Connected tech adoption in manufacturing set to double
Connected tech in manufacturing to double over the next 12 months

Connected tech adoption in manufacturing set to double

Despite the promises the IoT makes for more efficiency and cost reductions, many manufacturers have yet to get the message, according to a new study from ABI Research. 

The firm recently conducted a study of 455 US-based companies across nine vertical markets and found that 67 percent of respondents aren’t currently using any IoT technology.

Planning ahead

While that statistic may sound pretty dire, considering the opportunities on offer, many of these companies have plans to deploy connected technologies in the future. Among respondents from manufacturing companies, 74 percent said they are either investigating, assessing or planning to implement IoT solutions over the next few months.

The survey also found that while most of the activity in non-connectivity categories are quick-and-easy deployments, there’s a big interest in industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

Complex solutions on top

This industry is constantly evolving, but to date it has mainly been dominated by M2M applications sporting limited interoperability of internal operational data and external systems and processes.

Now things are changing, and there has been a shift from simplistic to more complex applications. For instance, many companies are showing an interest in technologies that can enable automation and control, as opposed to simply monitoring.

In fact, 35 percent of respondents said they’re looking to invest in artificial intelligence solutions in the near future, and 47 percent have either deployed or plan to deploy robots over the next year.   

Big manufacturing potential

Ryan Martin, principal analyst at ABI Research, believes that the IoT can improve the way companies manage their employees, processes and systems, boosting efficiencies.

“Companies with industrial and manufacturing operations are looking to connect their HMI, SCADA, and control networks to higher level enterprise systems as well as the cloud,” he said.

“Exposing data to enterprise-level systems provides better support for analytics and the management of people, processes, and systems.”

Martin added: “The value of leaner systems, processes, and procedures is greater than the sum of its parts for players in industrial end-markets.

“These are generally large organizations with a set of well-understood needs and slim margins, though the ability for IIoT technologies to serve as an infrastructure amplification engine is unbounded.”

Read more: Japanese companies form alliance to accelerate smart factories

Some negatives

John English, senior product manager at application and performance management company Netscout, said that there’s masses of potential for IoT in manufacturing but that companies need to be aware of the negatives.

“Automating paper processes is one thing, but connected industry is not only about equipping machines with sensors. To reap the full benefits of Industrial IoT, connected components must be able to communicate across the entire system,” he said. 

“Consider what the IoT is capable of delivering, and how it’s driving machine learning and big data techniques to enable greater productivity in real-time. There’s no surprise it’s being adopted by companies in the manufacturing space.

“The big challenge though, despite the advancement in IIoT, is security. IoT devices are often shipped with default credentials or known security issues. As a result there are millions of unsecured devices, and new devices come online every day.

“Today the technology and know-how required to detect, hack and use these devices to perform attacks have been released to the public and are used by ‘booter’ and ‘stresser’ DDoS-for-hire service providers.”

Read more: IIoT and the rise of the cobots