Tag: iiot

What the Internet of Things will look like 10 years from now

I was asked recently where do you see the Internet of Things in 10 years?

It is a cool question to think about, and to frame it properly it helps to think back to what the world was like 10 years ago, and how far we have come since then.
iPhone launch 2007

Ten years ago, in 2007 Apple launched the iPhone. This was the first real smartphone, and it changed completely how we interact with information.

And if you think back to that first iPhone with its 2.5G connectivity, no front facing camera, 3.5 inch diagonal 163ppi screen and compare it to today’s iPhones, that is the level of change we are talking about in 10 years.

In 2027 the term Internet of Things will be redundant. In the same way that we no longer say, “Internet connected smartphone”, or “Interactive website” because the connectedness and interactivity are now a given, in 10 years time all the things will be connected and so the term Internet of Things will be superfluous.

Having said that, while the term may have become meaningless, that is only because the technologies will be pervasive, and that will change everything.

With significant progress in low cost connectivity, sensors, cloud-based services, and analytics, in 10 years we will see:

  • Connected Agriculture move to vertical and in-vitro food production, which will see higher yields from crops, lower inputs required to produce them including a significantly reduced land footprint, and the return of unused farmland to increase biodiversity and carbon sequestration (in forests)
  • Connected Transportation will enable tremendous efficiencies, and a major increase in safety as we transition to predictive maintenance of transportation fleets, as vehicles become autonomous and have vehicle-to-vehicle communication protocols as the norm, and as insurance premiums start to favour autonomous driving modes (Tesla cars have 40% fewer crashes when in Autopilot mode according to the NHTSA)
  • Connected Healthcare will move from the current reactive model to a more predictive healthcare, with sensors alerting of irregularities before any significant incident occurs, and the possibility to schedule and 3D print “spare parts”
  • Connected Manufacturing will enable the transition to manufacturing as a service, distributed manufacturing (3D printing) and make mass customisation with batch sizes of one very much the norm
  • Connected Energy with the sources of demand able to ‘listen’ to supply signals from generators, will facilitate moving to a system of demand more closely matching supply (with cheaper storage, low carbon generation, and end-to-end connectivity). This will stabilise the the grid and eliminate the fluctuations introduced by increasing the percentage of variable generators (solar, wind) in the system thereby reducing electricity generation’s carbon footprint
  • Human computer interfaces will migrate from today’s text-based and touch based systems towards Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR and MR) systems, with voice and gesture enabled UIs
  • And finally, we will see the rise of vast Business Networks. These networks will act like automated B2B marketplaces, facilitating information sharing amongst partners, empowering workers with greater contextual knowledge, and augmenting business processes with enhanced information

Many other aspects of our lives will be greatly improved (I’ve not mentioned improvement to logistics and supply chains with complete track and traceability all the way through the supply chain as a given, for example).

We are only at the start of our IoT journey. In 2007 when the smartphone was starting out the incredible advances we’ve seen as a consequence (i.e Apple’s open sourced ResearchKit being used to monitor the health of pregnant women) weren’t obvious, but they have happened. With the increasing pace of innovation, falling prices for components, and amazing network effects from the connected Internet of Things, the future looks very bright, even if we no longer use the term Internet of Things.

Photo credit Garry Knight on Flickr

Internet of Things, renewables and storage – a perfect storm for utilities’ digital transformation

Without doubt it is a time of great turbulence in the electric utilities space.

In most regions globally, wind and solar are now our cheapest sources of electricity generation, even without subsidies.

As a consequence of this, wind has overtaken nuclear, hydro and coal to become the second largest source of electricity generation in EU in 2016 [PDF]. And at the same time in the US, the solar market is smashing records and grew 95% in 2016 alone.

Then there is storage. Costs here have been tumbling too. So much so that Morgan Stanley predicts the storage market to grow from the roughly $400m in 2016, to a market size of $2-4bn by 2020. This will have big implications for utilities’ ability to add more variable generators (renewables) to their mix without destabilising the grid.

Speaking of grid stabilisation, the refrain up until now has been that for every MW of renewables built, a MW of gas had to also be built as a backstop (for days with no wind, or overcast days, or nights). However, this too has changed. Last August First Solar ran a tests with CAISO (the California grid operator) to test a solar farm’s ability to smooth out grid fluctuations. The results of the test demonstrated that solar farms are able to meet, and sometimes exceed, the frequency regulation response usually provided by natural-gas-fired peaker plants.

Things are changing on the consumption side of the house too.

solarinstall2016

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

As can be seen from the chart above, installations of residential PV are rising, as is home storage, and another form of potential consumption and storage (v2g), the electric car, saw sales rise by 37% in the US in 2016.

