Industrial Internet of Things, a part of the Internet of Things concept basically caters to the manufacturing industry. There’s not a single industry that hasn’t been affected by IIoT but one industry that is on the verge of complete transformation, is the manufacturing industry. Whether it’s enabling seamless machine to machine and machine to human communication to eradicate offline factory operations, or embedding RFID/QR and sensors across all devices to track them and generate real time data, or connecting streams of this data to powerful analytics tools to drive important business decisions, or enabling auto-updating of data on the ERP system thus leaving no room for manual errors, or using predictive analytics to reduce machine downtime or providing vast amounts of information at fingertips so as to access it anytime and anywhere, the IIoT is changing the face of the manufacturing industry.
What is it in IIoT that has swept everyone off their feet?
Think of a cricket team where every player works together to win the match; every team member has a specific role to play in accomplishing tasks on the job. Although it may seem as if one player outperformed the others, the win was made possible by each player’s contribution in a certain aspect of the game. Few players scored runs for the team; few took wickets, while the others fielded exceptionally well to save the runs! The role of behind the scene players like coach who plans game strategy and physiotherapist who keeps players in best shape and other support staff is also equally important. When everyone in the team work together to achieve more; the team achieves more.
“EVERY PLAYER (TECHNOLOGY) IN THE CRICKET TEAM (IIoT TEAM) HAS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE TO PLAY TO GET YOU TO THE TOP.”
This is how I think about IIoT. Imagine IIoT being a cricket team and the technologies it consists as its team players. Every player in the team has a crucial job to do and goes about doing it. Some are part of the playing XI while others work in the background for the team to function efficiently. All these magnificent players come together to win you the workplace championships. EVERY PLAYER (TECHNOLOGY) IN THE CRICKET TEAM (IIoT TEAM) HAS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE TO PLAY TO GET YOU TO THE TOP.
Now let us talk briefly about each player and their significant roles in the team
1. RFID/QR Codes
The raw materials/products are pasted with RFID tags so as to gather data about them from tracking raw materials used in production, determining the actual status and condition of a product to locating inventory. In IIoT, it goes a step further and itself tells the operator if it is the right product for the current manufacturing order.
The tiny embedded sensors are used to connect a thing to the internet, network it with other things and to sense the information that needs to be gathered from it. The sensors generate data by continuously monitoring device parameters.
3. Communication Protocols
One of the basic brick of IIoT system is the protocol for device to device communication. Different protocols (wire or wireless) can be used depending upon the two connecting points.
4. Machine to Machine Communication
M2M is what provides the Industrial Internet of Things with the connectivity that enables communication between machines without human intervention. IIoT expands that to include communication between machines-to-objects/human/infrastructure.
5. Big Data
The IIoT has led to massive amount of Big data being generated due to the connectivity of devices, interaction between machine to human and machine to machine communication, the data from sensors, RFID scans and much more.
6. Data Analytics
The raw data generated due to IoT connectivity needs to be converted into information for use by humans. The data analytics tools in IIoT empower plant managers by extracting and presenting meaningful information from raw data in real time.
7. Machine Learning
The IIoT system evolves itself to perform better each time by means of Machine Learning. The algorithms identify latent structures in the data to decipher trends and predict the future events in advance, such as a likely failure of equipment and order replacements just in time.
8. Artificial Intelligence
The IIoT solution becomes much more powerful when integrated with AI. The AI is used to draw intelligence from the huge amount of data generated by IoT and making human decisions, thus strengthening automated decision-making.
9. Cloud Computing
Because of the increasing amount of data being generated due to IoT connectivity, it is becoming important to store and process this data on cloud. Also, it is the most trending, economic and convenient alternative of data storage.
10. Embedded hardware
Embedded systems are at the cornerstone for the deployment of IIoT systems. The embedded system is hardware part of the IoT device with the addition of the connectivity feature in it.
11. Web and Mobility
Lastly, the IIoT system is incomplete without the interface to display the data into understandable information and to perform actions remotely through app.
I would go to the extent of saying that none of these technologies are as powerful on their own. It is the stack of these technologies coming together that makes IIoT a revolution and your organization a champion!