You’ve probably heard it already, Industrial IoT is improving the way we do business, manufacture and ship goods, and grow our food. It’s increasing process reliability, cutting costs, and serving customers in a better way. It is all true. But that is old news.

What are the trends you need to be on the lookout for in 2021? Here’s a little insight into what’s on the horizon.

1. AI and Machine learning

Let’s start with machine learning.

Machine learning is not something that is only reserved for industrial spaces. It is currently being used everywhere – in media and entertainment, in healthcare, in retail, and more. For example, every time you’re browsing through Netflix, you can thank machine learning algorithms that the suggestions being offered are tailored and suited to your taste.

We were all caught off-guard when COVID-19 became part of our lives. After the surprise of having to adapt to so much during the pandemic, AI and machine learning have changed things around and advanced in many ways.

But after taking a  look at Industrial IoT, machine learning is advancing to a new plateau as it sits directly on the Edge devices and feeds data to the worldwide cloud system. This data is used to improve company production efficiency, perform predictive maintenance, produce insights about company processes and routines, optimize workforce usage, streamline organizations, and more.

2. Edge devices

An edge device is a network component that allows data from IoT devices to be analyzed on the “edge of the network” before it goes to the Cloud.

Simply put, edge devices provide local information to an external network.

In the context of IoT, edge devices come in many shapes, functions, and sizes, such as sensors, IoT gateways, actuators, switches, and more. For Industrial IoT, they are of the utmost importance. In this case, they are most commonly used for tasks that need real-time data analysis, since they offer very reliable, low-latency data in local environments. Low latency in network connection is advantageous because there are minimal delays in processing computer data over the connection. Lower latency in a company’s network provides closer real-time access with minimal delay times making things work quicker.

3. Digital Twins

As you might guess from the name, digital twins are virtual copies of physical devices. They are mostly used in data science to run simulations before real devices are deployed.

This physical device can be anything: a car, a plane, or a whole building.

In addition to being a virtual replica of something physical, a digital twin is also capable of sending real-time information. So, let’s say you are working on a new car, and you make a digital twin of that car – you can now test how the engine of that car performs by using the digital twin to produce a digital simulation. This way of testing things, in the factory, is, of course, cheaper and faster than testing the actual car.

This implies that a digital twin can predict faults and problems beforehand without ever taking the car out of the factory. This saves costs, and (in the long run) improves customer satisfaction.

4. 5G

Everyone has heard about 5G. It is the latest technological buzzword. You may be asking yourself now how the much talked about 5G technology fits into the Internet of Things? Is it all about speed, or are there other benefits of this new technology?

Yes, it’s true, 5G has very high download speeds, but it also has low latency, high-speed connectivity, and ubiquitous coverage. All these features will support industries like transportation, medical IoT, or autonomous vehicles – where just a single second of delay could make a huge difference.

More devices can be remotely managed, especially where stable WiFi connectivity is not an option.

5. Security in Industrial IoT

The topic of security is always complex, and it becomes even more difficult to grasp once you add IoT devices into the equation.

More and more devices are being connected to the internet every minute, and data is constantly being sent to the Cloud – so security threats are everywhere. Why be concerned about security at all? Basically, the more ways a device is connected to other entities means more opportunities for it to be attacked. IoT security has to account for all these entry points and make them secure; otherwise, the results produced will end up in chaos.

For certain industries security is critical – mainly for the automotive industry, and smart healthcare. If any breaches happen here, the results could be catastrophic.

Zerynth security white paper post

This is why it’s important to think about security from the very beginning of an IoT project and to embed it in the design phase.

To better understand what is at stake in IoT security, and how security breaches can be prevented, read our white paper on the topic.

6. Predictive maintenance

Finally, let’s take a look at predictive maintenance, and how it can help companies in 2021.

The most critical task, for any company, is to prevent unexpected equipment breakdowns and to predict the remaining useful life on a part or a machine.

Of course, if you want to enable predictive maintenance for your machinery, you need to install sensors. Depending on the machinery, different sensors can be used. For example, you can measure the vibration frequencies of various machine parts. So, whenever one part has a vibration frequency that is not within its normal range, a technician can be automatically informed. With such telemetry available, there is no need for unplanned downtime, or waiting long for replacement parts. Furthermore, you can enable the machine itself to order necessary parts, whenever it registers that a particular part is behaving out of the normal parameters.

4zerobox industrial IoT

This challenge is easily solved with the proper IoT platform and expertise. Using the Zerynth IoT Platform, companies can receive valuable data on the performance of their machinery, enable intelligent maintenance schedules, and cut costs produced by downtime.

Visit this page if you wish to learn how the Zerynth IoT Platform can help your company enable predictive maintenance.

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About the Author: Daniele Mazzei

Daniele Mazzei
Daniele is the CPO and co-founder of Zerynth. His strong interest in the interaction between people and intelligent objects led him to co-found Zerynth and to design connected devices and Industrial IoT applications. After earning a PhD in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, he is now an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Pisa.

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