The Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT is emerging as a business imperative. The IIoT is the interconnectivity of all parts of your process with a central brain that monitors business health from whether a machine is running properly to tracking shipments in transit in real time. You name it, and it can be connected, monitored, measured, adjusted, scrapped or recalibrated. All without human intervention.
Just the data derived from this information is priceless, which is why companies are jumping on board to integrate smart systems throughout their organizations.
What does this mean for Jack who ran that machine for 35 years and knew by the sound and smell whether it needed repair? Yes, it means you don’t need Jack anymore. Sensors can do that now, and probably better than Jack, because they can be calibrated to read things like vibrations and other leading indicators of trouble on that machine. But that doesn’t put Jack out of a job. Jack just needs to consider a new career in IT.
A friend who works for a pharmaceutical company has developed a sensing device to help customers monitor inventory. When he presented the concept to investors, they were excited not just about the tech behind the device but more excited about the value of the data that could be collected across the supply chain. When sensors are providing accurate feedback on a regular basis- no matter where they are installed – that information has the potential to be priceless.
In an article in IT Business Edge last week, author Carl Weinschenk discussed the results of interviews with several company exeuctives and found there is a lot of excitement about the business potential of the IIoT to eliminate waste, serve customers, increase efficiency and productivity and reduce downtime to name a few benefits. The hurdles remain, and chief among them is to find people who can operate the IIoT…it,s very clear that the great difficult we’re seeing is finding people with the right expertise…In some parts of the technology stack, it’s not too difficult (especially connectivity), but in others it’s still quite difficult, wrote one respondent.
A lot of currently embedded technology is not connectivity-friendly and most companies will require a complete integrated upgrade to take full advantage of the potential. Vendors, suppliers, and other related systems must be considered. And then, of course, there is the need to secure of all that valuable information generated by an IIoT implementation.
Just like other leaps in technology and progress throughout history, this one will take a lot of experts with different skills sets than the experts you have today. Competition will be fierce when all your competitors can make split second decisions based on real time data.
It’s time to groom the next generation of experts who will have skill sets relevant to the IIoT much the way industrial engineers of the World War II generation introduced all new management techniques and organizational structures to support the evolving workplace of the mid-20th Century.
For more information, go to the Industrial Internet Consortium.