The number of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) connections is expected to reach 37 billion globally by 2025 thanks to a rise in smart factories.

This is according to a study by Juniper Research, which examined the Industrial IoT landscape for its report Industrial IoT: Future Market Outlook, Technology Analysis & Key Players 2020-2025.

Industrial IoT refers to the use of connected devices, such as sensors and applications, during industrial processes. They allow for greater data collection and analysis as well as the monitoring of equipment to improve efficiency.

Globally, the number of industrial IoT connections currently stands at 17.7 billion, but Juniper’s research suggests this will grow substantially over the next five years, predicting an overall growth rate of 207%.

Smart manufacturing, in which robotics, big data and connected devices are used to optimise and automate the manufacturing process, is predicted to make up 60% of global industrial IoT connections by 2025.

Juniper predicts that this will be driven by 5G and LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) networks, which will play a “pivotal role” in the deployment of smart factories. It found that 5G, particularly private 5G networks, will help maximise the value of smart factories as it facilitates the transmission of large volumes of data and allows for “highly-autonomous operations”, making manufacturing more efficient.

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By GlobalData

LPWA allow for long-range communications between low bandwidth, battery-powered devices, such as sensors. LPWA networks are predicted to support 45 billion IoT connections by 2025.

Juniper also noted that the amount spent on industrial IoT software is due to reach $216bn by 2025, with software tools that use machine learning in data analysis as well as those that identify network vulnerabilities “now essential to connected manufacturing operations”.

However, research author Scarlett Woodford highlighted that manufacturers should think carefully about the areas that could benefit most from IoT technology:

“Manufacturers must exercise caution when implementing IoT technology; resisting the temptation to introduce connectivity to all aspects of operations. Instead, manufacturers must focus on the collection of data on the most valuable areas to drive efficiency gains.”

Read More: Europe’s industrial tech investment lags despite high growth potential.