What is IIoT and Why Is It Critical to the Future of Industrial Automation?

 

Even though a relatively new development, the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is making waves in the manufacturing sector. With users leveraging the advantages of cloud technology to automate factory robots, there has been increased productivity and improved production speed in a wide range of industries. With an already auspicious beginning, IIoT is expected to play an even more critical role in the future of industrial automation.

 

What is it?

IIoT refers to the computer network connecting instruments, sensors, and other devices. IIoT may also be referred to as Industry 4.0, differentiating it from the more private IoT. It is used in energy management and other industrial applications, especially in the manufacturing sector. Through the network, users can collect data, exchange, and analyze it to improve efficiency and productivity. It is already finding its way into various industries including cosmetics, packaging, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and food and beverages.

 

Why Is IIoT Critical To The Future Of Industrial Automation?

Given the impact it is already making in industrial automation, IIoT is bound to play a critical role in improving efficiency and productivity in the future. Companies are expected to continue to incorporate IIoT into business development and overall strategy due to its many benefits, such as:
Intelligent Machinery: Implementing IIoT in manufacturing means improving the ability to monitor production performance and support early detection of production delays. With that, it is possible to minimize downtime while maximizing productivity.

Efficient Data Collection and Analysis: IIoT makes it possible to collect data on productivity, performance, and other metrics. This means a manufacturer can make better decisions about improving the company’s overall performance.

Improving Resource Management: A business that utilizes IIoT can better understand a machine’s performance and current use. This enables companies to boost productivity, safeguard workers, and reduce operating costs.

The good thing is that these benefits are not industry-specific, but can apply to just about any industrial activity. Here are six key ways IIoT is essential to the future of industrial automation:

 

1. Production Process Optimization

One of the things that IIoT is expected to drive is the optimization of production processes. For example, a company can use IIoT to establish a command and control system, integrating business strategies and day-to-day tactical operations. In a manufacturing business, IIoT can be used to provide key insights like defining future load forecasts.

 

2. Creating Flexibility in Production Processes

Using IIoT, businesses can create flexibility in production processes through the implementation of smart manufacturing. We see this already happening in the automotive and food and beverages industries, for example. In 2014, Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking its customers to put names on beverage bottles. That can be expanded using IIoT, with the customer names being submitted straight to the factory’s printer.

 

3. Increasing the Degree of Automation

While automatic machines already exist, it is expected that IIoT will increase the degree to which they are utilized. In the future, it may become unnecessary to maintain the same number of human workers on a factory floor, with robots carrying out all the production processes. That’s likely to reduce human errors and improve efficiency and productivity in all types of industries.
Siemens, a German company, is already in the process of creating fully-automated internet-based factories. Another example is the French company Airbus, which is already using digital manufacturing. With time, the degree of application is expected to increase across industries.

 

4. Faster Detection of Productivity Problems and Weaknesses

With IIoT, it is possible to detect productivity problems long before they get out of hand. All that a factory manager needs to do is monitor and analyze data coming from the plant. Any anomalies detected in the data can be corrected quickly, helping the factory maintain or improve production levels. Factory managers will be better equipped to improve efficiency by reducing traffic congestion, balancing workload, avoiding collisions, and eliminating work that doesn’t add value.

 

5. Accurate Prediction Of Machine Conditions And Schedule For Maintenance

Manufacturers may soon be saying goodbye to the days when factory equipment broke down without warning leading to a production loss. The use of IIoT can help factory managers accurately predict the machine’s condition and schedule it for maintenance, reducing production downtime and the cost of repairs.

 

6. Improving Quality Control and Reducing Errors

To ensure that products meet quality standards, companies have to keep a keen eye on their products, carry out tests on samples, and manually analyze the findings. Even then, the results are prone to human error. However, implementing IIoT to collect product specification data can make the process much more efficient. A good example is businesses in glass manufacturing, which analyze and monitor their manufacturing processes using internet-based solutions. The intelligent systems are more accurate than humans, ensuring the factory’s products meet the right specifications.

 

Conclusion

IIoT has the power to transform industrial automation by making production processes more flexible and accurate. Adopters of this technology can expect to detect production problems and automatically schedule machine maintenance quickly. Also, IIoT has the power to improve industrial quality control by reducing human error.

Interested in how these benefits can transform your business? Contact ICA Engineering for more information.

 

Image Credit: Piqsels @ Creative Commons


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