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Tampere, Finland: The Birthplace Of Industrial IoT?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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The marriage of communications and heavy industry expertise created Industrial IoT in Finland, long before the IoT buzz, writes Margarita Khartanovich

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it is going to bring the next Industrial Revolution.

Meanwhile, in Finland no one seems to fall into raptures with this buzzword – Finnish companies were very early adopters of ICT technologies and connected their machines to a network long before the term itself was introduced.

Autonomous vehicles

“What Google is trying to do now for public cars, we have been doing in our test yard in Tampere for years and have delivered these autonomous vehicles to our customers,” says Jari Hämäläinen, director, Kalmar Offering Development.

With a world class ICT and mobile ecosystem and the strong cluster for intelligent machines and manufacturing industries, Tampere serves as a perfect collaboration platform that companies can use throughout the product lifecycle.

Frank Kho, VP, Kalmar Offering Development, explains: “Collaborators include suppliers, technology partners, research institutes and universities, and customers. The keyword is ecosystem. In the era of digitalisation, the experts of one company will never be enough to manage the total solution, only a part of it.”

IoT officersKalmar took its first steps in port automation about 25 years ago. Now the port industry is at the start of the next big wave of automation. In order to find more business opportunities coming from it, Kalmar collaborated with TreLab, a spin-off from Nokia, and tested the use of its wireless sensors on their equipment. “Retrofitting the old machines is a very promising direction for us in the future,” says Hämäläinen.

TreLab CEO Mika Parikka, comments: “A large obstacle in IoT is that the lifecycle of industrial equipment tend to have very long lifespans, normally somewhere in the region of 20-30 years. Our company has the programmable, intelligent sensor package to connect to any equipment (the SmartTag), highly productised delivery mechanism from it to our back-end and several possible business integration methods.”

Some experts predict that IoT systems will become more and more common, forcing some businesses to contract external experts. It means that third parties that deliver, install and operate the IoT devices will flourish.

“One NASDAQ/HEX listed company’s CIO just commented to us after developing in-house remote monitoring solutions that they are unable to keep up and employ enough talent in-house,” confirms Parikka, adding: “New solutions and technologies are developed much faster in start-ups and, thus, corporations should work with very small companies. We see Finland as a lab where we can develop the whole product in a very advanced environment, and when it matures, we will take it abroad.”

Oliver Hussey, Senior Manager, Business Development in Tredea, the Tampere Region Economic Development Agency, says: “We invite companies from around the world to come here to benefit from and enrich its ecosystem. Tredea are here to help you find all you need in Tampere.”

Tredea provides free services, information and assistance to companies and individuals looking to collaborate with potential partners, technology providers or start-ups in the region.

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