Industrial IoT – The Pathway for Business Process Optimization
The Industrial Internet of Things
The term “Industry 4.0” is the face of the fourth Industrial Revolution taking place right now and its origins can be traced back to a 2011 German Government high-tech strategy project. In essence, Industry 4.0 can be visualized as what has been called the “Smart factory”. With the rapid advancements in the various facets of Information Technology, there has been an immense growth in the field of the Internet of Things and especially the Industrial Internet of Things.
According to a recent market research , the IIoT market is projected to reach USD 110.6 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 7.4% from 2020 onward. Similarly, the Smart Factory market is projected to reach USD 244.82 billion by 2024 and the Industrial Control and Automation market is projected to reach 269.5 billion by 2024. This trend is a reassurance to not only the suppliers of Industrial IoT solutions but also to those who have been skeptical to implement these solutions in their factories.
The Advantages of adopting New Technologies
A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review  in 2014, showed that those companies which had already adopted new technologies experienced significant positive effects from it. The study divides the companies into three major groups: the Pioneers, the Followers and the Cautious. Of these, the companies in the manufacturing sector were fairly evenly distributed over the three categories.
The biggest insight provided by this study is that even when the Industry 4.0 concept was in its nascent years, companies which were open to adopt new technologies and use them to learn and adapt, saw the most benefits. Over half of the respondents saw IT as an investment and 72% said that their use of new technology increased responsiveness to customers.
For manufacturing industries, the adoption of IIoT systems for machine monitoring and predictive maintenance, process monitoring, supply chain monitoring and quality control are some of the key areas where a lot of benefits can be gained.
The Way Forward
The improvement in technology has now enabled seamless connectivity of IIoT systems to cloud based applications and has helped to establish the confidence that there is a lot to be gained by all because of this. However, as the amount of data collected and analyzed increases, so does the load on the network infrastructure. There are predictions that by 2025, the global data generated will be in Zettabytes, of which the IoT will be a major contributor. For example, for machine condition monitoring, the data collected from vibrations sensors can range from a few hundred samples per second to a few thousand samples per second. Multiply this value by the number of sensors per machine and then by the number of machines and you end up with a colossal amount of data. Also, as IIoT systems get implemented in time critical and in safety applications, network latency is unacceptable and hence computation on the cloud is out of the question.
To help maintain the balance between the computation power needed for ML/AI applications and the need to transmit relevant data to the cloud for providing the business insights, the solution is the adaptation of edge devices. Powerful gateways which can perform the computation on the data collected, when coupled with network connectivity options can be the strong foundation required for a robust IIoT system.
The Industrial IoT sector is showing great promise and is growing at a rapid pace. Companies have seen huge benefits by adopting new technology, even when this technology was very new. There is a lot of scope for companies to save costs and time and even expand their markets by implementing IIoT solutions to gain valuable insights. As technology progresses, our understanding of the Industrial ecosystem also increases and this has lead to larger amounts of data being collected for analysis. In order to gain the most from any IIoT implementation, it is imperative to use the right devices and powerful edge device or gateways provide the strong foundation for a robust IIoT system.