Industrial IoT: best practices and key use cases
N-iX
2022-06-29T12:38:12+00:00

The industrial Internet of Things refers to connected smart devices used across business verticals, including manufacturing (Industry 4.0), logistics, oil and gas, transportation, energy/utilities, aviation, etc. This technology connects your people, products, and processes to power digital transfor...

Industrial IoT: best practices and key use cases

The industrial Internet of Things refers to connected smart devices used across business verticals, including manufacturing (Industry 4.0), logistics, oil and gas, transportation, energy/utilities, aviation, etc. This technology connects your people, products, and processes to power digital transformation. It allows companies to capture the long-term value from their operations, reduce human involvement and waste, increase flexibility, and optimize decision-making. 

In this article, you will discover:

  • Market overview of industrial IoT (IIoT) and its use cases in different industries;
  • Benefits you can get with the Industrial IoT ecosystem;
  • Ways to ensure the security of your IoT ecosystem.

Let’s dive in!

Industrial IoT market overview: 

Many industries are in dire need of automation and process optimization. So, IIoT is a goldmine. The market is forecasted to grow from $263.5B in 2021 to $1,110.0B by 2028, according to Statista

IIoT market growth

The market growth is driven not only by the business need but also by technological advancement. For instance, the development of semiconductor and electronic devices and the increased use of cloud computing platforms make the IIoT market evolve further. What’s more, even the elements of the IoT ecosystem have become less expensive, which makes implementing the technology more accessible. Look at this data collected by McKinsey

key IIoT growth drivers

A wide range of IIoT use cases also contributes to the extensive market growth. For instance, a modern plant cannot function properly without IoT-enabled predictive maintenance. So, let’s take a closer look at key use cases of the Internet of Things ecosystem. 

Industrial IoT in manufacturing:

Manufacturing is benefiting from the industrial IoT. The components of such an ecosystem have become the key enablers of smart manufacturing and inventory management. Reliable connectivity solutions are vital for building digitized environments. Let’s overview some use cases of the IoT ecosystem that power modern manufacturing. 

  • Industrial automation

One of the key applications of IoT in manufacturing is the automation of field operations and their integration with business processes. It allows manufacturers to monitor the performance and health of devices, schedule predictive maintenance, perform remote troubleshooting, and improve the safety and security of their operations. 

all you need to know about Industrial IoT

Learn more about industrial automation 

  • Equipment health monitoring

Machine health monitoring is a key to building up profit. It is in your best interest to reduce machine downtime, as it slows down the production process. The Industrial IoT ecosystem has many ways to monitor the state of your machines. For instance, a wide range of malfunctions can be detected due to collecting and analyzing how your machine vibrates and sounds.

  • Inventory management

Maintaining and storing your inventory in good condition is expensive. So, it is vital to approach inventory planning thoroughly as it directly influences the company’s cash flow and profit margins. Inventory management is one of the most widespread implementations of Industrial IoT ecosystem. It can help solve the issue of over- or under-stocking. Having the data sourced by IoT devices, you can predict the growth of demand. Thus, you will be able to fill your stores in advance and prevent excesses of goods or important parts for manufacturing.    

Internet of Things ecosystem in logistics and supply chain:

On par with manufacturing, the supply chain greatly benefits from industrial IoT. The most widespread use cases are IoT-powered fleet tracking, shipment condition monitoring, connected vehicles, etc. 

  • Fleet tracking

It is challenging to keep track of scheduled maintenance and registration renewals and your vehicles' associated costs. And the more vehicles you have to manage – the more difficult this process gets. That is the primary reason why businesses need fleet management and tracking systems. Such systems are usually used for vehicle management, driver management, and incident management. 

Read the N-iX case study on IoT fleet tracking

  • Connected vehicles

The industrial IoT can track the temperature inside vehicles that transport goods and track real-time indicators like pressure, humidity, and more. IoT devices can monitor and trigger automatic condition adjustments to protect the integrity of what’s being transported.

  • Shipment condition monitoring

With the help of IoT ecosystem components, it is possible to track estimated delivery dates/times, the last known locations, and the condition of the cargo as it moves through the supply chain. Such solutions provide visibility into the condition of the shipments. You can stay proactive and take action if your cargo is damaged or dropped off in the wrong location. 

The two last use cases that we will cover in this article are not specific to the industry, but one can hardly imagine effective business processes without them. 

  • Asset tracking & management

Suppliers and manufacturers can use asset management systems to track products' location, status, and condition throughout the supply chain. The system sends alerts to stakeholders in case the goods are damaged or risk being damaged. Thus, stakeholders get the chance to take immediate or preventive action to remedy the situation.

  • Predictive maintenance

Predictive analytics and real-time condition monitoring enabled by IoT devices allow manufacturing, supply chain, telecom, and other businesses to be more agile. For example, when it comes to manufacturing, with the help of IoT, it is possible to track the equipment state, prevent interruption, detect inefficiencies, as well as predict and address risks. 

