Who does what in Industrial IoT?

by Alan Griffiths

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?’ [This article first appeared in The Manufacturer]

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.

Figure 1 – the six layers of IoT

Established IoT companies

The layers above cover a huge range of technology, and thus 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.

IoT Start-ups

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 start-ups 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.

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 – make 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 pre-processing 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.

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.”

Example IIoT projects

For some examples of IIoT projects and how we expect the market to develop, read the original article on The Manufacturer’s site.


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