When you hear the acronym IIOT, you likely silently think “what is IIoT?”. Most people have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), but are not so sure about IIOT. IIOt stands for industrial internet of things.
The industrial internet of things is about the application of IoT systems across industries. This isn’t about home or personal IoT devices, but instead the kind of IoT devices that are used in industries such as manufacturing, energy, transportation and more. These devices will largely focus on improving some element in each specific industry via web connectivity and management.
IoT devices transmit data and communicate with other devices via the web. These devices can be managed by humans, but in most cases, are setup to not require much human intervention. The idea is to use set and forget interfaces, with the IoT devices making regular reports, updating themselves, and connecting with other IoT devices.
So how is the industrial IOT different? The key difference is that these IIOT devices are set up to specifically improve an aspect of a particular industry. Manufacturing has been using IIOT for quite some time, with automated production lines that communicate progress, react to changes, and send constantly updated information to humans and other IIOT devices.
However, how IIOT devices can be used in industry certainly isn’t limited to manufacturing. The kind of processes available and possible applications are broad, as it is all about developing automated systems (or partially automated) that communicate and report in real time.
These systems often link to online systems, such as AI, analytics, reporting cloud systems, and more. For the industry choosing to use IIOT, it is often a case that they are looking to increase productivity, reduce errors, and save on costs. While this could be seen to be causing jobs to be lost in some areas, there are a lot of new jobs being created by IIOt.
At the end of the day, in order to survive, companies need to stay competitive. Customers demand fast responses, flexible options, cheap prices and more from companies. IIOT makes this possible, and as soon as one company starts to implement IIOT devices into their processes, the others have to quickly do the same in order to remain competitive.
When looking at the effects of introducing IIOT, it is often only the initial implementation and role of IIOT devices that are considered. However, often an unconsidered and valuable benefit of using the IIOT approach is the raw data that these systems gather. In almost any industry, data is a valuable asset.
As IIOT devices often stream live information, reports and issues, the data they provide can be used in many ways to improve an industry. In the case of manufacturing, this may initially mean optimizing production line process and removing redundant steps or bottlenecks to improve efficiency. It can also result in improved workflows for staff and easier management of the processes from anywhere, or even management by algorithms or AIs.
This data can also be used to improve relationships with customers, such as via apps that connect with portions of this data. Customers can be instantly advised when their product or service is ready, customize their service and have the changes automatically setup, or even receive automated support from an AI (artificial intelligence) assistant that has live information and can give instant and accurate answers based on that information.
There are already examples of successful customer side apps integrating IIOT, AI, and even augmented reality that are revolutionizing the connection between industries and their customers. This is of course, also not limited to customer apps. Apps can use the live streams of data from IOT to assist staff on many levels, from keeping staff informed to connecting with security or partner companies, and much more.
IIOT also connects processes and plants together, regardless of location, so logistics and inter-facility cooperation and optimization can occur from anywhere that has internet access. This allows for remote management, live reports, automated inventory (ordering and checking), and process adjustments.
When manufacturing processes have to be adjusted, the effect of those adjustments can be automatically applied and translated down the line via AI and algorithms, creating smooth and efficient production flows from start to finish. All of these factors come together to provide a smoother experience for customers.
With customer apps now interconnected with IIOT data, customers can see exactly at what point their order is at within the process, from manufacturing to the various stages of delivery.
Despite all of these advancements, things are still developing at a fast pace within the manufacturing industry, with an estimated $70 billion to be invested in IIOT by 2020.
IIOT is also diversly used in aviation, where footflows are adjusted and monitored, flight statistics shared, and security increased via AI analysis. Some airports are even using augmented reality to guide passengers.
Apps are also available for taxi services, buses, ferries and airports. These apps provide a new level of connectivity between the service provider and the customer. IIOT devices connected to the apps can show up to date information automatically, allowing customers to see live updates of progress or changes.
These wearable devices can also be used to monitor patients that have recently received treatments, allowing them to return home earlier, but with the knowledge that medical staff will be alerted should their condition change for the worse.
Some areas are working on remote medical services, such as where a health checkup pod or vehicle can perform standard tests automatically and allow for a live connection to a doctor.
Even surgery is being enhanced with augmented reality, allowing trainee doctors to practice without touching live people, and even guiding doctors with augmented overlays on live patients.
AI is being used as an assistant to surgeries and as AI learns and develops further in this field, an AI application could soon perform surgery via robotic appendages. Some of this is not fully live yet, but tests results are interesting. AI is also showing promising results in cure research, treatment development, medical assistance, and data analysis.
Not only are these industries all adopting IIOT, some of the industries are merging and interlinking in ways not previously seen. Smart cities are interconnecting with transport and healthcare, insurance is interconnecting with fitness bands and health care, and more collaborations are sure to follow. The data value of these collaborations, combined with increased efficiency can be beneficial to all industries involved and help to improve the services provided to their customers.
The industrial internet of things is very rapidly expanding. More and more manual and processing roles will be replaced by connected and sometimes ‘intelligent’ devices.
How this looks in the future, however, is anyone’s guess. Almost weekly there is news of incredible innovations in IIOT and how existing IIOT is being implemented in different industries. Some are learning from established industries like manufacturing, and others are forming their own paths to IIOT adoption.
This does not mean the end of work for humans, at least not yet. As IIOT replaces jobs in some areas of industry, it also creates new jobs in both the affected industry and the industry supplying or managing the IIOT devices and systems. Many are also now moving into services, managing such systems, updates, optimizations etc. There is still a demand for human employees, it is just our roles in companies maybe changing as expectations change in both industry and society.