industrial internet of things

"The Internet of Things" was a term coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999. IIoT refers to the industrial subset of the IoT (Internet of Things). The dire need of a safe, secure, and efficient industrial system gave birth to the IIoT. There was a time in the 18th century when industrial machines were powered by steam. Industry 2 was powered by electric energy, Industry 3 went autonomous and Industry 4 runs on cyber-physical systems. This paradigm shift from manual to smart automation is helping to monitor and control each part of an industrial facility. 

Industry 4.0 is a name given to “Smart Factories” well known for their current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. It will generate so much business value in the future that it will eventually lead to the fourth industrial revolution.

Successful companies are able to increase their revenue through IoT by creating new business models and improved productivity, exploiting analytics for innovation, and transforming workforce. The potential of growth by implementing IIoT will generate $12 trillion of global GDP by 2030.

Before we discuss IoT in length lets understand a few terms associated with it:

  • Automation: The technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance
  • Cyber-physical system (CPS): A mechanism that is controlled or monitored by computer-based algorithms, integrated with the Internet and its users wherein the physical and software components are intertwined, operating on different spatial and temporal scales, exhibiting multiple and distinct behavioural modalities, and interacting with each other in a myriad of ways that change with context using embedded systems
  • Cloud computing: An information technology paradigm that enables access to shared pools of configurable system resources rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, over the Internet.
  • Cognitive computing (CC): Technology platforms based on the scientific disciplines of artificial intelligence and signal processing; encompassing machine learning and reasoning, language processing, speech recognition and object recognition, human–computer interaction, dialog and narrative generation, among other technologies.

The IoT is thus a network of physical devices, embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. Each device is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system and is able to inter-operate within the existing Internet infrastructure. The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention. IoT is about making things smarter so that they can ‘talk’ to each other.

There are four design principles in Industry 4.0 which support companies in identification and implementation:

  1. Interoperability: The ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of People (IoP)
  2. Information transparency: The ability of information systems to create a virtual copy of the physical world by enriching digital plant models with sensor data. This requires the aggregation of raw sensor data to higher-value context information.
  3. Technical assistance: First, the ability of assistance systems to support humans by aggregating and visualizing information comprehensibly for making informed decisions and solving urgent problems on short notice. Second, the ability of cyber physical systems to physically support humans by conducting a range of tasks that are unpleasant, too exhausting, or unsafe for their human co-workers.
  4. Decentralized decisions: The ability of cyber physical systems to make decisions on their own and to perform their tasks as autonomously as possible. Only in the case of exceptions, interferences, or conflicting goals, are tasks delegated to a higher level.

Hardware components of IIoT would typically include sensors, RFID, Condition Monitoring, Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Smart Meters, Camera System, Industrial Robotics, AHS and Net-Working Technologies. The software parts are Product Life Management Systems (PLM), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA). Extracting data from all systems or extricating data from the main system and placing it into different machines in perfection, is the distributed intelligence in the IIoT. This data is then connected with each other in a network after integration. Later, as per customer needs, this data is extracted in a smart way to avoid monotony of work, and minimize labour cost. 

The reach of IIoT is not just restricted to developed urban cities but the outreach is in far off rural areas too; whereby protocols like MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport ) are being introduced. This is an ISO standard design for remote locations where the bandwidth is limited. This message protocol is used on top of TCP/IP protocol to support wireless networks with varying levels of latency due to unreliable connections. For the Urban cities, 5G is the latest trend. This technology is evoking the interest of key industry players due to its higher bitrate, lower latency and extended bandwidth. With the sophisticated network comes the responsibility of data handling and security. Machinery is required to connect with each other and derive data from functions. Data being very large, needs to be clubbed in a single cloud-based system. The cloud based system should be tightly secured so that only registered users can extract the company’s factory automation data.

From smart dust to drones, futuristic farming to energy networks, motor control to machine-to-machine, IIoT applications are creating a web across the globe and making big strides due to new advances on both the software and hardware side. Printed flexible sensors are the future of technology for the IIoT. These sensors are light weight and low cost, which is a critical evolution for the field. Edge commuting technology has become a common framework that builds an ecosystem for plug-and-play of components in a system through simplification and standardization. Thus it makes interoperability between devices, applications and services possible.


Applications in the industry : 

  1. Oil and gas majors, use visualization technique and MRI like technology to tap natural resources from the exact location. Sensors are connected internally as well as externally on the gas and oil pipeline for monitoring purposes. Thus IIoT is simplifying the traditional practices and is reaching out to places where manually the work gets complicated and yields lower efficiency. 
  2. Telematics devices are installed on transformers to capture temperature, voltage and current and send wirelessly via cloud providing overload warnings, electricity theft or equipment tampering alarms from any location. This cost effective real time reporting helps identify potential problems before they result in service interruptions thus bringing more reliability to the grid.
  3. Maritime Companies via cloud, use sensors to log the location, speed and temperature of the marine vessel with real time monitoring. This data is shared with the respective firms whose goods are being shipped from production houses to warehouses.
  4. Diesel generators are critical to operations in many industries. Their engine measurements like RPM, oil temperature, pressure and power factor captured remotely and shared through cloud can highlight load inefficiencies, send shutdown alerts, provide fuel usage monitoring and battery disconnection alarms. Therefore, fraudulent manual usage logs that eat into your profitability can be completely eliminated. 
  5. Vehicular movements can be tracked real time via GPS and wireless communication and traced on maps, displaying its current location, speed, stops and route. You can create a geo-fence and also set up alerts according to set rules. Alerts can also be received if doors of commercial vehicles are opened at undesignated areas. This increases safety of not just passengers but drivers too.
  6. Communication devices with level sensing are installed on large volume storage containers and tanks meant for bulk liquids or fuels. These help closely monitor and manage inventory for ordering and delivery. Fill levels, usage, filling and removal alerts, leak detection and siphoning details can be obtained via cloud from almost anywhere. 

Although IIoT is a complex system, its creating waves worldwide due to its simplicity in implementation by the end user. Companies and government bodies have already started adopting measures for the IIoT. Back home the Indian government has launched the Digital India Initiative to prepare the country for a data-driven future. We at TTS help you create an intelligent support system that can give you more effective control over your assets to increase your operational performance, improve customer satisfaction and help strengthen your competitive position in the market today