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IIoT the Right Way: Manufacturer's Guide to the IoT Journey

By Special Guest
Vinay Nathan, CEO, Altizon
November 17, 2017

Manufacturers are aware that the Industrial IoT (IIoT) has the possibility to revolutionize their businesses. But they are also witnessing the hype that envelops every new and hot tech trend.

Such manufacturers may soon find themselves in the minority. A recent survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation shows that 38 percent of manufacturers now offer IoT-driven products and services and 48 percent are in the process of developing them.

The question then for manufacturers is whether to believe the hype and join the bandwagon. The answer is yes, but they must take a measured approach to do it the right way.

The two biggest questions about the Industrial IoT
Naturally, manufacturers are suspicious about claims related to IoT and have questions. In particular, they want to know which industrial problems they can solve with IoT and how to achieve ROI from it. Indeed, they want to know how much IoT will disrupt their existing setup, as maintaining continuous operations are critical.

The answer is to the first question is that manufacturers are using Industrial IoT now to track assets, employ predictive maintenance and consolidate their control rooms.

As for ROI, that depends. However, new research from Accenture has shown that predictive maintenance will cut reduce overall maintenance costs by 30 percent. IoT has been shown to offer better forecasting, improved metrics and lets companies provide better support for customers. Because factors like “providing better support for customers” are not easily quantified, it can be difficult to get an exact figure for ROI. The best method is to look at ROI in two ways:

  • Granular level (in which certain KPIs are tracked)
  • Macro level (where business goals are the prime metric.)

Getting Started
Highlighting pain points and bottlenecks in the production line is the pre-condition before applying IoT solutions. Application of IoT doesn’t always mean a complete makeover of the plant. Instead of extending IoT solutions to a production line that is efficient enough, concentrate on the most critical operations and then create a framework to enhance its competence by adopting a sustainable IoT strategy. For any given project, using a well-planned IoT methodology is ideal. This not only helps ensure the success of an IoT project, but also helps assure returns on investment. 

Here is an example of methodologies used for discrete manufacturing, that is coupled with allocated timeframes:

Define: The voice of customer, problems & goals, a roadmap (1-3 Weeks)

Measure: Connect and make the plant IoT compliant, establish baseline data (3-6 Weeks)

Analyze: Data analysis, define targets (1-2 Weeks)

Improve: Make action plans and deploy (6-8 Weeks)

Control: Monitor the improvements real time and sustain the implementation (Real Time)

Increase the odds of success
A measured approach is the best way to increase your odds of success. Here are three ways to do IoT right.

  1. Begin small yet strategic: Start with a pilot project but with a strategic intent in mind. Identify most problematic or underperforming machines/lines and set a goal for significant improvement. This is important because if IoT offers improvement, you not only gain confidence in it and are also be able to reinvest saved money in larger IoT rollout.
  2. Establish a framework for change: It is critical to use meaningful insights from IoT and align your people and processes accordingly and make sure that all of your decisions and actions are data driven. Create a framework for change that will help you achieve this and rollout across the plants.
  3. Choosing the right partner and technology platform: In-house or outsourced? There’s no easy answer, but it’s important to choose a technology platform that’s proven, robust, scalable and secure. The choice of the implementation partner will determine the technical know-how, implementation maturity, and ultimately the success of your project.

IoT is a Tool, Not a Panacea
Manufacturers who embrace the use of the IoT find that it is more of an enhancement, rather than a total overhaul of their existing infrastructure and assets. Properly instituted, IoT can improve upon various aspects of manufacturing to make it more efficient, reactive and smart.  Yet IoT is also revolutionary in that it allows for a transparency into manufacturing operations that can help to spot inefficiencies and opportunities. IoT, in short, is a tool. The benefit is found in how you use it.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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