The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) no longer a technology that exists in pilots and siloed environments; it's now transforming industrial companies with practical deployments driving crucial business outcomes.
This rapid adoption is elevating the conversation from bombastic IoT endpoint and market size forecasts to thought-provoking discussions on tangible IIoT implementations and their future impact.
This year's LiveWorx served as the venue for leading IIoT discussions, highlighting emerging trends and correlating IIoT takeaways from the leading digital transformation conference.
IIoT Is a Natural Digital Thread Across Functions
IIoT platforms capable of processing, contextualizing, and analyzing organizations' disparate systems each with different data forms, are separating from the rest of the IoT 'platform pack'. Industrial environments are extremely complex with information systems and data sources sitting in silos, which are challenging to stitch and integrate with one another. IIoT platforms capable of expediting this traditionally time-intensive integration of siloed pockets of digital information can quickly drive value for industrial companies, including internal operations for manufacturers.
Similar to its automotive incumbents, the Volvo Group is continuously looking to gain operational efficiencies and derivative competitive advantages that can come with manufacturing agility and flexibility.
To achieve this, Volvo is using ThingWorx as a digital thread between its homemade manufacturing execution systems, product engineering software systems (CAD, PLM) and other manufacturing operations technology and business systems to enable real-time data synchronicity. Streamlining this information also provides the necessary digitized input for augmented reality (AR) experiences, which the automaker is developing for improving its engine quality assurance process.
IIoT's Impact Is Pervasive Across the Value Chain
There are few industrial companies without an IIoT strategy or currently developing PoCs. This rapidly accelerating adoption is needed as global pressures, like disruption from digital startups, continue to mount. A notable adoption trend - other than the sheer growth of connected devices, machines, and other endpoints enabled by the IIoT - is the increasing number of IIoT touchpoints spanning organizations.
The now accessible IIoT data from previously black-boxed environments is becoming invaluable across the organizational hierarchy, with multiple roles ranging from the CXO to front-line worker all seeing profound benefits. A manufacturing CEO accesses real-time dashboard views of production planning across multiple factories while an operator taps into asset-level data to maintain uptime.
Our latest State of the Industrial Internet of Things report unpacks this IIoT touchpoint concept and also alludes to the impact of different role-based applications through digital twin lenses across engineering, manufacturing, operations, and service functions in the latest whitepaper: Digital Twin: A Primer for Industrial Enterprises.
IoT Widespread Across the Office, Factory, and Field
LiveWorx specifically demonstrated this pervasive IoT impact across roles and settings in its Xtropolis exhibit hall, which had zones for the office, factory, and field.
Product engineers are rethinking their traditional methods as they design for smart, connected products through CAD and PLM. The feedback loop from the now connected product can provide design engineers in offices with real-world performance data from their product out-in-the-field, potentially improving future iterations.
Factories in both discrete and process manufacturing are embedding IIoT into crucial daily operations. Ford is expanding use of the Factory Talk Innovation suite to multi-site factory deployments, while BrewWorx in Xtropolis demonstrated IIoT's impact in a Trillium brewery.
Assets far outside of a company's walls and in the field are increasingly connected. Recently announced ThingWorx Kepware Edge improves connectivity to geographically distributed devices and machines, with protocols connecting to scalable public clouds. Around 40% of PTC connected endpoints are remote assets, making remote monitoring a crucial use case for most industrial companies.
As IIoT adopters continue to move out of PoCs and into production, the amount of use cases, roles, and environments impacted will only increase in amount and value.
Increasing adoption of supporting technologies like the cloud or 5G further expedite and grow IIoT implementation, while creating entryways into next-generation IIoT applications where real-time simulation, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality play growing roles.
IIoT will continue to build from this convergence of technologies and thought leaders across value chains as major digital transformation conferences like LiveWorx provide a collaborative venue.
Industrial Internet of Things
About the Author
David Immerman is a business analyst on PTC's Corporate Marketing team providing thought leadership on technologies, trends, markets, and other topics. Previously David was an industry analyst in 451 Research's Internet of Things channel primarily covering the smart transportation space and automotive technology markets, including fleet telematics, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles. He also spent time researching IoT-enabling technologies and other industry verticals including industrial. Prior to 451 Research, David conducted market research at IDC.