I-IoT - A smart approach to downtime
Industrial IoT solutions

I-IoT - A smart approach to downtime

This week sees the launch of TWTG’s Vibration Sensor Application, the essential keystone in TWTG’s range of products designed to unify Industrial-IoT (I-IoT) in the oil and gas industry.

The much-anticipated Vibration Sensor Application is the latest module to join the suite of applications that form TWTG’s SolidRed platform. It is a significant step in the development of the NEON product line and a massive leap for the company.

Initially launched in 2021, the NEON Vibration Sensor has enjoyed great success for TWTG over the last year. Still, the arrival of its corresponding module on SolidRed completely transforms its possible applications. It ensures full Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) functionality can be utilised, exported elsewhere, made visual and most importantly, acted upon, in addition to the usual vibration sensor information, such as acceleration and velocity.

Oil and Gas operators understand the importance of digitisation, and it is they that are demanding increasingly sophisticated and technologically advanced IoT solutions. They understand that data is king. It will liberate them from traditional methodology, enable them to make informed decisions, and considerably hone their business in effectiveness and efficiency.

In simple terms, a facility will run easier. Operations will be less routine driven. Day-to-events will become more agile and less reactive. Engineers will have the ability to see things coming and predict events before they happen. This isn’t a vision of the future. This is now.

After safety, for senior engineers as well as site managers, maintenance and planning are about one thing: Reducing Downtime. A single hour of downtime can negate weeks, possibly months of advantage gained from multiple other activities designed to increase efficiency or save costs. A few hours of downtime could be the difference between success or failure over a year.

So, the question is, how do TWTG’s Vibration Sensors help bring downtime to a minimum? And how do they make engineers’ lives easier?

Firstly, a little background on the Vibration Sensor. It works by detecting anomalies in the usual behaviour patterns of equipment, thereby identifying possible bearing faults on pumps, motors or other rotating equipment early.

This is possible by feeding data from the sensor via the new Vibration Sensor Application module located within TWTG’s SolidRed platform.

The solution analyses the data in two ways. Firstly, looking for new anomalies in data from the rotating unit, alerting an engineer a new potential problem to be investigated. So, for instance, the beginning of a bearing fault. If immediate action is necessary, engineers can take steps to reduce unplanned downtime to the bare minimum, thus avoiding any unwarranted downtime.

The second layer of analysis is where the vibration sensor application demonstrates its intelligence, working to analyse new data, and comparing it to stored historical data. Crucially, this can be data from either the single sensor or all the NEON sensors installed in the facility. By doing this, SolidRed will compare historical data fluctuations to the current data streams by searching for the patterns that occurred before previous alerts.

By analysing the complete network of sensors as a single entity and comparing real-time and historical data, the Vibration Sensor Application can recognise the fingerprints of events and prewarn engineers well in advance, enabling planned maintenance or replacement during scheduled downtime.


Putting the engineer first

Traditionally, the inspection of rotating equipment has been a routine, manual event throughout the industry. Engineers would have to use a handheld tool to perform the measurement, attaching physically to the equipment in-situ. As logic would suggest, the frequency of inspection would depend on the criticality of the equipment.

For any engineer, this is an arduous and time-consuming task. The odds of there being a problem are slight, so while obviously, the best result would be that the equipment is in perfect order, it is precisely this type of mundane maintenance that can bring monotony and demotivation to an engineer’s work.

For inspired engineers who enjoy being challenged by their work, removing mostly non-consequential and tedious checks and maintenance can be a significant factor in retaining their services.

The rapid emergence of I-IoT, together with other technological factors, has seen the two pillars of technology and engineering come crashing together over the last decade. Experienced engineers are now an in-demand commodity, and as a result, retention of their experience and knowledge has become a significant issue within the oil and gas industry.

In the coming years, the addition of new technologies such as SolidRed and NEON sensors to existing facilities, combined with the planned construction of exciting new ‘smart’ facilities, will be a key influence and motivator to encourage ambitious, curious engineers to stay within the sector.

So, in addition to motivating a workforce by reducing routine inspections,

whilst increasing their skills and knowledge base, solutions like the Vibration Sensor Application can assist valued engineers in quite a few other ways.

Via this application module, an engineer will benefit from access to a unique, intuitive dashboard with detailed vibration analysis in both the time-domain and frequency-domain. The visualised FFT allows an experienced rotating engineer to diagnose the device without leaving their desk.

A Waterfall dashboard gives an uncomplicated visual display to enable engineers to visualise and compare changes in the spectrum over time. This is a perfect tool to spot slowly rising peaks, which could be an indication of wear or damage. Without this waterfall feature, these prolonged changes in the spectrum would be challenging to spot.

One must-have feature of the platform is a fully-integrated configuration dashboard, with simple use case-based configuration and an automatic verification function. Unlike any other solution, the configuration dashboard allows engineers to configure existing sensors or add further ones without involving the IT or infrastructure specialist to upload the LoRa message. This feature is a critical attribute that will save time, money and inconvenience.

Exploring  further into SolidReds features, the benefits become apparent. It puts the engineer in the driving seat, giving full access to data at both a micro and macro level. The visuals are clear and simple to interpret, and additional data is easy to access. TWTG have thought it through.

Fully customisable role management provides access to the features that people need. It never expects too much from the engineer, managing to keep all the functionality, facts and information firmly in their realm and capability.

For those that need a little more from the platform, SolidRed has a microservices architecture, meaning that the solution is scalable and fault-tolerant with the added benefits of development and maintenance included. Moving beyond its pure functionality, TWTG is quick to point out that SolidRed is extremely adaptable. Unlike most other technological platforms in the sector, it has no vendor lock-in, which means it can fully integrate with a range of different solutions such as various IoT platforms, and any other LoRaWAN network.

So, digitisation, for many, is keenly anticipated – it’s a welcome push to align the oil and gas industry on the same technological trajectory that other sectors have already begun to explore. Digitisation is necessary to stimulate the pool of both newly qualified and industry-experienced engineers, whilst helping our sector to become an inspiring space of new innovation and ideas. Those more sceptical of what such a new era will herald, shouldn’t worry too much. It’s not change for change’s sake.

For TWTG, a primary development focus is making engineers’ lives easier. Streamlining an engineers’ workload, freeing them from the monotony of routine maintenance while providing more actionable insight. The result? Motivated engineers and a significant reduction in unscheduled downtime.