Who does what in Industrial IoT?

Cambashi, an international, industry analyst company based in Cambridge, has just completed a research project into the industrial application of the Internet of Things to establish the market’s structure and direction. In the second article on this subject, Alan Griffiths asks: "Who does what in Industrial IoT?"

Stock IoT IIoT Internet of Things Network Data Connectivity – image courtesy of Pixabay.
The scale and scope of the Industrial Interet of Things has resulted in many different types of software provider getting involved.

Last month’s article described how the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ (IIoT) has come to represent everything from the ‘thing’ itself to the data stored in the cloud, as represented by the six layers shown in the box below.

The six layers of the Industrial Internet of Things:

  1. The ‘thing’ or mechanical part – a motor, excavator or part of a building
  2. Sensors and actuators with embedded software – making the thing into a smart connected product
  3. Connectivity – enables products to communicate with back-end systems. In large, complex systems this often includes edge computers that act as collection points for the data and provide preprocessing before data is sent to the cloud
  4. Product access and data routing – systems that control and manage who has access to what
  5. Product-specific software applications – this layer makes appropriate connections and integration with other enterprise applications
  6. Enterprise applications – for example, ERP, PLM and MRO (maintenance, repair and operation) systems

The layers above cover a huge range of technology, and therefore many different types of software provider are getting involved. The first group are ‘established’ companies with familiar names:

  • Industrial technology – Bosch, GE, Schneider and Siemens
  • Microprocessor/microcontrollers – ARM, Intel and Nvidia
  • IT providers – HPE, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle
  • Cloud storage/computing providers – Amazon/AWS and Google
  • Communications – AT&T, BT and NTT •  Enterprise software – IFS, Infor, SAP and Salesforce.
  • CADCAM/PLM – Autodesk, Dassault and PTC/ Thingworx
  • BIM/AEC – Bentley, Intergraph (Hexagon) and Trimble.

These are all large, global companies, and most of them provide solutions that cover many of the six layers, although only a few, such as Amazon/AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle offer global, cloud storage and computer capability.

In addition, in response to the frequently-stated ‘enormous IoT opportunity’, a large number of new name start-ups are entering the market. For example, the following startups are each focused on one of the six IIoT layers:

  • Sensor/embedded software startups – Ineda (system-on-chip (SoC) maker); Helium, Electric Imp and Samsara (IoT platform providers)
  • Connectivity startups – Ingenu, Kepler Communications, SigFox
  • Edge Computing startups – Foghorn Systems and Saguna Networks
  • IoT solution companies – Exosite and Zebra (IoT frameworks; system design and implementation).

In addition, there are new, specialist companies that focus on:

  • Analytics – Augory Systems and Maana
  • Security – Claroty and Bastille Networks.

There are also vertically-focussed companies in sectors such as agriculture, aerospace, automotive, energy, healthcare and transportation. A good example is Zipline, who provide essential medical products in challenging terrains using drones.

Every industry sector will be able to benefit from IIoT so the groups of companies listed above will certainly expand to cover these sectors.

This article first appeared in the June issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here

Digital transformation

Also, most major consulting / systems integration companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, EY, Capgemini, KPMG and Wipro now include IIoT as an important part of digital transformation – which means leveraging digital technology such as IoT to radically change the way a company works and does business.

This moves them towards Industry 4.0 and is an essential part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). According to business consultant Joe Barkai, “The Internet of Things delivers transformative value in one or more of the following ways:

  • Automate – Embedded control software and connectivity to automate operational and decision-making tasks
  • Accelerate – IoT as a means to shorten the latency of information. Remote access, augmented by data analytics and decision support systems improves the organisation’s responsiveness and agility
  • Enhance – Big data analytics, simulation software and enterprise tools to optimise all aspects of the product lifecycle by exploiting multidisciplinary enterprise data
  • Engage – IoT-enabled products and decision-making processes are used to transform traditional business models and engage customers via fine-tuned user-centric service offerings.”

A good example of IIoT for digital transformation is GE’s collaboration with Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy company that uses Predix – GE’s cloud-based IoT platform/operating system – to run its renewable power plants. GE has worked with Exelon to develop Predix-based ‘apps’.

  • The Energy Forecasting app uses weather forecasting data to generate more accurate financial modeling and better predict the next day’s grid supply and demand fluctuations.
  • The Wind PowerUp Services app builds on GE’s earlier capabilities in making small hardware and software adjustments based on performance and reliability data, and now has an iterative tuning process to monitor a site’s specific wind environment and lock in the appropriate settings. This can increase a wind farm’s annual energy production by up to 10%.
  • The Digital Plan of the Day app is a scheduling application that improves operations and maintenance efficiency for field service teams. The app combines a variety of disparate data sets, including SCADA information, diagnostic readings, weather conditions and even geolocation data, to organise and prioritise daily maintenance schedules across a site.
  • The Diagnostics app uses operating data for advanced anomaly detection analysis and then incorporates that analysis into a detailed case management and recommendation system. The Prognostics app uses operating, maintenance and inspection data to project future operating conditions and predict turbine component reliability. By shifting from unplanned outages to predictive maintenance, the Diagnostics and Prognostics apps can help wind farm operators reduce maintenance costs by up to 10%.
Anticimex service technician servicing a digital trap.
Anticimex service technician servicing a digital trap.

Another example at a smaller scale (in a very different industry) is global pest control company Anticimex, which has implemented the IoT Business Connector from IFS (the global enterprise software company) to collect IoT data from digital pest traps and use Microsoft Azure-based analytics to create predictive service actions.

According to IFS CTO, Dan Matthews: “The Anticimex project is a great example of how we at IFS help our customers develop an IoT solution that enables them to not only gather and analyse IoT data, but also automatically to take the correct actions based on that data in order to create a more service-oriented and cost-effective organisation.”

As the Industrial IoT market develops there will be some consolidation, particularly at the platform level where massive investment and global adoption is required. At the same time there will continue to be new entrants in niche applications and industries.

Alan Griffiths, Industry Analyst, IIoT and Cloud computing

Further information:

For more insight into the IIoT, please contact the author at: Cambashi, 52 Mawson Road, Cambridge CB1 2HY

+44 (0)1223 460439 //  www.cambashi.com

Coming up in the next issue:

In the next article – Who pays whom for what?, we will look in detail at how various companies work together to deliver IoT products and solutions, and how the revenue flows between them