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Industry 4.0 – 2021 – IIoT, edge computing and telematic systems with 5G in off-highways vehicles’ explosive year

Edge computing will draw investments to the tune of $ 8.3 billion worldwide by 2025—or a growth rate of 200% over 5 years. To drive them will be operators’ heavy investments to upgrade network capacities and infrastructure and support the increasing data volume generated by the fifth generation of wireless networks, 5G. This is according to a recent study, Edge Computing: Use Cases, Innovation Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2020-2025. The researchers at Juniper Research note that this is a result of network operators enhancing key network functions, by moving infrastructure used for processing data from core network locations to peripheral base stations, that is, to the edge of their networks.

Industrial companies are embracing the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT because of the value it offers: by allowing, firstly, the utmost granularity in the visibility of manufacturing operations; and, secondly, massive data collection from sensors and other devices that can be analyzed and used back in the system. That is what another Juniper Research report assesses: 5G Networks in IoT: Sector Analysis & Impact Assessment 2020-2025. IoT operators could raise $ 8 billion by 2024, or a growth rate of 1400% over 5 years.

Among the factors are the many advantages of processing the data right on site, including speedier decision making to keep operations going without the need to send data to be processed in the central cloud. Operators and companies around the world are devoting substantial efforts to the design and implementation of the networks that will manage and transport data originating in the edge.

Much of the investment in multi-access edge computing will go to upgrading of network capacities and infrastructure to make them fit to manage the colossal volume of data 5G networks allow. “Edge computing is 5G’s secret weapon,” Juniper Research wrote via email.

The study also revealed that by 2025, the number of deployed multi-access edge nodes will reach 2 million globally in 2025, up from 230,000 in 2020. These nodes, which take the form of access points, base stations and routers, will play a vital role in managing the vast quantities of data generated by connected vehicles, smart city systems and other emerging data-intensive services.

Smart cities are emerging as a key sector for operators and planners, because they will benefit enormously from the introduction of multi-access nodes. Cities  offer the best conditions to install 5G compatible edge nodes, the study suggests, utilizing existing city structures, such as street lighting and sidewalks, to mitigate issues of space limitation inherent to densely-populated areas.

The Internet of Things, IoT, is one of the main chapters of the digital transformation that brings together all disruptive technologies in industrial settings also in Italy. Heavyweight telecom operator TIM and Italian machine tool manufacturer COMAU just announced an agreement to create and implement solutions for the manufacturing industry that include 5G connectivity, edge cloud, data analysis, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). A first result of the partnership is the launch of IoTIM, a manufacturing solution  powered by COMAU for remote monitoring and diagnostics of industrial machinery with forecasting and predictive systems The digital farm of TIM Group, Olivetti, is contributing to the project that builds on TIM’s ultrabroadband connectivity, edge cloud and Industrial IoT services, using COMAU’s in.Grid platform.

In Italy, the IoT market topped € 6.2 billion in 2019, an increase of 24% against 2018, according to April 2020 data provided by the IoT Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano.

The partnership will allow TIM and COMAU to help both large companies and SMEs “accelerate their digital transformation,” Maurizio Cremonini, head of marketing at COMAU said.

“The Industrial IoT market will become increasingly important with the implementation of 5G and Artificial Intelligence,” Massimo Mancini, enterprise market executive VP at TIM said. “Joining forces with a globally-recognized leader of technology and innovation reaffirms our commitment to promote and support the digital progress of the country,” he added.

A further case of how vastly the IoT market is extending are the figures of off-highway vehicle telematic systems, that is, Iot devices mounted on industrial vehicles, meaning connected vehicles in the construction, agriculture, forestry and mining industries.

Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4%, the active installed base of off-highway vehicle telematics systems is forecasted to reach 9.0 million units worldwide in 2024, according to Berg Insight‘s  The Global Off-Highway Vehicle Telematics Market 2020-2025.
The construction industry accounts for the largest share, driven by OEM telematics systems offered by heavy equipment manufacturers. Agriculture and mining each account for a similar number of connected units deployed on machines and vehicles used in agricultural and mining operations respectively. The forestry industry’s telematic systems fitted to various forestry equipment account for the remainder.

“The top-10 equipment manufacturers offering telematics in bundle account for more than 75 percent of the total number of off-highway vehicle telematic systems across those industries globally,” Rickard Andersson, chief analyst at Berg Insight said. Berg Insight ranks Caterpillar and Komatsu as the leading off-highway vehicle telematics providers.

“Not surprisingly, the leading equipment manufacturers by market share are also by far the top players when it comes to the number of off-highway vehicle telematics subscribers”, Mr. Andersson said.

This is a natural development, he explained, in an industry where telematics has increasingly been included as standard with the machine purchase, gradually covering more models and equipment categories. “Caterpillar was the first player to reach the milestone of 1 million connected assets.”

Other major manufacturers with installed bases of more than 100,000 units include JCB, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Deere & Company, SANY, Doosan and Volvo Construction Equipment.

Volvo Construction has been using PTC‘s ThingWorx IoT platform for years now.

Several players make use of telematics data to improve customer service. Volvo Construction Equipment, Deere & Company, Hyundai Construction Machinery and JCB have all launched centralized services for the monitoring of customer machine fleets, commonly branded as machine monitoring centers or uptime centers. Such centers are typically manned by data experts who continuously analyze the aggregate machine data to identify issues and solve problems proactively to help customers increase productivity and reduce costs. “The incorporation of smart solutions using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technologies in off-highway equipment can substantially impact worksites and industrial structures,“ Mr. Andersson wrote.