Industrial Internet Of Things Benefits, 2024 Trends, Examples & Challenges

When you’re a facility manager or systems engineer, it isn’t always easy to step away or “punch out” at the end of the day. A busted pipe, failing motor, wiring failure, or any number of issues can occur whether you’re there or not. And with each of these failures, comes safety risks and slowdowns for your floor. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can allow you to be present from anywhere, and even stave off disaster.

The IIoT market is set to break $1 billion globally by 2025, and for good reason: it allows for unprecedented insights, business intelligence, and preventative maintenance. But, with many factories and manufacturing locations using older equipment, not everything is equipped with smart sensors and the like.

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Are you stuck buying all new equipment?  Or, can you retrofit “dumb devices” to make them compatible with a more efficient future?

What is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), or industrial IoT, is the technology that allows for advanced analytics and insights pulled from manufacturing processes and equipment. This is made possible using advanced software and applications, coupled with smart industrial and manufacturing components that communicate with the online ecosystem, including: 

  • Smart sensors: Used to detect various equipment stats, like heating or voltage, as well as the movement of people around a facility.

  • Smart IoT actuators: Components that allow certain equipment to move, with the ability to track the number of rotations/movements, run time, etc.

  • Human-machine interfaces: Displays that allow people to interact with a piece of equipment.

  • Edge devices: Equipment that connects local networks with a cloud or data center, which is essential to networking and uploading information from local devices.

The above is only a sampling of the many pieces of equipment and technology that make the IIoT and smart factories possible. Keep in mind there are numerous unique software platforms, apps, and devices that power the IIoT, and newer manufacturing devices that already come with smart capabilities out of the box.

7 benefits of investing in IIoT

The IIoT comes with a number of benefits, which vary depending on your industry and the kinds of equipment you work with. Despite these variables, there are several core benefits that apply to most situations.

1. Increased operational efficiency and productivity

With IIoT-enabled devices and workflows, you can closely monitor how every piece of equipment is performing. Not only this, you can also look at how efficient the processes or workflows themselves are, comparing current data to previous periods.

With this information, you can then identify which workflows or pieces of equipment appear to be behind par, and make adjustments as needed. Then, you can see how the equipment or workflows improve and continue to tweak elements until you’re happy with the results. With these improvements to workflows, you can even see a boost in product quality and overall sustainability.

2. Improved asset utilization and reduced downtime

Do you have a piece of equipment that’s commonly down for maintenance? And how can you even determine what constitutes regular maintenance, versus accidental neglect? With the IIoT, you can closely monitor the performance of your equipment and prevent catastrophic failures and unnecessary maintenance.

For example, with IIoT-enabled devices, you can keep track of when you typically need to service a piece of equipment. This allows you to plan ahead and schedule maintenance before it’s required, and during off hours.

3. Enhanced safety through real-time monitoring and alerts

Equipment or machine failure can cost you production time and revenue, but more importantly — it can cost human lives. Fortunately, Industrial IoT devices can help you prevent catastrophic failure and improve worker safety. With real-time monitoring of devices and automated alerts, you can properly turn off equipment before disaster strikes. Incidents involving being struck by objects or equipment are one of the leading causes of workplace injury, so it’s important you do everything you can to prevent this from happening.

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4. Predictive maintenance to prevent equipment failures

Again, the IIoT allows you to monitor equipment and performance in real time. Not only does this help prevent disaster and safety-related issues, it also allows you to turn off equipment before it fails completely.

For example, say you have a motor that’s overheating but no way to constantly monitor the temperature. Typically you wouldn’t know it’s overheating until a scheduled check, or worse, visual indication like smoke or total failure of the motor. With smart sensors, you can see and be alerted to the temperature rising before it hits a critical threshold and take remediation steps.

5. Data-driven insights for informed decision-making

The IIoT takes out the guesswork, allowing you to make data-driven business decisions. This is because IIoT can provide data on the following, and more:

  • Provides data on the environment, such as air quality, moisture, etc…

  • Behavioral data, including which machines are used when, and which paths are taken most

  • Total outputs for equipment and lines

  • Energy usage, both across the org and per device

  • Automation performance, from outputs to downtime

With the above information, you can make more informed decisions around which equipment to upgrade, if pathways and workflows are optimized, potential maintenance costs, and more.

6. Greater flexibility and adaptability in production processes

In the pre-Industrial Internet of Things days, it was virtually impossible to check on equipment and manufacturing locations without actually being there. (Save a phone call with maintenance or management.)

The IIoT makes it possible for you and your team to see how equipment is performing, what maintenance needs are on the horizon, which locations are running smoothly, and more — no matter where you are.

Not only does IIoT allow you the flexibility of checking on production from anywhere, it also allows you to pivot quicker. When you have access to the vast data and insights provided by the IIoT, you can see issues before they’re out of control and react sooner, map out new workflows faster, and ultimately adapt to virtually anything the market throws at you.

7. Automation and smart manufacturing

In many cases, the combination of sensors, smart actuators, equipment, and IIoT solutions can allow for the automation of existing workflows and industrial processes. 

For example, it’s not uncommon for workers to manually track and log data within industrial operations. Using the right platform and IIoT technology,  you can have your systems automatically log data and upload it into the IIoT application(s) you’re using. This removes the manual work of tracking and logging data and frees your team up to focus on previously-neglected work.

Whether manufacturing or industrial automation, the ability to retrofit “dumb” devices makes it possible to automate processes that were previously manual.

