Internet of Things is revolutionizing our world in to a smarter place. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is part of bigger IoT system which focuses on devices and objects used in business environment. Find out what are the industrial applications of IoT.
How does Industrial IoT works?
Industrial IoT is a system includes smart sensors, machines, tools, software platforms, cloud servers and applications. Smart sensors are deployed at every stages of manufacturing floor for specific applications. These sensor networks continuously send data to the IoT gateway (act as a hub between IoT devices and cloud) which receive and transmit the data to the cloud application server for processing and analysis. Sophisticated application programs are developed to handle large amount data within secure network and it is accessible using Smartphone applications.
Applications of Industrial Internet of Things
1. Industrial Automation
Industrial automation is one of most significant and common application of Internet of Things. Automation of machines and tools enables companies to operate in an efficient way with sophisticated software tools to monitor and make improvements for next process iterations.
Accuracy of process stages can be improved to a greater level using machine automation. Automation tools like PLC (Programmable Logic Control) and PAC (Programmable Automation Control) are used with smart sensor networks connected to a central cloud system which collect huge amount of data. Specially designed software and applications are used to analyze the data and its behavior for improvements.
Industrial automation improves accuracy, efficiency; reduces errors, easy to control and remotely accessible via applications. Machines can operate at harsh environments than humans; automation of machines and tools reduces man power requirements for specific tasks.
Connected Factory concept is an effective solution for improvements in all areas of operation. Major components such as machines, tools and sensors will be connected to a network for easier management and access. Overview of process flow, monitor down time, status checking of inventory, shipment, schedule maintenance and stop/pause a particular process for further analysis etc… can be done remotely using industrial IoT solutions.
2. Smart Robotics
Many companies are developing intelligent robotics system for IoT-enabled factories. Smart robotics ensures smooth handling of tools and materials in the manufacturing line with precise accuracy and efficiency. Predefined specifications can be set for maximum precision (up to few nanometers scale for some applications) using intelligent robotic arms.
Man machine interface design concept will reduce the complexity of operation and it will reflect in future IoT enabled manufacturing as improved productivity.
Robots can be programmed to perform complex tasks with high end embedded sensors for real-time analysis. These robotics networks are connected to a secure cloud for monitoring and controlling. Engineering team can access and analyze this data to take quick actions for product improvements or preventing an unexpected failure due to machine fault.
3. Predictive Maintenance
Modern industrial machines equipped with smart sensors continuously monitoring the status of each major components and it can detect any critical issues before the system is completely down. Smart sensors will trigger maintenance warning to the centralized system and the alert messages will be delivered to responsible persons/groups.
Maintenance engineers can analyze the data and plan for schedules maintenance effectively without affecting routine task.
Predictive maintenance is an effective solution to avoid unnecessary downtime in the production line. Unexpected failure of machines could cause damage to products, delay in delivery and business loss for manufacturers.
Status of each machines are stored to a cloud system in a real-time basis. History of each machines, performance, and next scheduled maintenance are easily accessible remotely (on PCs, via web interface or via smartphone applications). Performance improvements can be calculated and implemented for each machines and process stages of products using collected data analysis.
4. Integration of Smart Tools / Wearables
Integration of smart sensors to tools and machines enables the workforce to perform the task with improved accuracy and efficiency. Specially designed wearables and smart glass helps employees to reduce error and improve safety at the working environments.
Smart wearables can trigger instant warning messages to employees during emergency situations like gas leak or fire. Wearables can monitor health condition of individuals continuously and feedback if not fit for particular task.
5. Smart Logistics Management
Logistics is one of the important areas in many industries, which needs continuous improvements to support increasing demands. Smart sensor technology is a perfect fit to solve many of the complex logistics operations and manage goods efficiently.
Retail giants like Amazon using drones to deliver goods to their customers. Advanced technologies like drones offer better efficiency; accessibility, speed and it require less manpower. However, initials investments are huge compared to conventional methods and implementation has limitations.
Airline is another major industry, which uses IoT for its daily operations at the production and predictive maintenance of airplanes in service. At the manufacturing plant, airline companies use IoT solutions to track thousands of components required for every single day at work. Centralised management of inventories helps to manage its supplies effortlessly.
Suppliers will be automatically informed if any items are required to top up. Without much human action, inventory management can be effectively implemented using IoT.
Smart sensors continuously monitor airplane’s machineries, the data is collected real-time and send to the airplane manufacturer. Maintenance of any part of an airplane will be triggered, concerned team will be informed and maintenance will be carried out once the plane is landed without any delay. Manufacturers can plan and deliver spare parts efficiently based on the data shared by the system.
6. Software integration for product optimization
Smart analytics solution is one of most important component of any IoT system which further enhances the possibilities of the system for improvement and optimization.
Major companies are implementing customized software for deep analysis of huge amount of data collected from large sensor networks and machines. Detailed analysis of data and understanding the behavior over time gives much better overview of process improvement strategies for product optimization.
Improvement ideas could be directly related to product recipe or optimization of particular machinery for better performance and output. Cost effective solutions can be achieved using analysis of data and its behavior patterns over a period of time. Analysis of huge amount of data was a hard, inaccurate and time consuming task before introduction of these software tools.
7. Smart Package Management
Package management using IoT technology gives lot of convenience and efficiency for manufacturing units. Smart sensors can monitor each stages of packing and update status in real-time manner. Embedded sensors can detect vibrations, atmospheric conditions like temperature and humidity etc… and feedback if something goes wrong during transit or storage.
8. Enhanced Quality and Security
Introduction of IoT technology in to manufacturing offers enhanced product quality. Continuous monitoring and analysis of each stages ensure better quality by improving process steps for optimum quality.
Integration of smart tools and software assisted procedures offer higher level of security. Software controlled automation and data collection from huge sensor network is connected to a highly secure gateway and cloud server platform.
Complex encryption techniques are used in IIoT platform for enhanced security.
9. Autonomous vehicles
Automotive industries are using IoT enables self driving vehicles to supply goods and logistics management within their company premises. Smart vehicles can detect traffic congestions along its path and make deviation to reach its destination is shortest time. These vehicles are equipped with many smart sensors continuously detect location data using GPS and wireless technologies for communication with the control station.
10. Power Management
IoT can offer better solutions for power management in industries. Specific sensors can detect environment and trigger to turn on/off control of lights, air conditioners, humidity controls, liquid flow etc… for efficient power management.
Advantages of Industrial Internet of Things
- Improved accuracy
- Product and process optimization
- Predictive maintenance and analysis
- Higher efficiency
- Remote accessibility and monitoring
- Enhanced security
- Scalability of network
- Reduced down time for machines and process
- Power savings
- Cost effectiveness
Existing industries can adapt to an IoT ecosystem for process improvements, better management, cost effectiveness and overall efficiency. Future industries can utilize the power of IoT infrastructure for product optimization by analyzing big data from thousands of tiny sensors. Industrial IoT is fast growing technology with limitless possibilities for future industries and manufacturing units.