Jim Cahill recently wrote about the Emerson Process Management take on the Internet of Things discussion. His report was about a presentation by Charlie Peters at the 2015 Investor Conference. I find it interesting that there is sufficient publicity behind the IoT discussion to bring it up to investors.

Many people strive to define what is included in an Internet of Things technology discussion. Peters’ list hits just about everything. “Ubiquitous connectivity, accessible costs/capacity and powerful & friendly tools. Smart phones, tablets, cellular and wi-fi communications expand connectivity tremendously. Sensors, data storage and computation power lower costs and access. And social networks, big data and prognostics make tools more friendly, intuitive and more valuable to use.”

Why do we care? What applications would be affected (or maybe already are affected)? Peters sees, “monitoring, infrastructure management, intelligent manufacturing and production, energy efficiency and improved environmental performance and compliance.”

I especially appreciate his discussion of implications from possibilities and challenges—increased digital and cloud infrastructure, more intelligent products, enriched business models, and enhanced digital customer models.  

In Emerson Process Management president Steve Sonnenberg‘s portion of the presentation, he highlighted an example of new business models being created with these technologies and services—a steam management operation on Jurong Island in Singapore. Thousands of acoustic wireless devices are being installed to monitor steam traps which are being remotely monitored by Emerson experts to instantly spot energy losses and avoid wasting energy. This results in large energy savings and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. 

I think we have been designing and installing “Internet of Things” technologies for years in manufacturing. The consumer world of connected mobile phones, thermostats, and now watches has served to popularize the term. Regardless, as both suppliers and their customers learn to design new business models to exploit the technology, we will witness another surge of productivity and profitability in manufacturing.

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