European corn ethanol producers have survived – and sometimes thrived – in the face of uncertain legislative and market conditions. This is largely due to the industry’s ability to innovate and diversify to get the most out of raw materials and market conditions. The same is true of our US counterparts, and in this article we’ll be looking at three recent developments in the US corn ethanol industry that may serve as inspiration to European producers.
The first two articles in this series aimed to demystify two terms that we’re hearing a lot these days: Big data and advanced analytics. In this final article, my goal is to explain a term that is less commonly heard, but equally relevant to the biorefining sector: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Before getting to grips with IIoT, let’s cover the Internet of Things (IoT). Sometimes described as ‘machine to machine communication’, IoT is essentially about data transfer. It describes the ability of machines (things) to connect via the internet. This connection allows them to gather and exchange data in such a way that the machines themselves can make data-based decisions.
In the first article of this series, Frank Moore gave an overview of the large volumes of data flowing into an ethanol plant’s control system every day. This data contains valuable information that can help plants focus on key decisions – the ones that will improve their performance. But the question is how to realize the data’s full potential. The answer – as Frank explained – is advanced analytics. In this article, we’re going to dig into a ‘hard’ example of advanced analytics in practice in ethanol plants.