Industrial Internet: An Overview

The definition of the Industrial Internet consists of 2 vital parts:

  1. The connection of industrial device sensors and actuators to local processing and to the Internet.
  2. The onward connection to other crucial industrial networks that can independently generate value.

The major distinction between the consumer/social Internets and the Industrial Internet is in how and how much value is produced. For consumer/social Webs, the majority of value is developed from advertisements. The value created from the Industrial Internet is much greater from the very same amount of data, and has 3 parts:

  • The value of enhanced efficiency of the industrial plant devices and long-term maintenance and management of the equipment. In our study this was found to be constantly above 10 % and as high as 25 %.
  • The value contribution to adjoining Industrial Internet networks, such as balancing short-term favorable cash flow against additional long-term equipment costs such as maintenance.
  • The value contribution of disruptive new business models is a wild-card that could, in a couple of cases, be dramatically high, or in most cases moderate or zero.


Big Data And The Consumer Internet

The amount of data created and stored in the world is growing exponentially, both since of the reducing cost of storing data (about 35 % per year) and because of the reduced cost of implementing and maintaining hyperscale storage systems based on open software. Most of the current IT storage technologies have their origins in technology designed for the consumer. The emergence of low cost hard disk drive, flash technologies, and the use of Intel x86 architectures as the default server platform for all volume systems have their origin in consumer products such as Computers and iPods.

Many of the data on the Internet today was created by consumer items, especially picture, audio, and video files. Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have been another source of data creation. Much of this data is held at low cost in vast business databases possessed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other country-specific search business. Apple and Facebook-based content is also growing quickly.

A lot of the value created by this data has been in consumer advertising. It is somewhat sobering to reflect that IT’s best minds are presently focused on improving the speed and quality of these advertisements.


The Industrial Internet

The creation of business value from IT technologies generally follows about two-to-four years after the initial introduction in the consumer space. EMC announced flash drives in enterprise storage systems in 2008, two years after their preliminary appearance in the Apple 2006 iPod Nano. The business versions are more effective, more resilient, and have higher cost-per-unit that the consumer versions.

The Industrial Internet has begun to connect industrial machines together, and extend them into other industrial networks. This can drive efficiencies in industrial machine operations but has potentially even greater value in adding to the efficiencies of second-order industrial networks. For example, avoiding the cost of a single power-generation turbine failure can be substantial, but this pales in contrast with the value of preventing a nation-wide interruption of the electrical grid.

The fundamental motorists of the Industrial Internet consist of:

Sensor technology advances:

Physical, chemical and biological sensors are rapidly evolving towards autonomous analytical devices that perform sophisticated analytical processes, using (for example) nano-structured materials and nano-materials such as conducting polymers and composites. This rapid sensor improvement gives rise to additional kinds of sensing units that are smaller, cheaper, and quicker, with lower power usage, and less overhead impact on the equipment being picked up.

Network Advances:

The advances and standardization in Internet network innovations allow fast and inexpensive promulgation of information from physical sensors to be combined with the avalanche of related business process and consumer activity data.

Business and Governmental Understanding of Potential Benefit:

  • Businesses are realizing that this data can be used to optimize cost and delivery of industrial services.
  • Businesses are also beginning to see opportunities for disruptive changes in industrial business models. One example is the opportunity for aviation engine manufacturers to offer an inclusive rental program for equipment and servicing, based on the expectation that enhanced feedback from the network of engines would result in improved design and reduced costs in manufacturing and maintenance. Early establishment of such an offering would lead to significant competitive advantage.
  • Governments are supporting greater use of sensor data to prevent catastrophic failure of key infrastructure networks such as power, water, and transport.

The meaning of the Industrial Internet for that reason consists of 2 key components:

  • The connection of industrial machine sensors and actuators to regional processing and to the Internet.
  • The onward connection to other vital industrial networks that can independently generate value.
    Industrial Internet Examples & Metrics


Examples of the Industrial Internet

Aircraft Engines

The connection of aviation engine sensing units (both during and after flight) to the Internet, and the onward connection of these to other networks designed to:

  • Forecast catastrophic engines failure;
  • Enhance maintenance of air travel engines on wear vs. traditional use;
  • Feedback from real-world environments into engine modeling and design.
  • Enable brand-new business models for engine manufacturers on a rental overall cost/hour basis rather than current purchase/maintenance model.


Wind farms

the connection of wind turbine sensors to the Internet, and the onward connection to other networks that enable:

  • Real-time optimization of profit based on potential power generation and the effect on turbine maintenance costs (the trade-off on $/ Watt on the open market vs. longer-term impact of driving equipment harder on maintaining wind turbines located in harsh environments).
  • Re-designing wind turbines to optimize on capital cost of parts vs. long-lasting maintenance expenses.
  • Providing resilience in the case of catastrophic failure of other parts of the power grid.

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