The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the face of global business forever. The rise of low-powered, always-connected devices opens the door to the convergence of information and operational technologies (IT/OT), creating opportunities in automation, smart manufacturing and predictive asset management.
IoT, in a nutshell, is both the hardware and software that allows ‘things’ to gather, transmit and analyse data. It is the devices that connect to one another using unique IP addresses as well as the network that enables that connectivity. It includes sensor-equipped assets, communication electronics as well as data capture and exchange software.
While machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is not new, with M2M networks dating back to the 1990s, IoT is much more than this. It builds upon M2M and mobile networks, incorporates radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies and increasingly uses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to make sense of the information gathered.
The realisation of IoT in the industrial space, referred to as ‘industrial IoT’ (IIoT), will be key to realising the fourth industrial revolution. IIoT itself falls under the umbrella of Industry 4.0, which broadly refers to the digitalisation of industrial markets. The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) coined the term ‘Industry 4.0’ in 2011 as part of its smart manufacturing strategy. Since then the term has spread across the globe to Asia, with governments striving to stay ahead of this latest revolution.
This report focuses on four territories from the Asia-Pacific region – China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore – in order to provide greater insight into how the manufacturing and logistics sectors within each are embracing IIoT technologies. Greater industrial connectivity offers up unique opportunities for each of these four economies.
China perceives Industry 4.0 to be the answer to fundamental demographic and economic shifts that might otherwise spell long-term trouble for its manufacturing sector. Hong Kong, meanwhile, has launched its own ‘reindustrialisation’ campaign that will rely on IIoT to breathe new life into its manufacturing sector. India is embracing Industry 4.0 technologies in the hope of turning the country into an advanced manufacturing hub, delivering on the central government’s economic targets. Singapore, already a technological leader in the Asia-Pacific region, sees IIoT as a means of attracting new industrial investment and is positioning itself as a thought leader in the field.
As IIoT slowly penetrates Asia’s manufacturing sectors, factory owners will be presented with the choice of whether to invest now, later or not at all. Given the scope of change that greater device connectivity promises, those that opt not to enter the race at all are not just risking being left behind, but could vanish altogether in time.