Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)
Investors and business owners alike now have to combine technology and manufacturing in order to be a 21st century company. Yet, as technology and automation advances, companies actually need to learn more about what it means to be human. The boom of sensor technology, which is now a standard part of the majority of devices we own, combined with unlimited amounts of data that is stored about us, and the cost that goes into processing all of this information into an action, is giving space for the rich, complex, confusing and always changing digital world. Cups that know what you’re drinking; smartphones that can determined a product’s specific ingredients in a matter of seconds; even 3D animations that come to life as people scan any dish or food packet – these augmented reality (AR) innovations will have a huge impact not just on how we make our products, but also how we market them, and, for the end-buyers, how and why we consume.
For most people today, a world without technology is almost unthinkable. So, it follows that it should pervade businesses, too – now is the time for factories to jump on board and embrace it to the fullest. The result of this could see a rise in the number of devices that not only analyse, but also harness data to encourage and allow a human experience to the most mundane tasks, while still being completely virtual.
AR may have already prevailed in some industries, and the sales, manufacturing, and retail sectors are seeing increased growth in AR spending, but reports show it may even surpass consumer spending by 2021. In fact, in a new update to the Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide from the International Data Corporation (IDC), it forecasts global revenues for AR and virtual reality (VR) markets to reach US$13.9 billion increase of 130.5 percent from last year.
Let’s review the possibilities: manufacturers would be able to overlay instructions and other helpful information to guide the assembly and maintenance process, whether through apps or specialised AR glasses, for example. This would have significant implications for training and quality control; an expert may no longer need to supervise the layman, as an AR headset guides him or her, removing potential for human error and boosting productivity and efficiency, particularly for complex assembly. There are possibilities and plenty of potential within machine maintenance, expert support and quality assurance, too.
Of course, this kind of progress could lead to AR competing with the other growing trend of automation, a focus at this year’s Gulfood Manufacturing, however many experts would argue that this can only lead to even further innovation, allowing people and technology to further harness artificial intelligence and AR to achieve greater potential. From the consumer perspective, AR-powered apps may make it practical to perform many common repair or maintenance tasks themselves, potentially saving the user time, money and stress. For example, a company’s packaging equipment may not work, so a customer would only need to enter the machine’s symptoms into an app in order to generate a list of potential causes based on the make, model, and year of the machine. Then, the app may guide the firm’s technical department through the different steps of checking and, if needed, repairing or replacing certain parts. Thus, saving time and money.
Rapidly, technology is becoming part of the solution, and the possibilities are endless. But if we don’t start exploring them now, we could be left behind.