Industrial IoT: Creating New Business Opportunities - InformationWeek

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3/5/2015
03:06 PM
Chris Murphy
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Industrial IoT: Creating New Business Opportunities

While the consumer IoT putters along, the industrial world is diving headlong into using connected devices. Here's how mining equipment maker Joy Global plans to use near real-time remote analytics to squeeze more productivity out of equipment.

6 Internet Of Things Building Blocks
6 Internet Of Things Building Blocks
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Joy Global's mining shovels are so massive that a good operator can load 400 tons of earth into a dump truck with just three swings. In the Internet of Things (IoT) world, that digging equipment is also kicking off two gigabytes of data every eight minutes.

And if a shovel operator takes four scoops to fill the truck? Thanks to all that data, Joy Global, by late April, plans to be able to spot that extra scoop within 10 seconds from a monitoring center more than 6,000 miles away from the mine site. The company will alert the mine's manager, who can figure out the problem and get that shovel operator back working at peak capacity.

Joy Global's plans point to what will become a rising arena of competition around IoT: Optimizing the performance of machines and the people who run them, in near real-time, and not just predicting and preventing things like when a machine might break down.

"We'll be able to do, from 6,000 miles away, what we're able to do today at the mine site," said Joy Global CIO Mark Shaver, discussing the initiative at the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday. "Within 10 seconds, we'll be able to say that the operator of that machine is not running at top efficiency."

Joy Global sells the Joy and P&H brands of mining equipment. The company's roots go back more than 100 years. Now, the company's expanding into a new, technology-enhanced service offering it calls JoySmart Solutions, developed in a partnership with IBM. It's all part of what Shaver called the company's "smart, connected mine" strategy.

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Joy Global plans to have two mine sites, one in Africa and one in Australia, using the JoySmart near-real-time analysis platform in April. It expects a mine near the Arctic Circle in Norway to be using the service later this year.

While the consumer IoT putters along, the industrial world is diving headlong into using connected devices. So far, the business case often has relied on predictive maintenance: Monitor equipment, predict that a failure is looming, and fix it before a breakdown. Preventative maintenance remains a big part of Joy Global's services, since a broken piece of machinery can cost a mine $1,200 to $6,000 a minute. But optimizing performance could be an even more powerful IoT driver for makers and buyers of industrial machines.

No place for downtime

(Image: via Wikipedia)

No place for downtime

(Image: via Wikipedia)

Services are a growing part of Joy Global's business, as more companies choose to pay for equipment use as an ongoing service, rather than to buy equipment as a capital cost. That model puts the pressure on equipment companies to keep their machinery running at a peak level, so analytics and monitoring like this become increasingly important.

According to Shaver, Joy Global had been doing monitoring and analytics on site. He said the company chose to partner with IBM to develop JoySmart Solutions because it didn't feel its existing systems would scale to the near real-time, global model that it needed. The company also wanted to go beyond maintenance alerts for more in-depth analysis of performance.

In addition to optimizing performance, Joy Global also makes a safety case for using remote analysis services. It has a product that supports the roof and walls of a mine, for instance, called longwall systems, that can have 8,000 sensors along a face assessing whether or not the equipment is adjusted and functioning properly. If those sensors can spot a problem, "then we're going to take some people off the face, and we're going to take them out of harm's way," Shaver said. "That's where we're headed. And we're going to do it from 6,000 miles to 8,000 miles away."

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Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in ... View Full Bio
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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/5/2015 | 4:09:35 PM
peak efficiency
I have to wonder about the effects of efficiency monitoring on workers. As a journalist, I know I wouldn't be too happy to be held to writing at 100 words per minute or some similar standard. I hope that the Internet of Things doesn't become an excuse to apply metrics to every human activity. 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2015 | 5:00:54 PM
Re: peak efficiency
In the world of Internet content, I've seen the quality of work steadily decline when writers have to come up with ridiculous amounts of copy in a short time to achieve the goal quantity for a company.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2015 | 5:03:35 PM
the impact
Joy Global's mining shovels are so massive that a good operator can load 400 tons of earth into a dump truck with just three swings.

I  think we can't even imagine the impact that this has on the environment and environmental cycles.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2015 | 10:56:57 PM
Re: peak efficiency
That is a crazy amount of data being generated. 2gb every eight minutes? I can only hope that much of that information proves useful.

Because I often wonder if IoT data is just a bunch of big data no one knows what to do with. That wouldn't be useful at all, would it?
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2015 | 11:29:01 PM
Re: peak efficiency
The IOT will definitely be helping to cut down on the number of trips that applications engineers will have to make to remote sites. And, by scarfing up data in real-time, it will truly provide a minute-by-minute in-depth picture of how a complex system is performing in the actual work environment. When you consider how huge an amount 400 tons is and the massive size and complexity of a machine that can move that amount of earth safely, maybe 2 gigs isn't all THAT much.

I agree with concerns expressed about our ever diminishing right to privacy. I also wonder where the bandwidth will come from to enable our new world of IOT.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
3/9/2015 | 9:49:40 AM
Re: peak efficiency
@danielcawrey, I suspect you'll see more companies use this data complexity to try to enter this service provider role -- the data's big and complex and real time, so let us (pay us) do that monitoring and analysis for you. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
3/9/2015 | 9:52:29 AM
Re: peak efficiency
@Gary_EL, bandwidth is an interesting question. In this case Joy Global outsources its networking services and relies on vendors for that. One strategic question will be how much computing happens at the centralized data center versus on the edge of the network -- do you bring ALL the data back, which might have value for historical analysis as well as real-time decisions, do you put code/processing power at the sensor or other edge site and only bring back exception data. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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3/9/2015 | 9:57:52 AM
Re: peak efficiency
I'm going to try to not take that note personally, @soozyg! You (and Tom) hit on what is going to be an increasingly tense situation in employee environments -- that anytime a question arises, the answer becomes monitoring and data analysis. You see it with police body cameras. The world is a complex place, people are complex, and managing people will continue to require nuance as well as numbers.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 10:18:13 AM
Re: peak efficiency
@ChrisMurphy,

Hey this is business, not personal! : )

And in numbers vs. nuance, nuance is definitely the more difficult of the two. By far.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2015 | 12:19:00 AM
Industrial IoT
"Joy Global's plans point to what will become a rising arena of competition around IoT: Optimizing the performance of machines and the people who run them, in near real-time, and not just predicting and preventing things like when a machine might break down."

Chris, from management point of view they can have a better management of machine and man for more productivity.  But whether it's acceptable for the employee/labour community? They don't want a bird's eye view for all their actions inside the work place. I know in many places, they wont allow even to install CCTVs saying it's an intrusion to their privacy. 
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