IoT in Industrial Automation: Definition and 10 Applications

By: Valerii Haidarzhy, 1 Nov 2023
7   min read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The accelerating pace of digital transformation has led to the rapid expansion of IoT in industrial automation, revolutionizing various sectors such as energy, manufacturing, facility management, transportation, mining, and more. As IoT becomes an integral part of business operations, companies are witnessing significant improvements in productivity, efficiency, earnings, and worker safety. According to a Microsoft survey, around 85% of organizations have already implemented IoT solutions in their projects.
Sirin Software’s IoT development services are designed to optimize business performance by minimizing human intervention and achieving set objectives. In the near future, the adoption of IoT in projects like the Internet of Logistics Things, Internet of Retail Things, and Internet of Workforce Management, is highly expected. With the global IoT market projected to reach $263.4 billion by 2027, it is evident that a variety of IoT application options in industrial automation will continue to shape the future of various industries.

What is IoT industrial automation?

By the time you’re reading this, you’re probably already thinking about specific areas you could target to improve efficiency. 

Let’s start with industrial automation. As you may know, it is the incorporation of control mechanisms and equipment to oversee and enhance a range of processes in diverse industries and aims to decrease human involvement, lessen mistakes, and improve overall effectiveness. This is achieved by automating both routine tasks and intricate procedures for increased productivity.
Our topic concept itself means the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies with traditional industrial automation processes, utilizing interconnected and programmable devices, sensors, and software to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and reduce costs. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

Industries benefiting from the Internet of Things industrial automation

The integration of IoT has been profoundly influencing various sectors. A selection of prominent industries reaping the rewards of this technological convergence includes.

  • Manufacturing:
    IoT-based industrial automation helps manufacturers to monitor equipment performance, predict maintenance requirements, and optimize production processes, leading to increased output and reduced downtime.
  • Energy:
    Energy companies are able to remotely monitor and manage power generation and distribution, improving grid reliability and reducing energy waste.
  • Oil and Gas:
    IoT integration provides monitoring of equipment, pipelines, and reservoirs, enabling companies to optimize extraction, transportation, and processing operations while minimizing environmental impact.
  • Transportation:
    IoT-powered systems enhance the efficiency and safety of transportation networks by enabling real-time monitoring of vehicle performance, traffic conditions, and infrastructure.
  • Facility Management:
    Responsible personnel can monitor and control building systems such as HVAC, lighting, and security, optimizing energy consumption and ensuring a comfortable environment for occupants.
  • Mining and Metals:
    IoT in industrial automation improves safety and efficiency in mining operations by providing real-time data on equipment performance, worker safety, and environmental conditions.
  • Aviation:
    This technology enables airlines and airports to automate processes such as baggage handling, aircraft maintenance, and flight schedules, streamlining operations and improving customer experience.
  • Agriculture:
    Widely used by farmers to monitor and control irrigation, fertilization, and pest management, optimizing resource utilization and crop yields.

IoT impact on industrial automation

The fusion of IoT is creating remarkable advancements in diverse operational aspects, paving the way for fresh innovations. Let us briefly examine how IoT affects industrial automation to gain numerous benefits.

Improvements in Industrial Automation

Actually, IoT could bring any number of improvements to industrial automation, such as:

  • Data collection and analysis:
    IoT devices and sensors can gather vast amounts of data from equipment, processes, and the environment, allowing for real-time analysis and informed decision-making.
  • Predictive maintenance:
    IoT technologies enable companies to monitor equipment performance and predict potential failures, reducing downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Enhanced process optimization:
    IoT-powered automation systems allow for greater control and adaptability in production processes, leading to increased efficiency and output.
  • Improved safety and security:
    IoT can help monitor and manage potential hazards, ensuring the safety of both workers and facilities.

We believe that the potential for integrating the Internet of Things is constrained solely by imagination, financial resources, and projections of anticipated economic benefits. To validate this perspective, let’s take a quick look at some real-life examples.

