Big Industry and the Internet of Things

At the present moment the Internet of Things (IoT) is presenting one of the most significant opportunities in the world. The reason for the size of opportunity is that it will be available outside the realm of consumer devices and extend into major industries. The largest impact of IoT is to be seen in manufacturing plants, farms and other industrial sites, where the latest wireless and digital devices are being used to optimize companies’ production and efficiency.

The opportunities presented by IoT to industry are not as easily harnessed as they might be. There are challenges when it comes to integrating new applications into old systems and also changing the mindsets of customers who are far removed from anything technology companies may have encountered as part of their previous experience. However, there is an upshot that IoT won’t be restricted to simple gadgetry. There will be elegant and sophisticated systems to be built, which will for some be a joy to behold, however there will also be much endeavor in meeting the required performance specifications.

The systems we build within industries are intended to manage processes and problems – tasks such as the drilling of undersea wells, implementing the control of large chemical reactors, or getting the most out of combustion engines – and all to be done in real time. The importance of tasks like these mean that there is little or no margin for error. If there is an outage or crash on an assembly line, it could compromise the safety of workers and lead to financial disaster. Even the systems used for controlling lighting or temperature can involve a high level of complexity.

The captains of industry are not the type of people to live by the mantra “live fast and break things.” In fact, this kind of attitude is their biggest fear. The lifetimes of industrial products can be reassuringly long to them, for example many large electricity transformers in the grid will be over forty years old, this is compared with the average age of servers in a data center being three years old. Well seasoned tech companies will need to attempt to build this longevity into their systems, giving consideration to any environmental hazards which may occur over the long or short term, in order to appease their industrial clients.