Industrial Internet Of Things: Re-Imagining The Future

India is at the cusp of a new industrial revolution, which is transforming the way businesses work.

Technicians work on the testing line of a factory operated by E-Deodar Robot Equipment Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ningbo Techmation Co., in Foshan, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)
Technicians work on the testing line of a factory operated by E-Deodar Robot Equipment Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ningbo Techmation Co., in Foshan, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

This article is a sponsored feature by GE.

Imagine a factory machine that predicts when it requires maintenance – then automatically orders the parts needed to fix itself, or a piece of equipment that can manage its own energy consumption. These are just the tip of the iceberg of exciting opportunities promised by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

IIoT is set to be a disruptive force that will shape product-development trends over the next decade and beyond. It can be described as an invisible and ambient computing environment made up of a network of smart sensors, cameras, software, and massive data centers. Computing devices will be embedded in everyday projects, enabling them to send and receive data – allowing us to draw meaningful insights as well as help systems become smarter.

In this increasingly hyperconnected world, companies will be paving the path for a new era of growth through digital transformation, where they will be building new business and industrial applications. This is expected to drive the IIoT market to be worth nearly $225 billion by 2020, per GE estimates.

(Source: <a href="">McKinsey</a>)
(Source: McKinsey)

The Future Of Work

India is at the cusp of a new industrial revolution, which is transforming the way businesses work as well as providing them new opportunities to develop their products and services.

Through the industrial internet, streams of machine data are connected to powerful analytics tools. This can generate valuable insights for various functions across the company – ranging from marketing intelligence to maintenance – allowing the business to operate in a more efficient and agile manner.

This transformation is often dubbed as the Future of Work, which is set to bring about significant economic benefits. For example based on GE estimates, just a 1 percent gain in efficiency through deployment of IIoT could yield $90 billion savings in the oil and gas sector, $66 billion in the power sector, and $30 billion in aviation.

Transformation Through Data

Moving into the fourth industrial revolution, the lines between physical and digital worlds are becoming increasingly blurred. As we integrate digital analytics with industrial machinery, there will be tremendous opportunities to harvest massive amounts of information to generate valuable insights.

With the falling costs of both electronic sensors as well as storage and processing of data, equipment will increasingly be able to “hear” and “talk”. This means machines like gas turbines, jet engines, locomotives, and medical devices will become more predictive, reactive, and social – enabling them to communicate seamlessly with one other and with us.

The use of data intelligence will be the new norm for businesses to stay competitive and relevant as they provide actionable real-time insights. This can help reduce downtime of factory equipment, reduce fuel consumed by engines, cut delays faced in service industries and improve traffic flows.

For instance, India’s second-largest publicly traded company Reliance Industries is using digital analytics to optimize its operations and write applications for customers – drawing on more than 30 years of industry data. The company is rolling this out across various businesses that it owns or is operated by customers in sectors such as fertilizers, power, healthcare and telecom.

On the railway front, Indian Railways is rolling out a new fleet of locomotives that will be enabled with software and solutions like remote diagnostics and proactive predictive maintenance. The trains will be part of a wider ecosystem connected to the industrial internet that includes the entire supply chain, factories and maintenance workshops.

Creating Sustainable Infrastructure

By 2020, industries such as utilities, manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics are expected to see highest adoption levels of IIoT in India, according to a Deloitte study. Other sectors such as healthcare, retail and agriculture are also expected to see significant progress. A major driver for adoption across these industries will be the government’s push to invest $1 billion on 100 smart cities over the next five years.

Powering this new future will be companies like National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), which among its facilities in Ramagundam city includes the largest power plant in South India. That facility alone can generate a massive 2,600 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 20 million local homes.

The company is currently driving a major effort to modernize its power plants to make them more efficient and cleaner to meet regulatory targets to reduce air pollution. Interestingly, software will be as integral as hardware in reaching its goal. NTPC is using digital analytics to look at information coming from 10,000 sensors across various equipment. This will help operators gauge exactly how much coal to burn and at just the right temperature to maximize efficiency. Besides optimizing operations, the application can also predict when is the best time the facility should be taken offline for maintenance, which can help reduce unplanned downtime by as much as 5 percent.

Building such sustainable infrastructure will be crucial as India’s urbanization proceeds at a steady pace. This is already concentrating 420 million of India’s 860 million-strong workforce in urban areas, which will boost demand for supporting resources, according to a United Nations report. With urban populations increasing at over 2 percent per year, urban centers will see an addition of 100 million people by 2025 and 220 million by 2035. By 2035, over 40 percent of India’s population will be living in urban areas, according to the UN.

The Indian government is already taking promising steps to address those impending scenarios. Its ‘Digital India’ initiative is set to prepare the country for a data-driven future, where it will promote the use of technology to connect and empower people in areas such as health, education, labour and employment – and raise living standards for decades to come.