Embracing IIoT's potential for maintenance

Companies can and should embrace and apply critical aspects of IIoT, including machine learning, analytics, and mobility.


Companies can and should embrace and apply critical aspects of IIoT, including machine learning, analytics, and mobility. Courtesy: EmersonThe Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the concept of IIoT for Maintenance are popular buzzwords in the maintenance world today. But what do they mean, and how can these concepts benefit maintenance professionals attempting to meet production demands, increase productivity and boost the bottom line?

The IIoT story has evolved far beyond what it was when it was first introduced to me 15 years ago. In the early days, there was reluctance from upper management to embrace IIoT. Today, leveraging cloud technology is becoming a requirement. Cloud-based systems and IIoT enable companies to buy the best-of-breed solutions without turning the information technology department upside down. Companies today can embrace and apply critical aspects of IIoT, including machine learning, analytics, and mobility.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn patterns and trends without specific programming. Machine learning focuses on the development of programs that change when exposed to new data. For maintenance professionals, these programs can mean changes in preventive (PM) or predictive (PdM) maintenance schedules based on equipment condition.

It is not critical how information is imported into a system such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). My experiences with the evolution of CMMS and mobility have shown that even with manual methods, machine learning can result in establishing procedures to address planning pitfalls, better inventory control, stronger PM practices and maintenance discipline.


Information on all assets, labor, and work management is readily available with the ability to connect CMMS and tools. More specifically, through advanced analytics, maintenance professionals can interpret data from multiple sources (including structured and unstructured data) into a wide variety of operational and asset management systems. This analysis provides a deep and wide perspective, exposing conditions not normally evaluated.

An example would be to understand the environmental status of an asset when it begins to fail, and then when it does fail. This deeper and wider view may shed light on contributing factors not previously considered. With this data, it is easier to make predictions on what may happen. Companies are analyzing the performance of equipment yesterday and today to predict what will happen tomorrow. With the power of IIoT analytics:

  • Manufacturers can prevent vehicle breakdowns and notify drivers, or predict outages in the assembly line process
  • Oil and gas companies can develop optimized maintenance schedules for critical assets
  • Facilities can predict outages in power generation equipment.

Companies can and should embrace and apply critical aspects of IIoT, including machine learning, analytics, and mobility. Courtesy: EmersonMobility

In today's industrial world, smartphones and laptops are more prevalent than desktops. Mobility is tied to most things in our world, and can help provide a cost-effective method to leverage IIoT. The power of mobile technology can turn machine learning and analytics into action by feeding the data directly from a piece of equipment to a handheld device.

Smartphones and tablets help make a wealth of data available, including asset history for critical equipment to influence future decisions.

By correlating historical trends and current conditions as they occur, companies can detect faults and increase equipment uptime. Standard operating procedures for equipment repair can also be accessed on a smartphone, reducing the rate of failure due to manual error.

For maintenance professionals, this means that where your company is today might not be so far away from where you can be tomorrow. The tools for getting started integrating IIoT are available today.

Kevin Clark is director of global service and alliances for Fluke Corp.

ONLINE extra

See additional stories from the Plant Engineering May 2017 cover story below.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
2017 Top Plant winner, Best practices, Plant Engineering at 70, Top 10 stories of 2017
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Setting internal automation standards
Knowing how and when to use parallel generators
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me