Software as a Service (SaaS) will revolutionize predictive maintenance in motor driven systems

Interact Analysis’s new report on the market for predictive maintenance highlights the potential for a new relationship between component manufacturers, OEM machine builders, and end users.

  • By 2024, the market for predictive maintenance in motor driven systems is forecast to reach a valuation of $906.1 million
  • Enhanced demand for remote monitoring as a result of COVID-19 means there will be no slowdown in market growth
  • SaaS is likely to be the main business model for provision of predictive maintenance, and also eases concerns over data ownership

Interact Analysis, my new favorite market research firm, has announced an in-depth examination of the predictive maintenance market. It forecasts a boom in the sector, propelled by the emergence of smart sensors able to monitor crucial parts of a motor-driven system that are not covered by legacy maintenance devices and methods. Advanced smart sensors will allow delivery of viable cloud-based predictive maintenance service packages using a SaaS business model.

One reason I like Interact Analysis right now is methodology. In addition to 40+ hours of primary research interviews, Interact Analysis has utilized data from national manufacturing surveys, as well as data developed for other research areas. This data, combined with the information gathered from interviews, is the base at which estimates are developed.

The report shows that the market for predictive maintenance in 2019 was $117.5 million, largely made up from legacy predictive maintenance products such as portable monitoring devices. Many of these devices will maintain strong growth in the coming decade but will be used in tandem with new technologies such as smart sensors, the latter fueling an expected boom in market value of predictive maintenance technology, up to almost $1 billion in 2024. The significant fall in price of the capacitive based microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) found in Smart Sensors will be one of the drivers of this market.

I like their methodology and analysis—except for forecasting. Predicting future sales is so fraught with uncertainty that I take it as an interesting guide. Evidently sensor manufacturers reported doubling of sales over the two previous years. Look at the numbers and you can see that Interact assumed that doubling to continue through 2024.

When I read through the report synopsis, I was struck by the reliance on smart sensing as a foundation to the market growth for predictive maintenance. I missed a point. They have detected the beginnings of a trend that I have not yet seen. Software-as-a-Service applied to these intelligent devices. Selling the data, not the sensor, so to speak. I’m interested in your feedback on this development. And whether it can drive this market to a billion dollars.

Back to the report:

Smart sensors, which typically monitor sound, temperature, and vibration, may not provide the depth of data offered by some legacy devices, but they have significant advantages. Whereas most legacy devices are attached to motors, IA predicts that only 53% of smart sensors will be attached to motors by 2024. The rest will be attached to other machine components which are also subject to the wear and tear of daily use. This means that the application of predictive maintenance will be far more widespread in the factories of the future.

Blake Griffin, lead analyst on predictive maintenance at Interact Analysis, says: “Smart sensor technology coupled with IIoT capabilities give component manufacturers and OEM machine builders the scope to offer end users an anticipatory service package. For most providers of predictive maintenance, the logical business model will be software as a service. A side benefit of SaaS is that it ties all technologies together under a single solution – thereby eliminating concerns regarding data ownership. Additionally, advancements in embedded machine learning will improve the ability for predictive maintenance to be installed in new or non-standard applications that are less well understood, further fueling growth.”

Adrian Lloyd, CEO of Interact Analysis, adds: “Modern predictive maintenance technology is currently at the beginning of an exponential growth trajectory. Now is a more important time than ever for suppliers to understand key trends at play so they may work at carving out their share of this market – forecast to be worth nearly $1 billion by 2024.”

Griffin further explained the background in a Blog Post. Following are some excerpts.

What are Smart Sensors?

Smart sensors are a fairly new technology that are placed on equipment to gather various data points, most commonly vibration and temperature measurements. Smart sensors then transmit this information wirelessly to a data collector or gateway. When analyzed, this data is particularly useful for assessing the health of equipment as usually the level of vibration and temperature increases as equipment becomes faulty.

How is this Different from Condition Monitoring?

In a traditional condition monitoring system, very little effort is made to determine when equipment will fail, instead relying on set parameters to determine when an asset is at risk of failing. The problem with this approach is that it limits the number of applications which can be monitored. If parameters must be set for an alarm to be triggered, those parameters must be well understood. This decreases the reliability of these systems in applications that are not well understood.

