As manufacturers integrate IT and OT, they will rely on Industrial IoT (IIoT) platforms dedicated to smart manufacturing to manage their devices, connectivity, infrastructure, and data. These IIoT platforms also help manufacturers implement applications, derive insights, and deliver those insights to the correct stakeholders.
Consequently, IIoT platforms come in a variety of flavours to meet a range of needs. The most suitable definition, however, is that of an Application Enablement Platform (AEP). More than US$32 billion will be spent on these solutions annually by 2025, according to the ABI Research whitepaper, The 36 Transformative Technology Stats You Need to Know for 2021.
AEPs provide a solution for importing data, but they often require partners to provide gateways. Some AEPs, such as Siemens MindSphere, Emerson Plantweb, and PTC ThingWorx, provide a “one-stop shop” that can take data from devices and work like an Operating System (OS) with an app store.
“Some one-stop shops focus more on extracting data and getting data to the cloud, while others focus more on delivering the data to other manufacturing and enterprise systems. If app development remains open, applications can be built by the AEP provider, from partners (which may also be called platforms), end users, or independent developers, much like smartphone app stores,” explains Ryan Martin, Industrial and Manufacturing Research Director at ABI Research.
Another Industrial and Manufacturing trend highlighted in the whitepaper: smart glasses will no longer be a novelty on the factory floor with the number of connections forecast to grow from 1.4 million in 2019 to 20.9 million in 2025 (at a CAGR of 57%).
Michael Larner, principal analyst at ABI Research, says the rapid growth in connections reveals that solutions based on AR are fast becoming a mainstream technology on the factory floor.
He opined that these AR glasses can increasingly be part of manufacturers’ plans for onboarding staff, for providing top-up training in context, and for enabling more experienced staff to remotely support juniors.
“As well as maturing use cases, the growth in connections is evidence that the glasses will become comfortable enough to wear over an extended period and that investments in cellular networks means that the embedded software can support the staff in real time,” explains Larner.
ABI Research’s chief research officer, Stuart Carlaw says, “We have selected, from among the many millions of data points ABI Research creates each year, to focus on some enlightening data points that matter in the year ahead. Aspects like Tiny Machine Learning (TinyML), private cellular networks, Open Radio Access Network (RAN), blockchain, smart manufacturing platforms, and even connected cows point to how technology advancements are allowing our physical world to be better connected, managed, and efficient. The forecasts presented in this paper may be easy to dismiss but are directional indicators of the technology-enabled world of the future.”