What is IIOT?

August 05, 2021

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Key Takeaways

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is made up of the billions of industrial devices that use sensors to monitor and optimize operations. Connected by a public or private network, IIoT devices capture and share data, while software analyzes this data to improve business efficiency.

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In 2015, the World Economic Forum published a report discussing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The report states, “The [Industrial] Internet of Things will transform many industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, agriculture, mining, transportation, and healthcare. Collectively, these account for nearly two-thirds of the world economy.”

With such outsized impact, it’s no wonder why interest in IIoT continues to surge across all sectors. Every day, organizations are proving that digital transformation produces real business results: reduced costs and increased operational efficiency. Analysts estimate that IIoT could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025.

Want to learn more about the Industrial Internet of Things? In this guide, we’ll break down the basics of IIoT—what it is, how it works, who uses it, and why they use it. 

What is the industrial internet of things (IIoT)? 

IIoT stands for Industrial Internet of Things. It’s the billions of industrial devices—think factory machinery, bulldozer engines, tanks at water treatment facilities—that use sensors to monitor and optimize their processes. All of the sensors are connected to a network—often via the internet and internal company networks and this connection allows the network to share data and status. IIoT is also referred to as the industrial internet or Industry 4.0. 

So why do these industrial machines and equipment need to be connected to the internet? It’s because computers are better and faster than humans at capturing and analyzing real-time data. This makes it easier to distill important information that organizations can use to make better and more informed decisions. 

That computational power makes IIoT an advantage in industrial sectors where precision and timing are especially important. Organizations can use IIoT to discover and correct inefficiencies, saving them money and time. They’re also using IIoT for predictive maintenance, asset management, safety, compliance, and more. 

To note, IIoT is a subcategory of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a much broader term for all internet-connected devices. IoT is considered a major driver of the fourth industrial revolution or linking the physical and digital worlds together. The term “IoT” includes consumer products like wearable devices, home devices and appliances, smart speakers and digital assistants, and connected cars. IIoT focuses on industrial applications.

How does IIoT work?

IIoT needs a combination of sensors, a network, and data analytics to work at a base level. Machines, equipment, and vehicles containing sensors connect to an IIoT platform, which gathers and shares data. These sensors will monitor, store, and communicate information about the asset they are connected to. Here’s how these three components work together to generate actionable insight.  

1. Sensors send their data through public or private networks

Sensors send information to powerful IIoT platforms through networks that are either public or private data communications infrastructures. Mobile carriers or third-party operators provide and manage public connectivity. For example, your smartphone is connected to a public network used by millions of people. Private networks are set up and maintained locally by a company’s employees. Networks that connect all the devices come in many forms, such as: Bluetooth, WiFi, and 4G/5G cellular.

2. IIoT platforms receive raw sensor data and interpret the information

Once sensors have collected the data, IIoT platforms combine raw data from different devices and apply analytics that generate insight. For example, these platforms detect patterns, make recommendations, and find problems before they occur using technologies like AI. The insight provided by analytics empowers organizations to make business processes more efficient.

3. IIoT data is stored in on-prem, cloud, and edge solutions

Analytics works to interpret data, but where is all the generated data accessed and stored? There is no one-size-fits-all solution for how IIoT data gets stored. Organizations can use traditional on-premise servers to store data if they’re near IIoT devices. But this option is usually expensive and lacks flexibility. 

The unstructured big data from IIoT devices makes it a good candidate for cloud storage. Cloud storage is flexible—businesses can access data from anywhere and expand it through a managed infrastructure that IT relies on. 

Many of today’s IIoT solutions also use edge gateways for storage. Edge computing and edge gateways serve as network entry points for devices connecting with the cloud platforms. This intermediary bridge handles storage needs closer to the IIoT devices before moving data to the cloud.

Which industries are leveraging IIoT? 

As of 2020, the global industrial IoT market reached a value of $144.3 billion. The following industries are considered leaders in using IIoT applications in their processes.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has been an early adopter of IIoT due to its reliance on machinery. IIoT in manufacturing alone will reach $153.5 billion globally by 2026

Manufacturers use IoT to optimize processes with automation, monitor equipment, and perform preventive and predictive maintenance on machinery. Manufacturers also use IIoT devices to examine how customers are using their products. They can then analyze usage, check for patterns, and use these insights to inform new product design. 

Oil & gas

The oil and gas industry is also reaping the benefits of IIoT. In all, IIoT in the oil and gas global market should reach $43.48 billion by 2024. IIoT isn’t limited to plant processing and rig operations—it touches every part of the industry and creates new business models. Use cases include sensor-based tank monitoring, drill management with digital twins, and monitoring pipe pressure and flow rates at refineries. IIoT is helping oil and gas companies improve value-chain efficiencies and manage global demand and supply predictions. By leveraging the data gleaned from IoT devices, they can improve production by 6% to 8%.

Construction

Comparatively, the construction industry has been slower to digitize its operations. But IIoT is one aspect that’s taking off fast: analysts project the global market for IoT in construction to reach $25.3 Billion by 2027. Construction companies are witnessing IIoT’s benefits, including boosting structural integrity and quality, predictive maintenance, supply chain monitoring, and improved worker safety. 

For example, IIoT technologies can help with concrete curing. Construction companies are embedding sensors in concrete during casting. As it hardens, construction managers can track strength and moisture content in real time. They'll know exactly when slabs are fully cured, saving on months of testing and waiting, slowing down planning.

