Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is not a new concept, but it is quickly becoming a reality. With the growth of this concept, businesses are looking for ways to get more from their existing IT resources, while also leveraging emerging technologies like IoT to drive innovation and improve productivity.

IoT is already playing an important role in industrial transformation, and it has presented various solutions that enable you to automate processes, optimise machinery performance, and monitor data. Today, companies across all industries are using IoT technology in different ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, prevent downtime, and reduce costs.

Moreover, making your manufacturing operations smarter, more efficient, and safer can give your business a competitive advantage. But how does the Internet of Things work, and how can you implement it in industrial transformation? This is what we’ll be shedding light on in this article.

Industry 4.0: What is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the application of IoT in manufacturing, and the term has been used to describe the growing role of IoT in industrial transformation. The growth of this industry has been spurred by an increase in IIoT infrastructure spending. And in today’s competitive market, manufacturing businesses need to keep up with technological advances to thrive.

IoT is the primary driver of Industry 4.0, or what’s widely known as the fourth industrial revolution, which relies on utilising automation, big data, IoT, data management, and cloud computing in manufacturing facilities.

7 benefits of using IoT in industrial transformation

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is helping transform the manufacturing industry. By connecting devices, machines, and people, IIoT allows for increased efficiency, productivity, and transparency in a variety of different ways. Here are seven benefits of using IoT in industrial transformation:

1. Remotely monitor data and performance in real-time

Industrial transformation is about making your business more efficient and productive. To do that, you need to track how every part of your operation is performing.

IoT technology makes it possible to monitor online data from anywhere in the world. It can provide remote monitoring of processes such as supply chain logistics or production lines by collecting data from sensors located on machines or within buildings. This information can then be used to aid the decision-making process and increase efficiency by reducing downtime or preventing accidents before they happen.

With this approach, you can stay updated about any vital changes in your manufacturing processes, allowing you to make data-driven, better-informed decisions that ultimately result in improved quality operational efficiencies.

2. Improve occupational safety

Industrial processes are often dangerous and costly due to the risk they pose to workers. Maintaining occupational safety standards in hazardous facilities can be quite challenging. However, the use of sensors, machine learning and predictive analytics can help companies monitor processes more closely and identify risks before they occur. These tools allow organizations to predict maintenance needs or equipment failure before they occur, which reduces downtime and improves productivity.

With IoT-enabled smart devices connected to your command-and-control centre you’ll be informed of safety hazards as soon as they happen to take quick actions and protect the lives of the technicians and engineers. These devices are capable of detecting hazards such as gas leakages, short circuits, fires, overloaded wires, and mechanical failure.

3. Utilise Digital Twins

A digital twin is a virtual representation of an actual physical asset. It allows you to monitor and manage the performance of your assets in real-time and make improvements on them, thus improving efficiency and reducing costs. This technology has been used for a while in the consumer sector, but it is only recently that it has been making waves in industrial transformation.

IoT can be used to connect multiple digital twins together, thereby creating a single unified digital model of your business’s ecosystem. This will allow you to better understand how your various assets interact with each other and how they affect one another’s performance. Also, with IIoT solutions, you can leverage digital twins to test new machines, workflows, and products without affecting your real production site. This approach is safer, faster, costs your business less, and leaves no room for errors and safety hazards.

4. Integrate predictive maintenance techniques

Maintenance is typically one of the biggest costs for any business. By monitoring equipment usage through sensors and machine learning algorithms, organizations can identify when parts need replacing, or repairs are necessary before they become critical issues that result in downtime for production lines or other processes. This helps companies reduce costs associated with maintenance activities while also improving safety outcomes for employees who work around industrial machinery on a daily basis.

Unplanned maintenance is one of the biggest contributing factors to revenue, brand equity, and productivity loss. According to recent research, unplanned downtime causes $50 billion worth of losses across all forms of manufacturing annually.

With no predictive maintenance plan in place, machine failure will continue to jeopardise your production plans, causing major losses for your business. But IoT enables you to adopt a proactive maintenance strategy that can significantly reduce downtime in your plant. Using advanced industrial IoT solutions, you’ll be able to access and analyse new data points with the help of advanced sensors, ensuring that you schedule your maintenance around your production goals.

5. Enhance product quality

IoT can help to improve the quality of products through the use of sensors, which can be placed in various places on a product through the different stages of the product cycle. By using sensors to monitor the temperature, pressure, and other factors during the manufacturing process, you can ensure that your products are being produced with high-quality standards.

The data collected from these sensors provides insights about nonconformities that deviate from the standard product specifications. So, if there are any issues with a particular batch of products, the issue can be traced back to its source. This will reduce the risk of shipping defective goods to customers, which could lead to a loss in revenue or brand reputation damage.

6. Streamline inventory management

Inventory management is one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers. In the past, inventory management required manual data entry and tracking. But with IoT-enabled devices, you can track how much material you have, where it's at, and how fast you're going through it. This will allow you to make more accurate predictions about when you need to order more parts or raw materials. This can help your company save money by avoiding excess inventory purchases and also help ensure that your supply chain remains efficient and reliable

For example, by utilising smart RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) readers, each product in your inventory gets a unique RFID tag, and you’ll be able to gain valuable business insights by monitoring and analysing the data transformed by RFID readers.

