What is IIoT?
With the ever-growing number of smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) is more relevant than ever. Defined as a network of physical objects that contain embedded technology, IoT helps people and businesses communicate and collect real-time data so they can get actionable insights into the world around them.
Similar to the concept of IoT, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the technology that connects machines, devices, sensors, and other equipment in industrial sectors with IT applications or cloud services. This allows businesses to collect and analyze data from IIoT-enabled products and services while they are being used in order to improve efficiency, uptime, and productivity levels over time. Find out how these technologies can improve industrial automation for smart factories in our modern age.
IoT vs IIoT: How Are They Different
The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are both exciting technologies that have the potential to transform industrial automation in many ways.
The main differences between IIoT and IoT include:
- Scale: IoT is an ecosystem that connects machines and devices over a network. It can be an interconnected system of consumer wearables that are used to monitor a small number of devices. In comparison, IIoT is the process of using data from connected devices to improve the efficiency, quality, and cost of an industrial business. Therefore, it is usually designed to manage large amounts of information.
- Focus: IIoT focuses on streamlining business operations, while the IoT focuses on creating new applications and services that improve consumer lives. Many IoT devices are designed to be used by consumers in their everyday lives, while most IIoT devices are designed to help businesses run more efficiently.
- Systems: The IoT relies on cloud computing, while the IIoT does not need cloud computing because it uses local servers instead of remote servers. Additionally, IIoT platform is more secure than the IoT because it uses more established hardware and software platforms that have been tested thoroughly to prevent hackers from breaking into systems.
5 Examples & Applications of IIoT
While they may differ slightly in industrial application, most industries with challenging environments (such as shipping, oil and gas, energy, chemical industries etc.) will benefit from an IIoT platform. Here are five applications:
Application 1 – Manage Human Error
Human factors are the physical, psychological, and social characteristics that affect human intersection with equipment, systems, processes, other individuals, and work teams(s). Human error is when a person makes a mistake due to human factors, which can lead to issues in time, cost, and quality. We all make mistakes. It’s in our nature. But when you are talking about the workplace, human error can cause major issues.
With the introduction of IIoT applications, human factors are better managed. These applications allow for better coordination of staff, which significantly reduces errors made in the workplace.
Smart machines help us manage human error by automating some of the processes that could lead to human error.
For example, a logistics company may require an employee to manually input inventory data into Excel spreadsheets every day. That can lead to mistakes that are hard to track down later on. But now that you have implemented an IIoT application for your warehouse management system, the computer can automatically input data, and you can get alerts from the application if something goes wrong and fix it quickly.
Of course, the type of IIoT technology you employ in your workplace depends on your industry.
For instance, let’s assume your goal is to reduce human errors in the maritime industry and improve worker safety. Smart devices can be very handy in this case. For instance, a smartwatch can allow every crew member stationed in different areas to quickly alert the entire team of any work-related incidents that may occur while on the job.
This is especially so for ship workers. Take, for instance, the Pump Room on a ship. Using an IIoT device with remote access allows key personnel to monitor if a team member is in the Pump Room. Likewise, crew members in the pump room can alert others if something’s amiss. The SOL-X Atex certified SmartWatch is a mobile device that allows one to do that. This device also informs the crew about restricted work zones. Such timely reminders will improve your worker safety, as they receive notifications and gain awareness about these hazardous areas.
According to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), 66% of incidents and casualties are caused by “human factors”. Therefore, you should implement IIoT technology like the SOL-X SmartWatch so that you can employ remote monitoring of your crew, issue timely reminders, and minimize workplace casualties.
Application 2 – Manage Costs
Employees are a company’s greatest asset, and keeping them safe is a priority for any business. But workplace accidents can be costly—in terms of money spent on repairs and equipment, as well as time spent on recovering from injuries, filing claims, and hiring new employees.
And that’s not even the worst part: if an accident is severe enough to cause permanent disability, it can have devastating effects on a company’s reputation.
If you’re in the construction, manufacturing, or maritime industries, you know that workplace accidents can cost your company money in lost time and productivity, as well as medical expenses and insurance fees.
In today’s world of interconnected machines and systems, it has never been easier to improve industrial protocols. IIoT allows companies to monitor their frontline operations and equipment from an off-site location, so they can identify potential problems before they happen and respond quickly when problems do occur. This means fewer injuries for your employees (and less time spent treating those injuries).
It also means fewer delays on projects because you don’t have to wait for someone to notice something is wrong before getting it fixed—you can fix it yourself!
