As we continue our series, let's turn to another important question—is the IIoT happening already?
In a word, yes; the vision is quickly becoming reality. Already there are IIoT implementations that monitor some of the most critical metrics in factory environments: machine runtime, pressure in pressure vessels, amperage draw for electric motors, bearing temperature, and many more.
A recent post on the blog of IOT analytics platform vendor Vitria notes, Manufacturing and IoT are undoubtedly experiencing a major growth phase in 2017. Manufacturers of all types are leveraging IoT and advanced analytics to drive value in a wide variety of applications in their business. Many are progressing past simple measurement and monitoring to advanced techniques with predictive analytics and machine learning.*
It’s important to understand that IIoT initiatives are no longer the exclusive domain of huge multinational organizations; the functionality necessary to leverage IIoT technology is increasingly available as software continues to be developed to allow virtually any size manufacturer to take advantage of the IIoT. As this access improves, the cost of entry will continue to fall.
Further, manufacturers are progressively realizing they have the ability to leverage the IIoT with their legacy assets. A company may have a lathe that has been doing a job well for many years; with today’s sensors, equipment like this can be easily retrofitted to integrate to the IIoT. Such upgrades, once thought impossible or not considered at all, are now more feasible. For maintenance teams responsible for legacy equipment, this has significant implications.
The IIoT is not so much about automated factories as it is about delivering the full range of services that the equipment in the factories was designed to provide—consistent high quality output at a predictable rate. The same can be said about reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) in general, and condition-based maintenance (CBM) in particular. In fact, the IIoT is a great way to accelerate the productive impact and the financial return that RCM can deliver. You might even say the IIoT enables something closer to just in time (JIT) maintenance because it is now more technologically and economically feasible to provide a wider range of data for CBM in real time, eliminating the wait for inspection results or worse, a call from operations about a drop in quality or output or even failure. With an IIoT-connected maintenance program, staff can be dispatched immediately, before failure occurs, in response to a sensor's report that an asset's condition has strayed beyond acceptable limits.**
It’s better to prevent a failure than fix one, and the IIoT is enabling maintenance to do this more comprehensively and effectively than heretofore possible.
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* Houston, Mike, “Manufacturing and IOT Analytics: The Data Is Reaching Critical Mass,” http://www.vitria.com/blog/Manufacturing-and-IoT-Analytics-The-Data-is-Reaching-Critical-Mass/.
** Mueller, Steve, “Prepare Your Maintenance Program for the IIoT,” Plant Engineering, March 16, 2017.
Read the Whole Series: A Maintenance Manager’s Guide to the Industrial Internet of Things
- What do you need to know?
- What is the IIoT and how does it affect maintenance operations?
- What are the benefits to the maintenance department?
- What and who is driving the development of the IIoT?
- How will the IIoT impact the maintenance team?
- Is IIoT happening already?
- What are the biggest challenges IIoT must overcome?
- How is the IIoT taking maintenance into the future?