Author Archive | Grant Gerke


7:30 pm
July 20, 2017
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White Paper | Digitizing Vibration-Based Condition Monitoring

1707wp_proftechnikThis white paper provides a workforce perspective on automating the process of acquiring vibration data on rotating equipment, along with engineering practices and a case study on condition monitoring with wind turbines — fastest growing profession in the U.S. is a wind turbine technician.

The white paper comes from German-based PRUFTECHNIK Inc. and here’s an excerpt of the white paper:

In this white paper we are exploring how these new technologies will empower technicians and engineers to efficiently and accurately predict and analyze wear and damages in rotating equipment and how these new technologies are boosting the effectiveness of the vibration analyst. The result is an accrued efficiency of industrial production units, marine vessels and offshore units, rendering them safer, less polluting and more profitable.

If the skill of vibration analysts could be used mainly to analyze problems rather than going through huge amounts of data or walking through the factory to collect data, then this would decuple the efficiency of the analyst and – along the way – remove the often boring part of the job. Automating the data acquisition, generating exception reports, recognizing aberrant conditions and even identifying or eliminating plausible causes for an aberrant vibration signal will certainly point the analyst in the right direction.

Download the White Paper Here >>


4:41 pm
July 7, 2017
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Oil Supermajor Identifies Efficiencies via IIoT

oil and gas platform

In the June issue, I highlighted how remote monitoring is taking hold in the oil and gas industry, namely shale applications, and just recently Norway’s Statoil released their 2020 digitalization plan. The supermajor energy company, known for offshore oil drilling, is forecasting $1.2 to 2.35 million of new R&D for digital technologies, as well as the implementation of them.

The company mentioned seven areas of interest about the 2020 roadmap and one is the digitalization of work processes and increasing efficiency “by minimizing the need for manual, repetitive tasks.” The push for more condition monitoring in offshore applications is happening as service providers, such as Emerson Automation Solutions provide remote, turnkey solutions.

The other areas care advanced data analytics and machine learning that means more sensor for pumps and motors. The third is robotics drilling and remote control operations in the future.

Elisabeth B. Kvalheim, Statoil’s chief technology officer, says,“Automated drilling is one of the areas where we have come furthest with digitalization, but work is ongoing in several areas. We have only seen the beginning of the innovation opportunities offered by digitalization. Just think of the possibilities if artificial intelligence can analyze all our seismic data.”

According to Statoil, automated drilling has the potential to drill wells up to 15-20% faster by 2020.

The interesting backdrop to all of this is Statoil is the only supermajor in the industry that is going full-bore with offshore drilling operations, as the others look to leverage digitalization efficiencies in traditional oil fields, transport, and shale wells.

“Digitalisation can help improve the safety and security of our operations, both by means of data that provide us with a better decision-making basis, and through reduced exposure in risky operations,” says Eldar Sætre, Statoil’s chief executive officer.

Rapid change in operations is the reality in today’s oil and gas landscape.




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9:02 pm
June 22, 2017
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Predictions on IIoT Methods as Technologies Mature

1705iiotstateThe traditional mindset before advanced industrial internet solutions took hold was that legacy equipment and systems prohibit flexibility on the plant floor and restrict a company to a reactive maintenance approach. However, OPC UA and publisher/subscribe architectures are changing how plants view asset utilization these days.

So, where to start? Temecula, Calif.-based Opto 22 provides direction on what IIoT trends will take hold in 2017. This white paper provides context on how current manufacturers should move forward with operation technology, how scalability is making IIoT projects more attractive and  insights on predictive maintenance approaches.

See the excerpt below:

It’s also imperative that this individual be well versed in information security, to ensure that the organization’s assets and systems on both the OT and IT sides of IIoT
applications are protected against cyber security threats.This individual might have a job title of DevOps Lead, Data Engineer, IIoT Architect, Emerging Technologist, or IIoT
Manager. A potential organizational architecture is to have both the OT and the IT team roll up under one single IIoT department.

An IIoT strategy is half baked if it comes from only one of these two organizational units, because both are required for a successful IIoT strategy development and rollout. The key to successful management of OT and IT teams for IIoT is that both the teams have an equal seat at the engineering, design, production, and support tables.

>> Click Here to Download the White Paper




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5:09 pm
June 16, 2017
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Remote Monitoring Takes Hold in Oil & Gas


Pioneer Energy Inc. provides a turnkey service that captures flared gases at the field site by way of a Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) unit, separate from the well-drilling application.

