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As OT meets IT, OSIsoft builds connections

by Martha DeGrasse

“When people talk about big data analytics and the IoT, what they’re really talking about is improving the way something runs today,” says OSIsoft founder and CEO Patrick Kennedy. OSIsoft specializes in making legacy equipment “smart,” which is almost always a less expensive choice than rebuilding a factory from scratch to leverage IoT technologies.


“Our focus is on making sure we have all the interfaces down, the ability to go in while the facilities are running, put the software in and make sure the people get the benefits immediately,” Kennedy said.  “Most of the systems going in today have a data layer, a human layer, and maybe the more advanced have some artificial intelligence.” He expects future generations of factory and mining equipment to have knowledge-based systems built in, and says this will mark the true digital transformation of industry.


In the meantime, connecting machines to the internet of things means bringing the data they generate into user-friendly software. In many cases, that means adding wireless sensors to existing equipment and using software like OSIsoft’s PI System to translate the machine data into a format that can be analyzed and manipulated using personal computers or smartphones.


Kennedy said energy conservation is currently the number one driver of IoT deployments in industrial settings. “Everyone initially goes for energy because energy costs are a major part of the cost of these products,” he said.  “When these plants were built, essentially energy was considered a low-cost part of the operations and that’s not true today.” In addition, stabilizing energy use can also support operational reliability.


Reliability can be worth millions of dollars to companies that operate equipment 24/7 in remote locations. For example, Dong Energy expects to save $24 million a year by 2020 by monitoring its offshore wind turbines using OSIsoft’s PI System.


Quality control is another initiative that can generate meaningful cost savings through IoT technologies. Monitoring equipment doesn’t just mean finding failures faster; it means avoiding failures altogether.


“What most of the industry has found is that you can’t create high quality from inspection,” explained Kennedy. “Inspection just highlights that there’s a problem. The high quality comes from stabilizing the process in the first place.”


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The internet of things is not a new market, and it's not just one market, according to the analysts at Mobile Experts. The team has spent the past several years studying the top vertical markets for IoT services, including the automotive industry, the power industry and healthcare. In addition, Mobile Experts has spent time with companies in the many horizontal segments of this market: those providing connectivity and data analysis for the internet of things. The firm concludes that while there are currently more than 65 competing IoT technologies, the market will consolidate around roughly 20 of these.  


Mobile Experts interviewed semiconductor companies, service providers, and corporate end users to compile its detailed IoT device shipment forecast . This report forecasts IoT device shipments for all the major connectivity technologies, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, 5G, GSM, NB-IoT, PLC, LPWA, RFID, satellite, and proprietary RF. 

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