Remote monitoring of critical infrastructure has evolved along with the technology available to enable it. This evolution is driven by the price-performance of monitoring hardware, availability of communications networks, and industry-accepted standards to make it all work together. The benefits to business and government from being able to remotely manage key technical and non-technical assets has grown accordingly.
A MarketsandMarkets Research report in 2017 showed the remote asset management market growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.1%. The global pandemic has accelerated the shift to doing things remotely in business and personally – in many cases because it was the only option to keeping critical systems and operations working. Giving technical experts the ability to manage remotely and be able to proactively manage infrastructure is quickly becoming a mandatory requirement.
The Past – SCADA makes remote monitoring possible
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a system of software and hardware elements that allows industrial organizations to monitor, gather, process, and control data. During the 1980s to early 2000s, SCADA remote monitoring systems were the peak of technological achievements. For the first time it allowed organizations to use monitoring and control systems to leverage technical personnel, reduce system risk and improve system performance.
SCADA systems enable users to gather and analyze real-time data from Remote Terminal Units (RTU) connected to sensors, valves, pumps, and motors. The software programming provides trending parameters, diagnostic data, scheduled maintenance procedures, logistics information, and detailed schematics for a particular sensor or machine.
These systems tend to be highly customized and require complex engineering to implement, with similarly specialized on-going service. SCADA systems also present challenges when it comes to interoperability. Devices that are created by different manufacturers, even different models from the same manufacturer, cannot communicate with one another on a single platform.
In the early days, SCADA systems laid the foundation for data logging technology. Today, SCADA is still widely used across various industrial applications, such as oil and gas using SCADA for monitoring pipelines and extraction processes, and railways using it to control traction power supply. It’s implementation and support costs mean it has typically been deployed in larger scale highest-value use cases.
The Present – The Internet of Things ups the game
The arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) was propelled by affordable computing and sensors, near-ubiquitous IP communications options, secure and scalable cloud services. The power of IoT in industrial and commercial settings has transformed the capability and benefits of remote asset management, and well as dramatically increasing the use cases with a positive financial ROI.
With Cisco estimating 14.7 billion interconnected devices by 2023, this presents a requirement for interoperability between devices, machines, and networks for industries that want to maintain a competitive advantage.
The remote monitoring of today enables technical personnel to have real-time visibility to remote equipment and infrastructure whether sitting in an operations center with multiple screens in front of them or in a pickup truck with a smartphone on the side of the road.
Increasingly remote equipment – from transmitters to generators to engines – have onboard diagnostics and alarms that can be remotely monitored as well. These diagnostics remotely provide deeper insight into the inside of the equipment which previously was only seen when an engineer arrived on-site with a laptop to plug into the specific piece of equipment based on a reported issue.
All these sensors and equipment with onboard diagnostics is generating huge amounts of data. IBM estimates 1 terabyte of production data is generated daily by the average factory, but less than 1% of this data is analyzed and acted upon in real-time. IIoT and particularly edge computing can analyze the granular machine-to-machine data to improve productivity, in addition to offering scalability with less infrastructure and engineering for implementation than SCADA systems.
Essential to the IIoT vision is the ability to integrate and analyze data from multiple devices simultaneously to provide valuable insights for both industrial and consumer applications. Direct access to real-time and historical data analysis has enabled managers to monitor the performance of the entire ecosystem of their critical infrastructure from anywhere in the world, resulting in better-informed decision making and proactive service resolutions.
These large datasets of key operational parameters combined with diminishing cost barriers to data analytics are creating new possibilities for gaining new and powerful actionable insights.
The Future – It’s all about the data
With a growing number of connected devices and machines sharing information, the future is data, and data is the future. Cisco estimates that 66% of the global population will be using the internet by 2023 with an average of 3.6 networked devices and connections per person. With no signs of data generation slowing down, the next logical phase of data analysis is artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics.
The value of AI in the context of IIoT is its ability to automatically identify patterns and detect anomalies in data that machines, smart sensors, and devices generate – information such as temperature, pressure, humidity, air quality, vibration, and sound. Compared to traditional monitoring systems, which monitor for numeric thresholds to be crossed, AI is powered by predictive analytics software that can make operational predictions up to 20 times earlier and with great accuracy across disparate datasets.
Increasing adoption of machine learning and AI generally in remote monitoring will deliver unprecedented improvements in system efficiency and reliability, reduce maintenance effort and cost, and proactive management risk of critical infrastructure.
It will also be a vital tool for technical and operational personnel to remotely manage for critical infrastructure in a post-pandemic world.
Rimot – Delivering today and focused on the future
Rimot monitoring platform delivers value today based on the power of Industrial IoT. Getting insights about what is happening and has happened at remote infostructure that matters. And getting that data and insight in a way that is easy to deploy and use, as a turnkey service, and affordable enough to be widely deployed to maximum benefit.
From the outset we have always believed it is about the data and the power of the insights gleaned from the data to drive new benefits. It starts with an obsession on managing data in a fused and normalized fashion to provide the data baseline for higher value analytics. It has progressed to out a multi-year R&D agenda and are starting to incorporate machine-learning algorithms in our platform.
Talk to us about your organization’s remote monitoring needs today and into the future by filling out the form below.