- From 2019, 82% of respondents have either implemented IIoT, are running a pilot project, or are considering implementation. (Tech Pro Research Survey)
- The industrial IoT market is expected to reach $263.4 billion, at a CAGR of 16.7% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2027. (Meticulous Research)
- 89% of CIOs say digital transformation has accelerated in the last 12 months, and 58% predict it will continue to speed up. (Dynatrace)
- 93% of digital leaders claim digital investments made prior to the pandemic allowed them to be more agile in their response. (451 Research)
- An overwhelming 92% of organisations are accelerating their company-wide digitalisation initiatives in Q3 2020. Remote asset access and commissioning, as well as connecting previously unconnected machines are some of the top IIoT themes that are expected to stay very high on the agenda in the coming quarters. (IoT Analytics)
Although you might think that the world hasn’t changed so much, in reality, it has - a great deal. The figures above are there just to spark your curiosity, but this is only the beginning.
There’s no doubt about it: digitalisation has been at the top of the agenda for the vast majority of mechanical and plant engineering companies. Plus, the recent and still very much active COVID-19 crisis has made digital innovations even more relevant. The companies that had already invested their resources into building and expanding their digital potential had a far easier time during the crisis.
The latest findings of the research carried out by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey, has confirmed that transformative power of innovative technologies is making tectonic changes and enabling remarkable societal and economic advances for today’s businesses. And, all of this maps the route to easier and faster IoT adoption across industries.
IIoT use cases are the building blocks, the North Star of the global digital transformation of the entire industry. The following are the top industrial transformation use-cases that are changing the future of manufacturing and IoT adoption in general.
Remote Condition Monitoring
Remote condition monitoring has an important role to play in gaining competitive advantage, especially in the “new normal”.
But what is the remote condition monitoring (CM)? It is the ability to monitor machine status, performance and behaviour from anywhere, anytime. From oil and gas to construction and manufacturing, it can be applied across a number of industries and is carried out in the following way: It starts with sensors, meters and similar devices attached to the equipment and designed to measure different machine parameters. Combined with IoT technology and supported by standardised industrial connectivity systems, these sensors capture and collect an enormous stream of invaluable data. IIoT platform takes custody of this data which is then delivered and made visible on dashboards, through client applications and mobile notifications. These features, together with the powerful Rule Engine, help relevant authorities assess conditions of assets that are on-site (in a hospital or a factory), out in the field or on the road, recognise warning signs, deliver alerts and automatically trigger maintenance. In this way, they can:
- adjust issues at a glance before they escalate
- upgrade and control products in the field
- reduce outages and improve uptime
- reduce the cost of delivering service
- and, finally, transform the customer service experience
As a tool for gathering operational data, remote CM lets companies unlock value and deliver new business models and services. This shift was happening well before the COVID-19 pandemic started, but has now become even more effective when coupled with ongoing safety and health concerns triggered by the virus.
Namely, as highlighted by McKinsey, remote CM can help manage and directly free up liquidity which is crucial for industrial companies in the time of crisis. Instead of replacing a machine part, companies can extend its lifetime by measuring its condition thus reducing maintenance costs by 10 to 15 percent.
Finally, remote CM can keep workers safe. Injury Facts state that work injury costs totalled more than $170 billion in 2018 which was before Coronavirus that has increased the need for preventive measures even more. By remotely monitoring assets and processes, employees can stay up-to-date with the real-time information (for example, asset downtime, inventory outage, work order update) without coming into contact with other employees. Also, workers are able to control IoT-enabled machines remotely and perform virtual inspections and diagnostics without being exposed to one another. In a nutshell, by integrating sensors, machines and entire systems with an IoT platform, managers or designated employees can keep tabs on worker safety and correct problems in real time from any location via their phone, tablet, or computer. Ultimately, this reduces the potential cross-infection and further spread of the disease throughout the organisation.
Watch our video Leveraging Digital for Condition-Based Maintenance to get an insight into all the capabilities of remote condition monitoring solutions built on our technology.
Unplanned downtime has plagued manufacturers for generations - based on Aberdeen Research, the average cost per hour of downtime is upwards of $260,000. On the other side, setting downtime for operation maintenance of the machinery when there is nothing really wrong with it can cost businesses a lot of money and time. What’s more, it can have an adverse impact on process functioning, safety and product quality. With the advent of Industry 4.0 and the power of IoT, this is where predictive maintenance comes to the rescue.
