Without a doubt, the global Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) business is growing by leaps and bounds. Annual IIoT node shipments are slated to reach 224 million units in 2023, a 100 million unit increase from 124 million in 2018, according to a study by IHS Markit|Technology.
The study, however, also noted that about half of all IIoT deployments are failing. Reasons include planning breakdowns, including the failure to set reasonable objectives and to gather support and cooperation from critical personnel within organizations. Without addressing these issues, the global IIoT market could face major challenges in reaching its growth potential, the study said.
While faster connectivity holds great promise for expanding the IIoT market, the reality is that current deployments are failing as often as they succeed.
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“At the proof-of-concept phase, about half of IIoT projects are failing—which is acceptable for companies attempting to be agile and trial new applications,” said Alex West, senior principal analyst, industrial technology, at IHS Markit|Technology. “However, there is a similar failure rate when companies move to the deployment stage. This means companies are investing enormous sums in these projects but aren’t getting the payback they expected.”
The failure of a project is defined as not meeting the customer’s expected payback. Many times, the high failure rate can be attributed to inflated expectations. A total of 50 percent of companies expect to see payback within one year, although many of these projects can take much longer to generate returns.
The study recommends that manufacturers specify the project by determining in advance the exact challenges IIoT needs to address. Also, manufacturers should start small, with some pilot projects of concepts to see how the technology can be utilized. The study also calls for manufacturers to engage support from all relevant functional groups in the organization, including management.
Another finding from the study was that Ethernet, which has slowly gained momentum in industrial applications, is finally slated to displace Fieldbus as the primary network medium next year. It will account for 43% of IIOT node shipments next year, compared to 41% for Fieldbus.
“There are now more than 1 billion connected devices on factory floors around the world,” said West. “This massive installed base is about to reach a tipping point, with Ethernet overtaking Fieldbus in 2020. The proliferation of Ethernet is enabling the transmission of larger volumes of data. This will ultimately bring in technologies like the cloud that are going to supercharge the IIOT business.”
The arrival of a faster connectivity solution will allow manufacturers to utilize cloud-based solutions to reduce downtime.