IoT has been around as a technology for at least 20 years (arguably longer) but adoption rates in manufacturing are still moderate. We are continually surprised at the multi-billion companies we interact with who use little to no IoT in their facilities at the moment. The causes seem to be that IoT projects are large dollar commitments and, according to Cisco, only 26% are deemed completely successful. IoT is hard. 

The situation seems analogies to that of the introduction of computing in the 70’ and 80’s - implementations were from a single supplier (the mainframe manufacturer) who supplied the hardware, software and maintenance. Only the largest companies adopted the technology - then along came the PC and cheap networking, and computing exploded. We believe the same forces are now at work in Industry 4.0 - here’s some of the trends we are seeing:

  • Affordable single board computers. The most popular of these is the Raspberry originally designed for educational uses but now over 60% are sold into ‘enterprise’ applications, according to the Pi foundation. They are selling nearly 1 million units a MONTH at a price of $36, opening many new applications.
  • Low cost AI chips. Nvidia, Intel, and Google all have products that retail around $70 that allow users to run machine learning algorithms in the factory itself. This opens up applications such as real time object recognition for almost zero outlay.
  • Cost effective cameras. A $30, 4K resolution camera, combined with AI, enables machine vision and 3D positional technology, allowing goods to be accurately tracked as they move through the facility.
  • 3D models of facilities with real time sensor data (Digital Twinning) - We are in a unique position to be able to deliver models of buildings or facilities for a few thousand dollars instead of a few million. This allows much more advanced visualization and analytical capability to be brought to even small manufacturing operations.

We’ve written about this in the press, here’s links to a couple of articles

In Manufacturing Connection

And Smart Industry

John Burton