Posts

Case Study: Metso, France

Metso Halves Project Development Time with Skkynet’s IIoT Solution


Metso has recently completed a large Advanced Process Control (APC) project in half the typical time, and at substantially reduced cost, by using real-time IIoT from Skkynet. With Skkynet’s SkkyHub™ real-time cloud, they were able to execute most of the project from their head office in France, despite the physical process being in the Middle East. By leveraging the real-time data collection and distribution in SkkyHub they had multiple engineers working in parallel on GUI, sensor and data modeling and analysis—all using an exact replica of the live plant. As the project progressed, the insights gained by the engineers allowed them to suggest improvements to the control system beyond the original project goals. Upon completion of the project, Metso’s engineers can keep the replica of the customer’s control system and GUI in their office in France. At a moment’s notice they can switch on the data flow through SkkyHub to have an instant real-time view of the process. Even with 25,000 active tags, the maintenance and analysis team experiences sub-second updates and interaction similar to being on site.

By using SkkyHub, Metso cut their project time by 50%, and exceeded customer expectations by meeting tight deadlines and providing top-level expertise throughout the duration of the project. In addition, they have established a means to conduct ongoing remote maintenance, and expand into big-data analytics, for continuous process improvement. This work flow and outcome demonstrates the true potential of the IIoT.

Background

Several years ago, executives and developers at Metso were looking for a full-featured, web-based HMI that they could integrate into their OCS-4D© product. OCS-4D© is an advanced process control expert system tailored to the needs of the mining industry, and is used in mineral processing plants to monitor and control crushing, grinding, flotation, dewatering, pyro metallurgy, and related tasks. The HMI they had been using was no longer suitable, and they found that Skkynet’s DataHub® with its WebView™ HMI met their needs well. Metso and Skkynet reached an OEM agreement in which the DataHub was integrated into the OCS-4D© product, and renamed “OCS-4D© DataLink”.

Last year Metso won a contract to implement a processing system for a large ore processing operation located in the Middle East. The timeline was short, as the customer needed a complete system up and running in 6 months, a job that would normally take at least a year. Meeting this deadline would require three of Metso’s top developers working full time on the project. These developers were based at the company’s home office in France, and for reasons of cost and convenience, the company was reluctant to send their people abroad for 6 months. So they turned to Skkynet for a solution, and implemented the SkkyHub service as a way to connect to OCS-4D© DataLink, allowing them to develop and monitor the system remotely.

Implementation Stage 1 – Development

The DCS used for regulatory control of the ore processing system exposed 80,000 variables as OPC tags, through an ABB OPC server. Metso’s APC optimization layer required access to about 25,000 of those tags to power both the expert logic in OCS-4D© and the HMI. On a typical project, a Metso developer working locally would then simply connect directly to the data. Instead, to get the live data to the office in France, they configured OCS-4D© DataLink at the customer location to make a secure, outbound tunnelling connection to SkkyHub. In the Metso offices, the development team made a similar, secure outbound connection from their local copy of OCS-4D© DataLink to receive the live data, in real time, and feed it to their OCS-4D© system. The result was an exact replica of the entire customer system, mirrored and tunnelled from the mine in the Middle East to the office in Olivet, France, updating continuously in real time.

With the complete project data set at their disposal, the three developers could get to work. Because the data was available through SkkyHub, they each had a full copy of the live data. Unlike a typical project, where developers have to take turns using the system data, this unique arrangement allowed each of them to work independently on their part of the project. One worked on the expert system logic, another on visualization, while the third focused on sensors and data modelling for the other two.

“It was really a nice fit because we had not been able to do parallel development before,” said Fred Theodore, Senior Engineer, Advanced Process Control, and lead developer. “Normally we have OCS-4D© running, but two people cannot be connected at the same time, and can’t develop their applications simultaneously on the same computer. The fact that the real-time data source was available to several people at the same time was a real benefit.”

The connection between OCS-4D© and SkkyHub supports secure, bi-directional data flow, allowing authorized personnel to write data back to the system. However, because this level of technology was still new to the client, they requested that the connection be configured as read-only. Using the bi-directional capability of the system would have facilitated and sped up the development process even more, but the Metso team was able to get along without it reasonably well.

Implementation Stage 2 – Deployment and Monitoring

For the initial test deployment, the system was delivered to the customer by one team member who travelled to the Middle East and worked on-site for a couple of weeks. During that time, and for the ensuing months, the team back in France used a cloned copy of the system to continually monitor the logic and ensure that everything worked properly, while the customer’s staff learned how to use the application.