Apart from the above features, wearable IIoT technology is now advanced enough to provide managers with updated information on workers’ wellness.
For instance, SOL-X’s Crew Protect is a holistic solution using smart devices that can track and monitor workers’ workload, heat stress levels, and heart rate monitoring. Workers can also tap on a ‘Crew Assist’ button to seek help quickly.
Particularly for workers on a ship who are exposed to high heat, the SmartWatch allows safety engineers to monitor workers’ heat exposure. Plus, reminders are automatically sent to prompt employees to rest when the heat gets to a dangerous level.
This data allows your company to effectively plan corporate wellness programs so that your workers feel valued and safe. When workers are not fatigued, they can also perform at their peak capacity. Overall, it can drastically improve a work site’s productivity and operational efficiency.
Application 3 – Gather Deeper Data Insights
We are entering a new era of data analytics, where the traditional silos of business data are being replaced by real-time and relevant insights.
Companies are now able to collate and tap meaningful and real-time data on worker performance—something that is made possible with IIoT technology. This can cover the entire worksite, giving us a much deeper understanding of the challenges their staff faces. It also allows them to react flexibly, carrying out predictive maintenance to reduce workplace danger.
With digitalized improvements led by industry leader SOL-X, AI models are constructed to collect data and provide enhanced insights. Such information helps companies identify key factors and leading indicators in achieving operational excellence. Through this data, companies can carry out pre-emptive measures and make continual improvements to work processes.
For instance, the SOL-X SmartWatch tracks work rest data, so safety engineers can evaluate their team’s workload and take the right steps to manage their fatigue levels.
Overall, with modern IIoT solutions such as SOL-X’s Control Of Work and Crew Protect system, you gain peace of mind. Especially so for companies in hazardous industries, you need the data to streamline operations and manage key safety compliance factors so as to achieve maximum operational excellence.
Application 4 – Near Real-time Remote Monitoring
For the shipping industry, incidents related to cargo loading occur for many reasons, as detailed by several case studies. Often, it is a lack of remote monitoring that leads to such accidents. It could be a worker entering an enclosed area that has been marked off limits. Or perhaps the wrong or outdated platform or ladders are used.
These incidents often occur because there isn’t timely information that keeps everyone working aligned. Imagine a world where you can see what’s happening on your vessel in real-time. You can see where your crew members are, and what they’re doing. You can make sure that everyone is working safely and responsibly.
Even at the blind spots for crane or forklift operators, you can monitor the work going on and quickly update workers on safety reminders. That’s the level of security IIoT technologies such as SOL-X’s Control Of Work can offer you.
Workplace incidents can happen due to many reasons. While human factors, as mentioned above, can be a contributory cause, other factors such as the layout of the work area or equipment failure can cause an issue.
For instance, poor ventilation or lighting in the area needs to be highlighted to the workers immediately so that nobody goes there while it is under maintenance.
Using the live dashboard in SOL-X, your superiors can obtain a wide-angle view of all ongoing operations in real time. They are able to see what each worker is doing and whether they are at the right place. With SOL-X, you can reduce safety risks and improve workflow management.
Application 5 – Increase Worker Productivity
IIoT technology is rapidly changing the way businesses operate by automating manual and repetitive tasks.
With industrial automation, you can reduce paperwork, which means less time spent on tedious tasks and more time spent working with your team to improve processes and increase performance.
For instance, SOL-X’s solutions allow for enhanced digital document management. There is no need to print, scan, and manually update documents with the all-in-one dashboard that archives all relevant data.
Besides, it’s an integrated turn-key system with wireless communication, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to communicate essential data while onboard a ship. An additional plus is that all this information is archived, and you can easily retrieve it for company audits.
In fact, getting permits signed is much easier with SOL-X. The system automatically routes a permit to work (a necessary permit in hazardous industries to formally authorize work done on-site) to the ship master for approval.
That reduces the time spent for the second officer to look for the ship master, freeing them to concentrate on other tasks. Ultimately, less paperwork also means more time for workers to focus on what matters on the job site.
Explore SOL-X IIoT Solutions
In high-hazard environments such as the maritime industry, one fatal error can cause work to suspend. Don’t risk your employee’s safety and the company’s reputation. Instead, harness advanced IIoT technologies to improve risk management in your company.
With the expertise of our internal safety experts, SOL-X solutions are designed to meet the unique requirements of high-hazard environments. Our expert team can also configure and customize systems suited for your workplace environments when required. Contact us for a free demo to find out how to optimize your workplace safety and efficiency today.