Is it worth implementing the Internet of Things in the industry?

How does the Industrial Internet of Things transform the production process?

The Internet of Things (IoT) strengthens its positions in the daily life of man: smart homes, smart assistant on the mobile phone, shopping online … all this is only a small part of what makes our routine easier. Every year the number of connected devices grows and, at the same time, the area of ​​application of the IoT is expanding. Thus, the implementation of technologies in the industry allows managers to make decisions in an agile manner, reduce losses during production and increase the productivity and competitiveness of the company in the market. According to estimates by the consulting firm Accenture, by 2030 the contribution of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the world economy may reach about 14.2 trillion dollars.

IIoT: brief retrospective

The term Internet of things was introduced in 1999 by the entrepreneur Kevin Ashton, a researcher in the field of RFID technologies. However, the very concept of IoT dates back to the creation of electric telegraphs (at the end of the 19th century). The first smart device was Carnegie Mellon University’s Coca-Cola soda vending machine. In 1982, students could get up-to-date information on the variety of beverages through the ARPANET network.

According to Cisco IBSG studies, the Internet of Things appears at the same time that the number of connected devices exceeds the number of inhabitants of the Earth (between 2008 and 2009). Since then, the IoT began to penetrate all economic spheres, including industry, where it is called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Revolutionary technologies in the industry

In the USA and the European countries they valued very positively the advantages offered by the implementation of innovative technologies, therefore, in these countries they try to automate production processes as much as possible. According to Bain & Company’s forecast, by 2021 the international market volume of the Industrial Internet of Things will grow to reach 200 billion dollars.

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The implementation of a monitoring system for personnel and industrial equipment increases productivity by an average of 20%. The operating principle of the equipment monitoring system is that each machine automatically transmits its performance data to a single digital system. The data related to the operation and load level of the equipment are transmitted from the machines to the computers and other devices with software This makes it possible to eliminate unnecessary equipment stoppages in a timely manner, as well as objectively assessing the quality of the operators’ work.

The level of digitization of industrial companies depends directly on the maturity of the technologies and their degree of penetration in the masses. Currently, there are many who are just beginning to be interested in existing cases, however, only after the successful implementation of innovative solutions by large companies do the massive use of these techniques begin. Today, the automation process is often launched in leading factories, large companies, and groups of companies. It is safe to say that after the approval of the innovative technologies by the leaders and, more importantly, after they obtain a positive experience, the entire group of companies will install highly technological equipment and the Industrial Internet use will become a general standard.

Why are companies overly cautious about modernizing production?

Digital technologies in industrial facilities are implemented in a phased manner. Many managers prefer not to invest in digital modernization, as they understand that this will cause additional expenses. In particular, the expenses for the cybersecurity of industrial systems (IS). In 2019, 80% of companies in Russia surveyed stated that this trend is a priority for them, however, only 31% of these companies actually implemented the incident response process. Not just attacks of hackers, but also unintended actions on the part of the employees themselves can pose risks. The reason for this lies in a low level of training regarding new digital automation systems. 48% of the companies surveyed see a problem here and are willing to invest in the training of their staff.

A condition of necessary fulfillment for the implementation of the industrial Internet is the availability of data. Some companies structure their business idea and based on it they begin to collect the data. Others, on the other hand, accumulate absolutely all the data, thinking that in case of need they will be able to separate the necessary information. For IT companies offering digital modernization services, the latter option is preferable, although both methods are feasible. The most important thing is that the data is of quality and is directly reacted to the task at hand.

Right approach towards digitization of companies

The vision that the company management has on digitization is very important. Managers have to clearly define their preferred objective. For example, it is the optimization of the budget or the solution for a specific task. You have to understand that digitization is an expensive process. In an ideal case, this process is to pay for itself in one year. Here, the most important is the comprehensive analysis of the efficiency of production resources. Other important factors in digitization are monitoring the operation of equipment and personnel, controlling compliance with technological processes, and increasing the quantity and quality of the manufactured product.

During the implementation of digital modernization, it is necessary to rely on the principle of the simple to the complex: when a management solution allows you to increase productivity by 30%, this is what you have to do first. It is important that employees also understand what the benefits of this process are for them and that they are interested in making changes. Therefore, one of the preferred guidelines in the process of implementing Industry 4.0 technologies has to be increasing the volume of information that staff have on the possibilities offered by the current market.

Defining the resource that needs to be processed first is a laborious and lengthy process. For this, the method of evaluating the efficiency of the production process is used. In the first stage, the necessary data is collected and in complex cases it will be necessary to connect additional equipment to the monitoring system. Next, the analytical work is carried out: defining the load coefficient, the availability of equipment, evaluating the degree of environmental safety of the company within the framework of the quality of electrical consumption, etc. The result of this comprehensive analysis should provide an answer to the question, where is the most problematic link?

Particularities of the implementation of IIoT solutions

The technological upgrade of companies is carried out in several stages, the order of which may change. In our opinion, to achieve positive results, the digitization of the company must take place in the following order:

  • Organize remote monitoring of digitized computers and workstations to detect trouble spots.
  • Make the transition to control the efficient use of working time.
  • Integrate with ERP, MES and PDM systems currently implemented in the company.
  • Organize the product launch process and ensure control over it.
  • To minimize the volume of defective product, the procedure for controlling the parameters of the technological process needs to be launched.
  • The next step is to ensure control of energy efficiency.
  • Begin to control the use of metal cutting tools and equipment.
  • Organize the automatic process of maintenance and repair of equipment.
  • Using artificial intelligence to exercise total control over the technological process and turn it into a kind of DNA of the company.

It is important that company managers clearly define the ultimate goal of the implementation of technologies. For example, increasing the quality and quantity of the manufactured product, ensuring uninterrupted control over compliance with technology or optimizing the company’s budget. In the foreground should be placed the needs of the company and not modern trends. A correct approach to modernization is the premise for a quick payback of the project and an efficient solution of established tasks.