What is Industrial IoT? [Case Studies]

With the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things has become the hot topic for numerous latest technological development efforts. The Internet of Things, also commonly known as IoT, describes an interconnectivity between physical “things” – which may be embedded sensors, softwares or computers – through the Internet. IoT is commonly used for connecting and exchanging data between devices and systems, and continues to enable enhancements in consumer, organisational & military applications.

In this article, we will be focusing on Industrial IoT or (IIoT), and how industries are adopting the Internet of Things to improve operations.

Namely, we will be discussing the following content:

  • Overview of Industrial IoT & Its Components
  • Benefits of Industrial IoT
  • Industrial IoT in Manufacturing
  • Industrial IoT in Agriculture
  • Industrial IoT in Transport & Logistics
  • More Industrial IoT Applications & Examples

An Overview of Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT is the application of IoT in the context of transforming industrial processes such as manufacturing, agriculture, logistics etc.

Industrial vs Consumer IoT, Source: Vector Software

In a technical sense, Industrial IoT does not differ greatly from other IoT, and shares similar key objectives in automation and optimisation. Hence, it is inevitable to see overlapping technologies between them. Nonetheless, Industrial IoT stands out as one of the largest growing markets, with the global IIoT market predicted to reach an astounding value of $123 billion in 2021.

WIth widespread implementation of interconnected sensors, instruments and computing devices, Industrial IoT enables large scale data collection, which can be exchanged and analysed autonomously. This allows for businesses to make informed decisions on a scale and pace much greater than was ever possible before, delivering rapid improvements to productivity, efficiency, and even safety.

Big Data Analytics in Industrial IoT

Embedded IoT devices collect data at an incredible pace, generating terabytes of data per device per day. In addition, we’re expecting the number of IoT connected devices to double up to nearly 40 billion by 2025. All the data collected can be visualised on a centralised dashboard, drastically reducing the manpower requirements for monitoring. Most notably, this additionally opens up possibilities of big data analytics with statistics and even machine learning.

Edge Computing in Industrial IoT

Within Industrial IoT, edge computing is also becoming more popular. Edge computing aims to decentralise computing resources away from data centres, so that computing occurs directly on the edge. This delivers advantages such as reduced response latency, as the local computer can administer an immediate reaction without waiting for a response from the cloud.

Edge computing also reduces the cost of industrial IoT, since reducing the amount of data that must be centrally managed reduces the amount of computational resources consumed. Most edge computing devices will perform preliminary computations directly on the device, sending an alert to the cloud only if local anomalies are detected and require external intervention.

What benefits does Industrial IOT bring?

Industrial IoT is merely a subset of modern technologies that are used to improve business processes. In other words, the use of Industrial IoT is effectively limited only by the problems that we need it to solve. Nonetheless, here are some of the primary use cases of Industrial IoT that have led to its widespread adoption around the world.

1. Improved Operational Efficiency

Industrial IoT brings greater integration between processes, allowing for more frequent, clearer communication channels. This brings about reduced lag-time for seamless and more efficient production chains. Automated processes with IIoT-enabled machine to machine communication also reduces the need for operator intervention, allowing engineers to instead focus on optimisations and improvements.

2. Faster Improvement Cycles

Real-time and historical data from edge IIoT devices allows process supervisors to respond to operational demands, such as promptly dealing with supply bottlenecks or under-utilised resources. Data also allows businesses to make informed decisions about future development plans, further accelerating process or product improvement cycles.

3. Reduced Operational Down Time

The same data from Industrial IoT devices is also heavily used for monitoring the conditions and performance of vehicles and industrial equipment. In this manner, maintenance can occur predictively and in a timely manner, which reduces operational down time while avoiding collateral damage associated with complete component failures.

4. Enhanced Industrial Safety

Workplace safety is another key area that Industrial IOT strives to improve. By using automated intercommunication and fail safe sensors, we can ensure that high risk tasks are followed according to procedure, or are automatically aborted if a risk of human injury is detected. Dangerous processes are also quickly being automated to remove the need for operator intervention (and thus human error) as well.


