Along with cloud computing, IoT has become a revolutionary technology trend for the manufacturing sector. It has enabled companies to equip their machines and systems with a variety of digital sensors that could track production data in real-time. Moreover, IoT has brought to life a new generation of industrial equipment that can be connected and operated remotely via the cloud.
All these technologies collectively were dubbed the Industrial Internet of Things – an IoT-powered data-driven approach to manufacturing and a stepping stone to Industry 4.0. So far, it has truly been a disruptive force that won’t pale in comparison to the role of a steam engine in the first industrial revolution.
The recent report from MarketsandMarkets research agency estimates that the Industrial IoT market will grow from USD 68.8 billion in 2019 to USD 98.2 billion by 2024, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.4% during the forecast period (2019–2024). Another report from FortuneBusinessInsights indicates that Industrial IoT is one of the four most popular IoT fields to date, taking up about 20% of its overall market share.
Behind these numbers are thousands of manufacturing companies who have adopted Industrial IoT to optimize their production, increase revenue, and improve customer satisfaction. Here’s what they can do now.
Production Line Remote Monitoring
The first essential task you can do with IIoT-powered smart devices is live system monitoring for smooth operation and spotting performance issues. Now it doesn’t take an expensive solution or complex engineering design – modern devices come with connectivity options that either allow them to connect to the cloud directly or via a gateway. These include sensors, metering devices, actuators, industrial robots, etc.
Using a single Industrial IoT platform you can have full visibility into your production assets and collect their data for centralized analytics. As another cornerstone attribute of a “smart” factory, analytics feeds on all that production data to deliver powerful insights and track KPIs in a virtually automated fashion.
Predictive maintenance is another popular use case for Industrial IoT. It uses aggregated sensor data from a piece of equipment to spot early signs of potential malfunction. That allows for a longer device lifecycle, huge savings on maintenance and repair, and minimizing system downtime. As a feature within your industrial products, it offers potential customers much greater confidence in the stable and reliable performance of your solutions.
However, predictive maintenance is long past its novelty phase and may be considered rather mainstream for a broad range of industrial products. Its cost-saving benefits now lead smaller vendors and electronics companies to implement similar technology on a myriad of other specialized devices and even improve its algorithms with the help of AI and machine learning.
Remote Device Management and Configuration
With thousands of devices on a factory floor, it can be a real challenge to keep track of their operational status, scheduled maintenance, firmware updates, and user access policies. A centralized IIoT solution can dramatically simplify these operational routines by storing all that data in a unified format and making it available for authorized users via a regular browser or a smartphone app.
Devices can be remotely accessed via wireless or wired connectivity to update their firmware, change configurations, or inspect their usage conditions, which is especially useful for devices operating out in the field or on customer’s premises. As in the case with predictive maintenance, this allows companies to save huge resources on manually performed device upkeep.
Smart Lighting, Smart Metering
Smart lighting and smart metering may be actually the simplest among Industrial IoT applications but their cumulative cost-saving effects are hard to overlook. Poorly measured electricity, water, or gas consumption makes it hard to pin down where the waste happens and optimize.
That’s why manufacturers rely on smart meters to figure out their exact consumption profile and keep it lean. This may involve something complex like experimenting with different production modes, use smart lighting to cut down on electricity waste, or simply running an accurate cost-based analysis to come up with appropriate pricing strategies.
Innovative Product Development
Last but not the least, manufacturers use Industrial IoT to enhance their products with modern connectivity, remote control, and monitoring capabilities. Not only do such features increase the product’s value for end-users but they also enable vendors to track how their solutions perform in the field. Data collected from real-life implementations can offer companies multiple insights into what their customers need most and how they actually use their products.
There are many other effective use cases for Industrial IoT, especially if this technology is increasingly blended together with modern data analytics, AI, and industrial robots. It has had a huge transformative effect on manufacturing automation already but it doesn’t stop there. We are entering a new decade where smart factories will become a new foundation for the global economy.