Let's Get to Know Industrial IoT, an Extension of IoT
Thu, April 22, 2021

Let's Get to Know Industrial IoT, an Extension of IoT

As IoT becomes cheaper and more reliable, more firms are turning to IoT to make their day-to-day operations more efficient / Photo by: jamesteohart via Shutterstock

 

Kaya Ismail of CMSWire, a digital customer experience news website, wrote that industrial IoT (IIoT) is a booming tech innovation in various industries, with 82% of participants having either implemented IoT, run a pilot program, or considered adopting it, according to a survey by Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman of ZDNet, a business technology news platform. 

As IoT becomes cheaper and more reliable, more firms are turning to IoT to make their day-to-day operations more efficient. Jon Gold of network news website Network World argued that IIoT has been known to create a much more significant impact on companies, businesses, and safety. 

What Is Industrial IoT?

IIoT is also known as the industrial internet and Internet of Industrial Things, said Gold. Generally speaking, IIoT refers to the “application of instrumentation and connected sensors and other devices to machinery and vehicles” in the energy, transport, and industrial sectors. In practice, IIoT’s role varies. 

For example, an IIoT system could be as simple as a connected rat trap that sends a text message, alerting you that the device has been activated. Or it could be as complex as a fully automated mass production line that helps monitor maintenance, productivity, as well as ordering and shipping information across a network. 

IIoT refers to the “application of instrumentation and connected sensors and other devices to machinery and vehicles” in the energy, transport, and industrial sectors. In practice, IIoT’s role varies / Photo by: Zapp2Photo via Shutterstock

 

IIoT is also the next stage in connecting more devices online, Ismail stated. Emily Maxie, VP of marketing at Very, said, “Building on the foundation laid by traditional control systems.” To illustrate, IIoT makes heavy equipment and system controls more user-friendly, capable, and adoptive. Notably, IIoT utilizes better data collection and automated processes. It also improves user experience to “deliver real-time analytics and improve machine efficiency.” 

Companies have been gathering data to monitor machines in the past, but with technological advances and inexpensive sensors, the process is made even easier. Perry Zalevsky, senior director of industry and community at OSIsoft, stated that tech and industrial companies have developed new technologies to turn data into an asset “for extending the life of existing capital or monitoring equipment.”

What Makes IIoT Unique from IoT? 

IIoT has a different set of requirements from IoT. A small improvement in efficiency may not mean much to a consumer, but the results could be a huge game-changer for businesses. Zalevsky noted that the scale and scope of industrial operations allow organizations to make significant gains faster. To Zalevsky, risk is another difference between IIOT and IoT. Consumers can adopt IoT without worrying about anything, but businesses are more diligent before adopting more IIoT devices. 

If something goes wrong, it could have dire consequences for employees, potentially jeopardizing the organization’s finances, Zalevsky explained. Additionally, IIoT devices are more durable than IoT. To illustrate, industrial companies are investing in machinery and technologies, enabling firms to run the equipment for decades in heavy-use environments. Maxie said, “That means everything — updates, maintenance, patches — needs to be considered in significantly longer cycles than consumer IoT.”

However, it’s possible that all IoT will converge in the future. Darek Fanton, communications manager at OnLogic, said if IoT refers to a collection of smart devices in your house, then IIoT is the technology that changes the way smart factories and smart cities conduct their business. In the future, perhaps we would have a smart refrigerator that alerts grocery stores that you’re running out of supplies. 

Challenges In Implementing IIOT

Not every company is eager to transition to IIoT, as it may put them at risk of losing their market share, reported Process and Control Engineering (PACE), a website that covers topics on automation, sensing, and more. Moreover, IIoT systems require an “expansion of network entry points,” leaving companies vulnerable to financial and operational damage. It is also possible for IIoT devices to be poorly installed or installed without fully understanding the risks of adopting such devices. 

For example, denial of service (DOS) attacks disrupt a process control system, causing unplanned downtime. For companies, this could be costly. Remote hackers and malware can also compromise an organization’s intellectual property. A malware infection or a malicious hack may affect the performance of critical systems in an industrial plant, thereby jeopardizing the safety of workers, property, and the environment. 

IIoT also involves monitoring processes and systems in real-time to ensure they are performing at peak levels. Hence, maintaining reliable, uninterrupted connectivity across system networks is a huge must. Power blackouts, internet outages, and manual or technical errors can result in interruptions in operation and costly downtime. For instance, operations in mining and oil sectors are remote and “spread out over large distances, so the lack of reliable connectivity can hamper the full implementation of digital systems. 

The full adoption of IIoT systems can be hindered when there is a lack of integration and communication between operational technology (OT) and IT departments. OT experts have little to no experience in IT. Hence, IIoT-powered devices can be susceptible to cybersecurity risks if they are enabled without IT resources. Given that, it’s important for businesses to address the gap between OT and IT networks. 

We can conclude that IIoT is an improved version of IoT, with its promise of increased efficiency and faster decision-making processes. Even if companies are eager to adopt IIOT systems, they must be prepared to face the risks and challenges associated with it.  

Not every company is eager to transition to IIoT, as it may put them at risk of losing their market share / Photo by: Pand P Studio via Shutterstock