Industries in Transformation: The Industrial Internet of Things and Its Projected Impact

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the fundamental ways by which we interact with technology, each other, and the world around us.  The integration of increased connectivity between the devices we use on a daily basis is driving a profound shift in what we use those devices for, and the impact the devices we use have on our lives.  IoT technology is similarly being applied to industrial applications in ways that will have an even greater impact on our lives than many of us realize.  This article will explore a few of the most prominent industries that Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology is being applied in, and examine some of the ways in which IoT technology will transform those industries over the next 5 years.  Specifically, we’ll look at how IIoT technology is being integrated into the manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and agricultural sectors, and what the impact of that integration will mean for both consumers and providers.

Manufacturing

The use of IIoT technology in the manufacturing sector will bring about significant changes in how goods are designed, produced, and delivered to consumers.  Sensors embedded throughout prototype equipment will enable manufacturers to create more accurate and precise computer models.  From these models, engineers will be able to determine specific points of weakness in the design or components that can be improved, resulting in better equipment and design overall with less trial and error.  Goods will enter the market with fewer flaws, and at lower price points due to streamlined design processes.

The data produced by IoT sensors integrated into the assembly process will enable manufacturers to identify inefficiencies in how their goods are produced.  Similarly, inefficiencies in supply chains and delivery of finished goods will be more apparent and more quickly rectified.  The result will be leaner supply and assembly chains for produced goods, resulting in faster delivery to market and lower costs to consumers and manufacturers.

Healthcare

The application of IIoT technology into the healthcare field will help enable healthcare providers to more effectively diagnose, treat, and manage continued care for their patients.  IoT technology will transform how equipment such as X-Ray, MRI, and EKG machines are used by healthcare providers.  By integrating these machines into a data gathering IoT network, healthcare providers will be able to determine if their equipment is running optimally, quickly transmit results to staff, and create a seamless integration between testing and medical records.  This will result in more accurate testing and reduced time between when tests are taken and results are communicated to the patient.

IoT data will enable healthcare providers to more accurately assess when equipment maintenance or overhaul is needed, which will result in increased longevity of critical equipment, fewer failures, and lower costs overall for the consumer.  Lastly, IoT technology is anticipated to integrate the patient themselves into the data gathering network.  As technology improves, data gathering sensors that can be attached, implanted or consumed by patients, which will allow doctors to stream their patient’s overall health data in real-time.

Energy

Within the energy sector, IIoT technology is already being applied at both ends of the supply chain, with applications for both producers and consumers. The data gathered by sensors in an industrial setting is transforming how energy producers meet demand and deliver energy to consumers.  Energy producers are using IoT sensors in power plants to increase the efficiency and safety of their operations while narrowing the gap between energy production and demand to reduce costs.  Within the green energy field, IoT sensors allow energy producers to track the production and efficiency of wind turbines to maximize power output.

On the consumption side, IoT sensors are being integrated into power meters creating feedback loops that enable energy producers to determine real-time use and demand of energy.  By doing so, energy producers are able to more accurately assess usage patterns across their areas of service, and more efficiently meet that demand, resulting in greater power grid stability and lower energy costs. 

Agriculture

IIoT sensors integrated into our food supply chain will result in more efficient crop raising, less spoilage and crop failure, leaner supply lines to market, and reduced cost for consumers.  IoT sensors are being installed on key agricultural equipment and throughout crop areas, giving agricultural operations real-time insights into how to increase the efficiency of their operations.  

The data from these sensors also gives agricultural producers the ability to determine key metrics that impact crop failure rates, and from these gain insights into how to create more durable crops and sustainable production methods.  Overall, IoT networks integrated into industrial agricultural operations gives greater control over the success and failure of food production, increasing the security of our food supply chains while decreasing the cost of food for consumers.