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Thursday, 18 December 2014 | By Louis Gordon


By Louis Gordon, Marcom Manager, Landa Digital Printing

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that some 20 to 30 billion “things” could be connected to the Internet. It’s called the “Internet of Things” – or, “IoT,” in tech talk. Hyped widely as the “next megatrend” and the “third wave” of the Internet, IoT is expected to produce an effect similar to the first “fixed” Internet, which ultimately connected one billion users. The second “wave,” the mobile Internet, added two billion more users.

However, with IoT, we’re not talking about adding more “users,” i.e., living, breathing human beings. By “things,” it literally refers to physical objects, items, devices, machines, and other thingamajigs.

Illustration of a “thing”

By 2020, some 20-30 billion “things” could be connected to the Internet

The impact of IoT will be seen and felt everywhere – our homes, office buildings, vehicles, arenas, gyms, theatres, shops, and virtually any other place with objects that need some level of control. The so-called “slam dunk” IoT applications will be (or already are) wired wearable devices, trucks, homes, industrial equipment, and even entire cities.

IoT illustration

Every thing is connected. Everywhere.

The reality about industrial equipment is that most of them are very efficient individually. Those same machines, however, are decidedly inefficient in an integrated system configuration.

82 Trillion Reasons to be Excited About the IoT

The financial ramifications of the IoT generation are naturally a white-hot discussion topic. Some observers estimate that technical innovations across various sectors of the Industrial Internet may account for more than $32.3 trillion in economic activity.

By 2025, IoT technology could be applicable to $82 trillion of output -- or approximately one-half of the entire global economy.

The potential savings from just a one percent increase in efficiency can boggle the mind. For example, a one percent improvement in airline fuel efficiency would yield a $30 billion savings over 15 years. A one percent increase in efficiency for coal/gas power plants could results in $66 billion savings in fuel consumption. Oil and gas exploration could save $90 billion.1

Another “Don’t Get Left Behind” Moment?

Connected to the Internet, IoT devices are intended to perform most of their functions autonomously.

Machine to machine (M2M) illustration

Autonomous device-to-device communication

Think we have enough data to deal with now? Our IoT devices will likely generate reams more – mountains and oceans of data that will need crunching, analyzing, and integrating into our lives and business.

Sound a bit scary? Perhaps, but think of the people and industries that chose to shun digital technology, the Internet, or mobile until it was too late. Where are they now? This is quite possibly the next “don’t get left behind” moment.

We’re already seeing vehicles tooling around with high-speed 3G or 4G connectivity, LTE support, and Wi-Fi hotspot technology. Many more will roll onto dealer floors this year and next. (The breakthrough, high-tech Tesla automobile has been at the forefront of the vehicular IoT movement.)

IoT and Printing: Net Benefits

In the not too distant future, most every device in a printing operation will be on the IoT grid. To paraphrase Benny Landa, “What can connect to the IoT… will connect to the IoT.”

A major beneficiary of IoT for your printing shop will likely be workflow optimization. Every press, front-end device, finishing machine, management system, and computer will be on the Net. The same goes for your utilities. Lighting and energy controls, HVAC systems, phones, and monitors/screens will hum along on smart grids, each with their own individual Internet Protocol (IP) address. As we speak, some companies are already enjoying IoT efficiencies and savings, in the form of lower kilowatt usage by connected manufacturing equipment.

In theory, an IoT printing operation could automatically monitor press status, energy use, maintenance needs, and troubleshooting issues with far less human intervention. The effects will be felt not just under one roof, but also across all the buildings you operate, anywhere in the city, country, or world.

Prophets See Profits

Multiple drivers are facilitating this resolute march to an IoT world. Many agree though that they boil down to a new generation of ultra-cheap sensors, microprocessors, and “pipes” for bandwidth. Plus, a new IP standard is on the horizon that will support many billions of additional IP addresses for objects, including yours.

What’s the bottom line? Some IoT gurus predict industrial businesses will experience rising productivity and more financial savings for items such as capital expense, energy, and labor.

For printing businesses, higher productivity may mean faster turnaround, decreased total cost of operation, and hyper-responsive customer service. Could the foreseen “reams” of new data translate into super-personalized marketing messages and materials delivered in real-time?

The IoT era is still in its formative stage. We’ve yet to hit feeding frenzy conditions. So there’s probably no need to run out this very second to get your business connected to the IoT. It sill might be wise, though, to pay close attention to this particular, so-called megatrend. Things are happening pretty fast.

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