Have you got a vision and commitment to move with the times? Why not consider that all upgrades will support your digitalisation/IoT journey. Use those rare CAPEX or OPEX opportunities to replace a component with a digitally enabled one. Once you are collecting data, you can start to ask questions of it. How can I apply condition monitoring or energy-efficiency algorithms or other artificial machine learning algorithms to help me improve this process? Start small in critical areas, and stay focused.
Energy efficiency and maintenance are a great starting spot. I like to use a conveyor belt as an example – hundreds of motors in a food conveyor-belt system moving goods around. Do all those motors have variable speed drives or sensors that talk to each other, why is that one drawing more power than the other?
What can the power distribution system with meters, circuit-breakers, power-conditioning and the like supplying my critical assets tell me about how and where I use power, or whether I am running the equipment in a way that affects its longevity? You collect all these little insights from one conveyor belt or sub-system and apply that on a grander scale and all of a sudden, you see where you can gain energy efficiencies.
AI and learning algorithms revolutionises maintenance. Rather than time-based preventive or run-to-failure maintenance, sensors collect data which algorithms interpret to produce predictive analytics. AI gives us the capability to operate with condition-based or predictive maintenance, which improves uptime and savings two ways: avoiding unexpected shutdowns and planned shutdowns for maintenance that isn’t needed yet.
Another key area for AI in HVAC or any large industrial equipment is improving productivity – I get a better product outcome, I can tweak things on the run. We’ve had monitoring and then acting on simple things such as energy spikes and anomalies for a long time, all retrospective – that’s pretty primitive compared to what AI can do. It’s so much more nuanced: Quality checks on complex systems using AI enabled real-time monitoring means anomalies are identified as soon as they occur, and changes made immediately rather than at the end of a cycle, vastly reducing waste, and saving money.
There are multiple ways for the property Industry to use AI and harness the huge datasets collected from their automated systems, analysing historical data and ingredient parameters. With the support of the right control system, the possibilities become endless: It can affect everyone from CEO/CFO right down to the contractors fixing problems on site. Transparency, efficiency and productivity improves simply with a data driven strategy and AI and machine learning providing insights from the every growing data sets available. so you can do more with the same number of people, and do it better. This technology helps you to make better decisions, faster. Australian industry needs to embrace these new technologies or we risk becoming laggards in the sectors that are essential to our sovereign security. The conditions are particularly ripe for value-add niche manufacturing – which I see as the sweet spot for us in Australia. It’s really exciting.