For predictive maintenance to be performed, a level of intelligence must exist somewhere in the plant infrastructure, whether in the form of software, hardware or even application expertise by an experienced operator. A historical log of how the equipment being measured has performed must be utilized to assess if it is trending towards a failure. Increasingly, machine learning algorithms are being utilized to enhance the understanding of the application being measured. This technology utilizes the historical data produced by the smart sensor to better understand and recognize patterns. Having an automated solution for pattern recognition allows for quicker and more reliable detection of anomalies within the data. This not only expands the number of applications able to be monitored beyond just well understood ones, it also increases the amount of time operation managers have to resolve a piece of equipment that is trending towards failure.

Key Driver: A Push for the Realization of Digitalization and IIOT

The most important trend impacting industrial automation is the digitalization of these systems and the equipment within. Over the last 6-7 years, remarkable breakthroughs in technologies that help improve plant efficiency, productivity and reliability have been developed, although uptake so far has been challenging due to the cautious nature of end users when it comes to adopting new technologies.

While these vendors have released software and services aimed at harnessing the benefits of IIoT, it is clear that in order to make use of these solutions, a substantial increase in the number of connected devices is needed. Smart sensors represent an important piece of this puzzle. Since the advent of smart sensors, major automation vendors like ABB, Siemens, WEG, and Nidec have all released their own versions, presumably recognizing the enabling behavior of this technology. We expect this trend to continue as the product is desperately needed in order for manufacturers to begin generating tangible benefits from IIoT technology.

A Different Take on Industrial Cybersecurity

Not too long ago, I received an email from noted cybersecurity guru Eric Byres who told me he was back in the industry after a brief hiatus as an advisor to Verve Industrial. The company didn’t register with me, and I went on to other things.

This week I received a message from an old PR contact who just picked up a new client–you guessed it, Verve Industrial. I agreed to an introductory call to find out more. I didn’t expect to be talking to anyone I knew, so the name didn’t register with me. Should have. I found myself talking with Rick Kaun this week. Now VP Solutions with Verve Industrial, turns out I knew him from previous stints with Matrikon and Honeywell.

The company began life as a SCADA and PLC integrator. The owner progressively noticed security situations and evolved a cybersecurity practice. Considering a way to grow, he took in funding and a new CEO (former McKinsey, but evidently not a bad guy–have to note that, I once worked for a couple of ex-McKinsey guys) and a new CTO. And a new VP Solutions.

The company takes a different strategy for its offering from others. Kaun notes the original solution was to white list devices on the network. To improve on that, many companies went to passive detection solutions.

Verve has an agent-based platform that allows for remote changes to the PLC or SCADA only with a trusted person at the console in the plant. It is compliant with OT topologies yet can talk the security talk with CISO types.

Not only for intrusion prevention, clients who use the system are currently getting 10x production.

I’m not a security expert. It’s just that cybersecurity is a crucial element of good IIoT design. So, here are some bullets to whet your appetite if you are looking for an interesting alternative to your current solution.

Verve Security Center

Benefits:

  • Faster & Lower Cost Deployment
  • Faster Time to Remediation
  • More Efficient Analysis, Reporting, and Audit with Integrated UI
  • Improved Approach to OT Business Risk Management
  • Lower Cost Security Management
  • NO Risk to OT Operations
  • Ability to Leverage Prior Tool Investment

Features:

  • Deeper & more comprehensive asset inventory
  • Faster time to remediation with closed loop vulnerability management
  • Better risk rating with view of vulnerabilities, process criticality plus all user accounts, risky software, network connections in a single risk score
  • Lower security management costs with scaled analysis and playbook development with local OT control over remediation – in same platform
  • Better detection with open-platform data ingestion from multiple OT and IT tool sets

Current solutions do not enable limited OT resources the rapid visibility and response to vulnerabilities and threats they need:

  • Traditional IT tools cannot protect IOT/OT embedded devices with proprietary firmware
  • IT vulnerability scanning tools can damage sensitive IOT/OT systems
  • Tools are siloed by function increasing necessary labor and specialized skills
  • Most OT-specific tools are passive detection only and offer limited remediation capabilities
  • Available solutions are expensive to deploy and manage

A fundamentally different approach to IT/OT security management:

  • Deploy across all IT/OT/IOT systems in minutes with no expensive hardware requirements
  • “Closed-loop” solution from assessment to remediation
  • Faster time to discovery and remediation
  • OT-safe agent/agentless solution for real time vulnerability assessment and end point management
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • No silos: integrate NIST CSF and other compliance requirements in single platform

Harting A Partner for Industry 4.0 and IioT

Once again, in lieu of attending Hannover Messe in person, we attended a Web briefing. Harting held this one last week. I picked deeper information about a couple of technologies—especially “single-pair Ethernet (SPE).” It’s hard to do a complete Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) installation without connectors, cables, and the like. Harting has been a leader in this field.

