IIoT: Delivering Safety, Sustainability for the Energy Sector

Ari Nielsen, COO, Andium

Safety and sustainability are sort of an Achilles heels for the oil and gas industry, given the advanced age of much of the industry’s infrastructure.

Can innovations in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) deliver solutions and a way forward for an industry squeezed by revenue concerns? As the Chief Operating Officer at Andium, an Industrial Internet of Things enterprise, we know the answer is yes.

Unfortunately, we can’t replace our aging infrastructure overnight. So, we must find ways to augment aging infrastructure with practical solutions to help extend the life and capabilities of our existing infrastructure, as well as alert us to failure points before they happen.

Connecting Securely Without Major Upgrade

When you hear “IIoT,” you naturally think about internet connectivity and all that it has to offer in terms of real-time feedback, data analytics, and machine learning capabilities.

However, a major risk posed by our aging infrastructure is security vulnerabilities. If an old piece of equipment is connected to any sort of network, it becomes an easy target for a cyberattack. IIoT, by the very act of connecting devices to a network, can introduce new security risks.

That doesn’t mean, however, that oil and gas companies have to embark on a costly upgrade of all infrastructure before they can take advantage of IIoT connectivity.

It’s possible for companies to use IIoT devices that are equipped with on-device encryption, which then can act as front-line protection against unauthorized access to an older piece of equipment or system.

Avoiding Integration Hassles and Expense

Another challenge for industries with extensive and aging infrastructure is integration. Even forward-thinking executives will avoid adopting IIoT if costs are high and implementations are complex.

For widespread IIoT adoption in older sectors, low-cost and ease of implementation are key, which are virtually impossible without lowering integration barriers. IIoT advances, such as increased on-device intelligence and flexibility with edge computing, help overcome integration challenges by allowing devices to monitor aging infrastructure without having to tie into old systems.

The virtualization and open nature of modern IIoT software, which can run on any hardware, meets the requisite of lowering the integration barrier while delivering the desired connectivity.

Increasing Sustainability

Aging infrastructure also brings about sustainability challenges.

Take manufacturing, where aging equipment can result in things like high-energy consumption, machine failures, and material waste. By adding capabilities such as equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance, IIoT can help prolong the life of equipment and increase uptime, ensuring more efficient production and less waste.

In the fossil fuel industry, imaging sensors can alert companies to oil tanks that are at risk of overflow, or identify black smoke onsite, allowing companies to address issues before they escalate into major problems.

Increased visibility also reduces the need for personnel to regularly travel to remote sites. Instead, workers only need to travel out to sites when a potential issue is detected, decreasing their carbon footprint.

While sectors like oil and gas with older infrastructure may not quite be ready for Industry 4.0, IIoT has arrived at the perfect juncture of lower cost and easy integration to begin the transition while delivering improved safety and sustainability.

About the Author:- Ari Nielsen is the COO at Andium, an Industrial Internet of Things ecosystem helping some of the world’s largest energy companies manage their operations in more sustainable and cost-effective ways.

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