What is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and why is it important in manufacturing?

What is IIoT in brief?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the use of smart sensors and actuators to improve manufacturing and industrial processes. IIoT is an important part of what is described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. IIoT provides the opportunity to utilize the power of smart machines and real-time analysis to take advantage of the data that machines have produced in industrial settings for years. The driver behind IIoT is that smart machines are not only better than people at capturing and analyzing data in real time, they are better at communicating important information that can be used to make business faster and more accurate.

Connected sensors and actuators enable companies to detect inefficiencies and problems and to save time and money. The technology makes it possible to collect data for use in Business Intelligence (BI) and for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Within manufacturing, IIoT has great potential for follow-up and development of efficiency, quality control, sustainability, safety and traceability. In a manufacturing environment, IIoT is also the key to the development in predictable maintenance, zero-failure vision and improved efficiency in maintenance and service, energy management and asset tracking.

How does IIoT work?

IIoT is a network of intelligent devices, via networks linked to databases, which monitors, collects, exchanges and analyzes data. Typically, an IIoT system consists of:

  • Intelligent equipment that can measure and store information about itself and communicate.
  • A data communication structure such as public internet or individual networks.
  • Intelligent applications that create useful information from raw data and utilize it to control and optimize processes.
  • Interface and analysis tools that provide people with the opportunity to utilize the information for qualified decision-making.

The connected equipment sends information directly to the IIoT infrastructure, where it is transformed into useful information on the status or performance of a machine a group of machines or of the whole plant. The information can then be used to optimize production and supply processes as well as foresee maintenance.

IIoT in practice by OPTIWARE

IIoT is described by many as a new concept, but in fact the technology has been available and applied in the industry for a long time. OPTIWARE have offered our customers connection of machines and production equipment, for more than 25 years. Using ordinary networks in the factory or within whole groups of companies connected to a database we have provided tools to create good decision support for the improvement process and for maintenance. What has happened in recent years, on the other hand, is that there are now many more practical options for the connection:

For many years, the easiest and most economical way to connect machines in an IIoT system has been to use a PLC device that is programmed to collect data on events, status and measurement values. Simple signals from the machines or from extra sensors and switches are used as inputs. The devices are easily connected to servers on site, or in the cloud via factory networks and the internet.

An alternative method of connecting equipment that also has been available for a long time is to connect directly to the control systems in more advanced machines, via communication protocols like OPC-DA. Advantages are greater range of signals and that no additional hardware is needed. Disadvantages include lack of standardization and dependence on information from many different suppliers.

OPTIWARE’s products today benefit from the more flexible OPC-UA and other modern standardized solutions, which creates the best conditions for a smooth and qualified connection of a large proportion of modern production equipment. Connection via PLC is a proven and cost-effective method that will remain important for older and simpler types of production equipment. Over the last few years, a flora of IIoT units has also been developed that are designed to communicate directly with the outside world and so-called Edge units that function as an interface between a network of units and overall IIoT systems. With devices such as SICK TDC (Telematic Data Collector), OPTIWARE can offer customers a simple and fast way to connect equipment without the need for access to the machines ‘control systems or to the customers’ internal networks.

Important base for Industry 4.0

OPTIWARE offers its customers a complete solution for connecting all types of production equipment in all kinds of industrial production. With flexible solutions based on best practice and on modern technology, we quickly and easily connect equipment, collect data and make it available. The information creates direct value for customers who can optimize the utilization of their production equipment using our OEE and EAM solutions.

OPTIWARE’s systems are built to be easily integrated with other IT-solutions and the collected data is thus available in other business systems such as MES, ERP and Supply Chain Management. Structured high-quality production information from OPTIWARE’s systems is also a valuable data source for BI applications. By building from the ground up with production information and status in the production plant, OPTIWARE Industry 4.0 Solutions are important building blocks in the development of the next generation of industrial production.

SaaS Solutions

All OPTIWARE EAM and OEE products can be delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS)

OPTWARE SaaS and AXXOS OEE or API PRO in the cloud, enables you to monitor your production, plan and execute your maintenance operations, as well as analyze your production- and maintenance processes from anywhere at any time. The cloud based OPTIWARE products can easily be connected to production equipment and sensors for data collection using standard technologies such as OPC-UA, MQTT and web services. OPTIWARE SaaS solutions offers a fast and flexible way to connect equipment and collect data. Start measuring and building the foundation for you future manufacturing today!

OPTIWARE IIoT Combining Integration, SaaS and Analytics

The OPTIWARE IIoT solution is API PRO and AXXOS OEE combined with our Integration, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Analytics solutions.

The OPTIWARE IIoT solution is API PRO and AXXOS OEE combined with our Integration, SaaS and Analytics solutions

Collect data from sensors connected to equipment

Send data directly to OPTIWARE products in the cloud

Use data for OEE, Condition Based Maintenance and Analytics