Resource monitoring is quickly becoming a top use case for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology. With IIoT, manufacturers have an opportunity to track the usage of valuable resources with more accuracy and granularity than ever before.

This article will: 

  • Define resource monitoring as an important aspect of machine monitoring
  • Explain how IoT resource monitoring can increase savings and improve efficiency
  • Provide use cases for resource monitoring that apply in discrete and process industries 

What is Resource Monitoring?

Resource monitoring is simply the measurement, analysis, and optimization of a designated resource.

All manufacturers use a variety of resources in the course of everyday operations. From electricity to water to injection wax, efficient use of resources is crucial to growing margins and increasing profitability.

To track a resource, engineers place sensors, IoT devices, or meters at critical points on an asset or along a value stream to track the consumption of a resource. 

When done with a tool like Tulip, these sensors communicate resource usage data to analytics dashboards, where critical information is displayed in real-time. 

digital dashboards make it simple to track resource usage in real time
Visual analytics dashboards make it possible to compare and track resource usage in real time.

The goal of resource tracking is to create visibility into the consumption of mission critical materials in order to enhance continuous improvement. 

Is Resource Monitoring Part of OEE?

The short answer is not always. 

While there is some debate about whether resource monitoring overlaps with OEE, it helps to think of it as a different metric. 

For example, a machine’s energy usage might be inefficient without affecting its overall effectiveness. On the other hand, if resource monitoring is used to help track the availability or performance of an asset, then it could be applied to track overall effectiveness.

However, the information gathered through a resource monitoring program is important for understanding Overall Process Effectiveness (OPE)

A large CNC machine suitable for a resource monitoring program
With resource monitoring, you can measure exactly how much of a given resource your industrial assets consume.

What are the Advantages to Resource Monitoring with IIoT? 

There are many advantages to tracking your factory’s usage of resources. Some of the most common include: 

  • Expanded process visibility
  • Better resource allocation
  • Improved asset efficiency
  • More accurate inventory planning
  • Real-time visualization of resource usage
  • Increased understanding of machine lifecycle
  • New opportunities for cost savings and elimination of waste

Manufacturing Example: Energy Monitoring with IoT

Energy monitoring is one of the simplest forms of resource monitoring, and requires little hardware to get going. 

Energy monitoring can be implemented by partitioning a factory’s circuits to isolate the desired department or asset. Once the circuits have been divided, engineers can install energy meters to monitor how much energy a process consumes. Energy monitoring should track voltage, current, power factor, apparent power, active power, reactive power, and energy in KWpH. 

When using IoT for energy monitoring, meters communicate the data they collect directly to an analytics platform. This information is then displayed on real-time dashboards, giving an easy to understand visualization of energy consumption. With a system like Tulip, this data is stored in no code tables, where it can be easily accessed without writing complex SQL queries.

Although there are many aspects of this information a manufacturer could use productively, one of the most useful is an accurate measure of Power Factor (power delivered by the utility provider divided by the power used). Low power factors are often caused by inductive load. Identifying 1.) low power factor, and 2.) sources of inductive load can highlight low hanging fruit for improvement. 

Here are some ways our engineers have seen energy monitoring used to create value.

  1. Energy monitoring revealed a manufacturer’s compact fluorescent lights hurt power factor. CFLs were replaced by LEDs, reducing power consumption across the circuit. 
  2. The air conditioning units used during production did not operate with the same efficiency. Energy monitoring enabled engineers to identify the worst performing units for replacement. 
  3. When used in conjunction with ambient condition monitoring, engineers were able to identify a temperature that prevented machines consuming excess energy. 
  4. Some machine performed poorly when their air filters clogged. Air sensors, combined with energy monitoring, allowed a manufacturer to isolate the root cause of worsening performance and replace filters before it degraded performance. 

Each of these incremental improvements can lead to significant savings in the aggregate.

Resource Monitoring for Your Operations

While energy monitoring is a common form of resource monitoring, it’s far from the only example. 

We’ve also seen manufacturers use resource monitoring for the following tasks: 

  • Keep track of the amount of water used as a coolant, lowering costs and ensuring compliance with local regulations
  • Track the quantity of chemicals used in a pharmaceutical manufacturing process
  • Measure the throughput of wax through an injection molding process
  • Track the availability, scheduling, and resource consumption of individual assets
  • Increase understanding of the causes of machine downtime to improve asset utilization

Curious about how Tulip can help bring visibility to your resource usage? Get in touch for a machine monitoring consultation today.