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5 min. read
Julia Weijs

7 Practical Applications of IIoT in Industrial Automation

It might be hard to imagine what Industrial IoT and industry 4.0 can do for you if you haven’t experienced it yet. That’s why we gathered 7 practical applications of IIoT in the manufacturing, energy, robotics and building industry.

What is Industrial IoT?

IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things usually refers to interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together in an industrial setting. This connectivity allows for remote access and monitoring, but more importantly, it allows for data acquisition and collection, exchange and analysis of different data sources. This has enormous potential for improving productivity and efficiency. IIoT solutions are characterised by their low cost and fast implementation.

At IXON, we’ve developed a unique and easy-to-implement solution to harness the full potential of IIoT to fast-forward in the Industrial IoT model.

Need inspiration? Take a look at applications from our customers for using Industrial IoT.

The Essentials of Industrial IoT The Essentials of Industrial IoT

Typically IIoT solutions include:

  • Industrial ‘things’ – Internet-enabled devices like PLCs, Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), IP cameras and sensors.
  • Connectivity – Connecting ’things’ to the internet via 4G/cellular, Wi-Fi or ethernet connections.
  • Data – Data, and how it is collected, stored and processed using edge devices, is central to the value of IIoT.
  • A cloud platform – Key to IIoT is a centralised and secure cloud platform for hosting the data and enabling remote services
  • Analytics dashboard ­– For analysing data and monitoring machines.
  • Intelligence and action – The collected data must be analysed by either humans or smart functions to send out alarms or triggers to any other system.

Get inspired by the following practical examples of how IIoT solutions are used in different industrial automation situations.

7 practical Industrial IoT examples for daily use:

1. Remotely solve PLC / robot problems if a custom-built machine is down

It happens in every factory: the emergency button is pressed accidentally, without anyone realising it. Because there’s no defect, engineers initially break their heads to locate the cause of the problem. In the meantime, the clock is running and valuable time is being wasted, while production has come to a standstill. If the HMI doesn't tell you the problem, a phone call to your machine builder is the next logical step.

With industrial remote access, the machine builder can access the machine from their office, view the log files on the PLC or robot and reset the machine, if necessary. It only takes a few minutes to find the problem and saves a time-consuming service trip to the factory site.

Siemens S7 1200 connected to IXrouter Siemens S7 1200 connected to IXrouter

2. Prevent the label printer from running out of paper

In the logistics sector or packaging industry, it’s fatal when a machine runs out of labels. To prevent this situation, service technicians need to be notified well in advance before this happens.

The sensor’s data counter triggers an alarm, allowing the technicians to take immediate action to prevent stagnation. A push notification or email alert on their smartphone, or a vibration of their smartwatch, ensures that the responsible people receive the message on time.

Tip: Why IIoT Is a Game Changer for the Packaging Industry

3. Publish new functionalities on the HMI screen for customers abroad

When a machine is delivered and your customer uses it in his daily operations, he may need extra functionality to make his job even easier. An expansion of their control panel with a new function, such as an on/off switch or a percentage counter for the pump, can easily be fixed by your programmer. But the HMI software needs to be updated and tested to launch this new functionality.

HMI software updates can easily be applied remotely via secure network access. All you have to do is push the new software from your laptop over the internet, and you’ve made your customer happy once again. Using a web-based VNC (Virtual Network Connection), you and your customer can view and test the HMI functionality in the IIoT platform or on a mobile device.

Remote access and control HMI screens using IXON's IIoT platform Remote access and control HMI screens using IXON's IIoT platform

4. Predict machine maintenance and analyse upfront which part needs to be replaced

Machines, or energy products such as solar panels, require occasional maintenance. When this needs to happen is sometimes easy to predict – for example when you know the degradation per a certain number of production hours or rotations. In these scenarios, it makes sense to implement predictive maintenance. Simply use the variables (counters) of your PLC software and log this data to the cloud. Then you start with data visualisation in an IIoT dashboard or get an email reminder when the counter reaches a maintenance limit.

On-site machine maintenance visits are more effective if you know the faults before you leave to go on your trip. By analyzing potential problems upfront via remote access and the online diagnostics tool of the device’s web server, you’re more likely to turn up with the right spare parts.

Read more: 4 types of information you can extract from machine data
Case study: How TSS4U can monitor solar systems globally

IIoT dashboard example, configured in IXON Cloud IIoT dashboard example, configured in IXON Cloud

5. Analyse and optimize industrial robot actions

Industrial robots such as UR+ robots make repetitive work easy. Remote access and IIoT features are used to change robot program actions or get better insight into the log files.

Additionally, video analysis may help to improve the actions of a certain robot. Access to the IP camera recordings, or live stream, make improvements easier. Quickly and easily set up a VPN connection for full network access to any device connected to the robot.

Read more: IXON is official IIoT partner of Universal Robots

IXON: official IIoT partner of Universal Robots IXON: official IIoT partner of Universal Robots

6. Only empty full garbage containers in smart cities

No more useless driving around the city to check for full containers. Only take action on trash containers that send out an alarm that they need to be emptied.

Make use of the power of your sensors and make data accessible in a cloud environment. Then visualise this data in a monitoring dashboard and send out a notification to the garbage collector when the container reaches a threshold. All in the name of efficiency!

Read more: How to make your machine data more valuable

7. Manage data from multiple buildings for central monitoring in your BMS system

In building automation, IIoT is used to monitor and control the energy consumption, heating, lighting, fire protection and other systems for multiple locations from a central location. To get a good overview of the building’s HVAC system’s status (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), access to data from remote installations is needed.

Edge connectivity helps to transfer the real-time machine data to a central cloud application, using BACnet or Modbus protocols. For custom applications, you can use the rise of open cloud systems. They usually provide an API to collect data at specific intervals and transfer it to your Building Automation System (BMS) for central monitoring.

Looking for more inspiration? Check our IIoT case studies.

Green Building Control case study Green Building Control case study

Get started with a Plug & Play Industrial IoT platform

IXON Cloud offers a user-friendly solution to all these problems via an affordable all-in-one Industrial IoT platform. It’s plug & play, scalable and secure. The IXON Cloud and IXrouter (integrated edge gateway / VPN router) can handle any industrial application. It helps engineers with reliable and secure machine access and provides added value to end-users with insights and mobile access to control their machine.

Functions available in IXON Cloud: all-in-one IIoT platform

Remote Access (VPN). Web Access (HMI, VNC). Cloud Data Logging. White labelling / Custom branding. Data visualisation. Alarms and notifications. User management. Device management. API. Webhooks. M2M Cloud Cluster. Mobile app. Integrated edge connectivity device.

3 ways to discover more of IXON’s Industrial IoT solution

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