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Industrial Internet of Things: Making Businesses Smarter

In simple terms, the Internet of Things (IoT) aims to bring connectivity to all appliances used by modern society, improving their existing capabilities while creating new possibilities. The media has given ample coverage to IoT possibilities in residential settings, but there is also a significant opportunity in industrial settings; the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) encompasses these applications.

When monitoring and communication capabilities are added to industrial systems, it is possible to have a real-time snapshot of operating conditions, providing insights on how to improve productivity while addressing performance issues proactively. Live data can be processed and displayed though intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, and artificial intelligence can take over some key decisions.

The potential benefits of the IIoT are numerous, but they can be classified into three broad categories:

  • Increasing profits: Smart industrial systems can increase production rates while reducing operating and maintenance expenses, with positive bottom-line and top-line impacts. Deutsche Bank Research estimates that the IIoT could yield productivity increases of up to 30 percent.
  • Creating new business models: In addition to improving existing technology, the IIoT can give rise to new products and services, adding value across all industrial sectors. Equipment manufacturers can offer their technology bundled with IIoT services, proving an integrated solution as opposed to only a piece of equipment.
  • Safer working conditions: Industrial systems equipped with live monitoring and AI can detect and prevent dangerous conditions autonomously, improving workplace safety.
IIoT diagram

IIoT diagram

According to Oxford Economics, some of the most promising industries to deploy the IIoT are manufacturing, mining, agriculture, oil & gas, utilities, healthcare, transportation and logistics. Global investment in the IIoT is expected to reach 500 billion USD by the year 2020, and the value created by these technologies globally may reach 15 trillion USD by 2030.

Technologies That Enable the IIoT

The IIoT is a broad concept that includes many building blocks; several technologies work together to enable smart industrial systems.

Machine-to-Machine Communication

This is a cornerstone of the IIoT: machine-to-machine (M2M) communication occurs between different devices with no need for human intervention. A simple example is when a sensor sends a wireless signal to a control system, which then sends instructions to industrial machinery based on the data gathered.

M2M communication will be enhanced by emerging technologies such as 5G networks and Li-Fi, which are orders of magnitude faster than existing communication channels. The number of connected devices throughout the world is expected to increase in billions over the next decade.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is among the key elements of artificial intelligence, and it consists in giving machines the ability to recognise patterns and reconfigure themselves accordingly, with no need to be reprogrammed.

Statistical analysis is applied to historic operating data, and industrial systems can improve themselves continuously. Thanks to cloud computing, it is not necessary to have a data centre on site for information storage; everything can be consolidated at a remote location to achieve economies of scale.

Big Data

Since the advent of digital data storage, the amount of information generated and transmitted by society each day has grown exponentially. To successfully deploy the IIoT, companies must implement systems that can process measurements from thousands or even millions of data points in real time. IIoT applications must also be able to process these large data volumes into specific control signals and user-friendly formats that can be used for key business decisions.

How the IIoT Merges Products and Services

As the IIoT becomes mainstream, industrial equipment manufacturers can tailor their value proposition to offer solutions that integrate products and services, as opposed to conventional turn-key systems. For example, providers of energy generation equipment can offer the installation plus a long-term monitoring and predictive maintenance contract, greatly reducing the cost of ownership for their client – maintenance becomes proactive and equipment breakdowns are minimised.

With the IIoT, the role of equipment manufacturers will evolve to that of technology partners who are expected to provide a solution that is optimised over its entire service life. If the equipment is leased, it provides a long-term revenue stream for its provider, while granting clients a solution where the upfront investment is zero, replacing capital expenditures with a more manageable monthly fee.

Logic Energy can be your technology partner for all monitoring, data aggregation and data processing needs at your company. We have a track record of over one decade, and our solutions come factory-configured, integrating software and hardware to simplify initial configuration. Through live data analytics and cloud-computing, we complement our solutions with customisable dashboards and reports that provide a real-time snapshot of your equipment. Our solutions have been deployed successfully in fields such as renewable energy, utilities, transportation, construction and scientific research.

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