Terms such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Smart Factory, and connected objects are more and more part of the common language and are included in what is defined as the “fourth industrial revolution”. Unlike the previous ones, the 4th Industrial Revolution involves synergistically different technologies and its major development is due to the use of objects belonging to the so called “Internet of Things”.
IoT objects can be defined as all the connected and intelligent devices that, through the creation and the management of a large amount of data (Big Data), help to automate and to make interactive one or more specific processes.
Part of the wide concept of Industry 4.0 is also the Smart Manufacturing, namely the development policy focused on the introduction and integration of digital technology in the industrial sector.
In particular, in the industrial field, the importance of another term should be highlighted, less applied nonetheless important: Industrial Internet of Things that, unlike the simple IoT devices, identifies tools designed and assembled exclusively for their application in Industry 4.0.
Typical segments of the Industrial Internet of Things include:
As it is easy to guess, the ultimate goal of IIoT devices is to optimize the production processes - and therefore the entire value chain - not only through the connection between different machines, but also by the regular production of data, by monitoring production times, the maintenance status of equipment and the consecutive prevention of downtimes.
According to the well-known consulting firm Mckinsey, Industry 4.0 represents the next digital phase of the manufacturing industry and is led by four key principles: maximum increase in data volume, computational power and connectivity, the need for specialists in analysis and business intelligence, and new forms of man-machine interaction (a common example is represented by touch panels).
The intersection between Industry 4.0 and connected objects – both belonging to IoT and IIoT, like for instance wearable objects and robotic technologies - will generate an increase in production quality, a reduction in costs, optimization of processes and more accurate control over the entire industrial sector.
In the end, the Industrial Internet of Things represents an indispensable component in Industry 4.0 - and therefore in the so-called Smart Industries - because it allows equipping machinery and production lines with a sort of inherent intelligence, guaranteed by the integration of IoT sensor actuators and Edge computing components for the elaboration of real time data and the ensuing initiation of automated processes.
It is important to notice how the human component is completely vital also in this kind of industry: the amount of Big Data made available by intelligent factories represents in fact a mine of precious information useful to define strategic actions, to make forecasts reliable, to reduce wastes, to increase flexibility and, more generally, to create a tangible added value both inside the organization and to the consumer audience.
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