By Ram Ramaseshan, Senior VP and Head, Automotive and Industrials Business Units, Sasken Technologies Limited
We are at the verge of the fourth industrial revolution wherein the industrial sector is seeing a plethora of opportunities for both businesses and consumers. The adoption of IIoT across industries is a major breakthrough that is here to stay and will see increased adoption as more use-cases become apparent and the technology infrastructure matures to support its growth.
IIoT has paved its way through technology with a vision to evolve the conventional manufacturing set-up. At the core of IIoT is ‘connectivity’ and any factory layout/equipment that has sensors connected to the internet is a part of the IIoT ecosystem, lending itself to IIoT enablement and the entire framework is the smart factory.
The concept, powered by the ubiquitous IoT, impacts all industries such as aviation, agriculture, energy and health care, manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation, utility etc, to name a few. It can be visualized as a virtual maze of connections where machines communicate to each other backed by an exchange of data, offering to be remotely managed and controlled.
Where are we with IIoT today?
• The year 2017 is expected to witness a fundamental shift in terms of industries embracing the IIoT trends. IIoT has begun to and will radically change economies and business models.
• According to a 2016 global IoT survey, nearly 40% of organizations have embarked on their IoT journey already and about 57% are currently planning to get started at different levels and rates of adoption, of course.
• What’s more, yet another research indicates that 73% of companies are investing more than 20% of their overall technology budget on Big Data analytics which is a key component in building any company’s scientific model.
With such heavy investments being made, IIoT is churning into reality today which is expected to grow multi-fold in times to come.
How can IoT affect the global industrial setup?
The current connected ecosystem is driving the world towards an era of digital transformation. This transformational journey from physical to digital brings about enormous data generation. Making sense out of this data requires a connected industrial eco-system which is where IIoT is leading the world to.
The key aspects to consider for 2017:
• While there is stated interest and intent on part of organizations to get on the IIoT bandwagon, it is to be noted that most shop floors have legacy controllers that have been around for 20/30+ years which are a deterrent to IIoT deployments. Enabling these legacy systems to be connected to the IIoT gateway is a significant next step.
• Industry wide connectivity will be the next key requirement. To decipher and make quick sense out of the IoT gathered data, the factory sensors and other devices will have to be intra-connected, therefore driving need for every aspect of the eco-system to be connected.
• Predictive maintenance and remote asset management will emerge as two of the vital IIoT solutions for yielding better productivity and outcomes.
• Wearable technologies such as smart glasses and helmets will become more known to factory workers to help them perform intricate jobs, eventually reduce errors and importantly reduce/eliminate accidents in manufacturing line.
• Ability to impact the entire product life-cycle is significantly enhanced through IIoT – opportunity to continuously improve the product after it is delivered/while it is in use is an interesting use-case of IIoT. Predictive maintenance has a new meaning now!
• While a reliable IT infrastructure will be the backbone for successful IIoT implementation and also increased adoption, harmonization of ‘tribal’ manufacturing knowledge with technology understanding and evolution will hold the key to a successful deployment and value realization.
Businesses are all about understanding the present to anticipate the future. Big Data analytics catering to a data driven decision making can empower industries with significant operational advancement and saving opportunities, bringing about better visibility into manufacturing operations.
While the interest and intent is quite palpable, how IIoT will pan out in future depends upon how sooner, how quicker and to what scale organizations will adopt it. The direction is clear, however, the path will be defined better in the days ahead.