The internet transformed the world’s economic, social, and knowledge order when it made its public debut in the 1990s. That transformation has affected how we maintain our relationships, who influences our views, and the frequency with which we connect. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) is growing in importance, and experts believe it is poised to influence sectors such as transportation, healthcare, energy distribution, food production, and even how we do the laundry.
Many people don’t realize that the IoT consists of three related but distinct components – the consumer IoT, enterprise IoT, and industrial IoT (IIOT).
The consumer IoT comprises the smart devices that ordinary people use in their everyday lives. This includes devices like smartwatches that control the coffeemaker and garage door; it also includes the ever-present Amazon Alexa. The enterprise IoT consists of devices that help companies improve customer service, reduce expenses, and upgrade products and services without having to scale up their teams. One example of the enterprise IoT is the monitor that healthcare professionals attach to chronically ill patients in order to keep abreast of their condition remotely. Patients can receive expert oversight without having to stay in the hospital.
The consumer and enterprise IoT are clearly defined, but what is the industrial IoT?
The IIoT both overlaps with and remains distinct from other forms of IoT. About the IIoT, i-scoop says, “The Industrial Internet of Things opens plenty of opportunities in automation, optimization, intelligent manufacturing and smart industry, asset performance management, industrial control … [and] new ways of servicing customers and the creation of new revenue models, with the more mature goal of industrial transformation.”
By 2020, the U.S. will be home to 180 million connected industrial devices, and China will not be far behind. In these and other countries, waste management corporations can use connected devices to streamline and improve collection practices.
What Does the IIoT Do?
Simply put, IIoT provides smart technology that equips machines to talk with one another, and it does so across multiple industries, including logistics, energy, manufacturing, aviation, and mining.
The IIoT’s power lies in its ability to take a mountain of data, convert it to useful information, and communicate it from device to device without significant human interference. In doing so, IIoT devices reveal inefficiencies, errors, and problems sooner and more accurately than a human being could do, enabling corporations to optimize their systems and processes and reduce their costs. The IIoT allows companies to engage in predictive maintenance, asset tracking, and energy management. Experts pinpoint its potential in the areas of quality control, environmental sustainability, and supply chain accuracy and transparency. In waste management, one example of the IIoT would be a bin sensor that reports when a trash bin is full.
How Is the Industrial IoT Changing Industries?
The Industrial IoT drives change by identifying smarter ways to work, and by improving industrial effectiveness. According to the experts at the software solutions team Apogaeis, “The Industrial IoT can control the data from machines and transform the processes and systems of the new age manufacturing environment. Real-time operational efficiencies in manufacturing are driven by changes in manufacturing process, supply chain, robotic plants, embedded systems and connected devices. These all help in reducing risks and at the same time create innovation.”
Manufacturing is the largest IIoT-affected industry with manufacturers spending $178 billion a year on Industrial IoT applications and related expenses, a larger sum than the entire amount spent on the consumer Internet of Things. Most of these expenses support manufacturing operations, field service, and production asset management and maintenance. Practically, a lot of these dollars go into cyber-physical systems that help with intelligent manufacturing, end-to-end monitoring, and human-machine interaction.
Benefits of the IIoT in Manufacturing
Why is the manufacturing sector investing so heavily in the IIoT? A few key points of information illustrate the power of the IIoT in manufacturing.
- Maintenance: Manufacturing’s maintenance expenses are astronomical. Smart technology can alert companies about upcoming repairs before the machines ever break, reducing costs and downtime. Imagine knowing that a garbage collection truck was about to break down – weeks before it actually did so.
- Data management: Complete, correct, and accessible data helps people work more efficiently and with fewer errors. IIoT devices collect, sort, and transfer data between them in ways that can help manufacturing employees function better in their jobs.
- Scalability: Here again, Apogaeis explains, “Strategic IIoT demands that manufacturers take a fresh look at scalable manufacturing and apply it to the production process to optimize the overall productivity by minimizing cost.”
