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What Is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? Ultimate Guide from Experts

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) represents a revolution in manufacturing. It’s a central component of Industry 4.0 and manufacturers who don’t get on board will be lost. At its core, IIoT is simply the connection among devices, sensors, and software that provides a comprehensive view of your factory’s performance. But the implications are wide-ranging, from lower operational costs to a more skilled and efficient workforce.

In this article, we’ll explain what IIoT is, how it works, its benefits, and how to implement it.


What Is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

The Industrial Internet of Things, abbreviated to IIoT, is a method of manufacturing that leverages the Internet, whether that be via Wi-Fi or ethernet, to connect a wide range of devices, sensors, machines, systems, and software in a manufacturing environment.

The Industrial Internet of Things facilitates seamless communication among devices and users, offering manufacturers access to real-time data analysis, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). IIoT platforms ultimately improve efficiency, increase worker safety, and lower manufacturing costs through workflow optimization, predictive maintenance, and innovation.

IIoT is often used in heavy industries like general manufacturing, oil and gas, plastics, transportation, automotive, aerospace and defense, utilities, and more.


What Is an IIoT Platform?

An IIoT platform is a network of IIoT devices that connect to IIoT software. This network enables the deployment, management, and operation of your IIoT systems.

IIoT software serves as a central hub for connecting your devices, collecting data, and facilitating communication among machines, systems, and users.

Here are some components of an IIoT platform:

    • Data management – An IIoT solution collects, stores, and processes data from a variety of sources.
    • Connectivity management – IIoT platforms ensure communication among devices, systems, and users, even on mobile.
  • Data analytics – IIoT platforms offer advanced tools for data analysis, reporting, and visualization.
  • Security – IIoT can help your team improve cybersecurity with AI by detecting threats and suggesting preventative measures.

5 Benefits of IIoT

The benefits of IIoT greatly outweigh the cost of implementation. In fact, every team member will feel the positive effects of your IIoT platform as automation takes over their menial tasks. Let’s dive in:


1. Lower Your Manufacturing Costs with IIoT

IIoT platforms help you optimize your workflows, reduce downtime, and make smarter decisions with your resources. These changes lower your operational costs.

For example, predictive maintenance eliminates the need to schedule maintenance. Instead, your smart devices can alert your team when a machine is experiencing a deficit in performance. A smart sensor for pressure or temperature may detect an anomaly and send an alert to your staff. Therefore, you only need to perform maintenance when it actually needs to be done. You can forget about unplanned downtime or outages.

IIoT can also monitor and manage energy output. Your team can use this data to find areas for improvement and lower costs by reducing utility expenses.


2. Empower Your Team to Make Better Decisions Faster

IIoT offers valuable insights via constant data collection, advanced analytics, and advanced forecasting. IIoT software uses data collected by smart devices to generate up-to-the-minute reports. It can even compare data to historical trends for increased accuracy. Your managers can use these tools to identify inefficiencies, predict market demands, and plan maintenance schedules effectively.


3. Optimize Operations

Because IIoT allows for real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes, you can expect optimized operations, increased efficiency, and reduced downtime. A huge benefit of IIoT is automation. Automation minimizes manual interventions and frees up your workforce’s time to work on more innovative tasks, like identifying areas of improvement and cost-savings.


4. A Smart Factory Is a Safe Factory

Automation also creates a safer work environment for your team. IIoT systems enhance workplace safety by monitoring environmental conditions, machinery performance, and worker health. You can set up alerts and predictive analytics to help prevent accidents and address potential hazards before they happen.


5. Increase Your Competitive Edge

By jumping into Industry 4.0 with IIoT, your team can spend more time fostering innovation and working on the development of new products and services. By leveraging IIoT, you can differentiate yourself in your market by offering advanced solutions that surpass customer expectations and dominate industry standards.


Components of IIoT for Manufacturers

Now that you understand what IIoT means in a general way, let’s break it down into the individual components you’ll need to learn about before implementation.


Sensors and actuators. These devices collect data from machinery and processes. For example, sensors can be applied to machinery to monitor parameters like temperature, pressure, velocity, speed, and more. They can detect anomalies in performance so your team can quickly correct for machine health and product quality control consistency.


Types of connectivity. IIoT devices can work many types of connectivity to create a secure network, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, and LPWAN, ensuring seamless data transfer among devices, systems, and users.


Edge computing. IIoT devices enabled with edge computing, often referred to as edge devices, process data locally, reducing latency and the need for constant cloud connectivity. They are perfect for manufacturers who need to process massive amounts of data quickly, or those who do not use cloud software for security reasons. They also allow devices to exchange information that doesn’t need to go to the central hub first.


IIoT software. The software itself includes dashboards that your team will use to generate reports, communicate with other departments and clients, and monitor performance. This software can be hosted in the cloud or locally at your facility.


Cloud computing. If your team opts for a cloud-based IIoT platform, you can expect scalable storage and computing power. This allows for advanced data analysis and machine learning applications.


How to Implement an IIoT System

Before you implement an IIoT platform, you’ll want to consult with an expert. An IIoT consultant like ProphecyIoT can help you outline the strategic steps you must take to deplay your IIoT solution. Here is an example of what that will look like:


1. Define Goals and Scope

What specific goals are you looking to achieve via IIoT? Some common objectives our consultants hear are:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Lower operational costs
  • Improve safety
  • Gain a competitive edge
  • Automate production tasks
  • Improve reporting and forecasting
  • Gather more accurate data

2. Perform a Business Process Review (BPR)

A business process review, or BPR, or other form of readiness assessment, will help your team evaluate your existing infrastructure and identify areas of improvement. With a thorough BPR, you’ll discover which areas need IIoT implementation the most.


3. Pick Your IIoT Platform

There are many IIoT platforms on the market and an IIoT consultant will have a solid understanding of which are best for your industry. Make sure that your IIoT platform is capable of carrying out your objectives and technical requirements. Ask your consultant:

  • Is this IIoT platform scalable?
  • How easy and timely is it to integrate?
  • What security features does it offer?
  • How responsive is vendor support?


4. Upgrade Your Network If Necessary

You and your consultant will need to evaluate your current network and determine whether or not it needs to be upgraded to support the IIoT platform and associated devices.


5. Install Sensors and Devices

With your roadmap in hand, gather and deploy the necessary sensors and devices you need to meet your goals. Lean on your IT department and your IIoT consultant to ensure proper calibration, proper cybersecurity, and accurate integration with the IIoT platform.


6. Train Your Workforce

An IIoT consultant can help train your workforce in-person, online, or via modules and simulations. It’s crucial that you provide comprehensive training for your team so they can start using IIoT quickly and effectively.


7. Continue to Optimize

Armed with the wealth of data your new IIoT solution is collecting and analyzing, you’ll find innumerable opportunities to improve. Continuously monitor the performance of your IIoT system and make adjustments as needed.


8. Grow Your Business

Be sure to regularly evaluate the performance of your IIoT implementation. This will allow you to scale your system to additional areas of your operations and continue to incorporate smart technology.


Ask Us About ProphecyIoT

Our experts at ProphecyIoT have decades of experience helping manufacturers grow their businesses by implementing IIoT technology. Contact us today for a consultation and learn how you can make your factory a smart factory.

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