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How Is the Industrial Internet of Things Changing Manufacturing?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the huge and ever-growing network of intelligent devices and computers that are connected and sharing huge amounts of data. Microsoft reckons there’ll be just the 13 billion connected IoT devices by 2021 so, as you’d expect, the implications are vast and far-reaching. 

How IIoT is Transforming Manufacturing

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When we talk about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we’re referring to the same general ideas as above, but IIoT refers more specifically to the devices, processes and people associated with industries like manufacturing and infrastructure. IoT is more for improving our everyday life (think smart homes and Alexa) whereas IIoT devices and services handle critical industrial and plant floor operations and are used to collate valuable data.

Incorporate IIoT into your organisation and you can create-game changing operational efficiencies. Here’s how that’s happening. 


Using IIoT to Your Advantage

Predictive Maintenance to Reduce Downtime 

The wider manufacturing industry is finding effective uses for IIoT as part of Industry 4.0. One of the most effective is predictive maintenance. IIoT enables easier, non-intrusive implementation of the right sensors so we can take advantage of these latest technologies. This is becoming increasingly apparent in older assets we have become so reliant upon.

There’s no need to wait until a machine needs to be repaired to carry out vital fixes. By using predictive analytics, we can identify a machine’s future problems and act accordingly. 

It’s more than just identifying an old piece of kit that’s probably on the cusp of dying. It’s using machine learning analysis and multiple sensor points to collate the necessary data and predict failure months in advance. This reduces unplanned downtime, lowers the costs of unnecessary maintenance and keeps things running along smoothly.

The same concept applies to operational efficiency and real-time business decisions. For example, the right people can receive a notification when a certain line is consuming more energy or raw goods than usual. Issues can be rectified quickly and easily before they can escalate into unsuspecting, spiralling costs or the quality of the finished products.


Intelligent Edge to Drive Growth

The term Intelligent Edge basically refers to the connected systems and devices that are collecting data, locally at the edge. Domestically, it could be your house but in this case, we’re looking at your plants and control rooms.

The information you’re collating via sensors and data points is processed and analysed by systems to provide deeper insight into your processes. These insights are then presented in context so you can make intelligent decisions which can drive growth.

In practice, this could look like a manufacturer who makes condiments linking digital price displays to their production levels via a shared network. So, they could better track inventory and on average how long it takes for their products to sell. Once this information is integrated with other data sources (like the weather forecast), then a manufacturer has all of the information they need to determine buyer behaviour and adjust stock levels accordingly.

This is just one example of a manufacturer using their newly integrated IIoT devices to maximise sales, reduce shipping costs and meet shifting consumer demand. 


Keeping Up With the Competition

Those sensors and IIoT devices we mentioned a little earlier are rising in use, popularity and, crucially, falling in cost. The average cost of a sensor in 2018 was just 44 cents which represents a 200% decrease from 2004. The very nature of IIoT devices also reduces implementation costs in comparison to standard PLCs and devices.

So, manufacturers have access to these sensors and they’re putting them to good use. The industry is more connected than ever thanks to IIoT and the byproduct of advanced data processing. 

The IT systems that are most often used for data-centric computing are converging with their OT counterparts that are used to control and monitor processes and devices. This means more information, deeper insight and smarter operations as a result. 

Cloud connected IIoT sensors can help manufacturers gain the benefits of a connected system without having to spend a lot of money on creating expensive infrastructure.



IT and OT Alignment: It’s Time to Get Started

If you’ve been putting off IT and OT convergence, then you’re already falling behind the innovators who’ve started to bring the two spheres together. If you’re not sold on the idea whatsoever, then here’s a resource that should change your mind. 

Download our free convergence roadmap today using the link below. In it, we outline why it’s so important for your organisation to embrace convergence and the benefits you’ll start to see once the process is complete

We admit, there’ll be roadblocks along the way, not least the issues you’ll encounter when overcoming a silo mentality, but the benefits speak for themselves. Get your copy of the roadmap now and transform your organisation’s agility, security and efficiency. 

IT/OT Convergence Guide