What is IIoT? It stands for Industrial Internet of Things, but what does that really mean? You may have also heard of Industry 4.0, China 2025, Big Data, Digitization – the next Industrial Revolution. Like the revolutions before, IIoT will bring about dramatic change – both productive and challenging.
But how does that impact you and the industry?
This revolution is about the next evolution in automation – the ability to connect and communicate like never before. IIoT is bringing social media, internet, and communications together with automation. Automation itself has been around since the 1960’s. In and of itself it is not new or evolutionary. What is different now, is the ever-evolving communication aspect.
Imagine this: Your refrigerator scans its contents, determines that your milk is expired and that you need butter, then orders milk and butter from your favorite grocery store for delivery. When it’s delivered, perhaps even in an autonomous vehicle, the delivery agent opens your locked door via an app that the delivery agent has as part of the operation application, then delivers your milk and butter right into your refrigerator – all while you are at the movies. This is the future of residential automation.
These changes aren’t just happening in a residential setting, however. They are happening in industrial and manufacturing settings – and not just for the refrigerator in the break room either.
here is a scenario to consider: You are building an OEM cabinet and the inventory shelf is low on a specific servo drive for your application. A scan of the inventory signals an order for that servo drive to the supplier and creates a purchase order for the part. The supplier receives both the part order and the purchase order, all without any human interaction. The supplier in turn sends out the part and invoice. The part is delivered to your shelf – without you even realizing that you were low on inventory. You would continue to assemble your OEM cabinet and as part of your monthly functions you would pay the invoice. This is what IIoT can do, all without your intervention.
The foundation of this revolution is communication. Both speed and bandwidth are increasing at exponential levels and the communication techniques that abound in the automation space are slowly migrating towards a standard Ethernet platform. With the recent introduction of 5G in mobile networks, the ability to communicate as well as operate over vast distances is improving dramatically.
So what then is the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’?
It is the ability to communicate in ways not thought possible before by including communications in automation, allowing for connections between different cells and individual automation applications, all while enabling the best of automation.Now with the COVID-19 crisis, the IIoT revolution is changing and expanding communications like never seen before. Current industrial operations include more virtual meetings, augmented reality, remote monitoring and offsite operations; all requiring more robust and secure communications. All of this is only achievable due to the evolving ability for us to communicate in ways that did not exist even five years ago. All the communications and the automation capabilities are working to their best and allowing the industrial world to operate at rates not possible prior to this moment, thanks to IIoT.
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