How Internet of Things is changing the industrial sector

The industrial IoT market (IIoT) is predicted to reach $1.11 Trillion USD by 2027, as the industry undergoes an IoT revolution. This research, conducted by mobile satellite communications company Inmarsat, found 65% of mining organizations have fully deployed at least one IoT-enabled project at their sites, while 33% of respondents said they are trialing the technology. The research found that 69% of surveyed companies were planning to begin IoT projects within the next two years.

What is the “Internet of Things" and "Industry 4.0"?

In a nutshell, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is a system of “interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” 

A “Thing” in the Internet of Things could be anything from a person with a heart monitor implant, a car with built-in sensors, or a Bluetooth-enabled device — essentially any natural or man-made object that can be assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address and is able to transfer data over a network.

Industry 4.0 refers to a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. Industry 4.0, which encompasses IIoT and smart manufacturing, marries physical production and operations with smart digital technology, machine learning, and big data to create a more holistic and better connected ecosystem for companies that focus on manufacturing and supply chain management. While every company and organization operating today is different, they all face a common challenge—the need for connectedness and access to real-time insights across processes, partners, products, and people.

What are the IoT applications in the industry?

Fleet safety and efficiency. No fleet check-in/check-out sheets. IoT devices help site managers know which worker is using which vehicle. Additional IoT sensors help administrators understand engine hours, truck location, mileage, and geofences.

Underground machinery and asset tracking. It is important to know who is underground and which machinery/assets they took along with them. BLE devices, in combination with gateways, help operations managers always stay up-to-date.

A location analytics tool. With IoT, safety managers can spot areas with high traffic to better route movement across mining sites. Restricted access alerts and proximity alerts to heavy equipment help location managers improve safety and efficiency on the worksite.

Weather and environmental conditions alerts. Weather data is critical for remote mining sites. IoT sensors can help transmit weather information to workers in areas with low internet connectivity. IoT sensors can also be used to measure water flow and dust levels to protect mining equipment and to control pumps and mining flood control systems.

Why do IIoT projects fail?

Despite all of the abovementioned applications and benefits, a Cisco study found that only ¼ of IIoT initiatives succeed. BehrTech outlined three main reasons why IoT solutions fail:

1. Poor connectivity. Most enterprise connectivity systems are built for close-looped control tasks only. As such, machine and operational data are often trapped within multiple silos. Connecting these systems via Ethernet is expensive as it requires drilling and wiring, while 3G/4G signal is often an issue on mining sites.

2. Lack of integration. According to a report by Bain & Company, the lack of integration options of most IoT solutions is a major adoption barrier. Many companies struggle to connect IIoT into their existing systems, especially legacy on-premise software.

3. Security and data privacy. Many IoT solutions require substantial financial and operational investments into privacy and security. This is especially difficult for international enterprises that have to meet different regulations in different countries.

How do companies overcome these challenges?

Thanks to the success of the first phase of TraceSafe’s partnership with industry clients, the company has built a future-proof IoT platform that allows customers in the industrial sector to overcome the most common challenges when it comes to IoT deployment.

Connectivity issues can be avoided thanks to TraceSafe’s proprietary gateway technology. The system uses Bluetooth technology for most of its devices, which requires no continuous internet connection. The LTE/Ethernet gateways that are strategically placed across worksites constantly pulldata from the devices and upload it to the cloud. At the same time, TraceSafe’s platform provides clients with the ability to connect all of the customer’s IoT data to its existing systems through an API or through automated data exports.

Lastly, TraceSafe’s ISO27001-certified platform ensures the customer data is protected and compliant even with the strictest privacy regulations such as GDPR or CCPA. Having overcome the biggest challenges of IIoT, TraceSafe customers are well-positioned to build additional industry-specific IoT applications to dramatically improve their operational efficiency.