With continued investment in hardware, software, services, and connectivity to maximize business efficiency, the IoT industry is on course to reach nearly US$1.4 trillion by 2021. In this article, we take a look at some of the recent industrial technology activity in the power market.
According to research firm IDC, the largest investments this year, 2017, will come from the manufacturing (US$183 billion), transportation (US$85 billion), and utility (US$66 billion) industries. More specifically, smart grid technologies for electricity, gas, and water are on track to realise US$56 billion of invested funds.
In May, analytics and big data insights company, Maana reported that it had raised an impressive US$26 million in Series B funding, led by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (a corporate venture arm of Saudi Aramco). This latest injection tips the total sum raised in excess of US$40 million, which will be used to expand product knowledge and to scale market opportunities for Maana’s enterprise knowledge graph platform. Other contributors included: GE Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Intel Capital, Frost Data Capital, and Shell Technology Ventures.
And this month, ABB – a technology company for electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation, and power grids – announced that it’s acquiring the Austrian engineering company, Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik GmbH (B&R) for an undisclosed cash sum. B&R will operate as an independent business unit within the ABB Group’s Industrial Automation division, combining its products and software for modern machine and factory automation with ABB’s robotics, process automation, digitalization, and electrification solutions. The move also makes room for 50 new developers focussing on control, motion control, and industrial IoT communication.
Also recognizing the significance of IoT technology in industry, Total’s Plant 4.0 start-up incubator has opened its doors again with the objective of accelerating the deployment of digital technologies. There is currently an international call for incubation projects focused on ‘connected objects’ in four areas: acoustic detection of leaks or anomalies, corrosion monitoring, non-invasive flow measurement, and manual valve position displays*.
Elsewhere, Petrosys, a mapping, surface modelling and data management software company for the petroleum E&P (exploration and production) sector, has been acquired by Vela Software, which provides solutions to improve operations. A press release detailing the takeover indicates that the backing will open up a new growth phase for Petrosys, stronger penetration of new markets, faster software development, and more R&D. And Arvato Systems (part of the Bertelsmann Group) became the sole shareholder of Next Level Integration GmbH, a software manufacturer and provider for the supply industry. The plan here is to create a smart energy platform for the future.
IBM and ABB are now working together on industrial artificial intelligence, combining IBM Watson Internet of Things and ABB Ability TM. The goal is to enable real-time cognitive insights to the factory floor and smart grids, improve quality control, and increase the speed and yield of industrial processes in new ways. For example, moving beyond current connected systems that simply gather data, and on to a situation where industrial machines use data to understand, sense, reason, and take action, helping to eliminate inefficient processes and redundant tasks.
Maersk Drilling upped its digital partnership with GE in a new deal to enable more consistent and predictable drilling performances. The agreement will usher DX (Digital Transformation) onto nine of Maersk’s vessels in the form of GE’s Predix powered SeaStream Insight Marine Asset Performance Management software. GE also signed a multi-year agreement with electric utility company, PT Pembangkitan Jawa Bali (PJB), the largest subsidiary of Indonesia’s national power utility, PT PLN. For its part, GE will design a remote engineering, monitoring, diagnostics, and optimization center in Surabaya which is expected to go live in October this year. A cloud solution will also be implemented over the next 18 months.
Commenting, Iwan Agung Firstantara, president director at PJB, said: “This is an important milestone for PJB as the industry is continuously pushed to improve efficiency to provide more reliable electricity in Indonesia. Establishing the remote engineering, monitoring , diagnostic, and optimization center will bolster our power generation efforts as we move to double our capacity to 22GW by 2022. This next generation digital-driven facility will help us to enhance our operations and management of remote sites.”
And Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) joined forces with Siemens for an industrial IoT effort. They connect for collaboration on MindSphere, a cloud-based, open, IoT operating system. For customers in manufacturing and energy (as well as the building technology, healthcare and railway industries), new TCS applications for the OS will enable digital and analytical services such as predictive maintenance and energy monitoring. TCS will also support developments around MindConnect Nano, a cloud gateway that can be used to connect production to cloud-based analysis of machine and production data.
*If you would like to apply, the closing date for submissions is September 2, 2017.
— By Rachael Corry, an independent energy technology writer