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Guest blog: How COVID-19 is accelerating IoT & Industry 4.0

Author : Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

03 July 2020

Read this guest blog from Mark Gradwell, Editor of sister title EPDT, on how COVID-19 is accelerating IoT and Industry 4.0.

IoT and Industry 4.0 have been hot topics of discussion in engineering, manufacturing and electronics industries for at least a decade – ever since the German government introduced the term ‘Industrie 4.0’ as part of its high-tech strategy for the computerisation and automation of manufacturing at 2011’s Hannover Fair. Meanwhile, electronics is helping enable the smart technologies that underpin both Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), as it becomes integrated into virtually every type and category of device, product and system – providing the sensing, intelligence and connectivity that power such applications.

While the media focus is often on consumer IoT applications – with smart technology proliferating through not only our phones, media and mobile devices, and wearables, but also our vehicles, homes and offices (including lighting, security and safety, and appliances) – Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 represent a huge opportunity for adoption of digital technologies and automation. The ongoing digitalisation of products, services, systems, infrastructure and supply chains is now also impacting, shaping and influencing business models, workflows and processes, driving digital transformation.

These technologies have the potential to transform manufacturing – and whole industries, driving efficiency and productivity, helping reduce costs and improve resilience. But taking advantage of them requires vision, risk and investment – and adoption has therefore remained mixed (and arguably low in the UK). But the current coronavirus crisis may actually prove a catalyst in accelerating adoption.

Digital technologies are enabling the largest global ‘work from home’ experiment ever conducted, helping many more people become exposed to and acquainted, familiar and comfortable with such digital tools and experiences – and driving adoption, usage and therefore development of the tools and infrastructure. Meanwhile, businesses are having to try and figure out how they can be more resilient in the future, protecting their production and supply chains – and Industry 4.0 monitoring, intelligence, connectivity and automation offer a route to solve such problems. Manufacturers are becoming more open to the idea of smart factories – and even ‘dark’ or ‘lights-out’ operation.

It’s surely inevitable that life after lockdown and this COVID-19 pandemic will look very different – and I am certain that will include that rate of adoption for IoT and Industry 4.0…

EPDT's H2 2020 IoT & Industry supplement, included in EPDT's July issue, also contains features on connected smart lighting, Sigfox's 0G network, asset monitoring, tracking & optimising, and predictive equipment maintenance. Read more on what's inside EPDT's H2 2020 IoT & Industry supplement...

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