Last week was Hannover Messe – the largest industrial automation fair in the world. Mingo attended to do research on what’s coming in the world of Manufacturing Analytics. This post will only focus on the software side of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
At the show, we noticed the following.
1. IoT/IIoT Platforms
All the major vendors (GE, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM & Siemens) and some of the PLC vendors are pushing their own platforms and trying to get users and developers on them. There are few productized applications on the platforms.
GE launched a new MES product and an Asset Performance Management product but the demos I saw from the other vendors were consulting projects on their platforms. While platforms are great for large companies small to mid-sized manufacturing companies will need products, not platforms to realize the true benefits of the Industrial Internet.
The PLC vendors are focused on providing platforms for their own products and interoperability seems like an afterthought, or the vendors are part of OPC/UA and they believe that will solve all connectivity problems.
2. Pilot Projects
When you talk with the different hardware and software vendors it’s clear they have projects in production but they are pilot projects. Customers and vendors are dipping their toes in the water to see exactly what tangible benefits they will get from IIoT before making larger investments.
This makes sense and is a good sign though this pilot projects the real value of IIoT will be defined and will make the solutions better.
3. Predictive Maintenance
Everyone was talking about using Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence to predict machine/tool failure and other downtime events.
Using ML/AI for predictive maintenance is a great thing and will have huge benefits in the future but very few vendors actually have customers live on these tools and seeing value from them. The problem I see with predictive is the models and algorithms are going to be machine and line-specific and as we discussed above these are consulting projects using tool kits. This approach works well for machine builders and very large manufacturers but they have a long way to go before they will be widely adopted by the mid-market.
Manufacturing companies large and small need solutions that can cover all their equipment in a single solution not one predictive solution for each manufacturer or piece of equipment.
On a side note, the robots were amazing, we saw a demo of a Kuka robot pouring beer for attendees. The robot is too slow to replace a human (pouring a beer every 2 minutes) but it was a great demo.
Overall this is more hardware than software show so it is not a representation of the entire manufacturing software market. We are seeing a lot of progress but very few real-world applications, vendors and customers are still trying to figure out what will work. We found there were only 2 companies showing software remotely similar to Mingo.