Read more: IoT based predictive maintenance: use cases

  • Employees safety monitoring

Workplace safety is vital in any industry. However, in industrial environments e.g., manufacturing, mining, or petrochemical domains, risks are more serious. So, engineers are exploring new ways to use industrial IoT ecosystems to protect the health and safety of industrial workers. Sensors placed in wristbands, hard hats, clothing, equipment, and the surrounding workplace environment can identify when a worker has fallen, shut down machinery in case a worker gets too close, and even flag if a worker’s vital signs indicate sickness at the start of a shift.
If you are yet to embrace the IIoT ecosystem, here are some insights for you.

  1. IIoT becomes more accessible

IIoT becomes more user-friendly and requires less specific talent to develop. For instance, low-code to no-code software makes development and installation more cost-effective than ever.  

  1. Decentralized computation

From the edge of the shop floor all the way up to the cloud—it is becoming mainstream, as infrastructure solutions enable easy management of dispersed networks of platform resources and tackle the issue of real-time requirements.  

  1. Integration and connectivity are critically improved 

The frameworks, such as Open Platform Communications (OPC) Unified Architecture and the arrival of 5G, offer high-speed, low-latency, highly secure, and high flexibility, making implementing an Internet of Things ecosystem easier.  

  1. The benefits of IIoT are significant  

Significant improvements in productivity, performance, sustainability, agility, speed to market, and customization can be achieved through the right implementation of IIoT. 

The use cases and reasons listed above are strong motivations to leverage IIoT and advanced technologies. However, we have also gathered the benefits of implementing Internet of Things ecosystems. Let’s look closer. 

Benefits you can get with the industrial IoT ecosystem

With the help of the Internet of Things ecosystem, you can: 

  • Improve time-efficiency: a fully automated system can operate much faster and work 24/7 if required;
  • Boost accuracy: adoption of an IoT allows to achieve a higher accuracy level. Implementing technology into your business processes allows you to achieve near-perfect precision levels as well as quality control;
  • Reduce costs: with the help of IoT ecosystem components, you can reduce labor costs and lower the amount of waste (as there is less of a chance for mistake or deviation from the standard, so the overall quality of the product gets better).

What’s more, the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem allows to automate and optimize your intelligent manufacturing and smart industry, asset performance management, maintenance, and industrial control. Thus you will be able to move towards an on-demand service model and new ways of servicing customers, as well as create new revenue models, the more mature goal of industrial digital transformation.

Despite the attractive benefits of IIoT ecosystems, there is one major concern – security. This issue concerns all types of IoT systems: IoT home security products, industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles, and more. A successful attack might compromise the integrity of the system, leave sensitive data exposed, and even threaten lives. 

However, with the right approach to IoT security, it is possible to mitigate all security threats that can hamper successful industrial IoT implementation. 

Read more: How reliable connectivity solutions define the future of IoT-powered smart manufacturing

Ways to ensure the security of the IoT ecosystem:

  1. Ensure security at each level 

There are three levels of the IoT ecosystem that can be threatened – the device, the network, and the cloud levels. Each of them has its vulnerable spots, so it is vital to protect them all. Remember, your IoT system security level is the security level of its weakest chain. 

The device-level consists of all the devices that are connected to your IoT ecosystem. These are products that are embedded with processors, sensors, and actuators and are able to send and/or receive data via the Internet. 

The network-level unites all the communication technologies that are used by the devices to spread the data to other devices or interfaces they can reach or are intended to reach. 

Cloud is a massive network that stores and processes the data through the Internet and is a massive part of your IoT security. It is essential for real-time operations as it supports the underlying data storage and exchange infrastructure. It is a natural target for the attackers, and they can use different approaches to disrupting the functioning of a cloud layer or stealing data from your storage.

  1. Use DevSecOps approach

The DevSecOps approach is the new black for ensuring IoT ecosystem security. 

Within this approach, security is integrated into every stage of the IoT ecosystem development process. Each professional is responsible for their code security, so assessing security risks becomes an integral part of the software development process. Moreover, introducing security in the earlier development stages helps minimize security risks.    

DevSecOps approach to IIoT

  1. Choose an IIoT partner with an established security policy

According to Gartner, 61% of businesses plan to invest in IoT risk assessment in the next 12-18 months. Thus, the need for skilled IoT professionals increases. As a result, many businesses partner with experienced IT vendors. 

Moreover, you should look for a partner that has all critical security compliances, including PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, GDPR, and other security regulations, to keep your data safe.

Optimize your business processes with IIoT

Why choose N-iX to implement your IoT ecosystem architecture?

  1. We provide the full life-cycle of hardware and software development services, such as consulting, product discovery, design, development, testing, and support; 
  2. N-iX has 2,000 experts that have experience working with business cases of different shapes and sizes on board;
  3. 400 N-iXers are skilled cloud experts, many of them are certified by AWS, Azure, and GCP;
  4. We have a strong data unit that unites 200+ data analytics experts. The company has been recognized by ISG as a Rising Star in data engineering services and positioned in the Product Challengers Quadrant both in the data science and data Infrastructure & cloud integration services;
  5. We have robust DevOps expertise, including Cloud adoption (infrastructure set up, migration, optimization), building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention (DDOS & intrusion), firewall-as-a-service, and more;
  6. N-iX complies with international regulations and security standards.

Have a question?

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N-iX Staff
Mykhaylo Kohut
Solution Architect, Embedded & IoT Practice

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