Industrial Internet of Things Applied

Industrial Internet of Things Applied

I’ve been writing about standards used in applications for Industrial Internet of Things and parts of the IoT ecosystem such as Big Data lately—REST, MQTT, and OPC.

Dennis Nash, president of Control Station noticed the series and called about a big data and IoT application using Control Station software as part of a system for helping engineers optimize control loops in a process plant.

Control Station TuneVue

Even if a plant has installed and uses an APC or MPC application, things happen that loops eventually slip out of tune. These loops can cost a plant a lot of money even though the process does not generate alarms or does not appear to be generating problems.

The system builds from historical loop change data recorded in an OSI PI historian. The data flows into a model of a tuned loop. Says Nash, “The basis for our innovation starts with a unique ability to model highly variable process data (i.e. noisy, oscillatory data).  We use a proprietary method that no one has successfully emulated.”

He continues, “With the ability to accurately model highly variable data, control loop performance monitoring (CLPM) tools like ours can capitalize on the 100s/1000s of output changes that happen everyday. By aggregating the model date and comparing results with existing tuning parameters, CLPM tools are now getting into the Big Data game.”

Checking loop performance, especially when there are hundreds or thousands, rarely hits an engineer’s to-do list. This system will send a notification of worst actor loops where action can actually improve plant efficiency and profits.


This system works in a one-off application. What if there are more applications in a plant? That is where interoperability and standards come to play. Not so much a standard within Control Station, but where an application such as Control Station can use standards and data interoperability to grab data from a variety of sources. The extensive use of these standards and data interoperability enable the continual push of innovation and process improvement.

Industrial Internet of Things Applied

Industrial Software at Siemens Automation Summit

Software platforms that provide specific “apps” for industrial applications was the theme of the week for me. I received a better look at Siemens’ Mindsphere along with a competitor’s app that I’ll discuss in a later post. Tuesday and Wednesday this week found me in Las Vegas at the 2016 Automation Summit—Siemens US users group. There were many sessions and quite a lot of training for customers.

The keynote was given by Klaus Helmrich, a member of the managing board of Siemens. He continued the theme repeated during Hannover Messe—digitalization. His point was that digitalization enhances competitiveness, time to market, flexibility, quality, efficiency. You design in the virtual world; take it to real world; receive feedback from real world to the virtual world to assure design is current to reality.

Although I’ve been told that Europeans are not fond of the term “ecosystem” in this context, Helmrich uttered the “e-word”. The Digital Enterprise Ecosystem enables customers toe realize their wish to interact with the production process making their product.

Memorable quote—“using software is key to realization of Industry 4.0.”

Maintenance and Reliability

Terry O’Hanlon CEO of and Uptime magazine invited me to a panel presentation he was on. From the description in the program, I’d probably have never looked a second time. Plus, I’m not fond of panels. Usually each one talks for 10-15 minutes and then there is 10-15 minutes at the end for questions.

This one went against that grain. Each panelist gave about 2 minutes of their interest in the topic, then moderator Bob Vavra, editor of Plant Engineering magazine, proceeded directly to asking questions of the panel. The panel did not just sit back but each chimed in appropriately.

They did hope to hold questions to the final 15-20 minutes of the 105-minute session, but the audience would have none of that and started waving hands to ask follow up questions soon after the beginning.

The other panelists were Jagannath Rao, President of Siemens Industry Services; Brian Clemons, process automation manager at Dow Chemical; and, Keith Jones, of Prism Systems—an integrator.

It was a wide-ranging discussion. So, here are some quotes that capture some of the flavor of the discussion.

O’Hanlon, “What maintenance delivers is capacity.”

Clemons, “We bring a new process into the plant, but we’re still dealing with the same people.”

Clemons, Reliability usually talks MTBF, but what is really important is MTTR (repair or recover).

Rao, “Technology Suppliers more than component sellers, but look at larger solution.”

Jones, “Big data going to analytics is a difficult proposition—both doing and defining.”

O’Hanlon, “You need sensors that are appropriate to the health of the asset. That’s why you need predictive analytics.”

Jones, “IoT increasing traffic on network is a burden and sometimes affects production.”

O’Hanlon, “Reliability as a function of the business case.”

Data Analytics — Mindsphere

MindSphere is Siemens Cloud for Industry built on SAP HANA. It is a platform, which Siemens, customers, and OEMs can build software apps (App Store) on top of.

Speakers acknowledged that some customers are still uncertain about the cloud, but the cloud is where analytics run.

One app already developed is control loops. Customers can connect selected control loops, send data to cloud, analytics check for status of tuning and other things. The customer gets a dashboard. The analytics can even see stiction in valves.

This solution (like many) moves the software expenditure from CapEx to OpEx (note: look for this as a theme for how technology suppliers are beginning to price software).

This formula:
Domain Knowhow + Context Knowhow + Analytics Knowhow = Customer Value
is the foundation of app development.

Siemens has a product “MindConnect” secure data acquisition box. This is a similar idea to the Dell IoT Gateway or Advantech. These edge computing and communicating engines are the current IoT trend.

Current apps include:
Drivetrains (gearboxes)
Machine Tools
Control Loops

Industrial Internet of Things Applied

Loop Performance Monitoring Integration with Rockwell Process Automation

Just catching up on news that has built up over the extended holidays from Thanksgiving through New Years with one on process automation. I had a chat with Control Station’s Dennis Nash about the planned integration of its PlantESP Loop Performance Monitoring technology within the PlantPAx distributed control system from Rockwell Automation. Process data will be accessed natively from within the PlantPAx system environment using FactoryTalk Historian, and individual PID control loop configuration will be automatically populated to the new application’s dashboard.

Rockwell just keeps growing its process business. Its Process Systems User Group held last November in Chicago was yet another large gathering.

“Rockwell Automation continues its efforts to better serve the process industries by leveraging best-in-class solutions from its network of Encompass partners,” shared Tim Shope, Global Process Technical Consultant Manager from Rockwell Automation. “PlantESP is an obvious fit in that it will provide our customers with enhanced awareness of issues affecting their process’ day-to-day operational efficiency.”

Control Station’s PlantESP actively monitors the performance of PID control loops on a plant-wide basis and provides actionable insights. Equipped with a portfolio of key performance indices and advanced forensic tools, PlantESP simplifies the identification of performance issues and the isolation of the associated root-causes. Specific performance challenges addressed by PlantESP range from mechanical and controller tuning issues to constraints associated with process architecture. PlantESP uses a production facility’s existing process data and proactively alerts production staff of negative performance trends.

“The average plant has 100s if not 1000s of control loops which can be challenging for production staff to manage,” noted Rick Bontatibus, Control Station’s Vice President of Global Sales. “The combination of the PlantPAx System and PlantESP enables those same staff to focus their efforts on issues that will have the greatest impact on production efficiency and throughput.”

PlantESP is recognized as a leading control loop performance monitoring technology that has been successfully deployed at production facilities spanning the process industries. It is equipped with an array of highly effective and proprietary diagnostic tools, including advanced KPIs for identifying and quantifying stiction – a leading mechanical issue facing process engineers. PlantESP also includes a unique optimization utility called TuneVue that proactively captures everyday output changes for the purpose of isolating control loops that are in need of tuning. TuneVue is based on Control Station’s NSS Modeling Innovation and it is the only such utility that can accurately model the noisy, oscillatory process dynamics which are typical of industrial production and control environments. Collectively these and other PlantESP capabilities allow production staff to prioritize their efforts on issues that will have the greatest impact on performance.

Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.