In the recent past, the terms Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have become very popular. They dominate many industrial and IT workshops. Despite the rise in popularity, many people cannot coherently explain what IoT and IIoT entail.
This article will put to light the most important issues around IIoT.
What is IIoT
It is impossible to discuss IIoT without mentioning IoT. In fact, the idea of IIoT came from the IOT. The IoT is a network consisting of computing devices and other objects such as machines and human beings.
The interconnected devices can communicate and exchange data over the network. For example, we can have a washing machine connected to a person’s cellphone. The washing machine sends a message to the cellphone when it requires service. The cellphone then alerts the person. That is a simple example of IoT in action.
IIoT is the application of that concept of IoT in industrial applications. It refers to the convergence of industrial processes and information technology. IIoT app development involves the use use of smart devices which can collect and interpret data. The devices are then interconnected with other objects. These objects can exchange data and information.
One might think that IIoT merely is the automation of industrial process. Though automation is the ultimate goal of IIoT, it seeks to harness the vast potential of information technology to bring accuracy and efficiency in industrial operations.
The purpose of IOT
Various industrial technologies have existed for years. For example, sensors are used in almost every manufacturing factory. For the machines to work efficiently, some human input is required. The problem is that humans are slow and error-prone.
One the other side, information technology has been growing rapidly since the 1980s. New technologies such as big data, machine learning, and machine to machine (M2M) communication have been developed. These technologies can be used to reduce the human input required.
To see why we need IIoT, let's use the Oil industry as an example. Oil spills cause significant damage to both humans and animals. If we rely on human beings to check whether there are corroded or loosely connected pipes, we might not get accurate results.
Some inspectors may be lazy and complacent. On the contrary, big data analysis software, installed in an industrial PC can predict the probability of an oil spill occurring with higher accuracy. The industrial PC will then alert engineers to make the necessary adjustments. At a time like this, when every country wants to expand its manufacturing sector, IIoT is manifestly needed.
Benefits of IIoT
The IIoT is a groundbreaking project. It will revolutionize the way things are done in industries where it will be adopted. But what will the world gain from IIoT? The following are some of the main benefits of IIoT.
The growth of GDP
We have already seen that IIoT will bring speed and efficiency to industries. This will increase industrial output significantly. It is estimated that by 2030, IIoT will increase the global GDP by $14.2 Trillion. This is a good figure at a time when many countries are experiencing stagnated economic growth.
Though the growth in GDP will mostly benefit manufacturing countries such as USA, Japan, and China, others nations have a reason to embrace IIoT. For example, IIoT can be applied in mining. A recent study by the Apache Corporation revealed that use of IIoT in oil drilling could increase the global oil production by 500 000 barrels per day.
Besides boosting industrial production, IIoT will increase revenue by reducing the cost of production. Furthermore, electronics companies will pocket more profits as the demand for sensors and network devices grows.
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Less industrial accidents
Computers are less error-prone than human beings. Many accidents in workplaces are can be attributed to human error. With IIoT, we can expect fewer explosions, oil spills, and other incidents. We can also expect more accurate patient support systems.
Disadvantages of IIoT
There is a concern that as the more devices become interconnected, privacy will be comprised. The world is already tormented by increased cyber insecurity. If proper security measures are not put in place, IIoT will give hackers a better opportunity to wreak havoc and compromise IoT security of the network.
Furthermore, there are fears of job losses as most industrial processes will be automated.
Challenges facing IIOT
Incompatibility of devices from different manufacturers is inhibiting the growth of IIoT. A network cannot work if devices are incompatible. For example, a network router from manufacturer A might be incompatible with a computer from manufacturer B. This means that for IioT to be successful, manufacturers must be involved.
The other challenge facing IioT is insufficient funding. IioT requires massive investment in capital and technological know-how. This might delay the adoption of IIoT by small and medium-sized industries.
The future of IIoT
IioT is still in its initial development stages. Many companies are yet to integrate it into their industrial operations. Recent research by Accenture revealed that only 7% of world’s largest companies have a funded IIoT plan. Furthermore, there is a slow uptake of IIoT in developing economies. For example, North America alone contributes 38% of the global investments in Oil and Gas industries.
Despite the worrying statistics, IIoT is set to grow. It is projected that the global IIoT investment will hit $500 billion by 2020.
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