In the manufacturing and industrial world, automation and high-technology are advancing more rapidly than in other businesses. As a result, there are more options now to streamline operations and provide tangible solutions to common problems than ever before. As the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) becomes even more advanced, companies will be able to utilize new technology in a way that was unheard of several years ago.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most current trends that will surely be making big waves in IIoT over the coming months and years.
One of the most significant issues with rolling out a new system is that you have to spend so much time testing it on the floor and making sure that any bugs are taken care of immediately so as to reduce the amount of downtime you encounter. While this can be mitigated through more connected networks, now you can create digital copies (twins) of products and test them thoroughly before they ever go live.
This way you can spot any potential problems before they hit the floor and fix them without causing any issues to your bottom line.
Not only will you be able to solve potential issues on the fly before implementation, but you can practice data tracking and analytics to ensure that you’re going to get all of the information you need when the product goes live. Integration has never been easier and these “digital twins” will become the norm for new IIoT systems.
Virtual Reality Training
Another common problem that companies face is that it can take a while to get all employees up to speed on new systems or upgrades. Thankfully, as virtual technology has improved considerably within the last few years, businesses can start to take advantage and do digital training.
This is already old hat for industries like piloting, but we can soon see VR becoming commonplace on the factory floor. This way you can make sure that all of your staff is fully trained without risking delays or downtime as you would with traditional methods.
Best of all, with this technology you can put your employees through worst-case scenarios to see how they would react. Since it wouldn’t be feasible to do this in real life VR tech enables businesses to put staff through the wringer to ensure that proper procedures will be followed in the event of an emergency situation.
While putting more of your inventory onto a digital network is an excellent way to spot problems and fix issues on the fly, a big setback is that most back-of-house systems are far removed from the ground floor or the data centers where the information is being created.
Thankfully, as IIoT technology has improved, you are now able to move your data tracking devices closer to the action so that there is no delay and you can spot potential issues even quicker. This will help reduce your downtime as well as enable onsite staff to report problems as they happen and connect to the network immediately instead of having to contact IT or a manager to explain what's going on.
Ethernet, wireless, and cellular gateways are all becoming more commonplace on the “edge, ” and they are the driving force behind this trend. These technologies are bridging the gap between OT and IT environments.
AI and Advanced Analytics
No matter how smart your IT team is, they are still moving at the speed of a human being, which means that errors and delays are inevitable. Also, assuming that you aren’t having your tech guys work around the clock, you are limited in how much data they can process in a single work day.
Fortunately, as artificial intelligence and advanced analytic engines become more high-tech and refined, you can have your system adapt to your changing needs and figure out problems and solutions before they happen. Anticipating potential issues means that you can stay ahead of them, and these technologies will make it even easier to analyze your data and make your operations more efficient.
If you have a vast network of sites that need to communicate to each other you know that a big issue is being able to connect. Fortunately, Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) technology is enabling businesses to communicate with remote sites with much more ease as this system doesn’t require much in the way of bandwidth or coding.
Mobile devices can contact your central hub much easier as this is a machine-to-machine data transfer protocol. Communication has made the world smaller, and this next step will make your network feel tinier as well.
One of the biggest fears of automating and centralizing your network is that it can be more susceptible to cyber attacks, thereby crippling your infrastructure. Fortunately, new systems are being created to combat these threats, and you can expect IIoT security to be beefed up alongside the new machines being built.
Staying one step ahead of hackers and viruses means that you can implement new technologies without worrying about having potential breaches.
Overall, as technology improves and gets more dynamic, IIoT will continue to make manufacturing and industrial jobs better and more efficient. Soon there will be a day where companies rarely experience downtime, if at all. What’s important to note is that these trends will only continue in this direction, so the sooner you can embrace new changes the better off your company will be, both now and in the long run.