IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How OEMs Can Seize the Industrial IoT Opportunity with Connected Air Compressors

by Remy Marcotorchino, Director of Marketing, Industrial & Infrastructure
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is opening up exciting new possibilities for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of all types. In this new world of connected devices, remote sensors can deliver machine data that OEMs can use for meaningful insights and actionable intelligence on the equipment they sell. In addition, by harnessing this data, OEMs can transform their business models, making their operations more agile and generating new, more predictable revenue streams.

In a previous blog series, we examined how the commercial washing machine OEM sector can use the IIoT to transform the way it does business, to the benefit of the OEMs and their customers alike. As we explain in our white paper, Air Compressors in the Age of Industrial IoT (IIoT), air compressor OEMs like Atlas Copco, Ingersoll Rand, Gardner Denver, Kaeser Compressors, Sullair and Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems can undergo a similar transformation and reap similar rewards by developing connected air compressors. 

A $40 Billion Industry with Exciting New Opportunities

Compressed air powers a range of industrial processes for a wide variety of companies, including food and beverage producers, automotive and electronics manufacturers, as well as companies in the oil and gas, mining, and energy industries. A recent report from Grand View Research finds that the global industrial air compressor market is growing at a compound annual rate of 3.65%, and predicts that the market will be larger than $40 billion by 2025.

Several factors are driving this growth. In Asia, an increase in living standards is fueling strong industrial market growth and rising demand for more products in sectors such as automotive and electronics. Additionally, there is growing interest in more environmentally friendly machines that operate more safely, with less noise, and less carbon output than machines directly powered by fossil fuels.

This growth creates exciting new opportunities for air compressor OEMs, especially those who can use the IIoT to launch new business models or offer services that create a competitive advantage. For example, air compressor OEMs have historically sold their products as “one time” capital purchases or commercial financing deals. Using the IIoT, they can transition to selling “air as a service,” where they can charge for air compression based on usage, rather than charging for a machine alone—generating stable and recurring revenue streams.

In addition, air compressor monitoring and IIoT-enabled predictive maintenance allow manufacturers to prevent production downtime at their customers’ facilities by accurately predicting when and which of their equipment’s parts need to be serviced. This can significantly reduce the chance of equipment failure—and the expensive downtime that failure creates.

The IIoT can even help on the environmental front. Air compressor monitoring can keep an eye on air compressors’ energy consumption, allowing manufacturers to derive intelligence that can help their customers adjust their equipment’s configuration and operation environment to make it more energy efficient. Beyond helping to reduce energy consumption (and thus lower carbon emissions), this intelligence can help customers reduce their energy costs and stay in compliance with environmental guidelines and regulations.

The Hurdles to Developing and Deploying Connected Air Compressors

Before OEMs can develop air compressor monitoring and other IIoT applications that can help them seize new business opportunities, they need to overcome several challenges.

For starters, compressor hardware has a lifespan of 15-30 years, which can lead to problems updating the firmware on this legacy hardware. Other complications arise when trying to get back-end data acquisition and management systems to communicate with legacy air compressors, many of which use proprietary, nonstandard protocols not understood by these systems.

Network connectivity provides another challenge, as compressor hardware often runs in thick-walled factory environments or in underground environments (such as mines). Once these issues are addressed, there remains the challenge of scalability: managing an IIoT air compressor proof-of-concept project is one thing, but managing a fleet of hundreds of thousands of connected air compressors is another.

On a similar note, capturing data from the edge across a large number of air compressor endpoints, and then transmitting the information and integrating it into cloud services is incredibly complex, as is managing the huge volumes of data produced by thousands of connected air compressors.

While these challenges may appear daunting, there is a solution that provides a clear path forward.

Octave’s All-in-One Edge-To-Cloud Solution is Here to Help

Octave™ is the all-in-one edge-to-cloud solution for connecting industrial assets. Because Octave securely integrates edge devices, network, and cloud application programming interfaces (APIs) into a single solution, air compressor OEMs can focus on building connected air compressor applications, rather than worrying about their IIoT infrastructure. For example, a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study by Forrester found that Octave helps OEMs simplify their IIoT development and de-risk their IIoT deployment, allowing them to increase returns on their IIoT investments by as much as 88%.

Need to tackle legacy firmware and interoperability concerns? Octave’s got you covered. Octave bridges the gap between legacy air compressor equipment and back-end data acquisition and management systems, offering companies an interoperable system that can fit into its existing cloud infrastructure. Octave uses industrial protocols to extract data from equipment and can connect to any major cloud service provider. Additionally, Octave REST APIs ensure that data can easily flow from device to cloud – all while easily being filtered or otherwise processed according to the OEM’s requirements.

Octave also addresses concerns around connectivity that might otherwise hinder IIoT development. Support for the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) Cat-M connectivity protocol improves connection coverage, making it easier to deploy IIoT connections in thick-walled buildings or other tricky locations. Additionally, Octave allows devices to buffer data locally until a reliable network connection is available, preventing valuable air compressor data from experiencing network dropouts and packet loss.

Scalability becomes simple with Octave, as does data management. IIoT is no longer a special use case, requiring entirely different tools and skill sets—OEMs can build, deploy, and refine IIoT applications as easily as a cloud application, quickly taking ideas from proof of concept to large-scale commercial deployment. Octave’s data orchestration engine also helps them tame a potentially overwhelming flood of data, allowing users to seamlessly orchestrate the flow of data from the edge to the cloud and back, processing the right data at the right time.

Industrial IoT Data-Driven Transformation Starts Now

Air compressor OEMs have an exciting opportunity to use the IIoT to change “business as usual” within their industry with connected air compressors. By addressing the challenges of IIoT development and deployment, Octave provides a way for these OEMs to transform their business and create new competitive advantages.

Read our white paper, Air Compressors in the Age of Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Start with Sierra to learn how you can seize the opportunities created by the IIoT in the industrial air compressor market.