“It was as if we were sitting beside them in the control room,” said Theodore, “and through live monitoring, we were able to continue developing the application, thanks to the real-time connectivity. In fact, I was travelling at the time, and was able to continue my work, uninterrupted, from the USA and Africa, as well as from our home office in France.”

“This approach is very flexible,” Theodore continued, “because at any point we could tell the client, ‘This loop is not performing the way we like it, could we investigate it with you?’ Maybe it would be a kind of secondary process loop that we could test here while something else was happening on the real system. Sometimes nobody had even asked us to develop anything, but we got an idea, something completely out of scope. As long as the data was coming in, we had the ability to test the idea, evaluate performance, and then contact the client, saying, ‘Here are some things we should do.’ The client would be surprised, because we hadn’t even come on site.”

These updates and improvements were all included with the final delivery of the system, which was turned over to local staff for normal operation and routine maintenance. Since the final sign-off, the data connection between OCS-4D© DataLink and SkkyHub has been deactivated, but it is still configured. It can be reactivated at any time, whenever an authorized Metso team needs it to provide service or support. Through this secure, outbound tunnel to SkkyHub, the developers can see what is happening in real time, monitor the logic, and efficiently interact with the system, as necessary.

Performance of the newly-installed APC system was measured by turning it on and off, and the results indicated that running OCS-4D© showed an efficiency gain of up to 10% in almost all areas of the mineral processing system. “We did so well because we were able to process the live data through SkkyHub longer than on any previous project,” said Theodore. “It had been a challenge to get this level of performance in such a short period of time, and we succeeded, thanks to the real-time data that was available through OCS-4D© DataLink (DataHub) and SkkyHub.”

Future Plans

This Industrial IoT approach to development and implementation of OCS-4D© substantially increased the profitability of this project compared to other, similar projects. Metso is planning to implement it again soon, in such far-flung places as Peru and Indonesia. As Theodore explains, “We have local people at these sites, but not many, and they are busy with other projects as well. There are several ways we can help them using this kind of connection, because we can schedule a time and connect by the Internet from almost anywhere. To optimize our resources of time and manpower, it is better to connect people remotely, from the US or France, for example, and let them work with the local people.”

“For the next stage,” he continued, “we don’t want to lose the data in the system, but rather use SkkyHub to make the connection to Big Data for analytics. We’d like to record as much as possible, so we can compare between sites, optimize performance, and do some kind of benchmarking. We want to be able to ring up the customer and say, for example, ‘You have the system installed, running at this percent, while we know that at other plants with the same configuration, it is running better.’ And of course there is the value of aggregating information. This information is crucial as we supply services and spare parts. We need to know the condition of the system at every point in time.”

About OCS-4D©

OCS-4D© is a software solution from Metso used for Advanced Process Control (APC), including embedded expert systems with fuzzy logic, modeling and optimizing modules (MPC), vision and acoustics analysis algorithms―for mineral processing plants (crushing, grinding, flotation, dewatering, pyro metallurgy, etc.).

About Metso

Metso is a world leading industrial company serving the mining, aggregates, recycling, oil, gas, pulp, paper and process industries, with products ranging from mining and aggregates processing equipment and systems to industrial valves and controls, providing a broad scope of services and a global network of over 80 service centers and about 6,400 services professionals.

Some Notable Industrial IoT Applications

After years of riding high on the Gartner Hype Cycle, Industrial IoT (IIoT) is beginning to take shape in various ways.  Early adopters tend to be large companies who have identified specific applications in which IoT connectivity provides an immediate advantage.  The Internet of Things Institute recently named Top 20 Industrial IoT Applications, giving an overview of the best of what is happening.  All of these are interesting, and we’d like share our thoughts on a few that you may not have heard of elsewhere.

Compressed Air as a Service

The Kaeser Kompressoren company in Germany has been manufacturing and selling air compressors for almost 100 years.  Lately they have adopted an IIoT perspective, and have changed their business model.  Now they provide compressed air as a service.  Instead of selling their equipment, they install it at a customer site and sell its ability to compress air.

Among other things, this requires a mental shift when calculating where their revenues come from.  Previously, when the customer owned the machinery, Kaeser could make money on repair services.  Now that Kaeser owns the equipment, repairs have become a cost center, and it is in their interest to keep those costs as low as possible.  Since they they started working under this business model, the company has been using IIoT technologies to sustain a healthy predictive maintenance (PdM) program.  The cost savings revert directly to Kaeser.

This ability to adapt, to transform business models and capitalize on the Industrial IoT applications will set the leaders apart from the followers in the next few years as the IIoT moves from hype to reality.

