The Future of Variable Frequency Drives & the Rise of IIoT

Today, variable frequency drives (VFDs) are becoming commonplace in the pump market, since the rise of their technology has paralleled the rise of energy costs around the world. VFDs allow the user to consume the least amount of power while obtaining the proper pressure and flow from the pump. The added benefit is that reducing power consumption reduces overall cost. Simultaneously, VFDs also offer a single point of connection for a multitude of sensors and data points.

The McKinsey report “The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype” notes that, “a typical oil drilling platform today might use 30,000 sensors, watching over the performance of dozens of systems.”

Systems like those used in oil and other industries include vast quantities of pumps and hydraulics with VFDs. Both the VFDs and sensors are a central point for data collection that many manufacturers and end users are not exploiting to the detriment of their own future.

The rise of the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, allows the pump and VFD market to capture incredible value through these data points.

IIoT Benefits

Pump equipment manufacturers and their end users are expertly positioned to unlock revenue-driving benefits from connectivity and pump efficiencies from IIoT. By providing automated alerts based on system optimization, IIoT allows manufacturers and end users to benefit from full-time monitoring and control that reduces:

  • downtime
  • wear and tear
  • water consumption
  • energy consumption

This kind of automated and predictive control produces considerable savings and productivity gains that offer competitive advantages to both the end-user and original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Why is IIoT for VFDs so impactful and important? Take an end user of industrial pumps such as an oil and gas or mining company. Every day their equipment consumes vast quantities of water while detracting from profits due to high energy use and unplanned machine repairs. This is preventable.

Let’s take one example—by embedding sensors on industrial water pumps and connecting them to the web, you can enhance the flow volume to generate thousands of dollars in energy savings from just one standard 100 horsepower (hp)industrial pump. It is for this reason that the McKinsey report also states, “Improvements in operations from IoT applications could be worth more than $470 billion per year in 2025 in worksites. The second major source of value—potentially more than $360 billion per year—would be improved equipment maintenance.” The value of IIoT integration is very real for cost savings and revenue generation.

OEM Considerations

But the benefits of IIoT do not stop with the end user. OEMs providing IIoT solutions with energy saving–products, automation, predictive analytics or advanced controls are capturing above-market growth. Connectivity also allows for the creation of highly valuable new databases that manufacturers can use to improve products and create stickier customer relationships. The data generated for IIoT remote-monitoring solutions provides an unprecedented analysis into the nature of equipment use and performance.

It is value-filled information that can help companies anticipate the needs of end users and drive innovation.

Andrei Madalin Dumitrescu