Agriculture company plants seeds for IIoT data insights with AspenTech and AWS
Nutrien, a fertilizer company based in Canada, runs the largest vertically integrated agriculture company in the world. With over two dozen manufacturing and processing facilities spread across the globe and nearly 2,000 retail stores in the Americas and Australia, the company collects a lot of data from their industrial operations that is underutilized. The company wanted a way to release data from facility equipment and use it to improve throughput and productivity, predict equipment failures, and open the door to a new level of analytical insights. Working with Spartan Controls, a leading Systems Integrator for AspenTech, the company adopted AspenTech’s Plantweb Optics solution (based on system:inmation of Inmation Software GmbH) which securely extracts data from equipment across a plant or enterprise and aggregates it in a data lake on AWS. Once there, people across the organization can access the data. Early results show the near and long-term value of using Plantweb Optics to centralize, manage, and contextualize operational data on AWS for advanced analytics use cases.
Brownfield equipment traps data and stunts healthy growth
- Daniel Funk, Sr. Manager of Data Services at Nutrien
AspenTech’s Plantweb Optics on AWS nurtures all-new insights
Nutrien needed a solution with two key components—first, it needed a plant-based platform that would combine data from different production systems and applications and expose and egress the plant data to AWS on an enterprise scale. Second, it needed a cloud-based data lake that would support data sharing across the organization and enable access to higher-level advanced analytics capabilities. The company adopted AspenTech’s Plantweb Optics solution recommended by Spartan Controls. “We already run a lot of AspenTech technology, and Spartan knows some of our sites extremely well,” said Daniel Funk. “So, when they endorsed Plantweb Optics, we were confident it would work for us and that our sites would be open to implementing it.”
At the facility level, Plantweb Optics connects to legacy and modern OT systems, such as distributed control and safety systems, programmable logic controllers, data historians, manufacturing execution systems, and maintenance management systems. It provides a central management solution for orchestrating data movement from these systems across legacy networks and firewalls. “Plantweb Optics runs open-source software that, in theory, anyone could access and build,” said Daniel Funk. “But the real value lies in the industrial expertise AspenTech spenTech embeds within the solution, which allows us to measure implementation and go-live in hours, not weeks—it has been absolutely fantastic.”
Once data from each facility is collected, it flows from the Plantweb Optics system to AWS through Kafka and AWS IoT Core. ”AspenTech’s Plantweb Optics connects to AWS through MQTT, Kafka, Kinesis or a web API, which gives us the flexibility to choose which use cases are better served by one over the other. Even though we don’t need it yet, I can see how that level of flexibility will be huge for us,” said Daniel Funk. Running on AWS helps Nutrien centralize, manage, and contextualize its operational data in an enterprise scalable Industrial Data Platform and use advanced analytics to drive better business outcomes at scale across the organization.
Makes existing industrial IoT data accessible for analytics
AspenTech’s solution serves as an operational data connectivity, contextualization, and storage solution, collecting different types of data from Nutrien’s industrial operations and transferring it to a data lake on AWS that Nutrien calls its Insights platform. Working from within the Insights platform, various business teams can easily explore the consolidated data and look for ways to improve their business priorities including improving plant uptime, making processes and equipment more reliable, and driving production improvements. “This is a new capability being introduced, and it’s being implemented with minimal site effort, but it unlocks a bunch of data extremely securely,” explained Daniel Funk. “With AspenTech’s Plantweb Optics, we can access data that used to just sit on the shop floor or took a lot of effort to extract and perform new types of analysis for near real-time insights.”
Scales capabilities, practices, and expertise across facilities
Similarly, the development teams at Nutrien plan to use the Industrial Data Platform on AWS to scale their work with a build once, deploy anywhere approach. “It’s great to run development and exploration on AWS,” said Daniel Funk. “Not everything ends up going to production, but when it does, we no longer have to stitch things together from desktops and servers where we downloaded the data to build and test. Plus, we can deploy it anywhere.”
Provides a secure solution for connecting plant systems to the cloud
Applies past AWS experiences to predict the platform’s future
The data services team looks forward to extending its use of Amazon Sagemaker and Sagemaker Studio to include the new plant data. “We have not used Sagemaker with Plantweb Optics data yet,” said Daniel Funk, “but we know we can bring those two ingredients together, and the data scientists, contractors, and research teams that we work with love the collaborative environment and compute power it provides them starting day one of any project. We see huge potential in the long run to use the platform to bring people together.”
AspenTech is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and residential markets.
Published November 2021