Using the Internet of Things to Manage Manufacturing Equipment

Published on: 

Equipment and Processing Report

Equipment and Processing Report, Equipment and Processing Report-11-16-2016, Volume 9, Issue 11

New software platforms aim to help manufacturers implement connected technology and use data efficiently.

The industrial Internet of things (IIoT)-the network of equipment connected by sensors communicating data through the Internet-promises benefits such as the ability to run and maintain equipment more efficiently. IIoT platforms make a manufacturing plant part of a broad “digital ecosystem,” which can include the infrastructure of devices, hardware, and software, as well as the expertise and support from the infrastructure provider, equipment manufacturers, and third-party application or analytical tool suppliers.

“The key to an effective IIoT ecosystem is to have three things,” said Andrew Hird, vice-president and general manager of Honeywell Process Solutions’ Digital Transformation business, in a press release (1). “First, you need to have secure access to the data being collected; secondly, the capability to analyze that data; and finally, you need domain knowledge to understand how to deploy information to benefit the operation.”

Enhancing collaboration
The Honeywell INspire program harnesses this domain knowledge by bringing together a community of participants-including customers, equipment vendors, process licensors, and Honeywell experts-to jointly develop solutions for leveraging the IIoT to help customers minimize unplanned shutdowns, maximize output, minimize safety risk, and optimize supply chain strategies, says the company (1). On October 26, 2016, Honeywell announced that Flowserve, which provides domain expertise in flow control solutions (e.g., pumps, valves, seals) will be part of this collaboration to provide IIoT solutions. Flowserve instrumentation and services are already co-located with Honeywell automation and controls technologies at many manufacturing locations.

“Companies have been trying to use big data for improving equipment reliability, but previous tools were limited. This new platform takes data collection and collaboration to the next level,” says Ben Blanchette, with Honeywell Process Solutions’ Digital Transformation business. “All the equipment reliability data are in one place for everyone-at the site and across the enterprise-to view and use to make decisions together. For example, if the operations group wants to increase throughput, what impact will this have on maintenance?” 

In pharma manufacturing, there is a need to distinguish between the data used for analytics (e.g., to optimize a process or track equipment health) and the data being used to run the process (which is collected through the distributed control system [DCS] or manufacturing execution system and becomes part of the electronic batch record), explains Torsten Winkler, leader at the Honeywell Process Solutions’ Center of Excellence Life Sciences EMEA. Big data used for process analytics and improving equipment reliability does not need to be part of the batch record, so the IIoT infrastructure (instead of the DCS) can be used to securely collect and aggregate these data for analysis.

Using sensing technologies
Emerson recently expanded its Plantweb digital ecosystem, which it describes as “a scalable portfolio of standards-based hardware, software, intelligent devices, and services for securely implementing the Industrial Internet of Things” (2). Plantweb includes process control, safety, and asset management systems. Emerson added sensing technologies for corrosion detection and hazardous gas leak detection, among others, in a portfolio called Pervasive Sensing. Another new feature is “Secure First Mile,” which refers to system architecture that connects secure data from the plant floor to operational performance applications in the cloud. Emerson says that this ecosystem, combined with the company’s Operational Certainty program, which provides a business case for IIoT investment, can help companies begin the move to using new digital technology.


“There is a lot of talk about the promise of Industrial IoT,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer, Emerson Automation Solutions, in a press release. “Emerson is putting the ROI [return on investment] in IoT.”

Another part of Plantweb is the new AMS ARES Platform, which collects data from multiple sensing technologies to show the real-time “health status” of plant assets. The company says it is “designed to prioritize and deliver asset and device health data, enabling maintenance decisions that increase operational and asset availability” (3).

The increase in available data resulting from interconnected systems could make finding specific data more difficult, but “dashboards” are often used to display just the data that are pertinent to the person viewing it. The AMS ARES Platform delivers information, based on responsibility, using streamlined dashboards. Embedded tools prioritize actions based on criticality, which allows “users to determine quickly the urgency of an issue, facilitating faster workflows to increase plant performance” (3).  

The platform uses OPC UA open architecture, which will allow it to more easily evolve as the industry changes, according to Emerson. The platform can connect with human-machine interfaces (HMI) and with the plant historian. Connecting the platform to business intelligence and reporting tools makes asset health part of the business dashboard.


  1. Honeywell, “Honeywell and Flowserve Collaborate on Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Solutions,” Press Release, Oct. 26, 2016.
  2. Emerson, “Emerson launches new Plantweb digital ecosystem,” Press Release, Oct. 24, 2016.
  3. Emerson, “Emerson Launches Holistic Asset Monitoring Platform to Improve Reliability And Plant Availability,” Press Release, Oct. 25, 2016.