Any discussion of analytics today has to comprise some consideration of the effect of the industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, the spread of sensors and connected devices that are the source of much of the big data that analytics feeds on.
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How IoT sensors vary
The two traits of the new breed of sensors that are driving the revolution in IIoT, big data and analytics are that they are inexpensive, and they readily connect to and through the Internet. While many sensors and devices, programmable logic controllers, for instance have had either Internet or Ethernet LAN connectivity for years, connectivity has now become omnipresent and cheap.
And that makes all the difference. Whereas a few years ago it might have cost thousands to wire up a small section of a plant, or a piece of equipment to collect a few basic pieces of data, today they can be loaded with measurement devices, counters, video with image identification software and more, for a small fraction of the previous cost. Everything communicates "plug and play" through IP connections.
Where are they?
The IoT sensors and devices are replacing manual reporting, and absence of reporting, in apparent places where visibility into operations can improve performance. In the plant, IoT sensors directly attached to equipment and workstations can continuously monitor equipment cycles, timing, workpiece dimensions and other physical parameters, and more. But that's just the beginning. It is more feasible to track things outside of the plant.
- Accurate contents of each box, case, pallet, container and truckload along with serial numbers
- Location within the truck or container environment conditions, such as temperature, humidity
- And location through GPS.
Let's say that a company has frequently experienced shipping damage on a delicate piece of equipment despite what they thought was good packaging and loading into the truck. It can deploy the next shipment with accelerometers inside and outside the package, video cameras, pressure sensors and more, combined with GPS and precision timepieces to monitor the entire journey in great detail to recognize when and how the damage occurs.
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Why is your company equipping IoT sensors or planning to?
The masses of new data, and the kind of new data types, including video, click-streams and unstructured text, strain the capabilities of yesterday's data-management and analysis capabilities. Thus, the new breed of analytics is developing to not only "manage" huge data, but also to bring about new ways to combine traditional data with big data to generate useful business information.
To make it usable, modern analytics must be "consumerized," so that everyday users can build their own dashboards and analyses without the aid of programmers or data scientists.