Predictive maintenance is the process that monitors the performance and the condition of equipment during normal operation to reduce the possibility of failure. For example, connected sensors that analyse machine parameters like sound frequencies, vibrations and temperature can automatically pinpoint where the issue is if the machine goes down - the process also commonly known as condition monitoring. But predictive maintenance is much more. It can help a manufacturer predict when a machine will enter a dangerous operating condition or breakdown before it even happens. This lets manufacturers be proactive about the fix, limit equipment downtime and make their operations run disruption-free. Ultimately, predictive maintenance dramatically improves operating efficiencies, which is one of its major benefits.
There has been a lot of buzz around the concept of Digital Twin in recent years, especially after being named as one of the Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019. With its beginnings in experimental scenarios conducted by NASA to understand the behaviour of physical systems in harsh aerospace environments, digital twins landed on Earth to bring value across enterprises on their digital journeys.
The digital twins are predominantly used in manufacturing and engineering-oriented industries. In essence, they are digital models that virtually represent their physical counterparts - products, processes, services or a person’s task. This virtual representation is used to understand or predict the physical counterpart of a thing by leveraging its physical world experience captured through sensors and the business systems data that defines it. Imagine a perfect digital copy of the physical world that allows you to collaborate virtually, predict results more accurately, understand what-if scenarios clearly and then give instructions to manipulate the physical world. But, how do we make this happen? Digital twins feed on live data and this is where sensors and IIoT jump to the rescue.
In plain English, connected sensors on the physical assets collect real-time data that is then centrally stored in the cloud. This data can then be mapped onto the virtual model, a digital twin. This virtual copy of the asset allows engineers to understand not only how products are performing, but also how they will perform in the future.
Let’s take testing of car brakes as an example: An engineer who is testing a car braking system would normally use a computer simulation to understand how it will perform in real-life situations. However, this can’t help him predict how the car will react to some future scenarios. And, this is where digital twins and IIoT play a major role. A digital twin uses the live sensor data to have a full view of how the car is performing all the way through its lifecycle.
Digital twins help manufacturers accomplish a great deal: they gain an unprecedented view into how their products are performing from afar, identify potential faults, remotely troubleshoot them, strengthen customer relationships and experience, improve the quality and value of products, gain transparency and operational predictability.
Ultimately, this helps business stay ahead of the digital disruption by delivering products more rapidly and with higher quality and accuracy from the components, to the code. In the coming years, experts expect to see the multiplying of digital twins as their sophistication and capabilities will grow. According to the recent MarketsandMarkets, this is already happening: the digital twins market — worth US$3.8 billion in 2019 — is projected to reach US$35.8 billion in value by 2025.
Finally, digital twins is another technology supporting the frontline in the new normal of COVID-19. Its immense potential can be leveraged to overcome numerous obstacles and issues caused by the pandemic and help authorities take preventive measures. From tracking the progress of a virus in real time to creating three-dimensional replicas of infected cities in order to develop and implement economic recovery plans, possibilities are endless.
Digitalisation of Supply Chains
Imagine: At any given moment, there are five thousand parts being shipped or in transit from the biggest ports worldwide. Everyone, from your suppliers to customers and executive managers are expecting everything to run smoothly and flawlessly. If communication with just one of the partners breaks, the domino effect impacts the entire system causing everything to stop.
This brings us to a smart supply chain - another integral part of remaining competitive in the IIoT market.
It includes handling of the entire production flow of goods or services - from developing raw components to delivering the final product to the end-consumer. Why is it so important? It minimises cost, time and waste in the production cycle. And, it’s on the rise. Based on the Statista 2019 survey, 56% of supply chain leaders stated that they plan to invest in sensors and IIoT.
By integrating different kinds of devices or gateways, from RFID tags and BLE beacons to fleet TCUs with an IoT platform, businesses can monitor the assets real-time condition and always be in the know where they are (whether in-transit or out in the field).
