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Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer

What is iIoT (Industrial IoT)?

Aug 22, 2018

By: Jason Smith

The Internet of Things isn’t just about wearable technology and smart voice assistants. In the industrial world, IoT devices are transforming the way companies like Airbus and Caterpillar operate behind the scenes.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly how this transformation is taking place.

What is iIoT (Industry 4.0)?

The Industrial Internet of Things (iIoT), which is also known as Industry 4.0 when applied to the manufacturing industry, is a concept of integrating smart manufacturing machinery, AI-powered automation, and advanced analytics to help make every worker and every factory more efficient.

The iIoT will revolutionize manufacturing by enabling the acquisition and accessibility of far greater amounts of data both faster and more efficiently than ever before. Many manufacturers have already started to implement the IIoT devices and processes by leveraging intelligent, connected devices inside their factories, warehouses, and workshops.

In most cases, companies are deploying iIoT devices and machinery that are connected by communication technologies that assist industries in collecting, monitoring, analyzing, and delivering valuable insights like never before. The exact mechanics of how this technology is deployed varies from company to company, but the goal is always the same; to improve operational efficiency through analytics, automation and connectivity.

For instance, by equipping warehouse workers with wearable technology, companies can collect advanced analytical data to gain insights into warehouse efficiency. These valuable insights can help manufacturing firms make faster and better-informed decisions.

How iIoT is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

The revolution of the manufacturing sector has already begun. In a report by IDC, the manufacturing sector has already spent $178 billion on iIoT in 2016 alone. And in a report by MarketWatch, the iIoT investment in the manufacturing sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 29.68 percent until 2020.

The industrial Internet of Things is already improving the manufacturing industry by giving manufacturers, more visibility throughout the manufacturing process and by making data immediately available to multiple data consumers and applications.  

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The Benefits of iIoT on Manufacturing and Beyond

The principal idea behind iIoT is to make machines smarter and more efficient than human counterparts by constantly collecting, analyzing, and acting upon data. With companies now developing cutting-edge sensory technologies to capture data, the retrieved data can be coupled with real-time predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to get a better understanding of how machines and production lines are performing.

By utilizing machine learning, systems can be trained to identify potential patterns that could result in a future failure; and if the results are concerning, then it can be automatically reported for further investigation. Such applications can help save companies millions, or even billions of dollars.

The biggest opportunity for the industrial Internet of Things exists in revolutionizing existing legacy infrastructures within industrial and manufacturing processes. For example, tire manufacturer Michelin replaced traditional tire testing protocols both within their factories and post-delivery with built-in sensors that automatically monitor tire pressure and other variables. The tires were sold as part of a service to coach truck fleet drivers on how they can save fuel based on the analytical data captured from the tire sensors.

The example above also illustrates how end consumers will benefit from the industrial IoT revolution. They will receive higher quality products and services, faster.  

Furthermore, iIoT networks have broken up stringent data silos and connected all staff, data and processes right from the factory floor to c-suite level. Business leaders can utilize iIoT data gathered from various touchpoints to get a full and accurate picture of how their enterprise is performing.

What Are The Present iIoT Challenges?

The first significant challenge is interoperability. Both devices and machines use different protocols and are made up of different architectures. One way this can be addressed is to utilize an API-driven environment to allow both device and machine to communicate with each other through API calls.

The second challenge is security. Transitioning to iIoT means moving to the cloud and many companies will be quite apprehensive about this since it could open up the possibility of the disruption of operation and production, cyber attacks and data theft. Companies, stakeholders, policymakers will need to work together to mitigate the risk of intelligent machinery connected to the network.

iIoT Examples: 5 iIoT Use Cases In Action Today

As mentioned before, iIoT has already benefited a number of industries. Below, we share 5 notable uses of iIoT.

1. Airbus

The European aircraft manufacturer not only utilizes iIoT technology to make better planes, but they also used it to develop tools that their workers can use in the manufacturing process. They recently launched an initiative known as the “Factory of the Future” to help streamline operations and boost production. Airbus integrated sensors to their machines and tools on the factory floor and provided their workers with wearable technology -- including smart glasses -- to help workers to assess the quality and safety of their product in real-time.

2. Siemens

The Siemens’ factory in Amberg, Germany perfectly personifies their passion for technological innovation. The plant was developed as part of a joint effort with the German government to develop a number of fully automated smart factories. The plant itself builds parts for BMW and is claimed to be approximately 75 percent automated.

3. Caterpillar

Caterpillar recently partnered with industrial analytics company Uptake to create technologies that can help their consumers monitor the health of their equipment. They used a range of IoT and augmented reality technologies to enable machine operators to get an at-a-glance view of their equipment’s vitals such as fuel levels and when the air filter needs replacing. When an air filter needs replacing, the technology sends the machine operator detailed instructions on how to replace it.

4. AGCO

AGCO partnered with Mutual Mobile to develop AgCommand, a data analytical tool to help farmers get a better understanding of their operation’s performance. The tool provides farmers with real-time asset tracking (so they know where their equipment is at all times), reports and automatic alerts. The tool has helped farmers reduce their cost and increase their margins.

5. Amazon

Most of Amazon’s warehouses use an army of drones and robotics to help them fulfill their customer orders. In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva, a robotics company, for $775 million. Their reason for such a huge investment? It made more sense for them to use robots to locate products and bring it to their workers, rather than having their workers find the products themselves. Back in 2014, David Clark, the senior vice president at Amazon, reported that the robots reduced operating costs by 20 percent.

When it comes to managing the data and workflows needed to adopt iIoT technology, get in touch to see how dotCMS can help.

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