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The IIoT and its Element-More Than A Future Concept

From factories primarily filled with human workers to machinery now run by automation, the industrial manufacturing world looks a lot different when compared to the 20th Century. Automation, AI, and machine-learning are welcome changes to the world of industrial factories. The IIoT is another recent innovation that is the highlight of this article.

From factories primarily filled with human workers to machinery now run by automation, the industrial manufacturing world looks a lot different when compared to the 20th Century. Automation, AI, and machine-learning are welcome changes to the world of industrial factories. The IIoT is another recent innovation that is the highlight of this article.

There are numerous ways to define the IIoT.  starting with a very simple definition would be- The application of the IoT to the manufacturing industry is called the IIoT (or Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0).

According to GE, “The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as the Industrial Internet, brings together brilliant machines, advanced analytics, and people at work. It’s the network of a multitude of devices connected by communications technologies that results in systems that can monitor, collect, exchange, analyze, and deliver valuable new insights like never before.”

The folks at TechTarget define IIoT as “The industrial internet of things, or IIoT, is the use of internet of things technologies to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes. Also known as the industrial internet or Industrie 4.0, IIoT incorporates machine learning and big data technologies to harness the sensor data, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and automation technologies that have existed in industrial settings for years.”

It’s an innovation that is currently in its nascent stage so there are as many definitions as one can imagine.

The IoT connected devices, when combined with industrial big data, provides its user with real-time insights to help businesses understand operations better. IIoT is a network of devices connected via communications technologies to form systems that monitor, collect, exchange and analyze data, delivering valuable insights that enable industrial companies to make smarter business decisions faster. Also, we can drive operations to its fullest potential based on key parameters such as market demand, weather conditions, plant environment, load balancing, and other business objectives.

IIoT

An industrial IoT system consists of:

  • intelligent assets — i.e., applications, controllers, sensors and security components — that can sense, communicate and store information about themselves;
  • data communications infrastructure, e.g., the cloud;
  • analytics and applications that generate business information from raw data; and
  • people.

Opportunities of Using the IIoT

The global Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.06% between 2018 and 2023. The market revenue of $145.81 billion in 2017 is expected to grow up to $232.15 billion by 2023. Development of new operating models to create a connected enterprise for merging operational and information departments by leading organizations across the globe primarily drive the growth of industrial internet of things (IIoT) market. The benefits and the opportunities for the IIoT to flourish is plenty. Generally, looking into few reasons how the industries are utilizing the IIoT .

  1. Saving Time (and Money)

Even in a moderately sized factory, it is almost impossible to manage the logistics of machinery adequately. When should devices and machines turn on? How long will they run for the day? When will they turn off? If a factory is using hundreds of tools, this task becomes an arduous one. With the IIoT, companies can now mage the operational times of machinery on the cloud. This not only saves time, but it also reduces energy costs. Being able to automate the process of switching on/off machinery also decreases labor expenses, as an employee might have to handle this otherwise.

  1. Reduce Production Times

Deadlines and production schedules are always on the minds of factory owners and workers. The IIoT software expertly enables all departments to work together seamlessly to prevent silos. Customers are looking for faster service as well as quality, and the only way factories can do this is with a bit of help from automation. Owners have a lot more control over how they could plan and control processes.

  1. Stay Current on Repairs

Factory owners can save a lot of money (and headache) if they can monitor the wear and tear of their equipment. How many units have been produced by a piece of machinery? How close is it to the limit? IIoT software can help factory owners adequately answer these questions.

  1. Keep a Track on Inventory

Companies have to keep a handle on how much inventory they are using and when they need to make orders for more, to keep everything running smoothly. This especially goes for those in the transportation sphere where producing machinery on time plays a huge role. A shortage can easily spell doom.

  1. Aid in Machine-Learning

Many companies are interested in using robots to speed up organizational procedures. However, one of the most substantial barriers to this occurring is the limitations of robots to critically think through processes in a similar matter to their human counterparts. This is where the IIoT comes into play.

CHALLENGES OF IIoT

CHALLENGES OF IIoT

SECURITY- the one major concern

Cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure are much higher stakes than typical IT networks. This is why operational technology teams are so cautious with technology. But we can’t run closed networks on legacy operating systems forever. Implementing IIoT technology means introducing new security tools to the network—but even industrial control systems are proving insecure. Security, of course, is a vital element of any deployment. The IIoT digs so deeply into equipment and processes and therefore magnifies the dangers of malware and malevolent hacking.

