The industrial internet of things (IIoT) accelerates value to society and the economy by integrating operational practices, in every industry, with big data and machine-learning. IIoT affects a wide range of technologies at both the systems and device levels to include industrial automation systems, communication technology, cloud-based data analytics and related infrastructure.
While many think of manufacturing as the “industrial” in IIoT, the IIoT impact is in fact pervasive across industries, with early applications in transportation, healthcare, power, process control, buildings and smart cities.
True connectivity is redefining businesses in nearly every vertical segment globally. Connected building systems can improve power management, which enhances building safety and reliability. On a larger scale, intelligent electrical grids allow businesses to both analyse operational data for better efficiency of current plants and integrate renewable sources to support green environmental initiatives globally.
The need for connectivity and improved efficiency is paramount in creating greater value. A shift towards tighter systems integration enables enterprises to not only be more efficient, but also more profitable due to greater flexibility and responsiveness to changing conditions. Connectivity contributes to environmental sustainability objectives too.
With greater connectivity comes an accelerating need for greater cyber security practices and technologies in industrial control systems. The complexity of IIoT dictates that IIoT-focused cyber security measures be designed into business practices, automation systems and components to ensure the security of individual assets and related larger, holistic systems.
Companies that first optimise and then digitise their operations through IIoT solutions are seeing immediate value from real-time data, dramatically improving operations, creating value both within the business and for their end-use customers. When managed well, this data can apply such value as predictive analytics to stave off unplanned downtime, often identifying the sources of potential equipment issues and catastrophic risks before they happen. Companies are also benefiting from safety and security measures.
For businesses to achieve maximum value from IIoT systems, best practices are essential. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has three main objectives – build community, provide industry guidance and prove with testbeds.
Our IIC community of more than 270 companies represents today’s largest IIoT ecosystem of experts in IIoT. Stakeholders within the IIC come from every segment globally, including private industry, governments and academia. Our testbed programme is the industry’s most comprehensive, with more than 25 testbeds and growing.
We are releasing practical guidance on how to build IIoT systems. The IIC published a set of reference documents. The Industrial Internet Reference Architecture provides a strategic treatment of how to build an IIoT system. The Industrial Internet Security Framework extends the reference architecture to consider IIoT security concerns. The Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework provides a deep understanding of IIoT connectivity issues and best practices.
The Business Strategy and Innovation Framework provides high-level identification and analysis of issues enterprises will need to capitalise on with opportunities emerging from the IIoT. These deliverables are key enablers of IIoT, creating a roadmap for businesses to enter the IIoT ecosystem.
The potential of IIoT is to create new applications that were not possible before the combination of intelligence and networking, including innovations such as autonomous cars for safe, efficient transportation, optimised agriculture, medical devices and systems that can connect and work together to care for patients, and integrated central and distributed power generation that will transform the core infrastructure of the planet, optimising and creating industries.
These IIoT applications will be the primary economic growth drivers of the next several years. Although most IIoT systems take time to design, build and deploy, they are rapidly becoming the infrastructure for a new generation of systems benefiting both business and society mutually. As we say within the IIC, “Things are coming together.”