“The real-world, practical advancement of the Internet of Things is taking center stage,” said Matt Jennings, regional president of the Americas for Bosch Software Innovations. Speakers and sessions at Bosch’s event were “centered on the impact that industries and businesses are already feeling as a result of digital strategies and the disruptive nature of IoT, and the innovation opportunities presented by that disruption,” said Jennings.
While attendees from the aerospace, automotive, energy, and water/waste water sectors were relatively abundant at the event, representatives from the Consumer Packaged Goods space were less numerous. One attendee from a large food company who was on hand said that this was rather predictable. “As we saw with robotics and other advanced integrated manufacturing technologies, the early adopters of IoT are emerging first in autos and aerospace,” he noted. “Later it begins to appeal to CPG companies.” According to John E. Gaddum, Business Development Corporate Accounts at Bosch-Rexroth, CPG companies are keenly interested. As he put it to me during a coffee break, “The question they all seem to be asking is where do we start.”
Among the more intriguing presentations at the conference was one in which John Perkins, VP Global Systems of WestRock, described how a Model-Based Engineering approach has been embraced when it comes to designing and producing WestRock packaging machinery that puts beverage containers into paperboard multipacks. Since adopting this concept, the amount of time required to design, build, and ship a multipacking machine has been reduced substantially. Gone is a process that was sequential in nature, where mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and software engineering all worked in silos. In its place is a coordinated collaboration where mechanical, electrical, and software engineering all feed into a Modelica simulation program so that, in essence, a machine gets built virtually before anyone starts bending any metal. According to Scott Hibbard, Vice President of Technology at Bosch Rexroth, with this approach when you put a machine through its initial run sequences, if something goes wrong “you’re crashing pixels instead of metal.” Also making key contributions in WestRock’s Model-Based Engineering initiative were CATIA from Dassault Systemes together with Dassault's 3D EXPERIENCE platform and the Open Core Engineering concepts emanating out of Bosch Rexroth. In his ConnectedWorld presentation, WestRock’s Perkins was joined by co-presenters Dassault and Bosch Rexroth.
What would a conference on IoT be without input from the Industrial Internet Consortium, the open membership, international, not-for-profit consortium that is setting the architectural framework and direction for the Industrial Internet. IIC Chairman & CEO Richard Soley (shown here) moderated a September 28 session called “Creating ties throughout the value chain.” He reported that the IIC, founded in March 2014 by AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM, and Intel, has now grown to more than 250 member companies both large and small and everything in between. Among the gaudy numbers Soley shared were these:
• According to GE’s estimates, IoT represents a $32.3 trillion opportunity representing 46% share of GDP today.
• Cisco says IoT will increase private sector profits 21% and add $19 trillion to the global economy by 2020.
But there are roadblocks to widespread adoption, Soley pointed out, including these:
• 59% of IT professionals say they haven’t started preparing for expected data increase.
• 73% of companies have not made concrete plans for the industrial internet.
• 36% of executives say system barriers between departments prevent collection and correlation of data.
• Many countries have insufficient conditions to support widespread adoption.
• There is an urgent need to refocus education to prepare for the upcoming digital workplace.
Soley’s central message is that the convergence of IoT, Industrie 4.0, Cyber-Physical Systems, Industrie du Futur, and Internet+ presents an enormous opportunity. But it can only be seized if “Internet thinking,” as he put it, is embraced at the most fundamental levels.
Every bit as excited about the promise of IoT is Caralynn Nowinski Collens (shown here), CEO at UI Labs, the Chicago-based first-of-its-kind innovation accelerator aimed at addressing challenges in manufacturing and smart cities that are at the intersection of digital convergence: computing, big data, and IoT. Her advice to conference attendees was to seek out and foster “unnatural alliances” when it comes to IoT. As for the manufacturing sector, it all comes down to this, she said: “How do we connect IT and OT to create the factory of the future?”