The Internet of Things (IoT) is an adventurous branch of tech that has flung us into a new era, infinities beyond just the internet. According to a recent McKinsey report, the next decade will see IoT shoot up in worth to as much as US$11 trillion. It is also predicted to drastically transform industries like agriculture, health, and transport. IoT is opening up a whole new world – and it has already started evolving.
From Smart Homes to Outsmarting SharksIt is no longer just about smart fridges reminding us to buy eggs and smart sneakers telling us how many calories we’ve burnt – there are Tesla cars that use big data to predict demand and update their operating systems remotely, there are clever buoys that alert lifeguards to sharks, there are even sensor networks called Pips, that help dementia sufferers maintain independence.
The Next Step in the Evolution - Smart FactoriesBelieve it or not, ‘things’ are getting even more interesting, let’s take a look at the average modern-day factory… Just like our homes, manufacturing facilities these days are technology hubs. There are electronic controls, sensors, and automated equipment, all interconnected to form a highly efficient production force. These links and intersections between people and machines, tools, and systems are opening up a new field of development which Jason Prater of Plex Systems has cleverly described as The Internet of Making Things.
A New Ecosystem for Added ValueAs manufacturing plants produce more and more products, productivity in factories continues to rise. The tools and machines that are connected to this production are vital to its efficiency. For example, an Internet Protocol (IP) torque wrench that forms part of an assembly line. It captures the torque that is applied, the last time it was calibrated and which employee used it. This information is sent via the cloud so that every part affected can be quickly identified. Automation like this decreases downtime and makes it possible for a larger variety of products to be produced faster.
Flexibility and programmability have been around for several years, but the Internet of Making Things, which involves sensors, connected devices, and cloud computing is relatively new – and it is very exciting. It's answering the need for customization, incorporating wearable tech in manufacturing systems, and bringing people and processes together to create a new ecosystem that can take production and productivity to the next level and increase added value.