Find out how an IIoT connected workplace helps improve EHS functions.

Are you ready for a connected working environment? Do you want to predict machine failures and prevent workplace injuries?

Then the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is your answer.

The industrial Internet of Things simply means all your workplace equipment – including PPE and machinery – is connected to the internet. Futhermore, the equipment’s data is collected and stored in the cloud.

Read more: A Guide to Wearable Tech in EHS »

Upon completion, IIoT is powerful. Your workplace equipment is pulled into a capable and connected system. As a result, improved repeatability, traceability and security.

In turn, the real-time automated reports let you make fast and efficient EHS decisions.

What is the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

The Internet of Things is an umbrella term for everyday objects connected to the internet. For instance, smart energy meters, wearable tech and smartphones.

These ‘smart’ objects connect and ‘talk’ to each other. Moreover, automated IoT “gathers information, analyses it and creates an action.”

For example, the FitBit. The fitness device tracks data on your activity levels and quality of sleep, which it then sends to your smartphone. There you can view the information in digestible graphs.

The FitBit 'gathers information' on your activity, and ‘talks’ to your smartphone.

The industrial Internet of Things is similar. The only difference is the environment - IIoT is for industries. Therefore, manufacturing, retail, utility and transport industries are at the IIoT forefront.

In these working environments, equipment connected to the internet includes smart sensors and machine 'movers' (actuators). Like to the IoT, these manufacturing devices 'talk' to each other. Similarly, the resulting data is stored in the cloud.

By implementing the industrial Internet of Things, enterprises benefit from predictive maintenance and better facility management.

In a 2019 study, 82% of respondents have implemented, piloted or are thinking about implementing a workplace IIoT system. Futhermore, 51% of companies using IIoT collect data on equipment status.

However, there are strong links between IIoT and an improvement in workplace EHS.

How EHS and IIoT Works Together

IIoT is quickly gaining popularity in the EHS space. Let’s look at three ways the industrial Internet of Things benefits health and safety.

Monitors equipment failures

In the UK alone, unplanned machine downtime in manufacturing costs £180 billion annually.

In terms of health and safety, faulty machinery puts workers in danger.

So, the IIoT gathers information on the status of workplace machinery and equipment. Sensors attached to the equipment monitors the machinery's status. The information gathered by the sensors, combined with advanced analytics, makes faults detectable before they even happen.

Futhermore, you can use this data to make maintenance predictions.

Predicts injuries with data analytics

When tracking so much workplace equipment, you end up with a lot of data.

To put it simply, big data is just that: a lot of data.

As a result, it become possible to extensively analyze it. With these useful insights, you can see trends and improve your workplace’s EHS program.

By incorporating data analytics into EHS, we see a reduction in injuries, an increase in identified risks and savings in costs.

Moreover, predicative analytics are very powerful. One report found that analytics predicated workplace injuries with a 97% accuracy rate.

Moreover, one company reduced its injury rate by 67% in 18 months by using predictive analytics.

Industrial wearables tracks human error and more

Wearables have flooded the technology market over the past 15 years. Now, vendors are meeting the demand for workplace safety technology.

For example, a 2018 Verdantix report found that 58% respondents regard industrial wearables significant to their upcoming operational risk management initiatives.

To clarify, industrial wearables are wearable tech used in industrial settings to improve productivity, safety and efficiency.

Industrial wearables' primary functions:

  1. Track worker location
  2. Oversee vital signs and environmental risks
  3. Mitigate risks by issuing information remotely
  4. Reduce exposure to musculoskeletal injuries
  5. Improve staff training

The security risks of IIoT

Above all, the process of moving your company to the industrial Internet of Things is complex. To avoid a security risk, the process must be thoroughly planned out.

In fact, cybersecurity is the biggest barrier for enterprises switching to IIoT.

However, after implementation, the IIoT system is separate from company network systems, making it secure from remote threats.

To ensure a secure system, factor security checks and maintenance into your cost analysis – they are crucial.

A move to IIoT is a complete equipment overhaul. In other words, it is no small task!

Benefits of IIoT

Don’t worry. While a connected system is a lot of work, the benefits are worth it:

  • Real-time insights and updates on machine’s performance and safety status
  • Sensors monitoring and reporting on high-risk areas
  • Predicting and preventing workplace injuries
  • Quicker and more accurate risk mitigation

Conclusion

The industrial Internet of Things is hard to get your head round, no doubt about it. However, accessing such large swathes of data and the ability to make intelligent predictions is worth it - certainly from an EHS standpoint.

Keep reading: A Guide to Wearable Safety Technology in EHS »

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Charles Richard is a progressive leader who can identify, initiate, and deliver the analysis that can leverage the data and information needed to generate increased business value. Charles has 8 years of Busines Analyst Experience, all with Tatvasoft.co.uk.