Most vendors are unable to give single window solutions
‘Most vendors are unable to give single window solutions’ Vivek Gupta, Assistant Vice President & Head Instrumentation, DCM Shriram Limited.
What are the challenges faced in the area of Instrumentation & Controls?
Industry 4.0 or IIoT are buzz words in the current scenario. It will not only streamline operations and improve productivity, but also will help in predictive maintenance thereby avoiding forced breakdowns. The business world is evolving at a breakneck pace, driven by rapid technology innovation. Tomorrow’s business will be substantially different than todays, and those companies will call upon connected IoT devices in new and exciting ways. By designing IoT ecosystems with the future in mind, companies can protect their investment and position themselves to be agile and responsive. New technology is coming up at fast pace but the before implementing in the process industries trial runs and testing is required to work in the specific environment. Management buy in is most important issue due to unclear RoI. Interoperability, data privacy, unreliable service availability, coverage, scalability, battery drainage of the wireless equipment, stay connected in challenging environments etc. are the challenges need to be addressed effectively. It is not only the Technology but Willingness to take initiative and start the journey.
Are the vendors able to address the issues and in position to offer complete solutions?
Most of the vendors are not able to give single window solutions to the traditional challenges/pain points of industries. Pilot projects are taking place at various places. There are numerous vendors capable of giving software solutions but required sensors suiting to the specific environment are not available with them. User has to dovetail the same and therefore sometimes projects fail. Security, Reliability, Performance, etc., are still unknown.
Is multiplicity of protocols presenting a problem?
Yes, multiplicity of protocols poses problems. Existing systems protocols do not match with the current requirement, which calls for system upgrade. Some systems work on Wireless HART, others on different protocols and thus the mismatch. There is no international standard for the same.
Are the new trends in this field addressing the manpower and skills issues effectively?
It is true that experienced manpower is retiring and new manpower is more computer savvy. With the advent of IIoT, information will be readily available on anybody’s tab, mobile, computer, etc. The need of the hour is to provide right information to the right people at right time to take decision and act. Proper commissioning of digitisation to make equipment ‘Connected’ can address the manpower and skilling issues to a large extent. Required training in handling of equipment along with Data analytics will help in this direction. Mindset is another issue as plants already operating on DCS will now have another system of health monitoring with the use of wireless equipment, will have to be monitored. Since manual visits will be reduced due to information available on computers, tabs, etc., field issues may sometimes get overlooked and newer generation may not get trained on the same for trouble shooting.
IIoT reflects a paradigm shift in industrial operations and the required expertise. Certain manual tasks will be automated for enhanced productivity, but this doesn’t mean the need for manpower will fade away. On the contrary, a digital factory is only as smart as the people who operate it. To secure and translate Big Data into business intelligence, new job domains like data scientists and security engineers will be critical. Existing jobs like machine operators will continue to evolve with new skill sets. Human intelligence is the brain behind IIoT implementation and no machine can be as flexible as humans themselves.
It’s also important to note that IIoT frees worker from repetitive, monotonous tasks to focus on more rewarding, higher-value ones. Likewise, one of its ultimate goals is to create a safer and healthier work environment for employees.
How do you deal with the issues of cybersecurity?
An IoT-based service depends on the reliability and quality of the connectivity link. This makes connectivity an important building block in IoT infrastructure. Not only must it be reliable and offer the appropriate quality of service to serve the underlying devices and applications, but it must also be secure enough to stop sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Data diode can address such issues. Companies may consider digitisation journey with On Premises (Intranet) and then based on the need can move to Intranet to avail expert services. Proper authorisation with written procedures practices need to be adopted.
Vivek Gupta has over thirty years of experience in the field of Control & Instrumentation (C&I). Initially he served M/s Instrumentation Limited, a Government of India enterprise from 1988 for 18 years for C&I of nearly 30 power plants. Since 2006 Gupta is serving DCM Shriram Limited at Kota-Rajasthan/India as Assistant Vice President & Head of Instrumentation and Team Lead for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). He has chaired/attended various national/international seminars and conferences, and also authored articles in various magazines. Gupta was awarded the Distinguished Instrumentation Professional under District 14 of ISA in October, 2016. He is also Steering Committee Member of Digital Transformation Council (DTC), ARC/USA.