Bright Days Ahead For Wireless Automation

A recent report published by Berg Insight details the bright future ahead for Industrial IoT through the implementation of wireless automation technologies.

Berg Insight senior analyst Johan Svanberg noted that higher levels of automation and IoT solutions enable “shorter lead times, lower inventories, increased throughput as well as more flexibility and the ability to respond faster to changing customer needs.”

The wireless IoT device market is served by a multitude of players from various backgrounds including global automation solution providers, automation equipment and solution vendors, industrial communication specialists and IoT communication specialists. This new report from Berg Insight informs us that:

  • 2015 estimate of wireless devices for industrial automation applications reached 4.8 million units worldwide.
  • Wireless devices installed for industrial applications have a forecasted growth rate of 27.7 per cent from 14.3 million connections at the end of 2015 to 62.0 million devices by 2021.

Key Findings from Berg Insight:

Wireless connectivity is instrumental in the Internet of Things era and the use of wireless solutions in industrial automation is increasing rapidly at all levels of automation systems. Industrial automation systems utilise wireless communication to connect remote and local facilities and equipment to increase operational efficiency. A wireless automation system contains a mix of network technologies, equipment and systems including enterprise and automation systems, network equipment, control devices and field devices. The most common wireless technologies in industrial automation include cellular, 802.11.x Wi-Fi, proprietary unlicensed ISM radio, Bluetooth, various LPWAN technologies and 802.15.4 based protocols such as WirelessHART, ISA100.11a and ZigBee.

Berg Insight estimates that shipments of wireless devices for industrial automation applications, including both network and automation equipment, reached 4.8 million units worldwide in 2015. Growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25.1 per cent, shipments are expected to reach 18.3 million by 2021. The installed base of wireless devices in industrial applications is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27.7 per cent from 14.3 million connections at the end of 2015 to 62.0 million devices by 2021. Wi-Fi is widely used for backbone communications as well as in monitoring and control applications within factory automation where Industrial Ethernet has got a strong foothold. Bluetooth is also popular – often as a point-to-point wire-replacement between for example a mobile HMI solution and a field device or control unit. 802.15.4 networks are often used to connect wireless sensors and instrumentation in process automation.

Cellular connectivity is typically used for backhaul communication between plants, connecting remote devices in long haul SCADA applications and for third party access to machinery and robots. LPWAN technologies are increasingly used in certain low data, long range applications. Most of the major vendors of wireless IoT devices in industrial automation offer a wide range of devices with various wireless technologies in order to support many different applications.

Key Takeaways:

Companies are now deepening the integration between industrial automation systems and enterprise applications and the promise of IoT is getting more tangible by the day. Large multinational corporations are beginning to systematically develop and adopt best practices to maximise the benefits of IoT technology in every part of their organisations. IT/OT convergence, smart factories, Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things are concepts which are part of the ongoing evolution of industrial automation.

Innovation in sensors, wireless connectivity, collaborative robots, big data and cloud solutions along with the seamless exchange of information between devices, systems and people pave the way for improved performance, flexibility and responsiveness throughout the enterprise value chain.

For more information, read the full report.