Scott Dixon 2016-12-22 00:08:38
Plugging Off-Road Equipment into the Industrial Internet of Things The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Big Data have been trending topics over the past couple of years. Increased interest and excitement surrounds the massive opportunity associated with creating a network of connected industrial assets (fixed and mobile) to improve the efficiency of industrial systems. In 2015, Accenture released a report estimating that IIoT has the potential to add $14.2 trillion to the world economy by 2030. It’s anyone’s guess if this estimate will come to fruition, but it’s hard to deny that over the next decade many new companies and services will be built on this new capability. With promises for the off-road industry of simplified fleet management, reduced breakdowns, and gains in machine performance, it’s easy to see why large and small off-road equipment owners are starting to take notice and even implement some of these tools and services into their operations. So how can ASABE play an active role in leading IIoT adoption for off-road equipment? Two areas are quickly becoming significant headwinds for IIoT development in offroad equipment, and ASABE members are well positioned to provide smooth sailing in both areas by contributing unique skills and promoting industry standards. Bridging the skills gap Many industrial companies are having a hard time finding qualified candidates with the skills needed for growth in IIoT. It’s easy to think that if you hire the best and brightest in majors like computer science, mathematics, or statistics, then you’ll be well on your way to developing a strong team in IIoT, cranking out advanced analytical models faster than you can market them to your customers, right? Not so fast. Strong programming and analytical skills are only a part of the story, and it can be argued that a solid understanding of the “domain” is a bigger piece of the hiring puzzle for a successful IIoT team. Imagine that you’re trying to develop an app to predict when a machine will need repair. Wouldn’t it be valuable if part of the development team was knowledgeable or experienced in maintaining off-road equipment? After all, that is the objective of your app, right? Sounds reasonable, but this has been an issue for many early companies in IIoT. ASABE members are well positioned to take a lead role in the growth of IIoT in off-road machinery by leveraging their knowledge of machinery, but don’t submit your résumé just yet. A grasp of programming languages like Python or R, relational databases, and machine learning algorithms is critical to ensure that you can help to bridge the skills gap. Industry-wide data standards “The devil is in the details,” and for IIoT, the details start with a robust data set. A critical piece of the IIoT puzzle is establishing a common set of channels that are available on each piece of equipment. The good news: much of the work has already been done by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE J1939) and the International Organization of Standardization (ISO 11783, based on SAE J1939). A list of channels has already been reviewed and accepted by the SAE J1939 committee, encompassing over 6,000 unique channels that communicate through a standardized bus, which can serve as a tremendous foundation for an IIoT standard. Obviously not all 6,000 channels are relevant to every piece of equipment, and there are limits on how much data can be pushed through the communication bus. This is where ASABE members could take an active role. Experts from across the off-road industry could come together and establish a minimum set of SAE J1939 channels that are needed to support IIoT capability. As few as five or ten channels (e.g., engine speed, engine load, and ground speed) could serve as a robust first version of an off-road equipment IIoT standard. Using this as a starting point, ASABE members could promote standards adoption across the off-road industry, helping to unlock value to off-road equipment companies, dealers, and customers. Scott Dixon, Senior Analytics Team Leader, Information Analytics team at Caterpillar, Inc., and ABE Advisory Committee member, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Dixon_Scott_A@cat.com. Views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ASABE.
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