4 Major Consequences of Unreliable Industrial IoT Connectivity
Pervasive wireless connectivity is a major driving force behind the IoT revolution and a fundamental building block in its architecture. In Industrial IoT, network reliability is a top priority. Because industrial applications are often mission-critical, failing to get the message through, particularly in times of emergency, can result in costly and even disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, not all wireless connectivity options are created equal, so selecting the right technology for your use case, is paramount to the long-term success of your IoT project and the realization of IoT’s innumerable benefits. Without it, organizations lack the necessary visibility into existing processes, equipment and production that empowers strategic decision-making.
Here are 4 major consequences of unreliable IoT connectivity in industrial environments.
1. Unplanned Downtime
According to the Vanson Bourne Research Study, roughly 82 percent of companies that have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years, have experienced outages that lasted an average of four hours costing an estimated two million dollars. Eighty percent of companies recognize that IoT can eliminate this unplanned downtime, and zero unplanned downtime is now the number one priority for 72% of organizations.
Wireless IoT sensors can capture and communicate many key health and operational metrics like pressure, vibration, temperature, humidity, and voltage of machines and equipment across an entire industrial complex. When there is a disruption to connectivity and data communication, you lose visibility into current production processes and asset performance. Likewise, the analytical models that proactively predict impending issues and schedule demand-based inspection and reparation are no longer accurate, putting your organization at risk of costly unplanned downtime.
2. Worker Safety
An estimated 13,455,000 workers in manufacturing industries are at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the top three leading causes of work-related injuries in the U.S. are: overexertion; slips, trips and falls; and contact with objects and equipment. Together, these account for more than 84% of all nonfatal accidents on the job. As a result, many organizations have adopted wireless IoT technologies to prevent incidents before they occur. For example, IoT wearables that track personal health parameters or that are equipped with sensing capabilities such as fall detection can alert safety control centers in real-time when an accident occurs or when a worker’s personal health data reaches a certain level. This allows managers to initiate an immediate emergency response or advise workers to take breaks in the case of overexertion. Similarly, sensors that measure critical ambient conditions such as atmospheric gases, radiation, heat and humidity can notify workers immediately when dangerous thresholds are encroaching for quick evacuation. Without reliable connectivity, these real-time data flows come to a grinding halt, putting your workers health and safety in jeopardy.
3. Product Quality
Another significant issue with unreliable industrial IoT connectivity is quality control. Using wireless IoT sensors to monitor and control production equipment has become paramount to the quality of manufactured goods. Technicians are constantly using this data to recalibrate equipment and optimize production lines to ensure consistent process parameters and eliminate time-wasting inefficiencies. Likewise, monitoring and controlling ambient conditions like temperature and humidity plays a significant role in product quality and safety across the entire supply chain, particularity in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. Disruptions to connectivity and data accessibility can derail your production, increase product waste and ultimately impact your customer relationships.
4. Increased Costs
The flow of timely and accurate IoT data gives actionable insights that drive change, particularly when it comes to cutting costs. From lowering overall maintenance costs with predictive maintenance principles and increasing worker safety and productivity to identifying and resolving bottlenecks in production and reducing energy consumption and fuel consumption, there are numerous ways that IoT can improve your bottom line. Unreliable IoT connectivity not only disrupts these cost cutting initiatives but can also put your overall IoT investment at risk. This makes choosing the right technology critical to avoid an expensive rip and replace migration.
The IoT value chain essentially starts with data accessibility and choosing the right industrial IoT connectivity solution will ultimately impact the success of your IoT initiative. There’s a plethora of wireless technologies in the market, but not all of them can keep up with the demanding industrial environments. Long-range, deep penetration and high interference immunity of the radio link are key to reliable data communications over large industrial campuses. Also, you’ll want to have a unified communications solution that can extract data from existing industrial networks and support a new layer of granular, battery-operated sensor networks for complete operational visibility. In this context, low power consumption and massive network scalability are other critical wireless criteria not to overlook.
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