The Top 4 Industrial IoT (IIoT) Use Cases in Manufacturing

September 10, 2020

According to Forbes, global spending on Industry 4.0 products and services is predicted to soar from $119B in 2020 to $310B in 2023, attaining a 27.04% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). According to Accenture, Industrial IoT (IIoT) could also add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

So what’s all the ballyhoo about?

For starters, let’s level set on the definition of IIoT. The first “I” stands for “Industrial” – the 3 next letters represent your regular ol’ “Internet of Things.” However, whereas IoT includes usage by the consumer, IIoT is separated in its focus on industrial applications – such as manufacturing, supply chain monitoring and management. “Industrial” in manufacturing in particular encompasses a range of use cases, propelling the advancement of connected factories through using smart “things” that bridge the physical and digital worlds.

Thus, IIoT is quickly making waves for anyone that can benefit from optimized processes, reduced costs, heightened productivity, and visibility. 

In this blog, we’ll review 4 of the most popular, core use cases for IIoT in manufacturing.

  1. Asset Tracking

From tools to parts, simply knowing where something is in an enormous factory or plant when you need it can move metaphorical mountains. Consider the time it takes to find a missing asset, the physical resources required, and how much money is paid to a certain number of employees to find it. How does that affect the processes that these employees should be turning their attention to? Then, multiply that by each “thing” you’re struggling to locate. 

You get the idea.

Asset tracking in turn boosts efficiency, and aids in determining the optimal placement of tools and parts so that they can be more easily recovered when necessary. For parts with time-sensitive usage requirements, this also ensures that they are used prior to their shelf life expiring, better combating both excess and shortages with more accurate factory purchasing.

As we’ve discussed here, Mobile (cellular) IoT can help produce or augment location intelligence indoors as well.

From tools to parts, simply knowing where something is in an enormous factory or plant when you need it can move metaphorical mountains.


  1. Remote Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

IIoT has also transformed how a factory implements predictive maintenance, or put more simply, techniques “designed to help determine the condition of in-service equipment in order to estimate when maintenance should be performed.” (Wikipedia). According to a 2018 report from PWC, participants revealed that these processes had already (on average) improved uptime by 9%, reduced cost by 12%, reduced safety/health/environment/quality risks by 14%, and extended the lifetime of aging assets by 20%. Getting the right information at the right time with full visibility could save businesses millions of dollars.

Using a variety of IoT sensors, real-time data can now be gathered using remote monitoring to compile actionable insights and inform critical planning in a smart factory. Do machines need to be repaired, turned on or off? Does the speed at which production is output need to be changed? Not only can machines now detect warning signs, but they can trigger alerts and service themselves in defense. With IIoT, we are now able to be proactive about potentially damaging events, before business is affected. 

  1. Worker Safety

What more important asset does a factory have than their own employees? Factories already have the potential to be dangerous due to the heavy machinery and tact involved in making sure everything runs smoothly. However, especially in times of COVID-19, knowing where people are in a factory, how close together they are and for how long, as well as what movements are typically made, is crucial to health and safety. IIoT applications can thus be used to help prevent workplace harm and the spread of the pandemic. Check out Polte’s social distancing and contact tracing solution, Polte Proximity, here for an example of one solution in action that helps keep workers safe without hurting productivity.

  1. Automation

The robots are taking over. Just kidding – sort of.

The idea of automation in the factory is nothing new, but this era of connectivity is. Automation in IIoT essentially describes the evolutionary push of AI and sensors to fully digitizing environments, and allowing businesses to finally grasp its sophistication and leverage it for significant ROI. Sensors on machines or assets are “always on,” collecting data even after human employees have hung up their hard hats. In an IIoT connected factory, machines can autonomously adjust input variables, leading to the hands-off automation of entire industrial processes. This solution works especially well for repetitive processes that need to be performed quickly and frequently (say, for example, work needing to be done in an assembly line), so as to leave the human lift and attention toward more involved or difficult needs. 

Operational efficiency has never been so sweet, and neither has the resulting user experience. What other use cases or benefits of IIoT in manufacturing has your business witnessed? 

Let us know in the comments below.

For more blogs like The Top 4 Industrial IoT (IIoT) Use Cases in Manufacturing, keep checking our Blogs page here. To learn more about how Polte can leverage Mobile IoT to track what’s most important to you indoors and out, send us a form here.

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