9 April, 2020

Unleashing the potential of Industry 4.0

27 November, 2019

Gardner Denver discusses the issues and opportunities surrounding data and the insights it can deliver in the compressed air industry.

It is estimated that more than 14 billion connected devices will be in use by the end of 2019, growing to 25 billion by 2021. These systems produce an incredible amount of raw data, which can then be analysed to provide valuable insights that could lead to tangible benefits for industrial users on the ground, such as enabling preventative maintenance of networked machines, reducing waste and improving worker safety.

However, this is where the question of trust begins to arise. Much of the commentary that we hear on the IoT often centres on how the data produced by our devices is being used.

Indeed, a report from the British Computer Society has noted that: “Numerous smart energy projects in the US and Europe have already had to be abandoned because consumers didn’t trust the intentions of energy companies when installing smart meters in the home.”

To make matters more complicated, just as consumers sometimes struggle to trust what companies will do with their personal data, businesses sometimes struggle to trust what will happen to the data used and produced by their equipment.

Relating to data

Data, analytics and information can and will change the way we do business. However, there are several barriers involving both people and processes that are slowing down the adoption of these new ideas and concepts.

One of the most important of these is how we relate to our data in terms of both trust and openness. To understand this, we can take a look at known examples of big data drivers across any organisation. These are the ability to compute and analyse, the availability of data, and the need to deliver and extract value.

The technology for all this is already in place, but each has its own barrier relating to trust. If there is no trust that the data will be reliable, available, or useful, then organisations will not be able to make the most use of the data being collected and analysed.

 Managing expectations

It would be fair to say that the amount of media and cultural attention dedicated to IoT technology has created many expectations. Among the most prominent of these are hopes that adopting IoT-enabled machines will generate significant revenue, or fears that they will result in the business – and its data - being hacked.

Unfortunately, a dashboard in a web browser gives data but doesn’t deliver savings directly. Even with advanced AI or by creating auto-rules, we still require human intervention; we still require process change.

Indeed, we need behaviours to change, but to do this we must establish trust between all parties involved in the IoT supply chain. Clearly there is not one pure answer to making IoT become successful. But the IoT is not a single answer; in most cases, it is an enabler.

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