The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is shaking the industrial world, producing innovations that boost efficiency for companies while simultaneously reshaping society. As the race of technological progress continues, the IIoT is expanding in ways that are changing what is possible.
What Is the IIoT and Why Does It Matter?
The Industrial Internet of Things consists of various types of industrial equipment that are networked with computers and devices to collect data, which is often used for remote monitoring and diagnostics. IIoT systems send the amassed data to a cloud-based software service that processes and captures valuable information for its users. Companies receive real-time reports with valuable data, allowing them to make critical decisions and manage their assets more efficiently.
As innovative companies continue to create revolutionary IIoT devices and applications, organizations no longer have an excuse for holding to the status quo. A 2017 survey by Modern Materials Handling indicates that 86% of companies surveyed are implementing IIoT solutions, with the following industries leading the way:
- Construction/transportation (93%)
- Oil and gas (89%)
- Manufacturing (77%)
As more and more companies adopt IIoT products, their increased efficiency and production will widen the competition gap, leaving unconnected organizations further behind in market share. Regardless of the size or your company, it’s essential to consider taking the first steps toward adopting industrial IoT applications.
10 Industrial IoT Applications that Are Improving Efficiency Today
1. Kuka Toledo Production Operations (KTPO) | IoT Enabled Factory
KTPO created a fully digitized factory with a digital monitoring and data management system that operates a fleet of 259 robots. Their client, Jeep Wrangler, wanted a factory that could produce one Wrangler every 77 seconds – and KTPO delivered.
They used IoT technology throughout their factory, producing 828 Jeep Wranglers per day, drastically increasing daily production and enabling them to meet rising global demand.
The public demand for smart, affordable transportation is constantly increasing. IIoT enabled factories offer a solution by increasing production, decreasing manufacturing costs, and freeing up resources to produce more technologically advanced vehicles.
2. Shell Global | Smart Fields Technology
Shell was the first company to implement Smart Fields technology, which uses thousands of sensors built into their field equipment. These sensors allow the company to remotely monitor critical data about temperature and pressure that’s captured in real time, even in off-shore locations.
Not only does it take fewer resources to monitor their equipment, but the real-time data analytics saves valuable time. Employees are alerted to a potential problem almost immediately and are often able to act before a problem arises. Shell’s IIoT applications increase production while reducing costs and safety hazards.
Worldwide demand for oil and gas continues to grow and companies are scrambling to keep up and compete on the global scale. Oil and gas companies have a strained relationship with the public due to environment and safety concerns, as well as several widely publicized industrial accidents. IIoT products increase monitoring efficiency and safety, thereby improving public relations and providing new possibilities for the future.
3. Sensa Networks | Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics for Waste Collection Operations
Sensa Networks has designed and implemented smart sensors for use in municipal and commercial waste collection operations. Their IIoT products allow companies that use a commercial waste collection operation to remotely monitor bin fullness and reduce costly unnecessary pickups. Related administrative tasks are virtually eliminated through Sensa’s automatic pick-up scheduling and purchase order submission service. The company’s industrial IoT devices also track equipment performance and maintenance issues, providing efficiency reports to aid in preventative maintenance.
Successful companies make the environment a priority, and waste management plays an important role in this. As IIoT applications continue to increase efficiency, many companies will be able to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize their environmental impact.
4. Real Time Innovations (RTI) | Microgrid Innovations
RTI has developed the concept of microgrids or smart grids, allowing utility companies to manage these incoming resources independently using IoT technology. The archaic structure of yesterday’s power grid has led to great inefficiencies in modern power management. It’s not equipped to handle today’s varied energy sources, such as natural gas, coal, nuclear plants, solar panels, and windmills.
When resources are managed independently using IIoT applications (microgrids), utility companies can securely manage, configure, and monitor smart devices that control the modern energy grid.
5. Ecube Labs | CleanCUBES
CleanCUBES are solar-powered trash compactors equipped with wireless transmission capabilities and GPS tracking. These high-tech compactors hold 8 times more waste than traditional, non-compacting bins. Ecube claims their IIoT products reduce collection frequency by as much as 80%.