Benefits and real-life examples

  • Increased efficiency:
    Utilizing IoT to oversee and evaluate the performance of their production lines, Siemens has achieved a 40% productivity increase. This approach enables more precise and prompt data-driven decision-making, streamlining processes, and minimizing waste.
  • Cost reduction:
    General Electric incorporated IoT controllers into their wind turbine operations, resulting in a reduction of maintenance costs by up to 20%. This case shows that the utilization of IoT for predictive maintenance and process improvement can yield considerable cost savings.
  • Enhanced safety:
    IoT technologies can help identify and address potential safety hazards, protecting workers and reducing the likelihood of accidents. In the mining industry, companies like Rio Tinto employ IoT interfaces to monitor air quality, temperature, and humidity in underground mines, ensuring the well-being of their workers.
  • Improved product quality:
    IoT systems can track and analyze production processes in real-time, enabling companies to identify and address issues that could impact product quality. Anheuser-Busch InBev, a leading global brewer, uses IoT sensors to monitor and control brewing processes, resulting in consistent, high-quality beer production.
  • Competitive advantage:
    Companies that integrate IoT in industrial automation processes can gain a competitive edge by offering superior products and services, responding more quickly to market changes, and reducing operational costs. For example, Bosch Rexroth, a leading industrial automation provider, has developed IoT-enabled solutions that allow their clients to monitor and manage their production lines remotely, simplifying operations and cutting costs.

10 IoT Applications in Industrial Automation

So far, we have explored the broad ideas of implementing the Internet of Things across different sectors. Despite being a relatively recent development, this technology is progressing at such a rapid pace that specific IoT applications in industrial automation methodologies have emerged and can be categorized into groups for better understanding.

1. Smart manufacturing

Leveraging IoT devices and data analytics, smart manufacturing optimizes production processes, boosts efficiency, and reduces expenses. Toyota utilized IoT for monitoring and analyzing their production lines, achieving a 30% productivity increase. Similarly, Honeywell applied IoT solutions in their chemical manufacturing process, successfully decreasing energy consumption by 15%.

2. Asset tracking and management

Utilizing IoT-enabled asset tracking and management systems, sensors, GPS, and RFID technology help monitor the location, status, and condition of valuable assets during their lifecycle. IBM’s Watson IoT platform facilitates real-time shipping container tracking, enhancing supply chain transparency and minimizing loss risks. Also, Caterpillar deploys IoT sensors to oversee the health and performance of their heavy machinery, fine-tuning maintenance schedules and maximizing asset usage.

3. Remote monitoring and control

IoT technologies empower businesses to remotely supervise and regulate equipment, processes, and infrastructure, guaranteeing optimal performance while diminishing the necessity for on-site maintenance. ABB utilizes IoT-enabled remote monitoring for their industrial robots, facilitating predictive maintenance and minimizing downtime. Similarly, Schneider Electric harnesses IoT technologies to administer and control its electrical distribution systems remotely, boosting energy efficiency and safety. This strategy can result in substantial cost savings, heightened uptime, and improved safety.

4. Predictive maintenance

By analyzing data from IoT sensors and devices, predictive maintenance systems can identify potential equipment failures before they occur. For example, SKF employs IoT-driven predictive maintenance for their rotating equipment, resulting in fewer unexpected failures and optimized maintenance schedules. In another instance, ThyssenKrupp utilizes IoT data to monitor the health of their elevators, enabling proactive maintenance and reducing downtime.

5. Energy management

IoT-powered energy management systems monitor and analyze energy consumption data from industrial facilities, like Siemens, which implemented IoT solutions to reduce energy consumption by 25%. By identifying inefficiencies and opportunities for optimization, companies can reduce energy waste, lower costs, and minimize their environmental impact, as seen with Honeywell, which achieved a 15% reduction in energy consumption in their chemical manufacturing process.

6. Quality control and inspection

Utilizing sensors, machine vision, and AI algorithms, IoT-enabled quality control and inspection solutions, such as GE’s Brilliant Factory, can detect defects and inconsistencies in products and processes. This real-time monitoring ensures consistent product quality and reduces waste associated with defects, similar to how Bosch used IoT technology to achieve a 10% reduction in scrap rate.