Keeping Track of Tools

How many screws does it take to build a commercial airliner?  How tightly must each one be turned?  What’s the right tool for the job, and how should it be calibrated?  A joint IIoT project between Bosch, Cisco, National Instruments, and Tech Mahindra coordinated through the Industrial Internet Consortium is demonstrating the value of the IIoT in answering those questions.

At a testbed location that simulates aircraft assembly, Bosch cordless screwdrivers are connected wirelessly via National Instruments technology and send identification data about themselves, as well as torque data about the screw they are tightening, to a central database.  Their exact physical location is calculated using a triangulation technology from Cisco.  An integration program from a Tech Mahindra program uses the screwdriver’s location data to look up the amount of torque specified for that screw at that location, and configures the screwdriver accordingly.  When the operator moves to a different location on the aircraft body to drive other types of screws, the screwdriver gets reconfigured automatically and precisely.

These four companies working together highlight the value of cooperation in developing Industrial IoT applications, especially at the beginning stages.  Many successful early adopters have emphasized the value of partnerships and collaboration.  Those who take a do-it-yourself approach often find the IoT more complicated to implement than expected.

Automated Mining and Haulage Systems

The largest private railroad in Australia with over 1,700 kilometres of track is owned and operated by the Rio Tinto mining company.  Using IIoT technologies, the company is now running unmanned, autonomous trains along this line, hauling iron ore from mines in the Pilbara region to ports along the north coast.  The pilot project will be expanded to full service next year, as the world’s first fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance railway system.

This initiative is just one of several IIoT-related initiatives that Rio Tinto is developing.  They are also pioneering in the operation of autonomous trucks and drilling systems for their mines, and are even looking at self-navigating ships to cut the cost of delivering their products worldwide.

Not every company is in Rio Tinto’s position, but their broad vision, wide range of IoT applications, and obvious success can be an inspiration for all of us.  The message is clear: Industrial IoT is not only possible, it is profitable.  Learning from these examples, anyone venturing into this space needs to consider the opportunities and challenges unique to their industry and company, learn how and when to work with others, and then start taking action to gain the maximum benefit from Industrial IoT.

Skkynet’s SkkyHub Powers Becker Mining Demo at MINExpo 2016

Leading gas monitoring system now IoT-ready, providing access to critical data for operations, maintenance, and management personnnel.

Mississauga, Ontario, September 26, 2016 – Skkynet Cloud Systems, Inc. (“Skkynet”) (OTCQB: SKKY), a global leader in real-time cloud information systems, announces that its SkkyHub™ technology is being used to provide real-time, remote data displays for a Becker Varis SSFM-100 smartsense® Atmospheric and Environmental System demonstration at MINExpo 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Show participants will be able to view live data from the SSFM-100 on a display monitor, as well as securely from their mobile phone browsers over their own cellular connection, in real time.

The SSFM-100 smartsense® monitor provides a lighted display on the sensor itself for a user to read data directly, and it also supports standard industrial data communications protocols like Modbus and OPC.  Connecting in this way to SkkyHub enhances the SSFM-100 by allowing its data to be viewed by any authorized user’s computer or mobile phone, with SkkyHub WebView™.

“Connecting to SkkyHub makes the SSFM-100 IoT-ready,” said Jian Zhao, Engineering Manager – Environment and Safety at Becker Varis.  “Mine managers can monitor the gas levels in the mine from a computer in the office, while ventilation maintenance personnel can see the same data from their smartphones from any location.  Here at our offices, we can also use that data for routine or emergency maintenance on the equipment, as needed.”

“This demonstration is a real-world example of the practical value of the Industrial IoT, and SkkyHub’s implementation of it,” said Paul Thomas, President of Skkynet.  “It’s all about putting useful or critical data into the hands of people who need it, on-site or remote, at any level of the organization.”

The smartsense® fixed monitor SSFM-100 with its integrated controller functions as a black box storing critical information such as calibration record, Alarm History and Data Logging for post-accident investigation. The SSFM-100 is an all-in-one package and eliminates the need for complex cables connections and troublesome programming, out of the box the SSFM-100 is the most versatile and hassle free Atmospheric and Environmental System on the market. The SSFM-100 system design has taken into account the requirements of the industry and placed on the security and features into a single compact design but still maintaining the main requirement of reliability / accuracy / low power consumption.

The SkkyHub service allows industrial and embedded systems to securely network live data in real time from any location. It enables bidirectional supervisory control, integration and sharing of data with multiple users, and real-time access to selected data sets in a web browser. The service is capable of handling over 50,000 data changes per second per client, at speeds of just microseconds over Internet latency. Secure by design, it requires no VPN, no open firewall ports, no special programming, and no additional hardware.

