A recent white paper by GE and Accenture titled Industrial Internet Insights Report for 2015 highlights the potential of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—detailing business drivers, investment opportunities and expected benefits. While the white paper provides a good overview of current state of the IIoT, it only touches on existing practical applications.
This article will summarize some of the key points from the GE/Accenture white paper, and will then show how the theory outlined in the white paper is being turned into reality using technologies such as wireless instruments, wireless mesh networks and advanced data analytics.
IIoT Business Drivers
Most IoT discussions to date have focused more on commercial than industrial implementations. But according to the GE/Accenture white paper, this focus should be changed to favor the IIoT because “data created by industrial equipment such as wind turbines, jet engines and MRI machines holds more potential business value on a size-adjusted basis than other types of Big Data associated with the social web, consumer Internet and other sources.”
Industrial enterprises agree with this conclusion as “80 to 90 percent of companies indicated that Big Data analytics is either the top priority for the company or in the top three,” according to the GE/Accenture white paper. And agreement with the importance of the IIoT is not only at the operations level, where benefits will be most pronounced and apparent, but also at the board-level as “53 percent of all survey respondents indicated that their Board of Directors is the primary influencer of their Big Data adoption strategy.”
So, industrial enterprises realize the value of the IIoT, often driven by fear of being left behind by competitors acting more aggressively to implement the IIoT, as “89 percent (of respondents) say that companies that do not adopt a Big Data analytics strategy in the next year risk losing market share and momentum.”
Figure 1 delineates some of these specific fears from delaying IIoT implementations, with the top five being:
1. Loss of market share
2. Inability to recover and catch up
3. Loss of qualified talent to competitors
4. Losing confidence of investors, and
5. Products/solutions cannot be competitively priced.
These are the business drivers for IIoT interest, and here are some of expected benefits from IIoT investments.
Areas for IIoT Investment
The IIoT has certainly garnered the attention of top management, and some of the reasons for growing awareness of its importance are outlined in the report. For example, one reference claims that “by introducing analytics and more flexible production techniques, manufacturers, for instance, could boost their productivity by as much as 30 percent.”
Even seemingly small operational improvements can yield huge benefits, says Apache, an oil and gas exploration and production company. “Executives at Apache claim that if the global Oil and Gas industry improved pump performance by even one percent, it would increase oil production by half a million barrels a day and earn the industry an additional $19 billion a year.”