EcoPlant, a recent Israel startup, has developed an energy saving platform solution for industrial machines. EcoPlant applied to the IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator because they wanted to scale up their solution and make it ready for the enterprise. EcoPlant’s development team wanted to focus on rapidly writing code and building their solution without the hassle of setting up, configuring, or maintaining servers.

As a startup, it was also important to EcoPlant that the infrastructure have minimal costs and that they only needed to pay for what they use — that is, their exact demand. After EcoPlant was accepted to the Alpha Zone Accelerator program, IBM helped them build a scalable solution based on IBM Cloud Functions and IBM Watson IoT that addressed their needs.

New architecture

Following is the architecture that we built for EcoPlant to bring their solution to a new level.

EcoPlant’s solution reduces equipment energy costs by up to 50%. Its on-going monitoring and control platform reduces inefficiencies, significantly lowering the staff required for maintenance. It also provides scalability for mechanical service providers.

EcoPlant’s first building block is a small but very smart device called EcoBox, which is connected to the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and sensors in the industrial plant. The EcoBoxes collect all the information from those machines and send the data to the IBM Watson IoT platform. The next building block is a Proactive Advanced Analytics Engine built on IBM Cloud Functions and business rules that analyze the data, build proactive plans, and take immediate actions to make sure the equipment operates properly and efficiently. Those plans and actions are sent back to the EcoBox for to be run.

Smart dashboards are also available for monitoring and tracking. Operators can get alerts on relevant events that require their attention. Recommendations for preventive maintenance are available to make sure the machinery operates efficiently. After the data is processed and analyzed, it is saved in Db2 Warehouse for machine learning to enhance the predictive capabilities of EcoPlant’s Proactive Advanced Analytics Engine. When an internet connection is unavailable, the EcoBox can also operate as an edge device using a light proactive optimization engine until an internet connection resumes.

Why this architecture?

There were multiple reasons why EcoPlant went with this architecture:

  • Choosing IBM Watson IoT helped EcoPlant come up with the solution faster; it’s an easy-to-use, secure, scalable IoT platform with device management capabilities.
  • IBM Cloud and IBM Watson IoT security capabilities are a compelling reason why organizations feel comfortable deploying EcoPlant’s cloud-based solution.
  • By choosing Watson IoT and IBM Cloud Functions, EcoPlant didn’t need to worry about high availability and scaling, and were instead ready for peak performance.
  • Especially important for new startups, with Watson IoT and IBM Cloud Functions you only need to pay for what you use. You do not pay for the time when the system is not being used.
  • By using IBM Cloud Functions, EcoPlant could focus on proactive engine logic and benefit from built-in capabilities like events and periodic execution.

When building this architecture, we referenced IBM IoT Code Patterns. These code patterns were a big help and enabled us to quickly start developing and coding the solution. We highly recommend them!

About EcoPlant

EcoPlant is a platform that saves money and reduces pollution for industrial plants by maximizing energy efficiency and equipment up-time. The platform provides an end-to-end monitoring and control solution from the infrastructure equipment output to the input to the production line. The platform drives efficient automation of equipment and identifies high demands and leaks in the pipeline.

About IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator

IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator is a 20-week program that helps startups build leading solutions for the enterprise market. The program focuses on post-seed and Round A-funded startups with the aim to create long-term technology and business partnerships with IBM worldwide.

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