The Internet of Things (IoT) is a paradigm that encompasses interactions between objects and people in professional and private life. Its evolution is also generating important changes in the world of industrial production. Industrial IoT (IIoT) has enabled companies to digitalize processes, improve performance and increase productivity. All thanks to the interaction between machinery and advanced technologies like the cloud. Here’s how these human-machine interactions can improve industrial production and personal life.
IoT and IIoT: Moving from Things to Industries
It is fair to ask, “What is the difference between IoT and IIoT? Does it only change the scope?” In a sense, yes. In fact, we could say that IIoT is a subcategory of IoT. The Internet of Things is an expression created to formalize the connection of everyday physical objects to the network and the resulting passage of information.
Obviously, as time went on and due to the results obtained, the scope would expand. The industry discovered the potential of this innovation when it related it to other technologies already on the market. In fact, connected machinery benefits from the Cloud, Edge computing, analytics of sensed data, and resources. This productivity-enhancing flow is just one of the benefits associated with IIoT.
Today, our perception is that so many objects are already connected between the consumer and industrial market. Instead, according to a Cisco survey, 99.4% of physical objects are still missing to be connected. An excellent opportunity for those who can invest in this sector.
How people and things interact
A first form of interaction in the IoT world can occur between connected machines; in this case, we talk about Machine to Machine (M2M). Another is the one which allows people to interact with objects through applications. We won’t get into the technical side, but it is interesting to evaluate the application implications of IoT in private life and the benefits it generates in factories.
Machine to Machine (M2M): communication between objects
Let’s imagine we are in a car while driving along the road that leads us to our workplace every day. When we arrive at the traffic light, the vehicle stops autonomously because the light is red. There is no human intervention; I have not put my foot on the brake or activated the response. This is a case of communication between two physical devices. How can this be achieved? With sensors that are correctly programmed and connected interact with each other.
A similar argument applies to the exchange of information between the machines in a factory. If I have connected machines along the assembly line, I can make them interact by programming the process management software. For example, I can make it so that when the machinery finishes its batch, it alerts a forklift that picks up the raw material and reloads it. All this is done through communication not made of words but numbers.
The advantages in both cases translate into a saving of time and resources. There is no need for human intervention, and production continues smoothly and without interruption. The semaphore example is a future hypothesis while that one of the factories is already an opportunity to exploit.
With industrial IoT, the benefits of interacting and connecting IoT devices are shifting to industrial plants. But are we sure we know all the possible applications? Click To Tweet
Words translated into computer language
Let’s get back in the car, but this time, while stuck in traffic, we remember that we have friends over for dinner in the evening. How do we cook chicken and rearrange the house? If we have purchased connected devices, we can remotely activate the oven and program the robot vacuum cleaner through the smartphone App. So dinner is saved. Smart appliances and home automation are IoT applications that definitely improve our private life: they reduce consumption, increase safety and allow us to optimize time.
A factory worker can benefit just as much from the ability to communicate in real-time with a machine remotely. Especially when factories are large and located in different points, having an App that allows you to act remotely, activating or interrupting connected devices. Without an IoT architecture, reaction times slow down significantly, and the risk often results in increased scrap.
Being able to interact with connected machines, whether it’s home appliances or industrial robots, means controlling and managing processes without being on-site. Moreover, being able to do so in real-time means reducing waste.
The example of the car continues to be fitting. In this case, on the way home, a light comes on to warn us of engine anomalies. About ten minutes later, the mechanic who detected the fault contacts us and asks when we could go to the workshop. All this is possible thanks to the IoT, and in this specific case, to the connection between the car’s onboard computer and the software used in the workshop. If we move to the home environment, devices for monitoring and security of the apartment are another advantage of the IoT. Receiving a message in case of intrusion or smoke in the house means acting in real-time and avoiding irreparable damage.
When we talk about monitoring and security in the factory, the discussion becomes even more delicate. These issues also include the health of the workers and the slowing down of production. Having a machine in a production line that alerts you when its operation deviates from the standard means being able to assess the problem in real-time and often even solve it remotely. If the malfunction was related to the materials used for production (ex: finished raw material) with a software or an App, the resource could proceed with the recharge. If, on the other hand, the error is due to a machine anomaly, the failure to interrupt could endanger the health of a worker who is about to use it.
Feedback from connected objects enables rapid action and overall time optimization. By delegating monitoring and control to connected devices, we can reduce risk-free control activities at home and work.
IoT and IIoT, when integrated into multiple aspects of home and work life, can make a difference in terms of time saved, process efficiency, and resource optimization.