate a traffic jam or order dinner. With the Siemens Industrial Edge solution, we’ve created a similar environment but for industry applications. It consists of the Edge Management backend, which serves as the central platform for device monitoring and administration and which can be hosted either in the cloud or on premises. Next are the Industrial Edge devices, typically our rugged industrial PCs. On these devices, users can run Industrial Edge apps for acquiring data from the process and for data processing and analysis.
Putting data to work
So where would you start with Industrial Edge? The logical first step would be to identify areas where conventional data integration has been too expensive. Distributed pump stations, extended networks, and pipelines, for example, often lack systems for continuous monitoring and control, but they can be integrated into the data sphere at a low cost and with little or no risk using Industrial Edge. Pumps can be outfitted with clamp-on sensors that provide operational data for analysis in the Industrial Edge device — say, to detect wear from a changing acoustic profile and enable proactive and preventive maintenance. The same approach works for monitoring magnetic valves on pipelines.
Another area where Industrial Edge can be of enormous value is in the detection of unexploited potential in plants and units, including calculating the benefits of upgrades. You can deploy ready-to-use kits with battery-operated IIoT sensors that automatically connect to the Industrial Edge device to acquire the data from the process — no changes in or access to the DCS required.
More information: www.siemens.com/industrial-edge-processindustry
That’s how Industrial Edge can help bridge the gap between process and data — or what I would call “Industry 4.0 made easy.” Do you agree? What else can Industrial Edge do for the process industries? Please let me know in the comments!