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According to global management consulting firm Bain & Company, long-term prospects for the industrial Internet of Things remain ambitious. However, many executives are resetting timeline expectations for reaching scale due to early adoption struggles. Notably, certain “darlings of IoT” like predictive maintenance have not lived up to the hype. And while Bain’s survey of 600 industrial customers shows increasing traction with ‘workhorse’ scenarios like remote monitoring and asset tracking, it exposes areas where many teams and vendors are struggling to deliver the goods. In the end, an iterative strategy focused on specific business outcomes remains critical.

Notably, Bain’s survey finds increasing concerns around integration with existing enterprise systems and data portability. Executives worry their visions for digital transformation will be restricted by internal skill gaps and proprietary vendor services. Understandably, they fear losing control of any data not managed by their own enterprise IT departments. Despite this, confidence remains high that an estimated 20 billion devices will be successfully connected by 2020.

Many executives feel the value proposition for industrial IoT is still emerging. For them, the ability to capitalize on this value and achieve better business results remains elusive. To address these challenges, Bain calls for organizations to build a new operating model and position themselves for long-term success in a connected world.

Recommendations for accelerating IoT adoption in the enterprise

First, Bain recommends industrial organizations choose specific, high-value use cases to tackle upfront. Prove out your ability to address security and other valid IT concerns. Then, adopt an iterative approach for demonstrating ROI and ease of enterprise integration.

Second, use experienced partners to address your gaps. Don’t try building everything yourself. Differentiation comes from the combination of acquired data with your industry-specific domain knowledge. We’ve seen manufacturing digital transformation initiatives stall out when internal engineering teams try to build their own IoT infrastructure. Software for collecting data (and system integration services) can be bought. Build your value, not your tools.  

Third, don’t expect overnight success. You’re building up organizational capabilities and working with a new set of specialized partners. Commit to a realistic investment timeline and prepare for change. You’ll likely need to bring in new, more entrepreneurial talent to drive your connected business model. At a minimum, empower your existing teams to think differently. Remember, you’re not rolling out a new CRM application. You’re transforming your enterprise. Act accordingly.

Fourth, industrial IoT revenue starts at the top. Executives must ensure the entire organization is aligned for transition to the new operating model. This requires both vision and clear communication. Unsurprisingly, those responsible for existing products and revenue streams fear cannibalization. Furthermore, IoT initiatives take time to meet traditional P&L requirements. If executives don’t create an environment where the new operating model can take root, prevailing forces will prevent its maturation while competitors move ahead.      

Prepare to scale the business

Eventually companies reach the point on their digital transformation journey where they’ve proven out their connected product technology and business concepts. Now what? Bain concludes with a method for assessing readiness to scale up your industrial IoT efforts.

To begin, how well do you understand the full potential of industrial IoT to your enterprise? IoT can dramatically impact the quality of manufactured products, service offerings, maintenance  procedures, and other areas of your enterprise. But what will this cost, and what will revenue look like once the system is deployed to production and fully commercialized?

Never forget, your competitors aren’t standing still. You can be sure they’re working on their own industrial IoT initiatives. What is your plan to win in this new arena?

Additionally, scaling IoT requires incentives alignment and coordinated execution across the enterprise. Engineering, IT, service, sales, and business teams must work together for organizations to realize the benefits of digital transformation. Make sure everyone understands their part and is rowing in the same direction.

Bain summarizes their last recommendation with a sentiment that we refer to as “strategy over software.” By strategy, we mean not just a plan, but a comprehensive roadmap, organization structure, and business model across the enterprise to support the success of your industrial IoT initiative.

Digital transformation is a journey

As you start your journey, you’re going to need an industrial IoT platform. Whether it makes sense to build your own or buy one depends on a variety of factors. But digital transformation isn’t just about technology. As Bain notes repeatedly, it’s about so much more. Business models and sales strategies, along with clear user stories, team roles, and responsibilities are equally critical to successful IoT initiatives. Beyond a platform, an experienced digital transformation partner can accelerate planning, implementation, and successful commercialization of your connected systems.

 
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Iot and IIoT has made it a long way in the past several years. In fact, according to Forbes, trillions of dollars are at stake as the Industrial Internet of Things rolls out over the next decade. But, has the multi-tillion dollar trend lived up to the hype?

It could be many more years until certain industries reach the levels described in the hype.  Here’s the industries you should keep your eye on when it comes to IIoT technology.

The Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT and IIoT, respectfully), widely encompasses many concepts, technologies, and products, but can generally be described as:

  • A system that contains wired or wirelessly connected components which relay data that can be analyzed or used to control an output of the system
  • A network that allows for automated information exchange between two devices
  • A vision where any and all systems are connected to gather masses of data that will lead to overall improved performance, insights, and control

As of 2018, we most commonly see IoT being used for location tracking, remote monitoring, and preventative maintenance.  Yet, for IIoT the most common application is preventative maintenance. Many of these IIoT systems report back to a control interface, and are not completely automated control loops that are self-evaluating or self-improving.

