By John Koon, Editor-in-Chief, RTC Magazine
What is Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) and how does it differ from the Internet-of-Things (IoT)? The common term IoT refers to a giant network connecting billions of intelligent devices together. Those intelligent devices inside the home can be connected and controlled to create a smart home. In healthcare, vital signs can be monitored remotely by a caregiver via medical devices worn by the patient. The above scenarios about home and personal healthcare are referred to by some as consumer IoT. IIoT, on the other hand, focuses on industrial applications such as monitoring and improving the manufacturing process. Though the implementation can be complicated, the concept of IIoT is relatively simple. The millions of intelligent nodes together can be sensors, intelligent devices, or machines. By passing data back and forth, the giant network can monitor, control and manage various preprogrammed functions.
Why is the industry buzzing about IIoT?
It represents limitless potential. According to Dan Isaacs, Marketing Manager of Xilinx, IIoT provides smart solutions to medical, energy, automotive and manufacturing segments. In many cases, IIoT can reduce unplanned down time provide potential savings. So where are these opportunities? They are happening all around us. Jaishree Subramania, Global Marketing Director of Cisco says: “IoT is here and now, across industries. It’s not only changing business models, but revolutionizing how industries across the board are interacting with customers. Companies who are embracing IoT are fast
developing a competitive edge over those being slow to act.” Dell feels IIoT would help them in vertical segments like industrial automation, transportation and smart building. Indeed, IIoT can have benefits go beyond productivity.
“To me the most exciting part of IoT and data-driven innovation is how the technology can transform and improve people’s lives,” said Kevin Terwilliger, IoT Innovation and New Technology Manager, Dell. “Some examples of
this are; using data from refrigeration trucks to decrease food spoilage and leveraging video surveillance in trucks to help decrease car crash fatalities.”
What are the challenges ahead?
IIoT still has hurdles ahead. Among them are the constant battle with hackers, ongoing changes and how the various IIoT standard organizations ( IPSO, IEEE, AllSeen Alliance, Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet Consortium and more) coexist. Gareth Noyes, Chief Strategy Officer of Wind River, pointed out, “The IIoT will force companies to face some fundamental issues, including how they will evolve and transform their business models. By nature the IIoT will be massively disruptive and will challenge the dynamics of existing supply chains, creating opportunities for some and threats to traditional business practices for others.”
The bigger concern, perhaps, is security. Hackers love IIoT. Why? Because each connection opens up another hacking opportunity. Unless end-to-end security is deployed, it will be disasters waiting to happen. Since security is such a complex problem to deal with, it will be an ongoing battle between IIoT solution providers and hackers.