IIoT’s emergence just a matter of when

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will continue to grow as more investments are made and technology and skills continue to develop.

04/07/2017


An IIoT-based plant organization, such as this example Honeywell’s Connected Plant, brings together customers, equipment vendors, process licensors, consultants and supplier experts to develop IIoT solutions for a myriad of operational challenges. CourtesThis will be remembered as the year that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) grew up. After so many years of predictions, distractions and industry coaxing, IIoT arrived in 2017. As I look at developments across the industry I see more and more IIoT strategies in progress, with investments being made in infrastructure, technology and skills, and exciting returns being reported on initial projects.

Just as significantly, I see vendors and other industry experts coalescing to build end-to-end solutions that will make IIoT easier to deploy and quicker to yield a return. With so many positive developments, I'm confident IIoT will lie at the heart of every manufacturing facility in 10 years' time.

My optimism is underscored by a recent survey of 200 manufacturing executives conducted by KRC Research for Honeywell in which nearly 70% of respondents said they plan to invest additional resources in IIoT and data analytics technology in 2017. What's driving this desire is the cumulative strategic and financial value of their problems: downtime and related losses in efficiency, inadequate staffing, off-spec production and supply chain inefficiencies. They all add up.

IIoT now is acknowledged by industrial manufacturers as having the capability to resolve each of these challenges. So it's not a question of will the Internet transform process manufacturing—it's a question of when.

One reason for the growing enthusiasm in IIoT is the powerful data it brings together. The majority of survey respondents believe that data analytics will resolve age-old problems such as equipment breakdowns, unscheduled process disruption and supply chain management issues. These figures are telling in terms of where IIoT investments and deployments will be made in 2017 and beyond.

Taking the first steps

As a first step, many early adopters implemented digitization campaigns. Most are reporting excellent early results to the tune of multi-million dollars in savings. For example, mineral processing companies have centralized their process knowledge and provided collaborative support to remote locations; refineries have increased overall equipment effectiveness by up to two percent; chemical companies have reduced inventories and improved customer responsiveness; and paper companies have solved key knowledge retention issues.

However, for all the success of these pilot projects, there remains a significant number of manufacturers standing still. Indeed, the survey revealed that some respondents are pressing ahead without a data analytics-led IIoT strategy or are not planning to invest in data analytics in the next year.

Their reasons include a lack of understanding of the benefits of data analytics and inadequate resources—specifically, people with data analytics expertise. And disconcertingly, while these companies put off decisions about IIoT, many are working their plants harder than they should: the survey found many respondents feel pressured to continue working under the threat of unscheduled downtime and equipment breakdowns to maximize revenue.

These companies are fighting a battle against time and will start to lag as their competitors surge ahead. The fact that many remain unmoved by IIoT underscores the importance of continued industry education. Many still feel that IIoT requires a sudden and wholesale change in their business. It doesn't; it can be phased and scaled to a company's circumstances. IIoT should be viewed as an evolution, not a revolution.

One trend that I believe will have a positive influence over those still undecided is increased partnership among industry vendors, process licensors, equipment experts and consultants to provide joined-up technology solutions that will ease and speed adoption and provide innovative solutions to industrial problems previously thought to be unsolvable. Just imagine if you could collect, display, analyze and react to plant information by purchasing a solution virtually off the shelf? Or imagine benefitting from whatever data analytics expertise you need without having to hire a team of data scientists?

Cloud-based forums of experts have the potential to deliver advice and assistance, whenever or wherever it is needed. Innovative and flexible offerings such as these are becoming available now through closer industry cooperation. The reality is no one vendor can do everything, and some are better at some things than others, and therefore need one another to address remaining barriers and gaps, working together to make IIoT more accessible to the industry.

Despite the remaining skepticism, IIoT is in a very different place in 2017 than it was a year ago. Pilot projects are everywhere and are showing promising early results while momentum builds through industry partnerships. Our research shows that we're at the tipping point toward mainstream adoption. IIoT has finally grown up.

Shree Dandekar is vice president and general manager for Honeywell Connected Plant.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
July/Aug
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me