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Deepak Fertilisers: Ambitious IIoT plans and managing COVID-19

Pre-COVID, the focus was on using IIoT for improving the plant efficiency (reducing energy consumption being one of the focus areas), return on assets and also to an extent for manpower optimisation. The focus has now shifted to environment, health, pertaining to the various COVID related scenarios in the plant

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Deepak Fertilisers launched the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) roadmap about three years back and due to the COVID-19 situation, a few of the over 35-40 initiatives, as a part of IIoT rollout have been reprioritised.

Technologies in response to COVID-19
Pre-COVID, the focus was on using IIoT for improving the plant efficiency (reducing energy consumption being one of the focus areas), return on assets and also to an extent for manpower optimisation.

“The focus has now shifted to environment, health pertaining to the various COVID related scenarios in the plant. An employee app that enables self-declaration has been created; automated reading technologies are operational that directly relays employee vitals – body temperature, blood pressure and oxygen saturation to the doctors (who are sitting on-campus) and the plant managers,” said Deepak Keni, Executive Vice President – Special Projects & Enabler Deepak Fertilisers And Petrochemicals Corporation. The information is also integrated with the employee attendance system. There is also one project, which is already running in the area of smart facial recognition linked to the employee directory.

A couple more initiatives include automation of the fleet inside the factory premises, wherein due to manpower scarcity, the fleet no longer relies on human intervention but RFID based system, which is also being used to prevent employees from going into unsafe zones.

Plans on IIoT          
Keni strategized a phase wise implementation of IIoT technologies. At the brownfield level, where plants have been running for over three decades on legacy systems, the plan was to use minimum layers of technology like softwares and cloud followed by bringing in process changes to make the staff understand and mature towards the next phase of implementation, which can be extrapolated across plants.

IIoT investments moving up
In the last three years, IIoT was adopted more as a reactive approach to challenges like monitoring of gases and environmental pollution. “Also, the approach was more towards doing PoCs. The investments in IIoT, then was about 2-3 percent of the overall IT budget however currently, it is about 20 percent of the IT budget and will grow over the years,” informs Keni.     

RoI
The full stretch of the IIoT technology rollout is a three to five year journey and the RoI takes its own time to come to fruition however the company has realised RoI in terms of implement of the overall yield, less wastage and also remote monitoring of plants, which serves the BCP under the COVID-19 scenario.


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