RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Discover how plant manufacturers can retrofit existing legacy equipment securely to create smart products, new digital services and business models.
  • Learn about the three strategies to employ for the successful retrofitting of legacy equipment.
  • Find out how a retrofitting process can enable even the oldest existing plants to be networked economically


For manufacturers, the business benefit and revenue growth potential that “Smart Products” and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) brings is undisputed. However, one question remains: How do industrial companies take existing, legacy equipment and retrofit it securely to provide the promise of digital reinvention?

In today’s economy, Industrial plants are simply too old for increasing digitalization. Estimates put the average age of factory equipment at around 20 years, so most machines date from a time before the IIoT. A large proportion of the plants—about 85 percent of the inventory—are therefore not yet networked.

And while existing machines are easy to replace, much of the machinery used by industrial companies has not yet reached its depreciation age and even the largest digitalization profits seldom justify the purchase of a new industrial plant costing millions.

Retrofits, on the other hand, cost considerably less money and can be carried out comparatively quickly and easily. The demand for retrofit solutions and services is growing accordingly. According to market reports, global sales of IoT gateways, including those required for retrofits, are expected to increase to around US $45 billion by 2021, an increase of up to 15 percent per year. This of course is less about the retrofitting itself, but rather of the sale of digital services, which retrofits make possible, such as plant monitoring and optimization, predictive maintenance, remote control and similar services.

"Plant manufacturers who want to switch to "Smart Products" often consider retrofit strategies for retrofitting machines already sold. This is a wise approach, but there are a few things to consider."

– WOLFGANG DECKER, Managing Director – Industry X.0

Three strategies for retrofit success

Develop your retrofit strategy

Identify the business objectives of retrofitting, including which machines in the installed base will be "brought online" and the potential sales of digital services and costs associated.

Choose the right technology

Manufacturers can choose from a range of solutions such as preconfigured IIoT gateways. Determine how these can be easily connected to existing systems and then how they connected to an IIoT platform.

Put security at the forefront

Ensure that the structure of the IIoT retrofit solution uses encryption technology, certain development approaches, such as security by design and Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) procedures.

Wolfgang Decker, Accenture, describes a personalized method of the digitization of legacy equipment for Industrial Equipment companies.

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IIoT retrofits can indeed be an option for the "digitization" of existing systems and facilitate the entry into the business with smart products and digital services. The required technology is not only already available, but also available in the form of pre-configured solutions.

Take care to plan for and complete the due diligence—especially when clarifying the business context, goals and requirements, and put security at the heart of your strategy.

Wolfgang Decker

Managing Director – Industry X.0

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