IIoT Spurs Vendor Collaboration

Alliances allow chemical makers to more easily pursue digitalization opportunities

By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large

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Field Instrument Integration

Meanwhile, in June, E+H announced a collaboration with SAP. The goal of the pact is to fully integrate E+H field instruments as digital twins into the SAP cloud platform — essentially to realize end-to-end OT/IT integration from field instruments all the way to business processes.

Many of today’s large-scale IIoT projects are developed from scratch, notes Rolf Birkhofer, managing director of E+H Process Solutions. “This involves selecting an IIoT platform software, then planning the field components and gateways and, as a last step, programming the application on the IIoT platform. Generally speaking, this is a tedious approach that requires entering uncharted territory at many different points, especially when it comes to the interfaces,” he says.

So rather than re-inventing the wheel every time, the two companies want to develop a standardized approach that will allow them to offer, develop, execute and maintain customer projects.

“The advantage for our customers is that right up-front, they will have reliable information regarding components and tested interfaces,” adds Birkhofer.

The SAP work also includes development of a standard interface between the SAP software and E+H’s own cloud, so users get seamless access to tools and quality asset data.

This combination will offer shared cloud and application expertise that will completely cover the chemical industry at the field level (Figure 2), he believes.

It also will help bring about two different types of innovations on the maintenance front, he expects.

One involves software applications to better help predict potential outages in a timely fashion. Coupled with the E+H’s existing apps that use real-time data to warn of, for example, out-of-calibration electrodes, this could allow maintenance staff to determine the best timeframe in the production cycle to carry out their work.

The other is by linking real-time information from the plant to existing metadata in the company’s IIoT portal. “Using algorithms which are fed from the vast amount of data we have in our repository we convert this information into useful insights,” stresses Birkhofer.

Besides its ongoing collaboration with Rockwell Automation, E+H is working with other vendors on an intrinsically safe physical layer for 2-wire Ethernet. It also plans to invite a number of software companies to join its IIoT ecosystem in an effort to generate additional value.

If you take a look at the opportunities that the Internet, cloud technologies and the globalization of knowledge offer from the standpoint of a sharing economy, it makes a lot of sense to focus on the utilization of various pools of know-how. I can well imagine that data analytics companies would be interested in analyzing the data that we acquire through the process automation assets in a neutralized, anonymous form and then identify patterns and optimization potential. What would have been nearly impossible ten years ago is suddenly within close reach,” he concludes.

Ottewell2Sean Ottewell is Chemical Processing's editor at large. You can email him at sottewell@putman.net



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