By: Craig Lamb

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I have been in the technology business for about 25 years, and one very consistent indication that there is a new wave rolling in is naming the trend – like a hurricane. Although coined in 1999 in a title slide of a presentation to Proctor & Gamble, the term was far from accepted into the nerd lexicon. In fact, even a decade later, the term “Internet of Things” was hardly even searched, according to Google. It was term used by engineers interested in the MIT Media Lab research. It didn’t raise a single eyebrow of anyone in sales, marketing or operations.

Fast-forward to 2016 and the “Internet of Things” has been added to the Gartner Hype Cycle of emerging technologies. Billions have been invested in platforms and acquisitions. Software developers are inundated with requests to develop applications in the space. Crazy – considering the chasm from obscurity to a priority for so many companies.

It doesn’t stop there. Within the space, a few industries have been driving the development of technology and it ain’t who you may think. Industrial manufacturing has invested so much time in research and development in the IoT space they have claimed their own term “IIoT”. Granted, adding the “I” isn’t really a stretch, but it is a deserved separation.

With the forming of the IoT-GSI (Global Standards), coupled with Europe and China’s continued interest and commitment to IoT development, the expectations for others in the field to follow suit is mounting.

In the great US of A, 18% of industrial machinery companies (i.e., manufacturers) are already using IoT devices, according to a SAS study. That means almost 1/5 of all manufacturing companies are already using IoT to increase production and reduce costs.

The IIoT is all about connecting machines through smart sensors to the Internet – I suppose that’s obvious, right?  But the real difference between “traditional” IoT and the spirit of IIoT is, it is designed to be shared within the company and its customers and partners, while blocking the views from the outside. The goal is to make better business decisions for your company – the data has a very deliberate audience.

One stat submitted by GE predicts that manufacturing companies worldwide will spend $500 billion a year by 2020 on IIoT technology.

So far, we have received requests for developing sensors and software for everything from:

  • Calipers to report tolerance measurements in QA practices
  • Lathes to measure and monitor heat elements
  • Assembly lines for throughput

The need to know and react to these circumstances in real-time are redefining what it means to be efficient and competitive.  If you’re in manufacturing and not hip to this trend, get educated. How many times are you going to say, “this is a fad” and be wrong?