By 2020, IoT Will Drive Smart Manufacturing

by CXOtoday News Desk    Aug 24, 2015


ICT deployments in manufacturing industries are currently limited to the use of machine to machine (M2M) communications and cloud solutions. But beyond that, they are also enabling qualitatively different, “smart” manufacturing operations that could transform the way a number of industries makes products, components and materials. The gradual inroads of the Internet of Things (IoT)  in industrial automation, enabled by M2M communications, will allow the development of “smart manufacturing plants” by the end of this decade.

A new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Connected Industry Insight Series: ICT Opportunities in the Global Smart Plants Market, estimates at a broader scale, between now and 2020, companies will progressively implement technologies such as wireless connectivity, enterprise mobility, cloud platforms, Big Data analytics, and advanced robotics to achieve “a fully connected plant floor” and “virtual interactive plants.” The report also estimates that the manufacturing, and energy and utilities sectors will spend a combined total of €206.51 billion on ICT in 2019.

“The plant-floor is still dominated by fixed networks installed over industrial Ethernet or fieldbus protocols for field-level networks,” said Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies Senior Research Analyst Shuba Ramkumar. “ICT vendors can contribute to the development of improved plant-floor communication systems in collaboration with automation vendors.”

The report however notes that revenue opportunities for mobile network operators (MNOs) will remain limited. Demand for cellular connectivity services will be low when compared to fixed-line and short range M2M services.

Collaborating with industrial automation providers to design, integrate and implement fully automated plants based on manufacturer requirements will be a crucial step in bringing the concept of smart plants to reality. ICT vendors must work with other providers in the IT ecosystem to develop end-to-end services that include network equipment, connectivity, virtualisation, cloud-based software, data analytics and cyber security.

“Communication equipment vendors need to build comprehensive services which takes into consideration inputs from all stakeholders in the production process,” explained Ramkumar. “By leveraging partnerships with fixed line providers and IT solution providers, MNOs too can extend existing relationships with manufacturers beyond network provision to offer integrated solutions for the plant-floor and branch offices.”

Enabling collaborative manufacturing and real-time connectivity between the end consumer and the manufacturer will accelerate plant-floor automation and help ICT providers anchor their place in the global smart plants space