The Crucial Role of IoT in Industrial Automation - Importance & Impact

July 21, 2023
The Crucial Role of IoT in Industrial Automation - Importance & Impact

A phenomenon has come to the forefront as we continue to ride the wave of the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. It is playing an ever-increasing role in transforming the landscape of industrial operations. 

What is it? 

The Internet of Things (IoT). 

IoT is the game-changer in our increasingly connected world, revolutionizing everything from everyday appliances to industrial machinery. And it is rapidly transforming the industrial automation landscape. 

With the capability to connect physical machines, devices, and systems through a network, IoT has enabled new levels of productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. It is ushering in a new era of smart factories. 

As technology advances, companies are exploring more ways to leverage its potential for industrial automation. The opportunities are limitless, from leveraging IoT in manufacturing and logistics to overcoming the challenges associated with cyber security. 

Here, we will explore the role of IoT in industrial automation and how it can help shape a smarter future for businesses.

IoT and Industrial Automation: The Connection

To better understand how IoT in Industrial automation is revolutionizing the industry, we need to understand the connection between the two. Let's start with a simple one. 

What Is Industrial Automation? 

Industrial automation is the application of various control systems (computers and IT) for managing different processes and machinery in industries to replace human involvement. Essentially, it's the use of technology to perform tasks that would otherwise require human labor. 

Industrial automation is implemented using various technologies. This includes programmable logic controllers (PLCs), industrial PCs, SCADA systems, and, more recently, the IoT.

How IoT Plays a Part in Industrial Automation?

So, you know how we're increasingly using devices that talk to each other in our daily lives, right? Like how your smartphone can tell your home thermostat to adjust the temperature when you're heading back home. Well, this is IoT in action, where devices are connected via the internet to share and use data to perform tasks. 

Now, imagine that concept on a much larger industrial scale. In an industrial setting, machines, sensors, and humans can all be interconnected, exchanging data and making decisions in real time. This is where IoT truly shines in the realm of industrial automation. 

For instance, a sensor detects that a machine part is overheating on a production line. The sensor, being part of the IoT system, immediately communicates this information. The system can then automatically adjust the machine's operation to prevent damage. Or alert a human operator to take action. 

Here are some ways how IoT integrates into automation:

Real-Time Data Collection

IoT devices, such as sensors and smart machines, can collect vast amounts of data in real time from various points in an industrial process. 

Data Analysis and Insights

The data collected by IoT devices is sent to a central system, where it's analyzed to derive meaningful insights. Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms can identify patterns, trends, and anomalies. This is further used to optimize processes, predict equipment failures, or identify bottlenecks in production. 

Process Automation and Optimization

The insights derived from data analysis can be used to optimize industrial processes automatically. For example, suppose a sensor detects a drop in the efficiency of a machine. It could trigger an automatic response to address the issue, such as adjusting the machine's parameters or scheduling it for maintenance. 

Monitoring and Control 

IoT in industrial automation allows for remote monitoring and control of machinery and processes. This means that operators can oversee operations from anywhere in the world, using devices connected to the internet. This enhances flexibility and allows for quick responses to any issues. 

Predictive Maintenance

IoT can predict potential equipment failures by continuously monitoring the condition and performance of machinery. This leads to cost savings by allowing for planned maintenance, avoiding unexpected downtime, and extending the life of the equipment. Read on to learn more about predictive maintenance

Now that we have understood the connection between IoT and industrial automation, let’s discuss some of its applications.

Application of IoT in Industrial Automation

IoT has applications in various industries, leading to more efficient and productive industrial automation processes. Let's dive into some specific examples: 

1. Manufacturing

A significant application of IoT in manufacturing is in quality control and assurance. In the past, quality control often involved manual inspection, which could be time-consuming, costly, and prone to human error. 

However, IoT is revolutionizing this manufacturing area by enabling real-time, automated quality control. One example is Siemens' implementation of IoT in its electronics manufacturing plants. 

The company has equipped its production lines with a network of IoT sensors to monitor their process in real time. These sensors can collect various data, including temperature, pressure, vibration, and visual information. 

The collected data is then analyzed to detect deviations from the standard parameters that may indicate a quality issue. As a result, it helps reduce waste and ensure high quality and consistency in final products. 

Also, take a look at this manufacturer’s guide to scaling Industrial IoT.  

2. Agriculture

IoT is revolutionizing agriculture through precision farming. Sensors can be used to monitor various factors such as soil moisture levels, crop growth, and livestock health.

For example, John Deere, a leading agricultural machinery maker, has tractors equipped with IoT sensors and GPS. This is to provide farmers with precise data on crop health and weather conditions, thereby reducing waste and increasing yield.

3. Logistics and Supply Chain

Logistics is another field where IoT is making a significant impact. Take the example of DHL's SmartTrucks. They equipped their vehicles with IoT devices to track real-time to collect data like traffic conditions and delivery schedules. 

In doing so, they were able to optimize the route planning and reduce fuel consumption and delivery time. The end result contributed to both efficiency and sustainability. 

Learn more about how IoT is transforming supply chain management

4. Energy 

IoT in the energy sector plays a pivotal role in creating smart grids. A good example of this is Italy's Enel. The company has deployed over 30 million smart meters to monitor and optimize energy consumption. 

The result? 

Consumers could better understand their energy usage, while Enel could predict demand, manage supply efficiently, and quickly detect any faults in the system. 

5. Automotive

IoT is transforming automotive manufacturing and post-production services. Tesla, for instance, uses IoT for its vehicle production lines to monitor and optimize processes. They also use IoT in their electric vehicles to provide remote diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and over-the-air software updates. 

