Author Archive | Grant Gerke


10:54 pm
January 17, 2017
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National Instruments Continues IIoT Partnership Strategy in 2017

Back in October 2016, National Instruments announced a partnership with Spark Cognition that provides a more holistic solution to asset management in the industrial machinery space. Now, National Instruments (NI) announces the opening of the new NI Industrial IoT Lab at its Austin headquarters.

According to NI, the IoT Lab will focus on intelligent systems that connect operational technology, information technology and the companies working on these systems. Examples cited include microgrid control and communication, advanced control for manufacturing, and asset monitoring for heavy equipment.

>> Related Content | National Instruments Partners with SparkCognition as IIoT Transformation Matures

Plus, interoperability is on NI’s mind as it moves forward in collaborating with protocol associations and technology leaders.

From the press release:

In this space, companies with expertise in communications protocols, controller hardware, I/O components, processing elements and software platforms come together to validate end-to-end solutions that can dramatically change the way businesses operate. Companies sponsoring the NI Industrial IoT Lab include: Analog Devices Inc, Avnu Alliance, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Industrial Internet Consortium, Intel, Kalypso, OPC Foundation, OSIsoft, PTC, Real-Time Innovations, SparkCognition, Semikron, Viewpoint Systems and Xilinx.

“We are excited to strengthen partnerships with other world-class technology companies. A working showcase for new technologies can help all companies involved drive breakthrough innovations for utility grids, manufacturing, asset health monitoring and several other industries,” said Jamie Smith, business and technology director at NI.

To learn more about the new NI Industrial IoT Lab, please visit

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


8:15 pm
January 9, 2017
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Webinar | Operationalizing Analytics and IT

In this deep dive webinar on enterprise analytics, titled, “Operationalizing Analytics and IT,” Gahl Berkooz, chief analytics for General Motors Connected Customer Experience Division, locks into a discussion on the different approaches for managing analytical functions. Crucial foundations are being set as more than “half of manufacturers are using IIoT sensors and related technology for at least a year now,” according to a 2016 Genpact Study.

In this webinar, Berkhooz discusses centralized and decentralized data analytics, how data obliterates business silos and what approach works best. Berkhooz also identified four organizational structures that different companies are using in a HBR recent article.

Four Organizational Data Approaches:

  • A stand-alone data and analytics service function
  • An integrated operational data and analytics function
  • Data and analytics integrated as part of IT
  • Data and analytics embedded in operating divisions

Related Content | New IIoT Survey Reveals Management’s Readiness for Deployment


4:44 pm
January 3, 2017
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White Paper | ROI and the Connected Enterprise

170103itcwp2016 is done and internal debates with manufacturers and OEMs point to building business cases for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. IT and OT suppliers are partnering to provide more holistic solutions for manufacturers, but internal metrics have to be in place for these new IIoT initiatives to be successful.

A new white paper from ThingWorx, a PTC company, “Quantifying the Return on Investment (ROI),” provides starting points for manufacturers on what key metrics are needed for measuring these projects. The paper includes three case applications and a deep dive into the business entities within an enterprise, such as assets, engineering. operations, services and sales.

>> Related Content | Partnerships Emerge as Manufacturers Eye IIoT Strategies 

The paper emphasizes a holistic look at IIoT and how the above entities are connected. For example, the first customer success story reveals these metrics from disparate business units: reduced mean time to repair (MTTR), reduced travel time for calls and a look at service calls for each problem resolved remotely.

From the white paper:

ThingWorx has interviewed customers, analyzed results, and found top- and bottom-line impacts that executives need to understand. The following sections share these finding and discuss what they mean for the enterprise. You will find an overview of the business metrics for IoT and the description of a framework to quantify the return on investment.

>> Click here to download the white paper

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


9:25 pm
December 20, 2016
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IIoT Gains Traction in 2016

Modernization projects and advancements in asset-management technology are making inroads into traditional industries, such as oil and gas.

Modernization projects and advancements in asset-management technology are making inroads into traditional industries, such as oil and gas.

By Grant Gerke, Contributing Editor

Earlier this year, some industry analysts were lamenting the fact that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was all hype, due to a lack of adoption or a refined, clear business model. Well, 2016 has been a big year for developments and market shake out. The year ended strong, as major players, such as GE, Emerson Process Management, Schneider Electric, and Pioneer Energy, made moves to better define the predictive-intelligence space.

