04 May 2020
The Internet of Things, more commonly known as IoT, is everywhere. These three little letters open up many doors, more precisely that of connected objects. These smart devices are able to ‘think’ and communicate with the world around them. Up until now, the growth of IoT has been mainly driven by sectors addressing the wider public through the generation of personal data (smart watches, home automation, connected cars, etc.) In the future, it is the Industrial Internet of Things that will step into the foreground with the collection of industrial data, as almost all products in the industrial sector will have built-in sensors.
It’s thanks to innovative and forward-thinking start-ups that a multitude of new applications in the world of industry have emerged. For almost a decade, companies have been taking steps towards this technological transformation in a bid to improve their operational performance or to develop new services. This has all been made possible with the processing of data generated by connected industrial devices. The Industrial IoT allows cities, buildings, urban infrastructures and industrial assets to be run intelligently and this, in turn, helps improve the management of water and energy consumption, allows for the predictive maintenance of machinery, optimises supply chains and the transport of goods, and even supports responsible agriculture.
Contrary to mainstream markets, the requirements of industrial professionals are particularly complex when it comes to connected devices. In order to meet these requirements, industrial connected devices must be extremely resistant, energy efficient, reliable, easy to install and they must be able to keep data secure. This poses a real challenge for electronics companies who are developing products for their industrial clients’ projects. Several variables must be considered, such as whether to have standard or special and innovative features, short product time-to-market, strict pricing restrictions and the capacity to mass produce the product. The electronics industry faces the two-fold challenge of meeting current demand whilst anticipating market developments. In fact, in the long term, industry clients will wish to have ‘connectivity’ natively integrated into their devices. Take Sat Navs as an example: at first they were separate and would be attached to the dashboard. And now, they are automatically built-in to every car.
The role of the electronics industry thus goes far beyond ensuring the performance of the connected objects it develops and manufactures for its clients. Experts in electronics and data must be able to act as advisers to their clients, helping them to transform their products and services whilst limiting the environmental impact of IoT devices and operations.
How can this be achieved? Through smart data, namely through the use of edge computing. This type of data processing stores only necessary information, as opposed to big data which stores vast amounts of data, resulting in high energy consumption from overloaded servers. Or also, by offering industrial clients solutions for optimising the product’s energy consumption, and through R&D by working on renewable energy solutions (energy harvesting or solar power, for example). Finally, by adopting an eco-design approach in the development of IoT devices, the electronics industry can play a part in preserving the planet. The key objective is to reduce the product’s environmental impact as much as possible throughout its lifecycle.
Industrial IoT is undergoing constant transformation and electronics professionals have a key role to play. The French electronics sector is ready to take on the challenges of the future!
This article is taken from a column signed by Stéphane Klajzyngier, Executive Managing Director of the Electronics activity of LACROIX.
In the 90’s, he joined the electronics world, then the mobile industry at Alcatel during its deployment in Asia and at Radio Frequency Systems as president. In 2015, he became Executive Managing Director of the Electronics activity of LACROIX.