The Industrial IoT is one of the most prominent digitalization-related global transformation trends occurring today. The elusive concept refers to the rapid and continuous growth of network-connected sensors, devices and services enabling new, smart ways of exploiting collected information.
Industrial IoT technologies allow real-time monitoring of devices, services and processes, bringing more opportunities to anticipate, automate and streamline, for example, factory production lines, road systems, and manufacturing and business processes. At best, by measuring and collecting – and especially by analysing and refining – collected data, companies can provide new smart technology and service innovations. According to Timo Majala, the Director of Nodeon Oy, a company specializing in Industrial IoT solutions, we are moving to a new era. Information is more and more automatically generated by sensors and devices for data analytics and decision-making is based on predictive algorithms.
The sphere of influence of the Industrial IoT, and more generally, of digitalisation, extends to all industries. You can see terms relating to it everywhere. People talk about big data, artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, geographic data and cyber security. According to Majala, each of these has its own important role in the development of the Industrial IoT. In the field of technology specifically; Finland is seeking to gain a new competitive edge, and to have leading positions in the global digital economy.
The intelligent transport systems
According to Majala, Industrial IoT related innovations can be seen around all industries. As an example, Majala mentions intelligent transport systems, one of the key expertise areas of Nodeon, which has been very active in adopting Industrial IoT technologies. New, sophisticated applications are being developed for real-time situational awareness of traffic conditions, traffic safety, new service models, automatization, and maintenance areas.
As an example of the development of traffic infrastructure, Majala mentions Finland’s most advanced traffic-tunnel control system just commissioned by Nodeon in Tampere, the size of which is comparable to the size of an automation system in a medium-sized industrial plant. The control system detects, with the help of sensors and measuring devices, the changes in traffic situations and conditions as well as hazardous situations inside the tunnel, and controls the tunnel traffic management and safety devices accordingly. The system reacts to changes and ensures the safety of those in the tunnel, by, for example, warning signs, lane signals, speed limits, impulse blowers and access control.
What are the risks?
The risk related to the Industrial IoT is a constantly growing topic of discussion. According to Majala, this is important, as it is easy to imagine threats arising from the activity, how autonomously functioning, network placed sensors, and artificial intelligence-based systems could be threatened by the means of cybercrime.
Majala knows what he is talking about. Nodeon has been involved in several projects where people’s lives have depended on the operation of the systems. “In the current year, we have also been developing a cyber security simulation environment used, among other things, in Finland’s national cyber security exercises. Developers of applications for the Industrial IoT have a great responsibility for information security and robustness of the systems”, says Majala.