GE (Fairfield, CT, acquired Baker and Hughes (Houston), the engineering and construction company for the oil and gas industry, in October and planted a flag in the IIoT space. According to GE, “the company’s oil and gas division will combine its manufacturing and digital platform with Baker Hughes’ oilfield service offerings and technology to create a new Baker Hughes.”

Never known as a big player in oil and gas, this should help GE drive down new-customer acquisition costs and provide exposure for its Predix cloud-based IIoT platform.

1601Iot_logoOverall, oil infrastructure spending has been flat for a couple of years as companies realize large capital expenditures, such as offshore drilling, are not profitable with low oil prices. The focus has shifted to field efficiencies. In the field, there’s been a slow move away from proprietary control platforms and a focus on modernization in places. Driving this, along with cheaper sensor technology, is more remote monitoring by operation and maintenance teams and expanding technical responsibilities.

Major operational gains have come from companies adding more sensors to valves, pumps, and motors at the field level, along with updates to industrial networking infrastructure.

Remote monitoring services have had a big year in 2016. Schneider Electric’s (Andover, MA, Avantis program, GE’s Predix platform, and Emerson Process Management (St. Louis, are just a few that are exploring how to widen services or create a new business model through cloud-computing analysis.

GE had a nice win recently with a Brazilian steel producer, Gerdau. The company announced a large-scale rollout of GE’s software and services across 11 of its steel plants in Brazil. The producer of long steel will use GE’s SmartSignal, historians, services, and remote monitoring for more than 600 assets.

At a recent conference in India, Jonas Berge, director of applied technology at Emerson provided a little more detail on how they see these manufacturing applications evolving. “Plants don’t want to buy equipment anymore,” stated Berge. They want us to do all the measurement analytics for them and give them an action report. It’s a digital transformation.”

Emerson’s remote-monitoring business model charges customers per asset, according to Berge. “If we monitor stream traps, we charge them per steam trap per month,” said Berge. Same thing would be for a pump or a cooling tower, whatever the case.”

Schneider Electric recently showcased Avantis, its remote-monitoring product that uses predictive-asset-analytics software to provide customers with early warning notification and diagnostic guidance of equipment problems.

New greenfield projects are also getting into the act of remote monitoring, Pioneer Energy LP, Burlington, Ontario, an engineering service for the oil and gas industry, introduced the Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) a couple of years ago. This stand-alone unit can fit on a 40-ft. drop-deck trailer at remote shale-well sites and process wet-gas saturated with hydrocarbon vapor.

The unit allows drilling operations to reduce gas flaring and increase revenue by selling these gasses in an aftermarket. But, these units are separate from regular shale drilling and are monitored hundreds of miles away. The company uses mobile technicians to service minor maintenance for multiple sites, but the technicians also can monitor and control the units with mobile devices.

The predictive-intelligence market matured in 2016 and we’ll see more advancements in 2017. MT

Grant Gerke is a business writer and content marketer in the manufacturing, power, and renewable-energy space. He has 15 years of experience covering industrial and field-automation areas.

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


2:00 am
December 19, 2016
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Video | Predictive Maintenance Demo on Pump Failure

The theme for 2016 in the industrial manufacturing space was partnerships when it came to the Internet of Things and predictive maintenance. National Instruments was busy in 2016 positioning itself in the oil and gas space with its partnership with Flowserve, PTC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The company also agreed to a partnership with SparkCognition on asset management and predictive intelligence development later in the year, click here.

In this video at NI Week 2016, National Instruments’s Brett Burger demonstrates how the company’s predictive intelligence solution for this pump system can detect which component will fail and when.

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


3:56 pm
December 14, 2016
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IT Survey Reveals Measurement is Lacking for Unplanned Downtime

The Stratus virtualization solution hosts a redundant version of the mining company's maintenance software platform.

The Stratus virtualization solution hosts a redundant version of this mining company’s maintenance software platform.

The usual suspects for unplanned downtime can be equipment or component failures, but tied to that hard critical hardware is plenty of software. With so many applications relying on services or software, server redundancy is another tool to use in the manufacturing world.

A recent study by Stratus Technologies, a provider of continuous availability server solutions, reveals some interesting facts about what is measured by manufacturers. In a survey released on Dec 13, it shows “that 71% of respondents admitted that their company is not tracking downtime with any quantified metric related to its cost to the company. So, a majority of businesses do not know the cost of downtime until an incident occurs.”

The survey, conducted by industry research firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), targeted more than 250 IT decision makers in North America and Western Europe on topics such as application downtime, recovery time objectives, the use of virtualization, high availability, and fault tolerant availability solutions.