“The industrial arena is undergoing far-reaching change: For Harting, this transformation means leveraging our key technologies and entering into targeted partnerships in order to pool skills and competencies capable of creating new solutions within the framework of our entire technology network,” explained Philip Harting, CEO Harting Technology Group. “Our ultimate goal here is to develop these solutions in larger contexts and create ecosystems that generate significant added value for our customers.”

Small Ethernet Infrastructures

Evolution of the Ethernet connector. Harting turned the RJ45 into the “RJ Industrial”, created modular M12 interfaces with X-coding and PushPull locking, and set the next major milestone in Industrial Ethernet with the miniaturized “ix Industrial interface” – which is 70% smaller than an RJ45, yet significantly more robust. ix Industrial is one of the most important components in the Harting solution portfolio for its All for Ethernet segment.

For more information, check out our Industrial Ethernet Trends 2020 webinar series.

Industrial standard interface for SPE

Users can now make investments with a reassuring measure of security: IEC 63171-6, published on 23 January 2020, sets the basis for future IIoT networks. The international standards bodies ISO/IEC and TIA have declared the IEC 63171-6 interface as the standard for SPE in industrial applications. On this foundation, a comprehensive portfolio for the Single Pair Ethernet market is now emerging.

SPE Industrial Partner Network grows to 20 members

Last year saw the foundation of the bhttps://www.single-pair-ethernet.com. As a registered association, the Network is more than just a loose association of companies with shared interests – it is a strong, legally binding community of partners. Consequently, it provides the security required to implement this new physical layer. All the companies in the network are technology leaders in their own right; between them, they specialise in the various fields needed to strengthen and complete the SPE ecosystem. The common, unifying basis of their work is the international standardisation for SPE infrastructure in accordance with IEC 11801-x, IEEE 802.3 and IEC 63171-6. In the space of just a few months, numerous strong partner companies from various fields of industrial production have expressed their support for IEC 63171-6 and joined the SPE Industrial Partner Network.

Han S: Safe contacting of modular energy storage systems

In Han S, Harting is – for the first time – introducing a special connector for battery storage modules. Global demand for electricity storage systems is booming. The new series meets the technical requirements of the latest standards for stationary energy storage systems (including UL 4128) and offers users optimum safety for the connected units. The single-pole connector solution with a 200A high-current contact is mechanically coded, is coloured red and black for easy identification, and locks intuitively. In this way, Han S enables fast, reliable contacting of storage modules and enables the processing of large volumes.

Han 1A: Miniaturised rectangular connector ideal for networking

The Ethernet networks sensors, machines, controllers, computers and data centres. Harting is now offering interfaces tailored to these applications as part of the miniaturized Han 1A industrial connector series.

The Han 1A features two new inserts for fast and secure data transmission. This can be used to supply end devices with up to 100 Mbit/s Cat. 5 Fast Ethernet for Profinet-based communication; a 10 Gbit/s, Cat. 6A version for High-Speed Ethernet is also available. The latter is used for live camera system applications.

High-performance switch with robust ix Industrial Interface

Imaging processes are becoming increasingly important for quality assurance and monitoring in all industry sectors. New camera technologies offer higher resolution despite their increasingly compact dimensions.

The new eCon 2000GX-I-A unmanaged Ethernet switches from Harting are high-performance Gigabit switches, enabling consistent networking of machine-monitoring and diagnostic systems via ix Industrial.

Focus on user-optimised DC power transmission

One current trend – particularly challenging from a technical perspective – lies in the field of DC power transmission, where demand is forecast to rise sharply. To equip the field of application with the appropriate installation technology, Harting is promoting technology concepts that offer increased personal and plant protection. A novel connector for industrial applications transmits voltages of up to 800V and currents of up to 40A and cannot be removed when under load. In addition to the DC Industries working groups, Harting is also engaged in the activities of the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (DKE) geared to drafting new standards. The project is based on cooperation with the SmartFactory KL.

