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Q: With so many possibilities for IIoT, what equipment is the highest priority for connecting to the internet?
A: Brent Nelson, Donaldson Company, says:
Every manufacturing facility is different, and each owner must make that evaluation, based on ROI. However, one of the most promising applications for IIoT is the monitoring and maintenance of secondary equipment, such as industrial dust collectors.
In most operations, a dust collector helps protect the plant, but does not in itself generate revenue. While the equipment is important in reducing risk, it can be a challenge to manage. Many operations have limited staff who need to focus on the process line, putting filter changes and other maintenance on the back burner.
Furthermore, secondary equipment is not usually tied into the plant’s local computer network. Thus, its performance can go unmonitored, except for periodic visual observation. According to a recent survey sponsored by Donaldson, nearly half of plant managers said their last thorough dust collector evaluation had occurred at least three years ago, or they could not recall its last evaluation.
The consequences can be significant. In many facilities, unplanned maintenance of a dust collector requires the entire production line to also shut down during repairs. Depending on plant size, downtime can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost production, on top of repair bills.
All of this makes dust collectors a prime candidate for improvement with IIoT. Sensors can collect data on the equipment’s differential pressure, compressed air pressure, and other performance indicators, and send the information to a remote server, where filtration analytics instantly convert it into meaningful insights. When components start to degrade, the technology generates an alert, and the owner can address the issue before it escalates. With early notice, replacement parts can be ordered in a timely manner and repairs can be scheduled during planned downtime.
Proper maintenance such as timely filter changes or earlier hopper cleaning can help prevent larger problems, assist in optimizing performance, and aid in reducing total dust and fume management costs over time.
Connectivity also simplifies the job of plant supervisors. They can receive timely alerts on a mobile device, in additional to email reports of machine performance over time. For larger enterprises, the solution can provide a window on dust collectors across multiple locations—all from one laptop—enabling a supervisor to work in a centralized office, on-site, or remotely.