The digital factory concept has become mainstream, with companies investing more. But few of them are fully digitized. IoT data and new easy to handle industrial software might hasten the digital transformation.
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Camille Rustici, Editor-in-chief
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The digital factory idea is now mainstream, but there is a big gap between where manufacturers are and where they want to be. Research from PWC indicates that 91% of industrial companies are investing in digital factories, but only 6% claim to be fully digitized. IoT data could hasten the transition.
Industrial software is easier to handle nowadays. Generating 3D models of a factory or a city, which once took days of heavy calculations, is now possible with just a few clicks on a desktop computer. This is the new world of reality modeling. Defined as the process of capturing the physical world in 3D, it is...
Who is the tech-augmented worker of the factory of the future?
An enhanced worker who wears an exoskeleton to reduce the physical burden of certain tasks.
A virtual worker who wears AR glasses and a VR headset to work hands-free and simulate tasks.
A collaborative worker who safely works hand-in-hand with cage-free...
Last December, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to end net neutrality. Internet service providers (ISPs) can now slow down Internet speed for certain websites and charge companies to prioritize their traffic in “fast lanes”. For experts, throttling Internet speeds could not only lead to unfair competition but also stifle innovation in autonomous vehicles, IoT and cryptocurrencies.
You could come up with a killer idea that can save society, but if you have to go to each Internet provider and ask them to let your traffic go through, you’ll be at an unfair disadvantage if you don’t pay for fast speed. That’s a danger to innovation.
ISPs on the other hand argue that this will allow them to invest in better infrastructure leading to faster Internet for everyone.
It could be good because the US lags behind many European and Asian countries when it comes to high-speed Internet. However, while dominant companies like Netflix and Amazon will be able to pay for it, how will smaller companies?
Service provider Comcast believes net neutrality should be repealed, stating that ISPs could prioritize instant communication to make self-driving cars safer. However, though autonomous vehicles will generate terabytes of data every day, industry experts point out that most of the data is being processed in the vehicle itself—otherwise a spotty reception could cause accidents.
According to Gillula,
For safety reasons you don’t want autonomous vehicles to be on the Internet so someone can scan and detect them. You want them to be on their own dedicated network. And in that case you don’t have to worry about net neutrality rules applying.
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication typically uses a bandwidth called DSRC to exchange data wirelessly between cars and their surroundings. Several car manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota and Renault are either already using it or will do so soon. If ISPs gain control of the unlicensed spectrum that DSRC runs on, as they’ve expressed interest in, they could then decide to block V2V communication, slow it down unless they’re being paid or decide to use the spectrum for something entirely different.
Internet of Things
As more and more of our devices become smart and connected to the Internet, ISPs could decide to slow down the use of specific home gadgets.
Comcast has announced it is working on its own smart home platform. For Gillula, it would clearly have an incentive to prioritize its own gadgets over those of competitors.
If you have a new product and all of a sudden Comcast decides that it wants to discriminate against a certain type of traffic, then suddenly your IoT device might not work anymore.
In the grand scheme of things, the amount of data that IoT devices transmit is minuscule and isn’t being transferred over the Internet but rather on private networks. For Alfonso Velosa, IoT analyst for Gartner, the biggest issue would be if the volume of data grows rapidly.
Right now there are few enterprises that have more than 1,000 IoT devices, but moving forward it could be in the tens of thousands and that’s where the volume of data could impact it.
The future popularity of cryptocurrencies will decide how much of an impact the repeal of net neutrality will have. If digital assets take off they will generate more traffic which give ISPs an incentive to charge for faster transactions, and decide to ban access to crypto exchanges. Cryptocurrencies rely on peer-to-peer transactions and ISPs have a history of blocking traffic for sites like BitTorrent.
ISPs like Comcast and AT&T won’t do that, but a local Internet provider could decide to limit access to the dark web. And if you live in an area where that’s the only provider, you don’t have much of a recourse.
The different cryptocurrencies exchanges could also be forced to pay for faster Internet to handle large quantities of transactions. That could lead to decide which cryptocurrencies succeed and which die.
For Martin von Haller Grønbaek, IT lawyer for Bird & Bird specializing in blockchain technology, there could be a silver lining.
If traffic is slowed down because cryptocurrencies are not paying for priority, it would have a negative effect. On the other hand, it could also give them an incentive to create alternative systems.
It’s that kind of innovation that have put cryptocurrencies on the map anyway.
The real and virtual worlds have begun to merge in production. It is now possible to create digital twins of a product before it is produced and even simulate the production environment. At Hannover Messe two years ago, DirectIndustry e-magazine met with two big actors of the digitization of the industry: Siemens and Dassault Systèmes. Watch the video report again.
Slice Planner, a new notebook-app combo allows users to transfer notes, drawings and day planner entries to digital form on a variety of devices. The pre-printed clock face diagram in the notebook is designed to facilitate time management, especially for visual thinkers—those who work better with physical representations than with abstractions. The accompanying free iOS and Android apps shift written material to a digital calendar. Powered by Google Cloud Vision with optical character recognition, the system coordinates multiple events, while its augmented reality mode displays scheduling conflicts. The notebook cover is Italian book cloth, and each planner contains 224 undated A5 pages of “premium Swedish paper,” according to the manufacturer. The maker suggests using the left page for planning the day’s events and the right for notes, reminders, lists and diagrams. In addition to 90 GSM cream paper dot grid pages, each planner contains annual and monthly calendars. The notebook also can be used as a traditional planner without the digital enhancements.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…
Lindsay Clark is a freelance journalist specializing in computing. He has won industry awards as news editor at Computer Weekly. He has also written for newspapers including The Guardian, The Financial Times…