Top emerging IIOT trends in 2024

The Industrial Internet of Things isn’t new, but it’s changing rapidly. In 2024 and beyond, there are a number of trends you can expect to see take hold.

Increase in pairing digital twins with IIOT technologies

As more organizations push for remote accessibility, digital twins will have a larger and more important role. Digital twins make it possible to virtually visit any space regardless of location. Coupled with IIoT data, and you can even get analytics and real-time equipment performance in a virtual space.

Widespread adoption of 5G

5G networks are rapidly expanding, allowing for connections up to 20x faster than 4G. This will allow IIoT devices to communicate faster, giving data that’s as real-time as possible.

More edge computing applications

Edge computing advances make it possible to do more of the processing locally, rather than via cloud computing. This will allow for more ownership of data, faster results, and the ability to handle more business intelligence in-house.

Artificial intelligence integrations

Advanced AI and machine learning will continue to make inroads in IIoT devices and platforms, allowing equipment and beyond to learn as it goes, driving further optimizations.

Real-world applications of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The Industrial Internet of Things has a number of real-world applications, from helping digitize operations to streamlining production lines.

Digitizing manufacturing operations

The IIoT, coupled with digital twin technology, makes it possible to truly digitize manufacturing operations. Digital twins are ideal for delivering lifelike virtual tours, while IIoT information can deliver the depth of information remotely as one would have access to in-person.

Siemens, the global manufacturing powerhouse, used Matterport’s Digital Twin platform to capture and faithfully recreate their spaces virtually. From there they used the Matterport SDK (software development kit) to pull real-time IoT data into their virtual tours. This allowed Siemens teammates from around the globe to see real-time IoT data, with the context of the virtual space to help. With the help of Matterport’s popular Measurement tool, the team could even confirm space and equipment measurements and dimensions remotely via the digital twin.

In the end, executives from Siemens were able to perform comprehensive reviews of various locations and analyze assembly processes in great detail — without everyone cramming into the same physical space.

Predictive maintenance

Maintenance is unavoidable, whether you’re in manufacturing or elsewhere. Equipment will break. But, maintenance doesn’t have to be catastrophic and break the bank, either.

Using IIoT-connected devices, you can monitor the heat of equipment, get accurate usage statistics to determine wear and tear, and more. All of this information can help you predict when something might need maintenance, especially when compared to maintenance records from other equipment. Some IIoT systems even use artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics pulled from your smart devices to further streamline predictive maintenance.

Real-time heat and usage analytics are especially useful for predictive maintenance. Again, in the past, you’d only know a motor or the like was overheating when something went wrong. With real-time data collection, you can have a better response time and pull the plug before disaster strikes, avoiding even more expensive maintenance. And as an added perk, your energy management efforts can benefit from this same information.

Streamlining process optimization

Information is power, especially where manufacturing and process optimization are concerned. With the data provided by IIoT-connected devices, you can not only optimize processes like never before but even streamline optimization itself.

For example, you can use digital twins to reduce travel costs and time by offering virtual tours of real spaces. Then, you can bring in real-time IIoT data to run virtual inspections, collaborate on process optimization, figure out new workflows or pathways around spaces, and ultimately streamline manufacturing processes like never before.

Learn from Forrester how you can quickly react to change in the manufacturing world

Risks and challenges associated with IIoT

While IIoT exists to largely make your life easier, this doesn’t mean there aren’t risks and challenges in this space. 


Like any connected device, IIoT devices are vulnerable to hacking and other online security threats. Cybersecurity risks for IIoT devices are twofold, in that breaches can occur externally via a network, or internally via an employee.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to strengthen your IIoT security.

  1. Make sure your network is well protected and that all outgoing data is encrypted. This makes it more difficult for any external threat to get your data.

  2. Use edge devices to bring more of your IIoT processes in-house. While this won’t prevent cloud-related issues, it will ensure more of your information is localized.

  3. Regularly update your network security and all IIoT device firmware, as these updates can patch major vulnerabilities.

  4. Run regularly scheduled security audits to look for any gaps in your security.

Security is a full-time job, especially where the IIoT is concerned. If your IT department is lacking, consider building out an IT team or hiring an agency.

Retrofitting “dumb” devices

It’s not uncommon for manufacturing locations to have older equipment, or “dumb” devices, that predate IIoT tech. Fortunately, you can still make these devices IIoT compatible.

Depending on the device, you may need to start by swapping the legacy sensors out with smart sensors that are IIoT compatible. Then, you need to make sure your network is set up properly for IIoT, and that legacy devices are capable of interfacing with the network. You may need a gateway device to make the latter happen.

You also need to set up the right software to ensure you can access all the IIoT data you'll be receiving. Ideally, you should find a single platform that can handle all your various sources of data, or at the very least, a platform that allows for plug-ins.

Lastly, you need the right IIoT security in place, per the previous point.

Training and education

Going from pre-IIoT devices to IIoT-compatible devices and software is a big leap. This typically entails training and the time and cost that goes with it.

If you don’t have anyone internal that can help with training, bring in a consultancy or agency that specializes in IIoT devices. Assign internal stakeholders that are comfortable owning their part of manufacturing. These people can act as training leads and help their team stay current with any updates.

It’s important you hold regular training sessions, as software and device interfaces will update and change over time. The benefits of IIoT devices can only be realized if your team is trained up and capable of using them to the fullest!


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