Automotive Industry Embraces the Industrial Internet of Things

  • Staff Writer
  • Nov. 08, 2016
  • Innovation and Technology

Recently, Plex Systems was invited to introduce a panel on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for the World Class Manufacturing track at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Management Briefing Seminar (MBS). The annual event included professionals from a full spectrum of automotive disciplines including design, engineering, manufacturing, dealerships and the press, as well as executives and high-impact speakers from OEMs to the Governor of Michigan.

There were four themes that stood out in this conference:

  • Technology evolution is central to automotive evolution.
  • IIoT is real, it’s broad, and it’s impactful.
  • Industry leaders are already leveraging IIoT.
  • Manufacturers must be “connected” to take advantage of IIoT, and cloud is the enabler.

Plex presented an overview of how the IIoT has resulted in initiatives like Germany’s Industrie 4.0 for developing smart factories and the American smart manufacturing effort championed by the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition to promote a more modern manufacturing IT infrastructure. On the panel, a manufacturing IT executive from Toyota, a CIO from ZF Friedrichshafen, and the head of manufacturing industries for GE Digital discussed industry manufacturing trends including data visualization in production (Toyota’s IT4Mfg), data-driven operations (e.g., GE’s Brilliant Factory), data-enable business models (e.g., ZF’s Remote Video Support in Production)—all of which are possible because of the explosion of IIoT technology. Speakers built on the common theme of manufacturing connectedness, stating this as a necessity for gathering and using accurate data to drive smarter decision making and achieving significant productivity increases. “Connected manufacturing” was lauded as not only the enabler of smarter manufacturing, but also as a foundational requirement.

Additional presentations from Ford and Mercedes executives outlined the impact that digitization is having on the world, how the automobile is enabling a more connected mobile lifestyle (for example, on-board WiFi), and how mobile technologies are driving changes far beyond our imaginations such as driver-assist technologies that will soon result in fully autonomous vehicles for the mainstream. Virtually every speaker spoke on the impact that IIoT will have on the automotive industry given the ubiquity of the cloud for connecting things and its ability to store the big data that these things generate. Panelists discussed the impact that this technology explosion is having on business models like Uber and Lyft ride sharing and how cloud and IIoT may fundamentally change the way we build cities in the future. For example, real estate used for parking can be re-purposed into higher value buildings and other assets since autonomous cars can drive home or to outlying parking lots.

CAR MBS demonstrated that world-class manufacturers are learning the value of cloud as the way to connect and leverage vast amounts of data they collect, which until now has been difficult to use effectively. This event also emphasized the acknowledgement from industry executives that IIoT is real and has profound effects both today and in the future. And perhaps most importantly, the automotive and technology evolutions are working in parallel to create a modern automotive industry that delivers more customer delight with greater productivity and profit.

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