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Six Challenges for Smart Manufacturing and Industrial IoT

Research house Strategy Analytics has produced a report, in conjunction with low-power wide-area (LPWA) network provider Actility, that considers the opportunities and the challenges of internet-of-things (IoT) technologies in smart manufacturing, and the broad industrial sector.

The benefits of digital technologies, including advanced data analytics techniques, are well trailed by technology vendors, promising to reduce costs, improve maintenance and efficiency, and transform logistics across a wide range of sectors, including automotive, manufacturing and processing, security and utilities.

This industrial revolution will be like nothing we have seen before, says the World Economic Forum, worth $6.8 trillion to the global economy, more than the value of the entire consumer internet market. Predictions are wildly divergent, however. The GSMA says the global IoT market will be worth $1.1 trillion in revenue by 2025.

Cisco released a study as far back as 2013, which still makes it into slide decks at trade shows and in sales meetings, that says manufacturing alone will capture as much as 27 per cent of the total value from the $14.4 trillion ‘internet of everything.’

Rising confidence in the industrial sector’s appetite for enterprise IoT solutions, including those based on emerging LPWA wireless technologies, encouraged Ericsson in June to double its forecast for cellular LPWA connections to 3.5 billion by 2023, from around 0.6 billion million today, and from a year-ago 2023 forecast of 1.8 billion units.

Matt Wilkins, senior analyst for enterprise and IoT research at Strategy Analytics, and the author of the report, says the crazier forecasts around the economic opportunity afforded by industrial transformation are way off the mark.

“It can and will bring great benefits to businesses of all kinds in the coming decade. However, to refer to it as a market in the trillions of dollars is overly optimistic. Claims the IoT market has progressed from tentative to mainstream are not supported by our enterprise deployment research, as yet,” he explains.

Strategy Analytics says the unspecified ‘industrial vertical’ represents an opportunity of only eight per cent of the total IoT market. There remain major challenges and roadblocks, before smart manufacturing technologies take deeper root.

None are insurmountable, he says, but they are more real, and fiercely contentious for industrial operations, than the hyped forecasts from agenda-driven technology vendors. Here, handing over to Wilkins himself, Strategy Analytics considers six major challenges for IoT technologies in the wider industrial market, including the manufacturing sector.-enterpriseiotinsights

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