Industrial sensors collect raw data in manufacturing or industrial environments. Sensors come in many different types to collect different varieties of data, including motion, position, environmental, M2M, human-to-machine interaction, current, infrared, acoustic and ultrasonic sensors. If CIOs want to change the type of data with which they work, they must change the types of sensors from which they collect data.
Leading sensor suppliers are seeing a rise in demand for new types of sensor data in manufacturing environments, and are now trying to meet that demand. That means developing use cases for transformative sensor technologies such as radar-on-chip, video and machine vision, acoustic and ultrasonic. Software suppliers look to improve the accuracy and complete the picture these sensors paint of reality through sensor fusion software that combines the different types and sources of sensor data. A more accurate and complete view of the reality of their assets and processes could empower manufacturers to improve the efficiency, health and safety of their operations.
Manufacturers need to figure out where they face the most operational costs; they also need to know where existing sensors or solutions are failing to detect root causes of issues or virtualize assets with near real-time data in the form of an accurate digital twin. From there, they can work with sensor and software suppliers to try to find a better way to ‘look inside’ the machine, equipment or process.
The largest sensor suppliers sell automation technology or other industrial equipment as their primary business. Often, they build in sensors to new equipment and provide aftermarket sensors to retrofit legacy equipment. Some of these companies have also built their own Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms. These suppliers include Rockwell, ABB, Bosch, Honeywell, Ormron, Schneider Electric and Emerson. All the major industrial automation companies also provide sensors, an IIoT platform or both. These vendors aim to provide end-to-end solutions but still need partners for various services ranging from data processing and artificial intelligence at the edge to cloud infrastructure and app development. The “Company profiles” section contains analysis on the positioning, strengths and weaknesses of a variety of vendors. This report examines the drivers, barriers and potential of sensor technologies in Smart Manufacturing.