The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already having an immense impact on the evolution of virtually every industry. Sensors, robots, and other digital devices perform manufacturing tasks at speeds and accuracies unmatched by human workers. This fourth of six articles in our in-depth series discusses how adapting your business processes and operations using IIoT devices provides specific application and control assets to your organization, regardless of your industry. You can get started developing your industrial automation systems by reaching out to the IIoT professionals at ICA.
The Industrial Internet of Things Business Case
Fundamentally, the purpose of business is to be profitable, and every company is focused on achieving that end. Chances are good that your industrial competitors are already upgrading their operations to an IIoT foundation or reaching toward that goal. Current research indicates organizations are adopting IIoT automation systems across a range of industries, including automotive, agriculture, healthcare, and energy. Most likely, they’re emerging in your sector too. The growth of IIoT as an industry in and of itself is powering the “4th industrial revolution,” a new stage in the management and organization of the global industrial value chain.
The Industrial Internet of Things is the future of manufacturing for every industry. Adopting IIoT systems within your manufacturing enterprise can help you achieve your current profit goals and future profit aspirations.
Embracing IIoT Assets
Overcoming Cost Concerns
One primary concern facing corporate leaders contemplating modernizing their industrial functioning is the anticipated expense involved. The relative ease of IIoT device installation addresses this concern because there is a limited requirement for cable or conduit installation.
Conventional connections between industrial appliances typically consist of a series of hardwired cables and a number of control panel boxes. These configurations were limited in their physical size and scope by the length of the wires needed between devices and the number of control panels required to connect and manage them all. They were particularly challenging when installed into existing sites that lacked the infrastructure to support that complex web of wiring. The management of hardwired systems also required time and human resources to maintain optimal functionality.
IIoT automated systems reduce the need for hardwired devices and miles of cabling.
- Digital sensors are installed at every data point and in virtually every location, even where humans don’t usually go. They communicate wirelessly with control dashboards through Ethernet technology, so hard cabling is unnecessary.
- Ethernet technology communicates with the devices using preset protocols that govern how incoming data will be managed. Depending on the device, protocols can control transportation strategies, security requirements, and application functionality.
- Ethernet systems also collect and manage the data generated by local area networks (LAN) or wide area networks (WAN) of IIoT appliances. They then format the information transmitted by those digital tools and integrate the resources into aggregated business intelligence for use by the organization.
- Further, a single Ethernet control panel can manage large numbers of digital signals from multiple devices and multiple Ethernet portals. The technology automatically collects, integrates, and transmits aggregated information from an entire network of IIoT appliances.
Industrial automation systems using IIoT and Ethernet technologies effortlessly generate, collect, integrate, and transmit vast quantities of corporate data without needing hands-on oversight or management.
Overcoming Environmental Obstacles
One particular situation has posed significant barriers to automation upgrades: Areas deemed “intrinsically safe” or “explosion-proof” have physical properties that impair or prevent the installation of conventional electrical wiring for any purpose. Products or locations with these designations have been created to reduce the possibility of electrical malfunctions that might ignite gasses emitted by their processes or within their confines. Identifying them as intrinsically safe or explosion-proof indicates that their electrical activities will remain below levels that would otherwise trigger an explosive or combustion incident. It would be prohibitively expensive to retrofit existing intrinsically safe or explosion-proof facilities with automation-enabling technology using conventional electrical wiring and sensor devices.
One vendor using wireless remote monitoring with Industrial Internet of Things devices is Signal Fire Wireless Telemetry. This petroleum industry-facing service provider helps its customers keep their human and production assets safe. Its use of IIoT industrial automation systems improved its service quality and reduced the cost of those installations, enhancing the customer’s experience and satisfaction:
- The fact that sensors could be installed individually on machinery or into operations networks eliminated the need to wire them together or to trench between them for cabling.
- The company saved money on materials purchases and labor costs:
- The price per linear foot of conventionally installed conduit is high, whereas a wireless system costs several hundred dollars less per premeasured device point.
- Individual sensor devices that fail are significantly easier to replace as a single item. Previously used wired devices may have required retrenching, new hardware, or other modifications to match or exceed their predecessor’s performance.
The newly installed wireless monitoring systems lend themselves more easily to varying topographies and terrains. They avoid complications caused by physical barriers, such as trees, fences, buildings, etc., and they can span inaccessible geographies, such as roads or water bodies, or those with other legal or physical impediments.
The company specifically praises two other benefits conveyed by the wireless industrial automation system:
- Its staff appreciates the system’s ability to adapt the functions of different types of sensors into a single, integrated whole-system-monitoring configuration.
- Embedded alarms are integral to the overarching network alert when data transmissions slow or stop. Early notifications allow technicians to locate and mitigate the failure or issue before too much damage or loss can occur.
The IIoT professionals at ICA Engineering are available to discuss how your company can save money and improve profits using wireless sensors and programming. They’ll also offer tips to avoid pitfalls when making this transition, which is the subject of our next post. Call for a consultation today.