Automation Pros Define Industrial IoT

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from your work and see how things are going, whether you are having any impact.  For a writer that means checking in with your audience to see what they have to say.  Recently Bill Lydon, the Chief Editor of InTech, the automation magazine, did just that.  InTech has been reporting on Industrial IoT for several years now, and in this month’s column Lydon asked his readers how they would define the terms Industrial IoT and “Industry 4.0”.

The automation pros that responded to Lydon’s request seem well informed, giving thoughtful and well-articulated responses.  Some were simple: “A way to integrate equipment in a network and provide this information to everybody that needs this information.”  Other responses were more elaborate: “A connected network of sensor-based monitoring and production equipment and software, providing actionable information to people to enable better informed decisions. Access to this information is not bound or restricted by a physical connection to the facility where the physical equipment operates.”

Two Main Viewpoints

What stood out to me in this informal survey was that almost all of the responses fell into one or both of two categories:

Communications and Data Transfer – All of the automation pros who looked at the practical, engineering side see IIoT as fundamentally improved communications for better data access.  The words “connect”, “transmit” and “transfer” occur frequently in these responses, among the specific kinds of connected devices and applications.

Transformational – The other type of comments were of the big picture of the benefits to the company of this enhanced data access and communication.  These comments, categorized by Lydon as “transformational,” are perhaps best summed up in the words of one respondent: “… improved quality control, sustainable and green practices, supply chain traceability, and overall supply chain efficiency in industrial manufacturing.”

Our takeaway from this survey is that Lydon and others like him in industrial trade publications are reaching their audience.  A clear picture of IIoT is taking shape in the minds of InTech readers.  We see this as an affirmation of our efforts to provide high-quality data communications for IIoT applications, enabling engineers, managers, and executives to digitally transform their companies.