In 2015, Google’s then chairman, Eric Schmidt, famously said the Internet of Things will disappear. He meant that the underlying technology is so ubiquitous that it won’t be noticed, and organizations will focus on the services and use cases that run on top of it. While Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) seems a long way from disappearing as a term, we’re already seeing a move towards focusing on IIoT applications. This blog takes a look at some of the major Industrial IoT applications appearing today.
Is IIoT disappearing? The figures would suggest not. Estimates put the size of the Industrial IoT market at over $770 billion by 2026. That represents around 22 billion Industrial IoT devices connected to the Internet–up from only 7 billion in 2018. Added to this, the type and range of IIoT devices is growing. There are new generations of intelligent IIoT sensors, IIoT software and industrial IoT platforms appearing. Consequently, there is now the intelligence and computer power to enable a whole raft of new IIoT use cases to radically transform many industry sectors.
What are Industrial IoT applications?
How do we define Industrial Internet of Things? Broadly speaking, IIoT is the implementation of instrumentation, connected sensors, and other devices to machinery and processes in manufacturing and industrial environments. However, that definition can easily lead to a thought of technology for technology’s sake. Instead, the power of IIoT lies in the use cases where it’s applied. It’s the innovative Industrial IoT applications that drive operational efficiencies through automation, connectivity and analytics. The benefits of IIoT will only be fully realized through successfully deploying these IIoT applications at the correct points in the business.
Choosing the best IIoT applications
Organizations of all sizes and all locations in the world are building up their IIoT architecture. They are putting in place IIoT networks and selecting IIoT platforms to manage their expanding digital ecosystems. The question then becomes ‘what are we going to do with all this great IIoT technology?’. The answer is the growing range of Industrial IoT applications. So, let’s look at seven of the top IIoT applications today.
- Predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance is built on the integration of IIoT with AI and machine learning. With the help of machine learning algorithms, the IIoT network takes real-time and historical data from Industrial IoT sensors as well as data from other relevant sources to determine the likely failure of a component or sub-system. By creating a comprehensive picture of the component sources – including elements such as weather conditions or service history – you can predict outcomes and decide whether the part should be repaired or replaced. Predictive maintenance maximizes the potential of the Industrial internet of Things meaning the organization improves uptime for all assets while reducing the cost of maintenance activities.
- Facilities management
IIoT sensors are being deployed to augment the effectiveness of facility management. Manufacturing equipment is prone to wear and tear. It’s also susceptible to specific conditions. Sensors–allied to IIoT software–can monitor temperature, vibrations and other factors that could be leading to less than optimal operational conditions. In addition, smart lighting and smart sensors give you much greater visibility and control over the resources – such as electricity, water, fuels, etc. – that you use in your business.
- Proactive replenishment
IIoT is being used within supply chains to provide real-time monitoring of inventory levels and initiate automated replenishment processes with suppliers. Events are effortlessly monitored across the supply chain, giving you a comprehensive view of inventory. Again, IIoT software and an enterprise IIoT platform are combined with IIoT analytics to monitor product and material consumption patterns with pre-defined triggers determining when the replenishment process is enacted. With integration between the IoT network and enterprise systems such as ERP or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), inventory across the supply chain can be monitored and aligned more closely with consumer demand.
- The Smart Factory
IIoT provides manufacturers with unprecedented levels of real-time visibility into their operations enabling them to quickly root out process inefficiencies and reduce waste. Companies have used technology solutions for many years to achieve ‘lean’ goals such as increased uptime or improved output, but these have been, mostly, siloed or point solutions. IIoT solutions–especially Industrial IoT automation– allows you to integrate these systems to provide optimum performance and uptime across assets, product lines, factories and your entire business.
- Pervasive visibility
IIoT provides improved end-to-end visibility of shipments using Industrial IoT devices to create highly connected supply chain ‘assets’ – such as products, pallets or trucks. Products and supplies are much easier to track, identifying slowdowns and inefficiencies. You can retrieve information from a range of IIoT sensors including GPS, temperature and humidity. Logistics carrier performance can be monitored in real time and if any issues arise – damaged goods, for example – you can quickly take the appropriate corrective actions while the IIoT data delivers audit capabilities for future compensation or penalties.
- Safety and security
Industrial IoT leaders are combining IIoT with analytics to allow key performance indicators of health and safety to be constantly monitored to ensure better workplace conditions. Where indicators begin to lag – such as the number of accidents in a factory – they can be addressed immediately. In addition, worker and asset security is enhanced with IIoT devices including smart cameras, smart sensors and smart beacons providing new levels of intelligence to security operations. IIoT security solutions allow all security devices to be controlled remotely from any location with network access to give 24-hour, real-time visibility of the people and assets within your facilities.
- Fleet management
The latest fleet management solutions take advantage of IIoT solutions to provide fleet operators with a wide range of benefits over the lifetime of their fleet. As well as enabling predictive maintenance, an IIoT network allows you to continually monitor driver performance and vehicle status for enhanced safety and improved fuel consumption. Combining IIoT data with information from other sources enables you to deploy IIoT analytics to optimize schedules and routes as well as plan for business continuity is the face of natural disasters.
The need for an enterprise-wide IIoT platform
The best industrial IoT platforms allow you to integrate devices with enterprise applications to enable the smooth flow of data between connected people, systems and things. The platform sits as the foundation of your IIoT capabilities to facilitate the fast and effective deployment of the IIoT applications that will transform your business. The leading IIoT providers offer their own IIoT platform that can be customized to your specific needs.