Industrial IoT: Understanding the Basics
Due to the ongoing fourth industrial revolution, a set of common questions are frequently asked regarding the basics of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Its main goal is to provide smart, sensor-based solutions to manufacturing industries. IIoT offers a range of benefits for manufacturers that include innovation, maintenance cost reduction, improved efficiency, and lower unproductive periods. In short, IIoT devices help companies significantly improve their operations.
What Is IoT?
IoT is a growing technology that connects everyday objects to the internet, allowing them to communicate and operate from anywhere in the world. It is becoming possible for appliances and other devices to be programmed through the internet. The most common example is the rise of smart homes, where elements such as light, ovens, or doors can be managed remotely.
What is IIoT?
Industrial IoT is an ecosystem of connected objects and computing devices. Sensors and actuators connect to a network to exchange collected data. It generates real-time data that is shared easily with users involved in industrial processes. It helps manufacturers reduce their costs and improve the quality of their products.
IoT vs IIoT
IIoT is a type of IoT. The former is a form of the Internet of Things that connects hardware and software components in an industrial context. The latter is consumer-oriented and allows for greater integration of different devices and software into one system. In the case of IIoT, the technology is an integral part of the overall operating process. It provides real-time information and is crucial for manufacturing and other industries.
The main difference between IoT and IIoT lies in the complexity of the solutions. IoT uses inexpensive connected sensors, most of the time with a specific purpose and limited functionalities. IIoT uses more sophisticated devices, providing broader visibility, automated controls, and complex analytics. These solutions are designed for rugged conditions in industrial environments and can usually be accessed from remote locations.
What Industries Use IIoT?
IIoT can transform many industries, from agriculture, to mining, to retail, or to mining or banking. IIoT projects typically aim to automate, save, or optimize processes. These projects help companies with their goals and strategies, including innovation, customer-centric service offerings, and data-driven revenues. Industrial IoT also helps create ecosystems of value for businesses and allows them to be part of the digital transformation of entire industries.
Benefits of Industrial IoT
One of the main benefits of industrial IoT is its potential to make manufacturing processes more efficient.
Currently, most companies have invested in operational technology, which is not designed to connect beyond a local network. The data stream generated by these devices is hard to access and requires to be routed manually into existing data management software systems. Industrial IoT overcomes these difficulties. Organizations can automate processes and optimize production lines by collecting data from remote sensors that can be (re-)deployed flexibly. Usually, IoT industrial sensors are connected to a cloud computing system, allowing access to information from anywhere and in real-time. This allows to apply concepts such as predictive maintenance, real-time monitoring, or reducing human dependencies for critical activities. Detecting malfunctions of critical or expensive equipment can save millions in a process that relies on machinery. With the ability to send out alerts when something goes wrong, operators can take immediate action, sending mechanics into the field, to avoid costly breakdowns.
How to Get Started?
IIoT requires orchestarting electrical, mechanical, and IT/data-related aspects of a solution. It’s not an easily manageable combination of skills. The complexity of an initial solution makes it recommendable to start small. Choosing one problem and seeing it through up until the benefits materialize is highly recommendable. It allows an organization to learn and adapt over time. The organizational aspect is by far the most common cause of failure when it comes to capturing the benefits of IIoT.
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