First off, let’s break down some jargon. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) refers to the system of interconnected devices which have the ability to collect and share data. For example, the concept of the ‘smart home’ is built around various internet connected ‘things’ exchanging and taking action based on information. Think of a smart thermostat that turns the heating up when your phone tells it you’re on your way home.
In an industrial setting, this same ecosystem is called the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ (IIoT). It relates to devices involved in industrial processes, such as manufacturing and energy management throughout factories and supply chains. A popular example is predictive maintenance, where the analysis of multiple data points allows businesses to predict (and avoid) machine failures months in advance.
A myriad of opportunities
According to Forbes, spending on IIot platforms for manufacturing is expected to go from $1.67B in 2018 to $12.44B in 2024. The bulk of this investment will come from the discrete manufacturing sector, which will outpace batch and process manufacturing to reach 53% of spend in the area. Why such interest? Simply because discrete manufacturing is one of the most data-centric sectors around and the opportunities represented by the IIoT are too good to ignore.
A report by IoT Analytics found that manufacturers were most interested in the IIoT in order to improve general process optimization (43%), general dashboards and visualization (41%) and condition monitoring (32%).
Breaking these categories down, the study revealed a focus on predictive maintenance, asset tracking and energy management. Discreate manufacturers in particular are constantly looking to cut down production time to free up space in their schedules and offer customers short-notice production runs – a huge competitive advantage.
A more connected future
Leveraging the power of the IIoT is already causing a step change in the discrete manufacturing industry. Optimized systems and workflows are enabling businesses to compete and thrive in a an increasingly competitive and complex environment. As more and more businesses and sectors adopt smart technology, the benefits of the IIoT will only continue to grow.
Linking the production and logistics processes, for example, used to be a pipe dream, but now businesses are benefitting from real-time data sharing and analysis to make sure production schedules and freight transportation are aligned. That means no last minute scramble for expensive freight and an agile, streamlined transportation process.