classic | mobile


SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide


Add IIoT to legacy automation assets to reduce unscheduled downtime
Technews Industry Guide: Industrial Internet of Things 2017, System Integration & Control Systems Design

One of the most common questions that manufacturers have for the ARC Advisory Group regarding IIoT project justification is can it help to address one of their primary challenges, unscheduled downtime, which is often the number one issue for plants today?

Often, one of the causes of a portion of this unscheduled downtime is that a significant percentage of today’s global installed base of automation systems are at least 20 years old and becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain properly. The average impact of unscheduled downtime in the process industries alone is $20 billion, or almost five percent of the annual production, making minimising unscheduled downtime attributable to automation one of the best ways for industrial organisations to improve their return on (automation) assets (ROA). Since industry will not be doing a complete ‘rip and replace’ of all of these legacy automation assets simultaneously, the best way that industry can minimise unscheduled downtime is to deploy IIoT technology to detect the health of these legacy assets and be able to predict problems in advance so the plants can take evasive actions to avoid downtime.

Business consequences of unscheduled downtime

Unscheduled downtime results in major business consequences. For example, between two and five percent of all lost production in petrochemicals plants is attributable to unscheduled downtime. Reliability experts estimate that unscheduled downtime costs ten times as much as planned downtime for maintenance in the process industries. It also causes ripple effects throughout the organisation, such as an estimated five to ten percent increase in inventories and labour costs and delayed delivery of finished goods, all resulting in reduced profitability.

Some causes of unexpected stoppages in production include equipment failure, operator error and nuisance trips. The direct impact of this unscheduled downtime can result in equipment damage, lower key performance indicators (KPIs), environmental harm, and most importantly worker endangerment. Lower KPIs include reduced overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), decreased efficiency, and reduced profitability. However, manufacturers are often not aware of the magnitude of unscheduled downtime in their own plants.

Using IIoT to minimise the causes of unscheduled downtime

Minimising the causes of unscheduled downtime requires a focus on both legacy automation assets and equipping those assets with IIoT-enabled solutions, performing functions such as remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. IIoT-enabled solutions can help improve manufacturing production flexibility and responsiveness to changes in customer demand, plus reduce costs, even when working in conjunction with legacy automation assets. Adding and retrofitting intelligent, connected sensors to legacy automation assets will help to enable functionality, such as remote asset management and analytics-driven performance improvement. Predictive maintenance approaches that minimise unscheduled downtime, improve maintenance productivity and effectiveness, and enable optimal asset performance are central to these initiatives, and justify the addition and retrofitting of legacy automation assets.

There is considerable evidence that IIoT connectivity is solving business, as well as technology issues with legacy automation systems. Manufacturers have pursued horizontal and vertical connectivity within their production operations for some time in their continuing efforts to improve performance and achieve operational excellence. IIoT connectivity represents the next step in this evolution due to its ability to serve data from ubiquitous connected devices on the plant floor and in the field, and process sophisticated output from enterprise systems for operational improvement, helping to extend the lifecycle of legacy automation assets.

OT/IT convergence helps IIoT address unscheduled downtime

OT/IT convergence continues to accelerate its deployment in industry. This has led to a rapid learning curve for both IT and OT groups. IT personnel often have to learn what terms such as ‘real-time’, ‘nonstop’ and ‘deterministic’ mean in the operations context, and OT personnel are rapidly discovering the advantages of leveraging the latest IT-based approaches. This convergence is helping plants address unscheduled downtime, as legacy automation assets need IIoT technology to be connected to the Cloud or to act as edge devices, often by the addition of smart embedded devices to the asset. Real-time or near real-time data, available 24/7/365, is essential for any global business to compete. This OT/IT convergence trend increases the demand for tighter integration and more information and analytics from all manufacturing assets, including legacy automation systems. It also contributes to the adoption of cloud computing and Big Data applications, which in turn drive the need for high-availability systems to help eliminate unscheduled downtime.


Dealing with multiple generations of automation assets is an issue that affects all manufacturers whose plants are not brand new, regardless of revenue, profitability, industry, application or geography. State-of-the art automation assets may be continuously added or used to replace legacy automation assets wherever an appropriate business case can be made. However, wherever an appropriate business case has yet to be made, this creates a big challenge for manufacturers to find a way to not only provide interoperability between plant floor and enterprise, but also to provide a link between multiple generations of legacy automation assets. Adding and retrofitting IIoT technology to those legacy automation assets can be a quick and justifiable way to help reduce unscheduled downtime and leverage the full potential of all the assets on the plant floor.

More ARC Advisory Group’s Industrie 4.0 Viewpoints can be found at

For more information contact Paul Miller, ARC Advisory Group, +1 781 471 1141,,

Share via email     Share via LinkedIn   Print this page

Further reading:

  • CSI’s customer-centric focus ­underpins its quality market ­offering
    November 2017, Control Systems Integration, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    A high level of business ethics, coupled with quality of workmanship, exemplary skill levels and experience of staff members, together with its dedicated focus on delivering added-value industrial solutions, ...
  • Safe and reliable steel production
    November 2017, Endress+Hauser, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    Endress+Hauser’s dedicated measurement and software for steel production.
  • Future-proof assembly concept for high-end shavers
    November 2017, Omron Electronics, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    Philips chooses Omron technology for reliable production of shaving devices.
  • PC-based control for process automation
    November 2017, Beckhoff Automation, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    HART functionality integrated in TwinCAT software and I/O system.
  • The future is digital
    October 2017, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Ind. & Drives, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    Secure new competitive advantages through greater flexibility, quality and energy efficiency.
  • Integrated automation system ­optimises wire binding
    October 2017, Beckhoff Automation, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    PC-based control and drive technology for fully automated paper and print processing.
  • Endress+Hauser ready for the IIoT
    October 2017, Endress+Hauser, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    The industrial Internet has gained traction in the mining industry, but what is really behind it?
  • Water crisis puts plant operating efficiencies under pressure
    October 2017, Schneider Electric South Africa, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    As South Africa’s water resources dwindle under endemic drought and rapid urbanisation, it is imperative that water efficiency be achieved in the plants and processes that deliver drinking water, as well ...
  • Digital indicator for process monitoring applications
    October 2017, Loadtech Loadcells, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    The LT1200 panel mount process indicator is a precision digital indicator for interfacing to and measuring most process variables. The LT1200 is capable of measuring and processing variables such as mA, ...
  • Pneumatics or electrics
    September 2017, Festo, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    Important points to bear in mind when it comes to choosing the right technology.
  • Designing packaging machines with PC-based control and XTS
    September 2017, Beckhoff Automation, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    Flexibility, efficiency and sustainable use of resources are the core points that designers and users of packaging machines are currently focusing on in light of Industrie 4.0 and changing customer needs.
  • Digitalisation in coal gasification improves efficiency
    September 2017, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Ind. & Drives, System Integration & Control Systems Design
    A digital twin allowed virtual testing of the new plant prior to actual commissioning.

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.