The Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT initially referred solely to an industrial framework involving a huge system of machines or devices that are synchronized or connected by way of software tools and third-party technologies in an Internet of Things or machine-to-machine context.
Today, the term IIoT is used to describe the range of Internet of Things applications used outside consumer space. It has since become the term to differentiate consumer Internet of Things applications and industry/business applications.
By definition, the Industrial Internet of Things refers to computers, machines, and people that make intelligent industrial operations possible by using advanced data analytics in order to produce transformational business results.
Industrial Internet of Things vs. Internet of Things
Think of Industrial Internet of Things like this: a system of connected devices and machines in industries such as healthcare, power generation, and oil and gas, where there are heavier stakes in the event there is a sudden downtime or system failure, which potentially can result in high risk or life-threatening situations. The Internet of Things, meanwhile, involves products commonly used by consumers, such as smart home appliances and heart monitoring fitness bands. They can provide convenience and offer functionality for consumers and if downtime were to occur, the stakes aren’t that heavy.
For example, the Industrial Internet of Things alerts operators if errors or failure were to happen on the machines before they actually occur, saving businesses a lot of money. The Internet of Things includes smart appliances; let’s say smart refrigerators, which are capable of buying eggs and milk online before the household runs out of these things.
An IoT system is made up of devices or sensors that communicate to the cloud through some kind of connectivity. When the data reaches the cloud, it is then processed by software and triggers an action, such as making adjustments on the devices or sending alerts without the need for a human operator.
However, should a human user or operator operates the system, he is allowed to do so by way of a user interface. Any actions or adjustments made by the operator are sent back through the system: from the interface, back to the cloud, then finally to the devices or sensors, in order to make adjustment or change.
With IIoT, there are no boundaries. With more and more data collected and created from a vast system of devices, systems, and machines, the volume of valuable and critical insights that this technology can act upon is limitless.
How Machines Communicate
When it comes to machine-to-machine communication in the Industrial Internet of Things, the advantage of the systems and frameworks that this technology refers to is the fact that they can operate on their own or with very little help from human a human operator or user.
This kind of system has the ability to respond based on the data being fed to it and even change the course of action if it detects it’s the best option to take. This is done through the feedback loops established within the framework.
An important aspect to understand here is how machine-to-machine communication is made possible, which is also one element of the Internet of Things. At the same time, it also refers to one of the skills and capabilities of systems within the scope of the Industrial Internet of Things.
The machine-to-machine communication concept makes it possible for systems to operate semi-independently, that they can function on their own with very little human intervention possible. The goal is to achieve the highest level of automation. If we view this concept within the scope of the Internet of Everything, this machine-to-machine concept of the Industrial Internet of Things takes place in the same realm in the original depiction of the Internet of Everything by Cisco.
In a sense, IIoT is the push for total automation or the move towards smart machines. The goal is to create a system that can produce high accuracy levels of operations within their respective functions and greatly enhanced to a level that is simply not achievable by humans alone.
The Application of the Industrial Internet of Things in Manufacturing and Beyond
The Industrial Internet of Things concept was introduced with the hopes of reducing costs and increasing overall efficiency. Its benefits also include the reduction of manual labour and human errors. IIoT also has the potential to be used in maintenance and quality control.
As mentioned IIoT is part of the IoT, relying heavily on collected, aggregated, and shared data in the most significant way. In recent years, automation has become an integral part of any business or organization. This can vastly change the way human tasks are performed, and while the goal is to not completely replace humans, IIoT brings about changes to skillset requirements. IIoT aims to optimize and enhance the role of humans in their respective industry, such as creating better business models and revenue streams.
Because of the intelligent communication loop setup between machines, maintenance issues can be resolved immediately. In turn, this boosts the safety level of operations in the sense that it decreases the risk factors.
The Industrial Internet of Things is technically a part of the Internet of Things in general, but IIoT is more specific and more aimed at reducing human error by eliminating the risks. This level of precision can only be achieved through IIoT and is mainly its greatest benefit, making this discipline one of the most important parts of IoT.
In a few years’ time, it will eventually happen that manufacturing plants and other large scale operations will be able to operate independently. Additionally the Industrial Internet of Things can be developed even further to reduce the exposure of human workforce in workplaces where industrial hazards are most common.
It won’t be long before IIoT is fully implemented and made to become a protocol that all businesses will adapt in order to enhance operations and interoperability.
To summarize, here are the key advantages to IIoT:
- Improved industrial safety
- Saves time
- Saves costs
- Enhanced efficiency
- Intelligent connectivity between machines or devices.
It will be interesting to witness the developments IIoT will bring in the industry in this era of the Internet, particularly in factory environments and manufacturing. The Industrial Internet of Things is one of the biggest internet revolutions that all industries must take part of if they want to keep up and cope and survive in a world where the competition is getting fiercer and the consumers, more impatient.
Evolutions and Industries in the Industrial Internet of Things
From purely machine-to-machine communication, IIoT has evolved into something more complex and more intelligent. While the Internet of Things is mainly focused on the consumers, the Industrial Internet Things mainly involves the systems that companies use in order to improve their operations and serve people more efficiently. While companies and businesses can indeed benefit from IIoT greatly, consumers and customers can benefit from it too.
Several major industries have already taken advantage of the benefits of IIoT, particularly those involved in energy, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and oil and gas. Some cities have also used IIoT in agriculture. It’s worth noting that the focus of the Industrial Internet of Things is moving greatly towards the benefit of cost savings and better automation.
It also encourages the development of new revenue streams, products, services, and business models. For this reason, the Industrial Internet of Things has become synonymous with the Industrial Internet, which is not exactly the same but not so different either. However, some have taken into using these terms interchangeably.
What’s important is to realize the great benefit of the Industrial Internet of Things and how industries must embrace this kind of technology sooner or later. New systems must be implemented and the workforce must be encouraged to improve or adjust to the new skill set that’s required or conducive to IIoT.
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