MechChem Africa

Mario Kuisis of Martec talks about the implications of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 and why maintenance professionals need to sit up and take notice.

Maintenance IoT and Industry 40

The IoT enables a vast array of sensing and data gathering devices to be installed, connected and set up at low cost by non-specialist staff with a standardised communication network and data analysis tools.

IoT and Industry 4.0 are creating a stir, in fact, quite a stir. You might be asking, what’s all the fuss and hype about? Is it another one of those passing fads? Maybe just sales jargon? Another name for something we are already doing? More importantly, should you be taking it seriously in the real world of maintaining industrial plant and equipment? Especially in an increasingly competitive environment where every cent counts and there is stiff competition for every item in the capex budget.

These are questions I would suggest we should all be asking. I will attempt to put some thoughts on the table for you to consider in your particular situation. I have intentionally chosen to use the word ‘you’, as I would suggest these questions are just as important for yourself as for the enterprise you work for.To put it succinctly, I believe we are now living in the last times before IoT and Industry 4.0. In a short time, life for almost all of us in the developed world will never be the same again.

Whether it will be good or bad will depend entirely on your outlook. If you believe that things like mechanisation, cars, air travel, computers and mobile phones were a step forward, then you will happily embrace IoT and Industry 4.0. They are set to change and irreversibly impact the way we live and work to a similar extent as these earlier advances in technology. It is recognised that there will also be significant societal ramifications, but the potential interactions are too complex and the pace of change too fast to permit clear predictions here.

I do not, however, want to dwell on those unknowns. Rather, I would like to explain why I am of the view that IoT is vitally important and therefore engender interest for you to consider how you could learn more and use these upcoming changes to your advantage. To use an old analogy, going with the tide is easy, whereas you are guaranteed to lose if you choose to fight it. The worst position to be in is not knowing the tide is coming in at all.

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