Ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky is famously quoted as saying: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” And so it is for vendors in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market.
I recently attended a grand opening ceremony by Silicon Valley firm Aeris, a data capture vendor in the IIoT space. This is a market that is growing in importance as more firms go digital.
Aeris was opening an office in downtown Chicago replete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The IIoT world shares a number of similarities and technologies with the Consumer Internet of Things (CIoT) world. However, there are significant differences in the kinds of devices that are connected and the volumes of data that’s generated.
In the IIoT world, the technology that are connected include physically large machine tools or other capital assets like earthmoving trucks, conveyors, packaging machinery, MRI scanners and so on. While the number of sensors per piece of equipment can be significant, the numbers vary considerably from machine to machine and industry to industry.
Pratt and Whitney used to include less than 100 sensors per engine several years ago. Today, it numbers approximately 5,000 sensors per engine. Last year, McKinsey reported that oil rigs generate more than 30,000 data points.
CIoT devices like televisions, doorbells and so on may only generate data when a user takes an action or prompt a user to take action. In contrast, industrial machine tools may generate months or years’ worth of machine status data that simply confirms the machine is operating within specified tolerances. In other cases, real-time data is used to make immediate decisions.
Data analysis in the IIoT world involves a different set of problems and requires different types of tools and data analysis approaches.
For example, a single jet aircraft may generate half a terabyte of sensor data per flight. However, the engine may have performed perfectly and within specifications. No action is required at the end of this routine flight. However, this data still requires analysis to facilitate routine preventative maintenance. In the IIoT, identifying anomalies is key and identifying which anomalies are important is critical to efficient operations.
In the CIoT world, many of the recorded events are actionable items. If your digital, cloud enabled doorbell is notifying you on your cell phone that someone is standing on your front porch, you might want to act on that information. But, thankfully, that electronic doorbell is not contacting you thousands of times per day notifying you that no one is currently at your doorstep at that moment.
IIoT devices have to be sophisticated. Without context, one cannot tell if a sudden vibration experienced by one machine was actually caused by something in that machine or may have been the result of the machine being accidentally hit by a fork truck. Which corrective action is required requires specialized analysis.
Aeris has come to Chicago because that city is within a highly industrialized and machine tool-intensive part of the Midwestern United States. Simply put, Aeris wants to be close to its target market not just to its West Coast investors/founders.
Chicago has a significant number of highly educated citizens within its population. According to Mayor Emanuel, 34% of residents have a 4-year degree, as well as access to a large number of universities. And of course, how can we forget that Chicago has all those airports and airlines serving all those domestic and international routes. (sic)
I get it. For once upon a time, I launched a dot-com here in Chicago with colleague Vinnie Mirchandani. We liked a lot of things here regarding the workforce and its substantially lower cost of living vis-à-vis Silicon Valley. Aeris joins fellow IoT pioneer and unicorn Uptake in making Chicago a base for expansion.
Aeris solutions are designed to capture information from a variety of sources (e.g., machine tools, automotive vehicles, etc.) and transmit this information either directly, via the Internet or via mobile technology for further analysis. The company can support a number of verticals beyond manufacturing (e.g., healthcare and utilities).
Moves like this tend to signal shifts in the market. This is clearly one of those that indicate that IIoT is not only real but is also going mainstream.
For competitive reasons, more and more manufacturers will have no choice but to embrace these new technologies and capabilities. And now that there are more and more companies capable of providing the services, applications and underlying productivity capabilities that make the IIoT come to life, fence sitting is no longer an option.
Now, companies that are based in the US industrial heartland don’t have to fly halfway across the country to meet with experts and see this technology firsthand.
Welcome to Chicago, Aeris.
Image credit - Top of story via the author, diagram via Aeris, featured image via GE