Beyond IoT, AI and industrial internet-of-things will be the future of connected devices
It’s official – IoT or the Internet of Things isn’t a catchword any longer. Take a look at the speed at which companies have warmed up to this technology. While some business domains and sectors might still be toying with the idea of IoT, a clear majority have already moved on to the next phase – the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Well, this now explains why Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be a whopping 26 billion devices connected to the internet, and IoT products and services will generate revenue of more than $300 billion. While IoT primarily revolves around smart devices for consumers, IIoT takes care of the larger picture, namely industries and enterprises.
A large manufacturing unit with hundreds of machines, all communicating simultaneously to ensure high efficiency, stringent security and enhanced productivity of the business — this is precisely what IIoT does for a wide array of industries.
Now if these processes were to see an upskilling to maximise revenues, businesses would willingly indulge in such an opportunity. That’s where Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a significant role. AI is no newbie and has still managed to hold on to its charm. What has happened instead is that both individuals and organisations have become more curious about integrating IIoT and AI into the very core of their businesses to optimise processes.
IIoT and AI in business domains
The AI-IIoT combination today comes with immense potential. Let’s take a look at our very own Aadhar card, for instance. Be it your bank account, your employment information, your mobile connection details or even your health records, they share a single platform through an Aadhar number. Now, this is an exemplary instance of IIoT playing an inherent role on a larger scale. India is a country with more than 1.32 billion people and even if half the population has an Aadhar card, imagine the whopping amount of data that gets generated. And this treasure trove of unstructured and complex data is what AI needs to process to gain useful insights.
Let’s take this a step ahead. For instance, a healthcare professional can access a patient’s medical history through the Aadhar number. This ensures an option of timely diagnosis and accurate treatment. Such is the power of AI that it is being used in a number of healthcare-based researches like prevention of avoidable blindness, early detection of cancer and cardiac issues using wearable devices, to name a few. As smart sensors and wearable technology monitor parameters such as blood pressure, heartbeat, blood sugar etc. and transmit data in real-time, AI solutions assist doctors in gauging the condition and preventing further complications.
Enhance efficiency through predictive intelligence
Consider this scenario. The US has more than 300,000 miles of onshore and offshore pipelines and over 2.1 million miles of distribution pipelines. Most of these pipelines run across remote places. If an Oil and Gas organisation has to employ a dedicated workforce to monitor all these remote locations, the cost is bound to shoot up. As a ripple effect, the price of gas for consumer usage shoots up.
In such cases, how does an organisation monitor these pipelines effectively and provide natural gas at a nominal price to its customers? The calculation is simple – deploying an intelligent IIoT solution. With predictive analysis, automated and real-time monitoring, an IIoT-based solution can enable centralised monitoring of pipelines, signal a maintenance issue or a failure, and avoid gas leaks.
Closer home, how different is the Indian Railways, for instance? IIoT can help with better signal monitoring, tracking of trains, prevention of accidents and better services to passengers. Whatever be the industry – food processing, retail or supply chain – an IIoT and AI penetration most certainly will result in resource optimisation, better productivity and increased customer satisfaction.
While at such large-scale industries, let’s not turn a blind eye to chances of mishaps. Needless to say, it is an organization’s responsibility to try and prevent any untoward incidents. In a manufacturing set-up, for instance, deploying IIoT and AI-based solutions can reduce the number of malfunctions, accidents, and incidents due to a faulty machine.
Here’s how: IIoT and AI-based solutions allow Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and share data which can be then filtered to generate only useful data. These intelligent solutions can predict a fault before the actual occurrence by analysing this data, helping companies plan better for unforeseen situations, reducing maintenance costs and equipment failure and avoiding revenue loss due to sudden shutdowns.
With machines that are smarter, capable of monitoring end-to-end processes with ease and prevent failures by using predictive intelligence, organisations can direct their valuable workforce to focus on core engineering and manufacturing areas to drive innovation.
India aboard the IIoT-AI bandwagon
As an ever-ready adopter of new technologies, India is already riding the wave of IIoT and AI. The Government of India has directed NITI Aayog to set-up a national program in Artificial Intelligence. In addition, the policy think-tank of India, in partnership with Google, has plans to offer an AI-oriented skill training to aspiring entrepreneurs and Indian start-ups.
While telecom giant, Reliance Jio, has begun its groundwork to develop an AI-based brand engagement platform, JioInteract, its counterpart Vodafone has teamed up with SAP to discover the potential of IIoT in India by developing communication solution for enterprises.
As a part of the Smart City initiative, many cities in the country are already using the internet of connectivity for smart waste management. Take the Agra Municipal Corporation, for instance. They have been using garbage bins tagged with RFID systems for easy collection of waste.
Not too far off, the city of Vadodara has successfully completed the first phase of its Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) project which includes CCTV surveillance, intelligent traffic management, city bus tracking, solid waste vehicle tracking, etc.
And every day has a new tale to tell from different corners of the country. India is serious about deep diving into the IIoT-AI combination and reaps the benefits. From managing waste to communicating with machines, the country has begun integrating IIoT and AI in many day-to-day activities. But there’s always scope for more — with the right solutions in place and service providers working constantly on improving connectivity, the race is definitely hotting up.
The author, Kunal Kislay is Co-founder and CEO of Integration Wizards.
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