M2M: The third industrial revolution
Stimuli for the ‘Internet of Things’
These three scenarios demonstrate that M2M solutions can be used in a wide range of ways and in nearly every industry. They simplify workflows, improve processes, reduce costs, and make new business models possible. Cross-sectional technology will help the development of the Internet of Things – the networking and simultaneous communication between objects over the Internet, to make a breakthrough. The Internet of Things is intended to enable goods to find their way to their destination by themselves – just like data flows do in the existing Internet.
The Fraunhofer Institute, a German research organization, has demonstrated with the aid of M2M how this can be done. At its Dortmund Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) a supply chain is taking shape that will in the future be able to control itself – from the producer to the customer.
A Self-regulating supply chain
The Dortmund research scientists begin by simulating M2M use in the warehouse by means of several dozen so-called multi-shuttle moves. Self-propelled containers handle all tasks, from removing goods from the bay to delivering them to an order picking station. Thanks to their built-in software they can be located – and they know what they have loaded. The containers can relay this information.
That is how they find their way to right order picking station automatically. They also communicate with each other, thereby ruling out collisions in warehouse transportation.
In the warehouse and in production, self-controlling material flows could be a standard practice toward the end of the decade, the Dortmund researchers say.
Interfaces between warehouse and truck, in contrast, are a bottleneck in the development of the Internet of Things. It is not yet clear when self-controlling material flows will be customary in this area.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) have a key role to play in M2M applications. It is not just that faultless mobile data transmission is the precondition for any M2M solution and for progress by the Internet of Things.
Established MNOs also have advantages in efficient processing of the new data torrent. They can guarantee data protection because it has long been a concern of theirs and they offer many certificated encryption methods. For many companies with M2M applications it matters, for instance, where their data is stored, and Deutsche Telekom for one uses high-security data centers.
MNOs also have an entirely new and additional role to play in the development of the Internet of Things. Instead of just providing SIM cards and connectivity, their role in the multifaceted M2M market is that of new technology enablers and of a link between the many players – ranging from their customers to hardware and software providers.