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Interview: Paving the Way to an IoT World

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To get an idea of how IoT is growing within the U.S. and around the world, Machine Design talked with Marissa K. Tucker, product marketing manager for Controls and HMI at Parker Hannifin’s Electromechanical and Drives Division.

What is your definition of IoT?

In essence, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is just a network of physical devices, whether they are embedded with electronics or software or any sort of sensors that collect data and simply share it with other devices. Those really are the fundamentals of IoT. So you can easily make the argument that Parker—and, in fact, a lot of companies—have been doing that for decades.

The new thing and the excitement about IoT, and why it’s kind of coming to the forefront now, is that people are starting to take the concept from individual machines and really starting to share data between machines—which, again, is technology that’s been around and been used for decades. But even more exciting is that companies are starting to realize they can now group entire factories together.

How did the IoT get started?

It started about 20 years ago when engineers discovered they could control systems using Ethernet rather than through command signal, and bus-based networks started to overcome the traditional controlled networks. So all of a sudden, factories had to collect a lot more data from all of the sub-devices within a single machine so that managers could make better decisions based upon that. In addition, companies learned they could share information with other systems. And there are still a lot of systems out there that aren’t even doing any of this

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