The industrial IoT (IIoT) is the engine of Industry 4.0, the fourth revolution in manufacturing that is unfolding right before our very eyes. The employment of connected devices, collecting and processing data contribute to changes in the approach to equipment maintenance, asset tracking, and business process automation done with the view to improving the efficiency of the industrial sector.
Telling IoT and IIoT apart
IoT is an is utterly person-centered technology trend, and to put it in a nutshell, IoT makes homes and workplaces more convenient and comfortable. It facilitates and accelerates everyday routine tasks, saves family budget and ensures widespread access to connected devices surrounding users.
IIoT is the application of the Internet of things to the manufacturing industry with the purpose to increase the ROI and boost revenues of industrial facilities by automating certain activities at plants and factories.
IoT is simpler to adopt than IIoT. You can acquire Internet-enabled devices like a smart coffee maker or an intelligent yoga mat and start using them straight away. The adoption of IoT in the industrial sector is not that fast. It changes the whole production structure. Therefore, manufacturers have to implement IIoT gradually within facilities.
IIoT devices use more complicated algorithms as their task is to collect and process a wealth of data on machines. The further analysis of data facilitates risk management, helps avoid massive equipment failures, etc.
The price of failure with IIoT is high enough as if compared to connected home devices. It’s not a big deal when your electric kettle refuses to turn on via an IoT application. You will probably be disappointed, but the damage won’t be as devastating as it would be in manufacturing. When something goes wrong with manufacturing equipment, it can lead to production disruption and related financial losses. That is why IIoT solutions require exceptional reliability.
What opportunities does IIoT offer?
- Predictive maintenance
One of the most valuable benefits of IIoT for industries is predictive maintenance. Machine failures can become a disaster for enterprises: serious breakdowns often require replacing damaged equipment, which can be time-consuming. The machine downtime can last for hours, days, weeks and more causing revenue losses. An IIoT-based monitoring system allows manufacturers to prevent technical issues by timely detecting minor defects or deviations. Embedded sensors provide data on the condition of machines and send alerts if something goes wrong.
- Asset tracking
IIoT enables remote asset tracking for companies engaged in fleet management. Many companies still use traditional spreadsheets to enter the information about the location of the equipment, operators managing vehicle assets, scheduled maintenance, etc. But this approach to data management is time-consuming, and the risk of entering wrong information by mistake is high.
Smart asset tracking solutions based on an RFID system and IIoT can significantly facilitate asset tracking. An RFID tag placed on equipment connects to the RFID reader via a special antenna. The reader sends the information about a vehicle’s location to the cloud where it’s processed.
- Smart energy consumption
Energy saving powered by IIoT systems helps reduce the production costs and fight excessive fossil fuel emissions. An IIoT-enabled system is able to cut energy consumption within a facility by 20%. With the help of Internet-capable smart meters, manufacturers can learn whether their electric motors meet the production level. When the motor is overloaded, it gets overheated, which leads to higher energy consumption. But underloading it results in lower efficiency. By choosing an engine of the appropriate size, manufacturers can considerably improve the cost-effectiveness of facilities. IoT-enabled smart meters allow tracking the resources spent and anticipating the production level.
Does IIoT cut jobs?
There is a concern that industrial digital transformation is depriving many employees of their jobs. Surely, such fear has grounds. But one should realize that it is a natural process. In the course of time, many professions became obsolete as a result of social and tech development. To avoid mass unemployment, both governmental authorities and employers should take care of those who lose jobs owing to industrial automation. A way out is to create programs allowing redundant employees to undergo retraining and getting a new qualification.
To add more, IIoT creates new workplaces. There always should be specialists to monitor IIoT-based systems, fix failures and provide technical support. Automation gives way to highly qualified specialists capable of creating and serving smart devices and analyzing aggregated data.
Industry 4.0 streamlines the work of modern industrial facilities and allows business owners to look boldly into the future. Not so long ago, such functionalities as anticipating equipment failures or shutdown, remote monitoring of vehicle assets seemed impossible. But it is no longer a fantasy these days. Ignoring brand-new opportunities in today’s digital era impedes business development. Far-sighted leaders embrace the power of industrial IoT to bring their business to a brand-new level.