IIoT stands for “Industrial Internet of Things”. While the conventional IoT focuses strongly on the end user, IIoT is all about processes within Industry 4.0. IIoT strengthens and accelerates industrial processes by improving efficiency and productivity and is a key factor behind the successful digital transformation of manufacturing businesses. At the core of IIoT are sensors interacting with artificial intelligence (AI) to create smart machines and equipment which communicate with each other. Since IIoT generates massive volumes of data — big data — it needs a fast, powerful system as a basis.

Facts and figures

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) + Industry 4.0: How Microsoft technology is bringing major changes to manufacturing

Sources: Accenture, EY, Business Insider, Microsoft

Key IIoT technologies

IIoT is both powerful and valuable to the manufacturing industry, primarily because of its connected sensors and intelligent processes. In addition, it introduces a number of new technologies to manufacturing processes:

  • Predictive maintenance
  • Sensor-assisted measuring
  • Industry Big Data
  • Cyber-physical systems (CPS)
  • 3D printers
  • Smart grid
  • Smart products
  • Smart equipment
  • Smart material
  • Smart metrics
  • Smart workforce
  • Machine learning
  • Predictive analysis

How to ensure data security in IIoT

The enormous amounts of data that are generated and stored by IIoT on a daily basis are exposed to increased risk due to weak points in the infrastructure. For this reason, mechanisms and procedures for secure communication, storage and sharing of data should be part of any IIoT strategy. Security measures include:

  • Public key cryptography
  • Encryption standards and protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS)
  • Cryptographic hashes, such as the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA)
  • Role-based access control (RBAC)
  • Data classification based on security levels
  • Encryption of user authentication data and other critical data
  • Automated protection mechanisms against Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks
  • State-of-the-art security patches on all systems within the infrastructure

How IIoT affects the value chain

The IIoT value chain describes the building blocks of IIoT, the value creation processes in the background, the participants and how they interact with each other in order to generate added value. If you think about implementing an IIoT for your own business, you have to pay attention to the following building blocks as part of your value chain:

  • Embedded chipsets, IoT modules, transponders
  • Intelligent devices
  • Network devices for end-to-end connectivity
  • Software platforms for managing IIoT devices and IIoT data
  • Software- and domain-specific applications
  • System integration services

IIoT challenges – complexity poses the biggest risk

In addition to security and the value chain, there are numerous other hurdles to pass when implementing IIoT. These are mainly due to the complexity of the entire architecture, which makes the integration of machine processes particularly difficult. But taking global production sites and scattered supply chains into account is also a challenge that should not be underestimated. In addition, 100% connectivity must be ensured, as a failure of the IIoT can lead to a complete production outage.

Benefits of IIoT – implementation efforts pay off quickly

In general, IIoT – once successfully implemented and secured – offers an unmatched increase of efficiency and productivity in all manufacturing processes, while providing access to the full range of Industry 4.0 features and benefits. Benefits of IIoT include:

  • Industrial automation
  • Machine overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) optimization
  • Asset health data insights
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Failure and downtime prediction
  • Production simulation
  • Improved overall workers’ safety and security
  • Increased operational efficiency via operational intelligence
  • Performance boost (reduced idling)
  • Quality improvement (fewer defects)

Benefit from industrial IoT software platforms leader Microsoft

Microsoft tops the latest Forrester report, “The Forrester Wave™: Industrial IoT Software Platforms, Q4 2019”. It shows Microsoft as a leader in IoT partner strategy, innovation roadmap, platform differentiation criteria and market presence.

According to Forrester’s report,

“Microsoft powers industrial partners but also delivers a credible platform of its own. Microsoft continues to add features to the platform at an impressive rate, with the richer edge capabilities of Azure IoT Edge and the simplified application and device onboarding offered by Azure IoT Central formally launching since we last evaluated this market.”

Microsoft will continue to defend its leadership position in IIoT with the continued development and implementation of AI, Edge Computing and 5G technologies. The goal is to link IIoT workflows with data and processes across the enterprise, transform analysis into actionable information, and use that data to make decisions that strengthen the business in the long term.

Find out how your manufacturing processes can benefit from IIoT. Contact us!

Sources: Future of IoT (EY), IIoT Platforms (McKinsey), The Forrester Wave: Industrial IoT Software Platforms (Forrester)

Marketing Manager at AlfaPeople

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