The industrial market is a great place for the electronics industry through history in up and down markets in whatever the fad may be, the slow and steady growth is a welcome port in any storm in the business environment. It seems this has recently been augmented because of the growth of some megatrends (shown in Bold), which will give the traditional industrial market a big lift. McKinsey says that the IIot or industrial Internet of things will unlock 6.2 Trillion dollars of value by 2025. What are some of these items specifically?
Big Data and Analytics – we want to measure everything at once – however what to do with all the data? Think – Data-data everywhere and not a drop to drink. If the data is not actionable then what’s the point with all this data flying around and the ability to measure and control everything remotely, then the ability to tamper with it all is a proximate reality so:
Information security becomes highly important. Sensors – putting sensors on everything that matters so you can predict when something will fail is pivotal – you could argue that quite a bit of the semiconductor companies have re-positioned themselves as sensor centric in some way because they see the value in the machine sensor interface. I recently was privileged to co-chair some isolation sessions at APEC on how capacitive and inductive isolation are obsoleting opto-couplers in many industrial applications for example. On the manufacturing side it seems 3D printing stands to re-create manufacturing and probably move things to the point of use. Imagine instead of buying something that has to ship from one place to another the item is printed close to where it is needed or at the point of consumption itself, parts are made where they are needed, saving immense logistics costs.
Are our present corporations equipped to deal with all this? The answer is, probably not – often organizations see change as a threat vs. an opportunity which is why the fortune 500 list sees half of the companies vanish every 10 years or so. This means start up companies in the industrial space working along with the tried and true mega players in the industrial market will be likely winners. Automation is being driven into the data center so not only are we expecting them to be highly efficient we want them to be automated requiring no human intervention – this is well underway with added software and hardware to enable it all.
Finally, to power all of this… recently a colleague of mine called to say he could not keep up with demand of sub 10-watt AC-DC power converters for IIoT applications – that’s telling as power will be needed from nanowatts to tens of kilowatts and more. Energy harvesting is the other major trend – this was also a packed session at APEC and powering the IIoT is going to use this to an extreme degree. If I can put a thermostat or a solar doorbell on the Internet with software to monitor and control it as a consumer item what barriers to entry do you think there are to doing it cost effectively for your product and markets? The opportunity is immense and powering will be needed all along the chain.