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IIoT Strategies Focused on KPIs Drive Operational Excellence

 Industrial automation end users and OEMs everywhere are aware of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) concept, but it may be less clear how to start realizing value from applying these and other digital transformation initiatives. My article in the March-April 2020 issue of Industrial Equipment News, titled "Link IIoT Strategies with KPIs to Ensure Operational Excellence," points out why supporting key performance indicators (KPIs) with IIoT strategies is a practical way to accelerate productivity and cut costs.

Begin with the Basics
Most any operation can and does use basic KPIs to quantify fundamentals like throughput, performance, and downtime. Tracking such information is a positive first step for identifying where performance can be improved, and for finding root causes of problems. For instance, monitoring equipment wear elements, such as bearings, helps users move away from reactive or scheduled maintenance and toward a condition-based approach.

Get Practical
Traditional operational technology (OT) devices like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are good for real-time control, but not as well suited for higher-level IIoT communications and analysis.

A new class of edge controllers, like Emerson’s RX3i CPL410, combine traditional deterministic control with modern IT computing methods, all in a single edge-located platform. These controllers can be retrofitted into existing systems or provide an all-in-one platform for new systems.

The Right Information
With modern edge controllers, users can easily develop a “dashboard” of KPIs, so every type of user can have the right information to understand machine performance and health. Taking it a step further, subject matter experts can use the information supplied by edge controllers to evaluate a fleet of machines from many locations, providing new insights.

An IIoT strategy targeted to obtain and deliver KPIs is a practical and valuable approach for a digital transformation initiative.