When people think of the Internet of Things (IoT), they often imagine smart devices used in the home, like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest. These devices, while convenient, are really just a subset of the possibilities brought by the IoT; the same technology is being used to revolutionize healthcare, automobiles, and most importantly, the industrial sector. IoT technology applied to industry is known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The IIoT refers to the digitalization of the elements of production – interconnecting industrial sensors and equipment with computer applications that collect and analyze the data generated by such equipment. This digitalization is bringing significant changes to processes in all aspects of industry, much like the electrification of factories did in the early 20th century. Just like electrification, while there will initially be many pain points to overcome, the resulting boost to efficiency and production will make the IIoT essential for future growth.
The underlying theme of the process changes brought by the IIoT is increased communication between machines. This new level of data exchange and sharing enables extensive automation – for example, systems that predict failure and initiate maintenance automatically. With the IIoT bridging the gap between physical devices and digital applications, legacy embedded systems are being replaced by cyber-physical systems (CPS) in smart factories, allowing algorithm-based control of physical elements.
The introduction of new systems will often be necessary in preparation for this new revolution in industry. In particular, the data historians traditionally used by industry are not always prepared to handle the requirements of the IIoT, as the scale of IIoT datasets often exceeds what historians can process in real time. To assist with their digital transformations, an increasing number of industry leaders are choosing cloud technology and time-series databases (TSDB) as an alternative or complement to existing systems.