 

There are some industries in particular that stand out when looking at the IIoT.  We looked at trends that will progress through the end of 2018 into 2019, and asked the following questions.

  1. What industries will be most affected by IoT solutions?

According to BI Intelligence, the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries have received the highest amount of investment in IoT to date.  These investments, totaling $230B between the two industries over the past few years, will continue to drive impressive progress in the development of IoT solutions. 

  1. Who will be the key players in IIoT Solutions in 2019?

We are currently witnessing a race to capture the IIoT market.  AT&T is collaborating with Honeywell, Verizon offers a machine-to-machine (M2M) management platform called ThingSpace, and startups like Uptake Technologies are raising absurd amounts of capital to compete with existing analytics giants. Uptake alone has raised $218M since 2015, and specializes in analytics of complex data sets. 

Nearly all of the corporate giants you would expect to have a stake in the race are putting serious resources behind their efforts.  GE is offering Predix, and end-to-end Industrial IoT Platform, and has incorporated capabilities like Predix Edge to allow for edge computing within the platform.  Siemens offers their own Industrial IoT platform called MindSphere, and Bosch is also getting in on the action now offering their IoT Suite publicly available on AWS Marketplace. Further, Schneider Electric developed WonderWare and SAP offers Hana.

We expect that through 2019 we will see more partnerships develop, offering cross compatibility between the many platforms which are available today.

  1. What further developments in IIoT can we expect in the near future?

Security will continue to be a major focus for all providers and users of the IIoT.   In a recent publication Steve Watson, CEO of VTO Labs, explains “security and specifically the ability to detect compromised nodes, together with collecting and preserving evidences of an attack or malicious activities emerge as a priority in successful deployment of IoT networks.” This ability to detect and preserve evidence of a cyber-attack will not only need to occur through edge computing, but it will also need to be maintain its integrity with interoperability of different systems that are linked together.

Given the amount of investment we are seeing in the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries we expect to see many breakthroughs in both cyber security for the IIoT and interoperability between the many IIoT platforms. Looking into 2019 we can expect to see more partnerships between major sensor providers and network providers, such as the AT&T Honeywell collaboration we saw in 2018. With more interoperability and collaboration, 2019 may be the year that we see the major breakthroughs in IIoT we’ve been expecting.

 

About the Author: Taylor Welsh is a writer for a Speedtronic reseller, located in Fuquay-Varina, NC. To see more, visit AX Control.

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A field guide describing the 5 approaches to industrial IoT platform development and how to know which approach is the right one for your enterprise based on your goals, requirements, constraints, and where you are today in your digital transformation journey.
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Augmented Reality has been here for some time. Among consumer level products, Pokémon Go was one prime example of primitive level Augmented Reality, it only took a decent smartphone. Lately, some of the social media and networking apps, especially the ones that feature a 24-hour story option e.g. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are using the basic technologies of Augmented Reality to draw masks and filters over the users’ faces. This is real-time and accurate, and fun nonetheless. However, augmented reality face filters and industrial augmented reality, also known as IAR is vastly different. The first one can act on generic smartphone hardware across a wide range of devices whereas the latter needs proprietary software and hardware. The margin of error in IAR practically needs to be negligible, and there should not be any prominent lag in the system to maintain a precise production output. Augmented Reality has become a thing in 2017, and we believe the inflection point for Industrial Augmented Reality will be around 2018 – 2019.

Augmented Reality in the Production Line

Everyone that works down in the core production facility, e.g. the supervisors, the technicians and the field workers could really benefit by using AR and 3D imagery on top of a real object to speed up the designing and implementation process. A 3D augmented reality model could be drawn in the head-worn VR helmet in 3D space, generated by data received from IoT based sensors placed at different crucial points to build up an effective model. Also, IAR might not necessarily require VR headsets. There are different aspects of AR and workers in a production facility could access them using smartphones, tablets or proprietary handheld devices. As of yet, renowned VR devices in production are being used in several industries - Google Glass Enterprise and Microsoft HoloLens have made their cut. The emergence of IoT and rapid development in the same field would certainly ensure a competitive market of IoT sensors and VR helmets for IAR in the upcoming years. Workers in different industries – production, oil drilling, mining, assembly line etc. will never look the same in a few years!

Challenges in the Application of AR in Industries

Creating the AR ecosystem is the major challenge in switching to a completely AR based industry from old-school manual technologies. Assembly line workers do the same repetitive tasks every day and it doesn’t matter how boring their jobs might be, they have gotten used to doing it. Introducing a new technology could set back production by bigger numbers, cause serious trouble in the supply chain and jeopardize a company’s trades. In technology spectrum, the available IoT sensors are still mostly generic. Depending on what an industry would produce, these sensors will need to change and become more customizable and specific.

