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Enabling Digitization in the Hydrocarbon Processing Industry with MQTT

by Ravi Subramanyan
12 min read

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a webinar at Hydrocarbon Processing, a technical publication that is aimed at management and technical professionals from petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical/chemical and engineer/constructor companies for high quality technical and operating information. Through its monthly magazine, website and e-newsletters, Hydrocarbon Processing covers technological advances, processes and optimization developments from throughout the global Hydrocarbon Processing Industry (HPI).

Over the years, HPI is being pushed towards sustainability and towards reduced dependency on fossil fuels given the global rise in energy prices and political uncertainties. COVID-19 has led to demand uncertainty and supply chain constraints. All of this has accelerated the HPI focus on Digitization, Industry 4.0 initiatives and factory modernization. Data availability is at the forefront of this.

In this pursuit, MQTT and MQTT Sparkplug have emerged as the clear leaders given their ability to enable data connectivity, break data silos, and create data interoperability between OT and IT systems.

In my webinar, I focused on how an MQTT and Sparkplug based data broker can provide a reliable, secure and scalable foundation for the HPI’s digitization initiatives. Watch the recording below.

Download Slides Here

There were several questions following my presentation, which I will answer here:

  1. What are the most common use cases for IIoT/MQTT in upstream oil and gas?

    • The common use cases we see for IIoT for upstream O&G are remote asset performance management, predictive maintenance, increasing safety, reducing costs (including travel costs to remote sites), and reducing environmental impact. For more details, check out our white paper Energy Industry Digitization with IIoT and MQTT.

  2. What separates MQTT from other similar standards based protocols when it comes to enabling O&G IIoT data connectivity?

    • Community brokers (like Mosquitto or the one offered by HiveMQ) offers a lot of great MQTT features to get started on the IoT journey.

    • When the solution needs to be scaled with high reliability, security, with a need for extending the data to other applications like Kafka etc, is when an enterprise broker is really beneficial.

    • Visit the HiveMQ MQTT broker page to learn more about our MQTT Broker.

  3. What benefits are provided by an Enterprise MQTT broker over the community brokers like Mosquitto?

    • Community brokers (like Mosquitto or the one offered by HiveMQ) offers a lot of great MQTT features to get started on the IoT journey.

    • When the solution needs to be scaled with high reliability, security, with a need for extending the data to other applications like Kafka etc, is when an enterprise broker is really beneficial.

  4. How will the growing MetaVerse Virtual 3D Initiatives Impact the Digitization in the Hydrocarbon Industry?

    • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies have a huge role to play in the Hydrocarbon industry. Imagine a worker that is working on oil wells wearing a VR headset that can get help remotely from another experienced technician who can see exactly what the worker can see for example.

    • Another could be an augmented reality simulation of an oil well where the system can be checked with peak loads without actually investing in hardware. This can then be combined with the digital twin technology to make changes/upgrades to systems without impacting operations.

  5. Can you share any more [sections] of real example architectures from an asset/factory please? Can you show a real example architecture with real vendor equipment on! I.e. sensors, PLCs, DCS etc.

  6. Will Sparkplug change with MQTT-5?

    • Sparkplug is an add on to MQTT and builds additional features that are manufacturing use cases specific. Sparkplug should be compatible with both MQTT 3 and MQTT 5. Not all Sparkplug implementations are the same.

    • HiveMQ Sparkplug solution is compatible with MQTT 3 and MQTT 5. Visit our Sparkplug solutions page for more information.

  7. Is there anything stopping this being used with certain field devices or would it work with everything?

    • The MQTT/Sparkplug solution should work on any field devices which can act as an MQTT client or connect to an Edge of network(EoN) node which is part of the Sparkplug ecosystem. For a list of vendors that can offer EoN services, please visit our Sparkplug Solution page.

  8. How do you prevent cyberattack in Sparkplug and associated cloud systems?

    • There are multiple things that can be done with MQTT/Sparkplug and associated cloud systems to prevent cyber attacks. Some of the best practices are encryption, Application-Layer Authentication and Authorization. For more details, read our blog Mitigate IoT Attacks with Key MQTT Security Principles.

  9. Have you tested the HIVEMQ limit of signal management without service degradation?

    • When it comes to IoT Scalability Tests for an MQTT Broker, we recommend the following topics (which we do ourselves before we launch our software):

    • MQTT Clients Connections, Subscriptions and Topics at Scale, Testing MQTT Message Throughput, Quality of Service Levels, Queued messages, Shared Subscriptions, Retained Messages, Large-scale Client Disconnect Scenarios, Infrastructure Outage, Prolonged Outage. For more information, read our blog Top 10 IoT Scalability Tests for an MQTT Broker.

    • HiveMQ also offers a performance simulation tool named Swarm. HiveMQ Swarm provides the distributed simulation environment to successfully test millions of MQTT clients, millions of MQTT messages and hundreds of thousands MQTT topic names.

  10. HiveMQ hosts an open source community, can you comment on the pros/cons of the general shift towards open source technology? How does this impact your business model and the sustainability of solutions?

    • HiveMQ wants to make it easier for developers to use HiveMQ and MQTT. By creating an open source edition of HiveMQ, developers can now download and use the HiveMQ broker without worrying about evaluation licenses or our permission to use it. We hope this will accelerate the adoption of HiveMQ and MQTT in the creation of new IoT solutions.

    • We want to encourage developers and partners to create extensions that integrate HiveMQ and MQTT into the fabric of modern application infrastructure. To do this the industry needs an open MQTT platform that can be easily extended. Our strategy is to make HiveMQ CE the open platform for MQTT integration. HiveMQ CE includes an extension framework and APIs that make it easy to integrate MQTT data into other applications.

    • More details about our rationale can be found in our Open Source release blog post.

  11. Please give some examples of Digital twin usage using your MQTT if any

If you have any additional questions, we’d be happy to answer them. Feel free to contact us and we’ll make sure to connect you to the right person.

Ravi Subramanyan

Ravi Subramanyan, Director of Industry Solutions, Manufacturing at HiveMQ, has extensive experience delivering high-quality products and services that have generated revenues and cost savings of over $10B for companies such as Motorola, GE, Bosch, and Weir. Ravi has successfully launched products, established branding, and created product advertisements and marketing campaigns for global and regional business teams.

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