Right now, across the United States, we’re seeing a large portion of the workforce shifting their usual activities, shedding their commutes and working from home. And for many of those people, that wasn’t a decision that they made themselves, but, rather one driven by executive orders or other government directives.
However, despite many companies being directed to close their doors, there are a good number of essential workers that can’t work from home. This includes the people that have to be on-site to monitor and maintain equipment and devices in support of critical infrastructure. The facilities managers, and the equipment operators, and the people whose job it is to ensure that everything works and the lights stay on.
But teleworking isn’t just a “right now” thing. It’s a trend that we’re seeing across industries as companies look to increase efficiency and retain employees by offering increased workplace flexibility. As teleworking and “work from home” initiatives increase, it might seem like essential workers will be left behind, but that doesn’t have to be the case thanks in large part to IIoT technologies.
IIoT – an essential technology for essential personnel
Today, many of the people whose job it is to manage, monitor and maintain commercial and industrial equipment need to be on-site to watch for alarms and respond to them. They need to be present so that red flags can be identified, alarms get noticed and repair technicians notified should essential equipment need attention.
But what if they didn’t have to be?
At last year’s WEFTEC Conference, I spoke with Daniel Lakovic of Flottweg, a company that specializes in wastewater separation solutions and technologies. During our discussion, Daniel talked about the benefits that equipment owners were getting from Flottweg cloud-enabling their devices and connecting their solutions to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
According to Daniel, “With Flottweg’s products, customers have the ability to remotely access their systems. So, on the weekend, if a plant supervisor is barbequing with their family, they have complete access to the plant on their cell phone. We’ve found customers feel a lot more comfortable if an alert comes in telling them exactly what’s happening from any location instead of receiving an alert and having to go to see what’s happening with the plant.”
This same technology that allows workers to enjoy worry-free weekends could also help enable teleworking initiatives. Cloud enabling our commercial and industrial equipment, making it possible to monitor and manage that equipment from a single pane of glass and from any location with internet service – these are capabilities that could make essential employees free to be essential from anywhere.
Even more exciting, the IIoT can make it so that they don’t have to come in at all because their equipment and devices are being proactively maintained and operated more effectively – which means less unplanned maintenance.
By making device data available via the cloud, the IIoT makes it possible for device manufacturers to monitor their devices and manage them remotely. This means they can see red flags before they lead to equipment or device downtime and dispatch people to fix them. This also means that they can optimize these devices to reduce wear and tear and keep them operating longer.
This was a sentiment that was shared by Rob Montenegro and Anthony Stanley of Grundfos, a provider of pumping solutions and technologies, when we spoke with them last October. During our discussion Rob and Anthony talked about how Grundfos was utilizing device data to better serve their customers, which included remotely monitoring and optimizing devices.
According to Anthony:
“By making our equipment cloud-enabled, and by plugging pumps into the network, we can visualize the inner workings of the pumps from a distance…That raw data is put through a very complex algorithm and machine learning technology, which allows us to provide our customers with actionable intelligence and next-steps for how to optimize their equipment…They’re not just alerts, they’re not alarms, we don’t simply let customers know there’s a problem. We partner with them to resolve any issues they are experiencing and make sure they are positioned for success in the future.”
Today’s equipment manufacturers are heeding the call from their customers to make their devices smarter and more connected. It’s a common refrain that we’ve heard from the HVAC industry, from the wastewater and water quality industry, from the lighting industry and even the fire protection industry. And this is why.
The IIoT – connecting all devices to the cloud – can make it possible to manage commercial and industrial equipment so that it lasts longer and breaks down less frequently. It can also make essential personnel more mobile – allowing them to work remotely and still meet the demands of their jobs. As work from home initiatives and teleworking continue to gain steam, more connected, cloud-enabled devices will be necessary if those deemed essential want to operate remotely.
To learn more about the benefits of cloud-enabling commercial and industrial equipment, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the, “HVAC as a Service Revolution,” eBook.