Cost

Frost & Sullivan points out that one of the most common problems that companies face with IIoT solutions is cost. Unless the cost of the IIoT solution is significantly lower than that of the asset being monitored, IIoT monitoring does not provide a clear return on investment. Other challenges, chiefly with regards to handling the sheer size and speed of the data collected, includes effectively managing every device involved in the business process when it is online. In the industrial sector, timing is especially critical – and delays caused by bandwidth congestion or inefficiently routed data can cause serious problems and incur large losses worldwide.

IT/OT integration

The lack of connectivity between IT and OT infrastructures is one of the trickiest challenges of IIoT implementation because it makes adopting this technology financially impossible and logistically impractical for many businesses. IIoT devices are commonly developed as independent solutions; in best-case scenarios, they can be injected into the manufacturing process to become a part of the system. However, more often they won’t allow for effective connectivity and synchronization. Therefore, the business owner has to either replace the entirety of their equipment or rely on faulty connectivity. A fix is considering IT/OT integration during the development of the IIoT system. Is it possible to overcome these IIoT implementation challenges? Or course. But resolutions require monetary investment and a commitment to develop industry infrastructure and services aimed at comprehensive implementation. In order to speed up the IIoT revolution, supporting infrastructure components mentioned above must develop alongside the actual technology.

Data Storage

Data storage is a complete departure from traditional industrial operations. In the past, you would take high-frequency data, analyze it, and promptly throw it away. With the Industrial Internet of Things, you’ll collect thousands of data points that have critical relevance to other aspects of the business outside of the OT network. To make this data available across the organization in real time, you’ll need to plan for secure short-term storage.

The Industrial Internet of Things is a huge step for commercial, industrial and other complex and dense environments. The challenges are real and substantial, but the progress toward implementation seems steady

IIoT Trends

IIoT Trends

The IIoT is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 28% over next 7 years, claimed IDC. It is widely considered to be one of the primary trends affecting industrial businesses today and in the future. Industries are pushing to modernize systems and equipment to meet new regulations, to keep up with increasing demand, speed and volatility. Businesses that have embraced the IoT have seen significant RoI in terms of improvements to productivity, quality, maintenance, safety, energy savings, and decision making. This trend will continue to grow as IIoT technologies are more widely adopted and benefits are evident. Currently, the Industrial Internet of things has put its major focus on the software side-databases and algorithms to crunch through terabytes of data to detect faults and optimize processes.

  1. Data Analysis

The manufacturers will start investing in digital literacy rather than infrastructure in the next phase of IIoT development. Conversations have shifted from questions about how to collect data to what should be done with the data. To that end, the curve of investment in IIoT will begin to bend toward analytics capabilities. This will likely manifest as a blend of hiring for new roles, such as data scientists and data engineers; a move to multi-cloud to investigate capabilities across incumbent cloud providers, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google; and, experimentation in investment with cutting-edge analytics tools.

  1. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)

The amount of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) for advanced IIoT capabilities is expected to increase among large OEMs. There is a large appetite from industrial OEMs to bring advanced digital and analytics capabilities in-house as a means of accelerating their competitive advantage with peers. Because software engineering and data science are not core competencies of OEMs, it will continue to be more efficient for these organizations to bring these capabilities into their stacks.

  1. Application Development

The biggest gains will be in machine learning and see organizations bringing it to narrow applications for specific verticals. AI products will be brought into industrial settings only when those products solve narrow problems for specific users. The ability of organizations to successfully adopt these advanced methods in 2018 will largely be a function of where, how, and for whom these tools are applied.

  1. Predictive Maintenance

The field service industry is huge, encompassing 20 million field technicians in vans spread across the world, maintaining everything from hospital equipment to office elevators and heavy manufacturing machines. According to STMicroelectronics, “Here the aim is to predict, at the earliest point in time possible, the maintenance actions that will be required at some point in the future. It is an approach based on condition monitoring combined with a dynamic predictive model for failure modes. This has the advantages of optimizing maintenance to both the machine’s life and the factory’s production efficiency, although it does require a more complex overall system.”

  1. Smart Cities

Dermot O’Shea is co-CEO of Taoglas and he reckons that “smart cities” will mature in 2018 and continue to benefit from a host of technologies, including high-precision location accuracy, autonomous technology, and IoT. As infrastructure becomes more connected, citizens will reap the rewards. Service calls will be made with high degrees of accuracy; lighting systems will aid safety efforts, parking systems will come of age and more.

