By Gregory Hale
Increased levels of connected devices talking to one another, or the Internet of Things (IoT), has an incredible future in the manufacturing automation market, but security remains a key factor on how far and fast it will end up accepted.

The advantages of IoT are countless: Time savings, personnel savings, up to date data on whatever process is working, just to name a few, said Andy Chatha, president of ARC Advisory Group during its ARC Advisory Group 2014 Industry Forum in Orlando, FL, last week. But challenges remain with security top of the list.

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“Cyber security is by far on everybody’s mind; the biggest challenge,” Chatha said.

Along with the security issue comes the lack of technology standardization and the idea of intellectual property ownership. In addition, social and political concerns always jump into the fray along with privacy issues. The complexity will continue to increase as devices connect and that means systems have to be more robust.

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“It is going to take a long time to figure the right level of use for this technology,” Chatha said. “It will be interesting to watch how we take the first steps over the next few years.”

But with all the challenges, Chatha thinks this year will be the true beginning of IoT.

“IoT can help you achieve breakthrough performance,” he said.

The main components of industrial IoT include intelligent devices, products, machines, a cloud-based infrastructure for data communications and Big Data, Chatha said. In addition there should be descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics and software to support optimization.

Chatha talked about the benefits of IoT including improved asset performance, reduced asset lifecycle costs, and providing a platform for innovation.

“This is really a revolution in the making and we can lead the revolution,” he said. “This technology gives us the opportunity to bring our plants to a new level.

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