What is IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things)? Definition with examples

June 19, 2024
Standard Bots robot visualizer

So, what is the IIoT?

The IIoT connects machines, computers, and people across an industrial organization. Sensors and Internet-connected devices gather data from equipment and systems in factories and plants. 

This allows for the monitoring and optimization of industrial processes.

Core components and architecture of Industrial IoT systems

The magic of the IIoT doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Here are the components that make it happen: 

  • Connected sensors and smart devices: This is the foundation of any IIoT system. These devices gather data on various parameters relevant to industrial processes, such as temperature, pressure, vibration, energy consumption, and more.
  • Connectivity: This layer is essential for transmitting data from sensors and devices to centralized systems or the cloud. Wired and wireless networks like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks are commonly used, with the choice depending on factors like range, data volume, and security requirements.
  • Data storage and analytics: This is where the magic happens. Collected data is stored in data lakes or other storage solutions, and then analyzed using various tools and techniques. Data analytics helps identify patterns, anomalies, and trends. Machine learning algorithms can further refine these insights for predictive maintenance, optimization, and other applications.
  • Software and applications: IIoT platforms offer a wide range of software applications tailored to specific industrial needs. These applications leverage the collected data and analytics to provide functionalities like asset monitoring, process optimization, predictive maintenance, quality control, and even supply chain management.
  • Human interfaces: While the goal of IIoT is to enable machine-to-machine communication, human interaction remains crucial. User-friendly interfaces like dashboards, mobile apps, and web portals allow operators and managers to visualize data, receive alerts, control equipment remotely, and make informed decisions based on real-time insights.

How the IIoT works: Connectivity and data flow

The IIoT relies on connectivity between industrial assets like sensors, machines, and control systems.

Here's how:

  • Sensors serve as data collectors. Sensors are the eyes and ears of the IIoT, constantly monitoring everything from machine temperature to production line output. These devices gather raw data about the physical world and translate it into digital information that can be understood by computers.
  • Connectivity is the data highway. Once sensors collect data, it needs to travel somewhere. Wired and wireless networks, such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular, act as the highways for data, transmitting it from sensors to central systems or the cloud for analysis.
  • Cloud platforms are the “thinking” part. Cloud platforms are the brains of the IIoT, where the raw data collected by sensors is stored, processed, and analyzed. This is where powerful algorithms and machine learning models come into play, turning data into actionable insights that can be used to optimize operations, predict maintenance needs, and improve efficiency.
  • Dashboards are where users come in. While data is the lifeblood of the IIoT, it's useless without a way to interpret it. Dashboards are user-friendly interfaces that allow plant managers, engineers, and other personnel to visualize data, monitor equipment performance, and receive alerts when something goes wrong.

In a nutshell, the IIoT works by creating a closed loop of data collection, analysis, and action.

Standard Bots routine editor

Key technologies that make the IIoT happen

Here's how IIoT systems connect assets and harness data gathered from sensors:

  • Network connectivity: Robust and adaptable networks like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular ensure seamless data flow between devices and systems, enabling real-time monitoring and control in harsh industrial environments.
  • Cloud computing: Cloud platforms provide the massive storage and processing power required to handle the deluge of data generated by IIoT devices. This scalable infrastructure enables advanced analytics, real-time visualization, and collaborative decision-making across geographically dispersed teams.
  • Software platforms: Purpose-built software platforms orchestrate the entire ecosystem, managing device connectivity, data integration, and complex analytics workflows. This software transforms raw data into actionable insights that drive operational efficiency and innovation.
  • Big data analytics: Advanced analytics tools, often powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, sift through mountains of data to uncover hidden patterns, predict failures before they occur, and optimize processes for maximum efficiency.
  • Automation as a muscle: Automation technologies leverage the insights gained from data analysis to enable intelligent, self-optimizing systems. This reduces human intervention, minimizes errors, and drives continuous improvement across the entire industrial process.

Real-world examples of IIoT in action

Here are a few ways IIoT is transforming industries:

Smart factories

Smart factories use IIoT to optimize manufacturing. Sensors track inventory, production line performance, and equipment health.

Software analyzes the data to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and detect issues. For example, Bosch uses AI-related innovations with IIoT principles to cut energy usage in its factories each year.

Connected logistics

Logistics companies use IIoT to track assets in real-time, ensure proper conditions during transport, and predict delivery times. 

