Industrial IoT: A Timeline of Revolutionary Technology

What is IoT?

IoT is a network of intelligent computers, devices, and objects that collect and share huge amounts of data. The collected data is sent to a central Cloud-based service where it is aggregated with other data and then shared with end users in a helpful way. McKinsey estimates the potential impact of IoT to be an aggregated $11 trillion business opportunity over the next ten years – equivalent to about 11% of the world economy.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The application of the IoT to the manufacturing industry is called the IIoT (or Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0). The IIoT revolutionized manufacturing by enabling the acquisition and accessibility of far greater amounts of data, at far greater speeds, and far more efficiently than before.  Adoption of IIOT is accelerating as much attention is drawn to the efforts by large companies such as Krones, GE, Schneider Electric and Huawei. 

Germany exceeds others in IIOT solutions and investments

Market data and our experience in Europe, particularly Germany, leads us to believe that it is leading in implementing IIOT solutions within the manufacturing industry. Even the German government sponsored Industrie 4.0, a multi-year strategic initiative that brings together leaders from the public and private sectors as well as from academia to create a comprehensive vision and action plan for applying digital technologies to the German industrial sector. Industrie 4.0 initiative is now being globally adopted as Industry 4.0 or “Smart Factory”. 

German companies are certainly relying on automation in an ever increasing number i.e. 40% of German executives said they plan to implement IoT in future manufacturing processes, compared to only 25% of the Americans.

Industrial Internet of Things Major Applications

A survey from Boston Consulting Group indicates that 17% of both American and German manufacturers had applied digital solutions to their factories to date. The report also found that worldwide spending on IIoT tech and solutions is to reach $70 billion by 2020, jumping from $29 million in 2015. Some of the most prominent use cases of IIOT till date are as follow:

IIoT in Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the largest industry which is currently being effected by IIOT applications. Two IIoT use cases which are most important in manufacturing from a spending perspective are production asset management and predictive maintenance according to the mentioned research by IDC,  released early 2017.

IIoT in logistics and transportation
Transportation represent the second largest market from an Internet of Things spending perspective. Transportation and logistics (T&L) firms are looking to move up the value chain with advanced communication and monitoring systems, enabled by IoT. Some prominent use cases of IIOT in logistics are IT security, communication systems, supply chain monitoring systems and vehicle/transport tracking. 

IIoT in energy and utilities
According to the earlier mentioned data from IDC, utilities alone are the third industry from the IoT spending context. Smart Grids and Smart Meters are key in supply and network transmission/distribution for the utilities industry. Effectiveness, maintenance and data-driven opportunities are observed as a result of smart grids and IoT-enabled solutions.

Challenges in IIOT solutions Implementation

Some key challenges in Industrial application of IIoT are:

Cybersecurity and data security
By far the major challenge for executives in the survey by Morgan Stanley and Automation World magazine, was cybersecurity and data security. Security is the biggest challenge faced while implementing industrial IOT solutions. The solutions are usually built on tens of thousands of sensor nodes, increasing threat surface area hugely. Any bad data injected into the system has the potential to be as damaging as data extracted from the systems through data breach.

Mission-Critical Environments
Industrial IoT requirements are far more stringent than those for the consumer market. IoT devices often operate in high-availability, mission-critical environments, requiring resilience, industrial-grade security, control services, autonomy and scalability, thus creating challenges to achieve such sophisticated environment for operations.

Generating ROI
The cost of implementing an IoT infrastructure can be expensive and obtaining ROI from such a huge investment is a major concern for most corporations.

Redesigning Systems for IIoT
Many industrial systems are either custom solutions or vendor-defined black boxes, which pose a challenge since the data being collected is not easily available.

Regardless of the challenges that IIoT implementation faces, it is already here with full boom and it's already a huge part of enabling modern industrial automation. Deployment and use of smart devices for data-heavy tasks will serve as the key to an increasingly automated future of industry.

Applying data science and design thinking to solution architecture planning and development—and everything in between and beyond—we’re ready to help you maximize your IIoT investments. Contact us to get more information about how we have partnered with companies in Germany including Fibro, IRES, Advanced Energy and in the US, e.g. GoStrive etc. to rollout their IIoT solutions and products.

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