About Becker Mining Systems

Becker Mining Systems is a system supplier for mining infrastructure with its headquarters in Friedrichsthal, Germany. With 1,800 employees in every essential mining region, the company, which is completely family-owned, sells its products to the leading mining companies of the world. In addition to Germany, Becker Mining Systems is also represented by its own subsidiaries in France, Poland, Russia, China, South Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada and Chile. Since the middle of the 1980s, Becker Mining Systems has followed a consistent internationalisation strategy and thus countered the receding mining market in its home country.

About Skkynet

Skkynet Cloud Systems, Inc. (OTCQB: SKKY) is a global leader in real-time cloud information systems. The Skkynet Connected Systems platform includes the award-winning SkkyHub™ service, DataHub®, WebView™, and Embedded Toolkit (ETK) software. The platform enables real-time data connectivity for industrial, embedded, and financial systems, with no programming required. Skkynet’s platform is uniquely positioned for the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0” because unlike the traditional approach for networked systems, SkkyHub is secure-by-design. For more information, see http://skkynet.com.

Safe Harbor

This news release contains “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements in this press release that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements, including beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future, and results of new business opportunities. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors, such as the inherent uncertainties associated with new business opportunities and development stage companies.  Skkynet assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements. Although Skkynet believes that any beliefs, plans, expectations and intentions contained in this press release are reasonable, there can be no assurance that they will prove to be accurate. Investors should refer to the risk factors disclosure outlined in Skkynet’s annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent fiscal year, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and other periodic reports filed from time-to-time with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Skkynet to Present Metso Case Study at IoT Industrial Show in Toronto

C-Level executives will learn how secure, real-time remote access by Industrial IoT can cut travel costs, optimize manpower, and increase profits.

Mississauga, Ontario, May 24, 2016 – Skkynet Cloud Systems, Inc. (“Skkynet” or “the Company”) (OTCQB:SKKY), a global leader in real-time cloud information systems, will present a case study, “Metso Halves Project Development Time with Skkynet’s IIoT Solution,” at the IoT Industrial show, to be held in Toronto June 21-22, 2016. The case study shows how Metso was able to cut their project development time in half, and increase customer satisfaction by using Skkynet’s SkkyHub™ real-time IIoT solution.

As reported in the study, Metso developers were able to work from their head office in France to customize and implement OCS-4D© (Metso’s mineral processing expert system) rather than travelling to the operations in the Middle East. By leveraging the real-time data collection and distribution capabilities of SkkyHub, multiple engineers could work in parallel on GUI, sensor and data modeling, and analysis—all using an exact replica of the live plant. This allowed them to complete a year-long project in six months.

“SkkyHub was really a nice fit with our system, because we had not been able to do parallel development before,” said Fred Theodore, Senior Engineer, Advanced Process Control, and lead developer. “Normally we have OSC-4D© running, but two people cannot be connected at the same time, and can’t develop their applications simultaneously on the same computer. The fact that the real-time data source was available to several people at the same time was a real benefit.”

Skkynet believes this capability will capture the attention of those attending IoT Industrial.  The show brings together C-level executives from the mining, energy, manufacturing, and transport sectors across North America to learn about the challenges and opportunities in the Industrial IoT and Big Data. The motivating factor is an awareness that those who are able to identify and exploit opportunities now will thrive in the coming years, and that it is best to get an early start.

“Metso is at the leading edge of the Industrial IoT,” said Paul Thomas, President of Skkynet. “Accessing IIoT data in real time, they were able to optimize their manpower and cut costs at all stages of the project—from development to deployment.  Their in-house replica of the project can receive live process data from the mine via SkkyHub, which can be used for ongoing remote maintenance or big-data analytics.”

Read the full case study at http://skkynet.com/case-studies/.

About SkkyHub and DataHub

Skkynet’s SkkyHub™ service allows industrial and embedded systems to securely network live data in real time from any location. It enables bidirectional supervisory control, integration and sharing of data with multiple users, and real-time access to selected data sets in a web browser. The service is capable of handling over 50,000 data changes per second per client, at speeds of just microseconds over Internet latency. Secure by design, it requires no VPN, no open firewall ports, no special programming, and no additional hardware.

Skkynet’s Cogent DataHub® industrial middleware solution connects to SkkyHub, as well as virtually any industrial system, using standard protocols such as OPC, Modbus, TCP, and ODBC to support OPC networking, server-server bridging, aggregation, data logging, redundancy, and web-based HMI. Through an OEM agreement between Skkynet and Metso, the DataHub has been integrated into Metso’s OCS-4D© product, and renamed “OCS-4D© DataLink”.

