Forget about self-driving cars: In Germany, the Internet of Things starts with hot dogs. Certuss Dampfautomaten GmbH, a Krefeld-based maker of steam generators used for anything from cooking sausages to sterilizing medical instruments, used to fly repairmen out to far-flung locations to restart broken-down machinery. Now sensors in the machines send data on 60 items including temperature, steam pressure and flame signal via a SIM card into a cloud operated by Deutsche Telekom AG, flagging potential problems even before they occur.
“The new system helps us reduce downtime for our customers and can cut servicing costs because we can see the problem before having to send someone there,” Certuss Chief Technology Officer Thomas Hamacher said. That improves planning — service appointments can be scheduled during regular production breaks, for example. “In the long-term, we expect to have to run fewer service missions.”
While gee-whiz gadgets like drones and self-driving cars steal the headlines, Deutsche Telekom is trying to seize the Internet of Things opportunity in industries like construction and health care, hooking machines to the web so they can work more efficiently. The Bonn-based carrier is vying for customers with the likes of Vodafone Group Plc and AT&T Inc., who all bank on an industrial IoT market set to be worth $330 billion by 2020, according to Research and Markets projections.
“It’s a growing market everyone wants to enter, and we want to put our foot down,” said Deutsche Telekom’s Dido Blankenburg, who is responsible for the business that tends to corporate customers like Certuss.
The Internet of Things, an idea long in gestation, refers to a world of connected devices that goes beyond mobile phones and smartwatches, linking everyday objects to send and receive data.
Companies, benefiting from falling prices of sensors, wireless transmitters and cloud storage, are trying IoT solutions to improve relations with customers, reduce servicing costs, and develop new products and revenue sources. McKinsey & Co. estimates IoT’s potential economic impact on factories will rise to as much as $3.7 trillion a year in 2025, mainly on productivity improvements including as much as 20 percent in energy savings and as much as 25 percent in potential labor efficiency improvement.