By this point, most of us are accustomed to smart wearables and devices, such as the Jawbones and Fitbits we wear and see every day. We’ve also seen the concept of smart homes become a reality, with devices that sync everything from refrigerators and security systems to thermostats and speakers. We’ve even seen farmers sort and track their flocks of sheep with the help of mountable RFID devices.

Every physical element around us (including ourselves) has become a part of a real and rhythmic whole – communicating information with each other at all times. All thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT)!

Ever since the IoT manifested into reality, integrating the physical world with the digital, experts and thought leaders have waited for it to take hold of the elusive data-driven economy.

It appears that the wait is finally over.

Welcome to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This is a concept-turned-reality, which is preparing to change the traditional picture of industrial production for years to come.

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Industrial Internet of Things – What Is It?

IIoT is the Internet of Things applied in industrial settings, which combines operational technology with information technology to help optimize industrial processes and business models.

The communication protocol is the same; the objective is the same—facilitate information-sharing to execute better decision-making—but the platform is industrial.

IoT: Inspiring Innovation and Fueling a Data Driven Economy

Based on early evidence which indicates that the IoT is footprinting in the context of industrial transformation, the innovation initiatives across different industry-level operating lines can be summarized as follows:

  • Improved Management Reporting

With manufacturing units now being able to communicate with each other through the deployment of IoT system solutions, analysis of facility performance metrics can be accomplished in real time. Management executives can also resolve the performance monitoring to shop floor levels, which helps provide revealing manufacturing insights.

This leads to improved management reporting.

Take the manufacturing giant, Caterpillar, for example: The company has deployed the SAP Leonardo system, an IIoT technology, across all its operation facilities. The system furnishes real time information about manufacturing data, energy utilization data, machine performances, and data regarding the production consumables. Combining altogether, the company executives can have a 360-degree view of the manufacturing processes which leads to better tactical decision making.    

  • Improved Operational Efficiencies

For a company, operational efficiency is as important as the production churn. You may have a high production churn, but if your organization is inefficient in its operations, the lack of efficiency will ultimately restrict its growth. IoT has allowed companies to improve their operational efficiency, because information can be communicated in real time between different production units.

This transpires into the optimization of processes to achieve operational efficiency.

BASF, a leading chemical products manufacturer, leverages the implementation of IoT to achieve efficiency in its operations via an IoT cloud, which allows manufacturing units to communicate their requirements with a production planning department. When production components are planned and bought according to the needed manufacturing units, investment risk is reduced, and advanced planning of production cost is made possible.

Storage facilities communicate with production and the supply chain, which helps them to regulate the operations to lower the storage cost, without compromising on customer facilitation. This has allowed BASF to strive for operational excellence.

  • Improved Failure-Response Time

The IoT is also opening new possibilities in mitigating the risk of operational failures and improving failure-response time in cases where operations do break down. This has been made possible because machines can exchange information with each other. Depending on the analysis of the information received, these machines can automatically create service requests, schedule maintenance, and ensure timely delivery of spare parts that need to be replaced.

Leading the inspiration, in this case, is Trenitalia, Italy’s primary train operator. The company has deployed a dynamic management system which continually monitors the health of every train component, and can schedule timely maintenance protocols. This also ensures uninterrupted service operations.

  • Improved Levels of Customers Service

Customer service is yet another area where the IoT is helping employees and management executives. The IoT permits end-to-end visibility of real time information across all production lines, which helps optimize the asset utilization of critical resources.  This ensures timely facilitation of customer requests.

The Truck Advisor is a great example in this context. It is a mobile app used by companies including Unilever, and leverages the power of a cloud platform, enabling the organization to keep track of its fleet of delivery trucks, without having to get them to install an onboard GPS device.  

With the help of the app, the company can track the geo-position of each  truck, monitor the stops and delivery status, accurately predict delivery delays, and establish a bi-level communication with the drivers. With such a vast data set available in real time, the company can strategize in parallel to make sure that deliveries to customers are on time and meet all requirements.     

These examples just scratch the surface of possible application scenarios for the IIoT. But they are enough to support the claim that the IoT is helpful in conceiving a data driven economy and establishing a strong foundation with new applications and unprecedented results. 

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