“I am thrilled to help Tieto take the driver’s seat in Industrial Internet,” Mr Taneli Tikka said in May last year. One of the most recognized entrepreneurs in Finland, Tikka had just been appointed Head of Tieto’s Industrial Internet business unit.
Industrial what? Many may have heard of the term, but nevertheless remain puzzled as to what exactly does it mean.
Tieto, the largest IT services provider in the Nordic countries, defines Industrial Internet (sometimes also referred to as Industrial Internet of Things) as follows: “The integration of physical machinery with smart processes, big data and advanced analytics. Data from intelligent machines is collected for further analytics in order to, among other things, optimize production processes, ensure efficient workflow, and guarantee the availability of machines.”
Tikka helps us visualize this by referring to his simple three-step approach, “sense, think, and act.”
Sensing, we learn, refers to various forms of data collection. With the aid of sensors, for instance, we can collect data related to the operation of equipment in a production facility. When we examine the data acquired, we need to think. In other words, we need to analyse the data and find out how things are going. Is some piece of equipment perhaps being used in a wrong way, possibly leading towards malfunction, or at least inefficiency? If the answer is “yes”, then we need to… That’s right, act.
“We believe that the best possible results are achieved when smart technology and smart people work together,” Tikka states. “A recent experiment involving chess aptly illustrates this point. In the end, it was neither the chess champion nor the supercomputer that turned out to be the best player; instead, the winning team consisted of two students armed with laptops.”
What Industrial Internet brings to industry, then, is a combination of creativity and performance. It will enable people to configure all kinds of automation according to their own needs, and thus improve productivity. Machines will take care of all the hard work and processing, while people will have more time to work on other things instead of focusing on some mind-numbing routine.
“The technology is also likely to help many companies find unexpected opportunities,” Tikka continues, “such as new kinds of services they would otherwise perhaps never think of. Proactive maintenance enabled by remote monitoring is a prime example of such service, already offered by companies such as Tesla and General Motors.”
“In a famous case, Tesla once updated the brakes in their customers’ cars, and they did it remotely overnight! Previously, Tesla had received complaints about their brakes not being able to handle the steep hills of San Francisco. One morning, customers received a message saying, ‘We have updated the brakes in your car, go ahead and try them out.’”
Great Opportunities for Everyone Involved
It has been estimated that companies automatizing their production and employing more adaptive technologies will have a potential to increase their productivity with up to 30 percent. In today’s world of ever-diminishing resources and faltering economy, this may also mean a vital opportunity to “do more with less”.
To quote an example, Intel announced last October that a pilot project in the company’s factory in Malaysia had achieved savings worth $9 million thanks to Industrial Internet technology. Savings of this kind are unlikely to go unnoticed, and indeed the number of companies – and even cities – utilizing new, smart technology is growing rapidly.
According to other estimates, global investments in the Industrial Internet sector are likely to grow from the approximately $20 billion in 2012 to a mind-boggling $500 billion in 2020. It is worth noting that this figure is based on conservative estimates.
Little wonder, then, that many companies across the globe see Industrial Internet as an enormous business opportunity. It has even been dubbed the “third industrial revolution.”
But isn’t that a bit of an overstatement? If you ask Tikka, it is not. Indeed, Tieto sees Industrial Internet as one of its key growth areas, expecting the business to grow significantly in the near future.
“Today, industries are still relatively unfamiliar with Industrial Internet technology as well as the multiple opportunities it brings along,” Tikka points out. “But these things will be taken for granted in the not-so-distant future, just like today we take for granted innovations such as the traditional Internet or mobile phones that once felt so incredible.”
Third industrial revolution? More results with fewer resources? Sales projections predicting exponential growth? No wonder Tikka is so excited. We should be as well.
Text and image by Industrial PRIME.
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