Business owners are bombarded every single day by companies trying to sell the magic bullet that is IIoT technology but beware the hype. In fact, your industrial IoT solution has a good chance it will just waste your time. It’s important to navigate the misinformation and find out the real story of the Industrial Internet of Things. Andy Graham, Solutions Manager, SolutionsPT further explores.
IIoT and the impact on operational performance
Across the manufacturing industry, it is a common occurrence to trial a greater reliance on IIoT just to find out the technology by itself is never the answer.
IIoT is one of the modern enablers but by itself, it can’t be the driving force to ensure your organisation achieves higher levels of productivity. It needs to be utilised as part of a broader digital transformation journey to a smart factory.
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the characteristics of IIoT and the role it can play.
General IoT is about connecting things, people, and process. There’s nothing new about that and the idea has been driving the 4th industrial revolution for a long while now. This process is more achievable than ever before, thanks to IoT, artificial intelligence and the low cost of sensors and connected devices. By connecting to low-cost cloud services over low bandwidth, industrial companies can automate previously time-consuming tasks and better allocate resources to drive growth.
In the industrial automation space, IIoT is focused on connecting things (machines), processes (manufacturing, batch, utilities) and people (operators, managers). Again, this isn’t new. PLCs, DCSs, RTUs, SCADAs, HIMs and Historians have been key parts of the manufacturing world for ages, but this has been a costly thing to do. It is typical to find manufacturing companies that only the minimum amount of sensor work is done to achieve control. Sensor data is kept under lock and key as it’s expensive and dangerous to bridge the IT/OT divide.
This is where IIoT steps in, data that’s already collected from assets can now be made available without costly integration to the entire enterprise. Plus, data that’s trapped because of the prohibitive cost of sensor work can now be unlocked. This is possible thanks to the low-cost sensors that can augment existing sensors and instruments without the need for costly wired networks.
IIoT enables you to get your hands on data that was previously thought impossible to collect, opening the door to better data analytics and in turn predictive maintenance. Think remote monitoring of assets which aren’t inside your current network perimeter, all of this leads to greater connectivity and empowering of teams. A strong example would be low-cost cloud or on-premises apps can completely change the lives of people by making them truly connected workers. Importantly, all of this can be achieved securely so any risk to an organisation is minimised.
IIoT must be viewed as part of a wider strategy to access the key benefits. As part of a digital transformation journey, the IIoT allows manufacturers to deliver value more rapidly, easily adapt to changing environments to stay ahead of the curve, and new systems can be implemented at a lower cost than when using traditional methods.
Only as part of a digital transformation strategy can the IIoT offer business value. The goal of implementing IIoT technology should be to reduce unplanned downtime, increase production throughput, and improve quality control. With all these goals at the front of mind, manufacturers will find themselves heading in the right direction.
To utilise IIoT technology to the fullest and advance in digital transformation to eliminate unplanned downtime, download the step-by-step guide from SolutionsPT.
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