The development of the Industrial Internet of Things represents a large technological investment in our future. It will take thousands of hours just to establish proper protocols for these advanced networks; the very same networks that will be connecting and facilitating communication between the smart factory and nearly every single useful data point about itself.
Why is our future quickly moving towards IIoT despite all of the inter-industry issues it presents? What can it actually be used for? And what business would even be willing to lead the charge? We’ll take a look at the aforementioned questions in this article, but if you’re asking yourself “What is IIoT?”, be sure to check out our first article: IIoT Introduction, IoT vs. IIoT.
Businesses are investing in IIoT because quite simply, it’s the future. Even if you take a step back from the “industrial” in IIoT, there’s still many instances of automation enhancing our day-to-day lives like Roombas, Alexa or even self driving cars. What makes these technologies so great is their ability to independently collect real world data and immediately act upon it without further human input/interaction. It’s quite clear to see how an assembly line working on it’s own is great, but what would make it better? An assembly line that makes the same exact thing every single time.
The interesting dilemma with manufacturing is that we are replicating many instances of the same object. Within such a system, it’s extremely important that each step of the process stays exactly the same. By digitizing the factory and collecting data points from every meaningful variable within the manufacturing process, we can leverage computing power to understand and optimize the way our technology interacts with the real world.
The most exciting thing about IIoT is that it can be used to enhance every single aspect of how we interact with the world. Although there are clear applications in manufacturing, every industry and process can be improved with data-driven analysis/implementation.
IIoT has nearly limitless applications across every single industry. To give you an idea, we’ve listed just a fraction of what IIoT could allow us to accomplish and how it can be applied to various industries:
Energy – Telephone poles, gas meters, transformers, etc. Effective energy networks involve many systems working together to deliver energy across large distances. Now, imagine if your telephone poles could tell you when they needed maintenance, or even predict when they would need maintenance. The increased uptime alone would be a huge benefit to the energy industry.
When you factor in the analytic data and what advanced computer systems can do with that data, we’ll also be able to use our energy more efficiently. Power can be properly distributed based on real-time data allowing for fewer outages and better overall service.
Healthcare – Smart connected homes will allow for at-home monitoring, allowing people who suffer from chronic illnesses the ability to rest within the comfort of their home. Data driven analytics will help detect medical issues before they become a problem, and including medical professionals within this ecosystem means that your hospital could be alerted that you are having a heart attack before you even realize it.
Privacy concerns aside, we can even connect people to the IIoT. The ability to predict and analyze the state & health of our bodies will allow us to proactively cut healthcare costs and provide better more personalized care for the general population.
Smart Cities – Data from foot traffic to structural integrity could all be constantly monitored and analyzed within a smart city. Have an annoying pothole on your morning commute? A smart city would detect the pothole and dispatch the equipment to fix said pothole. In fact, the city would most likely be able to detect the pothole forming before you even know it’s there.
The business behind IIoT
Many of the things we’ve discussed sound like not-too-far-off science fiction, but there are very real companies working together to make the IIoT a reality. The most prominent organization that’s leading the IIoT revolution is known as the Industrial Internet Consortium. Their mission is to “deliver a trustworthy IIoT in which the world’s systems and devices are securely connected and controlled to deliver transformational outcomes.”
The IIC was founded on March 27th, 2014 by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel. It’s quite clear based on this list that IIoT was backed by some of the world’s top innovators since it’s conception, but now the list of IIC members has grown to consist of over 100 companies. The Industrial Internet Consortium doesn’t just talk theory either.
Since it’s establishment, the IIC has conducted at least 25 different testbeds across multiple industries. These testbeds take the advanced concepts of IIoT and apply them to real life applications to help develop IIoT. It’s only a matter of time before IIoT is commoditized and adopted in every single industry.
Based on data collected by IoT Analytics, they predict that the IoT security market will be worth $4.4 billion by 2022. Currently in 2017, the market is estimated to be worth $703 million. GE even predicts that the IIoT has the potential to deliver up to $11.1T on an annual basis by 2025.
Regardless of how much money you may believe is in the future for IIoT, it’s quite clear that IIoT does have a place in our future. As with any new growing industry, there are an amazing amount of opportunities that will open up. Although some of these technologies may automate certain tasks out of existence, our ability to develop and maintain these advanced systems will challenge us in ways we haven’t previously encountered.
If that sounds exciting to you, you’ll be interested in learning about the job opportunities IIoT will create. Our next article will highlight the skills you need to be successful within this burgeoning industry so that you can take advantage of this huge technological advancement. Every single object around you will be smarter, so you better keep up!