- Cost optimization: Probably the benefit that first attracts most manufacturers is cost optimization. Experts say manufacturers employing IIOT devices can expect a 50% decrease in product development and assembly costs. A reliable and connected network of sensors can identify problems and flag needed parts early, thus reducing costs. More and more machines will be able to self-diagnose and even order replacement parts for themselves further whittling down costly oversights and errors.
5 Applications of the IIoT
The IIoT can improve production quality along with customer satisfaction through the use of sensors that collect and make sense of key data points such as those that determine how full a waste management container is.
NewGenApps states that, “This data relates to the composition of raw materials used, temperature and working environment, wastes, the impact of transportation, etc, on the final products.” With this data, manufacturers can help correct deviations from the target quality. In addition, the IIoT improves the quality of customer satisfaction by personalizing the approach. Paradoxically, a machine can sound more personal than a human being since it can retain more useful data about the customer’s habits and preferences.
Food and beverage packagers have come under intense scrutiny for their industry’s affect on the environment as well as its contribution to worldwide food insecurity. Single-use plastic containers, wrappers, straws, and bottles are filling the oceans and clogging the marine industries of developing countries, while food gets tossed out regularly for being expired or overexposed to room temperatures.
As this industry becomes increasingly regulated, the IIoT can help packaging manufacturers improve the quality of their products while better protecting foodstuffs all the way from farm to fork. Here again, data collection and sorting are key to minimizing packaging materials, reducing energy consumption, and maintaining rigorous quality standards in the industry’s products.
In facility management, the IIoT connects owners, tenants, authorities, and service providers to a central communication and information hub. That way, everyone sees the same data, but it’s contextualized to their needs and interests. In the building itself, the IIoT technology connects climate control devices, elevators, escalators, lights, and security systems to one another. Ultimately, this connection optimizes engagement, consumption, and service provision to reduce costs and improve efficiency and quality. Waste management companies can also make sure that remote locations operate as efficiently as the home office.
Not only do Excel-based and paper-based inventory systems drain time and resources from manufacturing companies, but they are also notoriously unreliable. Still, a whopping percentage of manufacturers use them. In contrast, the IIoT can give managers an accurate, real-time picture of their inventories, often at a surprisingly affordable cost. At the 2017 International Conference on Computing, Communication and Automation (ICCCA), Deloitte consultant Athul Jayaram stated, “Enterprises can make more revenue when the inventory is managed efficiently with computational intelligence and predictive analytics. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) collects useful data from machines and sensors which can be used for demand forecasting of the enterprise and automation.”
Transportation and Logistics
Transporting goods along the supply chain is many manufacturers’ greatest headache. Expensive, strictly regulated, and hard to monitor, transportation is now taking place on increasingly congested highways. IIoT technologies can improve transportation and logistics, however, by increasing end-to-end visibility and improving fleet management and warehouse and yard management. Caterpillar is one major company that uses smart technology to track its fleet, monitor fuel efficiency, and do predictive maintenance in order to save time and improve service. Many waste management corporations are improving efficiency and maintaining control of their collection vehicles with IIoT technology, too.
What is the IIoT’s value for waste management companies? Teams of professionals across the world are working diligently to figure out how to solve the trash crisis created by larger numbers of people, creating more pounds of trash with an ever-shrinking space to throw it away. Technology is helping. In India, for instance, companies are synergizing the physical with the digital to create an interconnected community of garbage trucks, rubbish bins, and garbage disposal systems that can talk to one another in the cloud.
Closer to home, Sensa Networks offers high-tech sensor solutions that measure the space between the lid of a waste container and the topmost object inside, communicating the information to waste management companies in real time. These sensors permit companies to collect only full rubbish bins and to reorganize their routes for optimized pickup schedules. Companies using IIoT sensors can improve their environmental footprint and save on maintenance, repair, and personnel costs. Sensa Networks helps companies optimize their costs and efficiencies using the IIoT.