What is IIoT?

What the heck is IIoT?!

Today there are many definitions of IIoT. Many of them are being used more as marketing buzzwords to catch your attention and create curiosity. At XAutomation, we live, eat, and breathe IIoT and the incredible next-level solutions it is delivering throughout the industrial world.

Let’s talk about IIoT – What it is and how it can work for your operations.

IIoT is broadly defined as an industrial component that connects to the internet. However, what is done with that device to internet connection is where the value (and the confusion) resides.

Here is how you can use IIoT in your industrial operations.

Data Acquisition/Digitization – Legacy controls systems have the ability to display a device’s value and historically log that value to analyze later. However, most devices in facilities are not logged or only partially logged.

It is estimated only 40% of measured points were also displayed and logged.  What about the other 60%? What about the points that aren’t being measured?

Typically, there is a big focus on not overwhelming the operator with data. Further, process engineers at the front end, believe they measured the points that need to be measured. Plus, the cost of engineering the connectivity, display, and access to the historical data was enough for decision-makers to dismiss this valuable data. This causes a major issue.

In short, this data went nowhere because the cost, complexity, potential issues, and the potential to overwhelm the humans was too high.

Well, IIoT is solving these issues. IIoT is dramatically bringing down the cost to acquire the data and reliably store the data. Then, through either pre-built or custom applications, data scientists and subject matter experts are able to review that data remotely in addition to the plant operator. Now, experts can see data (historical and real-time) and design changes that increase reliability, efficiency, and the bottom line.

By delivering more and accurate data-rich insights into the effectiveness and efficiencies of the operation, IIoT allows decision-making based on the data and by the experts to be easier than ever.

Analyzation – With the data now being collected, digitized, and remotely accessible we can start analyzing. Instead of plant operators or technicians alone analyzing real-time data, we can bring in data scientists and subject matter experts.

You know that guy who is known to be the boiler expert in all of the world? He can now review what you have going on. Or, how about that automation expert who’s too busy to go to your site? Yup, he can now chime in as well.

A lot of people haven’t realized the significance of what getting the data to the experts, in real-time, can mean to their bottom line. But it’s happening. Right now. Gone will be the days of someone unqualified throwing wild guesses at a problem. There will be data to suggest an accurate answer. What’s that worth?

Reaction – This is where the rubber meets the road. After events have been identified and solutions have been proposed by the respective experts, the solution is implemented. The event life cycle is closed.

Instead of waiting days, weeks, months, or quarters to see if the solution is working, the real time data acquisition/analysis can be reviewed instantly. It can confirm (or deny) whether the solution is having the desired and predicted effect (or not).

You don’t need to wait for another failure to know if the solution worked or if the efficiency is being realized. You have the data, pre-formatted, and notifications being triggered to let you know as they happen BEFORE the next failure and as you’re realizing your new efficiency.

How is IIoT Revolutionizing the Future

We don’t use the term “revolutionizing” loosely. Another benefit of IIoT that is revolutionizing industrial automation is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Machine learning is a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). You’ve probably heard these terms thrown around as well. But understanding how AI and Machine Learning impacts your IIoT for analyzing the data is a turning point for operations.

It is your data scientist that is pouring through your industrial data 24x7x365 looking for anomalies and patterns. Each detection represents opportunity. These events are often times not detectable by humans due to so much data and/or the event is indirectly connected.

It takes experts to initially develop the machine learning to detect the event and it takes experts to determine what to do about those events.

Machine learning and AI is currently capable to analyze and react to your data from IIoT. While this is still in its infancy, it is nonetheless obtainable. Leveraging AI is the holy grail of industrial operation excellence. With a properly optimized process control system that layers in IIoT strategically, AI can analyze your data for issues you don’t even know about/haven’t experienced yet.

 And…AI can react to solving that issue!  This is already being done today with common data scientist oriented events. There are opportunities already in place for successful reaction to process & mechanical events. Even events like energy consumption (wasted) are easily detectable and reacted to as well.

Should I be using IIoT in my industrial operation?

The list of ways you can leverage IIoT in your plant, factory, or industrial operations is limitless. No doubt that bleeding edge subject matter experts will come up with new ones tomorrow. Those IIoT solutions will be substantial.

Data scientists will also continue to build predictive analytics that will move the needle more and more.

If your industrial application is not digitized in the cloud – you’ll just be reading about the possibilities. Step 1 is to get digitized.

If you need help or support in your industrial automation design, contact the XAutomation team. We are industrial process control experts who understand exactly how you can apply IIoT effectively to your operations.

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