You have probably heard of the Internet of Things by now, whether its to connect your washing machine, heating systems or lighting, but what about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?
In our latest “What is the Industrial Internet of Things” article we delve into just this and how it’s driving the next industrial revolution.
What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes a network of physical objects, and by their extension animals or people, all of which are connected to the Internet and able to share data via this connection.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as the Industrial Internet, is essentially just the application of these IoT technologies but for the industrial / manufacturing industry. IIoT brings together sensor data, machine learning and machine-to-machine communications, allowing organisations to collect vast arrays of data which can then be analysed to help to deliver improvements to individuals and the organisation as a whole.
The Driving Need for the Industrial Internet of Things
We’re quick to assume that it’s the corporate enterprise space that lead the way in IoT adoption but it’s actually the industrial workspace who are among the highest IoT adopters. Business Insider UK reported that the manufacturing industry is predicted to invest up to $70 Billion in the Industrial Internet of Things by 2020, up from $29 Billion in 2015.
It is clear therefore, that the manufacturing industry can already see the benefits of the IIoT and that it is becoming essential to enabling modern industrial processes. By connecting equipment to the network, systems can collate, integrate and share data efficiently, enabling IIoT applications such as factory equipment feedback, remote monitoring of processes and asset tracking.
As a result of this, companies can have full visibility of industrial equipment and data, and can access and monitor it in real-time. It also means that manufacturers can optimise their logistics, monitor inventory levels accurately, prevent quality issues and detect theft. In addition to locating assets, industrial IoT can also enable asset health monitoring by reporting on equipment condition, operating parameters and environmental conditions to automatically trigger alerts and deliver proactive maintenance.
Connecting the IIoT
In a highly volatile and dispersed environment, and processing highly important data transactions which ensure safe working and quality production, the IIoT requires flexible, secure and reliable connectivity. As the IIoT rapidly expands, and organisations look to add more applications to their industrial processes, it’s also essential that connectivity solutions can scale easily and rapidly. For this, hybrid networking is almost certainly the answer as it enables industrial companies to adopt a blend of wired and wireless technologies to best meet all of their requirements.
Wireless is particularly important to deploying IIoT applications; with a myriad of sensors which need to be monitored and data retrieved from, wired connections are impractical and too expensive. For this, cellular and WiFi are both great solutions, although cellular offers some additional benefits as it enables organisations to better segment their network, keeping certain applications separate from the core network to ensure maximum performance and security. It can also connect anywhere, whereas WiFi relies on extension technologies to allow it to reach into more remote areas.
While selecting the right connectivity technology is important, choosing the right hardware for an industrial environment is also crucial. For example, it needs to have a fully ruggedised casing, which meets industry-specific requirements such as MIL-STD-810G or Class 1 Div 2, so that it is able to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions. It’s also beneficial for it to have a smaller footprint for simplified deployment and integration within what are already highly busy environments.
Westbase Technology provides a broad range of 4G LTE networking solutions suitable for connecting IIoT requirements from leading manufacturers Cradlepoint, Sierra Wireless and LANCOM Systems. To see our range of industrial routers and gateways click here to go to our online store, or to find out more about industrial connectivity in general, you can take a look at our industrial connectivity solution page.