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Introduction

One of the critical pain points that leaders in the energy space often struggle to mitigate is the diverse spread of physical assets and infrastructure in use across their facilities. Imagine the case of a power plant running on natural gas. From boilers to turbines, control units, transmission lines, grid networks, fuel lines, and electrical systems, the number of essential assets is pretty large. Other energy companies are not too far behind in terms of asset complexity.

The quest to achieve transparent visibility into this asset landscape and manage it has made many of them adopt various digital solutions. Some have even succeeded in digitization efforts to a respectable level. Most critical infrastructure within energy companies is today equipped to be managed by digital systems. But for effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability, unified control over the end-to-end energy infrastructure via integrated digital tools is needed. This is where Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT solutions like ThingWorx make perfect sense for the energy sector.

ThingWorx – A Primer

ThingWorx is an IIoT platform that helps companies unify the device ecosystem across various industrial systems into a single digital platform for efficient management. It eliminates the barriers faced in integrating different engineering systems with pre-built applications, developer tools, and accelerators. As such, it allows businesses with a high volume of industrial infrastructure to quickly realize value from their digitization initiatives.

For example, a leading energy company leveraged ThingWorx to continuously monitor high-temperature steam components in large buildings and industrial units. They provide customers with high-end industrial insulation products that eliminate wastage. ThingWorx provided them with a detailed snapshot of data from different steam units insulated with their products. It allowed them to provide verified and credible insights into energy savings for each customer.

What Does ThingWorx Do for Energy Companies?

As you have seen from the above example, ThingWorx brings better visibility for businesses into industrial data accumulated within their operations. To understand better, let us examine the top benefits that energy projects can achieve with the implementation of ThingWorx:

Eliminate Silos in Industrial Data

When industrial systems are spread over a large operational base, it is difficult for decision-makers to get an integrated view. With ThingWorx, data from across different industrial components can be collected and analyzed in one place. This allows for easy end-to-end management of infrastructure and physical assets in a business.

Equip Employees with Better Machine Insights

ThingWorx can help employees get a clear understanding of infrastructure and assets with data visibility. They can be better equipped with insights into the health of components and perform daily tasks with more informed decision-making. Entire upstream and downstream operations can be brought into a single communication link. This can help employees leverage real-time data for planning their tasks and outcomes. Energy companies rely on highly sophisticated performance data metrics to drive decisions in all aspects.

With ThingWorx, it becomes easier to establish a data-driven framework for operations across all departments. There is uninterrupted visibility into performance data like power output, consumption of resources like fuel, speed of equipment like turbines, etc. These can be used as baseline metrics to build operational procedures, workflows, and other daily routines for energy companies.

Companies that handle maintenance operations for thousands of industrial units worldwide are a classic example of this scenario. Employees of such companies are often deployed as contract maintenance staff at major industrial or energy facilities. They handle maintenance based on real-time insights provided by ThingWorx. This ensures that they can find issues faster thanks to more actionable insights into the suspicious performance of equipment. Additionally, the solution allows employees to work with the highest degree of safety through continuous monitoring for any hazardous scenarios.

Enable better security and compliance

With automation becoming a major driver of business growth in the energy sector, the need to ensure data-centric operations is critical. However, with the data-centric approach, it becomes critical to safeguard against security threats to data. Additionally, the need for different units within an energy business to consume data generated mandates compliance with information and data security policies and frameworks.
With ThingWorx, it becomes easier to build a highly governed data framework for energy organizations. On the security side, powerful encryption, privacy policies, and access control mechanisms can be easily implemented using ThingWorx. This enables businesses to leverage a data-centric approach without worrying about compliance with security norms.

Improve Asset Health

ThingWorx can help energy companies stay on top of infrastructure health with continuous performance monitoring. As mentioned earlier, any suspicious events in the normal work routine of equipment or machines will be caught by the platform and reported to the right personnel on time. This helps in regular periodic maintenance and extending the life of physical infrastructure. Ultimately, energy companies can save significantly on their operating costs with proper maintenance cycles.

Uncover New Opportunities

Industrial IoT presents energy companies not just with a bunch of data and insights but also opportunities to build new possibilities. For example, ThingWorx provides an opportunity for energy companies to guide employees and help them engage better with equipment. Performance data, along with environmental data gathered by ThingWorx, can be used to model navigational support systems delivered through augmented reality interfaces.

Similarly, there could be monetization opportunities that energy companies can realize from their existing physical assets when paired with data intelligence. For example, solar panels could be sold to customers on a subscription basis, with performance data monitored regularly through ThingWorx. Energy companies can control power infrastructure remotely and build new apps that integrate operational data to provide services to customers. In fact, they can turn products integral to their operations into services that can be monetized.

Future-proof technology architecture

We have seen how ThingWorx helps companies uncover new opportunities. What it also brings to the table is the ability to handle large and sophisticated pools of industrial data. This will help energy companies in their growth and expansion plans. ThingWorks offers a scalable technology architecture to which newer features, data-driven systems, etc. can be seamlessly integrated over time. ThingWorks allows the development of custom APIs that energy companies can utilize to expand their digital horizons. Taking industrial data for new use cases becomes very easy thanks to this ability.
As more complicated machines, devices, sensors, etc. become available in the markets, energy companies using ThingWorks are guaranteed a shot at adopting newer innovations thanks to the underlying supportive architecture.

The Way Forward

The energy landscape globally is undergoing major shifts. There are widespread concerns about global warming, climate change-induced natural disasters, and increased pollution. Even on the consumer front, there is an increased patronage for investments in products that are sustainable and have low energy consumption. Today, energy companies find themselves in a tight spot and are forced to look at ways to operate with less harm to nature.

IIoT platforms like ThingWorx will be at the forefront of equipping energy businesses with actionable insights to run their business efficiently and smartly.

However, implementing ThingWorx is not a simple initiative. It requires a strategic roadmap that must cover multiple facets. From data management architecture to use-case modeling and technical customizations, there is a considerable effort and need for strategic oversight. This is where a partner like Pratiti can be your biggest asset. Get in touch with us to know more.

Nitin
Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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