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Ryan E. Day

Innovation

IIoT Comes Off the Factory Floor

Can smart plugs benefit nonmanufacturing businesses?

Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 12:03

The internet of things, or IoT, is a phenomenon that merges real-life devices with online control. Think smart home systems or maybe the FordPass Connect app. The manufacturing industry has already begun to leverage this idea to monitor heavy industrial equipment and analyze data from multiple machines and even multiple facilities. The information gathered helps manufacturing companies make more informed decisions concerning things like maintenance, operating expense, and asset utilization. Now this has given rise to the term, industrial internet of things, or IIoT.

The IIoT builds on IoT with sensors that monitor things like vibration, power consumption, and run times. Manufacturing equipment is now more readily available in IIoT-ready configuration, and there are numerous devices to retrofit existing machinery to an IIoT ecosystem.

Todd Mirzaian, director of sales at Ibis Networks, talks about smart plugs

Up to now, the IIoT has mainly been of interest to heavy manufacturing, and most IIoT solutions have been created with hard wiring in mind. But the development of advanced smart sockets and enterprise-grade cloud services is causing nonmanufacturing organizations like medical, pharmaceutical, educational, and financial institutions to perk up and take notice of the IIoT.

These smart sockets are nearly plug and play because the only infrastructure required is the system already created by service providers and plugging in the sockets wherever a device to be monitored is located. No doubt there is a certain amount of finessing associated with an organization’s internet service provider and levels of partial customization, but the point is that an IIoT solution based on smart plugs may be a forward-looking tool for nonmanufacturing companies to make better asset utilization decisions.

For instance, biotech and medical research facilities depend on refrigerated units to facilitate and protect their work. Unit failure could be a catastrophic loss of data and biological material. From a risk management point of view, monitoring the health of refrigeration units is paramount.

Other business verticals such as hospitality are challenged with slim operating margins that are very much impacted by the health of literally thousands of electrical devices. How does a hotel franchise keep tabs on the operating expense and actual usage profile of hundreds of coffee machines, minifridges, microwaves, and A/C units? How does a company with multiple corporate facilities monitor energy consumption?

Smart plug-based solutions seem to be tailor-made for the unique needs of nonmanufacturing organizations. They don’t have large hard-wired machines, but nearly everything in a nonmanufacturing facility is plugged into a wall socket.

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About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20-lb tabby cat at his side.