10 Point Guide for Manufacturing Companies for IIoT Initiative
- By /
Dr. Arvind Tilak
17 Oct 2018
Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is taking the manufacturing sector by storm. According to a research, the IIoT market is estimated to reach $123.89 Billion by 2021. By connecting all aspects of the manufacturing in a smart network for improved optimization, control, and monitoring, IIoT widens the IoT concept onto the production floor. It introduces efficiency optimization to the manufacturing process, and cuts down production costs, enhances work safety and ultimately provides a much higher user satisfaction. With IIoT opening plenty of opportunities in automation, optimization, intelligent manufacturing and industrial control, it is natural for manufacturers to embrace the concept in order to move towards more efficient ways of production, new ways of servicing customers and creating new revenue models.
Here is a 10-point guide for manufacturing companies to strategize and implement their IIoT initiative:
- Clarify business outcomes and ROI: Many businesses looking to embark on the IIoT journey are not sure of the benefits. Therefore, start by identifying the opportunity or need. Assess operational pain points. Identify current process challenges and shortcomings. These could range from environmental or technical causes, process improvement demands specified by executive management, competitive pressure, poor agility due to legacy systems, among others. For each case, presenting the pain points and challenges up front makes all the difference.
- Understand the interoperability of key processes: A prime requisite for any IIoT initiative is interoperability of processes. Since every operation might involve numerous disparate and proprietary tools and processes, understanding interoperability between them and strategizing how they will be connected to achieve operational goals is important. Record and organize all devices and register corresponding processes to chart out details and identify specific limitations or bottlenecks.
- Evaluate the associated costs: Calculating the ROI of a massive investment like this can be difficult, especially when the manufacturing operation is a small part of a much larger business. Uncovering potential hidden costs and savings of a connected, IIoT solution investment requires identification of explicit, as well as projected, operational costs and savings. Carefully formulate savings projections and combine it with a payback timeline on the initial investment to calculate the actual costs.
- Think about legacy systems: A common obstacle to any IIoT initiative is the presence of several proprietary legacy systems. Since legacy systems are incapable of meeting the demands of a modern world, it is important to take inventory of the devices and equipment across the network. Understand how old they are and decide if they need to be replaced or upgraded. Calculate the costs and time required for the upgradation. Evaluate cost-effective solutions that can address this infrastructure.
- Ensure leadership involvement and commitment: Success of any IIoT initiative requires rethinking the entire organization, starting from the foundation of business and revenue models, to go-to-market strategies, and organizational structure, processes, skills, and capabilities. This cannot happen without the support, understanding, and dedication of people on all levels in the organization, especially the leadership. Continuous education, discussions, and leadership involvement are critical to manage the transition to a new reality and maintain the status quo.
- Choose the right partner: For manufacturing organizations of all sizes, IIoT is the basis for digital transformation that is creating new ways to collect and analyze the humongous amount of data and turn that data into solutions to solve challenging problems. But the question for many is where and how to start? Firms embracing IIoT should begin by choosing the right partner who can help them in deploying the solution in the right manner. Since technology partners have sufficient experience and expertise in similar enterprise-wide implementations, they know how to best use process data to enhance capabilities as well as address control-related issues across the enterprise and deliver efficiency gains.
- Start small: Starting small is the biggest key to the success of any IIoT project. It’s a good idea to begin with a pilot project so unproductive or ineffective initial projects won't have a severe impact on business but rather provide lessons to help guide future technology investments. Learn from failures, repeat and then go bigger. This way organizations will know the approach they need to follow and the benefits that they will accrue. Targeting low-risk applications with a defined ROI can instill confidence and provide the right experience required to tackle progressively more complex challenges.
- Enable collaboration: The true promise of IIoT is not about devices but about people who interact with them. Organizations that think about connecting people first and then devices will be in a better position to optimize their operations. It is only when organizations enable smart collaboration across their organization that the lines between operations, reliability, supply chain management, and other disciplines become less rigid. If an IIoT plan doesn't include collaboration, then it probably should be rethought. Using IIoT, Airbus is driving the future manufacturing processes through the intersection of people, data and intelligent machines.
- Get connected: After achieving initial wins from small-scale IIoT projects, companies can aim to achieve further efficiency gains by connecting departments or individual units with connected technology. Transition from siloed, stand-alone systems and processes to a smart ecosystem of smart, connected devices that gather real-time information from sensors. Centralize data and integrate applications to turn data into insights and action. A fully connected manufacturing process can enable a seamless flow of information and improve operational efficiency.
- Ensure security: Since any IIoT initiative involves a plethora of devices, components and applications, looking at security from an end-to-end perspective is critical. With 39% of companies considering privacy and security as the most significant barriers to IoT investment, security should be an important concern for IIoT as well. Have the right security measures in place for systems that collect, monitor, process and store IIoT data and adhere to regulations and best practices regarding the protection of data and information.
Towards a New Era of Growth
With new IIoT connections expected to grow to 18 million by 2021, the pace at which organizations are moving towards Industry 4.0 is unimaginable. The benefits that IIoT brings to the table are myriad: from increased automation to a reduction in error, an increase in production efficiency as well as reduction of costs. Add to it the impact of IIoT on quality control and maintenance. The convergence of people, data and smart devices will have radical impacts on the productivity, efficiency and operations of industries around the world. With so much to offer, there is no doubt that IIoT will transform companies and countries, and open up a new era of economic growth and competitiveness.