The future of M2M in the industrial sector

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

The Land Of Sweeping Change report released by Telstra on trends in the Machine to Machine (M2M) sector shows varied uptake and interest, but the sector shows great promise.

The benefits of M2M technology have been discussed at length for many years, and while the technology is growing in its uptake, industry – and particularly small businesses – remains unconvinced of its value.

But analyst predictions paint a very different picture: In 2014 a report from Ciscosuggested the Internet of Things (digitising everyday objects by connecting them to the internet) would be worth US$19tn over the coming decade, while a Frost & Sullivan report is quoted in Land Of Sweeping Change as saying the Australian M2M market is expected to reach almost $400 million by 2018.

According to the Land Of Sweeping Change report, early adopters are benefitting, and more profitable companies are 26 per cent more likely believe M2M will be important to revenue in the next three years.

Here, we break down the report to look into what it means for transport and logistics, manufacturing and agriculture.

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The benefits for industry

Three sectors largely benefit from the upcoming growth of the sector: transport and logistics; agriculture; and manufacturing. Here’s what each sector has to look forward to:

Transport and logistics

Out of these three sectors, the transport and logistics sector sees M2M as the most pressing opportunity , with almost a third saying it will be “very important” to revenue growth three years from now in transport, and almost half in logistics.

It’s not hard to see why. Australian transport provider Linfox has blazed the trail, using M2M to lower operating costs and more efficiently manage automated storage and retrieval systems – and while they’re bullish about the technology, saying in the report that “It’s all about lowering costs for customers, return on investment and looking for ways to be more competitive”, they concede that M2M is a long term investment.

For smaller transport and logistics business, the strength of M2M lies in real-time monitoring of vehicles, increase in production and the reduction costs.

Manufacturing

The report shows that around a quarter of people surveyed in Australia from manufacturing see M2M as very important to revenue growth, while huge strides are being made overseas. The report references the investment made by the German economy, which is putting in €200 million for innovation in “Industry 4.0” – this is projected to grow the German gross value by a cumulative €267 billion. Again, in the manufacturing sector in Australia, it’ll be the early adopters who benefit the most.

For smaller operators, the key benefits for M2M are in diagnosing and reporting problems in production without needing human input. This can lead to considerable efficiencies in the manufacturing process.

Agriculture

The Aussie agriculture sector is least excited by M2M but has one of the greatest benefits out of the three sectors. Where vast properties require significant time to traverse and look for problems, M2M can provide automated updates and ensure workers are travelling to the areas that need attention the most.

Especially for agriculture businesses that are covering huge expanses with few staff, the benefits can be significant.

The challenges

The report showed that the reduced uptake levels in Australia are primarily around a lack of knowledge of the sector. In small and very small companies, one third of those surveyed cited a lack of experience as the primary obstacle to funding M2M.

In addition, the rush to create broad offerings has stifled uptake due to a desire in these sectors for customised solutions. The report says, “instead of trying to be everything to everyone, solution providers should find a core segment and build from that”.

But the biggest barrier is change. A lack of widespread uptake means first-movers are seeing benefits, but only time can lead to comprehensive case studies that show its full potential and spur action.

Interested in seeing how M2M can work for your business?

Head here for more info.

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