Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

8th July 2018

Just getting your head around IoT (Internet of Things)? Open up, here comes IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) – and the opportunities are as amazing as they are untapped. The proliferation of everyday devices made smart using embedded sensors that communicate over the internet such as Amazon Echo, Fitbit, Phillips Hue Light-bulbs and Nest  have proven to be far from the passing fads they were once considered (hey, one year in human time is 10 years in tech time … or is it the other way around?!) and IIoT is firmly on the radar of big brands, key industries, and those that have big ideas (and a big eye) for the future.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The term IIot was created by industrial giant GE to expand upon ‘machine-to-machine’ (M2M) technologies to also include objects and people, infrastructures. It takes into account that IoT delivers intelligence at the edge of the network and cloud computing insight that transforms simply reporting of a set of status messages to understanding the status and automating the triggering of a responsive action.

The IIoT is all about adding, gathering and understanding big data to improve efficiency, safety and productivity of operations. Scale and longevity are two key aspects that separate IIoT from more consumer-centric IoT implementations. Where light-bulbs or Fitbits might be replaced every few years, IIoT by contrast is long term. Jet engines or large medical scanners and devices are expected to last and work non-stop, without fault, for up to 10 years.

IIoT – From Rolls Royce to Lamp Posts

It’s easy to see the scale of IIoT, one of our favourite examples being the infamous Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce in collaboration with Microsoft set about harnessing the power of digital technology to transform the aerospace industry and fundamentally change engine-related operations and services. Implementing advanced analytics, Rolls Royce wanted to move beyond status diagnostics to be able to continually collect and aggregate data from disparate, geographically distributed sources. Uncovering data insights with Cortana that will in time be used to manage, service, control and sell devices…jet engines! Built on Microsoft Azure Cloud and IoT suite, not only does this provide immediate details regarding the engine’s status and performance, the big data gathered helps airlines reduce fuel usage, fly routes that deliver improved efficiencies and importantly have the right teams in the right places and times to service the engines faster and achieve higher availability.

Lamp posts don’t seem nearly as important in comparison, however, when you consider the environment they are in, the job they play and the costs of maintaining them IIoT has a obvious role to play in achieving efficiencies, safety and productivity gains. LED bulbs of course mean the lights will last longer, much longer; but does it also make them harder to predict when they finally fail? Adding sensors that detect failure and with centralised controls that can automatically schedule a fix takes the guessing out of this game. However, there is so much more in consideration, like intelligent lighting that dims when no one is about. That brightens as the sun sets and gradually dims as the sun rises. That has surveillance cameras for traffic, learning flows and patterns to suggest changes to traffic systems throughout a city.

IIoT and Big Data

Big business has long sought ways of gathering and using more data; the retail sector sought to map our spending patterns to predict our next moves or to encourage it! Every business is of course seeking new ways of monetising their services.

Rolls Royce builds jet engines, and granted they are a very important part of the overall solution. Each Rolls-Royce Trent engine will be fitted with 25 sensors. Tracking fuel flow, pressure, temperature, altitude, speed and air temperature. In one of the most competitive industries in the world it’s estimated that even a 1% saving on fuel could save an airline $250,000 per aircraft per year. Feeding big data from these sensors, Rolls-Royce is seeking to move beyond predictive maintenance of their products, jet engines, to a more service orientated model. The combination of the data their scientists have learned with, the data of every individual engine could clearly represent significant intelligence, savings and safety for Rolls-Royce to pass onto customers.

That seems like quite a clear case for Rolls-Royce at the very high-end (excuse the pun) of the spectrum. What about our lamp post example? You could easily keep building new light-bulbs and stay in business improving and replacing them, though the key to transforming a business is tapping into the infrastructure. Not only increasing the productivity and safety for the local public services organisations. Imagine now our Lamp Post company had information regarding the energy and environmental savings it’s lamp posts have created. Could the data collected on traffic fundamentally change the way local authorities manage their traffic flows? Could the traffic systems in time autonomously and dynamically manage the traffic systems throughout the city? Could our lamp post company run the traffic systems as an outsourcer for the local authority?

Waracle and IIoT

We’ve more than an passing interest in IIoT. Waracle have delivered mobile and IoT apps to some of the UK and Europe’s biggest brands, and we’re excited about the future and collaborating with innovators with vision. If you think IoT has a place in your enterprise future (clue: it definitely does!), talk to us!

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