Although there were instances and mentions of ‘things’ or a mesh of devices during the previous era of the industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 has heralded a science fiction-esque future that is building increasingly powerful enterprises, something we had just recently thought was many years away.
The power of Industrial IoT is coming to the fore, as the manufacturing sector becomes its biggest investor. As organizations balance the legacy of their existing infrastructure with new technologies like IoT whose force is combined with cutting-edge predictive analytics, deep learning and robotic process automation, there is a huge wave that is sweeping the manufacturing world.
IoT spend in manufacturing is expected to touch $189 billion in 2018, with focus largely on solutions that can overhaul manufacturing operations, production processes and asset management.
Amidst all the fanfare that manufacturing IoT brings, it would be worthy to caution against some concerns, which the industry is working on.
Legacy and new-age systems could have incompatible operability issues, and the threat of security attacks is an omnipresent issue.
However, the current landscape shows strong builds and increased adaptability of the systems. Industrial IoT could be the silver bullet large manufacturers could be looking for.
Creating A More Aware & Connected Enterprise
The beauty of technology is it involves components of software and hardware. Think of them like two sides of a coin. Creating droves of devices that are essentially hardware but software-empowered, and peppering them across your manufacturing organization like production floor, assembly lines, and support infrastructure is the single way to make your enterprise more aware.
This awareness doesn’t need to necessarily mean an evil AI system that wants to turn into a Frankenstein. Rather, Industrial IoT is in one way of breaking down the manufacturing process into micro-processes by tracking factory processes separately.
Further, at a macro-perspective, the architecture is built in such a ways that is uses the collected data to interrelate insights and trends that fuels strategic thinking.
For example, Posco is building smart factories already, which not just shares and correlates insights from different departments, but simulates activities that could improve production, or prepare for situations where output could be hit.
Organizations now needn’t strip their old monitoring systems, rather can wrap these new solutions through custom API-like solutions.
Klaus Schaub, who founded the World Economic Forum says the scope of these changes is heralding the transformation of complete production, governance and management systems.
Delivering Large-Scale & Facility-Wide ROI
Manufacturers would sit up at the mention of ROI – return on investment. In a hyper-competitive era and large where poor choices by organizations could victimize them, Industrial IoT should be taken as the single biggest phenomenon to deliver ROI not just to your enterprise, but to the whole world. Think about it.
While installing IoT objectives might drive returns at your enterprise, because of IoT in manufacturing tracking and maintaining optimum quality for your product mix, the chance of even a single product malfunctioning seems out of question.
This could eliminate future product failures. A tier-one automobile suppler was facing a crisis. They didn’t have monitoring capabilities on their factory equipment, and were facing disruptions, causing supply-demand problems.
PTC India, a device solution used its IoT platform to solve for scale with an automotive supplier. Called the ThingWorx platform along with the Kepware data collection solution, it facilitated a better connected enterprise, from function to function, driving increased revenue per product.
Robust solutions from data analytics, mesh networking and artificial intelligence are building on the enormous data sets being delivered by these units across the system, helping decision makers make more data-informed decisions.
Facilitating Intrinsic & Extrinsic Observations
There are many contexts to look at this. Large or even SME level manufacturing units operate in an environment with varying market climates, client requirements and regulatory headwinds. Market climates could fluctuate, impacting sourcing raw materials or your partner relationships.
That could throw a spanner in the works of sustaining production operations due to lack of essential raw material. This becomes an intrinsic impact. Another intrinsic parameter could be certain parts of your manufacturing that are proving to be a drag to your business.
Extrinsic factors could be changing stock prices of your competitors including yours, or imminent local happenings like another plant like yours being set up in your vicinity. Manufacturing IoT is the single proponent that could collate these changing conditions, and fill the gap that your overstaffed teams could never flag and plug.
As a study by Honeywell titled ‘Data’s Big Impact on Manufacturing: A Study of Executive Opinions’ suggests Industrial IoT could capture equipment data, combining it with data analytics and deep learning to reduce equipment breakdowns by 26%, and mitigate unscheduled downtime by 23%. It’s virtually impossible to capture the extent IoT in manufacturing plants could benefit you.
Transforming Supply-Chain Management
Manufacturers in sectors like cement are transforming another external constituent of their operations.
An Indian cement maker, called JK Cements has embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors into its vendor and delivery chains across certain routes, and is seeing the payoffs already.
Great insights on the trends seen across regions being delivered to, performance of partners and more is giving functional heads information to strategize their supply chain strategies.
Industrial IoT is proving to be indispensable for front-end and back-end supply-delivery components of manufacturing units around the world.
Statistics show that companies across developed regions are the biggest adopters of IoT in manufacturing solutions, but the awareness of what it is unlocking across the rest of the world is making developing countries sit up and take notice.
The umbrella term of Industry 4.0, conventionally viewed as a cost, is not being imbibed as and investment, and making it to the vocabulary of a ‘profit center’.
With some manufacturers competing in a razor-thin market, it is important to differentiate themselves in increasingly touch market conditions, and stifling competition.
Combining The Power of AI, Drones, RPA & Other Cool Tech
Rapidly advancing technologies, like Industrial IoT, and enough reason to cheer the path that lies ahead for the manufacturing world. While IoT built for the consumer world needs to be wary of issues like data privacy and user profile confidentiality, IoT for industries can be made for enterprise-specific needs which can be customized & made available within organizations.
An increasing imperative for brands to differentiate themselves, create a niche in the market and deliver bespoke solutions or products to their customers has put the onus on their manufacturing partners to match their pace of evolution.
Thankfully, the power of artificial intelligence, internet of things in industrial automation, and other emerging technologies will continue to disrupt and cleave incumbents when they journey through their digital transformation phase.
A study by TMR suggests a jaw-dropping 23.7% CAGR for the global Industrial IoT market, till 2025. The market is expected to touch a valuation of US$ 783.8 million by the end of that period, and is contributing to an era where everything is becoming smart.
Smart networks, smart factories, and smart cities. The confluence between corporate, government and regulators on the broad topic of internet of things will see various synergies being leveraged, while the customer or client benefits from the integration.
Products will become more durable, companies will be able to do more from less, and the government can build infrastructures that are connected and sustainable.
Manufacturing intelligence is the next pursuit, and 63% of surveyed manufacturers confirm Industrial IoT will transform industries. Try and see which combination of solutions work for you