With digitization being the number one priority for global organisations across various verticals, the term “Industrial Internet of Things” is now universal in context to the industries and their digital revolution.
So what exactly is IIoT, or in common terms – Industrial Internet Of Things?
The IIoT is part of a larger concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Also known as the Industrial Internet, IIoT brings together machines, advanced analytics, and the people at work. It is a system, which is a network of a multitude of industrial devices connected by communication technologies, and can collect analyze and monitor insights like never before.
At first glance, IIoT on paper seems like a technology that drives innovation in manufacturing. In recent years, industrial organizations are surging to invest in this new thread of technology, resulting in an expected expenditure on Enterprise IoT to surpass $1 Trillion by 2021.
However, for IIoT to be a sustainable solution, the upgrades to the manufacturing technology is more than just keeping up with the growing trends. Now, the question is, Is IIoT a necessity? Or is it just another flamboyant addition?
Businesses and organisations in the manufacturing sectors are the ones who are among the most earnest adopters of Industrial Internet of Things, accounting for more than $189 Billion of investments in 2018 alone.
This has resulted in a major league of industries and factories in leveraging the IIoT process and creating mature IIoT workflows – facilities where humans, machines and advanced data analytics work in harmony to improve the results.
The most eminent example of IIoT implementation is at the world’s fastest growing company, Amazon. Dubbed as a “human-robot symbiosis,” Amazon has been successful in transforming their warehousing and fulfillment centers with the help of automation, allowing them to cut operating costs by close to 20%!
What makes this deployment by Amazon successful is that, IIoT is being viewed as an enhancement and improvement for the industrial processes, rather than this technology replacing human labor,
Some of the smaller companies have also implemented IIoT to improve their operations. For example, some companies have tackled issues with downtime by employing a cloud-based analytics software to predict component failures & immediately flag for maintenance.
As more and more businesses represent the pinnacle of IIoT technology and early facilities, reports reveal that such connected industrial devices when deployed at scale can have a huge impact on the floor. This would not be true if an estimated 76% of the worldwide manufacturers investing and developing these advanced IIoT driven sites.
IIoT can be considered as the “back-end” of the various other IoT categories. True that it is largely hidden from the view of an average consumer. However, many of the everyday objects used by the people are driven by the IIoT technology. As a matter of fact, almost every modern manufacturer makes use of an IIoT ecosystem in one way or another in order to streamline and optimize their operations.
Incorporating machine learning and big data, IIoT generates powerful insights to learn more about the functioning of an industry or a factory. In order to do this, IoT devices that collect data from sensors are installed within the factory equipment. This includes almost any device or measure any piece of information that can be useful for the manufacturer, or may influence their operations. This data is collectively aggregated onto a central platform where a plant manager can further analyse and improve on specific areas.
Benefits of IIoT
One of the greatest and the most important benefits of IIoT is seen in the reduction of human errors and manual labor, directly resulting in an increase in overall efficiency and reduction of costs and time. IIoT also plays a key role in quality control and maintenance.
A powerful network of devices set up in an IIoT environment significantly improves operational efficiency, scalability, time optimization and communication across various sections of the entire organization. The various devices set up in the machines gather information about the machine performance continuously ( this will include millions of data points). This information is later stored via cloud, processed and then analyzed all on a single platform.
An IIoT ecosystem gives a factory or an industry an ability to collect information about itself by integrating internet connected devices into their operations. This results in manufacturers performing predictive maintenance on their machines to avoid downtime, a direct result of making informed decisions.
This intelligent communication loop leads to the optimization of machine performance and maximizing the overall output as the setup between machines enables better predictions and improved decision making.
Cybersecurity – Beware of the risk
A major paradox of IIoT is that the industries bear a significant downside risk, yet they barely make investments for protecting their data. A report shows that 28% of the manufacturers said that they observed a loss of revenue due to cybersecurity attacks in the past year, and only 30% of these executives said that they will increase their expenditure towards data protection.
Cyber attacks can have devastating effects on heavy industries where cyber-physical systems are compromised. To counter this, many companies are offering IoT gateways to allow manufacturers across many verticals to closely monitor their IIoT ecosystem.
IIoT is transforming industry and changing the way companies work on a day-to-day basis. By integrating machine-to-machine communication with industrial big data analytics, IIoT is driving efficiency, productivity and performance to showcase powerful business outcomes.