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Feature | January 2017

IIoT is changing the way the industry does things

Amit Paithankar, Vice President and Managing Director, Emerson Process Management India Pvt. Ltd.

What practices in IT adoption can India benefit from?
We launched the Emerson´s rendition of Industrial IoT, which is the Plantweb Digital Ecosystem in India. It is important to note that India is the first country outside of the USA that we have launched this offering. This speaks volumes about the progressive nature of the Indian customers and the tremendous interest that is there is this emerging field.

How could IT solutions be streamlined in India market?
Indian customers are very progressive. As a global player we have experience across the world, and Indian customers can be equated to anywhere. Most of our customers already have intelligent field devices and are now thinking about how they can move forward in a manner that can give dramatic improvement. There are essentially four important characteristics - safety, reliability, productivity and energy efficiency. These are the key concerns of any given customer, across sectors. and determine their long term survival. Thus, betterment in these parameters place them in a better position. IIoT is improving on these parameters whenever possible and this will translate into better energy efficiency and lower carbon footprint solutions.

What impact have govt policies had on IT in Power?
Understanding the importance of IT in power, the government had launched R-APDRP in the XI Five Year Plan. I would say that such policies have impacted the segment quite substantially. In fact I have been in meetings with several of our customers who specifically called us to understand how we can deploy IIoT for the betterment of the planet. They are actually looking at this from the policy-level, not just nationally but within their organisation. Even large public sector undertakings are looking at it in a very holistic manner.

What can be done to increase adoption of such solutions for PSUs?
I would say that apart from private players, the public sector utilities are taking IIoT very seriously and they are avant garde, on the forefront of thinking about what should be done and how it can be done in different ways.

What are the challenges in effectively taking up IT in the power sector?
I don´t think that IIoT projects offers any dramatically different challenges which you would find in any other project. Unfortunately, there has not been a project that is ideal, where you lay out a grand chart with specific time lines for tasks on particular dates. The challenge mostly is that while the ´Start´ and ´Go Live´ dates remains the same, many things in between are highly variable. With regards to the financial aspect too, the amount of investment required for deploying IIoT can be decided by the customer on a case-to-case basis. Hence, they do not need to go for up-front large scale investment. A layered approach and piece by piece implementation gives immense flexibility, which is the beauty of the whole process. Thus, the only limit is the collective imagination of the ecosystem, which there is no lack of and thus there should not be a problem.

What are the potential savings generated through your solutions?
The savings generated can be very significant. On an annual basis, we believe there are almost $1 trillion locked in various inefficiencies in different plants and there is a lot to be unlocked and unleashed. Now the numbers really vary on case-to-case because, especially in the power sector, the savings will depend upon the age of the power plant, the upkeep, and what kind of technologies have been deployed (critical, super critical, ultra-super critical, etc.), but just by isolating the steam system and demonstrating the solution, we have shown our customers ~5-10 per cent of energy savings. This is for only one application and if you keep adding on, the numbers will keep changing.

What are your growth plans for the India market, over the next 2-5 years?
We have strong growth plans and are in a sweet spot as far as India is concerned. In a largely overall soft world market, India shows promise and we believe that the overall India market for this segment will grow in the high single digits. For the company, I think that faster adoption of newer technologies will give us double digit growth in the next 5 years.

What are the areas where you offer IT solutions to enable better process and progress?
To give you some context, in any process industry - be it power, chemical, pharmaceutical, etc. - our role is to be the sensory organs. Thus, we have a suite of instruments by which we can measure many physical parameters like temperature, pressure, levels, PH, conductivity, flow rates, etc., and once we know all that we can take action. Now, once we have the data, the next requirement is to interpret this data - which in our context we call the Distributed Control System (DCS).

Once you´ve analysed the situation/problem, you can take the appropriate action. To take this action, we need ´limbs´ so to speak, which in this case are the valves. Here too, we have the largest suite of valves for various applications. In fact, any of the control needs that the industry has, the full portfolio of products and solutions we can provide.

Our solutions help the customers understand their processes in a much better and elaborate manner and this information can be connected even to our mobile phones, allowing for real-time corrections. Thus, in my opinion all of these things are going to go a long way in changing how we operate power plants.

What are the technologies you have employed specific your client´s needs?
Speaking specifically for the power industry we have two types of systems - distributed control system is called ´Ovation´, and on the process side we have ´DeltaV´. As far as IIoT is concerned, it starts right at the instrumentation layer in a pervasive manner and all these sensors, are largely wireless. Once we get data, it needs to be securely transmitted to where it can later on be analysed. Hence, the next layer of IIoT is transmitting data. Here, the first mile is of paramount importance. This is what we call a ´secure first mile´, for which we have special equipment.

One of these equipments is the Plantweb Insights, wherein specific applications are built for specific purposes i.e going to the level of a particular equipment in the field and trying to find out whether its working right or not. For example, an app for analysing vibration or a steam trap, which collects data from the instrument, processes it and makes a diagnosis. There are also more broad plant-wide solutions available.

Besides this, we also provide cloud services through our partner Microsoft Microsoft Azure cloud platform to transmit data to any third party which can interpret the data. This also opens up interesting service models because, if a customer does not want to interpret all the data by themselves and would like to rely on experts, we help them. Since we understand the signature that our transmitters give out, we can actually set up a remote control system/centre, to collect, understand, interpret the data and monitor the plant, from anywhere in the world.

Thus, IIoT opens up many interesting possibilities.

What are your offerings for T&D and renewables?
Our control systems are largely applicable on the generation side. Here, since renewables is also ´generation´, it would need the same sort of control and automation systems, e.g. for wind turbines, hydro turbines, etc., which we also provide. Besides this, while we do have SCADA systems, these solutions are typically used in the process manufacturing and hybrid manufacturing space as opposed to T&D or on the power side.

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