While the IoT usually refers to a consumer utilization of smart, interconnected objects, the Industrial Internet of Things, by means of a network of interconnected sensors, instruments and other devices communicating with each other, focuses on the special requirements of industrial applications.
Such connectivity enables remote access and monitoring, but most of all, it allows data collection, exchange and analysis of different data sources, offering great potential for productivity and efficiency improvement. This is how the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is accomplished.
IIoT makes possible to centralize sources of data and insights, allowing all decision makers to access exactly the same information. Many sectors can benefit greatly from the application of the IIoT, from factories to logistics, from oil & gas to railways. Predictive maintenance and supply chain optimization are among the most significant use cases.
Predictive maintenance – Thanks to intelligent sensors, machines can be monitored continuously, making it possible to know exactly their health conditions at any time. This way, maintenance can be timely and precise and can be performed only when and if necessary, avoiding unnecessary movements and detrimental downtime at the same time.
Supply chain optimization – By means of sensors and RFID tags, equipment, goods and products can be tracked all along the supply chain, in real time. Manufacturers access realistic information about availability, work in progress and timelines. These data allow them to determine more precise workflows and manufacturing cycle times, but also to predict possible issues.
The IIoT market size is projected to reach at $197 billion by 2023. Integration of smart sensors into industrial machines encouraged the manufacturers to reduce the operational cost by 50% and is expected to decrease further during the forecast period.*
Companies are investing in data analytics, Machine Learning, cyber security, Artificial Intelligence, etc., since the interoperability among industrial IoT devices is at the basis of the IIoT ecosystems development.
From this standpoint, Digital Twins are among the most powerful applications of the IIoT. DT are copies of physical objects used to monitor the status, working conditions and utilization in time of the objects they replicate. They are connected to sensors collecting data sent back to specific SW. This process enables the understanding of the “behavior” of an object, that is the way it reacts to utilization and environment, and the forecast of possible issues before they actually happen. For example, it is possible to know when the object will be likely to need maintenance. All of this is fundamental to improve product design and engineering, bringing increased competitiveness and customer satisfaction.