>> Related Content | New IIoT Survey Reveals Management’s Readiness for IIoT Deployment

The IT meets Operational Technologies (OT) debate has been receiving a lot of attention in 2016, but new approaches, such as virtualization allows manufacturers to keep production running during downtime incidents. According to the survey, “the vast majority of production servers and services are not intended to tolerate the length of an average unplanned downtime incident, which was 87 minutes.” For organizations with critical business applications, each minute of unplanned downtime can have severe repercussions on the company, from lost revenue to not meeting service level agreements (SLAs) to brand reputation damage.

In a recent case application from Stratus Technologies, the company cited the ability for its everRun software to provide a mining operation redundancy abilities for Rockwell Automation’s Software Maintenance Automation Control Center (RSMACC). The maintenance software provides a single point of access for gathering, analyzing, and managing control system information across the enterprise.

For this application, Stratus’s redundant software “can synchronize two standard Microsoft Windows servers to create a virtual application environment that runs a single license of RSMACC on both servers simultaneously.”

For more information on software redundancy or the survey, visit

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


12:11 am
November 30, 2016
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Will Legacy Turbine Owners Embrace New Monitoring Platforms?

16ARCadvisoryARC Advisory Group recently released a new market research study on smart control and monitoring solutions for legacy turbines, and, surprise, there’s “low-hanging” fruit for companies. Slight kidding aside, turbines have been around for some time and so have their legacy control platforms — mostly proprietary.

The research study from ARC suggests that power plants and self-powered factories could keep their turbines but upgrade their control (and monitoring) platforms solutions to achieve better uptime. As an industry analyst recently said to me, “It’s hard to calculate an ROI for turbine projects, but a legacy control system will eventually fail and, due to missing spare parts, cause extended downtime.

Due to so many open industrial networking protocols, a new control and monitoring platform can integrate pretty easily into current turbine equipment. And, more importantly, it allows for better visibility into a turbine’s compressors and pumps, for example. The ability to monitor 18 different sensors in the combustion chamber and see it clearly on a computer screen in the control room is hugely valuable and hard to put into dollar terms.

However, many companies are starting too.

Back in September, Maintenance Technology’s IIoT section reported on Mitsubishi’s HiTec Paper mill IIoT program. The company added 26 smartcheck vibration sensors to better monitor a cooling system for its four-story coated thermo-sensitive paper system. After installing the vibration sensors at the cost of €25,500, the paper manufacturer reported a €10,500 ROI due to the avoidance of three failures, service-loss, and machine damage.

>> Related Content | Video: Quick Return on Investment for IIoT Project

Plus, Tim Shea reported in a recent blog post that this might kick-in a service component for automation suppliers:

In addition, IIoT offers opportunities to apply new kinds of business models that will promote growth. Turbine monitoring & controls suppliers may start selling energy or mechanical drive for compression services if they also offer turbines or they could partner with turbine manufacturers to offer remote monitoring and control services for a monthly or yearly fee.

The ARC market research study is for 2017 and reports a sluggish year for this market, but this could change as the political winds have shifted towards the oil and gas market (via this overview link).

We’ll see.

1601Iot_logo>> For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here! 


4:17 pm
November 23, 2016
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Data Optimization Trend Continues for Oil and Gas

oil and gas platformThe oil and gas industry’s outlook for 2017 looks similar to what it was at the start of 2016,  optimize current drilling operations. In a recent press release, General Electric announced a partnership with Maersk Drilling around a marine predictive intelligence pilot project that will target drilling operations.

GE says it will “collaborate on this data-analytic pilot project with the objective to increase Maersk’s drilling vessels productivity and reduce maintenance costs by up to 20 percent.” The project will last 12 months and will use GE’s SeaStream Insight platform — via Predix — to perform “marine asset management.”

“Digital capability will be one of the key enablers for Maersk Drilling, and we embrace this industrial transition,” says Jesper Hansen, CIO, Maersk Drilling. “We are excited to collaborate with GE who is at the forefront of the digital revolution.”

>> Related Content | IIoT Journey for an Automotive Tier One Supplier

Some of the operational details include sensor data from critical equipment connected to a historian and then takes the information from it and models a “digital twin.” The modeling or the “digital twin” allows for the optimization and some predictive intelligence, according to GE. The press release also reported operational data is presented via operator dashboards, though no details on that setup were provided.

For more information, visit

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