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The Industrial Internet of Things Controls the Big Things

internetThere are two distinct levels to the Internet of Things (IoT). The one with which most people are familiar connects consumer devices and other relatively lightweight pieces of equipment. The other is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). As the name implies, its realm is deep within manufacturing and industrial facilities and other places where the demands are far more sophisticated and heavy duty.

The two use many of the same protocols, and the line between them is fuzzy. But, in the big picture, things that are controlled by sensors connected to the Internet deep in the heart of factories, utilities and similar venues have different functionality and security requirements.

This week, Frost & Sullivan released a study that looked more closely at automation made possible by the IIoT. It says that hydraulic manufacturing companies are expanding due to increased worldwide demand for “easily operable, and smart sensor-embedded” systems. Bosh, Rexroth, Eaton, Parker Hannifin and Danfoss are creating smart platforms, the study said.

Frost & Sullivan’s Industrial Automation and Process Research Analyst Kiravani Emanni is quoted as saying that enhancement of power density is one reason – along with control of oil leakage – that “smart” attributes are being embedded in pumps, cylinders, hoses and other accessories in a number of industries.

The IIoT is useless if robust and sophisticated big data platforms capable of making sense of it all are not in place. That, according to an article last month at Automation World, is happening:

Dozens of startup companies are now pitching IIoT analytics solutions for specific verticals like the oil and gas sector or the energy market while others are even more granular, applying analytics models and machine learning to solve very specific problems—for example, well pump maintenance or wind turbine energy efficiency. At the same time, industrial automation behemoths like GE Digital and Siemens are also expanding into analytics as part of their IIoT efforts, delivering a core platform for collecting, integrating and securely managing Big Data at scale along with limited analytics capabilities.

The potential benefits are huge. The opportunity is to simplify and rationalize processes in a way unheard of in the past. It is not that the opportunities were not known. It’s that the technology was not available. That is changing. Real Clear Markets draws provides a simple illustration:

Take the example of the vast inefficiencies of water usage in industrial manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas. Every single day companies in these sectors consume billions of gallons of water that cost billions of dollars in energy, treatment, and equipment repairs. By simply placing sensors on industrial water pumps and connecting them to the Internet, you can optimize the flow volume to generate thousands of dollars in energy savings from just one standard 100 horsepower industrial pump.

The IoT is revolutionizing building management systems and building automation systems. The IIoT, however, may provide equal value in industrial and commercial settings.

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