With summer coming to a close, it’s the fall event season that’s about to heat up. Shows like Bluetooth® World 2018 and Hannover Messe USA are headlining the September schedule, and their agendas suggest that the rise of Bluetooth technology in smart industry will be a hot topic.

Within smart industry, experts expect to see three prominent trends emerge in the near future: a significant increase in industrial wireless sensor network (WSN) deployment, mobile devices replacing machine user interfaces (UI), and substantial improvements to manufacturing processes through the implementation of wireless asset management solutions.

Anticipated Industrial WSN Growth

Driven to improve production efficiencies, leading manufacturers are looking to dramatically increase their deployment of sensor networks across the factory floor. These large-scale sensor networks can lower overall machine downtime and increase flexibility in the manufacturing line.

Forecasts from the recently released 2018 Bluetooth® Market Update support this trend. ABI Research forecasts that by 2022 there will be more than 253 million annual Bluetooth smart industry device shipments — that’s a 7x increase compared to Bluetooth smart industry devices shipped in 2017.

New UI for Machines

Smartphones and tablets are fast replacing the machine UI. Bluetooth smartphones and tablets are emerging as central control devices within factories and industrial settings, providing a better, safer interface for monitoring and controlling industrial machinery. With Bluetooth capabilities already integrated in 100% of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, the technology is well positioned to serve as an easily deployable machine interface. In some cases, it’s is already well on its way. 

In 2017, ABB introduced a Bluetooth® enabled drive assistant control panel that establishes a wireless connection between the drive and a mobile device. This connection makes it possible to link with services and data available on the Internet alongside online drive communication, providing a tool for performing basic start-up and troubleshooting tasks. This allows users to stay clear of hazardous areas when commissioning a drive, reportedly eliminating the possibility of arc flash.

“The IoT experiments of today are laying the groundwork for the smart infrastructure projects of the future.”

Saqib Shah, Engadget UK

Transformational Improvement to Manufacturing

Bluetooth® enabled automated asset tracking and monitoring makes it possible for manufacturers to better determine location, availability, and condition of equipment, as well as track the overall output across the supply chain. Industrial deployments of Bluetooth asset tracking and management solutions will continue to increase, allowing factories to achieve new levels of operational efficiency.

Earlier this year, Bosch announced that its Bluehound asset tracking tool, a cloud-based asset-management and tracking solution, is in an open-pilot stage. This Bluetooth enabled smart industry innovation (an extension of the TrackMyTools solution) supports easy tracking and localization of work assets for enhanced productivity and increased transparency, from warehouse to jobsite.

Considering the demanding reliability and security requirements of commercial and industrial environments, there is no better proving ground for the capabilities of Bluetooth technology than smart industry.

“In the industrial space, we’ve tracked power tools in construction sites and assets within factories,” said Trevayne O’Brien, Pointr’s commercial manager. “We’re able to timestamp particular assets within the environment or see where those assets are within that industrial venue.”

Hear What Industry Experts Are Saying

This year at Bluetooth® World 2018, you can hear firsthand from Bosch about how they are engineering tomorrow’s connected construction sites. In this engaging keynote, Eli Share, Bosch’s mobile IoT lead, will talk about the role Bluetooth technology plays in connected construction, as well as Bosch’s plans in light of new Bluetooth standards and updates.

Bluetooth is also sponsoring the Solutions Theater at Hannover Messe USA, where attendees can learn about exciting developments in Industry 4.0 and other manufacturing technologies and trends. Attendees have an opportunity to discover why Bluetooth technology is being used to connect critical components of a manufacturer’s value stream, driving new levels of efficiency, productivity, and safety.

“With the mesh network protocol, Bluetooth will be a big player in building automation, sensor networks, and goods tracking.”

Nico Jurran, c’t Magazin

To learn more about how Bluetooth technology is impacting emerging smart markets, download the 2018 Bluetooth Market Update.

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