IIoT: The Industrial Internet of Things

What is the IIoT?

The IIoT is short for the industrial internet of things. The term expands upon the concept of the internet of things and applies it directly to the domain of industry.

The IIoT definition is a closely networked environment that combines cyber-physical systems, industrial devices, and the cloud in order to fully capitalize on their capabilities. The purpose is to enable intercommunication between smart machines and equipment so they can autonomously access and use data about industrial processes and solutions. This is done to make real-time decisions and predictions to maximize the entire business value chain. The IoT for industries comprises a wide variety of tools, instruments, and techniques, including IIoT sensors, supply chain robotics, machine learning, and edge computing.

The aim of the IIoT is to help industrial machines and assets to talk to one another and to foster collaboration and innovation among humans. The IIoT has powered a new industrial revolution – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

What is the IoT? And how does it differ from the IIoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an umbrella term that describes the massive collective of interlinked, web-enabled mechanical and digital systems and solutions used to facilitate the exchange of data and execution of activities.

Both the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) combine computer science and internet services, however, for different purposes. The IoT promotes digital transformation on at consumer level, whereas the IIoT does it on an industrial level.

The IoT applies on a much broader scale than just industry. It has permeated all levels of society and is commonly encountered in many different forms in day-to-day life. These include general applications such as wearable devices, smart homes, laptops, and smartphones.

What are the benefits of using the IIoT?

The IIoT offers a wide variety of benefits. Here are just a few examples:

Adoption of new technologies: Manufacturers can automate operations and digitalize processes through the integration of advanced technology and computer science techniques, such as:

- Sensors
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
- Robotics
- Digital twins
- Data analytics

Improved operational efficiency: The IIoT allows for increased levels of automation. This improves operational efficiency and enables task to be completed faster. Automated systems can also make smarter decisions than humans, leading to better performance, less human error, and reduced downtimes. An IIoT connected and data-driven manufacturing environment ultimately results in more efficiency.

Better analytics: IIoT applications combine smart sensors to deliver round-the-clock monitoring and data. As a result, better insights on operating conditions and asset health can be gleaned.

Enhanced safety: With the IIoT, machines and industrial processes can be monitored continuously and analyzed in real time for any deviations from acceptable operational conditions. The automation of control and management processes allows faults to be identified quicker and remedied more effectively. More reliable and safer operational processes are thus achievable.

Increased automation/autonomy and reduced human error: The introduction of intelligent machines and processes through automation has eliminated the need for humans to interact with processes. Humans therefore do not have to work in potentially hazardous situations. The reduction of human interaction also reduces human error and inconsistency. Consequently, quality control can be enhanced to deliver more efficient operations and improved plant and factory safety.

There will always be a human factor within manufacturing environments. The IIoT, however, helps employees work more efficiently alongside machines. Industrial IoT has not yet reached the point where it can replace human labor entirely.

Increased collaboration: IoT in industries helps facilitate human cooperation across internal departments and external partners. This makes geographical distances between stakeholders irrelevant.

Open exchange of ideas: The IIoT is not merely about computers and machines “talking” to one another. It also about tearing down silos and communication barriers that hinder the open exchange of ideas and information within industries and organizations and among human beings in general.

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