If you’re like many people out there, you probably know that IoT refers to the internet of things; however, you might be curious as to what IIoT refers to? If this is you, you’ve come to the right place as we will discuss what IIoT means, as well as the benefits offered by IIoT, in much detail below.
What Is IIoT?
IIoT stands for the “industrial internet of things.” There are countless IIoT devices in industrial settings that include sensors, instruments, machines, and many other connected devices. Networks are usually used to connect these IIoT devices, and the data collected from such devices enables organizations to perform predictive maintenance on equipment and machinery before it breaks down. Additionally, the data collected by IIoT devices provides invaluable insights into the operation of a business. The insights enable more intelligent and faster business decisions for industrial organizations. The low cost of compact sensors and high-bandwidth internet connections have made the industrial internet of things possible by enabling connectivity to the internet as well as between the connected devices themselves.
IIoT has changed the way industrial organizations operate. The industrial internet of things has brought better efficiency and reliability to industrial operations by providing organizations with real-time data that can be acted upon instantly. Real-time data can be used to enhance the efficiency and quality of products produced by an organization. For example, IIoT enables AI and machine learning which can be used to provide real-time production data, allowing organizations to uncover additional capacity or tweak certain processes to create higher quality more efficiently. Additionally, the data generated by IIoT devices can be used to enhanced operations and product designs, delivering powerful business outcomes.
(Credit: IIoT World)
Overall, IIoT uses the data gathered from smart sensors to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes. Before IIoT came along, machines were “dumb” in that organizations did not take advantage of the data generated by such machines. However, as machine technology advanced and machines became smarter, organizations were able to take the real-time data generated by such machines and use it to make better business decisions.
Additionally, all of the connected sensors deployed in industrial settings allow organizations to quickly identify and address any problems or inefficiencies in the production process. This saves organizations precious time and money and allows them to fine-tune the process to produce better goods. Some of the other benefits of IIoT include energy management and asset tracking.
How Does IIoT (Industrial Internet of things) work?
IIoT is a network of interconnected smart devices known as IIoT devices. IIoT works by gathering, storing, and analyzing data. The insights derived from analyzed data are then used by organizations to improve the production process and perform predictive maintenance. Additionally, IIoT allows organizations to monitor the performance of their production facility. Typically, an IIoT system includes the following components:
- IIoT devices that can sense, collect, store, and communicate information about the production process
- Include a communication Infrastructure that connects IIoT devices, machines, and embedded computer systems
- Applications that make sense of all of the data collected from IIoT devices
- Industrial-grade computers capable of storing and analyzing the data collected from devices, machines, and IIoT devices
Overall, the purpose of having this system in place is to use the data generated by IIoT devices, sensors, and machines, to generate actionable insights that can improve the production process, enable predictive maintenance, and allow industry operators to monitor the performance of their production process.
Industries That Have Greatly Benefitted From IIoT
One of the biggest and most notable industries that has benefited from the IIoT is the auto industry. The automotive industry heavily relies on the use of IIoT devices to manufacture its vehicles. For example, if you step foot into an automotive factory, you will immediately notice the large robots that are used to assemble vehicles and vehicle components. Additionally, these devices are equipped with IIoT sensors and cameras that are used to guide machines and inspect components and vehicles for any errors.
Another industry that has benefitted from the IIoT is the agriculture industry. Many farmers are deploying IoT devices and sensors in the field to monitor the growth of plants, the moisture of the soil, the amount of light plants are receiving, and more variables that allow farmers to fine-tune the growing process to achieve the best possible crops. Here is an example of IIoT sensors working with edge gateways and industrial computers.
A third industry that has greatly benefited from the industrial internet of things is the oil and gas industry. Many oil extraction and processing facilities rely on industrial-grade computers and a huge network of sensors and actuators to ensure that oil and production facilities operate smoothly. For example, sensors are placed in pipes to detect the oil flow to ensure that it is flowing at a certain rate. Additionally, sensors are often used to measure oil inventories; when inventories are full, sensors will alert nearby vehicles to empty the tanks. Moreover, IIoT sensors can be used to monitor pumps, alerting maintenance teams of any issues with the pump so that they can be quickly addressed to reduce downtime.
