Much has been written about why utilities have been slower to adopt new technologies but there are good reasons utility leadership has employed a measured and reliable pace of new IoT project implementation and IoT adoption. Regulatory pressures to keep rates low, unproven technologies, staffing shortages and the costs to implement wide-scale projects have all contributed to slower adoption rates across the industry. However, the utility industry is poised to increase IoT adoption by 20% by 2025 - and these investments are now able to be quantified and thoroughly vetted to ensure a positive return for utilities undertaking these projects. This post explores the top motivators driving the growth of IoT adoption in utilities.
The subject of the IoT often spawns lofty discussions surrounding ‘digital transformation’ across industries. These discussions may be great from a theoretical standpoint, but often leave manufacturers scratching their heads and wondering where to start. Forbes reports, “a majority of manufacturers, 51%, state either that selected business areas are supported by IoT or that they have deployed it extensively across their organizations.” It is apparent that IoT technology is being implemented across manufacturing organizations but the most important questions to ask are why are they being implemented and where to start? As IoT technology matures and ROI is proven, some common roadmaps to IoT adoption are beginning to emerge.
As discussed in our earlier post, A Smarter Approach to Digital Transformation in the Utility Industry, the utility industry is falling behind other industries when it comes to digitization. This affects day-to-day operations on multiple levels, including personnel. In this post, we’ll walk through a few of these opportunities and provide a few strategies to help utilities consider different ways to make incremental forward progress in their own transformation process.
It’s time to rescue the misfit devices. As we continue to transition from a world of isolated systems to one where everything is connected, many pre-Internet, “outdated” devices are being hung out to dry. Although there are currently 26 million devices connected to the Internet of Things, Intel estimates that 85% of existing devices are inaccessible and unconnected.
As technology rapidly changes, it is important for companies to choose the right approach for connecting their devices. One school of thought is called Distributed Intelligence which refers to moving the processing of data from a centralized system, to devices that collect and process data locally. Applications that are better solved with the principles of distributed intelligence are often complex processes that are naturally spread out over time, distance, or across multiple tasks. Advancements in IoT technology have made a distributed intelligence approach feasible, and according to IDC's Research by 2019, 75% of large manufacturers will update their operations and operating models with IoT and analytics-based situational awareness.
The utility industry is in a state of upheaval. With demand for electricity falling after 100+ years of steady growth, companies are in the hot seat about how to cover grid costs and deliver returns for shareholders. Digital transformation looks to be the path forward. In fact, 70% of utility executives say their companies need to become digital leaders in order to succeed in the current climate.
When co-founder Guy Weitzman set his sights on moving Atomation to St. Louis, one of the reasons was that he felt Atomation could drive improvements in the industrial agriculture business. After several discussions about IoT and the possibilities of collecting data from newly-connected legacy devices, Atomation provided a simple and affordable solution that met the specific needs of two global companies.