We recently had the pleasure of talking to Sujata Tilak, M.D., Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd., a thought leader in the field of IIoT, with a wide-ranging experience in areas like environmental monitoring, smart manufacturing, reliability engineering etc. Following is an excerpt.
- What’s the difference between Industrial 4.0 & IoT?
Industry 4.0 is an initiative of German government to promote smart manufacturing in Germany and elsewhere. IoT is a technological paradigm for pervasive connectivity of devices.
- What is special about IIoT? And what are the challenges and opportunities in this area?
IIoT has connected physical world to the Internet, thus giving rise to cyber physical systems. This is having a profound impact on all sectors like manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, retail to name just a few. Thus, there are limitless opportunities for IIoT solutions. The main challenges at present are around standardization of communication protocols and interoperability of systems from different vendors. There is also an issue of connectivity to legacy systems.
- What pains can IIoT solve for the manufacturing world?Does IIoT make the workplace more Transparent?
For manufacturing, the most important deliverable of IIoT is connecting shop floor assets and processes to analytics and decision support systems in real time. This adds value to many different areas like production, maintenance, supply chain, safety, even employee motivation. You name the area, and there is an IIoT use case. IIoT increases transparency by making reliable and complete information available to all stakeholders in real time.
One word of caution though, any system is as good as its configuration or how it is setup. So, the industry must invest required resources – people, infrastructure and time - to get most out of the system. It is necessary to have an internal champion who is empowered to drive the project and then to sustain it after implementation.
- How are the industry boundaries & the structure of the industry affected by the introduction / move / shift to smart, connected products?How does it affect the configuration of the value chain?
Smart manufacturing provides real time visibility at all levels. Due to this, it can break down opaque silos within an industry. Implemented correctly it is a very effective tool for bringing in transparency and accountability and facilitating quick decision making.
Connected systems can go beyond the boundaries of an industry to cover entire supply chain.
- What can you do today to make sure your interconnected manufacturing business is up to speed and under control?
As I said above, designate an ‘internal champion’ and empower him/her with required resources and decision making. Make sure the system is setup optimally. Don’t compromise on system security. One more important thing, it is absolutely essential to secure buy-in of all users early on. This ensures that they are motivated to use the system properly and reap benefits from it.
- Could you give us some examples of predictive maintenance and asset management within the Industrial IoT?
IIoT systems can add immense value to asset management and maintenance. Some examples:
- Traditionally preventive maintenance is done based on fix period, e.g. change filter every month. This period is based on certain assumptions about running of that asset. IIoT can provide exact data on running hours. So you can set preventive maintenance based on that, e.g. change filter after running 400 hours. This is just-in-time maintenance.
- Another example is predictive maintenance based on condition monitoring. Every asset gives early warning of problems. By monitoring critical asset parameters 24 x 7, you can catch the early warning and schedule maintenance to fix the problem even before it occurs. This brings about tremendous reduction in unplanned downtime.
- What is PlantConnect? How is it positioned in the market?What industries use PlantConnect?
PlantConnect is an Industrial IoT platform comprising of a data acquisition component and a cloud server. We have created 4 products based on this platform:
Environment Data Monitoring System for stack emissions, ambient air quality, water quality, and effluent monitoring. This is used by any industry that needs to report environment data in real time, e.g. cement, power, pharma etc.
Remote Asset Monitoring Solution for OEMs / maintenance agencies / equipment rental companies / utility companies.
Smart factory solution for discrete manufacturing with focus on performance improvement, predictive maintenance, and energy management.
Real time data management, historian and reporting framework for process plants. Most of our deployments are in dairy industries.
- What role does PlantConnect have in the IIoT world? Could you share some use cases showcasing PlantConnect’s capabilities?
Each of the products listed above has a unique role to play in IIoT world. Here are a few snippets from some of our installations. There are some more listed on our website www.platconnect.net
PlantConnect SFactoryis used for real time tracking of expected versus actual production, control cycle time variations, condition based just-in-time maintenance
We have an OEM customer who ships PlantConnect RAMSwith each machine they sell. They have defined 32 conditions around best practices of their machine usage. When any of these conditions is violated, an alert is displayed to operator. If the operator doesn’t take corrective action and the condition persists, then another alert is sent to shift supervisor. If the condition still persists for some more time, an alert comes to OEM control center. With this they have effectively ensured that all operators follow best practices and hence the machine is utilized optimally, downtime is reduced and machine life increases
EnviroConnect is installed by over 1000 industries to report stack emissions and ETP output to pollution control boards. We are proud to be the leader in this space and help our country to keep industrial pollution in check.
PlantConnect Insights is deployed in several dairies for real time reporting.
- What research efforts is Ascent participating in to develop IIoT technology? Are there any new IIoT products coming up?
We are members of Industrial Internet Consortium and actively contributing to efforts of creating IIoT frameworks, efforts for interoperability, security and business innovation.
Within AIPL we are working on some new product ideas which we will announce at the right time.
- Who should care about smart manufacturing?
Any industry that wants to remain competitive and improve customer satisfaction should care about smart manufacturing.
- What Industrial IoT technologies will be available soon in the context of themanufacturing industry?
There are some new technologies coming up like Time Sensitive Networks which will allow more mission critical processing in IIoT, low powered wans that will give rise to small, inexpensive edge devices. Some existing technologies are becoming for widely available like OPC UA.
- What new strategy approach will companies require to achieve competitive advantage within the smart, connected products vertical?
Smart manufacturing is a maze of many different areas and each customer has unique requirements and scale. Hence having a scalable solution that can be quickly and easily customized is essential. Another good strategy is to build a partner ecosystem.
Profile : Sujata Tilak
Managing Director, Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd.
Sujata is a thought leader in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and convergence of Industrial Automation and Information Technology. An Instrumentation & Control engineer from College of Engineering, Pune; Sujata has more than 25 years of experience. She has worked with Alfa Laval and KPIT before foundingAscent Intellimation in year 2000. She has ably led the company to a niche position as a supplier of software solutions in industrial automation and IIoT space. Sujatahas wide ranging experience inareas like environmental monitoring, smart manufacturing, reliability engineering etc. Under her leadership, AIPL has conceptualized and developed an innovative Internet of Things platform, PlantConnect and various products based on this platform.
As an evangelist of her chosen field, Sujata’s focus is to help organizations recognize and embrace diverse ways in which manufacturing data can be beneficially used by various stake holders. Sujata has pushed this cause through participation in various events; paper presentation in conferences, discussions in professional forums, etc.
Sujata is active in various organizations like ISA, TiE and CII. She is currently President of ISA Pune Section and member of various global ISA committees. She is a charter member of TiE.