Challenges of Smart Industrial Boilers
This article aims to provide a brief introduction to smart industrial boilers and enumerate operational challenges of these boilers
Traditional boilers collect a lot of data from the system and display information. This raw information is then used by operating engineers to operate the boilers, which includes correlating and calculating the right set of parameters to be fed to the boiler. All of the above processes is done manually, which is time-consuming, error-prone and inefficient. Automating the above process to achieve steam boiler efficiency can result in dramatic energy savings that range from 10 to 15 percent per year.
To achieve the same, an intelligent IoT system was introduced, which can process the collected data, analyze it and send the relevant data to the cloud to be correlated and aggregated with other sources of data. These intelligent IoT systems magically suggest/recommends the operators on the parameters to be set up to improve the boiler’s efficiency. This is applicable not just with respect to steam generation, but also during the cooling and cleaning process. The overall result is energy efficiency, reduced operational cost, and lower air pollutant emissions.
Post-deployment of the smart boiler systems, management, control and debugging of these IOT edge devices/controllers becomes a nightmare for the operators or solution Integrators (SI).
Let us go through the real-life challenges of an IOT solution for Industrial boilers:
Since these IOT edge controllers are geographically distributed, a way to locate them and directly connect to them for debugging is not simple.
Health monitoring and SLA Assurance:
Figuring out which IOT edge controllers are up/ down? How’s the health of these controllers? Does the application have enough system resource for consumption? Need an answer to these questions? The IOT edge controllers are designed to analyze real-time data and take actions. The applications running on the IOT edge controller need right resources allocation and service assurance. Violations in service level agreement (SLA) directly affects the performance of the application.
Network availability :
Network reliability is the biggest issue with these remotely located controllers. It is difficult to find out when was the device connected to the network and when not.
Firmware or Application Upgrade:
Applications or Firmware running on the edge controller needs time to time upgrade. The upgrade introduces new features, new learning models, and bug fixes. Performing the upgrade on remotely located devices can be costly. An additional challenge is to perform this task over a secure channel and to a fleet of devices
Config Management Challenges:
The operational config changes are an essential part of normal operations. The operational technicians may need to change certain policies, behaviors or controls. Performing this task over a secure channel on a fleet of devices is a real challenge.