7. Autonomous material handling

IoT technologies, like those used by Amazon Robotics, facilitate the development of autonomous material handling systems, such as self-driving vehicles and robotic arms, to move and transport goods within industrial facilities. These systems can enhance efficiency, reduce labor costs, and improve workplace safety, as demonstrated by KUKA’s IoT-enabled robotic systems.

8. Connected supply chain

By integrating supply chain operations through IoT connectivity, companies can achieve real-time visibility into inventory levels, order status, and delivery schedules. This level of connectivity can help optimize supply chains, reduce lead times, and improve customer satisfaction. IBM’s Watson IoT platform, for instance, enables real-time tracking of shipping containers, while DHL leverages IoT to streamline its logistics operations.

9. Worker safety monitoring

Companies like Rio Tinto use IoT devices to monitor worker safety, tracking factors such as location, vital signs, and environmental conditions. These systems can help identify and address potential hazards, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring worker well-being, as seen with Caterpillar’s IoT sensors for monitoring heavy machinery operators.

10. Industrial cybersecurity

With the increasing number of connected devices and systems, industrial cybersecurity has become more critical than ever. IoT solutions, such as those provided by Cisco, can help companies monitor and protect their networks, devices, and data from cyber threats, ensuring the security and integrity of their operations, while Honeywell’s cybersecurity solutions safeguard critical infrastructure from potential attacks.

IoT Automation solutions in worldwide companies

Several leading industrial companies worldwide are harnessing the power of IoT to enhance their automation processes. Here, there are some of the most notable real-life examples of solutions they employ and the benefits they have derived from IoT integration.

General Electric (GE)

General Electric, a multinational conglomerate with interests in various sectors such as energy, aviation, and healthcare, has been at the forefront of IoT adoption in industrial automation. One of their most notable applications of IoT in industrial automation is in the maintenance of wind turbines. GE uses IoT sensors and advanced analytics to monitor the performance and health of its wind turbines in real-time. This enables them to predict potential failures and perform proactive maintenance, reducing downtime and maintenance costs by up to 20%. Additionally, their Predix platform, specifically designed for these goals, helps customers optimize asset performance, reduce operational costs, and minimize risks.

Siemens

Siemens, a German engineering giant, has embraced IoT technology to improve their manufacturing processes and offer advanced solutions to their customers. In their Amberg Electronics Plant, Siemens employs IoT sensors and devices to monitor and analyze their production lines’ performance. This has led to a 40% increase in productivity and a 99% reduction in production errors. Furthermore, Siemens offers their MindSphere platform, an industrial IoT-as-a-Service solution, enabling customers to connect, analyze, and optimize their industrial assets and operations.

Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell, a global energy company, has leveraged IoT solutions to enhance the efficiency and safety of their oil and gas operations. For instance, they have implemented IoT sensors on their offshore drilling platforms to monitor equipment performance, environmental conditions, and worker safety. This real-time data collection and analysis allows Shell to predict equipment failures, optimize maintenance schedules, and enhance worker safety by addressing potential hazards proactively. In collaboration with Microsoft, Shell has also developed an AI-driven system that leverages IoT data to predict and prevent corrosion in pipelines, further enhancing the safety and efficiency of their operations.

Choose Sirin Software as your dependable ally

In the complex realm of IoT and industrial automation, consider a trustworthy partner to fully unlock their potential. Sirin Software’s proven track record spans diverse sectors, ensuring clients benefit from this revolutionary technology. Our unique advantage lies in our extensive expertise, commitment to client satisfaction, and custom IoT solutions that align with your specific needs.

Discover our case studies, such as Tablet Apps for Smart Stores, Firmware Updates for Industrial Wearable Devices, or AI Dual Dash Cameras for Vehicles, showcasing our IoT development excellence. Let us revolutionize your operations and surpass competitors. Contact our team today to discuss your IoT project and uncover how our services can foster a more efficient, innovative, and thriving future.

Conclusion

As we’ve explored throughout this article, the role of IoT in industrial automation is undeniable. As an increasing number of organizations embrace IoT solutions, the future of industrial automation is set to become more interconnected, intelligent, and inventive. We hope the information and examples shared here have offered a more profound understanding of IoT’s vast potential in this realm. 

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