Software solutions for cloud and edge: Partnership with PerFact

Harting are keenly focused on establishing optimal connections between the field level and software solutions in cloud and edge computing. Harting RFID solutions, digital twin, and the MICA edge computing gateway operate at this interface. What’s more, intelligent sensor technology solutions – which ensure seamless data exchange within networks – are also becoming increasingly important.

The partnership with PerFact, which Harting announced at the SPS trade fair in Nuremberg in November 2019, will be expanded in the field of software. PerFact develops customisable modules for servicing, maintenance, logistics and process management as IT solutions for industry.

“The market environment of the MICA edge computer, RFID, and IIoT is developing at an incredibly fast pace. Rapid, agile and entrepreneurial action is imperative,“ emphasized Philip Harting. In this context, the three companies peraMIC, PerFact, and Perinet will be advancing solutions in the field of digitalisation and will be cooperating closely with the Harting Technology Group.

PerFact develops individual, customization modules for service and maintenance, logistics, and process management as IT solutions for industrial clients. Perinet (Berlin) concentrates on the seamless connection of sensors and actuators with IT systems (ERP, for example), in order to improve the transparency and analytical performance throughout the value creation chain.

Secure Remote Service for the IIoT Age

The age of the Industrial Internet of Things opens a better pathway for OEMs to provide enhanced remote service. However, words such as “Internet” and “remote” conjure visions of cybersecurity holes in the minds of IT professionals.

It seems as if every few months for years as I scanned my contact list looking for someone, I’d see the card for Spencer Cramer, founder and CEO of ei3 and wonder what he was up to. Then a couple of weeks ago I heard from Mark Fondl, an industry friend over many years, who told me I needed to talk with Cramer and he set up a call.

ei3 has been busy over the years. Its technology can be found in more than 5,000 factories connecting to more than 20,000 machines. Typical installation is through the machine OEM giving them a secure channel into the machines they’ve sold. Cramer tells me they call it “secured remote services.”

Without diving into specifics, the gist of the service is allowing only a single point of entry through the corporate firewall. Consolidating all OT connections through a single point make IT happier. Meanwhile, the operations technology people—engineers, maintenance, operators—are able to control connections to equipment. It’s a way of creating happiness for both sides of the famous IT/OT divide.

Then I got the news that ei3 announces next phase of European expansion by completing acquisition of Copenhagen-based NextIOT. With two bases in Europe, ei3 is able to address strong demand for IIoT services in Europe with growing onshore, multilingual team

As part of the acquisition, NextIOT is being renamed “ei3 Denmark ApS” and will join ei3’s existing Switzerland-based data science team as ei3’s European operations.

By acquiring NextIOT ei3 is now able to expand its sales and marketing activities to serve the growing number of European clients from an onshore location and support them with a multilingual growing workforce. The ei3 solution of guiding OEMs of any size along their journey towards digitization and the practical adoption of IIoT with limited investment and instant ROI remains the same. Recent events have once again proven the value of remote access and remote service, though the full value of IIoT clearly goes beyond that.

“ei3 is the best choice for OEMs who want to provide secure remote service and support, which has now become more critical than ever. The safety of technicians and plant workers is increased by using remote service,” says Spencer Cramer, Founder and CEO of ei3. “In the coming months, we will be rolling out a new product called Essential that will allow a secure and free method for data collection to enable quick adoption of the IIoT technology. We are happy to complete this acquisition as it brings us closer to our European customer base. Especially in this trying time where the need for properly architected, secure, remote service is so critical.”

ei3 provides an end-to-end IoT solution starting from edge device to secure private cloud to robust web-based apps to powerful and practical predictive maintenance tools. Earlier this year, ei3 announced that the solution has now been decoupled from the hardware and can be deployed separately. This gives ei3 customers the freedom and flexibility to choose where and how their data is managed.

“We look forward to working closely with our new colleagues in Copenhagen to deliver on the benefits of Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence,” says Dr. Stefan Hild, Managing Director ei3 Europe.

