Three ways to leverage IIoT

As the Internet of Things (IoT) infiltrates the industrial sector, forward-thinking organizations will find ways to leverage the Industrial IoT for more efficient, productive and intelligent operations. Here's a closer look.


Scott Stone is the director of marketing for Cisco-Eagle.The Internet of Things (IoT) will significantly alter manufacturing, transportation, distribution and other industrial sectors over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum. We've only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ways Internet-connected devices will transform these industrial sectors. To put a number on the anticipated growth of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) over the next few years, Accenture places conservative spending estimates at $500 billion worldwide by 2020.

Forward-thinking businesses are already leveraging the power of the IIoT and reaping the benefits. When used effectively, it allows companies to better manage their operation, increase production and transform business for the better.

Let's take a look at how industrial organizations should be harnessing IIoT to set their businesses up for future growth.

Create efficiency through a better understanding of operations

One of the key opportunities with the Internet of Things is the ability to gain insight, refine processes and create efficiencies. Internet-connected devices dispersed throughout a warehouse offer visibility into every area of complex systems.

"Operational efficiency is one of the key attractions of the IIoT, and early adopters are focused on these benefits. By introducing automation and more flexible production techniques, for instance, manufacturers could boost their productivity by as much as 30 percent," wrote the authors of Accenture's "Driving Unconventional Growth Through IIoT."

Increased visibility through smarter technology allows manufacturers to gain insight into complex processes and respond more quickly. Embedded sensors and other advanced instrumentation paired with software, applications and vision systems yield valuable data that can be used to make better operational decisions. Many companies are also leveraging intelligent technologies to conduct predictive maintenance of assets, which cuts down on unplanned downtime, avoids costly breakdowns and reduces overall maintenance costs. It also creates the potential for increased throughput.

Progressive organizations will find ways to leverage IIoT for more efficient, productive and intelligent operations. Image: Courtesy Cisco-Eagle

Increase production, explore new business models

Optimizing operations has another benefit—it frees up manpower and machines to take on other work, whether that's increased production or exploring new lines of business.

Highly repetitive tasks, such as palletizing or sorting, can be completed faster and more efficiently by an intelligent machine. The availability (and affordability) of smarter technologies means machines can take the place of humans in these highly repetitive tasks, thereby increasing safety and improving ergonomics in the workplace. Leveraging automation also gives production lines predictability.

Consider these impressive statistics from the American Society for Quality: More than half of manufacturers are currently in the cloud and, of this percentage, 82 percent have increased warehouse efficiency, 49 percent have noted fewer product defects and 45 percent have experienced higher customer satisfaction.

With the integration of smart technology, there will be shifts in the workforce and the opportunity to offer new services, improve products and explore new markets.

Leverage smart technologies to drive innovation

One of the game-changing aspects of the IIoT is the opportunity to bring together what has traditionally been two distinct categories of data: information technology and operational technology.

Accenture predicts that vendor-specific and proprietary infrastructure will be replaced over time with interoperable platforms. Harnessing the data through sensor-driven computing, industrial analytics and intelligent machine applications opens the door for innovation.

"By deploying these capabilities, companies can weave together previously unavailable, or inaccessible, enterprise- and machine-generated data to create new monetization opportunities," the Accenture report states.

Armed with insightful data, forward-looking companies should think about how they can commoditize on that technology by either expanding products or offering new services.

Final thoughts

Manufacturers who want to thrive and compete need to take advantage of what the IIoT has to offer-and the sooner, the better. The opportunity, according to General Electric, could be as high as $32 million worldwide. Making the investment in smarter technology, whether it's machine technology, intelligent sensors, advanced analytics or, ideally, a combination of all three, sets the stage for future growth and development.

Scott Stone is the director of marketing for Cisco-Eagle, a provider of integrated material-handling and storage systems for industrial operations. Scott has 25 years of experience in industrial operations and marketing. Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, CFE Media,

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.
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
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