How IoT tech shook up the global manufacturing sector
The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is coming. The world of connected products is already having a massive affect on business, and by 2025 those companies demonstrating the best use of IoT technologies will be up to 10% more profitable, says a recent report*. However, while it is easy to say ‘The IoT will change everything’, sifting through the useless gimmicks and determining what will change, and how, is much more complex, says Mark Lee, Chief Commercial Officer of Intamac, an IoT enabler and innovator, with over a decade of experience in the sector.
The applications for IoT technologies appear limitless. Everywhere you look the headlines are filled with IoT products hitting the market. However these applications are often gimmickry, with the product advantage difficult to identify. As a result, companies often find it hard to see the advantages of connecting their products.
However, while IoT may be thought of as a new technology area, the usual business imperatives still apply. Not least of these being the first obstacle to enterprise adoption: the ROI and revenue model. High value assets like airplanes have been network connected for years – the ROI is clear, being able to identify and fix problems in that industry saves money and lives.
However, as the cost for connecting ‘things’ as well as processing and storing data tumbles, ROI for IoT solutions with much lower value and less life critical products and services becomes easier. It’s for this reason that in 3 years’ time it will probably be harder to buy an unconnected washing machine or boiler than one that is connected. And as more things are connected the opportunity to layer additional value added services on top are clear.
But what are these business values and how do they apply to the manufacturing industry?
Knowing your machines
One of the strongest applications for IoT in manufacturing is remote monitoring and analysis. By having a better understanding of the performance of your machines in real-time, the need for routine maintenance is reduced. Instead machines can be remotely monitored and a maintenance team deployed as and when necessary. The team can also use the analytics to understand what part on the machine isn’t working and take the tools and parts as necessary, to further increase the efficiency of the repair work, and reducing the amount down-time. This information can be collected automatically and in some cases repairs can be carried out remotely which allows teams to become more efficient.
Knowing your usage
There is an increasing amount of pressure on industry from government to reduce carbon emissions. One of the ways IoT technologies can help with this is to provide data on which machines are being used, and how much energy they require. This information can then be used to optimise energy usage for devices.
Knowing the end-user
By 2016 53% of manufacturers will offer smart products. While this will obviously involve new product lines, development and revenue streams, the biggest game-changer will come from the data created by the end-user. This information is readily available to manufacturers, and can be tapped into to discover deep and meaningful insights into the end-user, their behaviours and how they use a product.
Gaining consumer insights through data is not new. Only 5 years after Tesco launched its Clubcard, sales had increased by 50%, arguably down to the new insights the retailer had into its consumers’ shopping habits, how often they shop, what they buy and where. However understanding this data and identifying behaviours through data can also drive new product innovations and give consumers what they need, sometimes before they even know they want it. Alternatively, a company might see that its products are being used in a different demographic or country, identifying a potentially lucrative new market to operate in.
The future of manufacturing
With all the potential applications for IoT technologies in the manufacturing industry, and in the development and manufacture of smarter products, change is certainly on the horizon. Factories will be highly efficient operations, with intelligent products talking to each other, identifying weaknesses in the production line and independently addressing issues as they appear. Data from the end-user will be fed back to the factory instantly, and incorporated into schedules in a matter of hours. Managers will be able to oversee and approve all this information from a tablet, tracking raw materials through the production line, and the location of stock once it leaves the warehouse. Finally product developers will be able to use all the factory and end-user data to create products that the consumer truly wants, and that the factory can deliver, with a profitable outcome.
This industry is moving quickly, manufacturers need to take this opportunity seriously. To be left behind could be highly costly to a manufacturer at this exciting and revolutionary time for the industry.
Mark Lee is Chief Commercial Officer at Intamac Systems. The pioneering IoT enabler is highly innovative in this market, working with OEMs and product vendors to connect products, devices and appliances to the Internet. Since its launch Intamac has connected over 500,000 things, with over 3.5 billion connected device hours.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.