The Internet of Things opens the door to the 4th industrial revolution

The industrial Internet of Things decentralises the analysis and decision-making and allows for real-time responses. They are basically devices enriched by programming that communicate and interact between themselves and the central controllers. The data generated by these interactions provide opportunity for analysis and decision making in real time to move towards optimising production and energy savings. In recent years the amount of data stored has grown significantly. This trend will increase.

After the mechanization of production by steam power; mass production thanks to electricity; and the digital revolution and electronics enabling an increased automation of production processes, we now have intelligent industry. Industry 4.0 revolves around the concept of the intelligent factory, a factory with all its processes computerized, digitized and connected, and which interact and work more independently thanks to ICT and the Internet of Things.

Some data

The global market size of the Internet of Things is forecasted to rise to 14.4 trillion dollars in 2022 (Cisco and Business Insider), with a volume of between 20 to 30 billion connected devices in 2020. This means around four devices for every human being on the planet. In 2003 there were only 500 million worldwide Internet-connected devices. 

In the EU, the number of connections will rise from approximately 1.8 million in 2013 to almost 6 billion by 2020. This will bring the market in the EU to over one billion euros in 2020. (Advancing the Internet of Things in Europe. European Commission, 2016). The IoT market revenue will increase from 1,928 billion dollars in 2013 to 7,065 billion dollars by 2020, and aggregate investment in IoT is expected to be 4.8 trillion dollars between 2016 and 2021 (BI Intelligence Estimates).

The Internet of Things opens the door to the 4th industrial revolution

Industry 4.0 transforms design, production systems and products themselves. It creates new business models and has an impact on demand (mass customization, omnichannel access to products and services, predictive knowledge of consumer habits, mass access to information). Manufacturing goes from having individual automated parts to fully integrated automated installations that communicate with each other. Data is gathered and analysed between machines to make processes both faster and more flexible and efficient to produce higher quality goods at lower costs. This increases productivity, promotes industrial growth, modifies the profile of the workforce and redefines the dynamics of global competitiveness in companies and regions. Regarding the IoT’s impact on industry, it is expected that it will grow exponentially over coming years and will lead to a GDP increase in the world's major economies of 10.6 trillion dollars over the next 15 years (Winning with the Industrial Internet of Things. Accenture 2015).

Common applications

Forecasts suggest that in 2018, 40% of the world’s top 100 manufacturers will rely on connected products to provide their product as a service. The most common applications are:

  • In the health field: monitoring and management of diseases, to improve patient welfare. 
  • Energy management, home savings and security, task automation, design based on the use of domestic appliances 
  • For retail: automatic payment, store design optimization, smart CRM, personalized in-store promotions, prevention of stock rupture. 
  • Redesign of office organisation and employee supervision, augmented reality for training, energy monitoring, security of buildings. 
  • In industrial manufacturing: optimization of operations, predictive maintenance, inventory optimization, health and safety. Also, equipment maintenance, R & D focused on IoT. 
  • Vehicle upkeep based on predictive prevention. 
  • In an urban context: public security and health, traffic control, resource management. 
  • In transport: logistic routing, autonomous cars and trucks and navigation

In a study by ACCIÓ on Industry 4.0 in Catalonia, those companies offering products and services related to IoT in the industrial field have been identified. Due to IoT’s close relationship with other technologies, such as Big Data, Cloud and CyberSecurity, it is difficult to distinguish between companies that work specificallly in each of these technologies, since most work in more than one. All of these companies form the "data and connectivity" segment, which encompasses 150 consolidated companies, with a collective turnover of 1,421 million euros and 7,437 employees.

Technology and research centres

Among the technology centers, with specialization in the field of Internet of things in Catalonia, we can find:

  • EURECAT is the largest industrial technology centre and supplier in Catalonia and a benchmark in southern Europe. It develops projects around those skills and technologies needed to boost Industry 4.0: ICT; production sustainability; additive manufacturing; and new materials. 
  • TECNIO identifies the technologic centres and university groups with expertise in industrial research and technology transfer in Catalonia. Some of the TECNIO certified centres perform research and/or develop technologies related to the Internet of Things.
  • The DAMA Data Management of the UPC is a center that specializes in information technologies and in the development of software oriented to the management and analysis of large volumes of data for companies and for Public Administration. 
  • The UAB Computer Vision Center conducts leading-edge research in medical imaging analysis, visual recognition of objects, document analysis, image interpretation, color and texture, embedded vision, visual perception, industrial vision, indexing and multimedia recovery, interpretation of video surveillance images, interactive visualization in 3D and augmented reality. 
  • The EasyCenter of the University of Girona conducts basic research in the field of Artificial Intelligence combined with the technological transfer in many applied research projects. 
  • The UPF Interactive Technology Group focuses on the human side of technology, exploring new uses and new technologies, with research components in person-computer interaction, technology-supported learning, and 3D graphics. In relation to industry 4.0, the center has developed and implemented robots, as well as telematic applications. 
  • The CSIC Institute of Research in Artificial Intelligence, located at the UAB, carries out activities of transfer of technology to companies, aimed at the improvement of processes through the use of Artificial Intelligence. 
  • La Salle-URV is a technological center of reference in the field of intelligent cities and the health sector, which promotes the use of ICT. The main lines of research related to Industry 4.0 are communications, decision support systems, home-machine interaction and security. 
  • Starlab works in space technology and neuroscience, two areas that have as a common element the increase in the availability of data. Regarding Industry 4.0, it develops lines of work related to the cloud and the Internet of things 
  • The Center for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development of the UPC is a center of technological innovation that develops its activity in the field of Optical Engineering. Its activities are focused on developing real applications of light. 
  • The CITCEA of the UPC is a center specialized in the construction of functional prototypes susceptible to being industrialized and commercialized. They are experts in applications of control energy and movement control. 
  • The Technological Center of Telecommunications of Catalonia, located in Castelldefels, develops basic and applied research focused on systems, networks and communication technologies and geomatics. 
  • CEMIC - UB seeks new principles and properties of materials for microsystems, new ways of manufacturing and assembling, new algorithms to integrate information processing, new applications of microsystems in microinstrumentation and process control.
  • i2CAT Foundation is a non-profit research and innovation centre which promotes mission-oriented R+D+i activities on advanced Internet architectures, applications and services. In terms of Industry 4.0 field, it develops projects around several technologies involved in digital factory such as, Cybersecurity, Big Data Analytics, Additive Manufacturing, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing or Augmented Reality.

Download the Internt of Things (IoT) a Technological Report

Document Presenting the State of the Art of IoT Technology at International Level and in Catalonia.

The Internet of Things boosts industrial growth, modifying the profile of labour and redefining the dynamics of global competitiveness in both companies and regions.

Traditional manufacturing is undergoing a radical process of transformation, shifting from automated individual parts to fully integrated and intercommunicating installations. This reciprocal connection established between machinery creates faster, more efficient and effective processes, meaning that goods can be manufactured at lower costs.

The IoT is being applied to sectors where there is significant connection potential:

  • Smart homes

  • Smart cities

  • Smart mobility

  • Smart manufacture

  • Smart agriculture

  • Smart energy

  • Circular economy

  • Personal wellbeing and wearables