What’s new with IIoT technologies?
When it comes to IIoT technologies and the Internet of Things, however, growing pains may be the least of your concerns. Add the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things to the equation, and imagine the operational challenges your company will have to address over the next few years. This post will help you gain a foothold on where IIoT technologies stand as 2016 gets underway.
A brief definition of IoT
When you read about IoT, you are most likely reading about consumer-focused use cases. Autonomous, “driverless” cars are a prime example of the hype that IoT has wrought. Smart, Web-connected home automation technology is another, albeit more realistic, application of IoT.
In short, IoT refers to the interconnected network of products, people and previously “dumb” devices that will flood the Web over the next few years. Along those lines, think of what this emerging technology means for manufacturing operations and business process optimization. Does IoT technology have potential for industrial use cases too? The answer is: Absolutely.
How IIoT is different
You may have read that IIoT, the Industrial Internet of Things, is nothing short of the next revolution in manufacturing, on par with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution more than a century ago. Expert insights into the IIoT revolution, as written by LNS Research, say that “the Industrial IoT should be understood as a subset of the broader IoT, where these connections exist mainly to produce physical goods for the marketplace as well as to maintain the physical assets of production.”
IIoT technologies includes networked instrumentation, sensors, machine-to-machine automation technology and people, too, which may come as a surprise to you if you have not considered the safety angle. Take petroleum refining as a prime example. Embedded sensors in work garments can give advanced warning of toxins gathering in the air and alert workers to the potential danger.
Balancing interoperability and quality
As with any new technology, you can expect to come across more than a few real-world problems that pundits failed to anticipate. What is new about IIoT technology is the interoperability and integration pain points that are beginning to come to light.
Think about how challenging it is to integrate the manufacturing systems you already have, which have no plug-and-play solutions readily available. Add inherently unproven technology to the mix, and imagine how difficult your task as a quality manager becomes.
Silos of software applications and data already pose a problem, which is why enterprise quality management software has stepped to the fore in recent years. The benefits of EQMS align well with the forthcoming challenges of integrating IIoT with your company’s current operational ecosystem.
What EQMS can do is act as a central hub of manufacturing and quality data, which will include more and more IIoT devices in the near future. From a high level, the end game is efficiency and operational intelligence. Machine-to-machine (M2M) automation has already taken leaps and bounds forward, so IIoT takes M2M to the next level by providing further automated insights via secure networks.
As IIoT best practices begin to emerge, you can count on more surprises over the next few years since technology progresses at such a fast pace. What is new about IIoT is the fact that more questions than answers continue to emerge.