Overall, the ability to remotely monitor and control assets and infrastructures in industrial settings, such as automotive production, healthcare, agriculture, and transportation, offers invaluable advantages for businesses and organizations in these industries. This is so because the ability to collect real-time data and instantaneously act upon it is integral to the growth of these industries. This is so because IIoT can be used to spot errors, fix them, and improve the day-to-day operations of an organization.
What are the Benefits of IIoT?
Let’s discuss some of the benefits of the industrial internet of things:
- Better Manufacturing – IIoT devices can make manufacturing better by reducing human errors and increasing the overall efficiency of manufacturing processes. This saves organizations plenty of money and time. That is, organizations can use the data collected from IIoT devices and sensors to improve the quality of their products and create a more streamlined production process.
- Predictive maintenance – The most significant benefit you’ll hear about IIoT bringing to industries is that it enables organizations to perform predictive maintenance. IIoT enables predictive maintenance because the real-time data generated by IIoT devices and sensors can be used to predict when a component is likely to fail, alerting factory operators and maintenance crews to perform maintenance on or replace the part before it fails. This saves organizations plenty of money because it reduces detrimental downtime. Predictive maintenance reduces detrimental downtime because maintenance teams can often perform maintenance at a convenient time instead of waiting for the component to fail at an inconvenient time and being forced to stop production while the machine or component is replaced. Performing predictive maintenance enables organizations to achieve better operational efficiency.
- Asset Tracking – The second main benefit of IIoT is that it enables organizations to track their assets. IIoT allows the producers of goods and others to track their assets. For example, a mining company that has several mining vehicles deployed to extract precious metals from underground mines can equip its vehicles with sensors and other IIoT devices to remotely monitor the vehicle and track its status at all times. Using technology to track assets allows the mining operator to track the vehicle’s maintenance, how many hours it has been operated, and who operates it. Tracking mining vehicles without using IIoT devices is very difficult and time-consuming. It would require a human being to manually record all of this data for each and every machine. On the other hand, using the IIoT makes the process instantaneous, efficient, and very easy. Additionally, if any assets are damaged or unable to operate, IIoT devices can sense this, alerting mining operators to inspect the vehicle and perform any necessary repairs or maintenance.
- Faster and Better Decision Making – The IIoT enables faster and better decision-making because data is collected, processed, and analyzed in real-time on edge devices, allowing organizations to make decisions based on the data extremely quickly. This is so because analyzing data in real-time allows businesses to better understand their business and use the data provided by IIoT sensors to improve their business process and make it more efficient.
- Better Customer Satisfaction – IIoT has the potential to improve customer satisfaction. For example, IIoT devices can be used to monitor machines and equipment used by its customers. The IIoT device can be used to alert an organization of a potential problem before the customer encounters the problem, allowing the organization to address the issue even before it surfaces. For example, suppose a company rents out Bobcat Excavators. In that case, it can equip its rental units with IoT sensors; if the sensors detect that a component is failing, rendering the Bobcat useless, it can alert the rental agency to perform maintenance on the machine before it fails while the customer is using it. Additionally, IIoT devices can be used to monitor how people use an organization’s product, allowing the organization to make the product better for future users, thus improving their experience.
- Better Supply Chain Visibility – When it comes to the supply chain, oftentimes, there is uncertainty when it comes to order fulfillment. IIoT devices can be used to minimize this uncertainty by collecting information and tracking shipments very closely as they move throughout the supply chain. For example, a pallet loaded onto a truck can be outfitted with a tracker, transmitting the shipment’s exact location, allowing organizations to predict, with extreme precision, the shipment’s arrival date. This type of data capture provides organizations with real-time visibility of stock, allowing organizations to plan shipments accordingly. This helps organizations and businesses avoid shortages. Furthermore, IIoT devices can assist organizations with managing inventory. For example, suppose there is a sudden spike in demand for a particular product. In that case, IIoT devices can be programmed to sense low inventories and alert personnel to replenish the stock before it runs out, allowing organizations to maximize their profits by capitalizing on such opportunities.
What is the Difference Between IoT and IIoT?
Before diving into the differences between IoT and IIoT, it’s worth noting that the two technologies are more similar than they are different. This is so because they utilize some of the same devices, sensors, connectivity options, and data analytics. Even though they utilize the same devices, they are different because they are used for different purposes.
IoT (internet of things) devices include many of the smart devices deployed around the globe; these devices include your smart toaster oven, smart refrigerators, smartwatch, and other smart gadgets and appliances that connect to the internet. On the other hand, IIoT connects smart devices that are used in industrial settings, such as a product manufacturing facility, oil and gas production facility, healthcare facility, utilities, and other high-risk industrial settings.
