The advent of Industry 4.0 has presented endless opportunities for businesses. It has revolutionized industrial processes through smart technology. Automation of industrial operations helps in enhancing performance and increasing production. At the consumer level, most of us are familiar with IoT technology. All the connected devices that exist all around us such as fitness wearables and virtual assistants like Alexa are all result of the Internet of Things (IoT). When this technology is taken at the industrial level, it becomes the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Industrial IoT involves the digital interconnectivity of the devices and machines used in industrial production to automate the processes. It is the use of smart sensors and actuators to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes.
The IoT-enabled devices are designed to exchange data with other devices through the internet. The basic difference between IoT and IIoT is that IoT focuses on consumer applications while IIoT has industrial applications. IoT makes daily life easier for end-users while IIoT makes industrial operations more efficient. With IoT, dumb machines are turned into smart devices capable of communicating data. The devices are equipped with sensors and software to generate data and with advanced data analytics systems; industrial managers can make more informed decisions. The cloud computer system store and process the data that can be analyzed to determine the status of the equipment and predict future performance or possible failures.
Benefits of Industrial IoT
The industrial applications of IoT have automated manual tasks to streamline industrial processes. These technologies are being adapted from the factory floor to warehouses. Whether it’s preventive maintenance or fleet management, IIoT has several applications that immensely benefit businesses. The most common application of IIoT is predictive maintenance that allows detecting issues and prevents asset failure. The data from machines is used to analyze patterns and predict issues before they happen. This helps in avoiding sudden downtime and increases efficiency throughout the production line. The sensors are embedded in the machines that record temperature, humidity, vibration, and other conditions to provide condition-based maintenance alerts. The data from critical machines helps in boosting operational efficiency, conserving energy, and reducing machine downtime.
The real-time supply chain data is used for tracking products and supplies. All parties involved in the production and supply chain can get connected to track material flow and manage operations remotely. So, the major applications of IIoT include:
- Remote Monitoring
- Predictive Maintenance
- Packaging Optimization
- Fleet Management
- Workplace Safety
- And more!
Now that we know what IIoT is and its major applications, let’s discuss the main benefits of IIoT.
With IIoT, businesses are setting up smart, connected factories to optimize their operating efficiency. Robotics and automated machinery reduce dependence on manual tasks that are tedious and time-consuming. Automation provides more efficiently and accurately, thereby increasing productivity and revenue. With the help of sensors, physical machines are connected to software and their performance is monitored constantly. The collected data provides better insights into the operational performance and allows the manager to improve their process for better efficiency. Also, remote monitoring keeps managers updated about the progress and keep a track of the production process.
Digitalizing almost every part of business reduces the risk of manual errors. The manual processes not only carry the risk of mistakes but strenuous tasks often have safety hazards. But with IIoT, human error associated with manual entries and operations is reduced. Moreover, the advanced IIoT solutions have lower risk data breaches caused by human error. With AI and machine learning-enabled programs, human tasks are replaced with automated processes.
The predictive maintenance application of IIoT ensures that machinery is operating at maximum efficiency. It not only helps in boosting productivity but also detects potential issues that could pose a threat to workers. A malfunctioning machine or risky work environment can cause accidents. But IIoT provides “smart security” benefits. The smart sensors monitor the workplace environment and wearable devices detect employee conditions to send alerts when anything unusual is detected. The connected workplace helps in protecting workers on the floor, on the line, and in distribution. If above the normal temperature is detected or an accident takes place, an alert notification is sent to everyone, and operations are ceased immediately to resolve the issue.