Throughout the history, industrial revolution can be categorized into four different stages, each having its own set of characteristics. The first stage was marked with the introduction of mechanical production units, which was run with the help of steam engines. Second stage was all about electrical energy and proper departmental approach to manufacturing. 3rd stage was marked with the blending of IT and automation. Fourth stage being the current phase, is the most crucial of them all, with the extensive usage of cyber physical systems. This phase brings about the next wave of innovation, in the form of IIoT (Industrial internet of things). It is basically the method by which the machines are connected and optimized worldwide.

Machine connectivity is the name of the game

IIoT can be defined as the amalgamation of advance sensors, analytics, data management, and smart decision making capabilities, which leads to better coordination and communication between the field assets. Forward thinking manufacturers; have taken great endeavor to connect their products and appliances to IIoT. However, IIoT demands much more than just technology connectivity. It is a true business disruption, which requires advance management capabilities, in terms of relationship management with customers, which is complemented by transformed business models.  Manufacturers have taken great strides, to connect advance sensors with powerful computers, to create next generation smart factories.

A study has shown that almost $6 trillion will be spent till 2020, to implement newer IoT solutions, clearly making it the next big disruption wave in the business world. Out of this, software and allied application development, is predicted to share the bulk of the pie. Therefore, smart organizations are embracing this once in a lifetime, disruption in technology, which connects physical business assets like sensors, machines, devices, etc., with internet services. With remote access, IIoT brings about, transformative business improvements along with substantial rise in efficiency of operations. Smart and connected products will in turn increase performance by lowering downtime significantly, through remote diagnostic solutions. It is a fact now that intelligent products which are connected, improves the performance drastically. Also, through advance conditional monitoring abilities, downtime of the machines can be reduced drastically.

Embracing IIoT is easier said than done

In today’s smart manufacturing firms, the ability to leverage IIoT, to improve upon profitability is a challenge. The need of the hour is an experienced technology partner, who has catered to different sectors like logistics, automotive, manufacturing, and utilities to name a few. It is extremely essential to set the platform right, before IIoT can be embraced. Let us have a look at some of the basic steps to be followed:  

  • Design of hardware devices, so that it can be interconnected within the industry.            
  • Designing of storage facility for incoming high volume data, from thousands of devices.
  • Design services for external data exchange.
  • Use HTTP protocols to arrest data.
  • Establish stream analytics procedures.
  • Managed service via SOC/NOC.

Also Read: Transformers on the Factory Floor and Other IIoT Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

The trick is to create or enhance the IoT product chain, by increasing the domain knowledge, with right kind of consulting expertise.  This can be achieved with the help of following protocol

Solution development:-

  • Choosing right analytics with security solutions.
  • Integration of solution with organizations legacy systems like SAP or ERP.
  • Choosing platform and allied devices to harness the benefits of IIoT.

Platform selection:-

  • Data transmission connectors are paired with different modes of communication.
  • Development & verification of the platform scalability.  
  • Development of various communication device modules.
  • Fine-tuning of the platform for various markets.

Mobile Network Operator/Mobile Virtual Network Operator

  • Develop specific application for SaaS and service enablement platform.
  • Usage based analytics.
  • Platform component integration.

Device end or OEM site integration:-

  • Gateway and respective hardware development, for lower power consumption.
  • Respective firmware creation for analytics and local processing.
  • Server side platform partnership.

Going by the above protocol, organizations can have better asset management, through superior predictive maintenance. Leveraging on IIoT, shall lead to connected factories, with better PLC connectivity. Tool and people associated with the process, can be easily traced and accounted for. Even the inventory and finished goods are better connected. However, it is very important to choose a technology partner, who would be able to develop customized IT enablement solutions, like platform or solutions. It should be followed by proper engineering and testing services, covering devices to cloud. Solution like vehicle tracking and Geofencing are a must have for logistic or supply chain organizations. The technology partner should be able to integrate devices over HTTP protocol.

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