Take fleet management, for example. For companies whose main focus is transportation, digitalised fleet management can help them remove risks related to vehicle investment and improve productivity and efficiency. For instance, shipping services use real-time traffic feed to deliver more packages with less wear and tear on both vehicles and drivers and predict demand for certain goods in warehouses. Also, retailers facing challenging logistics can now follow goods in transit and make sure perishable items like pharmaceuticals are constantly being monitored in warehouses for humidity, temperature and other factors. From end-to-end visibility into packing and filling processes to theft, loss and unauthorised use reduction, a smart supply chain brings a wide range of benefits.
Despite its immense potential for digitalisation, the supply chain proved to be unprepared for a global business disruption caused by the pandemic. Namely, 94% of Fortune 1000 companies have experienced supply chain challenges with only 10% of them claiming they were fully ready to handle the crisis. Still, McKinsey points out that IIoT in the supply chain will need a more strategic focus to respond to the challenges imposed by the pandemic.
Watch our Powering digitalisation of supply chains with WolkAbout video to learn how our technology can help businesses boost their supply chain performances.
IoT in Enterprise Asset Tracking
In the past two decades, asset tracking has rapidly evolved and has become one of the highest growing segments in the IoT market. As a matter of fact, one of the key findings of a recent Asset Tracking Market 2020 - 2025 study is that the IoT-supported asset tracking market will account for 95% of all enterprise and industrial solutions. Why is that so? For starters, in a world of complex and globalised logistics, having maximum visibility over the assets will help companies stay ahead of their competition.
Asset tracking allows businesses to track their physical assets by using outdoor positioning technology - whether GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, NFC, or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Ultra-Wide Band (UWB). The rise of these technologies has led to a significant drop in tracking infrastructure prices and therefore, become more affordable for businesses globally. This is another reason why asset tracking has witnessed substantial economies of scale improvements in recent years.
By connecting these tags or sensors to their devices (including large equipment), businesses can analyse the collected data. In this way, they can track the location and movement of their assets and be in the know about their assets’ behaviour at all times. It’s an industrial version of a connected fob that makes your keys impossible to lose. By knowing where their assets are, businesses can reduce time employees spend looking for them and reduce the size of their inventory. By knowing their assets’ behaviour in real time, they can ensure right-time availability and predict processes and outcomes. These insights can help all companies substantiate decisions they need to make, unlock the hidden potential in their assets and create new revenue streams.
Finally, with the COVID-19, there is a growing need for round-the-clock medical assistance and a continued flow of resources, at full capacity. Misplacing some of the equipment could lead to the loss of invaluable time which should otherwise be spent on saving lives. Again, there is an opportunity for hospitals to leverage asset tracking as a digital option to gain visibility, enable traceability of critical assets during the pandemic and ensure the health of millions of people.
Also, IoT technologies can play a major role in enabling physical distancing in the workplace for companies that can’t function remotely (like factories, farms, construction facilities and healthcare institutions). But, how? One way to allow for precision location monitoring is to use hardware tags powered by BLE, RFID or UWB technology, which are affixed to a hard hat or worn as a wristband or with a lanyard. They emit a progressively louder warning sound or visual clues when employees are close to each other thus reminding them to make an optimal safety distance and allowing them to focus on their work. Generally, it is recommended that there is at least two metres of space between workers. So when a tag is within two metres or less for more than 60 seconds, the record is also stored on the IoT platform, together with the worker ID, time and duration. In this way, companies can reduce the potential for the spread of contagion throughout the plant.
Curious to find out how our technology can help you drive business value through asset tracking? Check out our video Leveraging Digital for Enterprise Asset Tracking.
Seeing a Bigger IIoT Picture with WolkAbout
As a strategic partner, WolkAbout provides an industry-proven IIoT platform and all professional services you need to drive your industrial transformation forward. With our support, you can easily start with a proof of concept, enter the market quickly with an MVP, and operate your digital offerings in a scalable and secure manner.
So, where do you go from here? Whether you are looking for a way to avoid notorious scope creep or need a team of experts to help you build your IIoT solution, schedule a consultation with one of WolkAbout digitalisation experts. We are at your side.
Reach out to us to discover how to leverage our IIoT platform built with industry in mind to develop a digital solution that meets your business needs.
In the meantime, learn about WolkAbout IoT Platform functionalities and the value it can bring to your business by trying it for free.