IBM InterConnect 2016 Day 4

The Internet of Underground Things

Elton John on stage for IBM InterConnect 2016One thing I’ve learnt over the last few days is that IBM sure know how to put on a great event.

And it’s not just an expo jam packed with the best that the IBM ecosystem has to offer (check out our friends showcasing EZMaxMobile above) or the world class venue and entertainment.  I’ve been really impressed with the quality of presentations, and have particularly enjoyed the insight and knowledge sharing offered in those that feature real-world customer experiences.

Today was no exception, with many organisations already sharing great stories of implementation success with IBM’s IoT technologies.

At Clarita, many of the assets that our clients manage are not as easy to see or touch as a piece of earth moving equipment, or a machine on the factory floor. Maintaining assets like water pipes that are buried underground comes with a whole new set of challenges, and it was the stories of other organisations tackling them head-on that caught my attention today.

One such organisation is Tampa Bay Water. Located in Florida, Tampa Bay Water supply between 140ML and 260ML of water per day from wells, reservoirs and desalination for 2.3M customers. Their desalination plant is the largest in the USA.

The current as-is implementation includes a number of custom applications for inspections to feed the renewal and replacement program. However the objective is to retrofit sensors to existing equipment so that it can be instrumented and used to feed a condition based maintenance (CMB) regime.

Tampa Bay Water realised they had a valuable source of data from their existing SCADA network which they brought through to Maximo on an hourly basis. The types of monitoring points include:

  • runtime hours (from pumps, motors, VFDs, etc);
  • vibration; and
  • temperature.

This data was used in a demonstration by IBM to represent a reliability engineer persona. This was done using IBM Bluemix with realtime insights fed from SCADA. An overlay of weather was used to present a simple dashboard showing cost vs performance, useful life, failure history and asset health from Watson.

Another organisation whose whole business is built on the reliable performance of subterranean assets is the London Underground. Their IoT story on integrating sensors with Maximo was a very impressive presentation, delivered by Maximo experts who clearly know their stuff!

The London Underground has a combination of rolling stock that includes new trains with sensors and older trains without. The benefits of the newer trains is that condition monitoring data is available to perform reliability centred maintenance. The goal is to reduce resource requirements (less inspections to read condition) and automatic creation of work orders (EM & CM). Additional benefits include the supply of more information to get the fix right the first time and avoid follow up visits.

Like other customer experiences, London Underground faced challenges with their master data management that had to be overcome when integrating SCADA and BMS. Fortunately they were able to utilise existing infrastructure for communication over the WIFI/LAN.

As part of their rollout for the proof of concept, London Underground used 50 x $40 yali sensors to measure temperature and humidity combined with the BIM to enhance visualisation of where the sensor was deployed. In order to collect the monitoring data London Underground used:

  • sensors to collect data;
  • IBM MessageSight for communication transfer;
  • IBM Node-Red with NoSQL;
  • Cognos BI for reporting; and
  • Maximo and Twitter as end points for creating work orders and a tweet.

Back above ground, I enjoyed hearing about IBM’s outlook on  their investment and future development path for Maximo and its associated products.  The theme was very much set on how items such as fitbit, automotive computers, security systems and home temperature sensors were transferring across to industrial purposes.

A number of investment areas were identified including, most notably for me, Location Based Services.  A welcome refresh of the user interface is also underway, which is expected to include:

  • responsive workscapes;
  • intuitive design;
  • role based;
  • data driven; and
  • interactivity (can include weather information both historical and storm forecasts).

An asset health dashboard is being developed to provide personas for a reliability engineer (lifecycle view) and a maintenance supervisor (week view). This should be an interesting development so keep a lookout as it will be delivered as a feature pack.


If you would like access to training information, there is a wealth of resources, including around 20 hours of video, available now from the Watson IoT Academy website.

Did You Know...

As Maximo Experts, we have developed several add-on products for Maximo that mobilize the work force, simplifies assignments, provides ad-hoc reporting capabilities and facilitates the seamless integration of Service Requests into Maximo.

Check out our products by clicking on the following links: EZMaxMobile, EZMaxPlanner and EZMaxRequest.

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