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Industrial Internet of Things: What You Need to Know

Industrial internet of things has radically changed manufacturing in recent years with the rise of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 supports the idea that machines are better suited than humans to capture data, communicate information, and make data-driven decisions to guide certain core business processes.

This new paradigm for technology leverages smart devices to enhance the precision, speed, and efficiency of industrial processes.

The IIoT market is expected to be worth $124 billion in 2021. Everything from automation to analytics and asset management will soon be governed by smart devices in industrial processes.

Read on to discover what you need to know to plan for a successful future utilizing industrial Internet of Things.

The IIoT vs. the IoT: The Difference Matters

The Internet of Things (IoT), or the array of smart devices that collect and share information among themselves, has been steadily populating our homes and offices for years.

From multifunction printers integrated with Amazon’s Alexa to Bluetooth-enabled kitchen appliances, IoT technology now dominates both home and office environments.

Estimates indicate there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices by 2020.

As a result, the IoT emphasizes convenience, is oriented towards human interaction, and generally supports low-risk activities that won’t result in critical business or life-threatening emergencies.

In contrast, the Industrial Internet of Things connects machines and devices in industrial settings.

Here, its purposes include manufacturing, logistics, resource allocation, and supply chain monitoring—processes that must run smoothly for the company to remain functioning.

Therefore, unlike the IoT, the IIoT emphasizes control, leverages automation, and features more robust capabilities designed to support these critical business processes.

internet of things worldwide graph

The Potential of the Industrial Internet of Things

The IIoT will fundamentally change the way businesses consider and undertake their most critical functions.

However, the biggest potentials for this technology lie in its applications within the manufacturing sector. In particular, the IIoT will affect:

1. Manufacturing Operations

IIoT platforms are beginning to replace manufacturing execution systems. These are the computerized inventory and tracking systems that have become a staple of modern business.

In its place, the IIoT creates a database of not just the data it collects about production, quality, and inventory management, but also analyses derived from this data.

The result is smarter, faster, and more nimble manufacturing operations that can respond fluidly to conditions in your organization.

This will also support increased discrete manufacturing capabilities—that is, make-to-order production which has been historically seen as an unsustainable business model.

In short, say goodbye to generic batch products and hello to customized product inventories.

2. Asset Management and Maintenance

Like the IoT, the IIoT introduces a greater level of interconnectivity for an environment.

However, whereas the IoT focuses on moving data for user convenience, the IIoT focuses this power on real-time visibility, control, even the automation of device function and management.

This is imperative for maintaining the longevity of critical assets. With the IIoT, manufacturers can:

  • Perform health checks on hardware and readiness assessments for machinery.
  • Keep cloud services visible and optimized.
  • Oversee program and project management.
  • Undertake predictive maintenance and quality assurance.
  • Find solutions rapidly through scenario testing.

3. Suppliers and Supply Chain Control

Keeping track of inventories and suppliers has long been one of the greatest challenges in manufacturing.

Thanks to the IIoT, the problems surrounding the supply chain are reduced significantly.

Closer inventory tracking is one of the best ways to reduce inventory redundancies and eliminate unnecessary capital requirements.

Likewise, the IIoT makes it easier to gain insights into the material flow, manufacturing cycles, and the interdependencies between materials, machines, and departments.

In turn, these create a leaner supply chain where materials and machines are used much more efficiently.

Adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things

The adoption of the Industrial Internet of Things is high across the industrial sector, driven largely by economic incentives.

This is particularly true in the cases of high-stakes industries such as healthcare and defense, which benefit from faster, smarter automation to deliver life-supporting services.

Industries are expected to overcome many of the most common barriers of adoption within the next two years. The industrial and manufacturing sectors can expect to see:

  • An increase in the availability of technical expertise in implementing and managing systems.
  • A reduction of data transition and portability risks.
  • The development of hardware and software solutions to support the IIoT.

Cybersecurity Remains a Critical Concern

Cybersecurity remains a serious concern for businesses, and with the IIoT, this threat will only grow.

In 2019, IBM found that cyberattacks reached a critical mass—they’re more common and costly than ever.

However, as businesses race towards digital transformation and the IIoT, they’ll need to have a strong cybersecurity program in place to avoid unnecessary downtime and secure their latest technological solutions.

A managed security service provider can help with this and is strongly recommended.

Implementation Strategies for the Industrial Internet of Things

Planning to implement the IIoT is much like embracing digital transformation—it needs to be carefully planned and thoughtfully executed.

Although there’s no single “right” approach to implementing an IIoT, some common strategic elements include:

  • Top-down planning and execution: Like digital transformation, IIoT implementation should begin at the CEO and work down
  • Emphasize selected goals: Keep transformation focused and emphasize relevant use cases
  • Encourage a culture of change: New technology means new processes—help employees be ready
  • Build an ecosystem that fosters collaboration: Both digital transformation and IIoT encourage increased connectivity. Reflect this both within a company and among its partners

Key Takeaways

  • The industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will radically alter the way modern businesses think about and undertake their manufacturing and industrial processes.
  • IIoT focuses on the visibility, control, and automation of critical business processes.
  • Implementing the IIoT has many parallels with implementing digital transformation in its planning and deployment processes.

Impact excels in helping companies achieve their fullest potential with the deployment of the right technology. Contact us today to discuss how managed process optimization can benefit your organization’s processes.