By Robert McIlvaine, market analyst and founder of the McIlvaine Company
The Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) connects things. Hose and couplings connect things. The industrial Internet of Wisdom (IIoW) connects knowledge and people. (1) Large corporations supplying combust, flow and treat products strive to connect their product groups.
IIoT increases the decision options, while flexible hoses increase the location options. All these interconnections offer opportunities and challenges.
The shrinking cost of remote monitoring and other IIoT innovations are creating a sea change in the hose and coupling business, and suppliers are being challenged to best navigate the change. (2) Aspects of this sea change include:
- Concentration of purchasing among fewer and fewer companies and fewer decision makers within those companies. Remote monitoring and data analytics empower corporate decision-makers to make decisions which impact plants around the world.
- Purchasing based on lowest total cost of ownership. Centralized decision-making enables corporations to spend time analyzing cost of ownership and then make decisions based on these analyses. In these instances, a hose which is more expensive but has a longer life is more likely to be purchased.
- Leveraging location flexibility with knowledge about needs at each location will boost the hose market. For example, positioning an exhaust extractor in a welding operation or the optimum use of mobile fluid filters to maximize fluid purity.
- Hose product groups are increasingly part of large organizations who supply pumps, valves, filters, controls and instrumentation. Supplying collaborative packages including the hose is a significant opportunity.
- Supplying replacement hose and coupling as dictated by remote monitoring will boost the after-market potential.
Innovative new products and systems
The following are examples of new products and systems on the rise in the market, manufactured by companies with a wide range of flow, treat and measurement products:
Mobile Liquid Filters: Contaminated fluid is drawn into a mobile filtration system through a flexible hose. The standard installed water sensor allows permanent control of the water saturation of the fluid. Remote monitoring of fluid conditions at each location in the plant can be used to schedule the use of the mobile filter. Data analytics can be used to adjust filter cycles and to substitute filters of varying efficiency.
Dust Extractors: A telescopic arm is specially designed for working environments with fumes, vapors or non-explosive dust, where the space is limited. Typical workplaces can be welding booths or other industrial processes where a small, easily positioned arm is required. These arms can be used to capture fumes from a ladle which is moving and pouring metal into moulds. This mobile hood arrangement can greatly reduce the fan energy needed to keep the plant clean. The air flow and location can be varied depending on the ambient dust levels and the data analytics to optimize the location.
Heated Self-Regulating Hose Assemblies: Intermittent stack sampling with a train consisting of an extraction probe, conditioning, filtering and then measurement of dust or gases requires a hose which can maintain the heat at a temperature high enough to prevent condensation. Permanent continuous emissions monitoring systems also need this type of hose. The reduced cost of sensors an
d wireless communications is allowing regulators to mandate sampling at many more points in a plant. For example, California is implementing regulations which will require continuous fence line monitoring of 15 pollutants at each refinery. This means locating sensors at many points around the perimeter of the plant. (3)
IIoT empowered by IIoW can substantially increase revenues for hose and coupling suppliers. It will result in larger markets, greater margins for those with superior products and the opportunity to sell directly to the world’s largest hose and coupling purchasers.
(1) A term created by McIlvaine Company
(2) IIoT and Remote O&M published by the McIlvaine Company
(3) Refinery Decisions published by the McIlvaine Company