Learn about the fundamentals of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and discover how it can enhance productivity and sustainability for companies. This comprehensive guide explains what IIoT is, its key differences from IoT, how it functions, and the numerous advantages it offers to businesses across industries.
What is IIoT?
In the Industrial Internet of Things, or the “Industrial Internet of Things”, sensors, systems, machines or instruments are networked with each other. They all provide data that can be used for an evaluation. The systems can also communicate with each other. In German, the term Industry 4.0 is also used, which can be traced back to a digitization initiative by the federal government.
IIoT vs. IoT: Unpacking the Differences
IIoT is a subcategory of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT encompasses numerous applications, such as: smart home, smart city, Connected Cars and many more. But everyday applications such as parcel tracking on the Internet or the automated reordering of printer cartridges through your printer are also IoT applications. In contrast, the Industrial Internet of Things is defined much more narrowly. It only refers to the industrial IoT applications.
The Inner Workings of IIoT
Generally speaking, it is about creating digital images of physical objects such as e.g. systems, tools, workpieces, etc. in the form of a digital twin in an IIoT cloud, an IIoT hub or an IIoT portal to collect and store. As part of the manufacturing and further processing, these are continuously enriched with data supplied by sensors and machines.
In this way, manufacturers also receive current actual values in addition to the known target values. This helps to assess quality directly within the manufacturing process. In addition to this so-called inline quality control, there are many other possible applications.
- Enable digital customer service
- Solve warranty issues based on data
- Product development and optimization
- Optimization of production processes
- Detection of quality fluctuations in the raw material (e.g. cavities or different degrees of hardness)
Leveraging IIoT for Various Applications
All those involved in a value chain or value network can benefit from IIoT. In principle, it is about more sustainability thanks to the saving of resources. This is also reflected in lower costs. Companies are also counteracting the shortage of skilled workers through more targeted deployment of personnel.
Ultimately, companies significantly increase their productivity and efficiency thanks to IIoT – and end customers also benefit from better quality of the end products and seamless tracking of parts, raw materials and auxiliary materials.
Enhancing IIoT Benefits through Cross-Company Collaboration
Cross-company collaboration serves to integrate data into one’s own observations that companies usually do not have at their disposal. For example, system manufacturers would be able to find out exactly how they are actually used in production, or a tool manufacturer could gain insights into how the tool is driven and used.
Benefit from machine-assisted learning, machine learning and/or artificial intelligence
Algorithms and/or AI can help to generate the maximum benefits from the data, e.g. B. by means of predictions. It would be conceivable e.g. B. the prediction of a tool breakage or an optimization of the routes of systems. IIoT can also support specialists in their work through process visualizations in 2D and 3D to draw the right conclusions.
What is an IIoT platform?
An IIoT platform or an IIoT hub is the software into which all data, i.e. the information about the digital twins, runs. Further evaluations of the data can then be carried out via the platform or further software, e.g. B. AI applications are operated. Since IIoT platforms contain data that is usually critical to the success of companies, they must meet the highest standards of cyber security and data sovereignty.
An example of such software is iiotecos. iiotecos is digital IIoT software that connects machines, records the current status of tools, systems, workpieces, etc. in the form of digital twins, and aggregates and visualizes data. iiotecos can be used internally or across companies.
The Relationship between IIoT and Industry 4.0
Both terms are closely interwoven, but both concepts differ significantly. Industry 4.0 is part of the high-tech strategy of the German federal government and is intended to advance the digitization and computerization of industrial production. This concept includes numerous strategic building blocks.
In addition to IoT and IIoT, these are also services, big data, data governance and many more. IIoT, on the other hand, describes the digital networking of industrial systems and assets in a broader sense. Seen from this perspective, Industry 4.0 is an overarching concept that is based on IIoT, among other things.
IIoT: A Solution for All Industries
IIoT can benefit manufacturing companies regardless of their industry. Thanks to retrofittable sensors, even older systems can be connected to the Internet of Things. There are industry and technology-specific IIoT platforms that companies can join, as well as platforms that are open to all industries. The former offer the advantage of specific adaptation to the needs of their target group and also offer a corresponding specialist community. With CuttingEdge, for example, we offer an IIoT platform for machining. Other platforms, e.g. for lightweight construction, are planned.
IIoT Security: Protecting Data and Sovereignty
Wherever data is to be displayed or shared on the Internet, including production data, there are concerns about know-how and trade secrets. That is why it is essential, especially with IIoT applications, to implement extensive security mechanisms and to ensure data sovereignty.
This means that the data always remains in the hands of its creator and sovereignty over it is not relinquished. Detailed role and rights concepts as well as release mechanisms regulate who can access data to what extent and for how long. It is also important to note the extent to which IIoT providers are pursuing their own interests with the data. The products must also guarantee cyber security and data protection.
Quick guide for your start with the IIoT
PDF: Getting Started with IIoT – Practical Guide
- Eight-page practical guide for companies planning to get started with Industry 4.0 for their production
- Definitions – What is Industry 4.0? And what IIoT?
- What exactly is an IIoT platform?
- How exactly can you benefit as a company and on what scale?
- Where is the lever for optimization and savings?
- How do you specifically approach the introduction of an Industry 4.0 platform?
- Checklists for the most important considerations in advance and the top security criteria of a platform