What’s the Industrial Internet of Things?
(Part 1)

February 5, 2020 - 8 minutes read

IoT app developmentThe Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at an unprecedented rate. But it turns out that this is just the beginning; experts predict the technology will grow even faster once it reaches its full potential in the industrial and manufacturing fields.

In industrial IoT (IIoT), smart sensors, actuators, devices, and people make up the IoT system to enhance processes and operations for maximum profit, yield, and machine uptime. In this multi-part series, we’ll discuss what exactly IIoT is, how it works, and its many benefits.

A New Frontier

IIoT is also known as Industry 4.0, named for the disruptive changes it’s bringing to manufacturing. Special features of IIoT include smart machines, real-time analytics for non-smart machines, smart notification systems for maintenance and repairs, and more.

IoT app development

There’s no doubt that IoT will bring the next revolution in industry and manufacturing. A study by IoT Analytics forecasts that manufacturing will be the biggest IoT application developer, reaching $438 million by 2021. And according to a Genpact survey, almost 81% of organizations around the world believe that successfully adopting IIoT will be critical to future success, especially for high-tech and large organizations.

In IIoT, the main idea is that smart machines are better than humans at generating and analyzing data in real-time, less error-prone, and better at communicating information used to prompt important business decisions. With 24/7 monitoring, connected actuators and sensors find inefficiencies and issues faster. They also seamlessly load their data into business intelligence software, creating an efficient data pipeline that faces less downtime when software updates roll around.

It may sound to you that smart machines will take over humans’ jobs. In reality, however, these smart machines are freeing up employees to focus their time, expertise, and energy on other more important tasks.

IIoT’s Inner Workings

In each IIoT ecosystem, there are four main components: smart devices that sense, share, and store information; public and private data infrastructure; analytics and applications that work to clean and transform the raw data generated from the connected devices; and people.

IoT app development

IIoT creates a network of smart, connected devices that communicate to form efficient systems that monitor, generate, share, and analyze data with each other. It’s a highly productive system whose benefits wholly outweigh its initial costs, upfront investments, and ongoing updates.

For manufacturing and industrial companies, IIoT will be a must-have for quality control, supply chain transparency and efficiency, and eco-friendly and sustainable practices. It will also improve field service, asset tracking, energy management, and predictive maintenance.

IIoT’s Long List of Applications

IoT will enable large-scale industries to improve economies, accelerate growth, and promote more competition, which will, in turn, improve lives. Let’s take a look at the few of the ways it will do this.

Predictive Maintenance

We briefly mentioned predictive maintenance, and you might have wondered: How exactly do smart machines help with predictive maintenance? With their real-time data generation, smart machines can know immediately if a part is becoming defective over time, losing its efficiency, or if it needs general maintenance earlier than scheduled. This saves companies from extended downtime in operations, which in turn produces more stable revenues.

IoT app development

When manufacturing time decreases, repeated work decreases, and scrap and waste amounts are reduced significantly. This benefit, of course, will need some human oversight and management because a defective smart machine could find false errors with itself or other machines.

Field Service

For global companies that have distributed their products and equipment globally, post-sales service and troubleshooting is a necessary part of business. In these cases, field service executives visit locations globally to troubleshooting and service equipment. During these visits, field executives spend a lot of time communicating back-and-forth with back-office experts for complex issues, technical help, and repair manual checks.

IIoT systems can remain in constant communication with field service technicians to identify potential problems with customer equipment, train techs quickly on new procedures, and give extra information on how to fix a problem that the tech doesn’t have much experience with.

Additionally, IIoT can identify potential problems before they arise, sending field technicians to a location before any major happens. Smart glasses afford hands-free labor and remote communication with back-office experts.

Asset Tracking

One of IIoT’s biggest strengths is asset tracking: this benefit weaves together sourcers, suppliers, manufacturers, and customers together seamlessly. It helps companies track the location, condition, and status of products within the supply chain. If anything becomes damaged, becomes at risk for damage, or disappears in transit, an instant notification enables stakeholders to take preventative and immediate action.

IoT app development

Edge Computing

Edge computing will also eventually bring another layer of efficiency and productivity to IIoT systems; with the addition of stable 5G networks, IIoT will rapidly shift to realize its full potential.

Customer Service

With asset tracking, customer service will already be improved quite a bit over our current standards. But with the addition of connected products, the manufacturer can use data about how the customer uses their products to improve and optimize their product design, development, and features. This will create truly customer-centric companies.

Facility and Energy Management

IIoT systems can constantly monitor their facilities for temperature, humidity, vibrations, and other factors that could impact how operations are performing. With this information, changes can be made as necessary to ensure the facility is in full working order.

IoT can help reduce energy bills by up to 20% by optimizing energy expenditures through data generated from smart meters. These meters not only track how resources are distributed and consumed, but they also help improve forecasting, reduce thefts, and lower operating costs. Remote kill switches can yield energy savings of up to 70% per machine. Energy management systems can also help reduce CO2 emissions.

IoT app development

IIoT’s Bright Future

Industrial IoT is a new, innovative, and revolutionary technology that uses learnings and best practices from our current IoT systems to produce a network of connected machines, devices, and cities. Globally, Boston-based consulting group Bain & Company forecasts that, by 2020, IIoT applications will generate more than $300 billion, which is double the amount from consumer IoT systems ($150 billion).

IIoT is here to stay, and it hasn’t even reached its full potential. With more efficient processes, numerous industries will be reshaped in the near future. What IIoT applications do you think will be the most game-changing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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