The “Industrial Internet” is a term originally coined by GE, but now widely used and embodies the concept of industrial environments that are automated using sensor networks and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The Industrial Internet is also closely associated with concept of the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Indeed, the Industrial Internet could be thought of as the IoT restricted to industrial situations, acknowledging that these situations have special needs. Although there is no accepted applicability of “Industrial Internet,” NanoMarkets think it reasonable to assume that Industrial Internets will increasingly be found in factory automation, commercial building automation, the energy industry and public transport of various kinds.
These are different settings in many ways, but NanoMarkets believes that they are all increasingly share a need for rugged networks that connect up complex machines with the purpose of enhancing efficiency, profitability and safety. The hidden assumption behind Industrial Internet concept is that a common platform with similar sensor infrastructure could serve for these many different applications.
Opportunities for Sensors in the Industrial Internet: Large and Growing
Granted this assumption, NanoMarkets believes that the opportunities for sensors in the Industrial Internet are both large in number and fast growing:
To ensure their main objectives Industrial Internets must collect many different kinds of information from machines and their environment making the sensor industry a key beneficiary of the rise of the Industrial Internet. For example, GE’s new battery factory in New York contains more than 10,000 sensors spread across 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space
The Industrial Internet opportunity for sensor makers is not just large; it is growing. Cisco estimates that sensors currently are installed on fewer than 1% of Internet devices. By 2020, Cisco expects 50 billion devices to be interconnected
Transition to specialist sensors expected: Initially, NanoMarkets believes that such deployments will make use of conventional industrial sensors, so the Industrial Internet. This will mean a surge in revenues for established industrial sensor makers. However, NanoMarkets believes that this “surge” will be driven primarily by the absence of sensors that are specifically tailored to the needs of the Industrial Internet. In other words we believe that there is the likelihood of a new kind of sensor emerging to meet the needs of the emergent industrial Internet.
At first such needs will not seem qualitatively different from the needs of sensors in any industrial setting. However, we believe that the circumstances in which Industrial Internet sensors are going to deployed will – within a few years – impose requirements on Industrial Internet sensors that will shape a new generation of sensors. These requirements and likely developments are shown below.
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