According to McKinsey & Company, digitizing information-intensive processes can cut costs by up to 90 percent and reduce turnaround times by several orders of magnitude. Accenture forecasts reinforce this vision with models that predict an additional $2 trillion USD of economic output by 2020 as a result of digitization-driven productivity.
In the rush for businesses to cash-in on this Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) trend, investments are growing rapidly in projects that integrate smart devices, big data, analytics and other digitalization-related tools. However, stakeholders will need to understand that this digital expansion will require a rethinking of how these new “connected” applications fit into their business continuity planning. As digitized systems grow in popularity across industries, uptime in the form of steady consistent power protection becomes critical to business productivity and profitability.
How power protection can secure digitalization gains
Across many heavy industries such as oil, mining, steel, chemicals, and machinery manufacturing, the need to secure business continuity at operational levels requires that the power supply be steady, available and predictable. If not, millions in revenues are lost as a result of unanticipated downtime. Now that many of these industries are embracing digitization, the need for appropriate power protection becomes even more acute.
Consider the oil & gas industry as an example. Engineers and operators are experiencing speed, quality and productivity gains from working with simulation applications that allow them to visualize, test and implement process improvement. One of the applications of this dynamic simulation includes advanced control system design and troubleshooting. Once connected to a Distributed Control System (DCS), a virtualized model (often referred to as a Digital Twin) can be used to perform real-time optimization. Together with automation software, the simulation can be used to determine the optimal operating parameters for a process when specific targets and constraints are applied. In fact, one leading liquified natural gas (LNG) carrier saved over $1 Million on a DCS project by using dynamic simulation to test and optimize controls. These types of simulation systems now need to be power protected.
Within such industrial environments, the main power is supplied to the various machines and systems and segregated feeds are made available for control power (powering PLCs, DCS and simulators for example). The intent is to keep the control power available if the main power is lost.
When assessing the impact of power protection within the context of digitalization strategies, the control network and associated intelligent data gathering elements are of critical importance. The good news is that this constitutes a much lower level of power compared to the main process power, which makes protecting such systems with Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems far more feasible and worthwhile from a return on investment perspective.
Power protection at “the edge” also a key consideration
Energy intensive industries such as oil & gas are leveraging the new digitalization technologies to gather much more precise information from plant sites in remote areas during exploration and oil extraction phases of their operations. Pre-fabricated micro data centers are making their way to these locations to help facilities accelerate decision-making based on local data capture. According to IDC, by 2018, 20% of all IoT intelligent gateways will have “container technology” for packaging IoT application code in a containerized environment, thus accelerating IoT microservices. Power protection of these edge data centers also plays an important role in maintaining business continuity.
Click here for additional information on how to leverage UPS solutions to protect your business and maintain business continuity. To learn more about how UPS power protection can help maintain the uptime of digitized industrial assets, download the new Schneider Electric white paper, “The Industrial Internet of Things: An Evolution to a Smart Manufacturing Enterprise.”