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Designing future refineries with Industrial IoT

Here's how one petrochemical company uses enhanced predictive maintenance and "video as a sensor" to retain its competitive advantage.

Often, examples are vague arm waves when companies talk about their adoption of projects that incorporate the Internet of Things. It’s refreshing to learn in detail how a business—in this case Texmark, a petrochemical company near Houston—goes about the process.

In particular, Texmark started with upgrading the IT infrastructure of its manufacturing plant, adding more wireless technology and computational power. Sure, it had its eyes on the prize—generating data and insights that weren’t otherwise available—but even in the initial stages, the refinery got some benefits.

The IT staff and plant management worked with the end users—the people in the refinery—to identify problems in more than an ambiguous way. A meeting with those workers (with professional facilitation to encourage frankness and honesty) helped Texmark set its goals, including the vision for a “connected worker” who could get information from the equipment, such as using video as a sensor, examining the analytics to spot trends, and ensuring mechanical integrity with location-based safety controls.

The initial IoT projects were two critical pumps. The first boiler supplies steam and heat to the plant; if it goes down, the whole plant goes down. The team added sensors for vibration, temperature, and pressure. The second device to get IoT functions was a critical backup pump for the company’s product. It now can capture data and build computer models based on trends, which helps minimize or eliminate failure.

Watch this panel discussion to learn more about the ways IoT and other technologies are modernizing manufacturing businesses.

Are you ready for the IoT?  Here’s a framework that will get you started.

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