Industrial Wireless

Remote asset condition monitoring and anomaly detection

May 2024 Industrial Wireless

Asset condition monitoring, anomaly detection, and failure prediction are becoming more critical in all industries. The real-time monitoring of assets located in remote locations for the detection of anomalies can become very expensive, and the implementation of solutions for remote equipment monitoring has been slow in coming. However, this hurdle can now be overcome by leveraging the power of IIoT technologies, and organisations can proactively monitor the condition of their valuable assets, even in remote areas.

IIoT and MQTT: essential tools

At the heart of this capability is the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). This is a secure, lightweight, low footprint publish/subscribe messaging protocol designed for low-bandwidth and high-latency networks. It allows a single server to process and transmit one million messages in a second, with a millisecond level of latency.

At the centre of the solution is an industrial information platform that can receive data from multiple remote edge instances, and make the data available to multiple applications and users. This is also referred to as an MQTT broker. For data acquisition in remote locations and at plant level, an edge instance is required to collect data and to publish the data to the broker. Some edge instances provide for redundancy in the form of store and forward capabilities to ensure that data is buffered locally if the communication link to the broker is down, and there is automated upload of the data once the link is restored. The MQTT protocol works on a publish/subscribe principal, with MQTT brokers playing post office for the data. The architecture allows for publishers to be subscribers, and subscribers can also be publishers, thus enabling two-way communication.

Security of the system is assured by the following features:

• No open inbound ports are required on the plant side if you only want to publish data.

• Multiple edge instances connecting to single or multiple brokers allow for zoning, segregation, and secure conduits based on the IEC 62443 architecture.

• All transmitted data is encrypted, and user and password authentication is a requirement.

More software OEMs are enabling MQTT in their technology, and the usage is expanding rapidly in industry.

Real-time remote online monitoring of industrial assets

MQTT allows remote asset monitoring via a central platform located at a company’s headquarters. It has the following features:

• Includes dashboards, recording history, trends, reports, notifications and alarms.

• Makes information available on a PC, tablet or smartphone.

• Allows end clients access to information via cloud or on-premise architecture.

Remote assets can be monitored from any location around the globe. Any type of asset characteristic can be monitored and recorded, whether it be vibration, stress, temperature, flow, pressure, or energy consumption. This allows all functions, including utility consumption, to be monitored.

Offline condition monitoring with automated upload

For the field engineer, there is a choice of mobile application, be it via a tablet, laptop or smart phone, with an automated data upload capability, and a compact and easily transportable mobile service unit. The advantages include:

• The mobile service unit is packaged in a robust case on wheels for easy transport.

• The unit allows for connectivity to field instruments by exposing industrial connectors on the outside of the case.

• There are connection options to the unit from a tablet or laptop that include Wi-Fi or fly lead.

• The unit includes battery backup.

An industrial information platform based on a central MQTT broker has the benefit of acquiring and collating information from multiple systems, instruments and applications to:

• Eliminate point-to-point spaghetti interfaces between applications.

• Break down data silos.

• Provide a central place for users and applications to access information via standardised communication protocols.

Online condition-based monitoring

There are multiple benefits of online condition-based monitoring leveraged by IIoT technology. These include:

• Predicting equipment failure and avoiding unplanned breakdowns and downtime.

• Longer service intervals by moving from

time-based to usage-based scheduled maintenance.

• Energy saving by monitoring equipment health, including power consumption, to detect power consumption anomalies.

• Avoiding consequential damage and insurance claims by having a complete operations history of the asset on hand.

• Weak spot detection through vibration monitoring in various axes.

• Reduction in storage and inventory spares costs through better prediction of mean time to failure.

By leveraging the power of IIoT technologies, organisations can now proactively monitor the condition and performance of their valuable assets, even in remote areas.


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