More synthesized data, vehicle data and contextualized data could shape the industrial IoT landscape in the coming years, according to members of Protocol's Braintrust.
Good afternoon! This week, we had the experts focus in on what's coming around the corner for the industrial internet of things. As the promise of better connectivity and more data continue to influence the IIoT market, we wanted to know which of the new data types or data applications could prove to be transformative in the next few years. Questions or comments? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
CTO at PTC
As manufacturing automation has been maturing beyond simple telemetry and control data being available to HMI screens and SCADA systems, the use cases for manufacturing efficiency and worker productivity are naturally involving synthesis of this machine data with manufacturing operations and back-office IT systems. The application of advanced analytics, whether AI-based or more traditional statistics-based, will generate insights, yes, but also new, synthesized data such as calculated time spent/time lost during operations, probabilities of machine failures, etc. These "insights-as-data" will require new forms of data governance, and other supplemental data to unlock the next horizon of valuable uses cases.
These data formats will include leveraging and processing higher frequency types of data as well as increasing leverage of wireless communications. Using computer vision and machine learning for real-time video stream processing for spatial analytics, augmented reality, and guided work instructions impacts both workforce productivity and quality. Metrology grade, non-contact, high resolution imaging and measurement will continue and impact manufacturing quality insights. As monitoring and connectivity options proliferate with the increase in more reliable wireless options, including 5G and Bluetooth, existing sensor types will expand in use as connectivity and cost barriers reduce. Techniques like acoustical sensors, for conditional monitoring, reduce/simplify the monitoring needs for dozens of different discrete events impacting asset availability/uptime. And the increasing adoption of other work automation technologies like autonomous mobile robotics and collaborative robotics will certainly increase the demand on data exchange and coordination across systems impacting operating expense, agility and flexibility.
Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Pelion
Contextualized data. Our customers and partners tell us that the basic stage of simply collecting one type of data from a device, say a pump or a motor, is just the first step in starting to realize value from IIoT. Sure, you'll get some visualizations, some information, some business intelligence from that one data stream. But value is compounded when you layer on analytics, so you are not only seeing data and questioning its integrity in real time, but you are able to run comparisons with historical figures, make predictions and take action, such as optimization or predictive maintenance.
But any one data set, even when visualized on a dashboard, or when analyzed to enable greater value, such as taking automatic corrective actions, cannot come close to providing the insight enabled by drawing together disparate data streams from across the control and application plane. Enterprises with more mature IoT deployments are finding that data sets with a broad range and diversity of data types is where the richest insights can be found. Industrial IoT acts as an important bridge between the physical and digital, allowing companies to apply the latest technologies — such as machine learning and artificial intelligence — to physical environments. Expensive legacy equipment, running long operational life cycles are often non IP-based, which adds complexity when blending data with cutting edge equipment. But non-IP data can be aggregated and translated via edge gateways and placed in the context of other data. In this way, data from across the plant, including remote deployments, or even the wider supply chain, results in business value much greater than the sum of its parts.
VP, Internet of Things Group, General Manager, Industrial Solutions Division at Intel Corporation
Real-time data will completely transform the industry's ability to respond more effectively to market forces that are changing more rapidly than ever. This data isn't new, but our ability to effectively capture, analyze and act on it is, thanks to new technologies like time-sensitive networking (TSN) (particularly over wireless like 5G), AI and enhanced for IOT processors.
Take edge data in a manufacturing setting. By placing data and computing infrastructure closer to the factory floor, and by leveraging AI to extract intelligence from the data, manufacturers can process and act on information almost as quickly as it's generated, while avoiding the latency associated with data transfer to cloud. Real-time data will continue to play an important role in keeping workers safe, which will remain one of the biggest application areas moving forward. Manufacturers will be able to catch and act upon machinery malfunctions before they become an operational risk, or enforce new pandemic-related worker-safety protocols, like social distancing, as a seamless part of daily operations. Also, manufacturers will be able to detect defect in manufactured products and improve product quality, reduce scrap and improve customer satisfaction.
TSN-over-5G is one of the most significant wireless communication opportunities for the industrial market because it can deliver ultra-low latency edge insights, at a massive scale for time-critical data, ideal for control systems receiving data from sensors, computer-vision applications, and more. Flexibility will continue to be critical to realize Industry 4.0 particularly in the post-pandemic era, and TSN represents a key technology for solutions to manufacturers that want to be able to shift factory floor configurations to keep pace with new market demands as they emerge.
Chief Commercial Officer & VP GM Connected Buildings at Honeywell
When it comes to trends in data derived from IIoT, it's complete environments that will "talk to us" in meaningful ways. Data from building and venue environments (e.g. BMS, occupant experience related, controls and financial) will be available as a single source of truth for owners and operators to consume and monitor, regardless of the underlying technology and protocols. This will be made possible through two primary shifts we see unfold right now:
- 1. An emergence of system(s) of record for OT data, which is still missing from the industrial world
- 2. Extension and derivatives of data available today
As a result, IIoT applications will leverage the OT data available today and create new data sets that will not only be richer and extensible but also enable autonomous decision making.
Additionally, the platform and applications consuming data will create more volume that is context-aware and richer in intelligence and even action. For example, access control application would know the location and history of the person beyond credentials. It will also create new data sets by combining facial or bio-metric identities & patterns that enable smarter and autonomous decision making.
Chief Product Officer at Samsara
Our customers span a wide variety of industries, from trucking, to manufacturing, city services, construction and more. No matter the industry, we're seeing a couple trends that will allow for and generate new types of data across the IIoT environment that will have a significant impact on the safety, efficiency and sustainability of our world.
First, electric vehicle adoption is exploding, and companies like GM and Volvo are making bold commitments to go all electric in the coming decades, while cities across the globe are setting goals to adopt alternative energy sources. This will generate significant data from millions of vehicles and the infrastructure responsible for powering them — including solar arrays and wind turbines. This new IoT data will be critical as organizations look to adopt EVs and alternative energy sources, as they tackle everything from planning truck routes to building charging infrastructure, without disrupting operations or compromising their bottom line.
Second, the availability of 5G will allow for new data types from IoT devices that could create a step-change in efficiency, safety and productive capacity of the economy. Real-time HD video streaming over 5G will change industrial operations in the same way that Zoom changed meetings and collaboration. And 5G will create secure, reliable connectivity to a host of new "things," unlocking new data insights and workflows across industries.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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