Throughout history, manufacturing has evolved from the creation of machines to boost production, to the use of computers to store information. Now, within Industry 4.0 (or the Fourth Industrial Revolution), and with the introduction of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we have seen a revolution in the way organizations use and analyze data. As a result, we are in an era of smart machines, interconnectivity and near autonomy.
In 2023, it’s predicted that there will be more than 43 billion devices connected to the internet. They will generate, share, collect, and help us to make use of data in all manner of ways. IIoT follows the same principles as IoT but in industrial settings, where systems, people, and devices communicate with each other in a connected network. The most significant benefit IIoT has had on the industrial revolution is its ability to provide data that we’ve never had before, allowing companies to make more informed decisions.
So, here are five key ways that IIoT technology will have a major impact on the development of Industry 4.0.
1. Increased Visibility
In factories of the past, visibility was often limited due to old processes and data. Organizations would have an understanding of what was in their factories but not where their assets were and when they were moving. One of IIoT’s top benefits is its ability to give you unprecedented visibility over your operations.
By using real-time information, industrial operations can collect data that provides a 360 view of their organization. In fact, through tags and sensors, entire facilities can be connected, from vehicles and assets to personnel. Location and time stamped information can be integrated with systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), allowing for greater connectivity. This information is available to view on a consolidated user interface and on a variety of devices, taking operational awareness to a new level.
With this increased visibility, operation managers can see how production processes are running in real-time. Through reports of consolidated data, manufacturing errors can be pinpointed easily and machine performance identified, allowing operational managers to make informed decisions to resolve issues causing delays in production.
In a growing competitive landscape, being able to quickly resolve any delays, through the use of IIoT, can help organizations stay ahead of the competition.
2. Higher Efficiency due to Automated Workflows
Workflow automation is key to boosting productivity and ROI, which is what IIoT provides. By automating mundane and simple tasks, work efficiency is improved, and your employees can focus on using their skills on more nuanced tasks that benefit your organization.
For example, identifying materials with barcodes in a manufacturing or intralogistics setting. If a barcode is manually scanned it often takes longer and human error must be accounted for. With the use of smart machines, these processes can be done exactly how the organization wants. What's more, since the machines are always connected, you'll be able to identify if there is a malfunction happening before it’s too late.
The ability to automate manual tasks to streamline processes and get desired results is what drives IIoT projects.
3. Accurate Forecasting and Planning with Location Data
Location data helps organizations plan better than they ever have. Teams used to rely on historical data for forecasting, but another benefit of the IIoT is the ability to generate near real-time reporting.
By attaching tracking tags to personnel, assets, and vehicles across your facilities, location data can be collected in a Real Time Location System (RTLS). They then transmit their location data to fixed readers (RTLS anchors), which integrate the information into software and can be seen on various devices. Facility managers can be shown the data with a visualized digitized map, providing them with maximum control.
If there are supply chain issues within a company, location information can be utilized to pinpoint exactly where the delays are happening and make the decisions needed to fix errors and optimize processes.
Not only this, location data can help create faster routes for vehicles, efficient schedules for employees and machines, and as a result, make your processes more streamlined and competitive.
4. Optimization of Operations and Processes
Manufacturers can take advantage of near real-time data for constant improvement in their operational efficiency. It all starts with IIoT being an ecosystem of connected devices, from forklifts to production equipment. Being able to see the entire facility holistically allows for better decision making and the ability to set improved goals. It also increases transparency and accountability, with information easily accessible throughout multiple production stages.
Being able to see what machines are working on allows organizations to run as efficiently as possible, by maximizing equipment output. For example, a facility manager would be able to see which machines aren’t busy and assign additional production jobs to them, so time isn’t lost. The opportunity to see how your entire facility works allows you to make better decisions that create optimal routes and reduce traffic jams.
5. Avoid Process Errors
One of the biggest things holding organizations back is machine downtime, costing billions every year. Through older processes, equipment malfunction would result in defective products, costing time and resources. IIoT makes rapid detection possible and allows organizations to optimize production quality and get ahead of equipment failure.
Why Should Industrial IoT Connected Devices be Secured with Identities?
Managers in industry should expect that their Industrial IoT devices will perform as expected with respect to safety, security, privacy, reliability, and resilience while facing environmental disruptions, human errors, system faults and attacks.
An initial key requirement should be that these devices have secure identities, and the data they create is encrypted. Many industrial IoT gateway manufacturers are implementing hardware-based security elements such as TPM’s (Trusted Platform Modules) and Secure PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) practices in their products. This provides the highest levels of security and a certainty that all best practices are being used to secure the data produced, thus providing data security as it passes through the supply chain.
Connecting Industrial IoT Devices with GlobalSign
Every IoT endpoint needs an identity whether Industrial IoT or otherwise, and IoT security starting with PKI has become the de facto credential for IoT and IIoT device identity. PKI delivers a trusted IoT experience backed by secure digital certificates issued from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA).
At GlobalSign, we take pride in helping organizations to simplify, optimize, and manage PKI-based, IoT device identities with an IoT Identity Platform designed specifically for IoT uses cases across multiple verticals and segments.
Among IoT Device Identity Management Solutions, GlobalSign were named as a market leader by ABI Research, and that our Edge Enroll service is one of the very best tools on the market today to keep IoT devices secure.
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