Currently we’re in the middle of what the World Economic Forum calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, and 2019 is turning out to be the year of the IIoT.
The First Industrial Revolution, marked the initial shift to factories and mass production, powered largely by water and steam.
The Second Revolution, employed electric power for mass production of goods.
The Third Revolution , The Digital Revolution, used electronics and information technology to automate production. This is where we began to move from mechanical and analog worlds to digital incarnations, setting the stage for the Fourth Revolution.
The Fourth Revolution has ushered in the age of smart manufacturing. The Industrial Internet of Things brings together brilliant machines, advanced analytics and human workers. It’s a network consisting of a multitude of devices, connected by communications technologies that provides systems able to monitor, collect, exchange and analyze data. These insights can in turn help drive smarter, faster business decisions for industrial companies of all sizes and shapes.
The global IIoT market is predicted to grow from $2.99 trillion in 2014 to $8.9 trillion in 2020. The IIoT presents vast possibilities for instrumentation, leading to major efficiency and productivity gains for almost any operation.
Automated instrumentation and reporting is being applied to devices and systems that didn’t have those capabilities previously. That said, the scale is quite different from that of a simple system that lets one perform simple tasks like adjusting the thermostat on one’s phone. Hundreds, perhaps thousands or even hundreds of thousands of individuals and network points can be present in a single IoT deployment.
Instrumentation for production and assembly lines allows companies to track and analyze the many processes being carried out in a large operation, as it breaks the system into granular chunks that are amenable to scrutiny and adjustment. Asset tracking can offer a quick and accessible overview of massive amounts of material, and predictive maintenance can save companies considerable money by addressing problems before they become serious. The number of potential uses is nearly infinite, and growing everyday.
The true spirit of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) encourages development of a collective intelligence about systems, equipment and people, by sharing data across many diverse media and industrial sectors. A true implementation of the IIoT connects the factory with other factories, suppliers or customers, enabling the factory to not only meet today’s goals, but making it possible to predict tomorrow’s challenges.