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Jonathan Greenhalgh IT, IIOT...

Understanding the IIOT

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It would seem that these days almost everybody has some sort of connected device in their home. At my house, I can turn my heating on before I leave the office for the night with Hive, get Alexa to turn the lights on and tell her to let me know if anyone is breaking into my house while at the pub, via my smart CCTV camera. My phone even knows when I'm at home or in the office and sets its ring volume accordingly. What a world we live in! 

Smart devices are slowly but surely taking over the world! The IOT or Internet of things is what drives this smart revolution and its also coming into play more and more in other areas, such as manufacturing and engineering.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) connects sensors and other intelligent equipment across manufacturing facilities, helping power AI and run production lines. According to a survey of manufacturing companies in the UK, 81% say they are ready to invest in new digital technologies to boost productivity.

These sensors connect to physical machinery and gather data which is processed by AI and machine learning. The data is then taken and used to create smarter, more efficient processes as well as being connected with the supply chain, so parts ordering and product counts are also part of the automation and always accurate. 

These Smart production lines are not only manufacturing more products, but they are also doing it in a manner that it is safer for the machine operator because there are less accidents, saving millions of pounds in the process.

Another significant benefit of these sensors is that if a machine breaks down the connected sensors will let maintenance operatives know what the problem is and which part of the machine it lies. This is done by monitoring sound frequencies, vibrations and temperatures inside machinery and flagging up when it isn't working within its normal condition. They can even predict through machine learning when a device is likely to breakdown or become dangerous for its operator before it does.

This type of predictive maintenance is huge for manufacturing companies who have machines running all the time and lose money when their equipment is offline.

One industry insider thinks that while the IIOT is boosting efficiency, productivity and safety, it could disrupt business models as well! In the future, high-value equipment like manufacturing robots and aircraft engines could be leased out as opposed to being purchased outright.

Equipped with IIOT Sensors the equipment could be marketed as both a product and a service, with machinery being monitored remotely and servicing and repairing machinery as it reports back that it needs it.

This model could allow manufacturers to concentrate solely on manufacturing and not worrying about equipment breakdowns etc. helping increase their output further.

What are your thoughts on the IIOT? Have you already adopted IIOT connected machinery in your manufacturing space? How has it worked out for you?