FedEx and UPS use sensors and telematics in their vehicles and shipping containers to monitor location, temperature, humidity, and more. This reduces losses, improves customer service, and optimizes routes.

Intelligent healthcare

Healthcare organizations use IIoT to improve patient monitoring, asset management, and workflow optimization. Hospitals deploy sensors to track the location and condition of medical equipment and monitor patient vitals remotely. 

Software platforms analyze the data to detect health issues early, ensure equipment is properly maintained, and gain insights to improve operational efficiency. Philips and GE Healthcare build “smart hospitals” using IIoT.

Optimized energy

Energy companies use IIoT to improve the generation, distribution, and consumption of resources. Sensors monitor infrastructure like pipelines, power lines, and wind turbines to detect issues, predict maintenance needs, and optimize performance. Smart grids track energy usage at the consumer level to balance supply and demand in real-time. 

Companies like ABB, Siemens and Schneider Electric provide IIoT solutions for energy companies.

The benefits of the industrial IIoT

Upping all-around efficiency

Here's how:

  • Sensors and connected devices provide real-time data about operating conditions, allowing you to optimize processes and reduce waste.
  • Automating manual tasks and processes frees up human workers to focus on higher-level thinking.
  • Predictive maintenance helps avoid unscheduled downtime by alerting you to potential issues before they cause problems.

Super-high safety and compliance

The IIoT can help here by:

  • Continuous monitoring provides alerts if conditions become unsafe.
  • Sensors can detect issues like gas leaks, equipment overheating, or structural damage.
  • Systems can track compliance with safety and environmental regulations in real-time.

Major cost savings

The IIoT leads to cost savings in many ways: 

  • Reduced waste from optimized processes and predictive maintenance.
  • Lower insurance premiums thanks to improved safety.
  • Savings on labor costs from automating tasks.
  • Less on-site maintenance staff due to remote monitoring.

Challenges and risks of IIoT deployment

Here are some of the biggest challenges and risks to keep in mind with IIoT:

  • Security risks: With billions of connected devices comes a huge attack surface for hackers. IIoT systems have to be built with security in mind from the ground up to protect against cyber threats like data breaches, ransomware, and denial-of-service attacks.
  • Potential privacy gaffes: IIoT devices collect huge amounts of data, much of which can be personal. This data needs to be properly anonymized, and companies must be transparent in how they collect and use customer information. Regulations like GDPR aim to give users more control over their data.
  • Interoperability problems: IIoT systems are built from components of many different vendors, but a lack of industry standards can make these components unable to communicate effectively. Companies must work together to develop open standards and ensure components are interoperable.
  • Extra complexities: IIoT systems are extremely complex, involving many components, networks, data sources, and analytics systems. This makes them difficult to build, troubleshoot, and maintain. Companies need employees with the necessary technical skills and experience to build and manage IIoT systems.
  • Not always 100% reliable: With many connected components and networks, there are many potential points of failure. IIoT systems must be designed to prevent downtime and ensure reliable performance. Redundancy, failover systems, and robust monitoring are required.

Summing up

Those are the ins and outs of IIoT and how it's transforming industries.

With high-tech connectivity, data, and analytics, IIoT takes manufacturing and operations above and beyond. The industrial Internet is here — time to embrace it to reap all the benefits.

Next steps 

Upgrade your operations with RO1 by Standard Bots, the state-of-the-art six-axis robotic arm designed to empower businesses big and small.

RO1 is unique because it’s:

  • Advanced yet affordable: Experience the power of cutting-edge automation technology without breaking the bank. RO1 delivers unparalleled performance and functionality at half the cost of comparable robotic solutions.
  • 10/10 efficiency: RO1's exceptional 18 kg payload capacity and lightning-fast speed redefine industry standards, allowing you to achieve new levels of productivity and output.
  • Adaptable to your unique needs: Powered by sophisticated AI comparable to GPT-4, RO1 continuously learns and optimizes its performance for your specific workflows. Its user-friendly, no-code interface ensures anyone can harness the full power of automation.
  • Equipped with a safety-first design: RO1 seamlessly integrates into your team, prioritizing safety with advanced vision and sensor technology for a secure and collaborative work environment.

Sign up for a risk-free 30-day trial and experience the future of automation firsthand. Contact us today to schedule a demo and unlock your business's full potential with RO1.

Standard Bots equipment manager
Standard Bots camera vision
Press contacts