  1. Security

Mike Bell, EVP of IoT & Devices at London-based Canonical, says security will be key for the IIoT just as it is for IoT. Industrial IoT devices may remain in use for up to 7-10 years on average. The ability to keep these devices updated and secured over that time frame is critical, but many of them have weak security, weak password solutions, no way to patch or install OS updates. Industrial companies historically tend to keep internet connections to a minimum, but the internet is punching through regardless.

  1. Automation

In the next few years, IIoT will see the integration of more autonomous capabilities. Early IIoT implementations generally focused on improving asset utilization through better monitoring and predictive analytics, such as predictive maintenance. Many industries are taking advantage of increasing connectivity — or even driving it — in order to implement more autonomous systems.

  1. Software

Rich Rogers, SVP, product and engineering, industrial IoT portfolio at Hitachi Vantara, believes that on the coming years, IoT technologies will rapidly accelerate the transformation of industrial factories into Software-defined Factories. OEMs will begin to provide smart connected conveyor belts, air compressors, cutting machines and other tools. And, IoT technologies will begin to enable automation, orchestration and DevOps style operations. Mobile monitoring and factory management will become increasingly globalized with IoT linking facilities with data insights from every location to drive better business decisions forward.

  1. Data Centers Become Autonomous

The data centers will begin to transform into fully autonomous operations. IoT and AI will enable data center issues to be root-caused and resolved automatically by software. Data center administrators will no longer be woken up at night to troubleshoot outages. Voice technologies will enable data center operators to monitor and manage their data centers from any location. IT Infrastructure gear will be deployed & maintained autonomously.

Companies

The reason why this technology is so important to companies is that a typical manufacturer with a large number of machines connected to an IIoT platform can expect to save millions of dollars a year in energy costs alone. Through an IIoT platform, a factory manager can automate the switching off of machines that are not being used, saving not insignificant sums of money. They can schedule downtime based on what the sensors are telling them about the condition of the machines. This enables them to avoid disruption to the production process – as unplanned downtime that brings everything to a halt can be extremely expensive.

IIoT Heavyweights

  • STMicroelectronics made a big push into the Industrial IoT space with the announcement of a range of high-accuracy MEMS sensors and components designed to last for at least 10 years, serving the needs of advanced automation environments in which machines can be expected to perform for many years.
  • While Infineon Technologies on the other hand, is working with the security of the industrial IoT with their embed next-generation security, such as OPTIGATrust and OPTIGATPM.
  • Renesas Electronics Delivers Advanced Security for Industrial Internet of Things with Enhanced RX65N/RX651 Microcontrollers
  • Honeywell is also in a row to transform Entire Enterprise with Honeywell Connected Plant
  • Telit’s smart manufacturing / Industrial IoT solutions helping to connect any manufacturing asset to any enterprise system vertically and horizontally without programming.
  • Intel IoT Industry Solutions for Smart Manufacturing – transforming data into insights to reduce downtime, increase output, use assets better, and develop new revenue streams with Intel IoT industry solutions for smart manufacturing.
  • Moxa is delivering Reliable IIoT Gateways that easily connects geographically dispersed devices to the cloud, especially in outdoor or rugged environments that are common in the smart city, civil infrastructure, and industrial automation applications.
  • ARM is also enabling Mass Industrial IoT System Deployments with Hewlett Packard Enterprise


Where Next?

In an environment like today where IIoT is in everybody’s head, the future for IIoT sure seems bright. Talking about a few months ahead, the affordability and availability of IIoT. will be a continuous driving factor for the industries to add IIoT in their priority list. There will be a thin gap between operational efficiencies and decisions because of machine-to-machine communication via sensors will provide the bridge between legacy equipment and modern methods of data analysis and interaction.

Although, as of now, security remains a major concern that might always not be the case as the developers of these new IIoT technologies and those facilities putting them to use, would need to change their thinking to examine security protocols around sensor-to-sensor communication, sensor-to-gateway communication, and system updates and maintenance. Regardless of where data is stored, it will need to be treated in a secure and private manner.

A shift to everything ‘smart’ is far more than a concept. We still have to see what industry 4.0 is yet to bring and transform. The way the world is visualized in those sci-fi movies, might exactly(0r better) be the change that the IoT and IIoT have for the industrial and manufacturers worldwide.

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