10-point Guide for Manufacturing Companies to Plan and Implement Smart Manufacturing/ IIoT Initiative

10-point Guide for Manufacturing Companies to Plan and Implement Smart Manufacturing/ IIoT Initiative

  • By

    Dr. Arvind Tilak CEO, Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd.

  • /
  • Posted

    20 Aug 2019

10-point Guide for Manufacturing Companies to Plan and Implement Smart Manufacturing/ IIoT Initiative

Let IIoT drive your profits


Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 over Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is taking the manufacturing sector by storm. According to a research, IIoT market is estimated to reach $123.89 Billion by 2021. By connecting all aspects of manufacturing in a smart network for improved optimization, control, and monitoring, IIoT extends 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:

1.      Clarify business outcomes and ROI: Many businesses looking to embark on the IIoT journey are not sure of the benefits. Therefore, I recommend that start by identifying opportunities and requirements. Assess operational pain points which will be best low hanging fruits and validation. Identify current process challenges and shortcomings. These could range from 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.

2.      Understand interoperability of key processes: A prime requisite for any IIoT initiative is interoperability of assets and processes. Since every operation might involve numerous disparate and proprietary tools and processes, understanding interoperability between them and planning 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.

3.      Evaluate 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. With a good solution partner and your commitment, you should be able to look at 6 – 24 months’ pay back time line.

4.      Think about legacy systems: A common and substantial challenge to any IIoT initiative is the presence of proprietary legacy systems and old machines. Since legacy systems are incapable of meeting demands of modern technology like sharing data in real time, it is important to take inventory of the devices and equipment across the network. There are ways and methods to connect even such assets onto an aggregator IIoT solution. More on this in my next blog.

5.      Ensure leadership involvement and commitment: Success of IIoT initiative like any other strategic initiative requires retooling entire organization, starting from top leadership down to operational levels. These initiatives are going to impact business and revenue models, 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 derive maximum value.

6.      Choose the right partner: For manufacturing organizations of all sizes, IIoT is the digital transformation that will create new ways to acquire and analyze the humongous amount of data and turn that data into intelligent outomes to solve challenges and problems. However, the challenge for many companies 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.

7.      Start small: Starting small is the biggest key to the success of any IIoT project. It’s a good idea to begin with a project that covers a sub portion of entire process and where some critical and immediate pain areas have been identified. Such a project will help throw up certain intrinsic factors that must be addressed. Such a small but successful project will build good “brand” within the company and scaling will be easier. Targeting low-risk applications with a defined ROI can be another approach in identifying first project. Objective is to instill confidence and provide the right experience required to tackle progressively more complex challenges.

8.      Enable collaboration: The true promise of IIoT is as much about devices as much about people who operate them. Organizations that think about connecting people and devices on single platform 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.

9.      Connected – that is the key: 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, centralized aggregated data and integrated applications to turn data into insights and action will be the real big picture. A fully connected manufacturing process can enable a seamless flow of information and improve operational efficiency.

10.   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 simply breath taking. 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. 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.

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