About OCS-4D©

OCS-4D© is a software solution from Metso used for Advanced Process Control (APC), including embedded expert systems with fuzzy logic, modeling and optimizing modules (MPC), vision and acoustics analysis algorithms―for mineral processing plants (crushing, grinding, flotation, dewatering, pyro metallurgy, etc.).

About Metso

Metso is a world leading industrial company serving the mining, aggregates, recycling, oil, gas, pulp, paper and process industries, with products ranging from mining and aggregates processing equipment and systems to industrial valves and controls, providing a broad scope of services and a global network of over 80 service centers and about 6,400 services professionals.

About Skkynet

Skkynet Cloud Systems, Inc. (OTCQB:SKKY) is a global leader in real-time cloud information systems. The Skkynet Connected Systems platform includes the award-winning SkkyHub™ service, DataHub®, WebView™, and Embedded Toolkit (ETK) software. The platform enables real-time data connectivity for industrial, embedded, and financial systems, with no programming required. Skkynet’s platform is uniquely positioned for the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0” because unlike the traditional approach for networked systems, SkkyHub is secure-by-design. For more information, see http://skkynet.com.

Safe Harbor

This news release contains “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements in this press release that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements, including beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future, and results of new business opportunities. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors, such as the inherent uncertainties associated with new business opportunities and development stage companies. We assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that any beliefs, plans, expectations and intentions contained in this press release are reasonable, there can be no assurance that they will prove to be accurate. Investors should refer to the risk factors disclosure outlined in our annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent fiscal year, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and other periodic reports filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Case Study: Minera San Cristobal, Bolivia – 2

Using the DataHub at Minera San Cristobal to integrate video cameras and expert systems

Minera San Cristobal, owned by Apex Silver and Sumitomo Corporation, is one of the largest silver-zinc-lead mining projects in the world. The mine, located in the Potosi district of southwestern Bolivia, was opened in 2007, and is expected to produce approximately 450 million ounces of silver, 8 billion pounds of zinc, and 3 billion pounds of lead.

As described in a companion article, the engineers at the San Cristobal mill used the DataHub® to connect their DeltaV Professional Plus SCADA system to an SQL Server database in the corporate offices. After witnessing the success of that project, the engineers decided to connect their two SGS expert systems to DeltaV in a similar way.

“We saw how well the DataHub transported OPC data across the network,” said Sr. Mario Mendizabal, Production Engineer at Minera San Cristobal, “so we thought it could help us connect to our Grinding and Flotation Expert Systems.”

In the San Cristobal mill the ore extracted from the mine is crushed, ground, and refined through flotation process to yield concentrates of silver, zinc, and lead, which are then shipped abroad for final smelting. These processes are monitored and controlled using the DeltaV system.

Although the DeltaV system allows an operator to input setpoints and other values directly into the system, Sr. Mendizabal and his team wanted to apply an SGS Advanced Systems application to optimize two critical parts of the mineral refining process: grinding and flotation. Each expert system runs on a separate sever. To add to the challenge, the Flotation Expert System also requires real-time data input from two banks of 25 video cameras. These cameras monitor the size, speed, and other qualities of the bubbles as they lift the valuable mineral particles to the surface, where they can be skimmed off as foam. There is one bank of cameras for the zinc flotation circuit, and another for lead. Each of these five systems-DeltaV, the Grinding Expert System, the Flotation Expert System, and the two camera systems-needed to be connected in real time.

Fortunately, each system had an OPC server. What was needed was a way to bridge the OPC servers, aggregate their data streams, and tunnel the data across the network for the other systems. Based on his previous success using the DataHub, Sr. Mendizabal chose to apply it to this task. He already had a DataHub connected to the DeltaV system. So he just installed a DataHub on each of the SGS servers, and each of the camera system servers. Then he connected those four DataHubs to the main DataHub running on the DeltaV server.

“It didn’t take long at all to get the system configured,” said Sr. Mendizabal. “Since it is tunnelling across the network, we avoided DCOM settings and networking issues entirely. The connection is completely secure, and rock-solid.”

When the expert systems are switched on, the plant data flows from DeltaV to the Grinding Expert System and the Flotation Expert System. These systems continuously and intelligently adjust the values of the setpoints, and send them back in real-time to DeltaV, which passes them along to the relevant process. To make its calculations, the Flotation Expert System also takes into account the real-time data that is streaming in from the two Video Camera Systems.

“It is very important to know that when the expert system is controlling the plant we are trusting our production to the DataHub,” said Sr. Mendizabal. “We are very pleased with its performance, and highly recommend it for this kind of mission-critical work.”