There are SMART homes, cars, phones, cities, and factories.

SMART is a great acronym, but few people actually know what it stands for – Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. Or how it works – The use of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor, analyze, and automate systems.

In terms of a timeline, the first device called a smartphone was commercially available in 1994. SMART home technology products became available to consumers as early as 1998. The first SMART car was introduced in the same year. It’s more difficult to pinpoint an actual “start date” for smart cities and smart factories, but conceptually they’ve been around since the turn of the current millennium.

IoT vs. IIoT – What’s in a Name?

Thanks to my friends at Wikipedia and a few other sources, here’s what we know about the two terms.

Coined in 1999, the term IoT, which stands for Internet of Things (IoT), refers to the network of devices, appliances, software, sensors, and actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact, and exchange data. The IoT involves extending Internet connectivity beyond standard devices, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, to any range of traditionally “dumb” or non-internet-enabled physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.

Coined a few years later, probably around 2002, the IIoT, which stands for Industrial Internet of Things, is essentially a subdivision of the IoT that specifically refers to the use of IoT in industrial settings. The term IIoT is connected to other new terms such as Industry 4.0 and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. Broadly speaking, the Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0 essentially have a cause-and-effect relationship. That is, the Industrial IoT is the basis for, and will result in, the fourth industrial revolution.

There’s so much more to say about the concepts and the terminology, but let’s get back to what it all means for the manufacturing sector. Since Strategic Systems Group (SSG) is exclusively dedicated to serving the ERP software needs of manufacturers, for us, this is the heart of the matter.

Manufacturers at the Forefront of the IoT Revolution

As the IoT evolved along with cloud technologies, its potential applications for the manufacturing sector became apparent. And while manufacturers had long been maligned as technological laggards, they took up the IoT banner and ran with it.

The payoff for manufacturers who implement Industrial IoT solutions lies in better decision-making. When devices are connected, the data they generate can flow into software applications that create information individuals can use to make choices that are timely and effective. By understanding the results of these choices more fully, decision-makers can achieve strategic objectives and benchmark performance. Decisions will be based on knowledge derived from connected devices and real-time sensor data. And better decisions mean fewer mistakes and less waste.

In a smart factory, managers can ascertain that every element of a manufacturing system is operating at an optimal level. For example, machining parameters such as cutting speeds and feeds will reflect the most effective settings and real-time updates to these settings will be applied immediately and automatically to maximize productivity, minimize energy consumption, and promote safety. Tool libraries and toolpath options for programmers will be updated accordingly as well.

Every step in the implementation of the Industrial IoT is being evaluated in terms of the decisions it influences. Linking each step to the value of better decisions is the basis for prioritizing them and justifying them economically.

The greatest challenges for shop floor managers lie in determining what data to collect, who will get the information derived from the data, how this information will be used, and if the right decisions were made. As these challenges are resolved, the IIoT will continue to play an ever-increasing role in the optimization of the manufacturing processes.

The U.S. manufacturing sector is once again seeing new growth, and even more importantly, opportunities for sustained growth.

As a company that implements ERP software systems for manufacturers and distributors, Strategic Systems Group (SSG) is your go-to partner for manufacturing innovation. For more information, call us at 310.539.4645 or email us at info@ssgnet.com. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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