According to IHS Markit Technology, the number of IIoT node shipments will reach 224 million units in 2023. In 2018, 124 million units were shipped. Moreover, according to the research company, Ethernet will displace Fieldbus as the primary network medium in 2020, with the number of Ethernet IIoT nodes shipped being somewhat higher. A tipping point, with consequences.

Ethernet will account for 43% of IIoT node shipments, compared to 41% for Fieldbus

Industry 4.0 is often tackled from the perspective of the various technologies, which are commonly even used to define what Industry 4.0 really means. You probably know them: big data and analytics, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, the list goes on.

Although there is a lot of attention for the more powerful and advanced Industrial IoT technologies such as digital twins and advanced robotics to mention a few, reality is that many foundational technologies aren’t as present yet as one might expect given the fact they’re essential to solve critical challenges, for instance regarding the reduction of downtime.

Ethernet overtaking Fieldbus in 2020 - quote Alex West IHS Markit Technology

And of course, it’s not just about the technologies. End-to-end integration of data – the horizontal and vertical way – is still far away, and the complex reality of IT and OT convergence remains essential, not just with regards to the technologies either. When looking at these 4IR technologies, there is still quite some work on the level of dealing with data and analytics, with regards to industrial cybersecurity as has become abundantly clear in recent years and, most certainly, in the field of cloud computing and those cloud-based solutions enabling to reap the data-intensive benefits offered in numerous IIoT scenarios . Cloud might not be that often mentioned as a critical enabler of use cases that are high but it still has a long way to go in many industries.

The proliferation of Ethernet: enabling transmission of larger data volumes and bringing in the cloud

According to IHS Markit Technology, now a part of Informa Tech, that is about to change. And the fact that Ethernet will overtake Fieldbus in 2020 (and proportionally continue to outgrow Fieldbus in the years after as the graphic below shows) is mentioned as a reason for this evolution.

The research company points out that, although Ethernet solutions have been in place for several decades, their adoption so far has been slow, while industrial assets traditionally employed Fieldbus to connect to the industrial network.

Alex West, senior principal analyst, industrial technology, at IHS Markit Technology says there are now over 1 billion connected devices on factory floors. With Ethernet overtaking Fieldbus in 2020,  that massive installed base is about to reach a tipping point, he states. The proliferation of Ethernet enables the transmission of larger volumes of data West adds – and this, in turn, should ultimately bring in technologies like the cloud that will “supercharge the IIoT business”.

Ethernet will account for 43 percent of IIoT node shipments in 2020 compared to 41 percent for Fieldbus per IHS Markit Technology - source and more information
Ethernet will account for 43 percent of IIoT node shipments in 2020 compared to 41 percent for Fieldbus per IHS Markit Technology – source and more information

According to IHS Markit Technology, Ethernet will displace Fieldbus as the primary network medium for the first time in 2020 and account for 43 percent of IIoT node shipments next year, compared to 41 percent for Fieldbus.

With faster connectivity solutions, manufacturers can leverage cloud-based solutions for various purposes. West mentions a few use cases that rank high on the priority list of industrial companies and environments: reducing downtime and monitoring assets.

“The arrival of a faster connectivity solution will allow manufacturers to utilize cloud-based solutions to reduce downtime,” West says, reminding that unplanned downtime is one of the critical challenges industrial companies face. By way of an example, he mentions that in the automotive industry, $20,000 to $30,000 per minute is lost through unplanned downtime. Through industrial IoT solutions, organizations should be able to reduce this with an estimated 30 percent.

While faster connectivity holds great promise for expanding the IIoT market, the reality is that current deployments are failing as often as they succeed

The IIoT market is booming, IHS Markit Technology states. And now that this tipping point with the mentioned Ethernet milestone arrives, including all the possibilities enabled by faster connectivity, the market should expand, and the way should be paved for the proliferation of cloud-based technologies. So, things look good.

However, at the same time half of all IIoT deployments are failing per IHS Markit Technology. The reasons why are explained by Alex West in the announcement we received and are food for an additional article. Often the high failure rate can be attributed to inflated expectations according to West and IHS Markit Technology.

More about this and other IIoT failure factors and some advice to prevent them.

All pictures are property and courtesy of their respective mentioned owners. Source picture Alex West.