Then there is the whole digitisation of the grid. Now all new equipment is being built with inbuilt ‘smarts’ and connectivity, and even older infrastructure can be retrofitted, so with the advent of the smart grid, we will finally have the possibility of the Electricity 2.0 vision I was talking up back in 2008/09. This is a smart grid where appliances in the commercial or residential worlds can ‘listen’ for pricing signals from the grid, and adjust their behaviour accordingly, taking in electricity when it is plentiful, and switching to alternative sources/lowering consumption when electricity is in high demand.

With the cost of generation dropping, with no end in sight, the cost of storage similarly falling, as I have posited previously, there is a strong possibility that utilities will have to switch to broadband-like ‘all-you-can-eat’ business models with the utilities differentiating, and making their revenue on added services.

Everything is changing for the electric utility industry – and so, against that backdrop, and the fact that I will be presenting on IoT and Utilities at the upcoming International SAP for Utilities Conference in Lisbon, I decided to have a chat with IDC Research Director Marcus Torchia, about the implications for utilities of these huge changes.

We had a great discussion, and many of the themes we touched on, I will be talking about at the Utilities event in Lisbon.

You can check out our chat in the video above, play it in the audio below, or listen to it on the IoT Heroes podcast site.

SAP Announces: Leonardo, Jump-Start program, and Leonardo event to help organizations get started with IoT

…learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else

Leonardo da Vinci

SAP made a big announcement today related to its Internet of Things (IoT) products. The announcement is in three parts:

  1. SAP is branding its IoT Innovation portfolio SAP Leonardo – naming it after the great visionary, inventor, and artist Leonardo da Vinci
  2. Then, following on from SAP’s announcement of the €2bn investment in IoT, SAP is a launching a Jump-Start program to help organisations get started on their IoT pilot programs quickly and reliably and
  3. SAP also announced plans for its first global SAP Leonardo event for SAP customers, partners and IoT experts in Frankfurt Jul 11-12

 

SAP Leonardo

Digging into the announcement a little bit, SAP has long needed strong branding to pull together its offerings in the IoT space. The choice of the Leonardo name is a particularly apt one given, da Vinci’s timeless association with breathtaking vision (Leonardo dreamt up helicopters, tanks, submarines, amongst other things long before the technologies existed to create them). But there is another, possibly less obvious reason, it is an appropriate choice of name – the Internet of Things crosses all verticals (this is one of the reasons I find it so interesting), and so too did da Vinci. He didn’t restrict himself to painting, or sculpture, as many other great artists did. In fact, the Wikipedia entry for Leonardo states

Leonardo was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time

Apt indeed.

The SAP Leonardo Portfolio has the following components:

  • Connected Products – Enable end-to-end visibility to product-centric operations and ability to optimize compliance visibility and service availability
  • Connected Assets – Connect production systems and assets with manufacturing and Maintenance business processes to reduce operational and maintenance cost and increase uptime of assets.
  • Connected Fleet -Track, monitor, analyze and maintain all moving assets, wherever they are in the network
  • Connected Infrastructure – Delivers new forms of digital operational intelligence to transform physical-infrastructure systems to improve service, drive economic growth, and allow for more efficient and cost-effective operations, infrastructure compliance and risk mitigation.
  • Connected Markets – Foster local markets, cities, urban and rural areas to optimize utilization of natural resources and assets, reduce emissions, congestion and energy usage and improve the environment.
  • Connected People – Strives to improve lives, work and health by connecting people and communities and providing better lifestyle experiences and opportunities for organizations to evolve into new business models

 

SAP Jump-Start program

Then under the new SAP Leonardo brand, and following on from the recent announcement of SAP’s €2bn investment in the Internet of Things, part two of the announcement talks about the new SAP Leonardo Jump Start program. This is, I believe, hugely important for any organisations looking to start an IoT pilot program in earnest.

The offering consists of an executive design thinking session to kick off the customer’s project and identify an area for innovation, a rapid prototyping workshop to develop a real prototype to validate the vision, and finally an implementation phase to convert the prototype into a live pilot project and define an IoT roadmap for further business processes.

To my mind, the most interesting aspect of the offer though is that it has a fixed price for the software and services to cover the pilot and first year of usage of SAP Leonardo solutions. I can see this proving very compelling for organisations looking to investigate seriously the IoT, but not wishing to encounter sticker shock.