204 Wireless Power for IoT Devices via Light Podcast Interview

In a turnaround, this time I’m doing an interview. First one in years. This episode is an interview with Yuval Boger, CMO of Wi-Charge, who talks about wireless remote power for charging IoT devices with light. There was a gap between this and my last podcast. In the interim, we sold a house, bought a house, and moved to another state–all at the beginning of the covid-19 rise and the shelter-in-place orders. It has been crazy times. Now, we’ve plenty of time to get used to the new house. I hope everyone listening is doing well.

Using Software Technology To Be Competitive In An Industrial Market

This is a story about Bill Johnson, vice president of operations for Madison, WI-based Madison-Kipp Corp. (MKC). The company makes precision machined aluminum die castings and subassemblies for the transportation, lawn & garden, and industrial markets. The company faced two objectives to enhance competitiveness—to bring down costs and raise efficiency.

“Technology is very important to us,” said Bill Johnson, vice president of operations for MKC. “We have to keep ahead of our competitors in many different areas. Using Ignition and taking real-time data from our processes helps us understand our data — which helps us make better decisions.”

Note: I very seldom write this type of story anymore. When we laid out the editorial direction for Automation World back in the day, I wanted stories about the intelligent application of automation with the people doing the work as the hero of the story. Typically, these stories come from the marketing department of supplier company. They write about what they know—the hero of the story is their product or service. Since these stories are so hard to come by, I decided not to pursue them for The Manufacturing Connection even though stories are more powerful than a bunch of bullet points.

Back to the story. Unfortunately there are no specific numbers about savings, but Johnson describes the “before” scene—that is, before they implemented Ignition by Inductive Automation, an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

“Some of the results we have are in the cost savings realm, and we’ve also seen improved efficiency,” said Johnson. “Before, engineers had to collect data on their own. This would take a long time. Now, we’re able to pull that data in and look at it and solve problems very quickly.”

“Using the built-in connectivity, the Ignition platform has filled a void for us between multiple manufacturers and platforms,” said Jay Sandvick, senior automation controls engineer at MKC. “It’s given us interoperability that we didn’t believe we could have. We now have accessibility to data streams we didn’t have before. And we have the ability to generate seamless reports from machines that were previously thought unconnectable.”

Dotti Jacob, industrial integration engineer at MKC, adds, “We are now allowed us to use different programming languages, and tie into all sorts of different systems, without being held back by proprietary issues.”

The platform’s interoperability has allowed MKC to streamline its systems. “Before Ignition, we were reliant on various software packages that were frankly a nightmare to maintain and pay for,” said Sandvick. “With Ignition, we have a single-point interface, a single cost, and it has more than exceeded our expectations in talking to various machines.”

Remote access has been greatly improved. “Before, if I was at a different facility and there were troubleshooting issues, I would have to travel there to help out,” said Jacob. “Now that we have Ignition, I can access the SCADA from anywhere and see in real time actual images of the different machines and what they’re doing, which is very helpful for troubleshooting. Having real-time data, we can access from anywhere allows us to see and address the issue a lot more quickly than we could in the past — which saves us time and money.”

You can use your software platform to allow customers visibility into the production of their orders. “Our customers really enjoy the ability to see real-time data on their products being produced,” said Scott Sargeant, vice president of sales for MKC. “It allows them to understand things without having to travel to our location — which of course saves them time and money. We’re talking about a paradigm shift in information sharing. It really gives our customers a window into the production environment. And our ability to provide this helps differentiate Madison-Kipp from other manufacturers.”

Sargeant adds, “Now our customers can see that data, can understand impactful events, downtime, and other important issues in production.”

Ignition allows users to import CAD drawings of the plant floor as the background for screens. The screens show real-time movement of robots, so operators always have an accurate view of what’s happening. “Before, we had to use these cookie-cutter images that were not very accurate to what was actually happening on the floor,” said Jacob. “Now we’re able to take a CAD drawing of the equipment, and it can move in real time with however the equipment’s moving, and that’s very helpful.”

Training is a key differentiator for technology suppliers. Jacob said Inductive University—the free online educational center with hundreds of videos allowing users to learn at their own pace has been an additional benefit. “When I started with Madison-Kipp, I’d never heard of Ignition,” said Jacob. “I was able to get up to speed very quickly because Inductive University has videos that teach you anything you need to know in order to be successful using the software.”

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