Jim Hilton-197 percent of survey respondents in the manufacturing industry believe IoT is the most significant technology initiative of the decade.

OK, that is the kind of statistic that grabs the attention of someone who writes extensively about the Industrial Internet of Things. But the statistic also seems counter to other surveys I have seen where most manufacturers seem to be clueless about IoT and what benefits it will bring versus the imagined cost of implementation.

The press release came from Zebra Technologies Corporation. You know, the industrial printer company, right? I remember reselling Zebra printers 20 years ago. The press release led to a conversation with Jim Hilton, senior director, Global Manufacturing Principal, Zebra Technologies.

He came to Zebra by way of Symbol Technologies which had been acquired by Motorola Solutions which was acquired Nov. 1 by Zebra. Yes, it’s far more than a printer company. He describes the company as an IoT company that does printing. However, he also looks at IoT as an over-used term. He’s probably on the right track with that observation.

In November 2014, Zebra released global findings from Forrester Consulting on the adoption of IoT across numerous industries, surveying IT and business decision makers from nearly 600 global firms.

That is the source of the quote leading this post. Other findings include:

  • 83 percent of surveyed manufacturers either already have IoT implementations in place or plans to deploy within a year.
  • Wi-Fi, real-time locating systems (RTLS), security sensors, barcodes, GPS and mobile computers were cited as the most important technologies for enabling IoT solutions.
  • Less than five percent of respondents believe the manufacturing industry is not prepared to make the changes required to implement IoT solutions.
  • Half of the surveyed manufacturers cited cost concerns as the largest barrier to adopting IoT solutions while 46 percent indicated privacy and security concerns along with integration challenges.

Hilton went on to say, “Manufacturing operations are running more efficiently than ever before due to the installation of smart machinery and sensors on connected factory floors driving less machine downtime, better asset utilization and faster time to market. Our survey affirms that Industry 4.0 is well underway but more education and information sharing can be done to increase IoT adoption in the manufacturing space. Zebra Technologies is committed to bridging this gap by enabling a more intuitive manufacturing experience where processes, tools and staff are more deeply and smartly interconnected.”

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