The details of the offer are as follows:

  • Today there are offers for 4 solutions in Q1 – Connected Goods, Vehicle Insights, Predictive Maintenance, and Asset Intelligence Network
  • In Q2 SAP plans to further offer Global Track & Trace, Distributed Manufacturing
  • Jump-Start uses the standard solution in pilot and all are Cloud solutions
  • It is available in all regions
  • Industry Value Engineering is included to help generate the business case
  • The pilot includes services and a 1 year contract for the Cloud license for 1 solution. The pilot is a 3 month project.
  • Can be purchased by client through their sales representative or visit SAP.com.
  • And SAP are currently evaluating opportunities for 3rd party participation.

 

And finally there is the announcement of the first SAP Leonardo event this coming July.  This should provide an amazing opportunity for customers, partners, and SAP experts to discuss progress on the first six months of the SAP Leonardo announcement, and Jump-Start program.

Leonardo da Vinci once famously said:

…people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things

Leonardo da Vinci

With this announcement SAP are telling the market that now is the time for SAP to go out and happen to the Things.

IoT, IIoT, Industry 4.0 – what’s what?

The Internet of Things is a very nascent area, and as with all maturing topics, the language surrounding it can be a little confusing. This is especially true when the terms are so new, and not always self-explanatory.

So, what are the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Industry 4.0?

Well, IoT (the Internet of Things) is obviously the broadest of all the terms, and it encompasses the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as well as Industry 4.0.

 

However, IoT also includes the consumer’s Internet of Things. Devices like Nest thermostats, Philips Hue lightbulbs, and August smart connected door locks, for example fall into this category. As mentioned previously on this blog, smart home, or consumer IoT is languishing at the moment for a variety of reasons.

The Industrial IoT (aka IIoT), on the other hand is starting to really take off.

When you talk about the IIoT, you talk about everything along the value chain. Not only manufacturing, but also connected vehicles, transportation optimisation, instrumented agriculture, smart cities, and so on. This space is now starting to see serious investment because the technologies are hitting the right price point, the standards are starting to come together, and successful examples such as the SAP-TrenItalia implementation which is providing savings of €150m per annum on a €50m total investment demonstrate the viability of such investments.

Organisations such as the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) work with companies to set the standards, best practices and processes of the Industrial Internet. This work is vital for the success of the IIoT. This is why SAP is heavily involved in this organisation, with SAP EVP Dr Tanja Reuckert being Vice Chair of the Steering Committee.

Here’s my interview with the IIC’s Executive Director, Richard Soley.

And finally we come to the term Industry 4.0, which you can also hear mentioned in conversations about the internet of Things. What exactly is Industry 4.0? Well it refers to digitisation of manufacturing specifically – it focuses primarily on production and the shopfloor within manufacturing organisations.

The term refers to the fourth industrial revolution, and unsurprisingly it has its roots in Germany. Industry 4.0 (sometimes called Industrie 4.0) also has a number of organisations working with industry to create standards. One of the most active is Platform Industrie 4.0, a body which has its roots in the manufacturing arena, and is now converging with the IIC with respect to standards. And again, because Platform Industrie 4.0 is so heavily involved in setting the standards for Industrie 4.0, SAP are deeply engaged.

So, to summarise, IoT is the overarching term referring to all aspects of the Internet of Things, IIoT is IoT as applied to industry, while Industry 4.0 is IIoT specifically for manufacturing organisations.

Italy’s train operator invests big in IoT

TrenItalia has invested €50m in an Internet of Things project which it expects to cut maintenance costs by up to €130m anually, to increase train availability, and improve customer satisfaction ratings.

There is a lot of hype around the Internet of Things (IoT) these days, so it is refreshing to see an IoT story with some real traction (terrible pun, sorry!).

TrenItalia, the primary train operator in Italy, and SAP had a big launch event recently to announce a partnership whereby TrenItalia are using SAP’s IoT technology to help manage the maintenance of the TrenItalia fleet.

TrenItalia operates around 8,000 trains per day, which is in itself, no mean feat. However, it wanted to make its service even more efficient so it looked to the Internet of Things to help.

Historically maintenance on trains was scheduled based on how long the train was in service, how many kilometers it had travelled, or if a failure ocurred, and as a consequence many times the maintenance happened before it was needed.

Trains have had sensors installed for some time now, however typically they wrote their data to log files which were examined at the journey’s end. With the new Dynamic Maintenance Management solution (DMMS), TrenItalia is deploying sensors on all its trains to report back detailed data on the trains’ performance in realtime. The data is used to track where the trains are, to schedule maintenance when it is actually needed, and to increase the safety, and reliability of the entire locomotive fleet.

The trains have between 500-1,000 sensors capable of generating up to 5,000 data points per second measuring variables like motor temperature, line voltage, and braking effort. This data is transferred to TrenItalia’s 6 terabyte in-memory database, and can be stored ultimately in their 1 petabyte cloud storage facility.

