The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been buzzing through the trade press for quite some time now. We are talking about the Internet of Things which increases the efficiency of industrial processes, lowers production costs and paves the way for new business models. Ideally, the Industrial Internet of Things is essential for a sustainable business in the industrial sector.

What sounds like a vision is closer to reality than thought. Some pioneers already dared to step closer to the Smart Factory with their IIoT- applications and profit immensely. Airbus, for example, reached a massive increase in productivity – and quality by its digital production initiative Factory of the Future. The energy- and automation giant ABB relies on IIoT-technologies and avoids disruptions of process chains through indicating maintenance requirements of robotic units early on.

This one is for sure: The intelligent linkage of machines or even entire plants and the processing of large data amounts will change the industry of today completely.

We have looked at the term Internet of Things more closely and classified its relevance in the context of the Industry 4.0.

What’s the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) describes smart objects communicating with each other within one network. Each object can be clearly identified and act individually. Sensors play a special role. These sensors, embedded into the communicating systems, collect large amounts of data thereby creating the basis for automated processes.  

The term IoT is frequently used in consumer-oriented environments or when interlinking devices. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is different and describes a particular specification of the IoT suited to industrial surroundings. It applies IoT-technologies in order to create consistent process chains that should be able to optimize themselves in the future- even in the case of unpredictable events.

IIoT chances and challenges

Chances

  • Transparency and control of production processes
  • Real-time insights of ongoing operations
  • Opening up of new business fields and – models
  • Production of lot size 1 at low costs
  • Prevention of bottlenecks
  • Prevention of disturbances and shortfalls of production lines
  • Early indication of required machine maintenance
  • Automated quality assurance
  • Use of digital twins for the production of physical products

Challenges

  • High investment due to the management of differently linked devices
  • Increased security risk when saving or processing data
  • Definition of new security guidelines and company agreements
  • Use of relevant data in terms of Big Data
  • New conceptual developments of employee trainings

IoT, IIoT und Industry 4.0

The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) describes the networking of smart objects in everyday life. These can be cars, household appliances or fitness trackers that have access to the Internet and thus connect the physical with the digital world. The term Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) describes the industrial development of the Internet of Things and is based on the same concept. Since the focus in the industrial environment is on networking machines with the aid of sensor technology and seamless process chains, the complexity is far greater than in the consumer-oriented environment.

Industry 4.0 today stands for digitalizing industries but has originally been launched as project for the future within the framework of the governmental high-tech strategy. Industry 4.0 uses cyber-physical systems and creates networks within which devices based on IIoT technologies communicate with each other.

Industry 4.0 is primarily associated with the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector. However, interlinking logistics and intra-logistics processes within the warehouse are essential in order to realize the vision of Industry 4.0.

Connected Logistics – Digitalizing the Supply Chain

It is necessary to see the supply chain as a holistic entity. Processes become predominant while systems are efficiently and simply implement all requirements in the background.

The IT landscape has to evolve from closed systems to a central core which is supplemented by additionally required systems. All systems have to be able to understand and solve highly complex requirements autonomously while being easily operable.

In the world of SAP, S/4HANA is central as digital core. Due to the wide service spectrum of several businesses, S/4HANA is often not sufficient enough. Next to the digital core, additional systems are necessary such as a decentral SAP EWM and SAP TM, SAP Yard Logistics, SAP ME or a global Track and Trace System (GTT). These systems have to be available onPremise as well as in the cloud. The IIoT-platform SAP Leonardo serves as connector to the non-SAP-world.

The art of connecting these SAP systems in a simple manner while making them easily comprehensible is what we call „Connected Logistics“.

Industry 4.0 in the assembly - fully integrated production

The assembling sector also requires an integrated approach in order to get ready for Industry 4.0. The material has to know where and why it is required. Tools have to adjust to the next production step independently. Workers have to always have all currently needed information available and know the status of their machines, material and products. This is the idea of the future Smart Factory.

The technical improvements of Industry 4.0 in the production are of such great amount which makes it hard to keep track and to grasp the mostly abstract features and advantages.

Our „SALT Manufacturing“ approach describes the vertical and horizontal integration of all production processes from the production to the assembly. SALT Manufacturing relies on SAP-based solutions and guarantees, by applying in-house developed SALT Add-Ons, the complete coverage of all features without having to change systems. With SAP S/4HANA as central core and SAP Leonardo as IIoT-platform, a continuous increase of efficiency by data archiving and –analysis is reached which covers the entire product life cycle.  

In our HOLM (House of Logistics and Mobility) showcase, digitalization can be experienced. Read more about it in our digital customer magazine SOLUTIONS.

In order to get closer to a fully connected, digital supply chain and to reach a vertical and horizontal integration of all production processes, transparent and efficient business processes have to be defined previously. Our experts are passionate about this and will happily assist you. Please get in touch if you are ready for a corporate reaching out towards your digitalization getting you onto the path to Industry 4.0.