I recently attended the ARC World Industry Forum in Orlando, FL. This year’s forum was entitled “Achieving Breakthrough Performance with New Processes and Technologies”, and brought in thought leaders from manufacturers and suppliers to discuss ways to collaborate. It specifically focused on emerging methods and technologies in controls and automation, and how collaboration can bring significant value to manufacturing productivity.
Significant topics included cloud computing, wireless/mobility solutions, and cyber-security. It was interesting to learn that there are more than 10 billion Wi-Fi devices in use in the world today, and that number will grow to over 50 billion devices by 2020. That’s five connected devices per user. Many of these devices are connected to the internet. ARC calls this, “The Internet of things.”
The number of manufacturing companies embracing and adopting these concepts is growing daily. Jody Markopoulos, the President and CEO of GE Intelligent Platforms stated that a study they did predicts that the industrial Internet will add $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Remote monitoring is increasing in popularity, cloud services adoption is expanding rapidly, and the millenials are quickly bringing mobility acceptance to the workplace.
It was encouraging to see that some of these breakthrough technologies align with the work we’ve had underway at The Lakeland Companies in recent years. Five years ago, we introduced our first cloud-based application, Sno-Net, for the railroad industry to monitor track switch heaters in remote areas. More recently, we developed a completely wireless, cloud-based solution for grain operators to monitor their grain stored in ground piles.
Wireless technology, combined with cloud-computing, is enabling the user to be a consumer of information and mobility solutions with a minimal amount of risk and capital investment. At The Lakeland Companies, we believe that cloud-computing, wireless technology, and mobility solutions are mature enough to revolutionize the landscape of automation. Welcome to the industrial internet revolution!