IIoT and Smart manufacturing
IIoT is about connecting the industrial assets, such as machines and control systems, with the information systems, with the people who are running it or using it, and with the business processes. Built on the connectiveness, we can collect large amount of data, apply advanced analytics on them to gain operational insights. With this new level of insights, we can broadly enable optimal decision-making to drive intelligent industrial operations, from there to create new business values and even to seek transformational business outcomes.
On the other hand, Smart manufacturing seeks to fully integrate manufacturing systems and processes that are optimized by information, with a clear goal, to dynamically respond to changes in demands, in the supply chain, and in the condition of the assets – a key focus of the Industrial Internet. Clearly a test of such responsiveness is the capability of customized mass production.
A clear path to achieve smart manufacturing is though digitalization, or the convergence of operational technologies (OT) with the information technologies (IT) – to be more exactly, the application or adaption of the latest information and internet technologies in the operational or manufacturing domains based their stringent requirements.
IIoT is such a simple idea that it is widely applicable across industrial sectors, from smart building to transportation, from power to oil and gas, from manufacturing to agriculture to even healthcare…
Simply put, as long as we are dealing with physical objects and machines, IIoT applies. Clearly, smart manufacturing can benefit from IIoT as a part of its digitalization of the manufacturing processes and their integration. The success in Smart manufacturing would in turn helps IIoT implementations in other industries.
Driven by the same technology advances and enhancing each other, therefore, IIoT and Smart manufacturing can be considered as a twin-movement of digitalization or even “internetization”.
Actionable insight from industrial analytics – a mean for achieving smartness in operations
The “smartness” in IIoT and manufacturing is about making optimal decisions, with and without human in the loop, in the processes in response to changes. To achieve that we need to access to the right information at the right time about the market, about the customers and the workforce, about the processes and finally about the physical assets and their operating environment. Gaining insights about the industrial assets and their operations is the main focus of IIoT. We now have an opportunity to garner these insights from the analytics of the vast amount of data we collect from these assets through the newly established connectivity. Undoubtedly, analytics is an essential mean to achieve the smartness. Naturally, the importance of industrial analytics has been widely recognized by increasing number of industry and business leaders across the globe. Many consider industrial analytics essential for their businesses and want to make analytics – especially those related to physical objects and machines such as predictive and prescriptive analytics – a high priority to strengthen their businesses within the next few years. This may not be that surprising – for industrial companies, manufacturing included, equipment are among their most important value-creation assets. How to keep them running, running efficiently are therefore crucial.
Therefore, IIoT is more than just connecting up the machines. It is about building on that connectivity to apply data analytics to gain insights, to transform these insights into actions and apply these actions to the machines and control systems, to the operations of fleets of machines and to the business processes – for the goal of enabling end-to-end intelligence in the overall business to achieve optimal business outcomes.