State of the Industry 2019

Brent Ward, Solutions Expert, Voith Digital Ventures, North America, spoke with the Pumps & Systems editorial staff about the state of the industry heading into 2019.

Go here for more comprehensive state of the industry coverage.

What are the biggest roadblocks to IIoT adoption?

IIoT has come a long way. There are new installations all the time, delivering automation to processes that couldn’t haven’t been accomplished just a few years ago. Still there are roadblocks for the adoption of this operation strategy. I see three main problems:

  • Cultural resistance to new technology. People fear that this technology may take away jobs or replace workers.
  • Lack of understanding of the broad implications and value. Sometimes people only see the price, but IIoT connectivity generates long term value when an organization adopts this technology.
  • Challenges for industry to show clear and immediate ROI/BE. Again, it’s a price-tag issue, this time in terms of standard corporate decision criteria. We need to show data that proves its value.

What equipment and/or processes are most vulnerable to cybercrimes?

The most vulnerable equipment and processes are those not assessed for vulnerability with a deliberate decision about business risk – or those with no plan to address. Not knowing is the biggest risk. A deliberate plan is the best way to minimize vulnerabilities.

What are the biggest benefits to organizations that are embracing IIoT technologies?

When a company adopts IIoT systems, they never look back. It delivers so much – it pulls them into the future and opens up opportunities they’ve never had before. Just consider the benefits:

  • It becomes a central source of truth of data. Good or bad, this is data that everyone can use as the basis or foundation of understanding and decision making – it builds historical information and allows real-time observations.
  • Visibility of process. IIoT users can explore parameters, performance and ability to see and analyze areas to generate significant improvements.
  • Sustainable value through raw inputs, process and equipment optimizations for both revenue generation, margin improvements, competitiveness, cost savings equals net cashflow improvement.

If someone is new to IIoT, what are the first steps they can take to best use the technology?

Since we deal with industries that have been around since the 1800s, we certainly have helped guide some of our customers into Industry 4.0. In general, we advise them to:

  • Recognize and acknowledge the IIoT technologies they are already using in their lives and notice the impact and benefits they already take for granted.
  • Take on a small project that helps uncover information they have been historically blind to. This data will invariably provide insights into particular areas that might yield immediate savings (i.e. energy costs) or shift-to-shift variances in equipment and utility usage.
  • Identify and map the initiatives of the company that best fit IIoT technologies. Also note that the benefits will be amplified by integrating information from disparate systems. Analyzing your IIoT data will provide the insights needed to make a significant impact on the business in the near- to mid-term.

What are the biggest challenges facing the power gen industry in 2019?

The biggest challenges are the changing landscape of power gen options and the impact of regulations on the ability to optimize power generation portfolios. Whether they are large or small organizations, the ability of power generation assets and controls to adapt to market needs will be critical for success.

How have the new European GDPR rules impacted your company’s marketing efforts? Has it affected your customers?

The evolution of the GDPR (and other countries increasingly looking at privacy and data sovereignty) has been happening for years and, as such, our company has been migrating towards European GDPR in preparation for similar changes around the globe. This action has incrementally increased the confidence of our customers in working with our organization.

What keeps you up at night?

What keeps us up at night is providing sufficiently generic but also specific ROI cases that show immediate and profound improvements to our customers’ bottom line. We need these demonstrations to make the aligned business case to their corporate and plant management, who need to clearly see the benefits of getting started as soon as possible. These managers need to understand the market continues to move even if they aren’t ready or don’t see the urgency or danger of not getting started.

What else should we/our readers be aware of? Anything you want to add?

The only way to move into the future, which will absolutely include IIoT, is to begin to take deliberate steps to deliver IIoT into the organization so that employees can see how it can be used. With it in place, they can begin to imagine the other ways in which they could use it in their own work areas.