“Product innovation and digitization” has been a key strategic business insight in the manufacturing segment, and Industry 4.0 is all about the connected intelligence among products, processes, components, smaller microservices for smarter and intelligent decision-making. There is tremendous attention on how the new emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, mobility, analytics, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence, etc. will revolutionize processes within and across organizations.
Industrial IoT (IIoT), of course, is the subset of IoT that associates itself with connected manufacturing operations to design and craft products and services. Using IIoT, the previous labor-intensive, time-consuming techniques can be substituted with vibrant, sophisticated, and automated mechanisms. With live data coming from smart sensors and devices, assets can be located almost anywhere in the world and can be traced from afar. Organizations can get better visibility into operational status, become agile and can quickly adapt, automatically respond to prevailing conditions.
Take a case of the freight logistics industry, for instance. Traditional practices used for asset management such as vehicle fleets, shipments, consignments in transit, etc. have been relatively time- and labor-intensive. By creating a connected IIoT-based remote monitoring system, enterprises can link data from thousands of sensors and systems in vehicles to gain better visibility into the devices and track assets wherever they are located. Below is a sample illustration of a recently launched pre-configured IIoT fleet management solution on Azure.
The purpose-built intuitive dashboard is boosted to provide a real-time view of key performance indicators, explore vehicle routes, derive in-depth truck information encompassing fuel status, tire air pressure, trailer cooling unit temperature, impacted cargo etc. For companies, this transformation and makeover are accomplished by integrating small, highly connected devices (smartphones, tablets, GPS devices) and sophisticated electronics into transportation means, living spaces, and workstations.
Though the data representation is in the form of a standalone application, it presents a remarkable case study of providing an unprecedented level of connectedness and functionality across the entire value chain. A much more comprehensive solution and advanced dynamic user experience can be envisioned via the convergence of IoT, edge services, and digital simulations (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality). These simulations present exclusive prospects for rapid scale adoption of IIoT in enterprises. By incorporating digital simulations into their IoT strategy, enterprises can improve service, customer experiences, operations, engineering and manufacturing of products.
The manufacturing segment is vast, and there are numerous compelling and attractive ideas on how technology would propel the industry in the coming years. A few applications are stated below:
- Ford’s FIVE (Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment) system translates CAD designs into virtual cars. Using extremely high-resolution models and textures, engineers are able to inspect car components down to the millimeter, as well as walk around and inside the vehicle itself.
- Manufacturing equipment developer Gabler accelerates the planning of their manufacturing lines using virtual reality solution. Using head-mounted displays to recreate their manufacturing lines in the virtual world, Gabler can locate potential safety hazards before the product ever reaches a client facility, or even before it is built at all.
- Temasek Polytechnic and EON Reality partnered to create a series of applications designed to enhance training for Temasek’s aerospace students. These applications are designed to promote higher student engagement through interaction, improve knowledge retention, and enhance the overall learning experience. Students learn via a Virtual Reality Gas Turbine Engine about the fundamentals of GTE operations and more advanced operations.
And here is a mockup simulation of a connected factory using IIoT and augmented or mixed reality
Though these fascinating ideas are in the conceptual stage, AR, holograms, and 3D competences via connected factory solutions would undeniably make for more efficient product management, allow processes to function with ease and without interruption, and assist in reviewing and visualizing powerful operational information — including efficiency and performance data. Instead of reacting to events, operations can be proactively managed and automated. A misbehaving machine might need the sudden attention of the original product team located on the other side of the globe. Using remote-controlled robot arms and tools, delicate repairs might be performed in future by a telerobotics expert who never leaves their office.