There have been a few blog posts recently about what the name is of this area of technology we work in… whether they are blog posts in EE|Times, GE’s Industrial Internet, Wired’s Programmable World, or Cisco’s Internet of Everything, and even internally here at Axeda there have been some vigorous discussions about the use of “Machine” in regards to “Machine Cloud” and “M2M”.)
The discussion here has been around what really constitutes a “machine” when you have “ant-sized” computers such as the KLO2 chip as reported in the MIT Technology review in May, or does an iPhone count as a machine? For sure the systems GE talks about in the industrial internet are machines…and big ones at that! According to Wikipedia (yes I know, not the greatest source available, but bear with me) the definition is: “A tool that consists of one or more parts, and uses energy to achieve a particular goal. Machines are usually powered by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or electrical means, and are frequently motorized.” And they go on to add: “Historically, a powered tool also required moving parts to classify as a machine; however, the advent of electronics technology has led to the development of powered tools without moving parts that are considered machines.” So I guess if we don’t need moving parts, then our little ant-sized chip still does qualify as a machine, and I have to modify my prior position with some colleagues.
But to me none of these terms are instantly grokable to anyone outside of the space, and maybe that’s ok. I don’t need to know the intricate and arcane terms for brewing, but I like a beer. So does Aunt Alice need to know that her smart meter sends data back to the utility company via some form of M2M connection so that they can monitor her usage, send her off-peak incentives, or allow her to use an app on her iPhone to see exactly what she is using? Probably not, to her, it’s all just magic.
So what are some examples of connected systems that can deliver up some magic for you, and allow you to explain what IoE, IoT, M2M etc. are to your friends and family:
By monitoring consumable levels in MRI machines, operations can resupply in advance to avoid downtime. Service, sales and marketing can observe consumption over time, and deliver the right service, at the right time to avoid costly delays and patient/staff rescheduling.
Gauging the temperature of manufacturing assets warns the service team if there is a risk of overheating and lets finance know when warranty guidelines are not being upheld. (For one of our clients customers, their outsourced cleaners ran the machines out of parameter like this causing a $100,000 failure. By having the data showing when this was happening, the customer was able to pursue the cleaning company for restitution.)
Tracking wind turbine speed alerts operations when an asset is under producing, and helps research and development develop a more resilient blade.
Implementing a usage-based insurance strategy is revolutionizing the auto-insurance industry. Operations and finance teams can track speeds, idling time, parking location, distances traveled, hard stops and more, leading to decreased premiums for consumers.
So it probably doesn’t matter what you call it, but M2M allows you to fully harness the data that you can get from your machines as long as you have the innovative teams to see the possibility when they are developing the systems. A connected strategy can allow your company to make faster, smarter and more informed decisions across many departments and allow you to be more proactive with your customers.
If you have other examples that you use to describe the M2M space when you are having a cup of tea with your version of Aunt Alice, I’d love for you to post a comment below.