Evolution, not Revolution, with the Industrial Internet of Things

I’ll soon be celebrating my 45th birthday and, with all the hype surrounding the Internet of Things and particularly the Industrial Internet of Things this got me thinking about how things have changed since my father celebrated his 45th birthday back in 1981. Like me, my father worked in the field of instrumentation, automation and control, as well as telemetry.

This was a time when limit switches were getting replaced with proximity switches; timers, counters and relay logic were getting replaced with PLC’s; and local gauges were getting replaced with digital panel meters. Just like most, I’d never heard of the internet let alone the Internet of Things. In the last 45 years we have seen SCADA and DCS become the norm in factories and we are seeing the Internet of Things take off in certain sectors.

As part of my degree I studied modules titled ‘intelligent instrumentation’ and ‘microcomputer interfacing.’ This was in the past 1980’s / early 1990’s and it was cutting edge stuff, but now you look back it it seems some simple and slow. It makes me wonder whether there are now modules involving the Internet of Things and in twenty or more years will today’s students be looking back and thinking that what they studied seems simple and slow…?

One thing that has become apparent during my little trip down memory lane is that this is more of an evolution than a revolution. Limit switches, timers, counters and local gauges are all still used extensively in industry.