3 things you should know about Industrial IoT

How does IIoT differ from IoT? What are IIoT's potential benefits and risks? Get answers to these questions.

How the rail industry is using industrial IoT Stewart Kantor, CEO of Full Spectrum, talks with TechRepublic's Teena Maddox about how the rail and transportation industries are using company's wireless communications services to power their industrial IoT systems.

The infrastructure around the world becomes more connected each day. We can thank the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for this connectedness, which stretches far beyond fitness bands to connecting machines and devices in industries such as transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.

The potential remains high for IIoT, but so are the risks. Let's break down the three basics you need to know about Industrial IoT and how it might help your Industry 4.0 initiatives.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

1. How IIoT differs from IoT

While IoT focuses on consumer devices, like smartphones and smart appliances, IIoT connects machines and devices in industries. Plus, more is at stake with IIoT deployments; system failures and downtime in IIoT can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations, say if a miner's equipment stopped working while on the job, or a remote feeder missed scheduled animal feedings.

2. IIoT offers huge potential benefits

IIoT will ideally automate projects, optimize digital transformation goals and enable more production, efficiency, communication, and ultimately, solutions.

In terms of environmental sustainability, IIoT brings an increase of applications for smart cities, smart farming, and smart factories. Expect to see more energy consumption optimization as energy companies use smart metering and smart grids. Remote health monitoring and equipment maintenance will enhance healthcare. Goods and transportation monitoring and connected logistics for freight transportation are made possible due to IIoT.

IIoT is also used in security, government, aviation, defense, facility management, and more.

SEE: Special report: Sensor'd enterprise: IoT, ML, and big data (ZDNet) | Download the PDF version (TechRepublic)

3. IIoT deployments present major challenges

Any new way of thinking and new technology introduces challenges, and IIoT is no exception. For IIoT deployments to work, industries must buy-in to high up-front costs for new hardware, software, and equipment and ensure smooth data integration with their legacy technology. Industries must also employ workers with a skill set that includes expertise in machine learning and data science. A lack of standardization is also a concern, and just like IoT, IIoT introduces numerous security vulnerabilities, which companies must prepare for ahead of implementation.

SEE: The rise of industrial IoT (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

The bottom line

IIoT is vast and growing by the day. Is your industry ready?

Take this IIoT survey

What does IIoT mean for your company or industry? What data is your company collecting with IoT devices? What, if any, measures are taken to secure the IoT devices your company uses? Take this IIoT survey from TechRepublic's sister site Tech Pro Research and let us know.

All respondents will have a chance to enter their email at the end of the survey and receive a free copy of the resulting research report, which is normally only available to Tech Pro Research subscribers.

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Image: metamorworks, Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman

Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman is an Associate Editor for TechRepublic. She has 20 years of experience editing and writing for B2B and consumer publications focused on technology, innovation, healthcare, food and culture. Melanie received a bachelor's degr...