The end of 2021 is near, so we’re taking a look ahead to what the new year will bring to industrial automation. What are the Industrial IoT trends for 2022? One thing is certain: although machine builders and manufacturers were sceptical about the industrial internet of things at first, they now realise the value of connected machines.
These past years, especially with the scarcity of engineers and travel restrictions, IIoT has proven its value. Remote access and connectivity have become a standard part of our day-to-day operations.
But the nature of IIoT is that it evolves at an incredible pace. Based on insights from our own industry experts and our partners in the industrial automation sector, there are a couple of major trends we see emerging in the market that will play a big role in 2022:
Trend #1 Focus on sustainable manufacturing
Climate neutrality, net zero emissions and resource efficiency are global topics across industries. Governments worldwide are prioritising strategies and proposals to achieve climate neutrality. And the industrial sector plays an important part in these plans.
In Europe, the Green Deal aims to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. A major pillar of this deal is a twin focus on the green and digital transitions of EU industry. E3: Economy, Energy and Environment, the federal technical assistance framework in the US, aims to help increase manufacturers’ productivity while reducing environmental and energy costs.
As such, more and more manufacturers, in collaboration with government initiatives, are looking into practical applications of Industry 4.0 technologies for sustainable products and services. To stay globally competitive, a stronger focus is emerging on solutions that create more efficiently running machines to reduce energy consumption and produce less waste.
Key tip! While sustainability is highly complex, getting started with sustainable manufacturing isn’t. One simple dashboard can give you the insights you need to, for example, know when a critical part should be replaced to reduce the number of rejected products. A quick start to reducing waste!
Trend #2 Selling services, not technology
Talks about digital transformation, Industry 4.0 and IoT have a strong focus on technology. Which tools or new innovative technologies do I need to stay competitive? We can barely escape words like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, digital twins – just to name a few. With so many new technologies coming onto the market every day, it’s easy to focus on the technology rather than the actual application.
But more than ever before, we see people starting to realise that technology shouldn’t be the starting point. It’s about selling the solution, not the technology.
Selling a remote access solution with your machine isn’t easy, because customers expect excellent service and you bear the costs during the warranty phase. However, selling a consumable product like packaging materials before the current stock is depleted to prevent production stops – that’s something that you can sell. How can you add value for your customer? That should be the starting point of your digital innovation journey.
Key tip! Focus on providing top service during the warranty phase and create a performance overview report afterwards. Once the warranty period is over, you can sell this as a premium service.
Trend #3 Understanding cyber security risks
More and more machines are getting connected and software is increasing in complexity, which makes it more feasible for cyber criminals to enter and cause damage by hacking the system or installing ransomware. In the worst case whole factories go down or data is stolen, leaving a huge impact on your customers and causing reputation damage for you.
Because of the increase in threats and high costs of a breach, it’s become increasingly obvious that everyone plays a part and should have a basic level of security understanding. After all, security is a shared responsibility. Instead of only relying on external IT security partners, machine builders are making sure to train their employees about the risks to decrease the chance of a security incident.
Key tip! Ensure your machines are properly secured against incoming connections from outside the factories and from the internal network. Choose a secure connectivity provider with a strong firewall and communicate openly with your customers about security measures.
Trend #4 Demand for custom solutions
IoT doesn’t offer a one-size fits all solution. With so many differentiating factors, there is no strategy, implementation or set-up that fits everyone’s requirements. This means that customisation is key for a successful IoT implementation. As IoT continues to move from tool-focussed to solution-focussed, machine builders are starting to understand that integrating systems and technologies is the best step to get to the solution they need.
Key tip! To keep up with fast-changing technologies and market demands, your IoT solution needs to be flexible and scalable. This relates to both the solution provider and the product itself. Make sure the company is continuously innovating, uses up-to-date technology and has an API to allow for integrations.
Trend #5 First steps in condition monitoring
Who hasn’t put ‘condition monitoring’ on their road map? It’s on all our agendas, but we keep postponing an actual implementation. This past year our industry experts have noticed a clear shift in machine builders starting to truly understand the major benefits, such as on-time replacement of wear and tear parts and reducing the risk of critical equipment failure.
2022 will be the year in which machine builders – who have already started collecting data – will take the first steps towards a condition-based strategy.
Key tip! The best advice we can give is: start small, so you can reduce costs. Design a first data experience and start with monitoring the condition of a certain machine part with real-time data (e.g. usage, running hours, cycles). Detect abnormalities and replace the machine part before it breaks down. When you have mastered condition monitoring of this first part, simply expand the process to other parts of the machine.