7. Minimise costs

For many businesses, cost reduction is a top priority. IoT can help make this happen by automating processes and predicting maintenance schedules so you don't have to worry about unplanned downtime and spend time on redundant processes (or hire someone else to do so).

IoT-based industrial solutions help you reduce costs by combining real-time data monitoring with planned maintenance schedules and Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing, maximising the efficiency of your processes. For example, if there's a machine that needs cleaning every day, an IoT system could automatically alert you at a set time every morning or no matter what time of day it is. This would allow you to save money on labour costs as well as reduce wear and tear on employees who would otherwise be responsible for manual cleaning tasks.

How to build a business strategy to create a smart factory using IoT

Turning your old-fashion factory into a smart factory using IIoT applications requires a robust business strategy. The following serves as a foundational guideline that can make it easier for you to create an effective industrial transformation strategy:

  • Assess the current situation.Auditing your processes and systems to identify their problems is the first step to implementing an IoT-enabled factory.
  • Set clear goals. Prioritising current problems based on their overall business impact will help you determine which IoT solutions you should implement first.
  • Establish partnerships. Forming business relationships with partners capable of providing suitable technologies can significantly affect your IIoT investment and ROI.
  • Test and deploy.Testing your smart factory on a small scale before full implementation is crucial to determine the solutions’ technological and economic feasibility.

Challenges of applying IoT in the manufacturing sector

The opportunities that IoT presents to the manufacturing sector are not only numerous and diverse, but also highly significant. Despite the advantages of industrial IoT, there are barriers that make it harder to implement and maintain. These include:

Cost

One of the biggest challenges for manufacturing businesses seeking to utilise industrial IoT solutions in their factories is cost. Industrial IoT requires a high initial investment that may not be readily available. Knowing that IoT applications can increase the efficiency of our processes and reduce costs in the long term makes the initial capital investment worthwhile.

Moreover, there are ways in which companies can offset some of the cost of implementing an IoT solution. For example, they could consider using a cloud-based IoT platform rather than using an on-premise solution; this would help them reduce their initial investment in hardware while still providing them with all the benefits associated with using an industrial IoT solution.

Integration

Traditional industrial systems have been built on legacy technology, which makes it difficult to integrate IoT devices into these legacy systems. This is because the hardware and software used in traditional systems were developed for a different era—an era where data was not as important as it is today. In the past, if a system failed, the company could just replace it with a new one and continue operating. Today, companies can't afford downtime; therefore, there needs to be an agnostic IoT platform that allows them to use existing systems while adding IoT devices without disrupting them.

Connectivity

Connectivity is also one major challenge. Industrial IoT heavily relies on internet-enabled data collection from devices and equipment, which means that the network infrastructure must be capable of handling large amounts of data being sent in real time. In addition, the industrial IoT network needs to be able to withstand harsh environments (such as high temperatures) and provide long battery life for devices that are deployed in remote locations.

Today, 5G networks allows for faster transmission of data between devices, which makes it more reliable and efficient than previous generations of cellular networking technology. 5G will enable faster data transmission rates and lower response time, which will help companies transform their industries by improving efficiency and safety. As a result, the use of sensors will increase to collect more data for analysis.

Cybersecurity

The ability to collect, analyse, and act on data from industrial devices has helped manufacturers optimize production, reduce costs, and increase revenue. But deploying industrial IoT devices exposes your manufacturing site to cyberattacks that can exploit sensitive data through security vulnerabilities.

An attack on an industrial IoT device can lead to a breach in your network, which can result in a loss of data and financial assets. This can also lead to downtime in your operations, compromising your ability to deliver on customer commitments.

The key to overcoming these challenges is a solution that provides secure connectivity between your IIoT devices and cloud platforms as well as visibility into any data leaks or intrusions.

Lack of Qualified Workforce

Since industrial IoT technologies are relatively new, finding and training qualified workers who know how to handle and operate advanced IoT applications can be challenging. This can make it difficult to get the most out of your investment in IoT technology.

Advanced IoT applications often require large amounts of data analysis in order to work properly. This means that companies will need more people with expertise in data analytics as well as other skills such as software development, mathematical modelling, and visualisation techniques.

Conclusion

Applying Industrial IoT in your manufacturing facility may seem complicated and costly, but the ROI of implementing IoT solutions will have a significant positive impact on your business.

At iotblue, we offer a wide range of IoT solutions that cater to the needs of manufacturing businesses in all industries. Using our low-code IoT platform and its advanced modules, you’ll be able to automate your factory’s processes, get performance insights, and reduce downtime with minimal effort.

Are you interested in transforming your manufacturing plant into a smart, IoT-enabled facility? Reach out to one of our IoT experts to discuss how we can make the transition smoother and faster using our Cervello IoT Suite.