Industrial IoT in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the largest industry from an IoT spending perspective, bringing transformations to manufacturing operations, production asset management & maintenance, as well as field services. Apart from allowing the performance of manufacturing operations to be monitored efficiently, industrial IIoT in manufacturing can also be used to deliver services remotely and autonomously.

Odyssey x86J4105 in Field Service Manufacturing IIoT

ODYSSEY x86J4105

At Seeed, we have helped our client build their smart juice machine based on the ODYSSEY X86J4105. The ODYSSEY is a powerful single board computer (SBC) with rich communication interfaces, which makes it an ideal candidate for edge computing in many applications.

Smart Autonomous Juice Machine, Source: Coconuts Hong Kong

The smart vending machine will automatically make freshly squeezed juice for the customer upon order, and is a fine example of field manufacturing enabled by industrial IoT. The machine possesses its own computing core to control the user interfaces and manufacturing actuators, which is also connected to the cloud for easy monitoring and maintenance.

Autonomous Juice Machine with ODYSSEY x86

Industrial IoT in Agriculture

Unsurprisingly, agriculture is another industry that is transforming rapidly with Industrial IoT development. Farming has always been at the forefront of scientific innovation – evolving from the handheld tools used centuries ago to farming machinery like tractors and bale harvesters and even genetically modified organisms.

Source: Betagro Group

What you may not know is that the optimisation agricultural production requires the careful monitoring and control of numerous environmental conditions, such as temperature, light levels, atmospheric composition, water usage, etc. In view of this, Industrial IoT offers the perfect solution for managing the required complex real-time data.

BeagleBone® Green in Agricultural IIoT

Seeed has had the privilege of implementing an Industrial IoT electronic controller for our customer’s Poultry Industry and Farm with the BeagleBone® Green. BeagleBone® Green is a collaborative effort between BeagleBoard.org and Seeed, based on the open-source design of BeagleBone Black. It sports two Grove connectors for easily deploying with sensor modules and ethernet internet connectivity.

BeagleBone® Green

The solution provides interconnectivity between agricultural systems and the cloud, allowing for real time remote monitoring of data. With more dense and precise measurements of environmental conditions, farming techniques and conditions can also be gradually optimised over time to improve productivity.

Agricultural Electronic Controller with BeagleBone® Green

Industrial IoT in Logistics & Transport

In logistics and transport, Industrial IoT is commonly applied to fleet management and real time monitoring of logistics.

Fleet management involves the monitoring of vehicle movement and driver’s behaviour, and enables numerous smart functions such as automatic scheduling of transport movement with optimised routes and alerts for preventative maintenance. This improves safety by reducing the time spent on roads and flagging dangerous road behaviour, while saving fuel and repair costs.

On the other hand, sensors fitted onto vehicles can monitor the environmental conditions for transporting high value items such as fresh produce. By maintaining certain temperature, humidity, and pressure conditions, the condition of agricultural produce post transport can be drastically improved, better retaining their value and reducing manufacturer costs.

Source: Zipline Logistics

Logistics IIoT Monitoring with BeagleBone® Green

In fact, this was exactly what we implemented for one of our customers here at Seeed. By customising BeagleBone® Green to add power over ethernet (PoE) functionality and more I/O interfaces, we built a custom IIoT solution for collecting temperature and humidity data during fresh produce transport for quality tracking.

Fresh Produce Transport Monitoring with BeagleBone® Green

The data is uploaded to the cloud for monitoring and analysis, and can identify gaps in transport procedures. In all, this application of industrial IoT in logistics prevents unnecessary costs and increases overall efficiency in product distribution.

Summary

I hope you’ve enjoyed our introduction to the industrial Internet of Things. While Industrial IoT, like all other IoT, continues to be centered around data collection, monitoring and analytics, the methods through which they are implemented continue to evolve and surprise us.

Read more about how we contribute to Industrial IoT at Seeed:

Also, be sure to visit the following articles to learn more about the SBCs behind the Industrial Internet of Things!

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