It goes without saying that the ongoing fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, will be a vital theme in 2019. Increasingly, as various industries mature in their thinking and outlook towards the Internet of Things, budgets are looking towards a confluence of emerging technologies and – deployed in concert – how they can drive greater efficiencies in the industrial sector.
Writing for this publication in July, Adam Byrne, CEO at remote access software provider RealVNC, noted how the paradigms must change in order to ensure action. “Industry 4.0 will require a revolution in industrial communications to create continuously ‘live’ data sharing capabilities between machines,” Byrne wrote. “This will enable vital data from sensor measurements to control signals which can be digitally omnipresent across a factory the second it is generated.”
MWC19, taking place in Barcelona from February 25-28, puts it this way in a theme report focusing on Industry 4.0. “There is some debate about whether there actually is a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ underway – the argument against being that industry has always used advanced technology to create more automated and carefully-monitored systems,” the report notes. “Certainly this is a reasonable argument when looked at purely through the lens of operations technology.
“While services like NB-IoT can be used to improve the instrumentation on machines and help with tasks such as predictive maintenance, such activities can also be performed using other wireless or even wireline interfaces.”
Indeed, speaking to this publication at last year’s event, John Stone, senior vice president of the Intelligent Solutions Group at agriculture giant John Deere, said artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning was “going to be as core to John Deere as an engine and transmission is.” Speaking at the IoT Tech Expo event later in the year Than Hartsock, director of precision agriculture solutions, noted that it was “clear”, even during his formative years, that Deere was “uniquely committed to precision agriculture.”
It is this marrying together of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and even blockchain that will drive Industry 4.0 forward. “Industry 4.0 advocates will point to much more fundamental changes brought about by the combination of new technologies with new business models and processes,” the MWC19 report notes. “Ultimately, this leads to businesses reshaping how they create value, generate revenue, and relate to their customers.”
As far as blockchain is concerned, the clear advantage is through transparency and efficiency in supply chains. As this MWC19 panel session will explore, the challenge is to ensure the right data gets securely and reliably to participants at every step.
If all goes to plan, virtually every technological initiative taking place, from developments in smart cities to connected transportation to Internet of Things projects in manufacturing, healthcare and more, will dovetail through efficient data sharing. “Smart cities such as Amsterdam have used open data to enable citizens to create smart apps and services that would otherwise be well-nigh impossible to achieve,” MWC19 concludes. “Siemens is now able to collect and analyze data from many more wind turbines than anyone client company alone and create better predictive models as a result.
“There are very early moves to develop commercial data-sharing or brokering techniques to help companies create revenues from the data they generate and, at the same time, gain access to external data in a properly curated fashion,” the report adds.