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Rise of the (Industrial) Machine

Sarah Thomas

The intersection of machines, connectivity and data analytics is creating huge opportunities for enterprises, but also for the service providers and various partners powering the so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Most have just scratched the surface of what could be a $14.2 trillion industry by 2030. As AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Enterprise IoT Practice Leader Mobeen Khan explains it: Most of his company's enterprise customers are still at the beginning stages of "crawl, walk, run." They start by just monitoring an industrial asset, he says, but quickly move on from there.

"[Enterprises] have to change internal processes to get better value out of IoT," Khan says. "It requires them to change how they do business on the backend for automatic monitoring. As they evolve, we see the use of the [IoT] solution evolve and [companies] define more efficiencies out of it."

As an example, he cited a customer that manufactures heavy equipment. The company started out with a single app to notify them when a dashboard light went on. They now have more than eight apps and four in the pipeline for everything from logging driver time and driver use of resources to the fuel economy of each asset to predictive maintenance.

For more on the Industrial Internet of Things, read our feature story, US Giants Carve Out Role in the Industrial IoT, in the Prime Reading section here on Light Reading.

Seeing what's really possible when enterprises enter the full-on "run" phase is one reason why the Industrial Internet Consortium was formed in March 2014. Dr. Richard Soley, executive director of the IIC, says the group has 15 test beds up and running with another 15 in development using IoT in various ways in manufacturing, smart electric grids, smart city and preventative maintenance systems.

Some examples of the potential he's seen include:

  • A dairy farmer in Costa Rica who uses IoT to generate 40% more milk from his cows than fellow farmers. He does so by monitoring their health on a second-by-second basis and feeding them according to their health, whether they're pregnant, how much they were recently milked, etc. He said the investment was 2% to 3% of their total cost, but he has more than recouped it in milk generation.

  • In Cork, Ireland, in a test bed led by EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), the IIC focused on integrating national healthcare with Ireland's counties to ensure than when an ambulance is dispatched, the health care data of the person being picked up is already available in that ambulance. Patients can be treated on the way to the hospital instead of having to wait.

  • For another healthcare example, Soley suggests that if you could take all the information off of healthcare apparatuses attached to people in hospitals in the US, anonymize and aggregate it, you could forecast the movement of public health dangers across the country and make sure you had the right drugs in place before any problems hit.

  • In the financial world, tracking every trading desk and stock exchange simultaneously and benchmarking that data against all the stock markets in the Western World -- which is possible through IoT -- could enable analysts to compare the current trading situation to past events, allowing them to halt trading or take action much earlier than they can today.

These are just a few of myriad possibilities in the Industrial IoT, although the proposition is not without its fair share of challenges, including how to work with partners, the proliferation of connectivity options and a lack of standardization.

For more on how the industry is shaping up in the US, as well as the role telecom service providers are carving out for themselves, read our new Prime Reading feature: US Giants Carve Out Role in the Industrial IoT .

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
2/5/2016 | 4:57:43 PM
Re: Examples?
Smart cities. We're seeing a number implementations of this around the world, and especially in Asia. That region has so many megacities that any sensors or data will make them more manageable. 

I also think this particular application will benefit the average person the most, making cities more livable. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/4/2016 | 12:05:00 PM
Re: Examples?
GE Digital has a number of deployments listed for their Predix platform, on their website:  http://www.predix.com/

Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/4/2016 | 10:21:21 AM
Anyone else have IIoT examples to add to the mix? I'd be most curious to hear about ones that are actually being implemented today and what effect their having, especially on the business model. We hear a lot about the potential, but it comes down to how expensive it is to implement/overhaul and how quickly enterprises realize the ROI. 
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