The term Industrial Internet or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) may be used in the context of next generation manufacturing only or may pertain to the broader enterprise market, which may encompass many different industry verticals. In both cases, IIoT benefits will extend beyond initial cost savings and process improvements to identification of entirely new business models and service offerings as traditional products transform to services.
IIoT in Connected Manufacturing
The term IIoT can be defined narrowly to refer to technologies and solutions associated with next generation Connected Manufacturing including Smart Factories, Smart Products, and the evolution of products as services in an “as a service” Cloud Computing based model. Additional terminology often associated with IIoT in this context includes: Smart Factory, Smart Manufacturing, and more.
IIoT in this context is very closely associated with Industry 4.0 (also known as INDUSTRIE 4.0, which is the name given to the German strategic initiative to establish Germany as a lead market and provider of advanced manufacturing solutions), which refers to the fourth industrial revolution wherein there is a Convergence of Physical and Cyber Systems that relies upon various ICT areas including IoT. For reference, the first three revolutions are typically viewed as (1) Mechanization (water power and steam power), (2) Mass Production, and (3) Computerization and Automation.
IIoT in Enterprise
IIoT can also be applied more broadly to any industry vertical in terms of technologies and solutions that facilitate certain benefits within an enterprise such as operational cost reduction and developing new and enhanced products and services.
Specific benefits of IIoT across industry verticals include improved product/service reliability, production efficiency and effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and other areas. Examples of IIoT in Enterprise include IoT in Agriculture, IoT in Healthcare, IoT in Commercial Real Estate (e.g. Smart Buildings). IIoT is also important for enterprise in certain key horizontal areas such as Smart Cities, which has components that cross-over into many industry verticals and governmental organizations such as Intelligent Transportation.
Especially important to Enterprise IoT is the concept of the Smart Workplace, which pertains to those technologies and solutions that provide a safer, more comfortable, and productive work environment. These objectives are important in both a Commercial Real Estate (CRE) environment as well as for the production floor and remote workers (telecommuting and traveling employees). Accordingly, Smart Workplace solutions for non-CRE facilities must be taken into account for most Enterprise IoT operations.
IoT Technologies in Manufacturing and Enterprise
In both the narrow and broad definition of IIoT, certain IoT technologies (platforms, devices, interfaces, databases, etc.) are prevalent such as Sensors and Actuators, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, and the reliance upon IoT Data for improved decision making.
IoT Data Management is of particular importance as the long-term value from IIoT will be derived from transforming data (ranging from industrial processes to business CRM support) into useful insights. Accordingly, the use of Big Data Analytics as well as Artificial Intelligence technologies and solutions is also important all aspects of IIoT.
The term Industrial Convergence represents the merging of certain key technologies including Artificial Intelligence, Broadband Wireless (such as 5G), Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, and IIoT. This convergence is not limited to these areas as certain technologies, such as 3D Printing, will be important to next generation flexible and distributed manufacturing.