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Industrial internet of things examples: IoT in heavy industry

Tamlin Magee | June 27, 2016
We've seen how the internet of things will help our homes, but how are the heavy industries making the most of the technology?

For some time now, we've been hearing a lot of noise about the internet of things (IoT) in the consumer space - smart thermostats and such.  

But another area it's making a difference is in the heavy industries, allowing businesses to optimise the work of the big machinery and infrastructure they count upon.

This is the industrial internet of things, or the IIoT, where big machinery is connected and talking to one another, and back to centralised systems.

And analyst house Gartner believes IoT will move toward mainstream adoption in 2016 for many more industries. 

Whether that's in aerospace, defence, or oil and gas, we take a look at some areas where the 'industrial internet of things' is already proving its worth for the new, connected heavy industries.

1. Oil and Gas

Industrial internet of things: Oil and Gas
Image: Flickr / Richard Masoner

Royal Dutch Shell uses big data, high performance computing and imaging to find oil and gas resources.

Using visualisation technology and vast quantities of seismic data, Shell maps out areas where oil and gas can be found like a giant MRI of the earth.

And connected sensors are also useful for monitoring vast oil pipelines - with Enbridge, TransCanada and PG&E all creating data about potential bottlenecks using sensors inside and outside the pipelines, according toDeloitte University Press.

These can emulate the senses to monitor all aspects of the pipeline - from sight to touch, smell and hearing, and feed back this information if anything goes wrong.

2. Water infrastructure

Industrial internet of things: Water infrastructure
Image: Tidworth / Wikipedia

In the small garrison town of Tidworth, South West England, a company called Veolia has equipped a 100km water main and a sewer with monitoring equipment to keep a check on water quality, detect leaks, and instantly send notifications to field workers with connected device.

Using multi-vendor SCADA systems, the company manages its 1,500 sensors - which are able to check the quality of the water every 15 minutes. 

3. Manufacturing

Industrial internet of things: Manufacturing
Image: Flickr / Adam Hilliker

Manufacturing giant Caterpillar contracted Accenture to build telematics into a range of its products, including industrial gas turbines, diesel-electric locomotives, for the construction industry and for diesel and natural gas engines.

And the Connected Vehicle Business Service from Accenture provides connectivity services, telematics and data integration. Using these services, it can monitor equipment in areas like hours of use, fault codes and fuel consumption.

4. Brewing

Industrial internet of things: Brewing
Image: François Jaques: Peasants Enjoying Beer at Pub in Fribourg

American beer distributor B United is using a GPS-enabled system of sensors to monitor the quality of its beer and cider while it flies around the world in transit. Using satellite technology from Ovinto, and with Globalstar's satellite communications, the distributor is able to keep close watch on the temperature and pressure of its craft beer.


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