IAR Application in Industries

So far, implementation of IAR is seen in the following industries –

• Manufacturing: Boeing is one of the first adopters to put AR in their mainstream production line. A few automobile makers have initiated beta versions of their IAR.

• Military: US Air Force has been using a fully functional AR system for some select models of their air crafts since 1992. Louis Rosenberg was the mastermind behind creating the system.

• Healthcare & Medical: To carry out dangerous surgical operations in sensitive organs, such as the brain and heart, a combination of VR and AR is used by surgeons.

• Education: A picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine how many words a demonstration through AR would be?

• Tourism: Yelp Monocle and Word Lens are two AR based smartphone apps that use augmented reality to provide the user with relevant information.

IAR is the Future

Pokémon Go or Snapchat are fun, but they aren’t the only applications AR is capable of doing. With IAR in the rise, the production lines are going to be more productive and competitive than ever.  Whats your take, do you think IAR will be the next best thing? or is the learning curve too high to be worth the investment?

Greg Conrad is a writer for Ax Control

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What options do you have for remotely monitoring Water and Fluids with Industrial IoT sensor telemetry?

IIoT or Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) is everywhere. It’s across all industries, from high tech transport, to natural resources and governments. IIoT software and hardware is deployed for numerous, varying applications, and it’s critical to understand just what the customer needs. Especially since the customer can’t always articulate exactly what the remote monitoring and sensor telemetry should do. According to a study performed by Verizon: the worldwide Internet of Things market spend will grow from $591.7 billion in 2014 to $1.3 trillion in 2019. That’s tremendous.

One of the areas that we’ve seen recent growth is water and fluid monitoring. Water comes to us as a life sustaining asset and also as a force of destruction. The utility of water needs to be measured and monitored in order to effectively and efficiently use our greatest natural resource. Similarly, monitoring the destructive force of water can be just as important. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can measure and monitor water!

 

Flow Meters

Flow meters calculate the amount of water that flows through them. Flow meters are everywhere from your house to your office, to anywhere and everywhere water is used. Measuring water flow is a need recognized across industries, from agriculture to commercial, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas. Flow meters in an IIoT solution provide not only a total flow amount, but allow you to utilize real time data to predict and adjust consumption. Further still, real time analysis allows immediate recognition of catastrophic events such as a burst pipe. The analysis will be drawn out further to establish predictive failure behavior and potentially prevent massive water loss issues like the ones that happened in Los Angeles and Hollywood Hills.

 

Water Detection

Almost certainly this one is all about protecting assets. There are essentially four ways that we have used to detect presence, quantity, volume, and levels of water. Each of these fits quite well for a particular purpose. They also compliment each other nicely!

 

Presence of Water: The Rope Sensor

Rope sensors are great and they come in a variety of lengths. A rope sensor will tell you if you have water present at any point along the sensor. Imagine a large trailer with rope sensors running along the bottom of the trailer. If you have a spill in that trailer, truck, or vehicle and any fluid reaches the rope sensor, then you’ll receive an alert and immediately know there’s a problem.

Rope sensors are also great for flood detection. Because you can purchase these sensors in practically any length, you can lay them across a flood channel. If any portion of that rope sensor gets wet then you know you have water present. However, in terms of flood detection rope sensors will tell you if there is water, but they won’t tell you how much.

 

Presence of Water: Yes or No

If your rope sensor went off on a flood channel you might want to know how much water is flowing through. Depending on the lay of the land there are a number of different applications that we use to provide this information.

 

Ultrasonic, Ultrasound, Pulse, and Radar Sensors

If you have a fixed structure next to or going over a flood channel then a great solution is an ultrasonic sensor. Essentially, once the sensor is fixed in place it will continuously ping the ground. When the reading between the sensor and the ground becomes more compact, you can calculate that distance and in turn determine how much water is flowing through the channel and the flood level. Also note that radar and ultrasonic fluid level sensors are quite useful for remotely monitoring levels and volumes of liquid products in assets like tanks!

 

Pressure Transducers

Another way that we have measured quantity of water is by using a pressure transducer. A sensor with a membrane sits at the bottom of a water well, lake, or a reservoir, or a flood channel. As the water increases above the sensor so does the pressure on the sensor’s membrane. The higher the pressure the more water you have moving through!

 

Making things Digital

Water metering and water detection are now all IIoT solutions. All of these meters / sensors connect to sensor hub connector hardware that sends data out into the internets and into a cloud data analysis solution. Whether you’re monitoring agriculture / viticulture, oil / gas / mining, municipal water treatment facilities or other water plants, nowadays you can obtain a cost-effective, rapidly deployable monitoring solution.

 

 

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