Transportation 

Transportation is another industry that’s adopted IIoT quickly. Freight monitoring is IIoT’s second-largest use case after manufacturing operations. According to IDC, the transportation industry’s total IoT spend was $78 billion in 2016, with $55.9 billion attributed to freight monitoring. 

Aside from freight monitoring, this sector finds value in using IIoT to maintain schedules, optimize fuel consumption, train drivers with dash cams and telematics, and monitor equipment and infrastructure like railway tracks.

State & local governments

It’s to be expected that private businesses would be the first and largest adopters of IIoT, but the public sector is steadily catching up. As people become more comfortable with smart technology, more state and local municipalities are using “smart city” solutions

Innovations include smart grids that lower stress on power grids during peak hours, traffic and parking management, waste collection optimization, city park safety, air quality monitoring, and even tourism to improve visitor experiences. With so many areas available to enhance, governments are on their way to becoming major IIoT players. The global market size for IIoT in smart cities is expected to grow to $260 billion by 2025.

DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK: Smart Cities Start with Smarter Fleets.  

What are the benefits of IIoT?  

There are many industrial applications for integrating IIoT into your operations. Some of the top benefits are:

Managing efficient operations

Efficiency is the difference between a business that’s succeeding or just getting by. By improving operational efficiency with IIoT data, businesses can gain productivity without spending on extra assets or resources. They can uncover cost savings, automate workflows, reduce manual paperwork, and improve safety across the board. Best of all, managers can feel confident in making informed business decisions based on real-time data.

Equipment tracking

Asset tracking gives companies real-time visibility into the location and status of an asset or cargo via GPS tracking. Businesses can check on assets no matter where they are in the supply chain. When goods are at risk of getting damaged—for instance, a refrigerated trailer not cooling properly—the IIoT system springs into action. It notifies managers, giving them the chance to prevent or fix the situation. Equipment tracking also reveals utilization and potential inefficiencies. For example, a business might find an underutilized asset or piece of equipment. They can choose to redeploy it elsewhere instead of buying a new asset or sell it to avoid maintaining it.

Predictive maintenance

IIoT-generated data can predict when machinery, equipment, or a vehicle needs servicing—before it breaks down. To do this, organizations use IIoT data to continuously monitor equipment performance. They set up equipment conditions or a baseline level of acceptable performance, such as temperature or vibration measurement. If the equipment’s performance dips below acceptable conditions, the IIoT system can notify stakeholders that it’s time for maintenance.  Predictive maintenance minimizes equipment downtime and the costs associated with downtime.

Increased safety

Sensor data from IIoT devices boost safety across operations. IIoT software can trigger alerts that keep workers safe. For example, letting a vehicle driver know they’re speeding or notifying a fleet manager if a driver is involved in an accident. Sensor data can provide visibility into harmful work environments, like high atmospheric gas levels or excessive CO2. The conditions set for predictive maintenance can also prevent future incidents like pipeline or electrical failures.

Better customer satisfaction

Businesses can enhance customer satisfaction with tools like asset tracking and predictive maintenance. For instance, a dispatcher can build trust and offer transparency by sharing asset arrival times with customers. Or companies can go the extra mile by proactively offering service, knowing a piece of equipment will have an issue or experience failure. Manufacturers and product designers can use IIoT usage insights to refine their products.

Why you should select Samsara as your IIoT platform 

Samsara is an IIoT platform that helps improve the efficiency of your operations. With GPS tracking for assets and vehicles, equipment monitoring, dash cams, site visibility, mobile apps, and a robust app ecosystem, Samsara is an end-to-end IIoT solution for companies of all sizes. In addition, our REST APIs allow you to integrate Samsara into virtually any platform.

The Samsara Connected Operations Platform helps over 20,000 customers across every industry capture and centralize all data—including data from sensors, cameras, and OEM integrations—on one unified platform. (No need to jump to different windows and software.) And because Samsara’s user-friendly platform is built in the cloud, businesses can access information from anywhere, 24/7.

How Certarus uses Samsara’s IIoT platform to provide top-tier customer service 

Certarus is on a mission to help its customers through low-carbon energy solutions. To do this, they maintain a 24/7 energy-as-a-service platform that involves the compression, transportation, and integration of natural gas. To help customers minimize their carbon footprints, Certarus relies on sensor data to monitor the safety and efficiency of their own operations. In partnering with Samsara, Certarus can bring more than 250 vehicles and 1,200 assets across 16 hubs together on one connected platform.

Enhancing customer service through IIoT was one of the first things Certarus improved with Samsara. Because their customers use compressed natural gas (CNG) to operate, Certarus aims to deliver zero downtime on their solutions. Using Samsara’s remote monitoring gateway, Certarus can monitor real-time fuel levels and flow rates, predicting when a fuel trailer needs to be replaced. When combined with Samsara’s routing and dispatch tools, Certarus can proactively send a new fuel trailer to a customer site before they run out of fuel while giving the customer full transparency into deliveries with GPS tracking. By leveraging Samsara’s advanced equipment monitoring on their pressure reduction systems (PRS), technicians can remotely monitor and adjust control setpoints across any hub or customer location. This allows Certarus to address potentially dangerous situations before they happen. Certarus’ ability to deliver top-tier customer service combined with a proactive approach to safety gives them a competitive advantage in the low carbon energy delivery industry. “With fully connected operations in Samsara, we can prevent accidents before they happen and deploy resources efficiently to reduce our costs and environmental footprint,” said Chi Fang, Head of Technology for Certarus. 

Want to know more about Samsara’s IIoT solution? Reach out to us for a demo or free trial today.

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