M2M: Back to the Future

By Bob Emmerson October 27, 2010

With all the B2B hype about smart meters, networked homes, assisted living, etc, etc, it’s easy to forget that M2M started out on factory floors. After all, that’s why it’s called Machine to Machine. However, while I hadn’t forgotten, I had no idea how M2M was developing in this sector and was therefore intrigued when I saw “eWON Sets Its Sights on the US”.

This company’s products include a Web-based remote access method that gives single-click Internet access to remote machines, PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) and sites worldwide. I used to work in automation so I knew about PLCs and then I had one of this déjà vu moments. I remembered reading about a virus that attacks Siemens’ PLCs, which are used in Iran’s nuclear facilities: see “Stuxnet virus may be aimed at Iran nuclear reactor.” It’s an interesting article. 

It seems that Stuxnet is not something the average hacker could create and many security researchers think that it would take the resources of a nation state to accomplish: one that has those resources isn’t a million miles away from Tehran. 

OK. PLCs can be part of an M2M value chain and now we know that they are vulnerable. But what else is happening in this sector. eWON must think that is has something significant to offer to US industry: something that might be missing. Better asset performance management? A recent ARC Advisory Group presentation pointed out that maintenance operations are rising so fast that they will end up eating up to two thirds of an industrial company’s annual net profit and should be seen as an issue that has to be resolved.

In addition, ARC underlines the fact that 63% of the maintenance operations turn out to be superfluous, i.e. no corrective action was needed. So, when an onsite intervention was necessary to perform these operations it’s clear that eWON’s remote access approach is a winning one as the ROI is immediate for an OEM that needs to service machines or assets that may be spread around the world.    

Bob Emmerson is TMC's European Editor. To stay abreast of the latest news affecting the European market, check out Bob's columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

TMC European Editor

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