IIoT Best Practices for ‘Smart’ Factories and Cities

In one of my previous blog posts on extracting value from Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in food and beverage manufacturing, I’ve mentioned there are mainly 3 best practices for implementing IIoT technology:

  1. Build on existing investments
  2. Reduce CAPEX and total cost of ownership
  3. Empower people

Today, I’ll take a look at how these best practices are applicable not just within the Smart Factory manufacturing enterprise, but also in the case of a Smart City.

Connectivity is the Principal Starting Point

Consider the Smart Factory as a manufacturing plant that has interconnected assets and systems. Fueled by real-time information that spans the entire value chain, the factory aims to achieve continuous optimisation of its operations in production, maintenance, inventory control and distribution. Ideally, a Smart Factory is continuously improving its modus operandi and is self-sustainable.

Like the Smart Factory, extensive interconnected systems run within a Smart City. Municipalities collect and analyse large volumes of data for better management of their resources in transportation, utilities and communication, to name a few. The result is a sustainable city that is more efficient in its day to day operations.

Connectivity is the foundation stone of both these Smart entities and with the declining prices of smart IIoT devices and sensors, it is easier than ever to improve connectivity and unlock additional value. So where do you start?


1. Build on Existing Investments

In manufacturing plants, there are typically technology solutions already in place to automate processes, and to provide visibility and control. The challenge here is to leverage existing investments to unify trapped data in different silos, to analyse and share information for operational improvements between departments of a single site, or between sites of a facility.

Likewise, the challenge for municipalities is to find the integration points where currently siloed data can be processed and analysed across municipal agencies. To cite an example, the meteorological department forecasts dry and warm conditions to persist through the rest of the month and this information is automatically shared with the power utility to predict residents’ electricity consumption behaviour based on historical data of similar weather conditions. The power utility would now be able to buffer for an increase in energy load without running into the risk of tripping the grid.


2. Reduce CAPEX and Total Cost of Ownership

We are seeing more adoption of cloud solutions for functions such as data management, to reduce CAPEX as well as improve accessibility. In the manufacturing world an effective balance can be a hybrid deployment where mission-critical control is managed on-premises, while performance information such as OEE monitoring is pushed to the cloud for archiving, reporting and analyses. The cloud enabled software as a service allows for quick provisioning and fast time-to-value.

Taking data management to the cloud is also a viable option for municipalities. Water utilities are faced with immense pressure to manage reliable water supplies while keeping distribution networks safe. This includes real-time monitoring of water flow, pressure, level and quality. In the event of a water contamination or breach of service, the water utility must be able to identify, contain and notify affected residents. To achieve this end goal, utilities must collect data from multiple sources including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, geographic information systems (GIS), work order management systems and customer information systems for analysis. With a large city, one can imagine the massive amount of data this encompasses.

In both cases, the cloud’s limitless storage and computing power makes such deployment scalable, without the need for on-premise software and IT support. This in turn, lowers the total cost of ownership.

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3. Empower People

For Smart Factory and Smart City alike, the biggest benefit is that IIoT, cloud and advanced analytics solutions offer the ability to transform data into actionable insights, empowering people to make better, more informed decisions. With an increasingly mobile workforce and younger generations demanding change in consumption models, access to real-time information ‘on the go’ is important. Enabling users to view data and KPIs on smart phones, tablets or wearables means that timely correction actions can be taken before costly failures in plant productions or city operations occur. This is the key to operational excellence in a Smart Factory and a Smart City alike.

Whilst it is interesting to find commonalities in best practices between these two, there is more to explore on this topic. Join me at the AVEVA World Summit on 9-11 October in Palm Springs to hear a more in-depth discussion of these innovations with global industry leaders. 

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Keith Chambers AVEVA

By Keith Chambers

Director, Manufacturing Operations Management, AVEVA

Keith Chambers is responsible for strategic direction, commercialization and development for Aveva's operations management portfolio globally. Keith has over 20 years’ experience in the automation, software and MES business with a focus on manufacturing operations software in the food and beverage, CPG and life sciences industries.