What is IIoT?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a smart integrated system that utilizes sensors to optimize manufacturing and industrial processes. Like Internet of Things systems found in homes, connected appliances and smart home security systems, IIoT system sensors attach to machinery and relay real-time data and analytics to a cloud. That information can be used to detect inefficiencies in the value chain, and equipment erosion or malfunctions, among other things. The use of IIoT systems can lead to more efficient, proactive manufacturing and industrial processes, with lower overhead cost and better-spent capital expenditures.

How Does IIoT Work?

Asset Matrix’s IIoT system uses machine attached sensors to gather data and analytics on running equipment. Sensors are programmed to pick up on key indicators of machine performance, such as: vibration, ultrasound, temperature, infrared, oil analysis, and velocity, which is relayed to the IIoT cloud. The cloud is the center of the IIoT network; every sensor connects to the cloud where the data is stored and represented through charts, graphs, figures, and other visuals. The cloud data is used to cross analyze and detect irregularities in manufacturing processes, or opportunities in the value chain. Every IIoT system includes smart devices that detect and communicate information, a cloud, and people to interpret.

IIoT in the Real World

The Industrial Internet of Things already exists across many industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, power facilities, and more. Every industry has the same basic goals: efficiency, safety, lower costs, and increased productivity. The food and beverage industries lose thousands of dollars and lost productivity to machine downtime and value chain inefficiencies, pharmaceutical manufactures deal with potentially harmful ingestible products that can be sensitive to environmental shifts, making machine breakdowns (change in environment) and inefficiencies dangerous and costly. Power facilities handle extremely dangerous and toxic materials, making predicting measures to stop machine breakdowns paramount importance for worker and public safety. These are only a few needs of IIoT, but the advantages of IIoT go far beyond them and provide opportunity to almost every industry.

IIoT Advantages

IIoT systems are a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers that offer amazing upside, such as:

  • Predictive Maintenance – In the past, machine maintenance was reactive; malfunctions, deficiencies, or breakdowns in manufacturing processes were fixed after the issue occurred. Consequently, machines spent lots of time being fixed and not producing products. Reactive maintenance then evolved into preventative maintenance – upkeeping equipment using lubricants, cleaners, etcetera to prevent failure. This improved equipment productivity, but still resulted in significant machine downtime and loss in production time. Since the coming of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, utilizing sensors to detect future deficiencies, IIoTs integrated real-time network revolutionized the machine maintenance system. This is possible using statistical baselines, which when deviated, alert manufacturers to proactively deal with machine erosion or malfunction – drastically reducing machine downtime, unnecessary maintenance, and increasing productivity and efficiency.
  • Automation – Using sensors to detect machine failure increases manufacturing efficiency. Equipment health is determined on historical data and empirical evidence, reducing the human variable for error. Furthermore, internet-connected automation allows access to its information almost anywhere, providing real-time insights on the manufacturing floor. This reduces reaction time, for instance, malfunctions discovered during off-hours means time won’t be wasted discovering it when business resumes. Action can be taken sooner with greater precision, making automation more efficient.
  • Safety – Sensors constantly analyzing, communicating, and predicting machine health in real-time, anywhere, increases worker safety since malfunctions can be prepared for in advance. Companies like Thyssenkrupp Elevator, an “Elevator OEM and maintenance service provider …” can predict maintenance “…five days in advance.” They could predict an elevator malfunction and fix the issue before someone gets trapped! Predictive capabilities this advanced can make preventable safety-threatening malfunctions a rarity across all industries and increase worker safety unilaterally.
  • Greater Returns – The aforementioned advantages of IIoT provide opportunity for greater revenue and lower overhead cost. Optimizing and increasing efficiency of manufacturing value chains raises productivity, decreases machine down-time, and reduces human error. This combination results in better value deliverance, greater productivity, and revenue, however; cutting maintenance costs, repair time, and lost opportunity. Furthermore, sensor data can be used to find deficiencies in the value chain, and opportunities to generate new or improved offerings and processes to manufacturers and end-line-users.

IIoT Disadvantages

IIoT technology has many advantages, but the disadvantages deserve consideration. Some IIoT disadvantages include:

  • Cost – IIoT systems can reduce manufacturing overhead costs and increase revenues, but installing these systems can be expensive. IIoT is a smart integrated system that utilizes advanced sensors and a cloud network to monitor equipment health, give predictive analysis, and provide live data through the internet. These systems are advanced and specialized and require, upkeep, and installation –factors that make IIoT systems, especially advanced ones, costly.
  • Cyber-Security – As the name suggests, IIoT is an internet system making it susceptible to external online threats like hacking and viruses. That is in addition to offline security threats that give direct access to the system, like open computer USB ports. Successful IIoT intruders can gain access to confidential manufacturing data, and maybe the ability to alter the IIoT system. A secure IIoT network is paramount when installing the system.
  • Failure – The dynamic nature of internet products requires updates to stay relevant and secure; hand in hand with updates and internet systems are program flaws called software bugs. Bugs emerge from software design errors and are not malicious. Every time software is updated and redesigned, there is a bug risk. Worst case, a bug could cause a system shutdown rendering machine sensors useless or inaccurate. In other cases, bugs may not have significant impact and fly under the radar for weeks.

Steven Pamensky, Asset Matrix CEO, On The Future of IIoT

We are at the early onset, about 5% maybe, into the fourth industrial revolution. We are starting to pull systems online, connect sensors to machines, and use those sensors to predict failures – which is predictive maintenance. We are utilizing PLCs (“an industrial digital computer which has been ruggedized and adapted for the control of manufacturing processes”) or actuators to manipulate and change connected machines via commands or algorithms. I think the future of IIoT is fully automated plants completely controlled by computers with very few human inputs. Plants that can repair themselves, take corrective action on its own as needed, alert specific people when needed, and provide data one couldn’t access before can soon exist. These systems will give deep insights and understanding of ones facility and provide information, such as what makes them efficient or inefficient. These systems will tip you off to small things, the little stops and starts; maybe it’s a human error; maybe it’s a technical error; maybe the machine can’t handle the capacity that it’s running at; maybe a formula or recipe changed. Perhaps all these little things quickly add up, and corrective action needs to be taken or suggested. The goal is that prescribed remedies can be identified quickly and autonomously through machine learning, artificial intelligence, and a fully connected online.

Bottom Line

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here and is synonymous with IIoT. IIoT systems optimize value chains using sensors that communicate real-time empirical machine data and analysis, making them more efficient, productive, safer, and cost effective. It pushes companies towards automation, which reduces human input and margin for error, effectively streamlining production and value deliverance. IIoT gives in-depth data presentation and analysis which enables companies to discover growth and new opportunities. In other words, IIoT integrated company processes gives a competitive advantage over IIoT-less businesses in both the production process and value deliverance.

Written by: Yoel Halbert – Sy Syms School of Business in New York City.

Get in Touch

We would love to hear from you! Whether you are looking for a feature, trials, demos, pricing or have any questions about AssetMatrix our team is ready to answer all of your questions.