In recent years, the integration of smart technology in the industrial world has given people the tools to improve work efficiencies. Technologies with increased connectivity to the internet of things, or IoT, present so many avenues for opportunities and threats. The industrial internet of things, or IIoT, emerged with the implementation of smart machines and analytic systems within manufacturing and industrial settings. These technologies aim to provide workers and facilities managers with similar IoT capabilities in the commercial sectors to face challenges and improve efficiency. Let’s discuss the opportunities and threats the industrial internet of things creates.
What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
To define and understand the industrial internet of things, reviewing the IoT is helpful. The IoT refers to the interconnectivity between devices and the communication of data with one another. This communication occurs over an Internet connection. Smartphones, smartwatches, and cars are just some examples of technology with capabilities to be part of the IoT. In fact, many consumer items like kitchen appliances or exercise machines now come with the sophistication to monitor, send, and receive information with other devices, making these items part of the ever-growing IoT.
Like the IoT, the industrial Internet of things comprises of smart devices and machinery that are connected and share data on industrial functions. Cloud servers, sensors, and data analytics are some of the technologies improving productivity in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Connecting manufacturing equipment to the IIoT can monitor machinery performance or produce data on energy usage. Overall, the IIoT helps generate business data to manage the supply chain process better.
Data Gathering Opportunities
Data is very valuable. Machinery and equipment outfitted with data gathering and analytical capabilities create several opportunities and improvements to industrial businesses. The IIoT system monitors real-time data to track any deviations and predict defects. Therefore, issues are identified early and can receive proper maintenance, often before a total system failure occurs. Another benefit of having a constant flow of information from smart machinery is tracking capabilities. Systems can monitor and send alerts on the location and status of products throughout the manufacturing and distribution process of the supply chain. Tracking products allows employees to rectify errors as they occur, which leads to better overall customer and stakeholder satisfaction.
If data gathering and processing are valuable, then there is always a threat when it comes to maintaining security over critical data and sensitive information. The interconnectivity of devices enables the devices to communicate data and for the system to make sense of the data into actionable improvements. However, the interconnectivity can also act as a vulnerability to the whole system if one device is breached. Securing each device and the IIoT network is the best way to safeguard from threats. As a part of the security performance assessment, confirm all devices and machinery are up-to-date. Additionally, consider what machines and equipment can forgo adaptation into the IIoT. More devices in a network act as additional endpoints for potential security attacks.
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