By 2025, the global industrial IoT market is expected to reach 933.62 billion dollars. The scope of cloud applications and scalability are two of the factors that will drive the additional growth across all industries within it.
The sectors that benefit from industrial IoT solutions the most right now include manufacturing, healthcare, energy and power production, logistics and transportation, oil and gas, and agriculture. Over the coming few years, the manufacturing sector is expected to emerge as the dominant one. According to analytical reports, the industrial internet of things will reinvent many sectors that account for approximately two thirds of the global economic output, driving economic gains of 14.2 trillion dollars by 2030.
What are the reasons for the prominence of industrial IoT solutions? Some of them have been touched upon in the intro but let’s take a more thorough look.
Industrial Internet of Things: Key Benefits
Industrial IoT solutions allow for more efficient, affordable and easy way to maintain processes.
Currently, most companies adopt a very simple modus operandi – if something breaks, they fix it. The use of smart sensors and the right software, however, will allow for the correct prediction of upcoming failures. Equipment can be replaced and maintained in a much more effective way, reducing the risk of breakdowns and industrial processes coming to a halt.
The range of IoT applications is quite big and diverse. Currently, IoT solutions can be utilized to accomplish all of the following:
- Facility management: Condition-based maintenance is an effortless task and so sensors can be used to increase the effectiveness of facility management. Manufacturing equipment is prone to wear and tear. It’s also susceptible to specific conditions. Sensors can monitor temperature, vibrations and other factors that could be leading to less than optimal operational conditions.
- Inventory management: IoT solutions can also be quite beneficial when it comes to reducing the risk of inventory management errors. Events will be effortless to monitor across the supply chain, giving companies a comprehensive view of inventory. Estimates of available materials and supplies are accurate, which prevents slowdowns.
- Enhanced industrial safety: The Internet of Things combines effectively with the analysis of big data. Key performance indicators of health and safety can thus be monitored constantly to ensure better workplace conditions. Lagging indicators like the number of accidents can be addressed immediately.
- Optimization of logistics and the supply chain: Real-time supply chain information will also become available through the reliance on an IoT solution. Products and supplies will be much easier to track, identifying slowdowns and inefficiencies. In a sense, plants will be connected to suppliers via the cloud. All concerned parties can trace the required information to predict issues and address inventory reductions as quickly as possible.
- Smart metering: Smart meters can monitor the consumption of resources like electricity, water, fuels, etc. Through the use of IoT sensors, manufacturers will know how much is consumed and what for. Through effective management, operational expenditure can be reduced significantly.
These are just a few of the possibilities. Industrial IoT solutions can result in computer-enhanced vehicles that transmit relevant information, better fleet management and even geo-intelligence (the right type of information is sent to a device in close proximity with the respective piece of industrial equipment).
IoT allows for relevant predictive knowledge to be accumulated. The cost of downtime in the industrial world can be overpowering. Unplanned downtime is costing industrial companies 260,000 dollars per hour.
While a zero downtime solution is yet to be developed, industrial IoT makes it much easier to identify problems and conditions before these could contribute to massive halts in the industrial process.
Challenges and IoT Issues to Overcome
Many companies are still facing problems with industrial IoT adoption. They don’t know where to start and which automated processes will contribute to the highest increase in effectiveness.
An Accenture survey also suggests that the adoption of IoT is geographically limited. Only a few countries are providing stimuli and making such technology readily available. The current market leaders include the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries.
Both the technology and the business infrastructure required to increase the propagation of IoT are available in these parts of the world.
Countries like Russia, Italy and Spain, for example, will need to invest in the right infrastructure first. Without the creation of an infrastructural network, the adoption of industrial IoT solutions will be impossible, BBC reported.
A few other key challenges prevent the widespread adoption of IoT solutions at the time being:
- Security vulnerabilities: IoT devices communicate automatically with each other. In the absence of a secure and properly encrypted network, the adoption of IoT could lead to brand new security challenges and vulnerabilities. Standalone security elements will have to be introduced in the network to enable adoption without a higher risk of hack attacks or data leaks.
- Absence of IoT standards: Many automation devices already operate in an array of industrial and manufacturing settings. The problem is that various protocols are being utilized and there’s no standardization that will ensure interoperability.
- The cost of implementing IoT solutions: This is another essential element that cannot be underestimated. The cost of implementing the IoT infrastructure is often perceived as overwhelming. Many companies worry about the return on such an investment and so remain hesitant. This is where the importance of choosing the right IoT solutions comes to the stage center. Ease of use, ease of training and the development of more readily adoptable products could also help eliminate some of the hesitation in the future.
The Future of Industrial IoT
The rise of industrial IoT will soon bring the factory of the future to reality.
Material handling, manufacturing, product distribution and supply chain management will all be automated to a degree in the years to come. To drive the digital transformation forward, however, executives will have to become involved in the process right from the start. The IT department alone will need such support when revolutionary decisions are being made about production processes.
The industrial internet of things, also known as industry 4.0, has already started the fourth industrial revolution. More automation has already led to a 30 percent boost in productivity and the adoption of flexible production techniques. Predictive maintenance is reducing the cost even further by saving more than 12 percent on scheduled repairs and bringing breakdowns down by nearly 70 percent.
In the future, experts suggest that industrial IoT will enhance production levels even further and become the driving force behind various types of innovation (including the utilization of innovative fuels). The workforce itself will also be transformed as a part of the extensive automation process.
While an array of adoption challenges will still have to be overcome, predictive analysis suggests that the world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. It would be a pity for such a massive network to remain unutilized in attempts to enhance industrial processes. Remember that industrial IoT is not about smart product development. Rather, it will help for a higher level of efficiency and predictive rather than reactionary interventions – a main problem industries across the world are struggling with today.
Written by Emilia Marius