6. Accenture | Industrial Smart Glasses
Accenture developed smart glasses specifically for Airbus’s use in aircraft assembly. Operators wear the smart glasses while installing seats in the cabin, allowing them to view all the required information for layout as they mark the floor for installation. The device has drastically reduced the time involved in staging and setting aircraft seats. Smart glasses enable operators to check for accuracy and quality down to the last millimeter with far fewer man hours involved.
The use of smart glasses in the aircraft industry notably reduces human error and promises to do the same for other manufacturing applications.
7. IBM | Wearable Safety Technology
IBM has partnered with North Star Bluescope Steel to develop a cognitive platform to improve workplace safety. Industrial IoT devices are gaining traction in the workplace, and IBM has its own line of smart sensors backed by the powerful IBM Watson platform.
Specifically, the platform for Bluescope “gathers and analyzes data collected from sensors embedded in helmets and wristbands to alert employees and their managers in real-time.” Companies spend large portions of their annual budget on workplace safety programs and associated expenses, and yet the International Labor Organization reports that 151 workers have a work-related accident every 15 seconds. Wearable safety technology and cognitive computing are the keys to lowering these figures.
IoT applications in the manufacturing industry, such as IBM’s workplace innovations, will allow companies to expand their operations and attract skilled workers to jobs that were once thought to be too dangerous.
8. Big Belly | Multi-Purpose Hosting Platform
Big Belly’s Industrial IoT applications go above and beyond smart waste and recycling for the public sector. Hidden inside their public right-of-way smart waste receptacles are Wi-Fi Hotspots and wireless equipment.
Pay phones have long been a thing of the past, and cities have struggled to find ways to keep the public connected without creating eyesores and paying for constant equipment maintenance. Big Belly has provided a dual-purpose technology that allows public waste management to operate more efficiently while also providing communities with the connections that have become a necessity in the modern age.
9. Amazon / Kiva | IoT and Robotics in Warehouse Fulfillment
Amazon acquired the Kiva Systems in 2012 and has since married Kiva’s robotic technology with IoT applications to create a highly efficient warehouse fulfillment operation. “The robots are controlled by a centralized computer using a secured Wi-Fi network for communication,” according to Information Week.
The smart, robotic warehouse processes hundreds of online orders per second as the digitized fulfillment system locates products on the shelf for worker-bots to process. Human employees work alongside the robots, performing other necessary tasks, such as restocking and managing the work of their robot counterparts.
Online shopping and internet-based shipping is on the rise, and with the world moving at increased speeds, Amazon has realized that tangibles must keep pace. With the close of retail icons like Toys “R” Us, it’s apparent that the future of retail is online purchasing. Industrial IoT products and robotics provide the necessary infrastructure for future markets.
10. John Deere | Self-Driving Tractors
When the self-driving car was merely a concept, John Deere was producing the “self-driving” tractor. John Deere’s Industrial IoT products incorporate auto-steering, navigation, and guidance technology specifically designed for the farming industry.
The autonomous tractor not only increases precision and efficiency in farming, but it also solves the problem of agriculture’s shrinking labor force. Fewer and fewer young people are choosing agriculture as their life’s work, and today’s generation of successful farmers lean heavily on technology to meet production.
Regardless of how technical our society becomes, we’ll always require the necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter. When IoT applications in the manufacturing industry partner with agriculture to produce quality and abundant food supplies, it’s a win for everyone.
The First Step in Implementing IIoT Applications for Your Business
It’s apparent that most companies aren’t Amazon or Airbus, but IIoT applications are no less important to the average business. Where should small but viable organizations begin when considering IIoT applications?
One option is to begin by revamping routine maintenance tasks that drain time and resources. Sensa Networks offers practical IoT solutions for organizations that run waste management operations.
- Sensa’s smart fullness sensors monitor compactor levels, automatically scheduling pickups and issuing purchase orders to haulers only as needed.
- Your company will also reap the benefit of equipment diagnostics, as the sensors report on machine performance and indicate needed services calls.
- If your company has a sustainability program, you’ll find Sensa’s Insight Reporting solution drastically improves monitoring with the added benefit of customized reports.
Contact Sensa Networks to learn more about ways their solutions will increase your organization’s efficiency.