By Grant Gerke, Contributing Editor

Digital transformation applications in 2017 are moving fast and taking diverse forms. Many industries, such as oil and gas and petrochemical, are quickly acting on better data-acquisition models so operators can move toward online condition-based monitoring for pumps and motors.

According to Brian Atkinson, a consultant with the Industry Solutions Group of Emerson Process Management (, Shakopee, MN), pumps account for an estimated 7% of maintenance costs of a plant or refinery. “While a pump failure in a refinery may only affect one part of a process,” he said, “pump failures in an oil field can shut down a well or pipeline,”

During the oil-market boon, operators took run-to-failure approaches with pumps and motors, and didn’t install cost-prohibitive wiring to monitor such units in the field. Wireless-network-standardization efforts over the last decade, however, have provided operators the ability to implement condition-monitoring strategies and avoid costly shutdowns that may seem necessary in lower-price markets.

As an example, Atkinson pointed to a white paper, titled, “Beyond Switches for Pump Monitoring,” from Emerson Automation Solutions. It details how oil and gas processing facilities can use cost-effective transmitters to provide continuous condition monitoring and a richer data set on in-the-field pumps. Among other things, it recognizes the American Petroleum Institute (API) Standard 682 that provides a roadmap for achieving continuous monitoring with IIoT-based solutions. This standard defines piping plans for pumps to assist processing facilities for the selection of the type of sensors and controls for pump auxiliary-seal flush systems.

The Internet of Things is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology at

The Internet of Things is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology here.

The white paper illustrates that traditional mechanical switches provide on/off data, while transmitters can communicate a broad range of measured variables and facilitate remote configuration, calibration, and diagnostics. With the transition to transmitters in the field, management can reduce field-maintenance service trips and reallocate those services to other resources.

A prime example of the process industry’s move to continuous, remote monitoring is Pioneer Energy’s captured gas-flaring application for remote shale fields. The Lakewood, CO-based corporation ( provides a turnkey service that captures flared gases at the field site by way of a Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) unit that’s separate from the well-drilling application.

Oil-and-gas-shale producers have usually thought of flared gas as a waste product. Remote monitoring, though, gives them the ability to resell or use it to power drilling operations wherever they may be. In Pioneer Energy’s case, that means being able to monitor the gas-separation unit in a central control room hundreds of miles away from well sites.

Pioneer Energy still provides technician services for minor maintenance of its remote MAGS units. According to the company, it uses Opto 22’s groov mobile monitoring to provide field technicians monitoring and control onsite through mobile devices.

“Our service technicians in the oilfield have 4G AT&T tablets that link to the groov server, which is connected to the OPC server,” said Andrew Young, lead controls engineer at Pioneer Energy Services. “They can see real-time operations as they’re enroute to a site to do a service call.”

Pioneer Energy’s gas-separator service is the embodiment of a new business outcome enabled by advanced sensor networks in a legacy environment. These types of small optimization strategies have begun to take hold in the oil and gas industry, and should be the rule instead of the exception going forward. MT


12:02 am
June 15, 2017
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Automated Predictive Maintenance Approach Listens to the Past

Fig. 1. The cavitation that caused this piston pump to fail catastrophically, to the point of melting the piston shoes, could have been detected weeks in advance through sound predictive maintenance.

The cavitation that caused this piston pump to fail catastrophically, to the point of melting the piston shoes, could have been detected weeks in advance through sound predictive maintenance.

The promise of automated predictive maintenance practices or condition monitoring seems like falling off a log by some solution providers, but the challenge is difficult with legacy systems and workflows. Also, most legacy plants are dealing with hybrid practices: part paper-based procedures and digital data coming from productions systems.

For manufacturers in modernization efforts, mountains of data is a real problem and especially when end users begin to implement automated predictive maintenance practices. Yeah, we have data but how do we act on it?

A new post by Annon Shenfield at IIoT World discusses the ability to fine-tune your automated predictive maintenance approach by recognizing the right “leading signals” and discusses the transition away from manual routines.

However, with automated PdM, a part of the intimate relationship between the technician and machine is broken, which makes understanding anomalies detected remotely very difficult.

Shenfield, the CEO of 3D Signals, discusses how sound can still be one of these go-to leading signals in automated Pd’M routine.

Sound as a leading signal for automated PdM enables detection and classification of a wide range of mechanical phenomena, often sooner than other sensing methods. This is due to the simple fact that moving parts – whether solid, liquid or gas – produce a unique sound pattern, and when something in that movement changes, even slightly, the sound produced changes too.

