The phrase “Internet of Things” probably conjures up images from a science fiction movie, where your house talks to you and robots are everywhere.
As seen in Amazon Echo TV commercials, that is no longer science fiction, and neither is the Internet of Things, or IoT. The IoT is already affecting our lives, from thermostats that “learn” our schedules and are controlled with our smartphones, to cars that brake when they sense an obstacle ahead.
And while the IoT is revolutionary, the biggest impact of the Internet of Things is expected to be in manufacturing, where the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, can provide more actionable data than manufacturers have ever had.
The IIoT allows machines and devices to communicate and manage equipment without human intervention. It can:
- Tell a company when equipment requires maintenance.
- Allow manufacturers to control their machines remotely.
- Connect companies to their supply chain and other operations.
- Measure and manage environmental factors that affect productivity and profitability.
The IIoT has taken hold in multiple industries and is growing fast. Spending is projected to reach nearly $1.3 trillion by 2019. Some experts predict that by 2025, 50 billion devices and machine types will be connected to each other.
How Is IIoT Changing Industries?
One of the reasons for the growth in the IIoT is the decreasing price and size of the sensors required in equipment to facilitate communication. This change is allowing companies to use sensors and the IIoT in ways not possible before. For example:
- The Michelin Group is using sensors inside tires, combined with analytics, to help truck fleet drivers save fuel.
- Daimler AG is offering Car2Go, a flexible, convenient pay-per-use model for city dwellers needing cars. Customers use an app to find the car that is parked nearest to them, open the door with a membership card, drive to their destination, then simply leave the car for the next user.
- UPR, a leading logistics management provider in Japan, uses IIoT technology to not only locate and track a package from origin to destination, but also to monitor its transportation conditions throughout the journey. They are able to gain full insight into if, when, where, and how damage occurs in route.
So how do you become an IIoT connected business? PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in a recent study that, “For manufacturers, the IIoT becomes a full ecosystem when software, cloud computing, and analytics tools combine to turn raw data into meaningful information or predictions—and when it’s presented on easy-to-use interfaces (such as dashboards or mobile apps).”
Is Resistance Futile?
The introduction of new technology always raises issues, and the IIoT is no different. Common concerns include:
Security–Social media and bank accounts get hacked regularly today and the effects range from mild annoyance to catastrophe. When a self-driving car or an entire manufacturing plant can be hacked, data security is paramount.
Interoperability–In order for the IIoT to function, devices and software must communicate effectively. With the wide variety of platforms and standards currently in place, interoperability is not an easy task.
Acceptance–As seen with self-driving cars, the public has exhibited a certain amount of resistance to the concept of machines that operate without human guidance. Concern over loss of jobs is also a barrier to widespread adaption of the IIoT.
But in spite of these barriers, PriceWaterhouseCoopers has reported survey results indicating acceptance is steadily increasing. Thirty-five percent of manufacturers are currently collecting and using data generated by smart sensors to enhance manufacturing/operating processes; 17% plan to do so in the next three years, with another 24% having plans but no timeline. Thirty-four percent of manufacturers believe it is “extremely critical” that US manufacturers adopt an IoT strategy in their operations; 60% believe it’s “moderately or slightly critical.” Additionally, the Senate Commerce Committee recently approved a bill that would strengthen the underlying infrastructure and regulation for the IoT, including consensus-based best practices and incentives for new developers.
If you haven’t already begun to adapt IIoT practices, you can do so by simply considering the various ways your company could possibly use the IIoT for an improved bottom line. Your next step would be to examine your current technology infrastructure so you can prepare to support the collection and analysis of data.
Finally, continue to learn how your industry is testing this new capability and the best practices that are developed. A variety of publications and websites are constantly monitoring IIoT innovations. You can also check in with your industry association periodically to stay on top of breaking developments.
As this trend rapidly transitions from “nice to have” to “must have”, now is the time to position your company in front of the next wave of technological advancement so that you are not left behind.
IIoT Phrases to Know
The Internet of Things (IoT)
is a system of computing devices, mechanical and digital machines or objects with the ability to share data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. This transforms products that were previously just physical parts into complex, interconnected systems combining hardware, software, microprocessors, sensors and data storage.
The Industrial Internet of Things
(IIoT) is the use of computing devices and sensors in manufacturing to collect and share data, again without human interaction. Also called the Industrial Internet, IIoT incorporates machine learning and big data technology, using sensor data, machine-tomachine (M2M) communication and automation technologies.
The IIoT is made up of a variety of devices connected by communications software, which allows the collection, monitoring, exchange and analysis of data. Sensors can be implanted in tires, storage tanks, and a variety of other locations, enabling collection of data in ways never before possible.
Reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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