The development of electric vehicles is an intricate process. Manufacturers are finding it hard to find a smooth process as they had for ICE engines. Digital twins are helping them here. It's the future of manufacturing and uses IoT. 

Follow the link to learn more about the usage of digital twins in electric vehicles

6. Healthcare

IoT in healthcare brings about remote patient monitoring, smart sensors, and wearable devices. This enables personalized care and early detection of potential health issues. 

An example is Proteus Digital Health's ingestible sensors. When swallowed with medication, these sensors send data to healthcare providers about patients' medication adherence. This allows for real-time adjustment of treatment plans and better patient outcomes.

Now that we have understood the applications of IoT in Industrial Automation, let's see the impact IoT had on industrial automation. 

The Impact of IoT on Industrial Automation

IoT is radically reshaping the landscape of industrial automation, creating opportunities for enhanced efficiency, productivity, and flexibility. Simultaneously, it also presents some challenges that need to be navigated carefully.

Advantages of IoT in Industrial Automation 

Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity 

IoT helps optimize various industrial processes by enabling real-time monitoring and data analysis. This leads to increased productivity and efficiency. 

Improved Quality Control 

IoT allows for detailed tracking and analysis of production processes. This ensures high-quality output and reduces the rate of defects and wastage. 

Increased Safety 

By monitoring environmental conditions and detecting hazards, IoT enhances workplace safety. Protecting both employees and assets. For more about this, read how cloud-based IoT can enhance security

Better Decision-Making 

IoT devices offer data-driven insights that can be helpful in strategic decision-making. Doing so allows businesses to be more agile and responsive to the changes in the market. 

Challenges of IoT in Industrial Automation

Data Security and Privacy

Interconnectivity is the sole in IoT devices, which means that the data collected is transferred from one device to another. This could raise concerns about data privacy and security. Industrial systems are more prone to cyberattacks. Therefore would require robust security measures in place to protect their data. 


With numerous IoT devices and platforms available, ensuring they can communicate and work together seamlessly can be challenging. 

Data Overload

There are a lot of devices interconnected, collecting and passing data in an IoT environment. The volume of the generated data will be vast, and managing it can be daunting. Companies need to have robust data management and analysis systems in place to make the most of this data. 

Cost and Complexity of Implementation

Implementing IoT in industrial automation can be costly and complex, particularly for SMEs. It requires a significant investment in new equipment and possibly staff training. They might even have to hire more experienced employees, which may be beyond the reach of some companies. 

While IoT is offering considerable benefits, it's essential to understand and navigate these challenges. By doing so, they can fully harness the potential of IoT to drive their growth and success in the digital age.

Future trends and developments in IoT automation

As we look toward the future, it's clear that the IoT will continue to be a significant player in industrial automation. Here's a peek into what's on the horizon: 

1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Integration

As data becomes the new oil, using AI and machine learning in conjunction with IoT will further enhance automation capabilities. This pairing can lead to more advanced data analysis, better decision-making, and even autonomous machinery. 

2. Rise of Digital Twins

A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical object or system. Coupled with IoT, digital twins will become more prevalent, allowing for more accurate simulation and analysis of industrial processes. 

This technology can improve product design, optimize manufacturing processes, and reduce machinery downtime. Learn more about the use cases of digital twins

3. 5G and IoT

The rollout of 5G networks will dramatically improve the connectivity of IoT devices. This enables faster data transmission, more reliable connections, and the ability to connect more devices. This will pave the way for more complex and powerful IoT networks in industrial settings.

4. Edge Computing

With the growing volume of data generated by IoT devices, edge computing will become increasingly important. 

If you don't know - Edge computing is basically processing data closer to where it's generated, at the "edge" of the network. 

This shift can reduce latency, conserve network bandwidth, and improve data security. All these are critical factors in many industrial scenarios. 

5. Greater Emphasis on Cybersecurity 

The need for robust cybersecurity measures will intensify as reliance on IoT grows. We can expect advancements in IoT device security and the development of more sophisticated strategies to protect against cyber threats. 

6. Sustainability and Energy Efficiency 

With growing concerns about environmental sustainability, IoT will play a key role in enabling more energy-efficient industrial operations. IoT devices can monitor and optimize energy usage, helping industries to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Suggested Read: Green IoT for Businesses.

The future of IoT in industrial automation is brimming with exciting possibilities. As technology evolves, the synergy between IoT and industrial automation will become increasingly powerful. This can lead to a more connected, efficient, and sustainable industrial landscape. 

Embracing these trends will be key for businesses aiming to stay competitive in the Industry 4.0 era.


IoT in industrial automation has sparked a transformative shift in how industries operate. Businesses are now experiencing remarkable boosts in both efficiency and productivity. And not to mention how streamlined the decision-making process and operation monitoring have become. 

As more companies adopt IoT, we can expect greater automation and enhanced customer experiences. It has become imperative for businesses to leverage these advanced technologies if they are to stay ahead of the curve in the Industry 4.0 era. 

So train your existing crew, hire experienced personnel, or outsource the development. Partnering with tech experts can save time, money, and resources. Companies can focus on the things that matter while the partners ensure the quality development of the product. 

If you are looking for such partners, Toobler will be a great choice. They have dedicated teams with good command over the latest cutting-edge technologies like IoT, AI, and Digital twins. Take a look at their digital transformation solutions and see how they can help get a competitive edge. 

Contact the experts at Toobler and build your digital future together.