The Internet of Things (IoT) has created quite the buzz in retail, service, and other industries. Not so much in manufacturing. The lack of excitement comes not because it isn’t relevant, but rather because the concept of collecting massive volumes of data from manufacturing processes is not really new. Manufacturers have had sensors and automated data collection (ADC) devices operating on their plant floors for decades now. But that’s also been the problem. The data never really got off the plant floor. All too often it simply sat out there, disconnected from other enterprise data, not reaching its full potential. It’s time we start connecting all the dots. But
The Role of IoT in Manufacturing
There are essentially two different roles that the IoT can play in manufacturing. It can connect the “things” that make your product—machines and equipment—to potentially make your manufacturing processes run more smoothly. This is the role sensors and ADC have traditionally played, although in a somewhat limited way. Or you can tap into data collected or generated by your products, making them “smart” products, hopefully using that data to benefit the customer and build your business. Manufacturers participating in our 2016 Mint Jutras Enterprise Solution Study are about equally divided on which of these brings the most value to their businesses (Figure 1).
Only 14 percent believe IoT is not applicable to their business. Perhaps these are highly labor-intensive manufacturers (think lots of assembly lines) making largely disposable or consumable products. Or perhaps some just don’t recognize that IoT is already a
We dug a little deeper into the impact of IoT by also capturing what “things” are connected today, along with plans for connecting more (Table 1). Not surprisingly, production equipment is most likely to be connected today, along with mobile devices. The most common connections are used either to monitor production (e.g., sensing temperature or viscosity and creating an alert or even shutting down a line before
Manufacturers are also connecting mobile devices, which could include
Office equipment such as printers
But the value of connecting these “things” is oftentimes largely dependent on what they are connected to.
Most commonly, this data is used for business analytics, but how effectively it is mined for strategic insights and decision-making remains to be seen. Data is often used for
The more these solutions are connected, the more data is available, not only to provide twenty-twenty hindsight into manufacturing
Connecting to customer relationship management (CRM) and planning and forecasting solutions brings an added level of insight, intelligence, and intimacy with your customers that can have an immediate impact on your responsiveness to real, rather than assumed, customer needs. Finishing off with a link back to finance and accounting also provides insights into real and controllable costs.
Leverage the Cloud to its full advantage
Of course, in talking about IoT, we have to talk about cloud. Cloud refers to access to computing,
While we find software as a service (SaaS) the most popular choice of deployment options for future purchases of enterprise applications, obviously today we see most manufacturers running a mixture of cloud and non-cloud-based solutions. Amongst our participants, about 43 percent of business software implemented now is SaaS, but that percentage is predicted to grow steadily over the next few
Cloud Changes the Game, SaaS Transforms It
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