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A Technology Innovation Journey Pt.2: Leveraging Industrial IoT in the Palm Oil Industry

The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is known to lessen the burdens on humans. IoT has been proven useful in many industries and this article aims to detail in on one case study. How did Kitameraki leverage IoT in the Palm Oil Industry?

Photo by Robin Glauser on Unsplash

IoT 101: What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. - Oracle.

These “things” are then grouped into two. Sensory devices (e.g., humidity sensors, temperature sensors) and general devices (e.g., AC, alarm clock, TV, humidifier). For example, you want to turn on the humidifier every time your room’s humidity drops. In an IoT environment, you connect both the humidity sensor (sensory device) and a humidifier (general device) to the internet. This creates a system that automatically pilots. Now, the humidifier will turn on every time humidity drops until it stabilizes again.

In the real world, many companies have adopted IoT for their own specific purposes. Airbus is using IoT for their plane manufacturing process to create better efficiency. Moocall is using IoT to monitor pregnant cows which eliminated 7% of calving deaths. And Tive is using IoT to provide real-time data on shipped goods to avoid product damages. There are many benefits that come from IoT's implementation. IoT can also decrease costs, increase profits, or even increase a company’s bottom line.

A Case Study: Leveraging IoT in the

Palm Oil Industry

Our client is engaged in the cultivation, production, and sales of crude palm (and kernel) oil. Currently, they own three mills functioning in oil extraction operations. As we have other existing projects with the client, we were trying to understand the company better. One day, during Kitameraki's visitation to the mills, our consultant noticed something from old age: every hour, some key measures related to the oil production are read on analog sensors display and manually transcribed on a log sheet. This lack of reliability and real-time information for such a critical process of the customer triggered the Mill sensor's project.

As the first milestone for this project, we focused on the Process area to get the highest "outcome": adding sensors such as temperature, pressure, level, etc., in the Press & Clarification stations. The following steps include automatic piloting, predictive maintenance, and more sensors in more stations.

Building a Strong Business Case

As for many of our projects and as part of our methodology, we analyzed the project foundation in order to build a business case. The business case aims to make sure that we execute a project that would deliver value for our client, most commonly to increase turnover, reduce expenses or for compliance reason. So, what analysis were conducted? How did we do so? And what was the result?

We conducted an oil extraction losses analysis on all 3 mills using 2020 data and broke down losses between: 1) What are the losses when mills are operating above standard (note: high is bad): in that first case, we lost 620 tons. 2) We also estimate what could be recovered if we could perform better than standard (which happen 20% of time during 2020): and it is an additional 943 tons of oil! But what were the cause of these losses? Can it be mitigated?

Interestingly, further investigations showed that these Oil losses could be simply mitigated. Specifically, we found that in the Press Station, the problem lies in two main equipment. The Digester has to be set with the correct levels and temperature. While the Press needs to be at a certain pressure level. Meanwhile, five main variables are found in the Clarification Station. Mainly, correctly measuring dilution flow, limiting retention time, and monitoring vacuum driers seemed to be the biggest issues.

Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

How Will This Benefit Our Client?

Firstly, installations of new sensors give reliable & real time data. It will strengthen our client's ability to always conduct operation at optimum condition while ensuring that all the equipment is properly operated and maintained.

Secondly, having under control these above “parameters” could help identify other origins of oil losses and fix them too.

Latest and most interesting aspect, recovering these oil losses has a direct impact on the PnL bottom line with an additional 400kUS$ to 1.2mUS$ (depending on how oil losses could be reduced below current standard).

Photo by Taylor Nicole on Unsplash

What is next? How Can IoT Help You?

In terms of our client, we are currently conducting tender on behalf of our customer to select the IoT partner for this project. Stay in touch for the next chapter on this project.

In terms of our readers, It is evident that IoT can dramatically lessen the burden of humans and help company productivity, efficiency and have a positive financial impact. Yet, each company is different and has different needs.

Contact Kitameraki consultant today so we can discuss your challenges and introduce our solutions.

Follow us for Pt.3: Future Plans. More exciting things are coming!

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