Overall, the agriculture sector showed a healthy level of connectivity to enable Industrial IoT, with some 60 per cent of respondents ranking in the progressive or leader categories. However, looking into the detail, especially the performance of communication networks, it can be seen that organisations that struggle with reliable connectivity are significantly behind the sector overall, with many having barely begun their journey into IIoT deployment.

How well is the agriculture sector adapting to the connectivity requirements of IIoT? (%)

Laggards
Starters
Progressives
Leaders

How well is the agriculture sector adapting to the connectivity requirements of IIoT? (%)

Laggards
Starters
Progressives
Leaders

When asked whether they ‘struggled with reliable connectivity when it comes to successful IIoT deployment at least some of the time’, 41 per cent of respondents agreed. Whereas overall, 51 per cent of agricultural respondents had fully deployed or were trialling the deployment of IIoT, this figure drops dramatically to just 4 per cent for those saying that they had connectivity issues. The difference is stark in a number of areas – 88 per cent of those that could be classed as ‘connectivity strugglers’ said that it was disrupting their ability to take advantage of the technology (compared to just 10 per cent of the overall sample).

On nearly every measurement, whether it is access to skills and expertise, forecasted cost savings and impact on turnover, or planned investment in digital transformation – those who struggle with connectivity are at a serious disadvantage and can be considered laggards in their IIoT maturity. Getting the right connectivity in place is fundamental to improving business performance and grasping any of the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. Those that do not have the right connectivity in place will soon face a serious competitive challenge from any company with a solid communications network behind it

TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU AGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS? (%)

We struggle with reliable connectivity when it comes to successful IoT deployment


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Connectivity issues could disrupt our IoT deployments


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Strongly agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly disagree

The research also investigated what types of communication network were proving most popular in the sector. The remoteness of certain parts of the agricultural industries lends itself to a greater use of satellite communication networks so it is not surprising that 72 per cent said that they used satellite to some extent, followed by cellular networks (61 per cent) and fibre (49 per cent). Perhaps the most significant finding was the divergence in satellite use being a determinate of whether they experienced connectivity difficulties. 82 per cent of respondents who do have reliable connectivity use satellite to some degree, but the proportion falls to 57 per cent who report connectivity struggles.

 

Interestingly, Latin America stood out from other regions participating in this research on the connectivity issue. More than double (82 per cent) the respondents in Latin America reported struggling to some degree with connectivity, compared to the overall response (40 per cent), giving some indication of why just 4 per cent from the region have IIoT projects in the field. Again, like the rest of respondents who reported connectivity problems, Latin American organisations are behind their global competition when it comes to satellite deployment and on every measurement of IIoT deployment maturity.

72%

will use satellite technology to support their IIoT projects.

OEMs are more likely to report facing connectivity challenges than the overall base, and, as the architect’s of agriculture’s high-tech future, this is some cause for concern.

However, it is clear that OEMs are placing their bets on satellite connectivity to help them overcome their connectivity gaps, and more so than the other subsectors that make up the agriculture industry. Almost all of OEMs (94 per cent) believe that satellite is essential for IIoT, primarily because these companies report valuing network coverage above all other attributes. When you consider how the research has shown significance of satellite to reliable connectivity this should not be surprising.

WHAT TECHNOLOGIES ARE YOU USING IN YOUR IIOT-BASED SOLUTIONS DEPLOYMENTS?

34% Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
18% RFID
10% LoRaWAN
9% SigB
7% Sigfox
6% ZigBee
16% No other technologies

WHAT TECHNOLOGIES ARE YOU USING IN YOUR IIOT-BASED SOLUTIONS DEPLOYMENTS?

34% Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
18% RFID
10% LoRaWAN
9% SigB
7% Sigfox
6% ZigBee
16% No other technologies

As the architects of agriculture’s high-tech future, the connectivity challenges being reported by OEMs are cause for some concern

Over a third of respondents (34 per cent) are using Bluetooth Low Energy to support their IIoT deployments, making it the most commonly-used technology in the sector, followed by RFID (used by 18 per cent). However, a broad range of other IIoT protocols are being used. One in ten (10 per cent) are reliant on LoRaWAN, while 9 per cent report that they are using SigB.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE RESEARCH, DOWNLOAD THE REPORT - INDUSTRIAL IOT ON LAND AND AT SEA: AGRICULTURE

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