IoT and AI Will Fuel Industry 4.0 Innovation

November 21, 2019 - 7 minutes read

In the last decade, the industrial sector has been transformed by numerous technological breakthroughs. But these will all pale in comparison to the impact that the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) will have on this field. And when these two technologies are combined, they will usher in a new wave of innovation.

Let’s take a look at how AI and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are fueling Industry 4.0.

Some Fast Facts About AI and IoT

It’s no secret that AI is an unparalleled disruptive force; this technology is estimated to have powered 40% of all digital transformation endeavors in 2019. And by 2025, it’s expected to be a $190 billion industry.

But IoT is certainly no slouch by comparison. More than 64 billion IoT devices are expected to be connected by 2025, and this technology could generate as much as $11 trillion in economic value by the same year. With projections like these, it’s no wonder that businesses are eager to seize the opportunities made possible by IoT; businesses will make up for than 50% of overall IoT spending in 2020.

Both IoT and AI are beginning to play essential functions in the industrial sector. But for many businesses in this field, it’s unclear how to leverage these emerging technologies properly. To elucidate this, let’s examine IIoT’s role in Industry 4.0.

IIoT’s Integral Role in the Industrial Sector

Industry 4.0 began in the 1990s. It all started with the World Wide Web and telecommunication advancements during this time period. IoT and AI will unlock the most exciting, transformative parts of Industry 4.0. With IoT, man and machine will no longer be relegated to physical or digital boundaries. Virtual and real-world operations will be able to merge seamlessly in unprecedented ways.

Before IoT became a buzzword among developers in San Francisco and other tech hubs, it began as a simple concept in the 1980s: Add smart sensors to physical objects to give them more capabilities. It’s easy to see how this translates to the industrial sector: With sensors, industrial machines can become more “intelligent” and streamline the analysis of data in real-time, allowing for faster actionable insights.

Connected machine systems are capable of shining a light on any errors or inefficiencies present in operations. As a result, they bring many advantages to the table, such as improved quality control, more effective methods, sustainability, and better waste management. This has a profound effect on the entire process of supply chain management, from raw material conversion to the point of consumption.

Without IIoT, predictive maintenance and analysis are practically impossible. And asset tracking and energy management become much more complicated tasks. By integrating IIoT, organizations can simplify the management and control of these processes and reduce dependence on human intervention.

But wait, it gets better — AI will unlock even more value from IIoT. Let’s explore how.

IIoT + AI = The Next Level

In the era of Industry 4.0, the overwhelming majority of industrial sectors rely on operational technologies to manage factors like manufacturing, supply chain, energy, and human resources. Combining AI development and IoT can unlock new levels of precision and efficiency in operational processes. How? Well, it all has to do with data.

Data is the most abundant resource of an industrial complex. An enormous amount of it is generated at each step of an operational process. But only recently, with the advent of IIoT, were industrialists able to manage and leverage this massive mountain of information. And even now, there’s still ample room for improvement in how they go about this. That’s where AI comes into the picture.

Not only can AI manage itself, but it can also oversee industrial applications independently and intelligently. If you already have the IIoT sensors and software set up to collect and process data, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not incorporating AI; it can expedite and enhance analysis so you receive more game-changing insights faster.

It’s even possible for an entire IIoT infrastructure to be automated to run and manage itself with the help of AI. It’s a common error to assume that AI-fueled analytical models can only help out with the manufacturing side of industrial processes. But just like IIoT, this technology can be applied to your whole operation, not just the manufacturing department.

The Best Part of Industry 4.0 Is About to Begin

While IIoT and AI are currently giving companies an advantage over their competitors, these technologies will soon become a necessity for industrial businesses to survive in the near future. The number of benefits these technologies bring to the table by themselves are already too good to pass up. And we’re only really just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible by combining them.

One thing is certain: The advantages that AI and IIoT present are too good to ignore or pass up. They will unlock a new era of innovation in the industrial sector. And those who embrace these changes the fastest stand to gain the most.

Does your organization utilize IoT or AI? Have you explored how these two technologies can be combined to deliver more value? As always, let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below!

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