The Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, connects machines and devices in industries such as transportation, power generation, and healthcare. The potential is high and so are the risks.
Everyone’s heard of the IoT – smart thermostats, Internet-connected refrigerators, connected lightbulbs – but there’s a subset called industrial IoT that has a much more significant day-to-day impact on businesses, safety and even lives.
The term IIoT refers to the Industrial Internet of Things. In broad strokes, it’s the application of instrumentation and connected sensors and other devices to machinery and vehicles in the transport, energy and industrial sectors.
What that means in practice varies widely. One IIoT system could be as simple as a connected rat trap that texts home to say that it’s been activated, while another might be as complicated as a fully automated mass production line that tracks maintenance, productivity and even ordering and shipping information across a huge, multi-layered network.
How the industrial internet of things is different from IoT
The industrial internet of things is also referred to as the industrial internet, a term coined by GE, and Internet of Industrial Things. Whatever you call it, the IIoT is different from other IoT applications in that it focuses on connecting machines and devices in industries such as oil and gas, power utilities and healthcare.
IoT includes consumer-level devices such as fitness bands or smart appliances and other applications that don’t typically create emergency situations if something goes wrong.
Simply stated, there is more at stake with IIoT deployments where system failures and downtime can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations.
The IIoT brings computers from IT to operational technology, opening up vast possibilities for instrumentation, leading to major efficiency and productivity gains for almost any industrial operation.
Is IIoT its own category?
Technologically, IIoT works on similar principals to any other piece of IoT tech – automated instrumentation and reporting being applied to stuff that didn’t have those capabilities before. That said, the scale of it is much different than a simple system that lets you mess with your thermostat on your phone – hundreds, perhaps thousands or even tens and hundreds of thousands of individual endpoints can be present in an IIoT deployment.