Read Aaron Shenfield’s Post Here >>




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12:02 am
June 1, 2017
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IIoT Platform Lifting Automotive OEM to Better Uptime

Sometimes it’s hard to realize with so many articles on advanced sensing or new platforms that IIoT initiatives have been with us for some time. Automotive OEMs are well known for their platforms and ability to scale new technology. The automotive industry drove IIoT projects in the early part of this decade as factory utilization and low-interest rates pushed this advanced technology approach forward. (Ford had a credit line of $7 billion with the U.S government…nice deal).

A recent post from the Robotics Industries Assn.’s page describes a recent initiative by GM to decrease downtime with their robotic processes. The company, worldwide, employs over 35,000 robots at its plants and 95% are FANUC.

General Motors is putting IoT and the building blocks of Industry 4.0 to work – today. The automaker’s robot supplier and strategic partner, FANUC America Corporation, is helping GM build a strong foundation for smart manufacturing. GM, FANUC, and networking giant Cisco together developed the Zero Down Time (ZDT) solution. ZDT uses a cloud-based software platform to analyze data collected from robots across GM’s factories in order to detect potential problems that could lead to production downtime.


The takeaway from the article is that this Big Data component is a proprietary solution with FANUC robots, which differs greatly with current IIoT solutions.

A little about the rollout:

GM started slowly, connecting a couple thousand robots over the first year or two. But by fall 2016, GM had over 6,000 robots connected to the ZTD platform, and just six months later over 8,500. Right now, the solution is focused on FANUC robots and FANUC robot-controlled processes. There’s no intention to connect robots made by other manufacturers.

Read the Full Article Here >>

For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here! 


4:29 pm
May 17, 2017
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SAP Chemical Customers Looking for Platform Solutions

Maintenance missteps in chemical-pumping applications can be catastrophic.

Chemical-pumping in action.

There’s a lot of talk about the “things” in the Industrial Internet of Things formula, but analytical platforms are also very integral parts to this complex solution. Return on investment (ROI) or even total cost ownership (TCO) metrics are key ingredients for many manufacturers in realizing the justification for a digital transformation for a plant.

Recently, SAP chemical manufacturers discussed platform and investment at the Best Practices for Chemicals event in Houston. Mark Sen Gupta, from ARC Advisory Group’s Industrie 4.0 blog, recently wrote a post, titled, “Cloud Adoption Slow and Steady Among SAP Chemical Users.” The post outlines the urgency for chemical plants to modernize and connect their assets to transform legacy facilities.

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Companies are at different stages regarding cloud adoption readiness. Some companies have a clear Cloud strategy; some are in the process of moving their test systems into the cloud, others are still waiting. Overall, though, attendees agreed that moving to the cloud should be part of system migration considerations targeting at Total Cost of Ownership and complexity reduction through standardization.

The takeaway for me is more learning is needed by plant managers and executives to better understand platform solutions and possible new business outcomes, beyond asset management. SAP has two resources to help in this area, the Leonardo Portfolio and a Digital Transformation Navigator tool. The Leonardo Portfolio advertises its ability to “bridge things with processes” but also new business processes and business models.

For more information on Leonardo Portfolio, click here, and more about the Digital Transformation Navigator Tool.




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12:06 am
May 12, 2017
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White Paper | Data Acquisition Urgency for Legacy Petrochemical Plants

white paper cover petrochemical industry

Emerson Automation Solutions’ White Paper, titled, “4-Step Roadmap to Top Quartile Performance.”

Subject matter experts leaving, a lack of data knowledge in key areas of the plant and aging equipment can be thorny challenges in optimizing legacy, petrochemical facilities. Luckily, advances in sensing and industrial networking are providing identifiable solutions, such as adding sensors via wireless network versus an expensive wired solution of the past.

As part of our IIoT Spring series, MT is providing reference material to help plants and end users with better optimization strategies, even for aging facilities. This week, Emerson Automation Solutions provides the white paper titled, “4-Step Roadmap to Top Quartile Performance: Leveraging IIoT to Achieve Petrochemical Operational Performance.”

The white paper provides these building blocks for industry plants: 1) Identify Areas for Improvement 2) Acquire Data 3) Analyze Data and 4) Take Corrective Action. An interesting part of the white paper, below, includes adding more sensing due to regulations, even though rules may decrease with the current approach:

Compliance with all these regulations requires plants to install more sensors to monitor operations, record data and file dozens, if not hundreds, of reports to satisfy state and local auditors and inspectors. Regulations aim to improve safety and minimize environmental impact. However, without investments in new sensor technologies and automation, regulations can suppress efficiency and a plant’s ability to meet performance metrics.

Click Here to Download the White Paper >>

1601Iot_logoFor more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here!