Bill Morelli, associate director of M2M and IoT at IHS Technology, recently released the “Industrial Internet of Things - 2014” report. It’s an in-depth look at specific drivers, enablers and inhibitors for equipment categories that make up the Industrial segment, in addition to specific use cases. We spoke with Bill recently about some of the findings.
ECHELON: What’s driving the current interest for commercial adoption of the Internet of Things?
BILL MORELLI: Within the broader industrial category, security is a big driver, as is industrial automation, building automation, and commercial transportation.
ECHELON: Haven’t factories been “connected” for a while now?
MORELLI: Yes, although historically, they have not been connected through IP (Internet Protocol)-addressable devices. Now you’re starting to see a bit of consumerization, the same way we’ve seen smartphones start to invade the enterprise and shift how business is done in that world. In factories, there’s starting to be some awareness of how can we use this technology to our benefit.
ECHELON: What are some examples of how factories would benefit from IIoT technology?
MORELLI: It’s all about improving efficiency, reducing downtime, and increasing security and safety. People want to know, “How can I use this connectivity to help me achieve those goals?” An example could be sharing information with a trusted partner. Maybe that’s somebody who’s providing raw material for the factory. Maybe it’s somebody who is doing quality-assurance checks. Maybe it’s equipment providers, to make sure that parts are available or service calls are scheduled as needed.
ECHELON: What are the implications of security for the IIoT?
MORELLI: The Industrial market sector has not always been very security conscious, to some extent because the networks that the machinery operated on have been fairly isolated from the open internet. A lot of that’s been safety driven, obviously, when you start looking at factory automation and these huge industrial machines. A similar example is wireless communications, which for years were seen as a detriment, because they couldn’t afford any lag in response time. If a machine needed to be shut off for safety reasons, it needed to be shut off immediately. There couldn’t be a millisecond lag; they just couldn’t allow for that. Whereas today, the technology’s evolved to a point where those concerns are starting to lessen. We can do things with safety today that we couldn’t do ten years ago, because of the technology that’s available.
Similarly, the networking technology has evolved to the point where accessing systems and equipment over an internet connection is more practical and reliable. But they’ve always been very security conscious, and so they have approached a lot of this with trepidation. So I think industrial, as a whole, started off with a much more conservative approach, but now is starting to warm up to the idea.
ECHELON: Proprietary building automation has also been around for a long time. What about the IIoT is significant for commercial buildings?
MORELLI: You’re seeing a lot of interest in IIoT for building automation around increasing the efficiency of the building, increasing the comfort of the building, etc. There are some wireless solutions for retrofitting building automation that are also becoming more cost effective. Europe is trying to reduce energy use and increase energy efficiency with the 20-20-20 initiative, so that is helping to drive IIoT in the commercial market.
Our aggregated IIoT data for building automation includes building-automation equipment, and building lighting, and commercial-building metering.
ECHELON: Tell us about what you’re seeing in lighting.
MORELLI: A lot of the growth for lighting is in commercial building automation, and that’s what’s helping to push that number up to 23 per cent. LED bulbs are increasing in popularity for commercial buildings. With an LED bulb’s higher bill of materials, people are willing to absorb the cost of wireless connectivity within that, and that starts to make sense now.
MORELLI: People can check out our new Industrial IoT report to get the details.
IIoT Talks is a conversation between industry luminaries and Echelon Corporation about the opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market. Echelon's Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy Toth, will share highlights of these conversations via the company blog. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to email@example.com.