What is the difference between IoT and IIoT?

IoT, or Internet of Things, refers simply to taking a device and connecting it to the internet. That could be something as complex as your smart phone or as simple as a toaster.

IIoT, or Industrial Internet of Things, is a subset of IoT that applies specifically to industrial settings. There’s a little more to it than that, but that’s the basic concept.

Given the specific demands of industrial settings, IIoT needs to be more robust and flexible than most IoT devices. Some characteristics that set IIoT apart from IoT include:

  • High levels of security – Industrial security needs to be ironclad to maintain reliability. No unauthorized persons should be able to hack industrial processes.
  • Cross compatibility – IIoT devices need to coexist with numerous other operations technologies and OSs. Often, this requires the software to be fully programmable and scalable.
  • Absolute precision – Industrial IoT devices need to function in an environment where the slightest millisecond’s difference can disrupt entire processes.
  • Resilience – Industrial settings require high levels of durability and reliability. IIoT devices have a harder time failing than consumer IoT devices.
  • Consistent connectivity – There’s much less tolerance for latency in industrial settings than other environments. Data needs to be transmitted quickly and reliably at all times.
  • Automation – For the sake of maintaining efficiency, the less human interfacing needed, the better.
  • Serviceability – Consistent maintenance is key, including for software. The system needs to be accessible enough to allow regular servicing.

Essentially, IIoT is held to much more rigorous standards than conventional IoT. It’s designed for higher-risk applications, such as:

  • Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance on critical assets
  • Automating industrial processes, such as assembly lines or supply chains
  • Smart robotics systems that perform numerous tasks
  • Logistics management
  • Industrial security
  • Airline monitoring
  • Energy usage monitoring

And those are just scratching the surface. As the technology develops, we will probably see more and more IIoT applications at every level of industrial processes.