The value-added services that IoT technology provides could transform the pump industry.
by Mike W. Otten
March 3, 2015

Smart & Autonomous

Moving to smart and autonomous applications (the last levels) involves multiple collaborating systems with significant interactions between assets such as pumps, heat exchangers, control systems and people. The focus is no longer solely on the product supplier's ability to efficiently deliver support for its product. Instead, value is brought to the customer through business process automation and optimization.

Consider any of the larger pump systems in more complex industries such as power generation or industrial manufacturing. In such high-value and critical businesses, major electric utility customers have good reason to hate equipment failures. At the least, any downtime creates huge opportunity costs for these customers. It often means they have to pay hefty regulatory compliance fines.

To reduce risk, monitoring and diagnostics of critical assets such as large pump systems enable suppliers to send a technician or engineer before a failure occurs (preemptively) as opposed to doing so according to a schedule based upon assumptions (proactively) or, even worse, after the power has gone off (reactively).

Most pumps suppliers cannot charge more than $75 to $120 per hour for their technical support because of price and benefit pressures from local competitors. With efficient network-enabled services, however, leading players could charge $250 to $350 per hour for the same technician who has become a skilled subject matter expert.

The Future of IoT

These instances, however, are still examples of simple applications largely focused on the product manufacturer's own value chain. They are simple "hub and spoke" remote support. While these models have value, significant untapped opportunities are available to provide new value for users and customers.

Plant managers have many options. Based on their IoT expertise and resources, they can either develop their own smart devices and code their Internet of Pumps platform or use plug and play hardware kits and pre-coded IoT software platforms to retrofit existing sensors.

For companies and plants wanting to revamp their business models and provide better value-added services, implementing an IoT strategy that connects everything from a pump in the field to the corporate network can transform not only those companies but the entire pump industry.

Read Mike W. Otten's article "Internet-Based Monitoring Is a Low-Cost Alternative to Traditional Technology" from the February issue of Pumps & Systems here.
1. Blog Analyst, Andy Mulholland
2. Gartner forecast Internet of Things worldwide
3. Mike W. Otten was employed by Grundfos from 1997 — 2012

4 Essential Steps to Successful IoT Implementation

  1. Define your focus.

    When you Google "IoT," you will get more than 25 million results. "IoT technology" will garner about 15 million hits. These search results alone reveal the hype about the newest available technologies and services. The best approach to building an IoT strategy is to begin by spending time and resources to clearly define your customer problem, determine an IoT-based solution and develop a business case for the value-added services these technologies would provide.

  2. Choose a platform that fits your needs.

    Because most plant management teams are not software developers, consider selecting an IoT platform that provides standard widgets and templates that allow users to drag and drop and copy and paste pre-coded materials that will reduce your time to market by 10 times. Several of these platforms are already available on the market.

  3. Keep development simple.

    Engineers are used to developing, breaking down and rebuilding again. The development of wireless sensors, however, is different. Selecting the wrong standard is the No. 1 pitfall that wastes time and resources. To avoid these challenges, develop sensors and apps using a basic IoT solution development kit.

  4. Build a strong IoT ecosystem.

    Entering this new IoT space requires time and teamwork. Building an "Internet of Pumps" solution is impossible without key partners that have strong ecosystems of solutions to serve your plant's particular needs—especially as your IoT network grows.