Berg Insight said its latest research into industrial automation networks found that the installed base of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) devices stood at 14.3 million by the end of 2015.
The company now forecasts that the number of wireless IoT devices in automation networks will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.7 per cent to reach 62 million by 2021.
It also found that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are the most widespread technologies in factory automation while cellular connectivity typically is used for remote monitoring and backhaul communication between plants. Berg Insight added that the emerging area of low power wide area networking (LPWAN) -- which includes technologies such as Sigfox, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT -- is a promising alternative in remote monitoring applications.
Industrial use cases are regarded as an important growth area for IoT technologies as well as 5G. Indeed, many companies are now cooperating in this field as part of so-called 'Industry 4.0' initiatives to enable the transformation of industry through new technology and digitisation.
Dieter Wegener from German industry bodies VDE/DKE explained at a Huawei event in Munich last year that the idea behind Industry 4.0 is to bring what is already happening in the consumer world to the industrial and business world -- that is, transforming products into services and making use of wireless sensors, cloud-based services and the IoT to "digitise the value chain".
Christoph Behrendt, SVP of industry and application innovation at SAP, also said at the time that "all products will have an IP address."
Berg Insight senior analyst Johan Svanberg noted that higher levels of automation and IoT solutions enable shorter lead times, lower inventories, increased throughput as well as more flexibility and the ability to respond faster to changing customer needs.
"Wireless communication and industrial IoT solutions can provide integration of different automation systems as well as enterprise systems which enables supply chains to be lean, even with a complex mix of products and output levels," Svanberg said.
- see this Berg Insight release
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