The Spring for the Industrial Internet of Things

Demo board of ST's lithium battery charger solution

The Internet of Things (IoT) has managed to blend together the virtues of multiple types of technology, building a world where everything is connected. When compared to the previous industrial or even information technology revolutions, the IoT differs the most by its stronger tendency to combine or fuse different technologies, meaning that no single industry would ever be able to develop a product or technology that dominates the entire market of IoT.

Against this backdrop, a corporation should, ideally, realize what its own technological strengths are, so that, by receiving support from other sources, it’s enabled to exploit its singular strengths to the maximum and, through the IoT, gain recognition from users and win a victory in the IoT competition. This support could come from professional systematic solution providers, such as Avnet. 

Systematic solutions are decisive within the IoT competition

The unstoppable revolution of the IoT is deeply transforming everyone's lives. As this wave rolls, connecting everything, it's become the greatest impulse for the growth of the whole information-technology market. Therefore, effective inclusion in the IoT has become the defining factor for innovative corporations to continue their expansion. The use of IoT can cover everything from software, hardware, operating systems, user interfaces, big data, cloud computation, etc., making systematic solutions a necessary asset to advance through this competition. 

According to McKenzie's latest market estimation of the global IoT market, it shall reach 3.9-11.1 trillion dollars by the year 2025. Likewise, based on statistics on the total amount of IoT devices worldwide, this has reached 8.4 billion, and it’s projected to grow to as much as 20.8 billion by the year 2020. This implies that the IoT is not only the best growth opportunity for most corporations, it is also the most difficult trial for survival: if a corporation cannot keep up its pace, it will most likely drown under the wave of the IoT. 

The current Internet of Things is divided into the following three platforms:

  1. Industrial Solutions
  2. Family related products
  3. Mobile environmental products

The Spring for the Industrial Internet of Things

Regardless of the platform, or whether it's people, object or human-machine cooperation, the IoT equipment is not based on individual units; this condition further complicates the corresponding hardware design. 

In the past, hardware engineers used to view the design for a hardware system as isolated. Now, however, hardware and software engineers need to tightly cooperate and consider the overall performance of the hardware, software and back-end services. 

The challenge this presents for many well-experienced systematic integrated solution operating vendors is that, though they neither lack the experience to solve customers' issues nor the understanding of their demands, they are unable to create hardware with a systematic design. This is the greatest barrier for older system integration companies to step onto the new field of the IoT.

Mature IoT products make use of hardware knowledge, spanning from sensors to processors, flash memories to cloud storage and wireless connection, power management to high performance analog programs, and, finally, requiring combination with various softwares. This is no small feat for the traditional industry of integrated application system solution providers. 

On the other hand, customer demand persists, allowing no time for integrated solution providers to design their own hardware from scratch. To deal with these demands, finding well experienced, one-stop hardware designers and suppliers, such as Avnet, will allow you to complete this job efficiently. 

The Spring for the Industrial Internet of Things

Consider the IoT's three platforms: consumer usage seems to be most attractive to the eye but, however the biggest market lies in the IoT usage among industries. General Electric (GE) commented in a report (“Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines”): “If we combine traditional industries (including manufacture, exploitation of natural resources, construction, public utilities, etc.) with the transportation and health service sectors, about 46 percent of the global economy, or US$32.3 trillion in global output can benefit from industrial networking. As the global economy continues to grow and the industry develops, this cipher can only grow. By 2025, we estimate that the shares of the industrial sector (defined here broadly) will rise to encompass approximately 50 percent of the global economy, or $82 trillion of future global output in nominal dollars." 

Especially in the Chinese market, most small and medium-sized businesses are still amid the transition between automatic and human controlled operation; even the largest state-owned corporations still lag behind international standards by around 10 years when it comes to automation. With the Made in China 2025 strategy and increasing demands for more efficient industrial capacity, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China forecasts that China's industry, and its corresponding IoT market capacity, will grow from 650 billion to 1.7 trillion in the next 10 years, becoming the most important segment of the IoT industry chain.  

The Spring for the Industrial Internet of Things

Industrial IoT technology is an interdisciplinary undertaking, involving fields such as automation, communications, computerization, management, etc. The widespread use of industrial IoT still faces many issues:

The first one is equipment compatibility. How to make the sensors used by the IoT compatible with the sensors of that equipment which was originally in use? This is a big obstacle to wider application of the industrial IoT. The key to achieving equipment compatibility is a unified standard. Currently, the mainstream industrial Wi-Fi standards HART, ISA and WIA-PA are all compatible with the IEEE 802.15.4 Wi-Fi network communication protocol, but there are still compatibility issues among the three. This requires professional hardware design support; being the largest technological distributor in the world, Avnet provides system design that includes the latest products from all major vendors, ensuring that the overall design won't have any compatibility issues. 

Secondly, to solve the issues of data collection and smart processing, cost-effective, high performance sensors are required as a foundation for industrial IoT. Smarter sensor technology with better precision, higher efficiency and stronger compatibility is essential to it. Smart data collection technology heralds a new stage for the development of the industrial IoT. The revolution in sensor technology is also a basis for the IoT's expansive growth. Being pioneers within the field of IoT, Avnet has extensive sensor design experience and offers many of the latest sensor products as a choice for designs. 

Another important issue for the industrial IoT is security, specifically, the security of data access and Internet data transfer. Data security is a key point in corporate operations. For example, in smelting, coal and oil industries, data collection needs to be uninterrupted for long periods of time. To ensure that the data obtained and transmitted is accurate and without error is a prerequisite to the application of the industrial IoT to actual production. Avnet is not only well experienced in design, but we are also successful providing server and cloud data services, allowing us to aid customers in solving data transmission and security issues on a speedy basis. 

The Spring for the Industrial Internet of Things

Especially for customers that have strong hardware design capability themselves, Avnet cooperates with multiple semiconductor vendors to provide components of hardware equipment, big data, cloud computing and real-time virtual integration, specifically made for IoT and the advance of Industry 4.0. We assist makers in creating their increasingly complicated products and meeting shorter due dates by promoting the sale of highly customized products in smaller quantities. Currently, Avnet also provides rugged PC, industrial computers, robot/robotic arm, communication, automated control and security monitoring components, to be used on motor control, automated facilities, surveillance and other fields, thus, speeding up the transformation into Industry 4.0. In addition, we also provide Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 2.4GHz RF, EtherCAt, sensors with Microcontroller units (MCU), and other communication and IoT components, depending on customers’ varying necessities. 


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