It is the year 1950. You are looking in awe at your machine, an 1800 square feet-giant, all steamy and hot, doing one of your mathematical calculations you had given it some minutes ago with your punched card. With its massive 18,000 vacuum tubes, it manages to spit out the answer in another punched card in some time. Little did you know that it was the start of many things to come, an era, an age of information.
We can only imagine the look on the people’s faces when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak exhibited their Apple II at the First West Coast Faire in San Francisco, with the in-built BASIC programming languages and the color graphics system in the year 1977. Many would consider this to be the cause of boom of computers and the resulting revolution- The Digital Revolution or the Third Industrial Revolution.
ARPANET – Starting of Internet of Things Revolution
Revolution, as it is, is a steady process that grows exponentially after one particular point in the time continuum. We’ve come a long way since the Digital Revolution. It seems that any revolution leaves behind a seed, that forms the root of a revolution to follow. The Digital Revolution did leave a seed, a creation that started in its primitive years, called the ARPANET. Though rudimentary in the beginning and not very functional, the ARPANET lead the way to a service that is being used by more 3 billion people around the globe, called the Internet.
So you might wonder, what has the Internet to do with an Industrial Revolution? The answer lies in the concept of Smart Manufacturing which in turn comes down to the concept of Internet of Things, or as it is fondly called, IoT.
Internet of Things, is defined standardly as a system where items in the physical world, and sensors within or attached to these items, are connected to the Internet via wireless and wired network connections. Internet of Things aka IoT is basically thousands of human made eyes, ears and sensory receptors detecting, transmitting and analyzing data via the Internet. IoT has already become a consumer product with connected cars, remote unlocking and monitoring of homes, and health related gadgets that transmit vital information to a doctor from a patient, regardless of the geography.
Internet of Things Meets Industrial Technology
With the bigger players, the IoT is a much more powerful tool. With military grade sensors and analyzing supercomputers helping the Governments prevent terrorist attacks and Industrial leaders using the tech for optimization of work, the integration of IoT into Smart Manufacturing can be said to have already begun.
With the dawn of this new year, has arisen a concept known as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). There are few major categories where this IIoT could be optimizing manufacturing standards to such a level that it can revolutionize the industry, such as operational efficiency, energy efficiency, both of which mean an increase in productivity of the industry as well as the efficiency of power consumption. Predictive maintenance could perhaps be the game changer by IIoT. Imagine a system that warns you of potential breakdowns and structural weaknesses that require attention from the Industry, thereby preventing breakdown maintenance, loss of productivity and cutting down the maintenance costs up to 30%. Other notable features of this aforesaid IIoT are the ability to remotely track and monitor logistics, thereby reducing shipping losses and theft, remotely operate and maintain productivity in hostile areas such as offshore oil wells.
The automation of manufacturing processes that were brought in by the Digital Revolution, promised more productivity, more quality and lesser chance of failures. With the growth of the Industry and ever increasing inflow of data, automation was required in business processes also, to reduce operating costs. This led to emergence of Business Process Automation (BPA). With the rise of IoT, most of BPAs are carried on by means of digitization resulting in optimized process control, even for complex management actions like crisis handling.
Introduction of IoT in Manufacturing
The introduction of IoT has much more scope than in the manufacturing side. IoT’s primary business is carried on by means of Cloud platform and Big Data Analytics that handle the massive data streams that are being sent and retrieved by millions of sensors used by IoT and IIoT. While Cloud technologies render the data storage via the Internet, Big Data technologies convert the unstructured, uncategorized data of various formats and from a multitude of sources into patterns and trends that could be understood to know the massive picture this IoT and IIoT paints. And there is the concept of cyber security. Higher the connectivity, more the vulnerability to cyber-attacks. This means just one thing. A huge employment opportunity being created by IoT, in the fields aforementioned.
Increase in productivity? Check. Improved product quality? Check. Elevated living standards? Check. With Accenture estimating that IIoT could add about $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030, Internet of Things truly is the next Industrial Revolution.