What does digitalisation do for the process control industry? What is the best way to exploit the opportunities afforded by system connectivity and data exchange? Endress+Hauser has developed a digital strategy that generates real added value from the virtual world for its customers.
Today, a private life without access to the internet is hard to imagine. In contrast, industrial companies have been relatively cautious when it comes to connecting business and production processes, particularly in the area of process control. Although roughly 90% of the Endress+Hauser instruments installed around the world feature a fieldbus interface such as HART, Profibus, Foundation Fieldbus, Modbus, RS485, EtherNet/IP or Profinet, only 3% actually utilise this digital communications capability.
But change is on the horizon, and Endress+Hauser wants to help current and future customers tap into this potential. Our digitalisation strategy is being pursued at several levels: in our products, in the data that is available in field instruments and in our interaction with customers.
At the first level – measurement instrument connectivity – Endress+Hauser is actively developing the technology required for connectivity and data exchange. The current Proline 300/500 series of products is a good example. These flowmeters feature not only diverse signal outputs and fieldbus protocols, but also an integrated WiFi server. Apart from various process parameters – in this case mass flow, volume flow, density, concentration, viscosity and temperature – these interfaces make it possible to monitor and retrieve a wide range of other sensor and process data. This additional data enables predictive maintenance, which offers measurable benefits of greater system availability and efficiency.
Netilion Analytics: Bringing order to the installed base
Before added value can be generated from the data, it has to be available in a consistent form, which is not often the case today. Many companies own field instruments from different generations and manufacturers, for which detailed information is sometimes lacking. This can cause problems down the road if spare parts for obsolete instruments are unavailable, which then triggers a hectic procurement mission.
This is where Endress+Hauser’s Netilion Analytics digital application steps in. This tool helps capture the data from the entire installed base of field instruments and forwards it to a password-protected Cloud. After that, it is updated with missing data about Endress+Hauser’s own field instruments, and in some cases also about competitor instruments. The application creates ‘digital twins’ of the field instruments, which are visible by authorised people from any type of end device. All that is required is an internet browser. The data enables customers to take management decisions regarding their critical measurement points, identifying obsolescence risks and the potential for instrument standardisation, including recommendations for quick device replacement and optimised spares storage. Downtime risks are then largely minimised on the plant.
Netilion Predict: Predictive maintenance
Capturing and updating the data with Netilion Analytics opens up further opportunities to exploit the information, for example by adopting a predictive maintenance strategy. To address this area, Endress+Hauser is developing an application called Netilion Predict. It will permit customers to adapt the calibration and maintenance intervals to the actual needs of the operation. Inflexible intervals based on rule-of-thumb values are thus a thing of the past. The instrument’s digital twin ‘knows’ on its own how long production can continue to run reliably and when recalibration is required. As a result, system availability is increased and maintenance managers save time by reducing unnecessary service tasks.
Security: EuroCloud certification
When it comes to data security, Endress+Hauser leaves nothing to chance. The Endress+Hauser Netilion ecosystem has been independently certified with four stars by the EuroCloud organisation for highly sensitive data. We are also the first industrial company to receive a StarAudit certification. It is therefore hoped that more and more customers will place their trust in the new digital service and take advantage of the potential it boasts to optimise their processes.