The Production Organism – Five breakthrough use-cases for the Industrial Internet of Things

IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things, is the secret to the world’s fourth industrial revolution. This is no exaggeration, for the Industrial Internet of things unifies machinery, PLCs, sensors, administration servers, data processing platforms and remote interfaces into a single ecosystem. This arms remote operators and technicians with the means to modify Industrial processes on demand. Convenience is the mother of invention, so it’s unsurprising that IIoT systems find new applications every year, in every imaginable industrial environment. We’ve prepared a list of five current applications for IIoT, and how they save money, time, and resources for companies ahead of the curve. 

  

1. Future-proofing maintenance 

Without maintenance, companies cannot sustain production. Traditionally, industries relied exclusively on regular visits by technicians, and reactive repairs to keep hardware in working order. But industrial accidents do not follow a schedule, and complex industrial machinery can break down in unexpected failure modes. Traditional maintenance is thus limited. When the limits are met, the burden of downtime falls upon both the manufacturer and the customer alike. 

The Industrial Internet of Things helps manufacturers grow maintenance services beyond these restrictions. By connecting a factory’s PLCs, or central SCADA system to remote analytics over the internet, service technicians can monitor machine data from anywhere in the world. With this insight, companies can analyze device performance to discover trends, enabling maintenance to respond to anomalous activity over a machine’s entire service life. 

 

2. Keeping production compliant across global lines 

As businesses grow and operations are distributed over multiple sites, centralization is vital. Successful industrial multinationals must ensure all their factories are compliant with best practices, across all sites, repeatably and sustainably. This is particularly true when granting network access to on-sight machinery, for inconsistent processes between sites lead to best practices being ignored, risking business data and the safety of machinery.  

Fortunately for manufacturers, IIoT is for process standardization what the spreadsheet was for workplace organization. By connecting machinery to a central access management server, a small IT team can administrate the access rights of multiple technicians and programmers through one interface, at the same time. This application for IIoT speeds up remote services and increases security by giving IT comprehensive oversight. In effect, an IIoT access management enables one IT office to do the work of many. 

  

3. Protecting equipment in the field

IIoT cuts the travel time for device-to-device interactions to the speed of light, allowing for rapid adjustments to devices that would be otherwise hard to reach. The Springfield Water Treatment plants in the Missouri Ozarks treats wastewater for 160,000 people, at over two separate water treatment plants, and a host of unmanned, remote secondary facilities. Any unnoticed equipment failure could dump untreated sewage into the groundwater, harming wildlife and local health. But the Springfield plant planned ahead. Remote access to IIoT data helps Springfield Water Treatment employees to monitor and update remote equipment without sending out a technician, saving man hours and increasing maintenance responsiveness. 

  

4. Ensuring performance for the long haul

From the automotive industry to electric utilities, industrial processes can be thought of as colossal function machines, uniting inputs into useful output products with little adaptability or redundancy. This model is, however, dated. The Industrial Internet of Things offers OEMs radical access to difficult-to-reach operations data. Sensor and PLC data, routed through a software gateway installed onto the machine, gives service providers running updates on the status of their devices.  This enables machine providers to update their customers on the effectiveness of machines in the field as an after-sales service. 

With IIoT, industries can continuously stream industrial data to remote support directly from the factory floor. Machine providers like Sysadvance use this data to provide their customers’ machines with a monthly bill of health. With the Industrial Internet of Things, OEM service provision transforms from a simple after-sales guarantee, to providing uptime as a service, a radical evolution in the relationship between machine builder and manufacturer. 

  

5. Locking down cybersecurity 

At first glance, the idea that an IIoT platform could improve industrial cybersecurity seems counterintuitive. This impression is deceiving. 

Throughout industrial history, threats are prevented by preparation, while a lack of preparation leaves companies vulnerable to unplanned downtime. Industrial cybersecurity is no exception. For example, companies that implement a remote maintenance system only when needed may be forced to install new software on their machinery without proper reviewing, introduce third-party devices into their system without proper network tiering, or be forced to reconfigure their firewall on the fly. Every corner cut comes with its own risks. 

Deploying access processes reactively can cause lasting vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it reduces the control a company’s IT department has over their own network. Consequentially, companies without an IT-focused IIoT solution can find themselves at the mercy of password thieves and ransomware attackers. 

Fortunately, process standardization and cybersecurity best practice are one and the same. IIoT device management platforms provide sustainable cybersecurity, by centralizing multiple remote access approval processes under one interface. Through such a platform, activity authorization, monitoring, and logging actions can be made through a single portal, gifting IT departments complete control. Such tools are especially useful for large companies, such as Cargill, who use IIoT systems to safeguard multiple production sites at once, efficiently, and comfortably from a single office. 

Hundreds of Secomea customers are already putting IIoT to use in global factories and machinery. Take a look at our case studies and dive into how global industries are revolutionizing productivity with IIoT.

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