IIoT should be distinguished from IoT because the failure of an IIoT device could result in catastrophic consequences, as such device used in IIoT must be rugged and able to withstand deployed in challenging industrial environments. IoT devices are designed to make life easier and more comfortable. For example, your smart light switch is voice-activated, making it easier to turn off your light via your voice. On the other hand, IIoT devices are often used to control and improve production processes and make them more efficient and safe. So, there is definitely a difference between IoT and IIoT devices that you should be aware of.
Example of IIoT At Work
The automobile manufacturing industry provides one of the best examples where IIoT is being utilized. Auto manufacturing heavily rely on smart robotics, sensors, high-resolution cameras, and other connected IIoT devices to manufacture vehicles and vehicle components. Additionally, many machines and robots are equipped with smart sensors that enable auto plant operators to predict when a component fails in order to perform maintenance on it before the failure occurs at an unfortunate time, such as when the production of vehicles is taking place. IIoT improves productivity, reduces labor and energy costs, and results in better-manufactured products. This is all due to the ability of IIoT to gather sensor data, store the data, analyze the data, and act upon the data in order to improve the process and make it more efficient.
The transportation industry has greatly benefited from the IIoT. Many transportation companies have equipped their vehicles with edge computers that monitor their vehicles’ speed, location, traffic, and maintenance schedule, allowing transportation businesses to better route vehicles, track their vehicles, and perform predictive maintenance on their vehicles. Predictive maintenance alerts organizations to perform maintenance on vehicles before a component or vehicle breaks down, preventing the vehicle from breaking down at an unfortunate, detrimental time. Additionally, IIoT allows transportation industries to understand the performance of their vehicle fleets better. Fleet owners can use the data collected by edge computers to improve the performance of their fleets by, for example, better planning routes, better planning schedules, and performing early maintenance on their vehicles.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and 5G
5G has the potential to further expand the number of IoT and IIoT devices because of its ability to bring more devices online. Additionally, 5G brings exceptionally high data throughput to more devices, with download speeds of up to 20 Gigabits per second while providing sub-millisecond latency. High speed and extremely low latency allow devices to share data in real-time, allowing organizations to make real-time decisions. In the past, only devices connected to private networks using high internet bandwidth were able to collect and analyze data in real-time. That said, with 5G becoming more available, we will likely see more IIoT devices coming online, especially in areas that previously did not have high-speed internet connectivity. 5G can bring many more IoT and IIoT devices online because of the massive connection density that it offers when compared to 4G. For example, 4G can support only 2,000 connected devices per square mile, whereas 5G can support up to 1 Million devices per square mile. Additionally, 5G can transfer a lot more data with a lot more speed than 4G. All of this supports more IIoT and IoT devices coming online since the infrastructure can support more devices than ever before.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What does IIoT Stand For?
IIoT stands for “Industrial Internet of Things."
2. What is the difference between IoT and IIoT?
IoT and IIoT are very similar in that they both refer to networks of connected smart devices, machines, and sensors. The big difference between IIoT and IoT is that IIoT is used for industrial purposes, such as manufacturing, asset tracking, supply chain monitoring, and other industrial use cases. Since IIoT often involves the safety of others and property, it carries a higher risk, meaning the sensors and devices deployed in industrial settings must be more reliable and accurate.
3. What is IIoT Used For?
IIoT devices and platforms are often integrated into the processes in modern facilities. IIoT can greatly enhance manufacturing processes, supply chains, logistics, and operational systems.
4. What are IIoT Devices?
IIoT devices are pieces of hardware, such as sensors, machines, actuators, and other devices that are used for certain applications in industrial settings. Typically, IIoT devices can send/receive data over private internet networks and public internet networks. The data from IIoT devices can be used to extract invaluable insights that can enhance the business operations.
5. How does IIoT Work?
IIoT is a network of connected smart devices, machines, and other systems that are used to collect, store, process, and analyze data. The data can then be used to make business processes more efficient.
6. What is an IIoT Gateway?
An industrial IoT gateway is usually an industrial-grade computer that’s used to communicate with IoT devices. The main purpose is to collect data from IoT and smart devices, store it, process it, and in some cases, upload it to the cloud, allowing organizations to control and monitor factory equipment and machinery remotely.