Just as an integral becomes more accurate as it increases its subintervals (the value of “n”), so can industrial processes through offering more data points. Traditionally, a technician might check gauges a few times a day, week, or month. However, if a gauge indicates that nothing is wrong, or it is within an acceptable range, the technician may not make a note of the gauge reading. Attaching a cost-effective sensor able to sample and record raw data multiple times per minute, hour, or day greatly increases the process’s “n” value. Aggregating more raw data points opens the door for statistical software and algorithms to translate raw data into process information to make maintenance or business decisions.
This sensor-based approach reduces integration time and cost, but it can act independently or with current IIoT programs. For example, the Fujitsu components division recently teamed with Cratus, a sensor technology company, to offer sensor packages that can take advantage of the use of smartphones. “There has been a movement for companies to use employees’ personal cell phones for business purposes, whether it is for company email or installing an app for wireless communication,” says Bruce DeVisser, Fujitsu components product manager. “Technicians can document information by opening up an app on their phone and simply walk up to a device and use its Bluetooth or near-field communications (NFC) to update information.” A technician can have an app or dashboard on a smartphone that updates information when the technicians are in range and transmit this data to the internet through the Wi-Fi connection in the phone. Once the data is on the server, software is able to produce process information and send it wherever it is needed—even back to the technician’s phone.