The cost of the project to TrenItalia is €50m, which may sound like a lot, but according to TrenItalia CIO Danilo Gismondi, they expect the solution to save them between €104m – €130m per annum (8 – 10% savings in the annual maintenance budget of €1.3bn). There are also savings of an estimated €10-€20m from not having to pay fines and penalties to customers and regulators associated with train failures and delays.

Apart from the financial savings, other benefits of the solution include:

  • a reduction in the unplanned unavailability of trains (leading to a 5-8% increase in train availability)
  • a reduced stock of spare parts
  • a reduction in the amount of time locomotives spend in maintenance and
  • a realtime look into the status of the entire TrenItalia fleet with the ability to be alerted to issues on any one individual locomotive before problems arrive

At €50m, this is a significant outlay for TrenItalia, but they are now battling against competitors on many fronts (air travel, buses, and even ride-share schemes like Uber). Knowing this, a big motivator for TrenItalia’s undertaking the project was to increase customer satisfation ratings. As TrenItalia CEO Barbara Morgante put it

Customers have to choose us because we’re better than others

The transformative nature of the Internet of Things should not be underestimated. With this one solution TrenItalia is saving over €100m a year, it is increasing the safety and reliability of its trains, and it is providing a better service for its customers.

Is the IoT hype justified? Will it change everything, or is it a passing fad?

All the buzz in tech these days is about the Internet of Things. Is the hype justified? Will it change everything, or is it a passing fad?

Tl; dr. It depends, yes, and no. In that order.

To expand a little on that:

Is the hype justified?

It depends on where it is being used, and what for.

So, the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in industry is really taking off. In fact, just recently (end of July 2016) 451 Research released a report stating that 65% of enterprises are already using the Internet of Things.

There are numerous examples across many sectors – everything from:

As you can see the Industrial Internet of Things (often termed IIoT) is booming, driven by large cost savings, accompanied by deep data insights, and very often reduced carbon emissions.

In the residential sector though, the story is quite different.

There are now Internet of Things connected doorbells, thermostats, lights, televisions, coffee makers, watches, baby monitors, security cameras, lawn sprinklers, refrigerators, even hearing aids.

But the smart home Internet of Things is not yet living up to the hype. The Google Nest, for example only sold 1.3m devices in 2015. All these Things are supposed to offer more convenience, so why aren’t they flying off the shelves?

Two reasons:

  1. Cost – Internet connected things for the home are not cheap. In an industrial setting, adding $1,000 worth of sensors to a wind turbine (for example) is a no-brainer if that wind turbine costs $10m, and the sensors are going to make it more efficient at producing energy, and reduce the chances of its failure, whereas if you are a homeowner, it is very hard to justify paying €200 for 3 internet connected Lightbulbs when a regular Philips LED bulb retails for €6!
    Amazon Screenshot
  2. Lack of convenience – this may sound like a strange one given I said that the Internet of Things was supposed to add to your convenience. Unfortunately the opposite is often true. Each of the IoT items I listed above has its own app, which you need to download, setup, create an account on, and then open up, every time you want to use/control your Thing. We are starting to see some over-arching platforms now which are supposed to help us control all our devices (HomeKit from Apple, SmartThings from Samsung, and Thread from Google), but, if anything are adding to the confusion.

standards

We have Philips Hue, and Lifx LED bulbs in my home, along with Belkin WeMo Switches. The bulbs are now turned on and off at the wall, because it is easier than using an app, and so could just as easily be ‘dumb’ bulbs, and the Belkin WeMo switches failed shortly after getting them (they no longer can connect to the wifi network), so they are taking up space now at the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

Is the residential Internet of Things doomed?

Not at all. If the technology world has taught us anything it is that devices get better and cheaper as time goes by. Just compare the first iPhone to an iPhone 6 to see what I’m talking about.

So, in time, the cost of making connected bulbs will be so low that all bulbs will be connected by default. Ditto coffee machines, refrigerators, etc. Whether we choose to make use of devices ‘smarts’ will depend then very much on how the standards war works out.

The transition will take longer as well because, while we typically change phones every 1-2 years, Our home appliances (doorbells, refrigerators, even LED lightbulbs) tend to have a life more typically of 10-20 years.

So, the residential Internet of Things, as long as it remains expensive, lacks the type of economic imperative which the IIoT has, and doesn’t have a dominant, open standard, will proceed slowly. It will be 5-10 years at the very least, before homes are truly ‘smart’. And even then, a lot of the growth in this sector will likely come from devices subsidised by utilities (such as British Gas’ Hive product range), for energy efficiency programs, or the provision of services.

In the meantime, the Industrial Internet of Things will boom. Justifying the hype, changing enormously how businesses operate, and demonstrating that this is no passing fad.